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Extra Costs' Payments in Civil Litigation

Hi Brian what is the position re the Law Society and so called client solicitor fees? Have they been deemed illegal?

Hi Brian what is the position re the Law Society and so called client solicitor fees? Have they been deemed illegal?

 

No. They’re not illegal and I think there’s a general misunderstanding about how legal costs are charged in a court case, particularly in civil litigation where a victim wins a compensation award, is awarded Court Costs and still may have to make a payment to his/her team of legal/medical/technical advisors or representatives.

And the key to this is to understand what “Court Costs” means.

When you hire a solicitor for a civil litigation case (accident claim, building dispute, compensation etc), you agree to pay your solicitor’s fees. In other words your contract is with your solicitor and you will pay for his/her time in representing you and consulting with you, preparing the case, and bringing the case to trial or agreed settlement and any expenses incurred along the way. If you win your case and are also awarded Court Costs, these Court Costs may not cover all of the time/expenses incurred by your solicitor. You must  pay your solicitor in full and if the Court Costs don’t cover the full amount of your legal bill there will be a shortfall – and you will be left paying difference.

Imagine if your employers send you on a training course and give you €50.00 per day for travel and lunch expenses. But it’s raining and you decide to take a taxi instead of the bus. Then you spend more on lunch than was planned for and your total expenses for the day are €65.00. Your employers can’t be asked to make up the difference so you pay the extra €15.00 yourself. It’s the same with “solicitor/client costs” versus Court Costs

These Court Costs are calculated on old scales of fixed charges dating back to the Solicitors Remuneration Act 1881. Some rates have been updated but the system is in many ways unfair to everyone and causes confusion. In addition to this, some services asked for by clients of their solicitors handling the case will not be paid for under the Court Costs system – like ongoing consultations to advise you on case strategy, giving you updates, arranging loans in advance of your getting an award etc. And some expenses too may be excluded from payment like a barrister’s opinion.

What is unfair about the Court Costs system is that (say) an insurance company which loses a case after delaying settlement sometimes for years will end up not having to fully cover all the costs actually incurred. And reform is needed (and has been promised by the Minister for Justice) but in the meantime the public must pay. The system must be expanded to give greater redress to a successful victim/claimant. But this aspect is a political matter rather than a legal one.

 

[Footnote: In this reply to the listener’s question, I have used the term "Court Costs" for easier understanding. The legal technical term for this is “party and party costs”]

 

   

The issues raised in the answer to this NewsTalk listener's question are dealt with in a general way as can only be the case on live radio. Before relying on the advice given in this answer, whether you heard the broadcast or are for the first time reading the issues here please do not rely on the broad advice given. For a detailed professional opinion please consult a qualified legal advisor and for further details read our disclaimer on the Home Page.

The issues raised in the answer to this NewsTalk listener's question are dealt with in a general way as can only be the case on live radio. Before relying on the advice given in this answer, whether you heard the broadcast or are for the first time reading the issues here please do not rely on the broad advice given. For a detailed professional opinion please consult a qualified legal advisor and for further details read our disclaimer on the Home Page.

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