Paying for a solicitor
Solicitors charge for their time and services. If you’re getting legal advice or representation from a solicitor, you’ll probably need to pay for these services. Costs for legal services will depend on which solicitor you choose.
Solicitors are subject to the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) Price Transparency Rules. The rules require firms to publish price and service information on their websites for certain areas of practice. They’re also required to publish their complaints procedures and to display a digital badge to show they’re regulated by the SRA. The rules were introduced to help potential clients make informed decisions about legal services.
You may be able to get legal aid to help pay for some or all of your legal costs.
What your solicitor will charge for
Your solicitor should:
- tell you how much your case is likely to cost at the outset
- keep you updated about costs during the process
- give you a final bill clearly showing what work was done and when, and the amount charged
Charges may include:
- their basic fee
- a success fee – an added fee if your case is successful and you have a conditional fee agreement
- premiums for after-the-event insurance or any other legal expenses insurance
- disbursements – for example costs for searches, land registry fees or getting reports (such as medical records)
- any other fees – for example court, barrister and expert fees
Types of bill
The type of bill you receive will depend on whether the work is:
- contentious (involving the courts)
- non-contentious (does not involve the courts but may involve a tribunal)
If the courts are involved (contentious)
If your case went to court, your solicitor will give you:
- a detailed breakdown bill
- a summary bill (sometimes called a gross sum bill)
If your case went to court and you only receive a summary bill, you can ask your solicitor for a detailed breakdown bill. You need to ask for it within three months of getting the summary bill. The detailed bill will replace the original summary bill. If your solicitor is suing you for an unpaid bill, they do not have to give you a detailed version.
If the courts are not involved (non-contentious)
If the work did not involve a court case, your solicitor will give you a summary bill (sometimes called a gross sum bill).
You can ask your solicitor for a more detailed bill, but they do not have to provide one.
If you’re unhappy with your bill
You can complain about:
- your bill
- the services you’ve received
Talking to your solicitor about payment
You can discuss payment options with your solicitor. For example, they may be able to offer you:
- a no win, no fee agreement
- damages-based agreements
- free or one-off payment advice
Your solicitor may take out after-the-event insurance for you, so that you can pay the other side’s legal costs if you lose. It may also cover your solicitor’s expenses.
No win, no fee agreements
You agree to pay only if you win your case. However you may still have to pay, in certain circumstances, if the agreement is ended by you or your solicitors before the case finishes.
You agree with your solicitor to pay a set percentage of the compensation you receive if you win your case.
Free or one-off payment advice
Some solicitors give a free or one-off payment advice session. You can call the solicitor's office to find out if they offer this.
Getting help with legal costs
If you need help paying your solicitor’s fees, you may be able to get legal aid or other free legal help.
Legal aid may help pay towards your legal costs. Whether you can get legal aid depends on:
- what sort of legal problem you have
- your income and savings
Other free legal advice
If you cannot get legal aid, you may be able to get other help.