Let’s Talk Legal Fees
- Featured article by LAWYERS-ONLINE.CO.ZA - July 2019
To be honest, very few people actually want to pay for a Lawyer.
Legal fees are very much a begrudged cost and for many people the idea of legal services and the cost related to it seems unattainable and a quick look at the internet proves that it can be a minefield out there when it comes to the types of costs which might apply.
It can become even more confusing when terms like party costs, attorney costs and own client costs get thrown into the mix.
In some instances, some of your fees may be covered by the losing party in a lawsuit, but much like gambling, you cannot bet on the outcome always being in your favour. Therefore, it is best to look at any situation related to legal action with the pre-acceptance that it will cost you some money. You must balance this fact against knowing that while your Lawyer may charge a fee, their services very often result in reducing risk and damages costs, or even recovering funds for you.
Control your expectations, and accept very few people who enter legal matters actually walk away without spending money, and a lawyer like any other industry professional makes a living from their time, and it is their time and experience you pay for.
There are industry standards which protect you from abuse in fees, and having an idea on costs will empower you which is why in this newsletter we wanted too breakdown some of the more common legal fees that you as a client can expect when engaging with legal services.
Types of Fees:
For example: The consultation fee covers the first hour of interaction with your lawyer. This is when your case and your needs will be explained and the lawyer proposes what to do going forward. During this, future costs can be discussed. When setting up your appointment make sure that you ask about the consultation fee, as it is your right to confirm the amount before confirming the appointment.
This cost can range roughly between R1000 and R4500 depending on your lawyer and their skillset.
If your case becomes an ongoing matter and a file is opened for you, your lawyer will charge you an hourly fee for services rendered. You will generally be provided with a bill of costs summary to sign.
An example to illustrate this:
Let’s say you’ve engaged the services of a lawyer to file a lawsuit. While preparing your case, your lawyer will make phone calls, file documents and do research to be prepared for court, and each of these actions is logged and you are subsequently billed per hour of work that goes into this.
This fee can range roughly between R1 000 and R3 000 per hour, depending on your lawyer and their skillset.
This is when you require a set service, like an uncontested divorce, or a simple commercial contract or issuing a letter of demand on someone who might owe you money. In these instances the Lawyer is able to give you a blanket fee for a once off cost to finalize the task.
These fees can vary drastically and range between R1 500 and R15 000 roughly.
Alternatively, if you and your lawyer agree that you will be using their services regularly, it may be best to use a retainer fee. A retainer is a monthly amount paid to your lawyer that can be put toward legal services.
For example, if you regularly need contracts drawn up or legal documents processed, it may work out to be more cost-effective using a retainer instead of being billed individually for each document.
This type of fee is used a lot for commercial matters.
The fee is normally around R10 000 + per month, depending on duties and scope of work outlined in a retainer contract.
Very often your legal representative may require a deposit before commencing on the instructions given to them. These deposits are kept in a separate trust account, and only once services have been rendered will the attorney have access to the funds or deduct costs. Therefore, should they not deliver the services requested, your deposit remains unspent and safe.
A deposit can range between R2500 and R15 000 roughly, depending on the matter.
Most lawyers will not open a file until a deposit has been paid because so many clients fail to settle accounts and that leaves the lawyer very vulnerable to losses which they cannot recover after their time has been used.
The Best Arrangement for You
The consultation is where you discuss options best for you. Never ever be shy to talk about legal costs. It is a service after all and you don’t need to think of it in any other way. Ask for a quote and don’t be afraid to negotiate within reason.
For further information about our services please feel free to contact us.