Firms charge different prices for legal services. We suggest that you do some research and shop around to find out what you might expect to pay for the legal services you need. You can do this online by searching firms’ websites. There are also a small number of comparison websites for legal services. You can use these to find price price information for legal work offered by firms, although not every firm that provides the services you need will be shown on a comparison website.
Firms should publish prices for the legal services they provide on their websites. We encourage you to ask firms to provide information about their prices. You can also contact firms directly, by emailing or phoning them, to find out more information about the price for the specific legal work you need.
If a firm does not have a website, they should be happy to provide you with price information on request.
Price is only one of the things you should consider when deciding who to ask to do your legal work. Consider what is important to you in the service provided by a firm and find out what is included in the prices offered by different firms.
Prices can vary between firms, and services offered by a firm, for a variety of reasons. For example, a firm might provide a personalised package with a named lawyer, a high level of direct contact and out-of-hours availability; while another might offer a basic, budget friendly service.
How prices are charged
Prices can be complicated, and you should not be afraid to ask questions to clarify. A good lawyer will take the time to make sure you fully understand all you need to know about all the costs you will be expected to pay for your legal work.
There are different ways that firms charge for legal services, these include:
- hourly rate
- fixed fee for completion of all the work
- fixed fee for different stages of the work
- percentage of money recovered
- rate depending on the value of an estate
- conditional fee arrangement (also known as a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement); and
- damages-based agreement
There may be other costs to pay such as:
- VAT, which is payable on some costs; and
- additional costs (known as disbursements), for example:
Make sure you fully understand the following, before agreeing to accept a price for a your legal work:
- the way the price will be calculated (for example, fixed fee)
- if you will be charged by hourly rate, the rate per hour and the number of hours needed to complete the work
- how much you will be charged for paying by credit card (if required)
- additional costs, for example, court or search fees
- if VAT will be charged, and on what, and at what rate
- the likely total price for all the work you need
More details of the types of legal costs are provided in the Legal Ombudsman’s Consumer Guide: “Ten Questions to Ask your Lawyer About Costs”.
There is also helpful information about costs on the Legal Choices website.
If you are considering a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement you may find it helpful to read the Legal Ombudsman’s report.
Someone else is paying your costs
Your legal costs may be paid for by someone else, for example, an insurance company. You need to take care to ensure you know the exact terms of your insurance. Make sure you know what costs will be paid by the insurance and what costs the insurance will not cover.
You may, for example, need to find out whether the person or insurance paying for your costs will:
- require the level of the firm’s costs to be agreed before work starts
- pay for all the firm’s costs, or only a proportion or specified amount
- pay other costs such as an expert’s report or searches (disbursements)
- pay if your case is withdrawn and is not taken through the court (if your case involves court work)
If eligible, you may get help from Civil Legal Advice (CLA) for problems including:
- debt, if your home is at risk
- housing, if you are homeless or at risk of being evicted
- domestic abuse
- separating from an abusive partner, when you’re making arrangements for children or sorting out money and property
- a child being taken into care
- special education needs
- some child abduction cases
You can find more information on the Civil Legal Advice website or by contacting CLA directly:
Telephone: +44 (0)345 3454 345 Minicom: +44 (0)3456 096 677