ABV continue to have a strong commitment to publically funded work notwithstanding the cuts to funding that have occurred the last two years. However we recognise that many people charged with offences in the Magistrates Court do not qualify for legal aid and those facing allegations in the Crown Court often have to make sizable Legal Aid contributions towards their legal aid. Furthermore, many are now choosing to fund their cases privately notwithstanding they may qualify for legal aid for some of the reasons set out below.
Why choose to fund privately?
Increasingly clients are choosing to instruct ABV solicitors on a private basis to ensure a bespoke service which will involve having the expertise of the most experienced solicitors within the practice and leading barristers engaged on their case from the very outset.
Privately funding allows:
- For work to begin immediately on a case without any delay waiting for legal aid applications to be determined.
- Access to your solicitor around the clock and at times and venues to suit you.
- An unfettered choice of representation both within the firm and externally. This includes representation by leading barristers within in the criminal and regulatory field.
- Control over what is done to ensure the best preparation of the case. There are no third party restrictions on what can and cannot be done on a case to prepare it. Unlimited resources can be deployed onto the case as required.
- Competitive and bespoke funding packages to ensure you receive the best representation at the right price.
Solicitors would traditionally charge for their work on an hourly basis dependant on the seniority of the lawyer involved. Increasingly clients prefer to be charged on a fixed fee basis so they know what the cost will be from the outset and avoid any nasty surprises. Fixed fees can be for either stages of the case or the entire case.
ABV can work on either method and this is discussed at the outset of the case. ABV offer clear options at the outset of the engagement to ensure that the client makes the right choice for themselves.
Recovery of Defence Costs
Historically clients could recover their costs in full if they were successful in obtaining an acquittal. This has now changed and privately funded costs can be recovered under a Defence Costs Order as set out below.
In simple terms, legislation provides that non-legally aided privately paying clients in the magistrates’ court will be entitled to recover their legal costs under a Defendant’s Costs Order if they are acquitted, but the amount will be limited to the amount that would be payable under specified legal aid rates. This tends to be around 20 – 30% of private fees.
As of 27th January 2014 costs can only be recovered in situations where legal aid has been applied for and refused. Where costs are recoverable they are paid at legal aid rates which tend to be about 20% – 30% of private costs. Clients who choose not to apply for legal aid or revoke legal aid are not able to recover their costs.