One of Claire Collinson Legal’s central values is “reasonable and certain costs”. We provide full transparency on costs. At the outset of each claim, and at regular points as a claim progresses we carry out costs assessments to identify the most appropriate costs options.
Claire Collinson Legal operates a unique charging rate structure whereby, for litigated cases, we base our costs options on Court approved rates, but we offer discounts from these rates for pre-litigation work including FOS complaints, pre-action correspondence and negotiation and Alternative Dispute Resolution methods. The rationale for our charging structure is to keep costs to a minimum at the early stages of a claim or complaint to promote dispute resolution. Please contact us to discuss applicable charging rates.
Both our pre-action charging rates and our litigation rates are usually lower than those charged by comparably experienced solicitors in our area of practice. We are able to do this primarily due to comparatively low business overheads – we operate from a rural location but deal with clients and opponents throughout the UK. We recognise that the majority of our clients are individuals or businesses, who may well be in a financially vulnerable position, and are facing a dispute with a large corporation which has the resources to pay highly experienced city lawyers.
Our charging structure aims to address this imbalance by providing specialist legal advice and representation of a calibre equivalent to city firms at an affordable cost. We aim to promote access to justice for our clients in a manner which minimises additional financial risk.
Factors relevant to funding options:
Factors taken into account to determine appropriate funding options include:
- The amount in dispute – we aim to structure our funding options to ensure that costs are not disproportionate to the amount claimed;
- The complexity of a case – if a case involves complex facts or law it may well be more expensive to resolve;
- Each client’s financial circumstances – we look at affordability of different options and where that is a problem, consider alternative dispute resolution options or alternative means of funding a dispute;
- The time required to carry out the work – we have long experience of producing detailed cost estimates for various dispute resolution options.
We will offer one or more of the following options:
- Fixed fee – Where the work required is of a reasonably certain nature and extent and a client wants certainty of costs, a fixed fee can be agreed. A fixed fee is payable whatever the outcome of the claim and will not be discounted or increased. Payment of a fixed fee by instalments is possible.
- Capped fee – Where the extent of work is less certain, but a client wants certainty that they will not be charged above a particular level, perhaps in the early stages of a case, we can agree a capped fee. For example, we may agree a charge of up to 10 hours work. This allows us flexibility to correspond and negotiate with the opponent for a period of time, but the client has both the certainty that they will not be billed above the cap level (unless increased by agreement), and that they will only pay for the time actually incurred.
- Hourly rates, based on cost estimates. Particularly on more complex complaints, it may be appropriate to work on an agreed hourly rate, based on a cost estimate. Estimates are checked and updated regularly.
- Deferred charging arrangements. If cash-flow is a problem for clients, in some circumstances we can agree to defer part or all of our costs to the conclusion of a case. Such agreements are not dependent on the outcome of the case, but can be of help to clients contemplating an expensive and lengthy process such as litigation.
- Conditional Fee Agreements (CFAs). Under a CFA, a client pays us a different level of costs dependent on whether a case is won or lost. A full CFA is where no costs are paid if the case loses but if the case wins the costs comprise the usual hourly rates plus an “uplift” of up to 100% of the hourly rates. Under the current Court rules, this “uplift” element of costs associated with CFAs cannot be recovered from an opponent. This factor is important in considering the commerciality of a CFA as it effectively discounts any compensation received. We do not usually offer full CFAs but in appropriate cases we consider partial CFAs; where a lower charging rate is applied if a case is lost and a higher charging rate if the case is won. We carefully assess the suitability of CFAs before offering them to ensure that the costs charged would be proportionate to the compensation recovered.
After the Event Insurance and Litigation Funding
Where litigation is necessary or appropriate, we consider with our clients whether it is appropriate to obtain either After the Event Legal Expenses Insurance or Litigation Funding. The availability of insurance depends predominantly on the prospects of success of a claim; but where a claim has a good chance of success a client may wish to obtain insurance to protect against the risk of losing and having to pay the opponent’s costs. A bespoke application is required for such insurance and under current Court rules the premium paid for insurance cannot be recovered from the opponent, even if the case is successful. CCL will consider with each client, in the context of their case whether it is commercially viable and proportionate to obtain insurance.
We have access to litigation funders who can provide funding assistance for meritorious litigation cases. Again, a careful analysis is required to ensure that funding is appropriate and commercially viable.