The following information relates to cases involving driving offences in which we will be acting for you.
Who will be handling my case
There are a team of lawyers dealing with cases of this type within the office but principally your case will be dealt with by Paul Dunn who is a Solicitor /Advocate and Partner in Charge of the criminal team at Alderson Law and John Monkhouse. Both Paul and John have extensive experience of all aspects of criminal case work, are Duty Solicitors with a combined experience of almost 80 years of dealing with cases of this type in the South East Northumberland area and beyond.
For most of the cases, Paul and John will represent you at the Court but for more lengthier complex cases which proceed principally to the Crown Court, we would employ a specialist Barrister and we would need to discuss the separate payment of Barristers’ fees with you and agree a reasonable fee before instructing them.
A different range of fees applies in road traffic cases depending on the type of case that you have which can broadly be dealt with as follows:-
GUILTY PLEA IN COURT
If you are intending to plead guilty and if your case is dealt with at the first hearing then we can attend Court and represent you. If the case is dealt with at our local Court at Bedlington then the cost is likely to be a fixed fee usually limited to £350 plus VAT. This will cover taking instructions from you in the office and advising you on plea, an analysis of the Prosecution case against you and attendance at one Court hearing.
The fixed fee does not cover disbursements such as travel time to Court, mileage to Court, other disbursements such as parking or any other fees that we have to pay on your behalf, such as for example forensic reports.
If for any reason your sentencing case is adjourned, the fixed fee will not cover the second hearing and we will discuss a further fixed fee with you for that hearing.
The fee also inherently suggests that there are no substantial disputes between yourself and the Prosecution version of events or no other offences become apparent.
NOT GUILTY PLEA OR SECOND HEARING
The second category of cases is where there is a Not Guilty plea entered or a second hearing is required.
This can arise in a number of different situations, if your case is a particularly serious allegation such as dangerous driving or a high level drink drive reading, then this case can often be adjourned for Pre Sentence Reports to a second hearing. More commonly in cases of road traffic there is to be legal arguments about exceptional hardship or special reasons to prevent a driving disqualification. A different charging rate will apply at that stage and we will advise you of that at the outset.
Where a second hearing is involved, then the fixed fee becomes £500 plus VAT. This is based on the factors we mention above and again does not include travelling, disbursements such as mileage and parking, expert fees for forensic reports, collision investigation reports and any other reasonable disbursements we incur on your behalf.
It does cover us attending for the initial hearing when the plea will be entered and the following hearing where contested evidence is put before the Court. It covers attending upon you to take instructions, analysis of the Prosecution case, interviewing witnesses if necessary. We will discuss the outcome with you. The fixed fee will cover advice on an appeal either against sentence or conviction or both, but will not cover the cost of appeal itself.
HOW LONG WILL A NOT GUILTY PLEA OR CONTESTED HEARING TAKE
It is difficult to predict this from the outset. It will depend on Court availability to hear the case and witness availability but we will keep you advised.
Generically there may well be situations where the fixed fee regime in cases of this type cannot apply because of complexity and length of listing. We will identify this at a very early stage and if it becomes necessary to charge you on a different basis, on a time basis or agree a different fee, then we will write to you separately having discussed the matter with you and agree a way forward before you are committed to any additional costs with the practice.