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‘Many solicitors are extremely wary of offering services at a fixed fee, and there may be cogent reasons for this. However, it is our firm view that clients want and appreciate the certainty that a fixed fee brings. And the Arbitration scheme offers both certainty in timescale and definition in procedure that makes a fixed fee a viable option. We believe that a conventional financial remedies dispute should take no more than four months to resolve from start to finish. This is, of course, not a timetable that is achievable in any Court. So parties always wait longer than necessary for a judicial determination, all the while suffering increasing fees, anxiety and family debt.The scheme launched upon the basis that in most cases a fixed fee of £10,000 + VAT would be offered by each solicitor offering the fixed fee service, with the arbitrator charging a fixed fee estimated to be in the region of £3,000 – £4,000 + VAT. The combined cost of such a fixed fee arrangement is likely to keep fees to a global figure (ie for both parties) of no more than £25,000 + VAT in most cases. This is a significant saving on the usual costs of fully contested litigation, even allowing for the arbitrator’s fee.
The flexibility of Arbitration allows parties who agree to engage, to select their choice of Arbitrator and date of hearing at the very outset. The lawyers, in conjunction with the Arbitrator, determine the scope of the dispute and precisely what steps are required in preparation. The discipline of a fixed fee regime demands that we as legal professionals focus our efforts on the steps that are really necessary to resolve the pertinent issues; that we control our clients and the way in which they want to approach the dispute. This can only be to the parties’ benefit.
We at Hodge Jones and Allen have for some time offered fixed fees to clients whenever we have been able, but never for the entirety of proceedings because the variables inherent with Court proceedings are too great. Arbitration gets around that problem. And our overwhelming experience is that clients with whom we agree a fixed fee pay as required (up front or in stages) and do not complain. We want to discuss the scheme with, in particular, firms of solicitors who are interested in offering the service, so that both clients can be represented by a solicitor on the same fee basis. Anyone interested in more details, do contact Toby Hales on firstname.lastname@example.org.’
A practical and user friendly guide to the more challenging areas of ancillary relief practice