The legal profession is not exceptional in having “names” that carry certain implications.

If you think of expensive shopping, you think Harrods.

If you think of expensive food, you might think caviar.

Expensive drink makes you think of champagne.

If it’s law, you’d think of the likes of Mishcon or Clifford Chance.

If someone is picking where they are going to take you for dinner, or what they’re going to order, you may not mind what they pick – it’s their bill after all.

However, if they are picking what solicitors they are going to instruct to fight the legal claim that you are on the other side of, you may be worried if they go for a “name”. After all, if you lose (which is always a risk, no matter how good your position is) you’ll have to pay their costs. Is it fair that you’ll be forced to pay for the privilege of them instructing one of the most expensive firms around! Which might make you think that you should go for an equally expensive solicitor to redress the balance.

Actually, instructing a “name” is likely to end up costing the other side more, whether they win or lose. That is because there are guideline hourly rates that sets out how much solicitors can claim from the other side, and if you’re going to claim more, you have to have a really good reason. This was something that came as a bit of a shock to LG recently, who had won a dispute against Samsung who were ordered to pay their costs. LG had gone for an expensive firm and argued that they should be able to recover a higher hourly rate than the guidelines, because the dispute included competition law. The Court of Appeal found that LG’s explanation was not good enough and did not justify the hourly rate claimed being twice the guideline rate. So, whilst LG will have recovered some costs, based on the bill they put in, it will have been less than half what it actually cost them, not to mention the cost of losing the appeal.

You may get what you pay for, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll recover all your costs, even if you win.

Kleyman & Co Solicitors. The full service law firm. A valuable name to know!