I am almost at the end of my divorce. There is just the solicitor's fee and final finacial settlement to buy TS2BX out (already agreed in Consent Order). However, the solicitor's fee is, in my opinion too high even for legal aid statues. Can I argue for a fair price. How would one conduct the arguement. I felt thet I have been penalised for the indecisive decision by the courts/Judges.
Or maybe your solicitor is already at capacity just running the cases, and now has to deal with the extra burden of producing a lengthy summary of what was done and when. I am sure you said you were legally aided.
All legal aid firms have to have a system where they record all the work on a computer and the computer has to be able to do a printed summary of all the work done, so ask for that - a "WIP summary" (work in progress). If you don't like what you see, remember that you are entitled so see a full "solicitor and own client" bill drawn up in a way that shows every scrap of work billed for.
The firm can't demand payment from you, if you are legally aided. They prepare a summary and ask the legal aid to pay them. They can't do that until they can sign a certificate that you have seen the bill and raise no objections. As this is "contentious business" (i.e. litigation) you have the right to have the matter taken to a Court procedure called "Detailed Assessment" where the District Judge checks all the bits you are challenging and decides what was reasonable in terms of duration of the work, cost etc.
The firm gets paid by the Legal Services Commission after detailed assessment if need be. The LSC then comes to you for repayment under the "statutory charge" in due course allowing for the fact that if you recovered the home for yourself and any children, you are entitled to defer repayment - but interest will run on it, just like a mortgage.
The interest is more than you would pay under a mortgage, so get a mortgage to pay off the statutory charge if you can. It's cheaper. HTH
From my last posting, I understand that the solicitor's firm cannot demand payment from me if I have legal aid but Legal aid will in due course get in touch with me for payment. However, the acting solicitor have in their client account my money of over £12k from the proceed of the sale of MH. Now the firm is demanding another £14k cheque from me to pay immediately. I think something is not quiet right here. She had been avoiding my calls and I have sent several e-mails to her. Yet no answer. I have now asked for her itemised billing and also her hourly rate under legal aid system. Urgently in need of advice please.
The hourly rate paid to solicitors under the legal aid system is fixed, and is about £67.00 per hour or £75 if the solicitor is a Resolution accredited specialist or a Law Society / SRA Panel member. As compared with £180-200 per hour for privately funded work.
Your solicitor should have ensured that the money you have obtained is recorded in the Order as "to provide a home for the Petitioner/Respondent" in which case you are entitled to defer payment of the Stat Charge. If this isn't in the Order (you should be asking why not - ? negligence?) then the sols must pay-over to the LSC the money they were holding for you, and then get paid by the LSC when they submit their Report on Case after detailed assessment if necessary. The system is very bureaucratic I'm sorry to say.
But total costs of £25,000+??? On a legally aided case?? That's enormous! You *must* challenge it. If your solicitor is ignoring you, write to the senior partner, demanding a full reply within 7 days, failing which you will take the matter to the Legal Complaints Service. (They used to be the Solicitors' Complaints Bureau, part of the Law Society, now an independent body albeit still paid for by the Law Society). That should light a bonfire under 'em.
Thank you so much for your reply. Its so much clearer the way you have explained the legal ais system. However, if I defer the state payment, would'nt it incurr huge interest?
Sorry, for my ignorant. I will be ringing the solicitor again today.
Many, many thanks.