Legal Cost Specialists

Legal cost of travelling to see client

I recently came across an article on the internet about someone in New York giving dance lessons over Skype to someone else living in Baghdad.

If this kind of thing is now being done by ordinary people, why do some solicitors still insist on travelling half way across the country to interview their clients and/or witnesses?

Even if the client/witness does not already have the technology to use Skype (or the equivalent), the solicitor could buy them a top of the range tablet computer pre-loaded with the relevant software and with a 4G data contract (and talk through over the phone even the most technology illiterate person how to answer a Skype call) for a fraction of the amount that is often claimed by solicitors for travel costs.

But we mustn’t rush into modern technology just to reduce legal costs. Nothing wrong with quill and ink.

12 thoughts on “Legal cost of travelling to see client”

  1. Most fee earners I’ve seen have faces made for radio; in a time where most firms want to keep their clients, this perhaps is NOT the best idea!

  2. If such an object arrived at the home of my parents (87/76), I think the scene would be something like that of the ape creatures dancing round, and then worshipping, the mysterious obelisk at the beginning of “2001 – a Space Odyssey”.

    I can’t help but think the same might be true of quite of lot of mesothelioma claimants and similar…

    But I am sure that the wider point – that costs don’t seem to have caught up with improvements in technology – has a lot of truth in it.

  3. It is important especially potentially high value cases to see a client face to face in their home environment as my own view is that nothing gives you a better perspective of a client’s initial needs and on going issues than seeing them in their own home at least once though probably twice throughout the legal process. In addition you get a better idea of the nature of the client and how they are likely to deal with a stressful and often complex and lengthy case if you see them face to face. In addition you can often arrange to meet with family members also who are often providing care to take an initial statement. Again this would only really be necessary once or perhaps twice in a case. Surely this would not be deemed unreasonable even in this technologically advanced world of ours.
    I personally would find it difficult to make a fully informed initial assessment using such applications as Skype and I use this all the time to talk to family in the USA and Spain.

  4. WearyCostsMonkey

    Surely a ‘top of the range tablet computer pre-loaded with the relevant software and with a 4G data contract’ could be seen as some form of inducement as outlawed in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill.

    As Justice minister Lord Faulks said, this measure, ‘complements significant reforms’ the government has already introduced to control the costs of civil litigation.

  5. Many solicitors have adapted to modern technology but the judges have not. At a recent hearing, the Judge was astounded that the client had never attended the solicitor’s office – not even to sign the CFA! The Judge nearly choked when I suggested it was not necessary. Surprisingly I didn’t get on with that Judge. Likewise a Judge recently allowed a significant time and fee for printing files as the solicitors operated a paperless office, but the costs draftsman did not.

  6. OT – How are cost draftsman/lawyers finding 2015? I continue to hear of firms making redundancies and reducing staffing levels. All very concerning. Thoughts please.

  7. Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    I am a Claimant Costs Draftsman and I have to agree with Simon on this point.

    In the vast majority of cases a phone call or conference would suffice.

    There are obvious exceptions, such as when it is necessary to go through complex paperwork and evidence then Skype would not be costs efficient.

    However, the arguments put forward by ‘Dawn Slow’ above, who I assume is a solicitor working in personal injury so not hold much water as you could speak to family members on Skype and in relation to the point about ‘assessing’ the client’s needs…well….was this ever covered by your law degree/LPC or part of your CPD? I think not!

  8. It really depends on your work.

    If it’s fast track rta then the solicitors will do it by telephone. Their profitability depends on it on these high volume claims.

    If it’s serious injury then often you do need to see client in their home. It’s about seeing them in their home environment and the day to day difficulties that they face. This won’t be necessary in all circumstances. Sometimes it’s necessary to see witnesses in person to effectively test the quality of their evidence and their robustness.

    Each case is fact dependent and as ever one size does not fit all

  9. The Cost Crusader

    There’s an invention by Thomas Bell that seems to get widely underused. Whilst I am sure face to face meetings are important to some, and that is their prerogative why should the burden of this luxury choice be the paying parties cost?

    And why we’re at it, the cost of ‘professional photographs’ and prints are beyond ridiculous. I once put in my points of dispute that the Claimant could have bought a digital camera and taken the photos of their scarring in the comfort of their own home and obtained their prints from Tesco at 10p an image, this was accepted by the opponent.

    Claimant’s have a duty to mitigate the costs and save expense!!

  10. Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    It is a sad fact but costs people are generally more competent than solicitors about running cases.

    The reason for this is twofold.

    1) Costs people have to justify borderline negligent and incompetent solicitors in most of their work as these are the cases where costs will be fought and referred to costs people

    2) Solicitors are generally lazy, have no common sense and try to run to whoever they can to justify their salary whether it be counsel, agents, costs people whoever. Solicitors are basically lazy, incompetent and have too much of an inflated ego. i.e. how dare a costs draftsman ever think they know more than a solicitor???!!!!

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