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Paying for legal services

  • It is a solicitor's responsibility to keep you informed of costs and to give you a clear bill which shows the work done and the amount charged. It may be that you will be eligible for publicly funded assistance.

    Getting free help

    You may be entitled to free help under the Legal Aid Scheme.

    See our page on legal aid for more information

    Your solicitor's bill

    All bills should show you the dates between which the work was done and enough information for you to decide whether the bill is reasonable. Sometimes your solicitor will accompany the bill with a print out of a computer time record or work summary. If you want more information you may request a bill containing detailed items within three months of receiving a summary bill. This will then replace the summary bill and may be for more than the original bill.

    Working out your solicitor's charges

    The ways in which charges are worked out differ depending on whether your legal work has been contentious (with court proceedings) or non-contentious (with no court proceedings). In both cases your solicitor's bill should contain enough information for you to see what work has been done and what you are being charged for so that you can decide whether to get your bill checked.

    Bills for contentious work

    If the work involved a court case, your solicitor can send you either a brief summary of costs (called a gross sum bill) or a bill containing detailed items. If you receive a summary, you may ask for a bill containing detailed items within three months. However, you cannot ask for this if your solicitor has already started to sue you for the money. If you ask for a bill containing detailed items, it will replace the original summary and can be for more or less than the summary.

    Bills for non-contentious work

    Non-contentious work is work that has not involved the courts, but may involve some tribunals. Your solicitor may be prepared to give you more detail of the work that has been done, if you ask.

    Getting your bill checked

    If your bill is for contentious or non-contentious work you may get your bill checked by the court. This is called assessment. There are rules about the time when you can use this procedure and the procedure to follow. You can find out more about getting your bill checked on the Adviceguide website.

    If you are unhappy with your bill

    See our complaints page for how to complain about your bill or the services you have received.