Terms of Business - Family Law Clients

The terms herein relate to Child Access Family Law Clients. It is always difficult to say how many hearings will be heard in child access cases as the number of  hearings will vary, depending on your case and the reasons why you have gone to Court. It is always the case that you and your child’s other parent could reach an agreement with just one hearing.

But if you cannot agree at the first hearing, then the Court will order further hearings before making a decision. There will also be more hearings involved in children proceedings if any safeguarding allegations are made by one parent about the other. If you have safeguarding issues which need to be determined by the court you are likely to have 5 or 6 hearings (or even more hearings) before the matter is resolved: i) initial case management hearing; ii) dispute resolution hearing; iii) (if the dispute cannot be resolved, Cafcass may become involved to draft a Section 7 report) and a hearing will then be listed for the court to discuss the findings of the report; iv) if you have safeguarding issues a fact finding hearing will be heard and they can be 1,2 or 3 days long, depending on the complexities of the allegations being made e.g Domestic Violence allegations or Parental Alienation allegations; v) a final hearing. 

I charge a fixed fee of £1500 to prepare a child access family law case and will then charge additional fees for attending court. My fee for a 1/2 day hearing is £550 and for a full day hearing is £1000. I charge £300 for a hearing if it is listed to progress the case. Fact Finding Hearings are listed usually for 1 or 2 days (or more) (depending on the complexity of any allegation made by the parties which the court needs to hear evidence on and the number of witnesses you may seek to call). 

As an estimate for me to deal with your child access family case e.g. based on 3 case management type hearings, a 1 day fact finding hearing and a 1/2 day final hearing, your total cost would be £3950 + any travel costs. 

You should note that in the majority of family law cases, you are not be able to recover your legal fees if you “win”. You can only apply for costs if you can convince the court that your partner has acted very unreasonably in either commencing the case or defending the case. 

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. Any disputes under these terns are governed by English law and can be adjudicated by the courts of England and Wales

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. 

2. 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. 

3. 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.

4. 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 case is set for 2 days and 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 text 07491041812 and I will reply.

10. 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; and

(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. 

I will hold no liability (unless I agree a future hearing date when I am in Court) or the Court correspond with me with any revised hearing date. 

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

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

(ii)        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 www.gov.uk 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 for this work 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 all your 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 (i.e. reveal) your information to governmental or other regulatory authorities, eh organisations, 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.

This contract will be governed by English law, and any dispute will be subject to the jurisdiction of the English courts. 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 Complaints:

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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