TBI column – Cost benefits of using local solicitors for divorce
THE fees relating to using solicitors is often a talking point, so Tilly Bailey & Irvine’s Family Law experts and solicitors in Teesdale and Teesside explain how local solicitors keep it fair for clients.
Wendy Beacom, Partner at Tilly Bailey & Irvine Solicitors and head of its Private Family Law department, explains how to ensure a fair ride for clients:
“An important part of my work within the Private Family Law team is the need to keep clients updated with regards to likely fees that I can predict. This can be during court proceedings in relation to divorce, financial aspects arising upon divorce or child arrangements.
“Most legal experts provide services based on an hourly rate and costs are incurred whether by corresponding with the client or the other side, document preparation, attendances either upon the client, other side or at court. Fee estimates are then ordinarily updated at distinct stages of the case such as following a hearing and leading up to the next date or upon a piece of work that was not predicted needs to be undertaken.
“It is my team’s ethos that costs must provide a beneficial value to the client. For example in financial proceedings I am regularly asked to issue injunctive proceedings against a party owing to potential financial misconduct by way of the other party disposing of assets. However, if there are sufficient assets elsewhere that can compensate, I would not embark upon litigation which would not ultimately benefit the client as there would be no need to incur such. It would be entirely wrong to advise a client to spend funds unnecessarily when they can be compensated elsewhere.
“Further within our team we have different levels of staff who will work on specific aspects of the case which then passes a cost benefit to the client. There are occasions where a junior member of staff will for example lay the groundwork in what will be a more complex document, with senior staff then dealing with more technical and detailed aspects. This is not duplicated work but providing a blended way of working for a cost benefit to the client.
“Such practices are appreciated very much by the court and the judiciary. This is because the court has an overriding objective as to consideration of proportionality.
“I was therefore appalled to read a recent judgment in a case which was heard in the higher courts in London whereby the combined legal fees for the respective parties was £2.3 million. The net assets that the trial judge calculated at the end of the case amounted to just £740,000 (after deducting some of the legal fees). This apparently was after some 34 hearings. It beggars belief how the respective solicitors could justify fees of such significance or the need for as many hearings. Indeed the trial judge did not hide his criticism of the conduct of this case by expressing his criticism of the “nihilistic litigation”. There was clearly an abject failure in considering proportionality of costs to the benefits or good case management overall. Regrettably this is not a standalone case in the capital with solicitors charging exorbitant hourly rates.
“I am increasingly being instructed by clients who are not local because with modern technology facilitating the ease of taking instructions by remote means I can take all of the instructions that I would ordinarily need in any event. Such clients, as the same with all other clients, want value for money which is what my team can provide. At the end of the day, family law is governed within particular pieces of legislation such as the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, the Children Act 1989 and the Family Procedure Rules 2010. I raise this because the point is that all family law practitioners work with the same procedures. Therefore, given the accessibility with technology there is no need for those further afield needing to incur fees generated by exorbitant hourly rates when a fair value can be offered for the same process and with a first class serve being provided.”
Tilly Bailey & Irvine Solicitors are available via offices in Barnard Castle, Hartlepool, Stockton and Wynyard.
This article was prepared by Wendy Beacom, Partner and Head of the Private Family Law Team at Tilly Bailey & Irvine Solicitors in Teesside. Visit www.tbilaw.co.uk more.