Professional Fees – Private:

If we are representing you on a private basis we determine our charges based on an hourly rate or a fixed fee.  The hourly rate differs depending upon who carries out the work and details of the hourly rates are set out below.  Please note that letters and telephone calls will be charged at one tenth of the usual hourly rate.

Please be aware that all our charges are subject to VAT at the standard rate. VAT is added to all invoices, it is a tax we are legally obliged to collect and pay over to the revenue. You will pay VAT on all of OUR fees and possibly on the fees of any third parties we instruct on your behalf. We will also explain how much of the fees you are asked to pay relate to our charges and show you separately what the VAT is. For example for every £100 you pay to us, you will have to pay an additional £20 in VAT at the current rate.

It is our policy to request that fees be paid in advance.  We will provide you with an estimate of our likely fees at the outset and should that estimate change for whatever reason we will advise you immediately.

We will deliver invoices to you on a regular basis so as to allow you to easily budget for our fees.  We will ask that our invoices be met by return.  If there remains outstanding any invoices as at the date of any court appearance we will be unable to attend the said court appearance and any future court appearances until our fees are brought up-to-date.  It may be the case that we have agreed a fixed fee for representing you in which case you will receive confirmation of the fixed fee in writing.

Hourly rates

Grade A: £250.00 plus vat of £50.00 (£300.00) per hour;
Grade B: £205.00 plus vat of £41.00 (£246.00) per hour;
Grade C: £180.00 plus vat of £36.00 (£216.00) per hour.

See below to understand where all of our fee earners fit into the charging rates:

Oliver Gardner: Duty Solicitor, Director, Grade A;
Nikki Mundy: Duty Solicitor, Director, Grade A;
David Johnson: CILEX, Director, Grade A;
Kay Driver: Self Employed Higher Court Advocate and Duty solicitor, Grade A;
Milena Bennett: Employed, In-House Barrister, Duty Solicitor, Grade A;
David Thomson: Higher Court Advocate, Duty Solicitor, Grade A;
Peter Casson: Higher Court Advocate, Duty Solicitor, Grade A;
Steve Rollason: Duty Solicitor, Grade B;
Jo Gregory: CILEX, Duty Solicitor, Grade B;
Claire Aldridge: Duty Solicitor, Grade B;
Ravi Sethi: Barrister, Duty Solicitor, Grade A;
Amy Hilton: Paralegal, Police Station accredited, Grade B;

In order to ensure efficiency of costs to you, the solicitor handling your case may delegate certain suitable tasks to a trainee or a paralegal whose work will be fully supervised.

We seek to ensure that you have as much information as possible as to the likely cost of the case, and in line with Law Society requirements, we include herewith an estimate of the amount of hours we consider will be involved in this case and an estimate of costs.

These estimates rely on the instructions and information with which you have already provided us. However, factors such as the complexity of your case and legal issues involved may increase or decrease our costs estimate accordingly.

You will be provided with an estimate of the likely costs at the out-set and this will be reviewed regularly.

Should there be any change to our estimate of the likely costs then we will endeavour to update you immediately.

Please note that, unless specified otherwise, all invoices issued to you are immediately payable on receipt by you. If payment is not received from you in respect of fees outstanding, we may refuse to carry out any further work on your case and we may inform the Court that we wish to be removed from the Court Record in advance of the conclusion of the case.

In the event that disbursements (fees for third parties such as experts or a barrister or other goods/services) are required on your case, we will agree these with you in advance. We will only instruct an expert or barrister if we are in receipt of full fees from you. Fees for disbursements will be paid into a client ledger which will only be used to pay the disbursement when invoiced.

Generally, when an expert is required to attend Court, their charges will be paid by the Court. Should the court refuse to settle the expert fees in full, you would be responsible to pay to Howards any balance invoiced to Howards by the expert.

Fixed Fees:

In the event that we have agreed to provide representation on fixed fee basis please note that regardless of the amount of work undertaken the full fixed fee becomes payable. However, in circumstances where the case ends sooner than anticipated (for example if the case was going to trial and you decide to plead guilty or if the prosecution drop the case) then the fixed fee will be reduced by a certain amount for each hearing that was originally anticipated but that has not now taken place. Usually this will £300.00 plus VAT (£360.00)per hearing. In circumstances where additional hearings than were originally anticipated are required than a fee of £450.00 plus VAT (£540.00) VAT will be charged per additional hearing.

Please also note that that if the fixed fee is not paid by you and we are forced to take action to recover our costs then we reserve the right to abandon the fixed fee and charge for the total amount of time which may be more than the fixed fee originally agreed. In such circumstances you will be provided with a full breakdown of the time spent on the case.

We generally only offer fixed fee options for summary only motoring offences and straight forward summary only magistrates court cases whereby it is quite simple to calculate the work required (criminal law). Cases can vary so much and the amount of work anticipated can change so much that it is hard to offer fixed fee options for all types of work. We refer you to the Motoring offence page of our website for details of the fees we can offer.) (insert link here to the

Recovery Of Defence Costs Order

In the event that we are successful in the case we will make an application for a costs order on your behalf.  If a costs order is granted, our file will be submitted to the National Taxing Team for assessment of our bill by a determining officer unless the amount is agreed in advance.  Any part of the bill that is determined as reasonable will be authorised for payment by the court.  The Government have passed new laws which mean that for all cases from October 2012 the rates recoverable will be equivalent to legal aid rates.  This means you should only expect to recover, at best, your costs at legal aid rates which are about one fifth of the normal rates we charge.  It is sometimes the case that the taxing officer refuses to pay for certain items of work undertaken by us on your behalf as well as any disbursements that we have incurred on your behalf.  In such instances the difference between our claim for costs (based on time spent multiplied by the hourly rate plus any disbursements) will be passed on to you.  Whilst we may not agree with the assessment of costs by the National Taxing Team, we reserve the right not to challenge the assessment if we consider that it would be too costly or time consuming to do so.

Following legislation in January 2014, it is now the case that for cases in the Crown Court, a defence costs order will only be considered if the Claimant can demonstrate that he/she first applied for legal aid and had that application refused.  Therefore, if you chose to fund your case privately in the Crown Court and do not first unsuccessfully apply for Legal Aid, you cannot claim your costs back even if you win your case.

Please note that following the making of a defence costs order the court can take up to 3 months, and sometimes longer, to assess our claim and make payment so in the event of a defence costs order we ask you to be patient as per reimbursement of your fees.

Our Professional Fees – Legal Aid

We will generally only represent you on a privately funded basis.  However, where you will be eligible for legal aid we will advise you accordingly.

If legal aid is granted then our fees for representing you will be covered.  You should understand that the current rules provide that if you lose your case before the Crown Court only you can be ordered to pay towards some of the legal aid you have benefited from.  The Judge in the Crown Court will normally make a determination as to what, if any, contribution you should make based on your personal financial circumstances.

Legal aid is available to anybody requiring advice and representation at the police station following arrest and with a police interview.  Entitlement to legal aid in this respect is irrespective of means and the nature of the allegation.

This scheme is not extended however to cover advice and representation required outside of the police station.

If you are charged with an offence then you may be able to make an application for full legal aid to cover our further fees for representing you.  If however you are not charged with the offence and you are simply subjected to police bail pending a decision on charge then we will only be able to undertake further work for you on a legally aided basis if you qualify on the means test.  Even if you do qualify for such further assistance under the legal aid scheme you should understand that the amount of advice we can provide under this scheme is extremely limited.

If on the other hand you are charged with an offence then you may be eligible for full legal aid which will cover our fees for providing representation to you throughout the case so long as the legal aid remains in force.

Legal aid is not granted automatically following charge.  An application will have to be made, we will assist you in this regard but the legal aid office will consider the means of the applicant and also the nature of the charge.  It may be that legal aid is granted but a contribution from the applicant has to be made.

We will of course assist you with any application for legal aid that you may wish to make and we will advise you on the likely merits of such an application and what information will be required in support of the application.

Whilst we will assist you with the application it is your responsibility to provide the information to enable the Legal Aid Agency to assess your application.  We will advise you of what you need to provide but if you fail to do so and the application is not granted or is delayed then we will be unable to represent you or undertake any work on your case during the meantime.  We cannot commit to attending court until we know the Legal Aid is granted.

There is an ongoing obligation upon you to ensure that the Legal Aid Agency is provided with accurate information regarding your means and therefore if anything changes you must let them or us know straightaway.  Providing false information to benefit from Legal Aid is a criminal offence.

If the application for legal aid is refused we will advise you whether the decision can be appealed.  Usually an appeal would involve a letter of representation to the legal aid office and if that is unsuccessful then the matter can be considered by the magistrates.  If legal aid is initially refused and we have to appeal that decision on your behalf then we will have to charge you our private rate for any work we undertake until the application for legal aid is granted, if it is granted.

Since the introduction of new legislation in January 2014, Legal Aid in the Crown Court will not now be granted to anybody earning more than £37,500 per year.  If you earn less than this amount you will be granted Legal Aid but may have to pay some contribution towards the cost of your Legal Aid.

It is often the case that the monthly contributions total more than the amount we will be paid for the case.  However, in such circumstances you will receive a refund from the Legal Aid Agency in due course.