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How do I Make an Application to Court?

By: Thomas Muller - Updated: 29 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Solicitor Dispute Fees Remuneration

Q.

I have a dispute with my solicitors over my legal fees invoices. Apparently I can make an application to court to have the costs assessed.

How do you go about it without incurring extra costs of appointing another solicitor?
(Mr Martin Bright, 20 October 2008)

A.

If you are unable to resolve the dispute with your solicitor directly or with a member of the firm responsible for complaints then yes, you can have your invoice assessed by the courts to see whether it is fair.

However, as a court assessment is a complex procedure that will require detailed legal advice before an application is made, it is strongly advised that you think carefully before pursuing this path. By submitting the dispute to the courts you will not only be expected to pay solicitor fees, but also costs for the application itself.

Fortunately there is an easier and cost-free alternative available in resolving legal fee disputes. You can ask your solicitor to apply to the Legal Complaints Service (LCS) for a Remuneration Certificate. You should have been informed about this option when you received the invoice. If you did then you have a month from the date of receipt to apply for the certificate but if your solicitor failed to inform you then you are allotted three months in total.

Once the application is made, the LCS will independently assess the work that was undertaken by your solicitor and calculate a fair invoice amount. Before issuing the final Remuneration Certificate, the LCS will inform you and your solicitor of their findings and give you chance to comment.

As a result of the review the LCS can reduce the invoice amount or leave it the same, but they cannot increase it. So by submitting to such an assessment there should be no worry that you will ultimately end up even worse off. As the Remuneration Certificate is free, the only extra costs you may be liable to pay would be if the LCS found the invoice to be fair and your solicitor charged you interest from not having paid it promptly.

As an extra word of advice it is important that you document everything relating to the case. Letters and emails, detailed records of all the actions you have undertaken in attempting to sort out the problem - such as telephone times and dates – could all prove vital if the case doesn’t reach a straightforward conclusion.

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