Legal fees and costs for civil cases
If you are taking a civil case to court in Ireland, as soon as possible after you have given instructions to your solicitor, he/she must advise you in writing of the fees you will be charged for his/her services. If it is not possible to give you a definite sum, he/she must estimate a sum or at the very least describe the basis upon which charges or fees will be calculated.
Usually solicitors will wait until a case is concluded before requiring payment of their fees. However, sometimes fees will be requested in advance, especially in a case where you run a high risk of losing.
The solicitor's fee can consist of the professional fee, miscellaneous charges (for example, phone calls) and charges from third parties, (for example, government agencies).Solicitors are not allowed to charge you on the basis of a percentage of any award or settlement of your case.
Solicitor's charges are based on the following:
- the complexity of the matter
- the urgency of the matter
- the difficulty of the questions raised
- the skill, labour, specialised knowledge and responsibility involved
- the number and importance of documents prepared or examined
- the amount or value of any transaction involved
- the importance of the matter to you
- the time reasonably spent by personnel in the solicitor's firm on the matter
- the place or places and the circumstances in which the matter is pursued
If you are unhappy with your solicitor's bill you have a number of options, see 'Further Information' below.
Usually if you win your case, most or all of your costs (including legal fees) will be paid for by the other party.
However, you may be obliged to pay all the costs and fees of your own legal team and that of the other party in the following situations:
- if you lose your case
- agree to accept an amount less than your full claim
- a court fails to award you your costs or a proportion of them
- the court awards costs against you
It is important to note that InjuriesBoard.ie doesn't award costs for or against either party.
A solicitor's fee must not be excessive for the work done. If you think your solicitor's bill is excessive you should contact your solicitor to seek clarification and try to come to an agreement. Information on fees is available in the Law Society's Information in relation to legal charges (pdf) leaflet.
If you are still not happy you can make a complaint to the Law Society. As the regulatory body for solicitors in Ireland, the Law Society sets down rules and regulations about how solicitors may conduct their business, including legal charges. There is a Disciplinary Tribunal, which can investigate any allegations of misconduct made against a solicitor. Read more about making a complaint about a solicitor in Ireland here.
You could also have your legal costs independently and impartially assessed by the Taxing Master, this is called the taxation of costs. The Taxing Master is an office of the High Court and has nothing to do with taxes or the Revenue Commissioners. The Courts Service has information on the taxation of costs on its website.
The Law Society also maintains a list of registered solicitors throughout the country. Search the directory of solicitor firms throughout Ireland here.