The COOP have obtained a lot of press interest today – the day after Legal Aid is withdrawn by claiming that they offer fixed fee legal advice unlike other solicitors.
They quote people being dissatisfied by the ticking clock and some people pay in excess of £10,000.00 for their divorce. But is it really any different with the COOP or is this a classic case of calling a spade a banana? Sorry I mean comparing apples and pears. Let’s compare our fixed fee divorce with your litigated financial application maybe and see which one is cheaper ?
They say other solicitors need to catch up with them. They offer a fixed price divorce for £570.00.
We have been offering fixed fee divorce since April 2006:
The people who paid more than £10,000.00 in legal fees were no doubt litigating over the finances.
The COOP will charge £210.00 for advice over the telephone and £180.00 for an additional hour of advice.
How much do they charge for court representation?
They don’t quote for court representation but they do offer a fixed fee up to the first hearing of £3,600.00 including initial negotiation plus £600.00 to instruct an expert (I hope they mean barrister and not McKenzie friend but it states expert and there is no fee quoted).
So with the COOP it will cost you £4,200.00 up to the first hearing without representation. Plus you probably have to pay the first £210 or £180 of initial advice. That plus £570.00 for the divorce gives nearly £5,000.00 before you even get to court for the first time.
It is easy to see that the COOP will end up charging more than £10,000.00 if the matter progresses, £1,800.00 in between each hearing and no quotation for court representation.
AS reported in Legal Futures:
CLS’s director of policy, solicitor Christina Blacklaws, said: “These individuals are going through major life changing decisions and it’s vital they get the advice they need without worrying about costs spiralling.”
Given that the costs of having the COOP advise you (not represent you) up to a final hearing are probably £9,570.00 plus representation at 3 hearings then this is more than the £10,000.00 complained of.
There is also concern that the advice people are paying for is not from a legally qualified solicitor as their website talks of “Legal experts”.
There is another website that talks about expert advice that has handled over 100,000 divorces. It is an online divorce company. It is a lot cheaper than the COOP. It makes no secret of the fact that it’s expert advice is not given by solicitors. To go back to my original turn of phrase “It does what it says on the tin.”