Our Fees: How much do the services of DDS lawyers cost?
Doctors Defence Service lawyers will always give clear indications as to the likely fees payable for a particular stage of work or the whole case (where possible). Each of our medico-legal advisors is a qualified barrister (lawyer) and they will send you a personalised client care letter setting out their terms and fees, at the beginning of the professional relationship, unless the instruction comes via a solicitor.
Our lawyers charge hourly rates or fixed fees according to the nature of the work to be undertaken. Fees are commensurate with the experience and seniority of a particular lawyer, and the complexity and length of the piece of legal work to be undertaken. Our lawyers are highly experienced in legal matters relating to doctors. We often take less time than other, less experienced lawyers, due to our expertise and experience in the fields we cover.
A client care letter will always be sent to a client prior to any work being undertaken, if we are instructed on a direct publci access basis.
Initially, a Doctors Defence Service (DDS) lawyer will need to have a broad discussion with a doctor in order to be able to understand the case or legal issue that the doctor is seeking advice about, in order to assess the amount of likely legal work that will be needed. Initial ballpark figures are just that and a more accurate assessment of likely costs can usually be provided where the doctor sends relevant case papers to the DDS lawyer. DDS lawyers can provided during an initial discussion by telephone of up to 45 minutes a ballpark estimate of fees, where possible. For a more detailed assessment of the likely fees involved, the DDS lawyer will need to see the relevant case papers.
DDS lawyers can provide a verbal and/or written advice in most cases, following a short face-to-face conference and provide guidance on likely fees. Fixed fees are usually charged for conferences with specialist counsel, and for court or tribunal hearings.
On average, an initial consultation will cost around £700 plus VAT, but the range can be from £500 plus VAT to around £1,500 plus VAT, dependent on the volume of the paperwork and the number of issues within the case.
Hourly rates range from £180 to £400 plus VAT an hour, with an average of £250 plus VAT being applicable in most cases. Very junior doctors usually receive a discount on fees.
Fixed fees for hearings will be agreed, so as to provide predictable costs. Fees rise with the seniority and experience of lawyers. A one day hearing can cost from £1,500 plus VAT, with an average range of £1,800 plus VAT to £2,200 plus VAT usually applying. A one week (five days) case in court can cost in the region of £3,500 plus VAT to £9,000 plus VAT, on average, in fitness to practise cases. Other types of law will attract similar fees, but we would need to assess the complexities of each case and each stage of a case to be able to give firm fee statements.
Other Lawyers and Experts, and Disbursements
If you would like us to instruct another lawyer or QC to advise, there will be additional costs.
In some cases the doctors will need an expert opinion, and this will cost in the range of £750 plus VAT to £5,000 plus VAT on average for a written opinion. Experts charge additional fees for further work and for attendance at court. Each expert will have their own charging structure.
Fees for other parties (cost risks):
In some cases doctors will be liable for the legal costs of the party that they are litigating against. Some regulators apply costs, while others do not. The General Medical Council cannot apply for costs against a doctor unless the doctor has conducted their case in a manner that could be criticised. We can advise about this, in specific cases. Another party might be directed to pay a doctor’s fees in some types of cases but this will be at the discretion of the courts. There are no guarantees that costs will be recovered.
Some doctors may be entitled to legal aid if they are not working or they are on a low income but this usually applies to appeals. However, legal aid generally does not apply to regulatory tribunals. It might be available for appeals. We can discuss this with you. For more information on legal aid assistance for doctors see the relevant FAQ.
See also the Legal Aid Commission website which has an eligibility calculator.
You might have an insurance product, domestic and residential, commercial or professional, that provides cover for some types of cases. You should look at the document and identify whether this is possible in the given legal specialism in which your case falls. We are content to look at such documents to assist, where requested. You should speak to your insurer or broker direct. Insurance cover is usually capped at a certain hourly rate and global limit. Many insurance products do not cover regulatory proceedings, regrettably.
We can provide some ballpark figures in many instances but each case will have a differnet level of complexity, different number of witnesses, a different page-count of evidence and exhibits, and varying lengths of hearings. It is therefore not possible to give specific quotes in all cases. However, we can often provide costs parameters.
Variation in costs
Costs can be affacted by a number of factors, such as those matters mentioned above. Some clients need greater hand-holding and support, whereas some clients can undertake much of the legal work that is needed (with our support) so keeping the costs down. On occasions, courts or tribunals may run out of time or the judge or tribunal may set timetables that affect the trial or hearings to such a degree that there will be additional costs.
Courts charge fees for lodging claims and these will be dependent on the nature and value of the claim. They can range from a few hundred to a few thousands of pounds. See tyhe HMCTS guide to fees for more information. The GMC does not charge fees, but the MPTS tribunals can award costs against a party who has acted unreasonably.
Types of Work we Undertake
Our lawyers are common law lawyers who can underak work in many specialisms. Our principle areas of work are related to the regulators of healthcare professionals, mostly doctors (regstered medical practitioners).
We are regulated by the Bar Standards Board (BSB).
Complaints are initially handled in-house by Chambers (in the first instance), and can be referred to the legal ombudsman for further consideration. The BSB liaises with the Legal Ombudsman.
See our complaints policy for more information.
See the Legal Ombudsman’s Decisions on lawyers generally. The legal ombudsman investigates complaints relating to the conduct of registered barristers and other regulated lawyers.
You can confirm the practising status of barristers. See the: Barristers Register. You can also ask barristers for proof of identity. Beware of scams. People do masquerade as lawyers to steal monies and assets. Make sure you check their bona fides.
This information in Alternative Format
If you would like us to send you information about our services or the above information in alternative format, audio, large print, braille, or other format, please contact us.
Direct Access Clients
For clients who use our services, we will send a bespoke client care letter setting out our terms and fees, along with a cancellation document and our complaints policy.
For information on instructing a barrister without a solciitor, which is entirely permissible where a barrister is a direct access barrister, see the BSB’s Guidance for Direct Access Clients.
We accept instructions from solicitors on behalf of clients and our clerks can discuss fees. Such solictors will speak to us about our fees, in most instances.
Transparency of Fees
We do our utmost best to be clear about likely fees. Except where fixed fees are agreed we can usually set out likely costs, at least in ballpark. The vagaries of court and tribunal life, and law generally, can lead to the occasional unexpected fees but thankfully this is relatively rare. Our aim is to seek to avoid surprises where possible.
VAT is charged at the going rate, except where our barristers are not VAT registered. Their VAT number will appear on their client care letter and invoices, if it applies. For those overseas, without a substantial presence in the UK, VAT might not be payable. This needs to be formally agreed with evidence.
Timetable and Key Stages of Legal Proceedings
Regulators and courts lead the timetable in most instances. Cases can take a few months to a few years to resolve. For an understanding of the stages of regulatory hearings, see our various pages on legal process, under each relevant section (see the menu items for guidance or use our search facility). Covid-19 is delaying the resolutioon on many cases.
Use of Escrow Accounts
We will generally ask our clients to pay disbursements such as court fees and expert fees direct to that person or organisation. On occasions we might agree with a client to use an escrow account. Our clients will be reponsible for meeting the costs of any use of escrow accounts, which generally charge 1% to 3% of the monies transacted. These are ballpark figures as there may be additional fees or higher or lower percentages depending on the amount of money being transferred over a given period of time.
Our barristers carry indemnity insurance for the work they undertake. This is a minimum of £500,000, rising to £2.5 million for some of our barristers. Please check the indivdual barristers’ contracts (client care letters) or ask them for specific details. The barristers’ insurers are BMIF. We can provide details of our barristers’ insurance cover on request.
Our barristers are registered with the data protection commissioner and operate within data protection protocols. See our data compliance page for more information.
The regulators of legal professionals have put together a website about the regulation of lawyers, and costs, which may be of use to you: Legal Choices
If you have a disability and would like us to make reaosmable adjustments to assist you in accessing our services, please contact us.
Our barristers are English speaking. Some have other language skills. Where an interpreter is needed, please let us know.
DDS/Barristers Chambers – Our staff
Our clerks will deal with day to day calls and administration of Chambers, and be responsible for billing. Our barristers will deal with the legal elements of your case. We often work with external lawyers as well, where a case requires it. DDS is a division of Trident Barristers Chambers.
For more information about Doctors Defence Service fees
For a clearer understanding of the fees that may be charged for legal services provided by DDS lawyers, call us without obligation and in strict confidence to discuss them, on: 0800 10 88 739
Doctors Defence Service