FEES DISPUTES RESOLUTION
If clients are taken aback by your costs it can result in a formal complaint to the relevant regulatory authority when, in fact, all the client really wants is independent verification that the fee is reasonable.
Fee Disputes Resolution
No matter how well practitioners manage the pricing aspect of the relationship with clients, issues will still arise from time to time. This can range from a simple query from a client seeking affirmation that they have been being treated fairly on the price through to the client who is on the cusp of or has already made a formal complaint to the relevant regulatory authority.
In this context we offer two services which have to date enjoyed a success rate of over 90%. The two options Burcher Jennings offer are:
Independent Pricing Opinion
Often clients are taken aback by their lawyer's costs but the options for the concerned client are fairly limited. This can sometimes result in a formal complaint to the relevant regulatory authority when in fact all the client really wants is independent verification that the fee is fair and reasonable.
Sometimes the firm will instruct us to provide an opinion confidentially so that it can assess the strength or weakness of its position. More usually however the firm will instruct us to provide the independent opinion with the clients’ prior approval.
The firm and the client usually agree in advance on whether they will share the cost or whether the firm will meet the cost entirely and whether the opinion is binding or non-binding.
If those efforts are unsuccessful, the opinion can be converted to a form acceptable for admission into evidence as expert costs testimony.
Those familiar with alternative dispute resolution (ADR) techniques will be aware that mediation can be a very effective and constructive method of resolving disagreements.
This is particularly relevant where the parties want to maintain an ongoing relationship as is likely to be the case with a law firm and their client in most instances. Validatum™ Limited's Managing Director Richard Burcher is a trained, accredited and registered mediator.
This specific combination of skill sets means that we are well positioned to assist law firms and clients to resolve fee disputes, ofteninvolving significant sums, without recourse to litigation or a formal complaint procedure.
Sometimes these efforts fail or aren't available. If this occurs, the practitioner may well benefit from effective representation and expert costs witness assistance.