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How do people pay for legal advice?

(21 Posts)
lifeisunjust Wed 11-May-16 10:00:59

Hi there
I was just wondering how people manage to get help with legal costs, now legal aid is limited to DV victims (with evidence) who have additionally NO savings and NO mortgage, meaning only those renting / living housing cost free.

It's too late for me, I had to self-represent, but I found not a single RESOLUTIONS family law practioner in east Kent would accept payment of less than a few kks IN ADVANCE and required 150 per hour minimum + VAT.

How does someone with no money at all (like me, my husband emptied all accounts) manage to get legal advice, other than an initial free session?

OP’s posts: |
Listerscat Wed 11-May-16 13:50:29

Legal aid in divorce is a nightmare, because not only is it for victims of dv, but they must also provide acceptable proof of that dv to the Legal Aid Agency.

Some firms will accept a fixed fee for certain cases, including divorce. A simple divorce without a financial arrangement (parties just go their separate ways, ie they didn't own property or have kids) can be as cheap as £400 plus vat plus court fees.

There is legal aid and legal help funding still availble in other areas, but it is means tested, other than for Mental Health Tribunals; legal aid remains non means tested and is available for all detained under Mental Health Act for the purposes of funding first teir tribunals

When legal aid is not available, fees for other civil cases can come in at a fixed fee of as low as £1000 to £1500 and some places will accept that in two or three installments. However, for larger, lengthier and/or more complex cases the fee will of course be higher, but people often prefer a fixed fee than to pay someone hourly. Hourly fees can vary from 120 to 220ph and barristers fees may have to be paid on top.

Some places are taking on alot of CFAs so that if you lose you dont pay, insurance policies are usually taken out on these. Firms often wont take on a cfa unless they agree that you have at least a 60%+ chance of success. If a person disagrees with this or wants to pursue the matter anyway they may find that they cant obtain a Cfa. Lots of cfas do not cover experts fees or court fees so still have to be paid for.

A lot of people are arranging legal insurance, but as to whether these policies cover legal expenses for any given scenario is another thing.

Lots of legal aid lawyers have been hit badly by the cuts and some feel great empathy for clients who would previously have been entitled to legal aid and are therefore doing a lot of pro bono work.

The law centres and citizens advice bureau in lots of areas are also offering free legal advice and picking up a lot of the slack; although how far they can take a matter is limited to the expertise of staff onsite and after the advice stage will often need to refer to a solicitor.

That said, in a lot of cases and for a lot of people, there is no chance of legal aid, a cfa or an affordable fixed fee and they cannot have access to the support and representation that they need.

A lot if people are using a free or fixed fee initial advice session of 30 min or 1 hour to glean an incite into the legal issues in their case and then use internet research to represent themselves. Often they inevitably often do not comply with pre action protocol and a lot of judges are spending extra time in court dealing with lay people trying to represent themselves. Perhaps the more this happens, the more that the powers that be will realise that people are being denied access to justice purely due to financial reasons.

MrsBertBibby Wed 11-May-16 20:09:36

If solicitors are offering CFAs for Family work, they are breaking the law

Listerscat Wed 11-May-16 23:09:46

No, I was talking about for other civil cases where legal aid is not available firms are offering fixed fees and cfas and law centres are getting a lot of work in. Sorry, from the 3rd para I was kind of on a general rant about access to legal representation and didn't mean for it to be confusing. I was just banging on really.

whattodoforthebest2 Wed 11-May-16 23:23:46

Look at the Women's Aid website -

There is a list of contacts on there for legal advice, including the website which offers free telephone legal advice.

lifeisunjust Thu 12-May-16 08:16:39

I am aware of all the places which offer limited length legal advice, but was wondering how people actually manage to pay for legal advice which goes beyond a couple of hours. My husband spend 25k taking me to court to try and take the family home off me, I am in the end glad I self-represented as if I'd found a solicitor who'd accepted me paying AFTER the court case, I probably would have ended up with a similar bill fighting to keep my house. So how the heck does anyone who has no access to levels of funds more than say £500 pay for a solicitor these days?

I did actually try absolutely everywhere for as much free / low cost legal advice, I count myself lucky I fell upon a single international law solicitor who gave me 60 minutes of his time for free, as none of those other ones listed on Women's Aid and Rights of Women were willing to help me. I also got theoretically a barrister for a 3 day trial through but in practice no barrister was available for the dates and the judge refused to change the dates to allow me that free barrister, so I was just left. I really am concerned about what happens to women (and men) who are left with no-one and who aren't capable with coping with self-representation. When I fought for my home against 25k worth of Resolutions member solicitor (who threatened by email several times she would demand the judge jails me for daring to be ill in hospital and unable to respond sometimes, yes lots of emails like that threatening jail), it almost killed me having to self represent. But when I was threatened so often with jail, I had to do it.

It seems unbelievable injustice that most DV victims don't even get legal aid any more.

OP’s posts: |
MrsBertBibby Thu 12-May-16 09:31:58

Yes, it's appalling.

My experience is that people pay through credit cards, through getting help from family members, there are litigation loans, although I've never seen one in action.

Solicitors get pricier due to insane levels of regulation, massive liability insurance, premises cost etc. Legal work just gets more and more cost heavy as judges make the rules more and more complicated in the belief it will simplify everything. And of course, Court fees just keep rising as the govt now treat the divorce court as a business. Your divorce fee pays more than twice the actual cost of the divorce to the state.

Malina22 Fri 13-May-16 09:22:11

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

KittyKrap Fri 13-May-16 09:25:09

Oh fuck off Malina

sparechange Fri 13-May-16 10:11:49

I was lucky that my solicitor let me do pay-as-you- go for the first few sessions, and then let me 'run a tab' to be paid off when the marital home was sold

It dragged on for nearly a year in the end, with 3 court trips (exH was an obstructive twat) so I had to make a few goodwill payments along the way, but the bulk was paid from the proceeds of the house sale

KittyKrap Fri 13-May-16 10:20:00

My XH had to pay up to £500 of my legal costs. I struggled after that, family helped out and my divorce ran for years due to me not being able to pay. My solicitor was great and would let me pay in dribs and drabs. I finally came into cash and it was all systems go for the Absolute. The Nisi had been given about 3 years earlier. Ouch.

Namechanger2015 Fri 13-May-16 20:19:59

The current system is appallingly unfair. I experienced DV but I co own a house that ex lives in. I live at my parents with 3 children.

So far I've spent £20,000 on my divorce and we are only at the first hearing. It's taken me a year and a half to get this fair as ex is an abusive and obstructive shit.

I am earning to pay my sols and that's about it at present. He has lied consistently, dragged out proceedings, is hiding money etc and still I am advised that I am unlikely to win a case for him to pay my costs.

His solicitors churn out half truths in his defence and I pay to have my solicitors resolve them. In the meantime he is loaded and I raise three children financially alone.

One thing I really don't understand is how they consistently allow lack of information/poor evidence/missing deadlines to largely pass by unpunished. Surely if my ex was fined every time he missed a deadline they could speed things up significantly.

Pisssssedofff Sat 14-May-16 08:33:02

Going against the grain a bit but I'm glad I self represented the solicitors just wound is both up. He has a huge legal bill for s case he could simply never win. Of course they took his money and told him he could I'm just go glad I decided not to get involved.
My brothers ex got legal aid and he used to get a letter every week from her at £50 a time no doubt, typically the few ruined it for everyone.

MrsBertBibby Sun 15-May-16 19:53:22

No, a letter under legal aid is paid under the fixed fee, so they get the same for sending 5 letters as for 20.

Pisssssedofff Sun 15-May-16 20:18:18

Was it under the old system ?

MrsBertBibby Mon 16-May-16 07:32:29

What 'old system'? Fixed Fee has been around for several years, can't remember when it was introduced. Before that, when hourly rates were the thing, a standard letter would be paid at £6 or £7 a pop, (plus VAT) rates varied a bit depending on various factors.

Even a senior privately funded solicitor in the South East won't be charging £50 per standard letter.

Pisssssedofff Mon 16-May-16 07:39:36

That's good to hear then

MrsBertBibby Mon 16-May-16 08:21:04

So why make stuff up on a thread where people are already worrying about legal costs?

Pisssssedofff Mon 16-May-16 08:46:16

Did you read the bit where I said no doubt .... Not it costs £50 and I got and paid a bill for £50. If you're to hard of reading to see what's said that's hardly my fault is ? I hope you're not a solicitor !

MrsBertBibby Mon 16-May-16 08:56:56

Are you sure it was your solicitor who wound you up? You seem to do that all by yourself.

Do you think 'no doubt' in some way indicates that you aren't making shit up?

Pisssssedofff Mon 16-May-16 09:03:44

Again not reading what's written

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