family charity has repeated its calls for the legal profession to introduce a
fixed-fee tariff for its work on family matters.
National Family Mediation
says too often mediators in her national
network have to pick up the pieces of cases where one or both parties have
simply run out of money, because the level of charges made by solicitors was not
fees in divorce cases hit headlines this week with reports of a separating UK
couple having spent £920,000 on fees in just eight months. It led to Mr Justice
Mostyn calling it 'madness' that had led to 'grotesque leachings of costs'.
Worryingly he declared this was not unusual. And in May 2012 the country’s most
senior judge, Lord Neuberger, raised concerns that charging hourly rates 'leads
to inefficient practices, at worst it rewards and incentivises inefficiency',
urging the time for change had come.
'Two and a
half years on, there seems to have been precious little progress; meanwhile
separating couples are haemorrhaging money that could be better spent investing
in their children’s futures,' said Jane Robey.
'To say it is
"high time" fixed fees for family matters become the norm wouldn’t do justice to
the scale of the problem.
for family matters are years overdue and the legal profession owes it to
families up and down the country to get it sorted.'
She went on to say:
Family Mediation we have countless cases of clients coming to us having
previously engaged solicitors but then running out of money. We’ve been told the
bills have escalated like a Blue Peter totaliser, with scary and alarming
out of cash, these people have then found themselves working through mediation
instead, often wondering why they hadn’t been informed about this possibility
previously, given the process was staggeringly cheap compared with what they had
been paying in legal fees.
to mediation through the back door, having been seduced by the inviting
high-street façade of solicitors’ offices promising them "victory" over their
herself raised the need for fixed fee direct with solicitors in a speech to
Birmingham Law Society’s annual conference last month. She said: 'For us to be
able to tell clients that they can have advice on the options they have
developed in mediation and drafting services for a fixed would be enormously
What do you think? Here at Jordans we are sure that many practitioners will not necessarily agree with these comments. Why not add your view to the debate?