They’re like buses at the moment – you don’t see one for ages, and then 3 come along at once. No sooner has Paradigm Family Law opened its doors and become the only family law firm in the UK offering tailored fixed fees for the entirety of a financial claim in divorce, but three landmark cases come along which highlight the benefit of fixed fees in family law cases.
We recently published a blog post on the case of J v J  EWHC 3654 (Fam) (06 November 2014) in which Mr Justice Mostyn commented that in his opinion, family lawyers should be operating fixed fees in their cases. His view is that experienced family lawyers should be fixing fees because they know how long things take, can identify the relevant issues and conduct cases expeditiously. It follows that where an hourly rate is used as a basis for legal costs, where is the benefit to clients? It means that with hourly rates it is in the lawyer’s interest to run cases for longer thereby increasing the time spent and the opportunity for more in fees.
Now, in a case published last week, that of Chiva v Chiva  EWCA Civ 1558 (03 December 2014) Lord Justice McFarlane expressed astonishment that costs of £174,000 could be incurred by the wife aswell as £60,000 by the husband. In that case, the capital assets for division amounted to £415,659. The costs prior to the Appeal were therefore more than 50% of the value of the matrimonial pot.
Then, in last week’s decision by Mr Justice Holman, in the case of Seagrove v Sullivan  EWHC 4110 (Fam) (03 December 2014), he expressed his exasperation at the disproportionate costs that had been incurred relative to the value of the available assets referring to the “appalling profligacy of their legal expenditure”. Between them, the couple had incurred £1.3 million in costs. They were arguing about an asset worth £1 million, and therefore over £500,000 each. That meant the costs incurred by the couple were roughly three times the value of the assets in dispute.
Fixed fees do not jeopardise client care or the conduct of files. Quite the contrary. Fixed fees offered by experienced family practitioners can be offered precisely because of their many years of experience in the field of family law. James and Franks’ 30 years in family law have equipped them with the knowledge and expertise to establish and focus on the important issues in the case. In family cases it is vitally important to concentrate what (often limited) resources there are on the main event. At Paradigm Family Law you are represented by experienced solicitors who are with you every step of the way. Fixed fees – no compromises.
The customer is the Universe
It also got us thinking about recent comments made by Lord Stuart Rose, at the York Business Conference. He said that we should no longer be using the phrase, the ‘Customer is King’ but rather the importance has become even more pronounced – the ‘Customer is the Universe’. Applying this to the legal world, and in light of the judiciary’s commentary in the recently reported cases, surely it is no longer acceptable for the solicitor to tell the client how it will be and why they must pay the costs of an indeterminate estimate, over which client has little control and which can be changed by the solicitor at will. Clients will decide decide who to instruct. Clients are entitled to expect an experienced family lawyer to conduct their case, on a fixed fee. That is precisely why at Paradigm Family Law we offer tailored fixed fees which are set out and fixed from the outset of the case.
If you would like to discuss fixed fees for your case or need family law advice please contact Paradigm Family Law on 0845 6020422 or email us at [email protected] in the strictest confidence.