In negotiating a fee Jill takes all relevant circumstances into account. These include the complexity and difficulty of the case, the length of time required to do the work, the seniority of the counsel, the value of the work to the client and the ability of the client to pay.
The starting point is the barrister’s hourly rate which we encourage our members to publish on their pages on this website.
If you want to consult a barrister in conference we add the time he or she will need to prepare for the conference to its expected duration and multiply that time by the hourly rate. Most conferences last for an hour or less and usually require no more than an hour for preparation. Thus, a barrister whose hourly rate is £250 would charge £500 plus VAT. If the return journey to the conference exceeds 100 kilometres from the barrister’s base he or she may seek a contribution towards his or her time and travelling expenses as well.
If you need counsel’s opinion or other written advice he or she will charge for the time taken to read his or her instructions, look up any legislation or case law, think the issues through, reach a conclusion and put it into writing. That usually takes about 2 hours so a barrister whose hourly rate is £250 will charge £500 plus VAT.
If you require a simple statement of case such as particulars of claim in a patent infringement claim in a matter in which counsel has already advised it will usually take him or her no more than an hour. The fee for a barrister whose hourly rate is £250 will thus be £250 + VAT. He or she will probably charge the same for a statement of case for proceedings in the Intellectual Property Office. Particulars of claim in copyright or design right infringement and passing claims usually take longer because extensive particulars have to be given. Expect a fee of £400 or more plus VAT in those cases. Claims for revocation of a patent or defences that include a counterclaim for revocation also take longer because grounds of invalidity have to be served separately. Again, expect a fee of £400 or more plus VAT for these.
Licences, terms and conditions and other agreements can take several hours. Very complex contracts such as franchise and software development agreements may take all day in which case you can expect to pay £2,000 plus VAT for one drawn up by one of our top draftsmen.
Fees for trials and other hearings are computed as follows. The fee for the first day in court is called the “brief” or “brief fee”. Fees for the second and subsequent days are known as “refreshers.”
Briefs take account of the barrister’s first day on his or her feet and the number of hours he or she needs to prepare for the hearing. As a general rule, a barrister needs 3 hours preparation for every hour on his or her feet. Thus, if a hearing is due to last a court day of 4 hours and 45 minutes (10:30 to 16:15 with an hour off for lunch) the barrister will require at least 14 hours and 15 minutes for preparation. Time spent on preparation added to time spent in court on the first day comes to 19 hours. The brief fee for a full day hearing for a barrister whose hourly rate is £250 will therefore be £4,750 plus VAT. If the trial is expected to last longer than a day the barrister will have to do a lot more reading, prepare cross-examination and prepare fall back strategies in case one or more of his or her witnesses should be discredited. Again, the rule of thumb is to multiply the total number of hours in court by 3. Thus, if a trial is expected to last a week the barrister will need 66 hours and 45 minutes to prepare for it. The 4 hours and 45 minutes for the first day will be added to that figure making a grand total of 71½ hours. If that is multiplied by the hourly rate of £250 you can expect to pay £17,875 plus VAT for the brief.
You must also expect to pay a refresher which is £1,187.50, that is to say 4¾ for each court day multiplied by £250 per day. Thus a week in court could cost you £22,625 plus VAT.
We take account of client’s ability to pay by allowing discounts for start-ups and other small businesses. For instance, some of our members allow discounts of 25% for businesses with an annual turnover of less than £1 million per year and 40% for start-ups.
If you want an estimate for any particular job please click “Request an Estimate” or call Jill Hayfield on 0800 862 0055.