We have an employer's liability claim where the injury sustained is not your every-day case. It’s so unusual that we need a particularly clever medical expert. We found one who is so well qualified that he charges £450 per hour plus VAT.
I thought it would be a damn fine idea, before signing up to his terms and conditions, to ask for an estimate of the likely total cost of examining the client, reading the records and producing a report. We sent as much information as we had, including copies of all the relevant records.
We were given in response a range which had a top end of £3,000 plus VAT. More than we had expected, but we worked with that along with our client and legal expenses insurers.
So the claimant sees the expert and the expert writes a report but before he will send the report he wants his bill paid. Sensible enough even in healthier times.
But wait – what’s this? The invoice is for over £5,800 plus VAT!
This very clever doctor has not helped the situation by, first, failing to offer any explanation whatsoever and, secondly, this…
In response to my observation that the invoice was almost twice the estimate, he writes me a letter denying it, and comparing the VAT exclusive figure billed with the VAT inclusive figure estimated.
Now, I don’t particularly care whether we compare £3,600 with £6,980 or £3,000 with £5,800 plus. Either way it’s nearly double.
The discussion is continuing, as you might expect, but whilst I was dealing with my outrage I couldn’t help but wonder what the Solicitors Regulation Authority would make of it if I or any other solicitor did something similar.
At present this sort of thing may not raise the eyebrows of some lawyers and medical advisors. It may raise a few more when costs management in the new post-Jackson era really takes off.