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In a long or complicated matter it is often better to break up the fee into stages so that you keep the costs under tight control

A staged fee with us is a kind of fixed fee that does not change provided that the hourly-charging-rate value of work does not go over the costs limit by more than an amount we agree with you

a) Only if it becomes clear as we do the work that the volume of work we are doing is going over the fixed fee limit. and was not planned for in the fixed fee will we come to you for the extra cost and
b) We will not charge you for the additional work unless we notify you in advance of doing the work that the fixed fee limit will be exceeded. The additional work beyond  the fixed fee limit is then chargeable at our ordinary hourly rates unless we agree a new fixed fee with you for the extra work.


We agree a fixed fee in a motoring allegation of Driving with excess alcohol and driving with no Insurance. The driver of the vehicle had used your car without consent and ran off after an accident. You have pleaded not guilty because you were not the driver and wish us to try to obtain CCTV evidence and consider a strategy to persuade the prosecutor to drop the charge. If the prosecutor refuses to accept representations you wish us to conduct your defence at trial.

In this case the amount of work needed will be different depending on what is discovered after delicately obtaining evidence from third parties that might help and then carefully considering the advantages and disadvantages of the options that our discoveries present. We would then need to advise you on what we consider is the best way forward and then take your instructions and act on them. It might or might not be necessary for an advocate to prepare for a trial and even once prepared there may remain a possibility the prosecutor will make  a late decision to drop the case or part of it having considered representations.

In these circumstances a judgment needs to be made whether an all-in fixed fee  for everything up to preparing a trial is a better option if there is a good chance the matter can be disposed of early. If so, an option may be to agree a fee of £600 for, say. up to three hours with a criminal defence solicitor for the first stage work involved in investigating the evidence and advising next steps and thereafter consider whether to agree a further fixed fee for the next stage of work needed. If

In this example you would not be charged more than £600 for the first stage unless and until we did more work than the three hours and you would only pay for the additional work which, would default to our ordinary hourly rate for the additional work unless we agreed another fixed fee.

In Summary

  • Hourly rates are a traditional way of charging for solicitors work. They are not always the best.
  • We want you to be informed about costs in an open and fair way.
  • We want to work for you and with you on your case at a price that is affordable.
  • You should be given realistic choices about costs.
  • We want to succeed in the case. But if things go against us in the matter we want you to have had value for money; and we want to have been able to do the case in the thorough way you want.
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