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Tanya’s ten top tips to help minimize your legal costs Top Tip 9/10 Understand how your costs accrue

Sometimes your costs may be agreed at a fixed fee. Even then, you should be aware of anything that may take you out of the fixed fee, and how then your costs will be incurred.

I have said before that you get what you pay for. It is worth bearing this in mind when looking into how solicitors will charge you, their hourly rate and whether they use a fixed fee.

Most firms offer a ‘no strings’ initial appointment, often for a reduced rate, so that you can meet your solicitor and get some initial advice before formally instructing them. Beyond that, most solicitors use an hourly rate (to which VAT is then added) to charge for their time.

As a result, you need to know what unit of time is being used to charge you – some use 15 minute blocks, some use 10 minute blocks and some use 6 minute blocks. The smaller is generally better, from your point of view!

An hourly rate should reflect where the firm is based, as it is in some ways linked to overheads. So a solicitor in the city may well charge more than their equivalent counterpart in a region outside of London, for example, though their levels of expertise are comparable.

There can also be payments made to third parties, on your behalf, which you will be responsible for. These can be payments to barristers or the court, the land registry or even the post office, among many others simply depending on the nature of your case.

Ask questions. You can (and should) ask for an overall estimate of what your costs are likely to be. Estimates can vary substantially, so it is worth asking why one estimate varies from another. Some may be based on skills or expertise, and it is important to remember that often it is not possible to provide an accurate and confident estimate, so asking how certain an estimate is, can also help.

We are transparent with how our costs are made up. But making sure you really know and understand exactly how this works is vital.

If you wish to speak with one of our specialist solicitors in confidence please contact us on tel 01622 23 88 54, or by email at If you wish to speak with Tanya or Richard, our family law solicitors, you can call direct on 01622 23 88 54.

Watch this space next week for Top Tip Number Ten.

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