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About your solicitor's bill

What can I do if I am dissatisfied with the fees my solicitor has charged?

If your case was a non contentious matter (i.e. did not involve the issuing of Court Proceedings) then you have a statutory right to ask your solicitor to apply to the Law Society for a Remuneration Certificate (provided your request is within one month from the issue of the bill of costs and provided the bill has not been paid).

This Certificate will declare either, that what you are being charged is fair and reasonable or, that you should be charged a lesser amount by your solicitor. This service is offered free of charge.

If you are dissatisfied with the Remuneration Certificate you can seek an Order for Taxation provided that the bill is still less than three months old.

If court proceedings were issued in your case, then you can apply or an Order for Taxation by contacting the:

Taxing Master’s Office

3rd Floor

Mays Chambers

73 May Street

Belfast

BT1 3JL

Please note that a payment of a fee to the Court is required and a further payment to the solicitor for the taxation costs may be required if it turns out that the amount of the solicitor’s bill is justified.

Does an application for a remuneration certificate exclude my ability to apply for taxation of solicitor’s fee?

If you have already made an application for an Order for Taxation then the Society will not commence an application for a Remuneration Certificate as the Order for Taxation supersedes the Remuneration Certificate.

However, if you have obtained a Remuneration Certificate and are dissatisfied with the outcome, you are entitled to apply for an Order for Taxation, provided your application for Taxation is within THREE months of the date of the original bill of costs.

Please note that the Taxing Master’s Office have the discretion to extend this 3 month time limit to 6 months, if there is proven to be exceptional circumstances to warrant the extension. The application can be made by either yourself or your solicitor. Solicitor applications for taxation are not restricted by any time limit.

When would I not be able to get my solicitor’s bill checked?

An application for remuneration certificate or taxation cannot be processed if the bill has actually been delivered and paid, if you have agreed the fees with the Solicitor and allowed him to deduct them from monies that are owing to you or if the fee is for the amount estimated in any estimate or quotation given to you at the outset or during the course of the contract with your solicitor.

What happens if I think that the solicitor did not do the work properly or treat me properly as a client?

Do I still have to pay the fee just because it was agreed in advance? If you think you received a poor service and therefore the fee is too high then you can make a complaint about that service.

Follow the link to our complaints section to learn more about how and when to make a complaint to the solicitor and the Society.  

Can the Law Society decide if Counsel’s fees or other items of Outlay were reasonable?

No, the remuneration certificate procedure can only assess the solicitor’s professional fees, it cannot deal with a dispute about outlay. If you think the fees charged by a barrister or other expert is too high you would have to dispute those separately through the courts or, if they have a professional body, raise your concerns with them.

The solicitor’s letter says he will charge interest at judgement rate after a month from when he sent the bill, can he do this?

Yes, the solicitor is entitled to charge interest on the unpaid bill at judgement rate (currently 8%) after a month from the date of delivery of the bill.

How do I avoid having to pay the interest?

You can avoid paying interest by paying the solicitor a sum equivalent to the amount he is claiming for his bill on his undertaking to hold the money in an interest bearing account until the remuneration certificate is issued.

If the bill is reduced you will be entitled to receive the difference between the amount charged and the amount certified and the interest earned on that amount.

If the fee is approved then the solicitor may retain all of the money and interest earned on it.

For more information please download the Society's 'About your solicitors bill' leaflet.