A guide to:
Understanding Our Invoices
The invoice will never be your favourite communication from us but it is important that you understand what information it contains, how it works and how it can inform you.
We produce an invoice at the following intervals/trigger points:
- Every 14 days
- In addition to 1. above, when a disbursement is made on your behalf
- In addition to 1 and 2. above, when the value of the work in progress exceeds £300 + vat
So why 14 days?
Invoices from solicitors come in many shapes and sizes from the huge bill when a matter concludes, sometime months or even years after your first instruction. These take your breath away and are a shock – mostly the reason why they haven’t been issued earlier is that the fee earner is scared of your response so leaves it and leaves it until it can’t be left anymore. You explode when the letter comes through the letter box. Then there is the invoice that doesn’t explain in any way what has been done on your behalf and just demands X thousand pounds by return.
We do not work that way.
You will receive an estimate of our costs based upon what we knew of your matter at the time when you first become a client. As events unroll, this estimate will be updated, up or down, as required to keep you fully informed. However, as the work is done, your costs mount up and we believe that it is important for our clients to know exactly where they stand on a regular basis and in our judgement the appropriate gap between invoices is 14 days. Each invoice produced details how the total due is made up, itemising each element of work by the type of work involved, the date the work was done, the time taken, the name of the individual doing the work, their charge rate and a resulting total to include VAT where applicable. Armed with this detailed information you can assess how things are developing, become fully aware of progress and your investment to date.
What is a disbursement?
This is the name given to payments made on your behalf to a third party such as a court fee, barrister’s bill or operating expense incurred on your matter. We typically use 2 types of disbursement being:
- Cash disbursement – where we pay for you in advance and bill you in turn
- Advance disbursement – where we ask you to pay in advance for a know disbursement payable at some future time
Invoices will itemise all such payments/receipts. As the majority of disbursements may exceed the £300 + VAT automatic invoice threshold, when a disbursement is made the charges as yet unbilled, or WIP – work in progress as we call it, will be billed to include the disbursement.
Why £300 + VAT?
All the best bills are small bills and in our judgement this is the correct level of debt to be invoiced for payment to keep your debt level under control and manageable.
What is the “Itemised Time Schedule”? (See section marked ITS)
Where the work done cannot be fully itemised on the front page of an invoice the reverse of the invoice show a fully detailed list of work completed detailing: when (see section marked D), who (see section marked FE), what (see section marked A) and how long it took us (see section marked H) at what cost (see section marked HR). There is also a “Note” section which explains more about what was done and why. This is filled in by the person doing the work to help you understand what we are doing on your behalf. Typically work done is divided up into these basic headings which are itemised in the “Activity” column:
Attendance on client – meetings with you the client in person or over the phone/internet
Perusal – time studying aspects of the matter
In Court – time in court on your matter
Travelling – time spent travelling to courts or meetings with yourself or third party persons/organisations
Letter Dictation – time spend writing letters or drafting important documents on your behalf
Letters In – time spent processing letters/communications into our system, deciding what action is required and advising accordingly. This is charged at half the usual rate of the fee earner in question
Meetings – Necessary meetings to progress your matter
Preparation – time spent preparing official documents for court or statements of guidance for counsel or other retained specialist s
Telephone – time in communication over the phone or internet in support of your matter
On the front page of the invoice in a box at the bottom left (see position marked AB) you will see the balance of your account after allowing for this invoice. If after this invoice your account is in credit (i.e. you have paid us more than you have been billed so far) the amount of available credit will be itemised or the amount still owing to us and due for payment will be shown.
In a box on the front page of the invoice (see position marked P) to the bottom right you will see our bank details and the reference code to use when making a direct payment.