Your engagement of ShenSmith Law
- ShenSmith Law Limited (“SSL”) is a barrister-led law firm authorised and regulated by the Bar Standards Board.
- SSL is a separate legal entity and your contract of engagement is, therefore, directly with SSL and its barristers provide legal services on its behalf.
- SSL may assign any number of barristers to work on your cases who are directors, partners, members, employees, or independent members of the Bar of England and Wales; while each barrister must also comply with his/her regulatory obligations.
- SSL represents individuals, companies and authorities in a full range of legal matters and provides a full-service solution including advice, representation, litigation, and negotiation.
- Please click here to review our full terms in accordance with our engagement (client care) letter.
Upon your first contact with us, our team will discuss the problem with you in detail and ascertain what steps need to be taken and whether it is a matter suitable for our assistance. Example elements of work include, but are not limited to the following:
- Advising in Conference (both in person and by telephone decided on a case-by-case basis).
- Corresponding with parties on your behalf — limited to the matter in which we are instructed and excluding the general management of your affairs.
- Drafting or settling witness statements and statements of case. E.g. Particulars of Claim, Defence, Defence and Counterclaim, Reply, Defence Statements, Statement of Issues, Position Statement.
- Drafting and reviewing contracts.
- Negotiating on your behalf.
- Representation in court (Advocacy). E.g. Preliminary hearings; case management hearings; case and cost management hearings; fact find hearings; dispute resolution appointments; final hearings; trials including small claims, fast track, multi-track, family, inquest and criminal trials, and employment tribunals.
Fees and costs
All fees we charge are subject to VAT. SSL does not and cannot hold client money on account. The effect of this is that fees are agreed and paid before we begin work in the following ways:
- A “Fixed Fee” paid in advance. Fixed fees may be agreed if we can determine the amount of time it will take to complete the work and agree on the fee. In this case, you will not pay more than the fixed fee for that element of work, although subsequent work is often required, thereafter.
- A “Fixed Minimum Fee” paid in advance; meaning the minimum fee payable for the work, where additional work may be required and charged at an hourly rate. Fixed Minimum Fees are not refundable if the work is completed more quickly.
- “Brief fee plus refreshers”; for multi-day trials, SSL may agree to charge a “brief fee” which represents preparation for the case and the first day of trial, plus, a “refresher” fee, which is a lower fee, chargeable for each subsequent day of trial, thereafter. This is not to be confused with a “Fixed Minimum Fee”, where a fixed fee is quoted for all days and is non-refundable if the case settles on day 1.
- Work on an hourly rate. If we cannot determine the full extent of the work required, we will charge you for a number of hours upfront and you will top up the hours as we progress the case, as required. In the unlikely event that we complete the work in less time than you have paid for in advance, we will refund the balance to you; in this case, you agree that we are not holding the balance on trust for you.
- Similarly, SSL cannot pay/receive disbursements on your behalf and you must arrange for these to be paid/received separately. E.g. court fees, expert fees.
- When you engage SSL, if you are a lay client, we will ask you to sign an Engagement Letter and agree to its terms. If you are a solicitor, we will confirm the instructions in writing.
- Thereafter, each element of work will be detailed and billed in a Fee Note, to be paid in advance of the work undertaken.
- Additional costs
- There may be additional costs to those quoted above. These include:
- court filling fees – see here: https://www.gov.uk/court-fees-what-they-are
- application fees – ranging between free and approx £680, payable directly to the court. (https://www.gov.uk/court-fees-what-they-are)
- there is risk in any litigation and you may have to pay the other party’s costs if you lose your case.
- There may be additional costs to those quoted above. These include:
Running your case
What does “on the record as acting” mean?
- When you approach a traditional firm of solicitors and they write to third parties or their lawyers on your behalf, they take responsibility for receiving and replying to correspondence from both them and the court and complying with the relevant court deadlines. If you choose to represent yourself, you are responsible for the running of your case and you will be ‘on the record’ as a ‘litigant in person’
- While SSL is authorised to conduct litigation, we will not automatically be on the record as acting in your case, unless you instruct to do so, which requires an additional fee.
- If you remain a litigant in person, we must determine that you are competent to undertake the role of a solicitor, should you choose to conduct the case yourself — although we can, of course, assist you in many respects with drafting replies and statements of case along the way.
General Work Timescales
- We aim to respond to your initial enquiry within 24 hours or sooner.
- We aim to provide you with a quotation for work within 24 hours of:
- Receiving full details about the work you require us to undertake;
- Receiving all documents that pertain to your matter; and
- You confirming the seniority of barrister you require to undertake the work.
- Timescales for provision of written work and conferences
- We will generally be able to schedule conferences within a week.
- We will generally be able to turn a written advice and other work around within 1-2 weeks.
- There are several things that might influence the timescale within which we and our barristers provide your legal services, including:
- Our availability;
- Your availability or that of relevant third parties;
- Your cooperation with enquiries and work in general;
- The complexity of the case;
- The amount of papers we need to review;
- The need for additional information or documents;
- The approach taken by the other side;
- Third parties intervening in the case and their cooperation; and
- Court waiting times.
- Court Timescales
- As a guide – court hearings can take 6 to 12 months, not including appeals.
- Urgent hearings, such as injunctions, may be heard within a week, or, in cases of extreme urgency such as abduction or imminent threats of harm, they may be heard the same day and even by telephone.
Key stages of working with a Public Access Barrister
Typically, one of the first services you may be offered by a Public Access barrister is advising in conference. This might be by telephone or in person, depending on where you are and the volume of papers the barrister needs to read. This will typically be charged at an hourly rate or a fixed fee.
Most barristers, whether at the outset or after a conference, will suggest that you need written advice on the merits of your case or procedural requirements. This is very often offered at a fixed fee but if it is very complex, it will be offered on an hourly rate with an estimated number of hours paid up front.
A barrister can draft and send letters of correspondence on your behalf about your case. This can very often encourage settlement discussions and resolve your case without going to court — although there is no guarantee. Barristers will usually fix a fee for drafting a letter but more complex letters may be charged at an hourly rate.
However, it is important to remember that only barristers who have proper authorisation can file and serve documents or applications at court and on other parties. If you do not have a solicitor, and the barrister is not authorised to conduct litigation, you will need to do this.
Most court appearances will be offered at a fixed fee. There are likely to be a number of court hearings aside from the main trial such as:
Allocation hearings – when the court hears arguments as to whether the case should be on the small claims track / fast track / multi-track.
Directions hearings – when the court hears parties’ requests for deadlines such as disclosure, witness statements, cost budgets, permission and agreements for expert reports etc.
Case management hearings – similar to Directions hearings, but often involve the court hearing more matters and issues, such as admissibility and trial timetables
Application hearings – many cases have interim applications, which sometimes require a court hearing to hear both parties’ arguments
Trial – the most expensive part of any case, if it gets that far, is the trial itself. Fees will almost always be discussed on a case-by-case basis, depending on the number of days and complexity of the matter.
- You are free at any stage to engage another firm or an authorised individual to represent you.
- If we decide that it is in your best interests to seek another firm or individual, we will do so without delay and inform you that we can no longer accept your instructions. However, we will render assistance in doing so if you have imminent deadlines that will cause you difficulties.
- We pride ourselves on providing excellence and efficient service at all times.
- If at any time you have any concerns about the quality of our services, you are invited to let us know as soon as possible in order that we can address your concerns.
- If your concerns cannot be resolved by telephone, we ask that you specify your complaint in detail and in a single, consolidated email or letter, so that we have the opportunity to address it in full.
- We will respond in full to your complaint within eight weeks (usually much sooner) if we have been given sufficient detail to investigate it.
- Clients can complain to LeO if they are unhappy with our final response to their complaint, or if their complaint has not been dealt with in eight weeks; and
- Clients who have a right to complain to LeO are individuals and, broadly speaking, small businesses and charities.
- The full list of who has a right to complain to LeO is available on their website: http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/?faqs=who-can-use-our-service.
- You can write to the Legal Ombudsman at:Legal Ombudsman PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton. WV1 9WJ.
Telephone number: 0300 555 0333
Email: [email protected]
- More information about the Legal Ombudsman is available on their website: http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/.”
- You must complain to the Legal Ombudsman either within six years of your barrister’s actions/failure to act, or no later than three years after you should reasonably have known there were grounds to complain.
- You must also complain to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving your barrister’s final response to your complaint.
- The decision data on LeO’s website shows providers which received an ombudsman’s decision in the previous 12 months. In each case, the data shows whether LeO required the provider to give the consumer a remedy. The link to the decision data on LeO’s website is http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/raising-standards/data-and-decisions/#ombudsman- decision-data.
- The link to the Barristers’ Register page on the BSB’s website is https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/for-the-public/search-a-barristers-record/the-barristers-register.html.
- The BSB’s Barristers’ Register shows (1) who has a current practising certificate, and (2) whether a barrister has any disciplinary findings, which are published on the Barristers’ Register in accordance with our policy.
- The Barristers’ Register page also links to the BSB’s Entities’ Register and shows which entities are currently authorised by the BSB. ShenSmith Law is a BSB-authorised Entity (Licensed Body Alternative Business Structure)