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5.1 Choose a solicitor with litigation expertise and a track record.
- Your existing commercial or conveyancing solicitor is not necessarily an expert litigator. Find solicitors by personal recommendation or through the Law Society (0870 606 6575).
5.2 Prepare for the initial consultation. Your solicitor's time is your money.
- Send a letter of instruction before your initial visit, summarising the claim, the facts and the evidence.
- Enclose indexed copies of relevant correspondence, notes, photographs etc.
5.3 Ask for an indication of how likely you are to win a court case, and whether it justifies the expense and risk.
- A good litigator will be able to provide a clear explanation of the legal position and an indication of the likely expense.
5.4 Ask for an initial estimate of costs. Once a case reaches court, costs can be several thousand pounds, even in relatively straightforward cases.
- Costs are usually based on an hourly rate. In some cases, it may be possible to agree a fixed fee.
- Hourly rates can be £500 or more for a senior London lawyer in a large commercial firm. Rates for junior London partners are about £200 to £360. Outside London, rates are lower.
- Barristers' costs are extra. Specialist barristers can cost thousands of pounds per day. You also pay for their written 'opinion'.
- Court fees are extra. To keep costs down, agree as much of the evidence as possible with the defendant beforehand, rather than arguing it all in court.
5.5 Ask for updates on progress and costs.
- You can ask for your final bill to be referred to the court to be approved as reasonable.