At vbr Lawyers, our mission is to provide an outstanding “no win no fee” service for a reasonable cost. We ensure it is always our clients that benefit most from their injury compensation claims, not us. We have heard the horror stories about badly injured clients who have ended up with very little after the lawyers have taken their fees and we are absolutely determined to ensure that will never happen in any personal injury claim we run. We use three key measures to achieve this.
First, our hourly rates are much lower than our major competitors. The highest hourly rate we charge – for work done by directors of the firm – is $495.00, some $300.00 to $400.00 less per hour than charged by the large personal injury firms. We can do this because unlike certain firms that are listed on the stock market, we are not under pressure from shareholders to ramp up profits year after year. We do not rely on expensive CBD office space. We do not employ large teams of people working on one file. We just rely on the tried and true, traditional cost effective model of a single experienced lawyer running your claim from start to finish and providing outstanding personal service along the way.
Second, we do not charge uplift fees. Lawyers running “no win no fee” claims are entitled to charge an uplift fee of up to 25% on top of their professional fees, or fees for the time spent by lawyers working on your claim. It is intended to provide an additional fee to lawyers in claims that are particularly complex, but unfortunately many firms have adopted the practice of charging this uplift fee in every case, no matter the size or complexity. We think this practice is unfair and unreasonable, and we do not apply uplift fees in any of our cases.
Third is our 30% professional fee cap. This is our guarantee that our clients will not pay more than 30% of their claim (after deduction of any statutory refunds) in legal professional fees. Legal Regulations allow lawyers to charge up to 50% of claims in professional fees but we think that is too high. It is too high because clients have to pay the lawyers expenses’ or disbursements (such as medical report fees, court filing fees etc) in addition to that amount so where a 50% fee cap is applied the total legal bill will in fact be more than 50% of the claim – often considerably more. The other unfortunate aspect of fee caps is that, instead of being a maximum limit, they are often used by lawyers as a standard basis for charging in every case, which can lead to significant overcharging.
Even our lower 30% cap does not mean we charge 30% legal fees in every case. Far from it. We can only charge what we have incurred. Let’s say that a case settles by negotiation and there is $150,000.00 remaining after payment of government and other refunds. Our professional fees are $35,000.00. Our 30% cap does not allow us to increase our costs from $35,000.00 to $45,000.00 – we can only charge the amount we have incurred, being $35,000.00.
Actually in many cases we handle, specifically motor vehicle CTP claims and claims under the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act such as slip and fall claims, as long as an amount over a certain threshold is recovered (currently $78,040.00) the insurer will pay a significant amount of the professional fees and disbursements on top of the compensation amount, so the impact of professional fees, indeed all costs, will be nothing like 30%. In the same example of $150,000.00 net settlement amount, $35,000.00 in professional fees, plus say $15,000.00 in expenses, a costs contribution of at least $30,000.00 might be recoverable, meaning that the impact of costs on the compensation amount might be something like this:
|Net Settlement Amount||$150,000.00|
|Less Legal Costs
(total legal bill of $50,000.00 less costs contribution of $30,000.00)
|In hand amount payable||$130,000.00|
We hope this has been of assistance in understating our approach to costs. Above all, we hope it will be clear that our approach is one of absolute fairness that always puts our clients first.
For an obligation free discussion about our costs and charges, call one of our directors today.