Wherever possible, I will quote you a fixed fee for the work I am going to do for you: this avoids nasty surprises and allows you to compare the cost of working with me, directly with the cost of going to a solicitor or another barrister. You will also know at the start f the case, what the likely maximum cost to you will be and can budget for it.
The work I am going to do, and the fees I will charge for that work, will always be set out in writing before any work is done.
Here are some examples of the fees I charge, for common types of work. The examples I have given cover the vast majority of motoring cases. But if your case is not covered by one of these examples, I will be happy to give you a specific quotation without any obligation on your part.
All fees have to be paid in full before the relevant stage of the work is undertaken. You can pay in cash, by credit card [or by PAYPAL] That does not mean that you will have to pay at the start for the whole of the work we agree is to be done – only for each piece of work before I do it - and if at any stage you decide that you do not want to go further with my assistance, there will be nothing more to pay.
1. INITIAL CONFERENCE : £80 + VAT (£100)
This is an essential stage in my beginning to work with any client and must take place in all cases.
We will meet – usually at 1 Gray’s Inn Square Barristers’ Chambers – to discuss your case and how I can help you. You will need to bring with you to this meeting any paperwork or correspondence you have received from the Police or the Crown Prosecutions Service.
At this meeting I will:
(a) Advise you on the strengths/weaknesses of the prosecution case against you, and any possible defences available to you.
(b) Discuss with you the best strategy for dealing with the prosecution and the likely progress of the case: what steps there will be and what will be involved.
(c) Agree the next steps to be taken, if I can help you further.
I have found that an hour is long enough to deal with almost all motoring matters at this stage and you should expect the meeting to last about that time. If we take longer than an hour, I will not charge you more: a fixed fee is exactly that.
I am happy to see you at your home or business premises if that is more convenient for you – but I will have to ask you to pay my travel costs and pay for travel time. Please tell me if you would like to discuss this.
2. IF YOU PLEAD GUILTY TO AN OFFENCE AND ARE NOT FACING DISQUALIFICATION…
If we decide at our initial conference that your best interests are served by pleading guilty to the offence with which you have been charged, there are two ways of going about this:
A. PLEADING GUILTY BY POST: £150 + VAT (£180)
For many offences, you need not go to court at all and can plead guilty by post. You may make written representations to the Magistrates about the circumstances of the offence, and/or your personal circumstances.
The Magistrates are required by law to take into account any representations made to them when they decide on your sentence. It is therefore important that your representations set out all of the relevant circumstances as fully and persuasively as possible.
I can draft appropriate representations for you to send to court, based on my experience of what may help persuade the Magistrates towards a more lenient sentence. I have appeared in every Magistrates Court in London that deals with motoring offences.
My charge for this service is £150 + VAT (£180)
B. PLEADING GUILTY AT COURT: £300 + VAT (£360)
You may be better served by appearing at court to enter your guilty plea. Often the Magistrates will be more impressed by the sincerity of a defendant who appears in person – and you must weigh this against the inconvenience, cost and possible unpleasantness of appearing at the Magistrates Court in person.
I can attend court with you to speak on your behalf and put forward anything we wish the Magistrates to consider in determining the sentence they will impose.
My fee for this service at any Magistrates Court within the M25 is £300 + VAT (£360)
3. IF YOU ARE FACING DISQUALIFICATION : EXCEPTIONAL HARDSHIP PLEA: £500 + VAT (£600)
If your case is one in which the magistrates may be considering disqualification, either because of the seriousness of the charge(s) you are facing, or because penalty points may take you to a total of twelve or more on your licence (“totting up”) then it is likely that the only way to save your driving licence, is to persuade the Magistrates that to disqualify you would result in “exceptional hardship.”
I have extensive experience in presenting this sort of case to Magistrates throughout London and in the surrounding area. If you decide to pursue this route, I will discuss with you what information or evidence we will need to marshall, to give us the best chance of success. You may need to give evidence to the court yourself from the witness box.
I will meet you at court at least 45 minutes before the scheduled time for the hearing, to run through the procedure, and present your case in court.
My charge for presenting an Exceptional Hardship argument at courts within the M25 is £500 + VAT (£600)
4. IF YOU ARE FACING DISQUALIFICATION : SPECIAL REASONS: £500 + VAT (£600)
Sometimes, you cab avoid disqualification by persuading the court that there are SPECIAL REASONS not to ban you from driving, or impose the full quota of penalty points, when the law would otherwise require them to do so.
These reasons must relate to the circumstances of the offence the court is considering, and to decide whether the special reasons put forward are made out (e.g. whether the court believes that your drinks were spiked, in an excess alcohol case) the court will usually hold a short trial.
The court may hear from prosecution witnesses and you and any defence witnesses can give evidence.
I will attend court with you at least 45 minutes before the scheduled hearing time so that we can have a final discussion about the case before the hearing. I will cross examine the prosecution witnesses on your behalf if this is necessary, and present your case to the Court.
Most Special Reasons trials will last half a day and if I expect your case to take no longer than this, my fee will be £500 + VAT (£600)
If your case is an unusual one and I have to out aside a full day to attend to it, my charge is £700 + VAT (£840)
5. PLEADING NOT GUILTY
A. PLEADING GUILTY BY POST
If after advice you decide to plead NOT GUILTY, it may be possible for you to indicate your plea by post. If you instruct me to represent you for your trial, I will help you complete the necessary documents without charge.
B. PLEADING GUILTY AT COURT
In some cases, it is not possible to plead Not Guilty by post and an appearance at court is required. The hearing will record your plea, and usually make necessary arrangements for the trial. The include recording what prosecution witnesses will be required to attend, what matters are agreed between the prosecution and defence and what matters are disputed; and the likely number of witnesses.
My fee for representing you at this kind of a hearing at any Magistrates’ Court within the M25 is £250 + VAT (£300)
Sometimes where a plea has been entered by post, or at court, the court will decide that a “Case Management Hearing” is necessary at a later stage. If this is the case, my charge for attending is the same: £250 + VAT (£300)
The obvious follow-up to a Not Guilty plea is a trial, at which the Prosecution witnesses will give their evidence and can be cross-examined, and you and any defence witnesses can give their evidence.
As usual I will attend court with you, at least 45 minutes before the scheduled start of the trial, so that we have an opportunity to discuss what lies ahead and any changes in the situation.
I will cross examine the prosecution witnesses if necessary, and present your case.
Almost all trials for motoring offences are dealt with in a single day’s sitting. Unfortunately, it is necessary to set aside the full day for the trial, as it is usual for the court to schedule more than one trial for the same day.
My fee for conducting a one day trial of your matter in any Magistrates Court within the M25, is £800 + VAT (£960)
For any subsequent day or part day of the trial, my fee is £600 + VAT (£720)
7. SENTENCE IN THE MAGISTRATES COURT
If you plead guilty, or the Magistrates find you guilty after a trial, the court will usually proceed straight to sentence for a motoring matters. But in some cases the court will not sentence a defendant on the same date that s/he pleads guilty or is found guilty. This is likely to happen, if the offence is a serious one and the Magistrates are considering imposing a more serious penalty than a fine and penalty points or disqualification.
It is still necessary to present your case on the day of sentence; and this may still involve an “exceptional hardship” argument (see 3 above.) if the bench are considering disqualification, or penalty points would lead to your losing your licence under the “totting up” provisions.
If you are not facing disqualification, my fixed fee for a sentencing hearing is £300 + VAT (£360)
If an exceptional hardship argument is required, my fee for the sentencing hearing is £500 + VAT (£600)
8. APPEAL TO THE CROWN COURT AGAINST CONVICTION
Appeals to the Crown Court against conviction are a re-hearing of the case from the outset. The hearing takes place at a Crown Court building, and is presided over by a Crown Court Judge who sits with two Justices of the Peace (lay Magistrates) from a Magistrates Court other than the one that first considered your case.
Although the proceeding are a little more formal, and you will get to see me in a wig and gown, they are no more complicated than a Magistrates Court hearing and my fees are exactly the same as for a trial in front of the Magistrates: £800 + VAT (£960) for the first day of any appeal hearing, and £600 + VAT (£720) for any subsequent day.
9. APPEAL TO THE CROWN COURT AGAINST SENTENCE
If you only wish the Crown Court to reconsider the sentence the Magistrates have imposed on you, this is less complex and is likely to be disposed on in much less time.
My fee for representing you at an appeal to the Crown Court against sentence, is £300 + VAT (£360).
OTHER KINDS OF HEARINGS
The examples I have covered above with quoted fixed fees, cover the vast majority of likely scenarios for a motor vehicle related case.
If you believe your case is not covered, please do not hesitate to ask me about it: send me an e-mail (email@example.com) and I will be happy to advise likely costs at no obligation to you.
HEARINGS OUTSIDE THE M25
The time taken to travel to court is an important consideration for me and I the fixed fees I have quoted, apply to matters before the courts located within the M25.
I am happy to assist anyone whose matter is being dealt with by a court outside the M25 and have frequently appeared in courts throughout the Home Counties and the Thames Valley. In cases in these areas, each fee will be subject to a surcharge to reflect the additional travelling expenses and time required. Please don’t hesitate to ask me.