Different barristers like to work in different ways, so the way they charge for their work varies. However there are 3 basic pricing models for privately funded work.
- Fixed fee – this is a fee agreed in advance for a particular piece of work. It may be calculated by reference to the amount of work likely to be involved (as well as other possible factors discussed below). Once agreed, the fee will not vary according to the amount of time it takes the barrister to complete the work unless the scope of the work changes significantly and you agree.
- Hourly rate – if you agree to engage a barrister at their hourly rate, you will be charged at that rate for the number of hours it takes the barrister to complete the work they have been instructed to perform. All fees will also be subject to applicable VAT. A barrister may decide from time to time to increase the rate at which they charge. That will never happen mid-instruction but it may happen in the course of a long-running case, if it does, we will let you know and you will have the option either to agree to pay the barrister at the increased rate or to instruct another barrister.
- By reference to a framework agreement. Clients for whom our barristers work frequently, often but not exclusively local authorities, enter into framework agreements with chambers which govern the fees which our barristers charge in respect of cases with the scope of the agreement. If you would like to discuss such an agreement please contact our Senior Clerk.
Providing you with a written quotation
Our clerks are always happy to discuss individual barristers’ fees on a case-by-case basis and to provide written quotations.
If you would like a quotation, you will need to provide the clerks with sufficient information to enable them and/or the barrister to form an opinion as to the amount of work likely to be entailed in providing the services requested and any other information which may be necessary for them to be able to estimate the appropriate fee.
Once you have given our clerks any information that has been reasonably requested, they will provide you with a written quotation in clear readily understandable terms for the work in question within a reasonable time having regard to the urgency of the request and the timescales involved.
It is important to emphasise that providing you with a quotation does not mean that the barrister is obliged to accept your instructions.
If you accept the barrister’s quotation and proceed to provide instructions, the barrister will then have to consider whether they are able, under their Code of Conduct, to accept your instructions.
Please see our client care page for more information and details of timescales.
In some cases barristers may incur expenses in the course of providing their services such as:
- Travel expenses;
- Hotel costs;
- Copying charges; and
- Search fees.
Unless necessarily and urgently incurred so as to make it impracticable to seek agreement in advance, such expenses will only be chargeable if agreed in advance.
All members of Field Court Chambers are required to be registered for VAT, so VAT will be charged as applicable on all barristers’ fees.
Private funding – This is the conventional and most common model. The barrister contracts with either the instructing solicitor or the client that they will pay the barrister’s according to their contract. The standard terms upon which barristers at Field Court Chambers contract may be viewed from our Terms of business page.
Barristers are only obliged to accept instructions pursuant to the ‘Cab-rank rule’ if they have been offered a proper fee for their services.
Public funding – In certain types of case you may, depending on your means and various other factors, be eligible for Legal Aid. This is a matter which you will need to investigate with a solicitor. Barristers cannot accept instructions directly from lay clients pursuant to the Public Access scheme if an application for Legal Aid is likely to be required.
More information about your potential eligibility for Legal Aid can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/check-legal-aid.
Conditional fee agreements – More commonly known as ‘no win no fee’ agreements, there are many different forms of such agreements. Their common feature is that the barrister’s fees, calculated in the manner described above, will only be payable or payable at a particular rate if the condition of ‘success’ is achieved.
Generally, as a condition of the barrister agreeing only to be paid in the event of success, an ‘uplift’, calculated as a percentage of counsel’s ‘base fees’, will be payable in addition to the barrister’s base fees. The maximum permissible uplift is 100% of the fees charged by the barrister. Although the barrister’s base fees will generally be recoverable from the opposing party if the litigation ends in success, subject to the court assessing their reasonableness, the uplift will not be recoverable from the opposing party although it may possibly be recoverable from other third parties in certain circumstances.
The basic types of CFA are:
- ‘no win no fee’ agreements – The barrister will only be paid if the action ends in success as defined by the agreement but if it does he will be entitled to be paid an uplift;
- ‘no win low fee’ agreements – The barrister will be paid at a ‘reduced rate’ which is a proportion of his ‘base rate’ in any event, but, if the action ends in success he will be entitled to be paid at his normal full rate and to an uplift;
- CFA lite – The barrister agrees to accept only those fees which it is possible to recover from the opposing parties; and
- Damages Based Agreements – Rather than being entitled to be paid fees, the barrister will be entitled to proportion of any damages awarded.
Barristers are not obliged to accept cases on conditional fee terms for the obvious reasons that the barrister is being asked to share the risk of failure with the solicitor and client, the barrister will therefore need to be satisfied that the prospect of the action ending in success are sufficient to justify taking that risk.
Assessment and recovering fees from your opponent
The considerations to which the court will have regard in deciding whether you are entitled to recover the costs which you incur in litigation from your opponent are many and various but the general rule is that the ‘losing’ party will be ordered to pay the ‘successful’ party’s costs.
If the court orders your opponent to pay your costs it will either assess the costs there and then (summary assessment) or direct that the costs be assessed by a costs judge (detailed assessment). In either case the court will be assessing whether those costs were reasonably incurred and whether they are proportionate to the issues in the case. For these reasons there is no guarantee that your opponent will be ordered to pay all of the costs which you have agreed to pay your barrister.
Recovering the money which you spend on your lawyers is an important aspect of any civil litigation, sometimes the most important aspect. It is something which you should always keep in mind and discuss with your solicitor and/or barrister as you go along.
There are many risks associated with litigation. Foremost amongst these is the risk that you may be ordered to pay the whole or some part of your opponent’s costs. It is not always possible to control effectively the amount of costs which your opponent incurs, so it is possible that even though your costs are relatively modest your opponent’s will not be. This may come as a particularly heavy blow because you will already have incurred your own costs in the litigation and will also probably have lost your case.
Given these risks, it is generally wise at least to consider the possibility of insuring against them. This form of insurance is known as, ‘after the event insurance’ or ‘ATE’. Some ATE insurers are also willing to assist their policyholders with the payment of issue fees and other litigation expenses and offer premiums which are payable only in the event of success.
Policies of home insurance and others often include some cover in respect of legal expenses. So, it is important to check whether you might possibly be covered for the whole or some part at least of your legal expenses. It is also worth noting that whilst legal expenses insurers are entitled to insist that you instruct their nominated firms before proceedings are issued, once they have been issued you are free to instruct whoever you wish.
You may also be entitled to assistance with legal fees through your Union or professional body.
If you would like more information on this subject you should ask your barrister or solicitor. Alternatively, further information is available at: https://www.legalchoices.org.uk/legal-choices/moneytalks/after-the-event-insurance/. The website is run by the legal regulators and makes information available to assist consumers.
Fees in Public Access cases
Barristers instructed under the Public Access scheme will charge for their work in much the same way as they would if they were instructed in the conventional way by a solicitor.
Similarly, the remarks set out above concerning: timescales for the completion of work, additional costs, VAT, funding models, the assessment and recovery of fees and insurance all apply equally to lay clients instructing barristers pursuant to the Public Access scheme.
The barrister must send you a letter of retainer setting out the terms of his engagement before commencing work. That letter should set out the basis upon which he or she is to be paid.
There are some slight differences, however:
- Barristers are not required to extend credit to clients instructing them under the Public Access scheme. It is, therefore, common for them to fix their fee and require payment of it in advance.
- Also, because barristers are not able to guarantee their availability on any particular occasion, the fee which they agree will generally relate to a specific item of work. Some barristers, however, may be willing to work on an hourly rate basis without insisting upon payment in advance. Unlike solicitor, barristers are not entitled to demand payments on account of unspecified work to be done in the future because they are not allowed to handle client monies.
- Barristers will generally charge clients instructing them under the Public Access scheme at a higher rate than they would if they were being instructed by a solicitor in order to reflect the fact that, to some extent, they will also be doing the work which would ordinarily be done by the solicitor as well as the work as a barrister. The burden of the work is therefore more onerous. Nevertheless, there should still be a significant saving as against the cost of instructing both a solicitor and a barrister in respect of the same work.
- It is more likely that barristers will incur disbursements which they will seek to recover from their clients in accordance with their agreed terms.
- In certain circumstances barristers may still be willing to enter into conditional fee agreements with Public Access clients but in view of the discontinuous nature of instructions under the Public Access scheme and the consequently greater risks of the litigation for the barrister, it is less likely that they will be willing to consider entering into a CFA with a client instructing them under the Public Access scheme.
We have indicated below certain likely charges for one of our barristers to do the work specified. In the case of the likely hourly rate range, the exact cost will depend on the barrister’s experience.
DVLA licence appeal preliminary assessment – fixed price of £400
Advising whether you have suitable grounds for an appeal against your driving licence being revoked or your application being refused on medical grounds. And if you do, what the best approach would be. This preliminary assessment can be conducted either in person at our offices in central London or via remote conferencing such as Teams or Zoom.
Bringing of a claim for ordinary Unfair Dismissal and/or Wrongful Dismissal before the Employment Tribunal – £200-£350 per hour
- Providing advice and representation to employees in relation to their against their employer; and/or
- Providing advice and representation to employers in relation to defending claims before the Employment Tribunal brought by an employee.
Inheritance Act advice – £125- £350 per hour
- Providing advice to clients in relation to potential claims under the Inheritance Act 1975; and/or
- Providing advice to clients in relation to defending claims under the Inheritance Act 1975.
Note that additional price transparency rules only apply where the deceased person’s estate is worth less than £300,000.
Personal injury claims £75- £250 per hour
- Providing advice and representation to clients in relation to personal injury claims (claims for physical injuries, diseases or illnesses, or psychological injuries or illnesses).
Note that additional price transparency rules only apply in relation to claims which are allocated to the fast track (generally, claims which are not worth more than £25,000).
Winding-up petitions – £125-£350 per hour
- Providing advice and representation to clients in relation to winding-up companies which owe them monies; and/or
- Providing advice and representation to companies in relation to defending winding-up petitions issued against them.
Financial disputes arising out of divorce – we do not accept this type of work under the Direct Public Access scheme
Cases where the joint assets are worth less than £300,000.00 and the parties cannot agree on financial matters during the process of obtaining, or following, a divorce such as:
- How assets should be divided;
- Whether to sell the matrimonial home or other assets;
- Maintenance payments; and
- Pension sharing.
Note that additional price transparency rules only apply where the parties have joint assets which are worth less than £300,000.
Licensing applications in relation to business premises – we do not cover this type of work
Note that additional price transparency rules only apply in relation to:
- local authority hearings and appeals to the Magistrates’ Court,
- and licensing applications for:
- The sale or supply of alcohol;
- Change of opening hours; and
- Entertainment purposes.
Summary only motoring offences (advice and representation for defendants) – we do not cover this type of work
Note that additional price transparency rules only apply in relation to summary only motoring offences under Part I of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and/or s89 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. For example:
- Driving while disqualified;
- Driving without insurance;
- Careless driving;
- Failing to stop or report; and