Time Estimates and Variations
With every new file, we send a client care letter. In that letter we try to estimate the time your matter will take. This note discusses that in more detail and, we hope, explains the limitations attaching to such estimates. These seem obvious to us, but perhaps they bear explanation.
Who does the work?
We have different levels of fee earner. We do not ask someone to do work on your behalf, unless we are satisfied that they are competent to conduct that particular element. It makes sense for you, and us, that work should be done by a person appropriately qualified to do it. You do not want to pay a solicitor of twenty years standing to carry out very routine work, nor an unadmitted assistant to make what are sometimes very fine and difficult judgements. It is also dangerous for a file to go back and forth between different fee earners. An experienced fee earner may charge at a greater hourly rate, but for less time. Someone less experienced, may take slightly longer, but at a lower hourly rate. We try to strike the right balance, but that balance will vary from matter to matter, and from week to week. We cannot always get it exactly right, and if you have any concern about this, you must tell us immediately.
The expected variations
It is often clear from the start that a matter might end in many ways. Disputes may be settled before proceedings are issued, after meetings, at the door of a court, after several hearings, or even after an appeal. The time spent and the cost can, therefore vary hugely.
Our estimates will often include a descriptive limitation, which you must keep in mind. This is particularly the case, for example in matrimonial matters, where we will make a distinction between the divorce proceedings themselves, disputes about the children, and property disputes. Another example will be in litigation where we will privide a figure which might apply only if, for example, the matter is undefended, and up to a particular stage.
Matters will often turn up unexpected complications. A conveyance might normally be completed with five hours work. Every so often, a transaction can suddenly, and for any one of a thousand unforeseen reasons, require rather more work. Please note that our estimates are not fixed quotations. Where a figure is agreed, we always reserve the right to charge more if circumstances come to require it.
Helping Us Keep the Bill down
Sometimes clients can help us to keep a bill down. If a client fails to reply to repeated letters, then this not only compromises our ability to represent that client successfully, but the client also pays for us to chase them. Where a client has some relevant piece of information, but does not disclose it until the other side raises it, much work - and cost - may have been wasted.