The scenario for this example is a client seeking legal advice from a barrister concerning her divorce. The client wants to be advised by the barrister during a face to face meeting (called a conference) at the barrister’s offices (called chambers). Before the conference can take place, a fixed fee needs to be agreed with the client and paid in advance of the conference taking place (pre-payment).
The following process needs to be followed before a fixed fee can be assessed.
1. The client will be asked to provide by email a comprehensive typed note detailing the background to the matter, the issues upon which legal advice is being sought and a list of questions that the client wishes to put to the barrister. In addition, the client will be asked to provide all documentation relevant to their case (or relevant to the aspect of the case upon which the client seeks advice) which the barrister will need to have sight of in advance of the conference. If the case has already gone to court this documentation would typically include previous court orders, witness statements, correspondence with the other side, expert reports, etc. If there is no existing case and the client simply seeks advice on for example, how the matrimonial assets should be divided, there may be little if any documentation to provide in addition to the background note, in which case the background note would need to include details of the matrimonial assets.
2. The barrister would need to consider how long reading time would likely take and any legal or other research that might be required as part of their overall preparation. The barrister will also need to consider how much time should be set aside for the conference itself.
3. Following delivery of the required information from the client, the barrister will have a brief perusal of the papers in order to estimate preparation and conference time. In this example, the barrister estimates that at least 4 hours of reading and preparation time will be required and up to 2 hours will be required for the conference itself. This comes to an estimate of 6 hours of the barrister’s time. The clerk will apply the barrister’s hourly rate, in this example £200 per hour plus VAT. Therefore 6 hours x £200 = £1,200 plus VAT @ 20% (£240). The total payable is £1,440.
The fixed fee for this conference is therefore £1,200 + VAT. The clerk will relay the fixed fee to the client.
4. If the client wishes to proceed then pre-payment and contractual arrangements under our direct access procedures will apply – see here for details.
Please note that our fixed fees are not negotiable.
The fixed fee in the above example is based on a total of 6 hours estimated work. Should the overall time spent by the barrister take less than that estimated (reading/preparation time is less than estimated or the conference lasts less time than is estimated to last) there will be no reduction to the fixed fee. The same principle of course applies should the barrister spend longer preparing for the conference than was estimated (which is not uncommon) – you will not be asked to pay more than the fixed fee.
It is not likely that a conference will last longer than the estimated duration time because the contract that the client will enter into will specify the maximum time to be allowed for the conference, in the above example up to 2 hours, so the conference would not be permitted to exceed the contracted time in any event.
The above is an example of how our fees are calculated and is not a quote.