Debt Recovery

Pricing and Service 

Claims for recovery of a debt can be straightforward if the debtor admits the debt and no court proceedings are needed. If the debt is defended and court proceedings are issued, the process will be longer, more complicated and more expensive.  Each case is different and it is very difficult to tell at the outset whether your case will be straightforward or complicated.

We cannot predict how long a claim will take, or the total cost, because there are so many factors that affect both. These factors include:

  • Whether the case is defended and if it is:
  • The attitude of your opponent,
  • The number of documents that are relevant,
  • How many witnesses are involved,
  • Whether the case can be settled and
  • How long it takes the court to list the case for a hearing.

The information on costs and timing is provided for guidance only. It is not a quotation. We shall be pleased to provide information relating to a particular matter on request. Every client will receive a letter of engagement and terms of business setting out our terms and costs based on their needs and the specific facts of the matter.

Catherine Fisher

Catherine Fisher

Partner, Head of Department

Dispute Resolution and Personal Injury

I take this opportunity to convey my appreciation and gratitude, in which aside from your professionalism, your sensitivity and overall mannerism towards me was and is priceless. 

Estimated Fees

The complexity of a case is not always related to its value

For defended debts, we use alternative dispute resolution (ADR) wherever possible, rather than court proceedings, because ADR tend to be quicker and cheaper.

Claims for less than £10,000 do not usually need the involvement of a solicitor. They are allocated to the “small claims” track of the county court.  Proceedings can be issued online using Money Claims On-Line.  You will not usually be able to recover your legal fees for a claim worth less than £10,000 even if you win.

Claims for between £10,000 and £25,000 are allocated to the fast track of the county court. The trial will only take one day. The court will only allow you to recover fixed costs from your opponent if you win.  Fixed costs are nearly always less than we will charge you. The fixed costs set by the Ministry of Justice are here.

In a straightforward claim or a small claim it may not be cost-effective for you to instruct us to recover the debt on a “full retainer” basis (where we conduct the case for you and appear on the court record as your solicitors).  We might advise you to deal with the matter yourself or with our support on a “pay as you go” basis.  This is known as an unbundled legal service.  Unbundled legal advice is not appropriate for everybody.  We will tell you whether we think that it would be appropriate for us to offer it to you.  Every case is different.  Unbundled legal services can be charged at a fixed fee or on an hourly-rate basis.

Information about money claims on line can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/make-money-claim

https://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk/web/mcol/welcome

How long it will take to complete recovery of your debt depends on several factors, including:

  • Whether proceedings are issued, or a settlement is negotiated;
  • How long it takes the court to list dates for hearings;
  • The attitude of your opponent;
  • How long it takes the judge to deliver a judgment, if it is reserved.

If a straightforward claim is settled without the need to issue proceedings, it might take between two weeks and three months to resolve. A fast track claim will take up to one year from the issue of proceedings to the trial date, depending on court availability.

A more complicated claim allocated to the court’s multi-track (which is reserved for more complex cases and for claims for more than £25,000) might take between one month (if it is settled or undefended) and two years (if it is defended) to resolve.  Some county courts have very long waiting lists for hearings and can take up to 7 weeks to process paperwork.

It is very difficult to give an accurate estimate of the overall cost, because there is no such thing as an “average claim”.  For a relatively straightforward claim for £100,000 or less that is allocated to the fast track, your legal costs might be in the region of £12,000 (settling before trial) to £25,000 + VAT plus disbursements on a full retainer basis.  A complicated claim, allocated to the court’s multi track, with expert and lay witnesses, listed for a 2 day trial, could cost between £40,000 (settling before trial) and £120,000 + VAT and disbursements. A claim that can be adjudicated (a form of ADR) could cost between £5,000 and £12,000 + VAT and disbursements.

Once your claim has concluded, you may wish to instruct us to assist you with enforcing a judgment. We will often do this work on a fixed fee, if the case is appropriate (see below, under “fixed fees”).  Sometimes, debtors are evasive and either cannot be found, or oppose every attempt to enforce.  This can cause the costs to escalate. For example, an application for a charging order can cost between £500 and £2,500 + VAT and disbursements.

This Note gives general guidance and a range of average costs.  In every case we are instructed on, we will provide a detailed, case-specific estimate.

Basis of our Charges

Our charges will be based on either:

  • A fixed fee; or 
  • Our hourly rates 

Where appropriate, we may offer you a fixed fee for all or part of the work you instruct us to do. Whether or not it is appropriate to carry out the work on a fixed fee will depend on the facts of each case, but will include such factors as: the amount at stake, the legal and factual complexity of the dispute and the anticipated time to conclusion.

The amount of the fixed fee will depend on the work that we agree to do for that price.

For example:

In a straightforward claim for an unpaid invoice, a fixed fee for reviewing the claim and writing a letter before claim that complies with the Court Procedure Rules might start at £1,200+VAT

Assisting you with drafting a witness statement on an un-bundled retainer basis might cost between £1500+VAT for a short statement with few or no documents exhibited to it, to £4,500+VAT for a more complicated and detailed statement exhibiting up to 100 pages of documents. 

A fixed fee for drafting a letter before claim, issuing court proceedings and applying for judgment in default (in other words, where the debtor does not respond to the claim) in a straightforward case might cost between £2,500+VAT and £3,500+VAT plus disbursements.

A fixed fee for using alternative dispute resolution will depend on the type of ADR used.  For example, a half-day mediation in a claim for money owed under a contract where the terms of the contract are in dispute might cost around £3,000+VAT plus disbursements.  

A fixed fee for enforcing your judgment will depend on what we know of the debtor and whether or not she is likely to be co-operative.  A range of likely fixed fees for a straightforward matter in which we are instructed on the underlying claim are:

To instruct HCEO £200+VAT

Apply for a charging order £400-£500

Apply for an attachment of earnings order £250-£300

In each case, you will also have to pay any court fees or disbursements (costs we incur or pay to a third party on your behalf).

Matter Type Hourly rate (net of VAT)
Partner Solicitor, Department Head All £395
Partner Solicitor (London) All £345-375
Partner Solicitor (Surrey) All £315
Senior Associate Solicitor  (London) All £295
Associate Solicitor All £235
Solicitor All £190-205
Litigation Executive All £170
Trainee Solicitor All £170
Paralegal Level* All £120

Click here for details of the qualifications and experience of the team. 

*Paralegals in the team are not qualified lawyers, but they have practical experience in working with lawyers to progress cases.

In order to comply with money laundering and know-your-client regulations, we must properly identify you before we can begin work. Where possible, we prefer to do this using a Smart Phone App, to avoid the need for you to find a solicitor to certify copies of your identity documents. This incurs a one-off fee of £11.

Alternative Dispute Resolution ("ADR")

Where appropriate, we will use ADR. ADR is usually appropriate for a defended claim. The type of ADR we recommend will be specific to your claim.  The main methods of ADR are:

Our charges will be on our hourly rate basis.  In a straightforward claim, that settles after an initial exchange of correspondence, our charges will usually be between £1,900 and £2,500+VAT.

Our charges will usually be on an hourly rate basis, but in appropriate cases we may agree a fixed fee. Our charges will depend on how long we need to prepare for the mediation and how long the mediation takes, but in a straightforward case that takes half a day to mediate our charges might be in the region of £2,000 to £3,000+VAT and disbursements.

If a claim qualifies for adjudication (not all do) our charges will usually be on an hourly rate basis.  Our charges will depend on how detailed the adjudication documents need to be. A straightforward case that is adjudicated on paper only might cost between £8,000 to £30,000+VAT and disbursements

Arbitration can be just as expensive and take as long as court proceedings and is not often appropriate for recovery of a debt. A straightforward case that is arbitrated on paper only might cost between £8,000 to £30,000+VAT and disbursements. 

Expert determination is usually appropriate for recovering an overage payment if there is a dispute as to whether and how much is payable.  In a straightforward case, our fees in an expert determination might be between £5,000 and £10,000 plus VAT and disbursements.

Disbursements

“Disbursements” are costs we incur or pay to a third party on your behalf.  We would usually expect to incur some or all of the following disbursements. This is not an exhaustive list, because every case is different:

If court proceedings are issued, you must pay a fee on the issue of the claim, at various stages during the claim, and just before trial (if you are the claimant).  The Ministry of Justice updates the court fees regularly and they are published here.

If you need the evidence of an expert in order to prove your claim, we may need to instruct an expert to give evidence in support of your claim.  The amount of the expert’s fee will depend on the amount of work he is required to do and usually an expert will agree a fixed fee.  An expert’s fee could range from £800+VAT to £8,000+VAT for a report or a determination.  This excludes the cost of bringing an expert to court to give evidence for you.

Barristers are called “counsel”.  They are specialist advocates who conduct trials.  In a straightforward case, one of our lawyers will conduct hearings for you.  If a barrister is required, her fee will depend on how experienced she is and how long the hearing is due to last.  If the claim is allocated to what is known as the “fast track”, a barrister will usually charge the fee that is allowed by the court when it assesses costs on conclusion of the trial.  These fees are updated by the Ministry of Justice and details can be found here.

If the case is not a fast track case, a barrister of 10 years’ experience might charge a fee for a trial that lasts for one day in the region of £10,000 to £15,000 + VAT plus a daily refresher of around one-third the brief fee.

If the debt concerns a property (for example an overage claim) we may need to obtain copies of the property’s register at HM Land Registry.  It costs £3 for a copy of the Register and £3 for a copy of the plan.

If you are the claimant, the court rules require you to prepare bundles for hearings and for the trial.  We will charge you for photocopying, at 5p per sheet for a black and white A4 page, 25p A4 colour 10p A3 BW 50p colour. We may outsource photocopying to a third party and the cost will depend on the volume.

If we need to obtain documents from Companies House we will pass on to you the cost of this service, which varies depending on which documents are applied for.

If we need to obtain copies of the daily or judgment we will charge you for the cost of the transcription service.  The cost depends on the service provider and the length of the judgment.

If it is necessary to send documents urgently to counsel, expert or a witness we will charge you for the cost of the courier.  The cost depends on the weight of the package and the distance.

If your claim is transferred to a remote county court we may instruct a local agent. We will charge this cost to you. The cost depends on the length and nature of the hearing.

If we instruct the High Court Enforcement Officer to enforce your judgment, we will charge their costs to you.  Their fees can be found here.

If we use the services of a mediator, arbitrator or adjudicator to resolve your claim, you will be liable for her fees.  Most charge on an hourly rate basis and their fees depend on the time spent. For a straightforward claim, fees can vary from around £500+VAT per party to £15,000 + VAT. You may also have to pay for the hire of rooms and/or refreshments is a hearing is required.

Party Wall Surveyors’ fees

We offer a fixed fee service for the recovery of fees owed to Party Wall Surveyors under the Magistrates Court Act 1980.  These fees are based on the assumption that the matter proceeds without additional adjournments or complications and with no extraordinary delays. Any work outside the basic scope of each stage is charged at our hourly rates.

Stage Action Cost Estimate (ex VAT) Disbursements Recoverable from debtor?
Pre Action  Compliance with Anti-Money Laundering Regulations  £100   Yes, as assessed by court 
  Review documents and advise on viability of claim  £150-£200   Yes, as assessed by court 
  Letter before claim £150-£200   Yes, as assessed by court
Proceedings Filing and issuing the compliant and summons and work up to trial  £400  court fee* Yes, as assessed by court 
  Contested trial £900-£1,100 court fee* Yes, as assessed by court 
Enforcement  High Court Enforcement officers £100 - £200  Court fee** Yes, as assessed by court
  Charging Order £400-£500 Court fee*** £40 Land Registry fee Disbursements are recoverable as assessed by court.
  Attachment of Earnings Order £250-£300 Court fee*** Disbursements recoverable as assessed by court. Solicitors' costs capped at £98.50 

*Dependent on the fees set by the Ministry of Justice

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2016/807/article/2/made

** Dependent on the fees set by the Ministry of Justice

https://thesheriffsoffice.com/services/support-centre/enforce-money-judgments/enforcement-fees-and-stages

*** Dependent on the fees set by the Ministry of Justice

https://www.gov.uk/court-fees-what-they-are

Funding your claim

In appropriate cases, we may offer to fund your claim for you using a Conditional Fee Agreement or a Damages Based Agreement. We can also advise you approaching a specialist litigation funder.

In a CFA or a DBA, you will have to pay our fees plus any disbursements we pay on your behalf if you win your claim.

Your opponent may be ordered to pay a contribution towards your legal fees if you win, but it is most unlikely to cover the full cost.  You should be prepared for the fact that you may have to pay all or some of your legal fees from your recovery.

In a CFA, you will also have to pay a success fee, expressed as a percentage of our hourly-rate charges, not exceeding 100%, if you win your claim. We will be entitled to deduct our fees and our success fee, together with any disbursements that we have paid for you, and any insurance premium,  from your award, before passing the balance to you.

In a DBA, if you win, you will pay us a fixed percentage of the amount of money you recover, up to a maximum of 50%. In addition, you will pay us any disbursements excluding counsel’s fees. We will give you credit for any contribution to your legal costs recovered from your opponent. Depending on the terms of the DBA, you may have to pay all or some of our fees if you lose your case.

Funding agreements are complicated. This is just an overview. We will discuss funding arrangements with you in more detail if you instruct us to act for you.

Even if you do not win, you may have to pay our fees if the funding agreement is terminated.  We will explain this to you if we offer to fund your claim.

We will not be able to offer to fund your claim for you without first assessing the claim.  We will charge you for this assessment either on our usual hourly rates or for a fixed fee.  How much the assessment will cost depends on the complexity of the case. Assessing a straightforward claim might cost in the region of £350-£500+VAT in addition to the cost of the initial review of the documentation.

We will only offer to fund your claim for you if a funding arrangement will be in your interests and will meet your needs.  This is a complicated area and we will need to discuss it with you on a case by case basis.

Under a CFA or a DBA either you pay for the disbursements or we may fund them for you. If we fund them for you it may increase the overall cost of your claim.

The information provided in this note is not detailed or specific to your case.  If we offer to fund your claim, we will provide a comprehensive explanation tailored to the specific circumstances of your claim.