Motoring offences – the first hearing for summary driving offences
At Berry & Lamberts we pride ourselves on providing our clients with the best and most personal service we can. Our team recognise that being charged can be very stressful our clients find comfort in having a trusted expert deal with their case, a person who they can talk to, who can be relied upon to provide a clear view on what can be achieved and who is with you every step of the way.
You should be aware that legal aid is not generally available for motoring offences, unless they are of the more serious kind. We will be able to advise you on this.
In publicly funded cases we operate under the terms of our contract with the Legal Aid Agency which sets out in great detail the work we can or cannot do in any given case and the lengths to which we can go in doing that work. It sets certain standards for that work and our files are audited against those requirements and standards on a regular basis. We have attained Level 1 (the highest standard) at all our offices.
In private, fee paying, cases our contract, of course, is with you so you can set the limits and we will help with guidance on what may be required in order properly to prepare your individual case. We will set that out in a Case Plan at the outset.
Summary Only Road Traffic Matters
We offer a fixed fee of £350 plus VAT (plus disbursements) for representation at a first appearance at our local Magistrates courts i.e. Sevenoaks and Maidstone for summary only Road Traffic matters e.g. drink driving, speeding, driving whilst disqualified etc. For appearances at courts which are not local we offer a fixed fee of £500 plus VAT (plus disbursements).
Typically, the first hearing will be to determine plea. If guilty then the court will proceed to sentencing there and then and this will be covered by the fixed fee of £350 plus VAT. Likewise in the event of a not guilty plea the court will deal with case management and trial fixture, the fixed fee will cover this.
All work thereafter will be on a private basis (subject to our charge rates below).
Our hourly costs
We will invariably seek payment on account before accepting instructions but should be able to give you a reasonable idea as to what the case is likely to cost from the outset. Some things are out of our control of course such as the length of trial or extent of the evidence served by the Police but the advantage of using an experienced team is that our estimate would normally be able to factor in most issues and be reasonably accurate. We will of course keep you appraised of the likely eventual cost throughout the case. Please bear in mind that your solicitors’ costs include other expenses – such as doctors’ or barristers’ fees etc. – which we may have to negotiate on your behalf during the case as the need arises. The current charging rates for solicitors in our Criminal Litigation Department are set out in the table below. In certain cases there will be a mark up for seriousness or complexity but that is rare and we will tell you if that is likely to apply in your case.
Lawyer Grade Lawyers Hourly rates (£ per hr) Letters/Telephones Partner Matthew Nickolls £250.00 + VAT £25.00 + VAT Assistant Solicitor Richard Lamb £200.00 + VAT £20.00 + VAT Paralegal Nina Riches £150.00 + VAT £15.00 + VAT
Straightforward trials in the Magistrates Court costs usually £1,800 – £2,500 plus VAT. It goes without saying that costs increase with more complex cases where more work is involved.
Additional costs in respect of the 1st hearing will usually be travel/mileage to court and parking. Where appropriate we will also apply a charge of 25p per sheet for photocopying.
Disbursements ( Not included in our fee )
Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as court fees. We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process.
On rare occasions we may seek a toxicology report. However this is only usually done after the first hearing once we have identified the issues in the case etc. A toxicology report normally costs £400-£500.
You will need to remember, of course, that payment of your own legal costs is not in itself necessarily the full story. If you plead “guilty” or are convicted after trial you could find that the Court orders you to pay;
(1) a fine as punishment
(2) compensation to the “victim”
(3) a “Victim Surcharge” of between £15 and £120 depending on the sentence imposed; and/or
(4) a contribution towards prosecution costs. In certain more serious cases the Court can also make financial orders aimed at recovering the proceeds of crime and can forfeit goods such as cars or computers for example.
Your solicitor will be able to advise the likely level of financial penalty in your individual case.
Predicting times scales can be very difficult as it is dependant on the Court calendar among other things. Typically, from 1st hearing to trial usually takes between 3-5 months depending on court schedules.