10 December, 2014
As reported by The Guardian, a couple has nearly lost their entire combined assets after spending nearly £1m in legal costs during their divorce prompting a Judge to call for legal reforms that stop law firms charging excessive fees.
The husband and wife known only as J and J spent a total of £920,000 - almost a third of their combined assets, over a period of eight months as lawyers and experts attempted to drag out the legal battle. Judge Mostyn described the costs as "an eye watering total" and stated that he was "almost lost for words when the scale of this madness was revealed to me".
Mostyn also said that he felt "wasteful and inefficient practices" and "grotesque leachings of costs" were not unusual, prompting the judge to try and "curb the disfiguring impact of excessive costs".
In this particular case, the husband, 54 and wife aged 44 separated after 15 years of marriage and eventually sought legal help from experts who in turn charged what can only be described as an extortionate £154,000 for six reports and a document setting out their disagreements.
The excessive cost of this legal case was slammed by Mostyn who said: "The waste of time was simply prodigious. The result has been to make a case that was surely so easily settleable almost impossible to compromise, and to impose on the high court a seven-day trial where the principal focus has been a bitter war of recrimination and denunciation about who was more at fault for this appalling state of affairs."
"I intend to bring this judgment to the attention of the president [of the high court's family division] with a view to him raising this pressing matter as a matter of urgency with the family procedure rules committee."
This example of gross malpractice and betrayal of trust highlights how important it is to instruct a law firm with your best interests at heart, not their own and one that acts on a fixed fee basis.
Forbes Solicitors specialise in family and divorce law, focussing on the best outcome for you and your family rather than the bottom line.
Dawn Baker, Partner and Collaborative Lawyer at Forbes Solicitors comments; 'An experienced and sensible solicitor will warn you regularly about costs throughout your case, but more importantly will assess the need for employing costly external reports. Do not be coy about asking for realistic estimates or questioning the need to spend more on your case! Take a step back and look at the amount of money that there actually is in the family 'pot' and judge whether the risk of taking litigation further is necessary. You stand to lose not only money when things become drawn out and acrimonious - your children become victims of the fall out and your own health or well being suffers longer'.
Divorces can be extremely stressful times and can potentially tear families apart if dragged out for too long. With this in mind, our expert team of solicitors aim for a swift resolution to all issues keeping your best interest and that of your children at the forefront of everything they do throughout the entirety of your case.
In addition to our legal advice, we take a sympathetic and understanding approach to all cases, offering emotional support and understanding all the way.