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Family Law Fixed Fees Frequently Asked Questions
Below we set out some of the questions that are raised about Family Law Fixed Fees ™.
Is the implementation of orders included in any stage?
No. It is not possible to know what implementation might be required until Orders are actually made by the Court. We will provide a fixed quote for implementation of Orders after they have been made and, if you agree, we will then proceed to do the specified implementation.
Why are barristers sometimes engaged in Family Law matters?
Barristers specialise in court appearances and in providing expert opinions about complex legal issues. We may engage a barrister for these purposes when we consider it to be in your best interests and that the benefits justify the cost.
Do I have to pay for telephone calls, e-mails and faxes as well as reading letters or court documents?
No. With Fixed Fees you are charged a single amount for each stage of your matter which covers all of the work we will undertake on your behalf. Of course, barristers and experts are additional to the fixed fees, but you won’t receive a bill for photocopying or sending letters to the other lawyers under fixed fees.
Will the lawyer provide estimates of costs for future work that might be required?
We will give estimates of future work that might be required if this is practicable and sensible. It is difficult to know how a matter will proceed at the start and most Family Law matters settle quite early – especially if the parties and their lawyers are taking a constructive approach – and the future stages may never be reached. Therefore, estimates are unnecessary and, in some cases, quite misleading.
How far into the future will you provide fixed fees?
How far into the future will you provide fixed fees?
It is often not possible to quote for all stages of a Family Law matter; it is also often quite unnecessary.
Most Family Law matters get resolved quite quickly and, in these circumstances, it would be a waste of everyone’s time and effort to prepare quotes for Stages that will never be reached.
Before we start work on any stage – and when we are aware of what is involved - you will be provided with a quote.
What happens if my matter resolves before the work has been done?
If your matter settles before the work is completed for the Stage that has been quoted you will not have to pay the full fees for that Stage. We will advise you what work has been done and you will receive a refund for that part of work that has not been done.
Sometimes the matter will settle by the making of Orders in Court and we will quote you for the preparation and finalisation of Orders.
How do you quote for Court Hearings & Conferences?
We provide an estimate up front of the fee for all Court Hearings and Conferences. This includes any travelling that we may have to undertake unless there is a separate agreement that you would pay for our travel time and costs.
No one can tell you how long a Court Hearing or Conference will take – sometimes they are quick, sometimes they take all day or even longer. So we provide you with a mid range estimate in the fixed fees quote but will charge fees according to whether the Hearing or Conference is short (less than 2 hours), average (between 2 and 4 hours) or long (over 4 hours). These fees are set out in the fixed fees agreement.
What if I receive an Order that the other party pay my costs (or if I have to pay theirs)?
If the Court orders that the other party pay your costs you will receive those moneys in accordance with the Court Order.
Similarly, if the Court orders that you should pay any of the other party’s costs, you will be required to pay that money in addition to any fixed fees quote that we have given you. If you do not pay such Orders we will be unable to continue to represent you.
What are the payment arrangements for fixed fees?
In normal circumstances (unless special arrangements have been agreed), the following arrangements will apply:
- Before work commences on any Stage, you deposit the agreed fixed fees for that Stage into our Trust Account;
- We undertake the agreed work for that Stage;
- When we have completed the work the money is paid from the Trust Account to us;
- You then deposit the fixed fees for the next Stage into our Trust Account and the arrangements continue as above.
Sometimes, and provided you are able to put up appropriate security, we will agree to work prior to moneys being deposited to our Trust Account. But these circumstances will be exceptional.
You may also request a payment plan for the payment of your fixed fees, whereby you deposit a proportion of the fixed fees into our Trust Account on a monthly basis. We will allow this where there is a valid direct debit authority in place but in the event that a payment is not made, we reserve the right to cease work until the account is brought up to date or to terminate the agreement.
How do I pay the amounts required for the fixed fee?
You may pay the agreed fixed fee in cash, by cheque or by direct debit authority.
It is possible that you may obtain a loan from a legal litigation funder.
These companies provide you with the funds to meet your legal expenses (and, sometimes, also to help with your living expenses). Fees will be payable to establish the loan and interest will be charged. The lender will also require security over a property in which you have an interest (to ensure that there is a source of payment if you cannot repay the loan at the end of the matter).
Usually you repay all of the loan plus the costs when all of the proceedings have been finalised.
What other credit arrangements might be available for the payment of the fixed fees ?
Using or obtaining a new credit card, arranging a guarantee or a loan facility from your bank are other options for the payment of your legal fees.