We are often asked by our clients how much it will cost to bring a claim to court. The answer is wide ranging due to the nature of different disputes and also depending on the complexity of a case and how much work would be involved. Disputes such as Will disputes, contract disputes and property disputes are covered under the term, Civil Litigation.
Can you just send a letter?
We are sometimes asked to draft a letter before action which lets the other party know what the issues are and what is required to rectify the dispute. This is usually the first contact between the parties via a Solicitor. Most clients presume a simple letter should be quick and cheap to send. However, we are required to undertake a substantial amount of work prior to being in a position to send an initial letter. The work involved includes taking all of the instructions and carrying out a review of documents to ensure that what the client is saying is true and accurate. We have a professional reputation to comply with rules of behaviour expected of solicitors, by ensuring that any information we provide to another party is accurate. We are required to check our client’s ID and obtain electronic ID searches. We then have to draft the letter and send to our client for approval, which often results in amendments being made or further discussions. There may then be further documents to consider if the dispute is moving along. This could take several hours of time. Once a response is received, we then have to review the same and advise further. Overall, undertaking the initial work prior to going to court can be quite costly.
Costs to Trial
Often, if the claim is not resolved at this stage, there will then be the option to proceed to court. For some disputes of lower value, and with less complex issues to resolve, the costs could still easily amount to £20,000.00 to £30,000.00 plus VAT, Court fees and Barrister’s fees, if the matter proceeds to a final hearing. However, costs could of course exceed this, depending on the nature of the work involved. We have dealt with cases which are more complex and the costs budget has amounted to £60,000.00 plus VAT for all costs and disbursements. Sometimes, cases are capable of settlement after issue of proceedings but before the Trial, in which case, costs will be less. Decisions to proceed to Court are therefore serious.
Win or Lose
The rule regarding costs is that you are responsible for your own solicitor’s costs. If you win the dispute or settle on favourable terms, you may be awarded these costs to be paid by the opposition. However if you lose the dispute, you may be ordered to pay your opponent’s costs as well as your own.
Overall, litigation is risky and costly. Parties should try, where possible, to resolve the matter amicably or use ADR to try and narrow the issues before proceeding to Court action.
If you are involved in a dispute, please feel free to contact one of our Team members to discuss how we can assist with this.