Isle of Man: The Legal Profession
Fees and Disputes
Notarial fees, where relevant, are included in the final bill to the client. Neither percentage nor contingency fees apply.
Given the diversity of work and expertise in the Isle of Man, billing rates differ widely depending on the nature of the work undertaken, whether it is domestic or international or which firm is acting. Leading firms advising on international transactions charge approximately GBP225-GBP275 per hour for a partner, and GBP150 per hour for a fee-earner.
The Advocates Act 1995 introduced a new regime for the assessment of Advocate's fees. Under Part III of the 1995 Act, advocates are under a duty to provide all clients with a written estimate of fees likely to be payable on an ongoing basis. Clients are also entitled to a written detailed breakdown of the fees payable. New clients may be asked to give money on account.
General complaints in respect of an advocate's professional conduct are dealt by the Advocates Disciplinary Tribunal, a body set up under the Advocates (Disciplinary) Rules 1997, updated by the Advocates Disciplinary Rules 2009.
The Tribunal is unable to deal with matters of negligence (a matter for the court), compensation claims or disputes as to fees (see below). The Tribunal may dismiss the complaint or, if proved, reprimand the advocate or order the advocate to pay the Treasury a penalty not exceeding GBP2,000. Very serious breaches of professional conduct may be referred to the Lieutenant Governor.
In the case of a dispute as to fees, the client may seek taxation by the Taxing Master. The Taxing Master assesses a bill of costs in accordance with the Advocates' Scale of Fees. Although the Taxing Master acts within the framework of the court system, and the taxation system is primarily used to assess litigation costs, theoretically any bill of costs, contentious or non-contentious, may be taxed. Accordingly, in the areas of international corporate and commercial work, advocates tend to ensure that clients are aware that fees will be charged on a time basis at an hourly rate.