What are "disbursements" ?
This is money which your solicitor has to pay to third parties to help prepare your case. For example, court fees, fees for medical or other expert reports.
Disbursements can frequently become a major cost in any case, particularly when a case requires reports from experts to establish evidence, personal injury cases are a good example. Where a claimant has a serious injury, which is likely to have long-term consequences a report will be needed to assess the injuries now - and importantly in the future. This will allow a more accurate assessment of the actual loss suffered by the client, and a better understanding of the damages that can be claimed.
Your solicitor will always notify you and your insurance company (if applicable) before they incur significant disbursement costs.
Other typical (but smaller costs) include court fees and serving documents etc. However, there is a grey area - costs such as photocopying and postage are usually deemed to be just the overhead of running a law firm and are therefore not treated as disbursements. However, if a solicitor had to photocopy a large number documents for your case, for example more than 1,000 pages - this would probably be treated as a disbursement and so would be added directly to your legal costs and bill.
For smaller costs your solicitor will not inform you of them, simply because they are routine costs and not significant.
There are also quite complex rules relating to VAT being paid on disbursements, this means that in some cases your solicitor will have to charge you VAT on disbursements and in other case they will not. Please see the external link below for guidance published by HMRC.
Questions & Answers
- When can I make a claim?
- Who do I claim against?
- How do I make a claim?
- What do I need to do before I see a solicitor?
- Can I claim for anything else other than my injury or illness?
- Can I get Legal Aid?
- Is there a time limit for making a claim?
- Can I make any other claims apart from a court claim?
- What if I was partly to blame for the accident?
- What are "General Damages"?
- What are "Special Damages"?
- Am I entitled to any interest on the compensation I receive?
- What are "disbursements"?