(a) This service is for clients who may have previously qualified for some Legal Aid assistance from the state.
Legal Aid for the majority of family matters covering divorce, financial settlements and children disputes was abolished on 1 April 2013.
(b) Dutton Gregory recognises that there are many people who need legal help and representation but cannot afford to pay the level of fees which most firms will charge to privately paying clients.
(c) In order to partially replace the state system and help those clients who would previously have received Legal Aid, Dutton Gregory has developed a service specifically for those clients.
How Does It Work?
(a) There is one important point to make at the outset and that is that clients in this scheme will understand that payment will be required at monthly intervals. Under the old Legal Aid scheme payment was made by the State to the firm and clients would not pay their solicitor direct (although some may have had a monthly contribution to make). Now, payment will be made to the firm each month.
(b) The first interview will be free and last for about 45 minutes. The first 15 minutes or so will be spent gathering financial information to see if a client may qualify for DGLA. The rest of the interview will offer general legal advice about the client’s specific problem.
(c) If you qualify for the scheme and wish to instruct us then you will sign terms of business at the interview and pay a deposit of £100 plus VAT (£120). This is on account of future work and if after the interview you decide not to go ahead that money will be returned to you less a fee of £25 plus VAT to cover our administration costs (these costs include opening file, setting up a ledger, making a client record and usually carrying out a client identification search for which the firm pays).
(d) When booking an appointment you must tell us you want to be considered for DGLA. Otherwise the lawyer seeing you will assume that our standard conditions and terms of business will apply.
(e) Under this scheme it is essential that all bills delivered are paid within 14 days of receipt by the client. In the event that a bill is not paid then we reserve the right to cease work until that account is discharged.
Do I Qualify?
The criteria are based on income and capital.
If your gross annual income from all sources is less than £25,000 then we can offer you the scheme subject to your capital.
If you have capital of any sort either in your own name or jointly with any third party (including your spouse or partner) where your share is valued at £50,000 or less then you will qualify.
If your capital value is over £50,000 then no matter what your income is we cannot offer you the scheme.
(c) Benefit Claimants
We would normally only accept clients in receipt of benefits if a third party can guarantee the payment of our fees or there is sufficient capital in property and other assets.
(a) Hourly Rates (in all cases plus VAT)
Our normal hourly rates vary between £185 and £235 per hour depending upon the seniority and experience of the fee earner/lawyer concerned.
For DGLA our hourly rate will be £135.
(b) Fixed Fees
It may be possible to agree a fixed fee for a piece of work. This will be discussed and agreed directly with the lawyer handling your case. In the event of a fixed fee being agreed it is usually the case that the fee is paid in advance of the piece of work designated.
We may be able to offer a fixed price divorce service - please ask at your first interview.