Legal fees

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Costs are important to everyone and you should ask your solicitor at the first meeting how much you are likely to have to pay. Solicitors will try to give you an accurate estimate and will tell you how the bills are worked out. Your solicitor will confirm either an estimate or the basis on which the fees will be charged, in writing, taking into account of the amount of work, time and expertise involved in the case.

We don’t set guidelines on fees. Each firm charges what it believes is appropriate. Some solicitors charge a fixed fee for the whole job, others charge according to how much time they actually spend doing the work for you.

To compare costs, you could phone a few solicitors for quotations. The Find a Solicitor function on the Society's website allows you to search by the type of work you need carried out or search for a solicitor close to where you live.

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We don’t set guidelines for fees. Each firm charges what it believes is appropriate. However, solicitors must provide an itemised account if requested by their client, but are entitled to charge for preparing it.

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We don’t have the power to consider the amount of fees charged by a solicitor. However, we do set out standards which our members must follow. One of our standards relates to professional fees and we maintain that all fees charged by solicitors must be fair and reasonable.

A reasonable fee will take account of: the amount of work and the time involved; the level of specialised knowledge, responsibility and supervision needed; the length, number and importance of any documents which need to be prepared or read; the place where and the circumstances in which the work is done; the urgency of the case and the amount of money or value of any property involved.

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If you wish to challenge the amount you have been charged, you should discuss this with your solicitor or the firm’s client relations partner. Your solicitor can give you a summary of the work done for you and how the fees are worked out, free of charge. You can also ask for a more detailed breakdown of the fee – which describes each letter, the time spent by each person who worked on your file and each phone call – but the solicitor is entitled to charge for preparing this.

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If you want an independent person to assess the solicitor’s fees, you can take this to an Auditor of Court (there is one based in every Sheriff Court in Scotland). The Auditor has the power to assess the fees and will determine whether the fees are excessive. They also have the power to lower the fees accordingly.

Refer to the Scottish Courts website to find out who the Auditor is in their local Sheriff Court.

See more information on legal fees.