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 a small number of comparison websites. These may provide some information for specific types of legal work, but currently they only cover a few firms.
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 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 for a variety of reasons. For example, a firm may offer a more personalised service with a named lawyer, a high level of direct contact and out-of-hours availability.
How prices are charged
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 the compensation paid in a case
- 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, court or search fees or an expert’s report
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 the price you will be expected to pay for your legal work.
Make sure you fully understand the following, before agreeing to accept a price for a lawyer to do 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.