Terms of Business - Divorce / Financial Settlement Clients

The terms herein relate to Divorce / Financial Settlement Clients. 

Matters concerning the financial settlement can vary greatly in their complexity. Many cases can be resolved via negotiations or mediation and without the need of the involvement of the Court. However, some parties can have immensely complicated finances and there are always some cases which will require an application to the Court and on occasions the process can be very lengthy and costly. This invariably means costs can vary greatly.

My fees for dealing with a divorce will depend if the divorce is contested or not. If the divorce is not contested then I charge £450 to draft the paperwork for the divorce and for me to deal with any communications. You should note that the government fees for a divorce are currently £550 and if your divorce is not to be contested you should ask your partner to meet 1/2 or more of that fee as well as you both agreeing to meet your own legal fees. 

If you are not speaking with your partner, then the question of who will meet the costs of the divorce and legal fees will have be set out in correspondence with the other side. 

If your divorce is to be contested my fees will depend on what is to be contested and whether court hearings are necessary. 

The divorce process is dealt with separate to any financial matters. The divorce process takes 18-20 weeks to complete. 

Divorce Process Explained;

Stage 1- Issue Petition; 

Stage 2- Court Sends Petition to Respondent; 

Stage 3 –Respondent Files Response or Deemed or Disposed Service is acquired; 

Stage 4 –Application for Decree Nisi; 

Stage 5 –Application for Decree Absolut; 

Stage 6 – Hearing; 

If either party objects to the court’s order in respect of the divorce costs, then that party must give notice not less than 14 days before the Decree Nisi hearing that he or she wishes to make representations at that hearing.

Unless there is a dispute regarding the costs of the divorce proceedings neither the petitioner nor the respondent is required to attend the hearing. The Decree Nisi is simply read out on the relevant day by a District Judge in open court.

If the court is not satisfied that the petitioner is entitled to a Decree Nisi, the court may ask for further evidence to clarify any information in the petitioner’s statement in support of divorce or the court may list the matter for a directions hearing.

Stage 7 – Decree Absolut Granted.

A Decree Absolut is what brings a marriage to an end in the UK, however it does not sever financial liability between the parties and even after you are divorced either party can still bring a claim against the other even on windfalls received after the marriage has ended.

The only way to avoid this is to obtain a court order severing all ties.

When you have the Decree Nisi you can then move onto your financial settlement. Some divorcing couples may have no assets and or no desire to make a claim against the other and simply want a “Clean Break”, in these situations they can apply for a “Clean Break Consent Order”

Clean Break Consent Orders Explained;

A Clean Break Order is exactly that a “Clean Break”. Both parties are mutually agreeing to not now, or anytime in the future make a financial claim against the other and this includes any claim against either parties will at death.

Once the order is granted by the court all financial liabilities are severed.

I charge £750 to draft a Clean Break Consent Order.

Where Divorcing Couples cannot agree on a financial agreement by consent or are unwilling to do so without the benefit of being advised what they are entitled to, this becomes a “Contested Financial Order”

This process can be lengthy and complex, depending on the financial assets involved and the animosity between the parties.

FINANCIAL SETTLEMENT – THE COST WILL DEPEND IF THE MATTER IS CONTESTED OR NOT 
AN EXAMPLE OF TOTAL COSTS FOR A CONTESTED MATTER THROUGH TO STAGE 2 WITH A ONE DAY COURT HEARING 
IS £3000 + £2000 + £1000 + £1000 = TOTAL £7,000. 
NOTE – THE FEES BELOW MAY VARY IF YOU HAVE OVERSEAS PROPERTIES, MULTIPLE PENSIONS AND BUSINESSES TO BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT IN ANY SETTLEMENT

FIXED FEE FOR NEGOTIATING A FINANCIAL AGREEMENT WITHOUT COURT PROCEEDINGS
My fee is £3,000 (currently no VAT) + any disbursements and the fee covers all work including:
• Meetings with you
• All communication with both you and your spouse/their solicitors
• Preparation of Financial Statement
• Perusing spouse’s Financial Statement and preparing a Questionnaire
• Preparing your Replies to a Questionnaire raised by spouse/their solicitors
• Preparing an Additional Questionnaire and Schedule of Deficiencies (if applicable)
• Advising you
• Negotiating with spouse/their solicitors
• Preparing/Agreeing a Consent Order
• Completion of the Form A and Statement of Information for a Consent Order
• Lodging the Consent Order with the Court and receiving the sealed Consent Order
NOTE – The above fee does not include drafting the terms of the Consent Order. 

FIXED FEE FOR FINANCIAL COURT PROCEEDINGS – STAGE 1
This stage covers all work undertaken from making the MIAM referral to a mediation service up to and including representing you at the FDA Hearing and drafting/agreeing the FDA Order.
The fixed fee for stage 1 is £2,000 (currently no VAT) + any disbursements/recharges

FIXED FEE FOR FINANCIAL COURT PROCEEDINGS – STAGE 2
The fixed Fee is £1,000 (currently no VAT) + any disbursements/recharges and this stage covers all work undertaken from implementing the FDA Order up to any Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) Hearing (it does not cover the costs for advocacy at any hearing which is £550 for a 1/2 day and £1000 for a full day) and drafting/agreeing the FDR Order.

Contested Financial Orders Explained

Contested Financial Orders require both parties to go through the disclosure process and exchange all of their financial information on Form E, once this process is complete and providing there are no outstanding disclosure issues then I can prepare a written view as to what you would likely achieve at court. I charge a minimum of £1500 for dealing with the financial negotiations (this fee will vary if the case involves e.g. family businesses, multiple investments, several pensions, several  insurance policies, or overseas properties which have to taken into account)  

Once we have all of the information I will then negotiate with the other side to see if an “out of court settlement” can be achieved without the need for any further court proceedings.

If an agreement cannot be reached then a court hearing will be necessary for the court to determine the final settlement. These are normally at least 1 day hearings, but depending on the complexity of the assets then can be 2, 3 (or more) days long. I charge £1,000 a day for court hearings. 

In financial settlement cases you will not be able to claim your legal fees if you “win”. The 

I am pleased to accept instructions from you on the terms herein. It is important that you  understand my full terms as they will form a legally binding contract between us. 

Please review the Bar Standard Board’s (BSB) guidance for lay clients, which explains how the public access scheme works, if you are unsure of anything. https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/regulatory-requirements/bsb-handbook/public-access-guidance-for-lay-clients

My Basic Terms
1.Any quote given to you for legal services will assume that you will provide me with all necessary information to enable me to deliver the agreed scope of work within the agreed time-frame. I may have to amend my fee if the scope of work or time-frame changes for reasons beyond my control, alternatively if you simply fail to provide information required to enable me to proceed with your case I will entitled to discontinue providing the service and in such circumstance you will not be entitled to any refund on fees which you have already paid.

2. When you instruct me I will not be able to act until you type me up a case summary and send me any relevant documents and you will have to send me ID, either a copy of a driving licence or passport and a utility bill showing your address. 

3. I offer only a 20 minute free consultation. If you then seek to instruct me I will require at least a £500 retainer to be paid. 

4. Any agreed fee for me to attend a hearing must be paid at least 72 hours before the hearing, failing which I am not obliged to attend the hearing.

5. If I quote a fee for the dates of the hearing as set by the court you will not be entitled to a refund if your case finishes early. e.g your case is set for 2 days but concludes in 1 day. 

5. If your case does not start on the day it is supposed to and is simply adjourned, I will charge £250 and carry the balance over to the adjourned hearing date.  

6. If your case is listed more than an 80 mile round trip from my address you will have to meet travel costs, either petrol costs or train travel to/from Durham. 

7. If your case is listed more than 100 miles from my address and goes into a 2nd, 3rd etc day, you will have to pay for a local B&B for me to be on sight for the following days hearings. 

8. If an expert if to be instructed you will have to appoint the expert and meet his/her fee. 

9. Note that I may not be able to speak to you when you call me (as my phone must be off when in court). In such situations you should email me at jbrown@nechambers.co.uk or text 07491041812 and I will reply. If you contact me by email I will reply within 72 hours.

11. I will not charge you additional fees to call me or email me, but the level of contact must be reasonable. You will have no real need to contact me every day. If your level of contact is unreasonable I will tell you so and if it continues I will have to charge my time pro-rata £185 per hour. 

The work I will carry out is set out in the letter I will have already emailed to you along with my fees for this work

If subsequent work is needed on this matter, there will have to be another letter of agreement between us. Note that because I carry out all my work personally and cannot predict what other professional responsibilities I may have in the future, I cannot at this stage confirm that I would be able to accept instructions for any subsequent work you may request from me.

If you are satisfied with the my services, I would ask that you give me an appropriate rating on Trust Pilot. A button is on the home page of my website.

if you know anyone else who could use my services, (my website lists all areas of law I deal with) I would hope you would invite them to contact me.

If you are dissatisfied with my services, I have a complaints process that you may follow. Further details are set out on my website. 

Other matters

I am the only person you are instructing. I am a sole practitioner direct access barrister but I may use the services of a litigation assistant.

I have carefully considered your instructions and can confirm that I have sufficient experience and competence to undertake the work.

The work you are instructing me to carry out is set out in my letter of agreement.

If subsequent work is needed on this matter, and I am available to do the extra work, there will need to be another letter of agreement between us.

Barristers advise on the law, draft documents for clients to use and appear on behalf of their clients before courts or tribunals and other organisations. Barristers do not handle client money 

Here are some examples of work I can carry out:

(i)        I can draft letters on your behalf;

(ii)        I can liaise with other parties on your behalf;

(iii)       I can appear on your behalf to argue your case at court;

(iv)       If a witness statement is needed from you, I can draft it from what you tell me. I can help finalise a witness statement from another person based on the information that person has provided;

(v)        I can advise you on the need for expert evidence and on the choice of a suitable expert. However, I am not permitted to instruct an expert on your behalf. Expert evidence is evidence about a professional, scientific or technical matter provided by an individual with expertise in that area; 

(vi)      I can draft formal court documents for you and can  serve court documents on other parties and file them at court on your behalf; 

(vii) I will hold no liability to attend a hearing unless I agree a future hearing date when I am in Court, or the Court (or you) send me a court order with any revised hearing date; 

(viii) As you are instructing me without a solicitor, you must be sure that:

(a)        you are able to do whatever is necessary for matters identified herein which  I cannot deal with; or

(b)        you have made an arrangement with another person of suitable competence and experience to provide those services
             for you.

Circumstances when I may not be able to act for you:

As a barrister, I must follow the Bar Code of Conduct. That code of conduct requires me to consider whether a solicitor needs to be instructed in your own interests. If there comes a point at which I consider you may need a solicitor I will no longer be able to act for you without the involvement of a solicitor. If I foresee that situation arising, I will give you as much notice as possible.

Legal Aid:

As a barrister I cannot undertake legal aid work unless I have been instructed by a solicitor. If you want to talk to someone about getting legal aid, you should contact a solicitor who does legal aid work. They will be able to advise you about legal aid arrangements relating to civil cases e.g. where you are in dispute with another individual or organisation and also criminal cases e.g. where a crime may have been committed. You can find out more information on the government website: https://www.gov.uk/community-legal-advice

In agreeing these terms, you confirm that you have been informed that you may be eligible for public funding. You confirm in agreeing these terms that you are choosing to instruct me without the benefit of any public funding that may be available to you.

As I carry out all my professional work personally, there may be times when I am not available to you. For example, if I am in court for a day or for several days in a row. I may be totally unavailable to all clients during that time. If you are not able to contact me directly, send an email to jbrown@nechambers.co.uk, or send me a text on 07491041812 and I will respond as soon as possible.

My fees are set out in my cover letter. Under these terms, you are responsible for paying the fees set out in my cover letter.

You and I agree that:

(i)        I am entitled to keep copies of any documents you give me for my own professional records; and

(ii)        I will return any original documents to you when I have carried out the work you have instructed me to do.

I would prefer that you give me copies of documents rather than originals. However, if this is not possible, you agree that I may (if there are a large number of documents) make a reasonable charge to you for producing photocopies.

General Obligations:

The information which you give to me will be received in professional confidence. I am registered with the ICO under the Data Protection Act 2018 (Number ZA528085). This means that I must maintain the confidentiality of any information you have shared with me and can only tell others about it if you give your consent for me to do so. The only exception is that statutory and other legal requirements may mean that I have to disclose your information to governmental or other regulatory authorities, whose rules I must meet, without your consent and without telling you that I have made the disclosure. Statutory and legal requirements are rules or regulations that an individual must, by law, follow.

Our business relationship will be governed by English law, and any dispute will be subject to the jurisdiction of the Courts of England and Wales. Jurisdiction means the power and authority of a court or tribunal to determine the outcome of a case and impose sanctions or penalties on those involved

Legal Ombudsman:

If you are not happy with my reply to any complaint you can contact the Legal Ombudsman. The Legal Ombudsman is a free, impartial and independent service set up by the Government which deals with complaints about legal services you have received.

You must complain to the Ombudsman within 6 months of receiving a final response to your complaint from myself. A complaint to the Ombudsman must also be made not more than 6 years after the act or omission complained about or not more than 3 years from the date when you should reasonably have known that there were grounds for complaint.

For further details about how to make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman, please contact the Legal Ombudsman directly at: Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ – Email: enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk
Phone: 0300 555 0333 – Website: www.legalombudsman.org.uk

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