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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50161
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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My solicitor didnt turn up to court but instead sent a Barrister

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My solicitor didnt turn up to court but instead sent a Barrister and has now charged me £900 + VAT for her services. He instructed her and didnt advise me of costs. Is this daylight robbery??!?
Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Was a barrister's involvement ever discussed with you?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Yes. My solicitor called me the night before [and has charged me for this call also] to tell me that he has engaged a Barrister for me at Court the next day as he had double booked himself with another case in London. He said she was very good, probably much better than him. Is that ok? - I said yes, because I had no choice.When I met with her the next day, without me prompting me she told me what time he had called her and engaged her services and it was 20 minutes before he called me.He didnt at any stage advise me of costs.
Whilst ideally the charges should have been discussed in advance, the fact that you agreed to legal representation by a barrister and they attended as instructed and undertook the work required of them, would not entirely absolve you from their costs. What one would look at here is primarily whether the charges which were incurred were reasonable and necessary. For example, if the fees charges were extortionate when looking at the work they actually did, then these could be challenged. However, if they were reasonable then they could still be chargeable because you had after all agreed for barrister’s representation and were charged a reasonable fee for their services. From experience, a barrister’s fees could certainly be as high as £900 for all or part of a day’s work but I would still ask for a detailed breakdown and then perhaps try to compare this to what you may have been charged for the same work by another barrister specialising in the field. This may give you an idea of whether the costs were reasonable or not. Of course there is nothing stopping you from disputing these costs in the meantime by complaining directly to the solicitors’ firm. You also have the Legal Ombudsman should you wish to have independent help on this matter. I hope this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (3, 4 or 5 stars) as that is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Ben,Is it not the case that my solicitor should at every stage be mindful of me, his Client and be open and up-front of all costs that would be my responsibility to pay. I called his office earlier in the day, they advised me to be there at 9.30am - I was out of Court by 10.30 - so 1 hour in total. This is not good practice - How can he invoice me for something that has not been agreed? When I agreed he represented me, I had to sign a contract to agree on his fees - not a Barristers fees if he isnt around to represent me? He has not been open and transparent - he has been far from it. Legally, am I obliged to pay for any amount that he chooses.The Court case came about because my Husband hadnt filled out his required forms. My Husband turned up - again without his required forms and all costs were charged to him. Are these just court costs or Legal representation costs too?
£900 for an hour's work could be unreasonable but it would also depend on how much time was spent in preparation. Barristers' time is not cheap and would be more expensive than a solicitor's time. So do not see this as an amount which has simply been chosen for you to pay - you have the right to be informed exactly how these fees were incurred so you should ask for an itemised bill, which you could then scrutinise and challenge as necessary. So I cannot comment on what the costs included as I have no idea on that and you need to ask the solicitor or barrister to provide full details of that so you are better informed of what you have been charged for and why
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Ben - Ive had the call with him and have had all charges removed from the Bill as being unreasonable. He told me that he had fully informed her of the case in the preparation of the hearing and that he believed it had been 'couriered' to her so when i asked for evidence he couldnt produce that. The Barrister spent her time with me that morning updating on the case as she said she had no information whatsoever. He said he was embarrassed. I asked him if he had filed for my divorce as previously requested and he said I think I have done it today. He then proceeded to say, is it ok if I send it off? I said, I have asked you twice via email to do so. He said he just wanted my permission. He then asked me to inform the court that he wouldnt be attending and also he would be letting my Husband know that he wouldnt be representing him. I told him to do the Court himself at no extra cost and NOT to inform my Husband - at no cost to me.The bill has been reduced from £1500 to £300 - In a phone call.I truly dont feel that I have been treated well by him and best practice has not been followed. In your opinion of the little evidence you have - what do you feel?Many thanks,
Hello Claire, that is good news, glad to hear the solicitor has realised this was an unreasonable request. And I do agree that the way he has handled this matter has not been entirely professional. You could ask for a further reduction in bills because of this (you could follow a formal complaint via the firm’s internal complaints policy which they should have in place). Hope this clarifies?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you Ben, this clarifies. I have disengaged his services. I am attending Court on Thursday for my final financial settlement split. By attending by myself, do you think this will have a negative impact on the judge/my outcome?
The simple fact that you do not have legal representation will not affect the judge's opinion - it is not compulsory to be represented and many parties attend court unrepresented. If your original question has been answered I would be grateful if you could please quickly rate my answer by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page - it only takes a second to do and is an important part of our process. I can still answer follow up questions afterwards if needed. Thank you
Ben Jones and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Ben. One last question. I promise! If I want access to all my files and invoices do I have the right to do so? Many thanks. Claire.
yes you do you can contact the solicitor directly and request these
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you so much for your help Ben - You have been more help overnight than my solicitor has been for 3 years and £6.5k just for a financial split and still no Divorce!!
you are most welcome, I hope you manage to resolve this to your satisfaction!
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you Ben, I will recommend this service to anyone I can!
many thanks