Have you ever felt duped or cheated? It’s not a nice feeling is it?
Unfortunately, you’ll find ‘hidden extras’ when committing to make a purchase in all manner of industries. There is often scope for these hidden extras to find their way on to your bill without you necessarily agreeing a price (or indeed realising that there was a price involved at all!)
Take the case of eating out with friends or family. You are asked whether you’d like a salad with your sandwich. “Yes, please!” you reply, little realising that this item would in fact be added to the bill! After all, the price was never discussed!
You may feel a little annoyed by this – the cheek! But you pay the bill and vow to be more careful in the future…
Of course, this is an almost universal experience, and whilst it is a source of frustration, it is not a cause for major upset.
However, when it comes to matters involving large sums of money, the stakes are much higher. People often come to solicitors at times in their life when they don’t have another choice – be that through the loss of a loved one, or to settle a dispute with a neighbour or business partner. Ultimately, there is no getting away from the fact that legal services are needed and must be paid for. However, everyone has the right to choose which law firm to instruct. This is worth serious consideration.
It is important to realise that not all legal practices operate in the same way. Conducting research before instructing a solicitor will help you to make an informed decision, and avoid nasty surprises.
The good news is that the legal sector’s ombudsman is tackling the issue of hidden costs by updating its guidance following the news that 13% of official complaints about solicitors made between in 2018 concerned costs. It is now a requirement for solicitors to give cost estimates before taking on a case.
The guidance also requires legal practices to tell clients of the factors that could affect the estimate, and to let them know if the estimated figure has been reached before the course of work has been completed.
The topic of tackling ‘hidden extras’ is very much of the moment. On 7 May, the government released a ‘how to’ guide for home buyers and sellers. It advises: ‘ a legal professional should provide you with a letter of engagement which sets out the terms of agreement with them including… the fee they will charge [and] the timescales for the agreement…’
At A M Davies, we have always had a fully transparent approach . We have built our business on an entirely client-focused basis; this is endorsed by our pricing for all private client work, which is published on our website. We understand that our clients like things to be clear and unambiguous; we promise that we will quote a price and – most importantly – we will stick to it! If we have quoted too low a figure, then unless the extra work has been caused by a change in our instructions or additional requirements from our clients, we will limit our costs to the figure we agreed, and will stand any losses if the time we have to spend on the case is longer than we expected.
We focus our attention on the needs and expectations of our clients, rather than seeing the work simply as a way of making money. This is extremely important to us, and an integral part of our values.
It is also important that our clients feel that they can rely on us. Thankfully, this is evidenced in the fact that many of our clients come back to us time and time again!