Legal Expenses – What to Expect

Posted in: Legal

Many clients approach us for a transaction, explain the situation and, of course, wish to know how much the legal expenses – what to expect to carry out the transaction.

Frustratingly, we see frequently that when the clients ask other firms they are not given a like for like comparison on fees. Many legal transactions involve several different component parts. Thus they involve different expenses such as notary, land registry, tax office etc, but often we do not see proper breakdowns of fees provided. Clients have a right to these. 

Differentiating Between Legal Expenses and Lawyer’s Fees

When people ask for the fees, they often think of it being only the lawyer’s fees or legal fees. In fact, there are usually a lot of sundry or different administration fees involved in a process. Both within the lawyer’s work and apart. A lawyer is guided on their fees by the scales set by the College of Barristers (Colegio de Abogados) that they belong to. But the fees charged by a Notary and Land Registry for example are out of their control. What they should do is check (if they do not know already), how much the fees might be for a certain transaction, then advise the client. But some lawyers do not bother to do that, they deliberately quote low and then at the end of the proceeding say there is more to pay, having received the actual invoices. The client then gets a nasty surprise.

We have also seen cases whereby the client is not quoted the taxes, such as plusvalía or town hall tax on a probate, then receives the bill some months later directly from the tax office. (Having been totally unaware that this would need to be paid).

Please ask your lawyer for a clear break down of costs before a proceeding starts in order to avoid hidden fees, or surprises at the end of the proceeding.

What to Expect when you ask for Costs?

The clients who have approached us recently with questions about provision of funds received by other solicitors or agents, we have seen they were not proper break downs.

This is not only for conveyancing but also for donations, probates and dissolution of joint ownership proceedings. Clients are often very confused as they don´t know what are they paying for. Or what is involved, A process should be explained.

The Law is very clear in Spain. A client has the right to ask for a complete breakdown of costs, concept by concept. This is in order to know exactly what are they paying for and why. There is no reason not to provide a provision of funds in detail. And no reason for the client not to ask, is that the cost of the whole proceeding? Are there any additional costs that I may need to pay? When we provide a provision of funds in Molina Solicitors, we provide a full breakdown. We also advise any potential additional costs that you may experience in your own country. For example, the cost of signing a power of attorney at a Notary back home or a Hague Apostille from a Foreign Office to legalise a document.

Being informed of the total breakdown of legal expenses is your right. Make sure you are completely clear on what you might need to pay before you start a transaction. Let us know if you have any queries regarding a breakdown of legal expenses.