A&A Accounts: fees for the initial meeting and taking instructions from the client

This section deals with issues arising from the initial meeting with the client.

You are only in a position to take instructions from the client, and be paid for it, when you have admitted the client to advice and assistance having been satisfied that:

  • The matter on which advice is sought is a matter of Scots law.
  • The client is financially eligible.

Information you should provide about the initial meeting

The length of an initial meeting will vary but you must provide sufficient information in the account narrative, especially to justify a lengthy meeting.

The narrative should clearly set out the:

  • Purpose of the meeting and what happened.
  • Actual time involved, subject to any adjustment where a precognition has been taken under advice and assistance.

Providing a letter of engagement

A letter of engagement (also known as a terms of business or a terms of engagement letter) sent to a client after the initial meeting is not chargeable.

Limited circumstances in which we will pay for a confirmatory letter

A letter confirming a meeting or a telephone conversation is not chargeable.

However, we will allow a charge for a letter, after the first meeting, confirming the client’s instructions and the advice you give in the following circumstances:

  • It relates directly and exclusively to the advice given.
  • It is confined to the essentials and to the specific advice given.
  • The advice is stated briefly and in plain English, focused on the specific, material issues.

The letter should appear, in the circumstances of the case, to be justified and necessary to inform your client.  For example, it may help your client for you to briefly outline (where there is a house) occupancy rights, exclusion orders, the implications of a title in joint names, division of household goods etc.  Where the oral advice has covered only one issue, for example, contact with a child, we consider a one page letter should succinctly cover all that is needed at that stage.  We consider that only an unusual situation would justify more than a one-page confirmatory letter at this stage of advice.

Many firms operate a practice where a letter of engagement also contains confirmatory information.  If you intend to charge for confirmatory aspects of the initial meeting, you should include this in a separate letter, to avoid the need to calculate what proportion of the combined letter is chargeable.  Where the information is contained in one letter, although the letter of engagement itself is not chargeable, we will allow a charge to the extent that it contains confirmatory information.  You should clarify in the account what proportion of the letter relates to confirmatory aspects of the meeting and restrict your charge accordingly.

Situations where we may pay for letters following second or subsequent meetings

A letter to a client confirming the action discussed and agreed at the meeting is essentially duplication and you cannot charge twice for the same matter. We will only allow a charge where the letter adds to views or to information given.  However, we will allow a charge for a purely confirmatory letter where you satisfy us that in your opinion the letter was necessary because:

  • The client was distraught.
  • The subject matter was too complex for the client to remember.
  • The client did not accept the advice given.
  • You need to put on record a time limit and/or date or outcome of a hearing.

Precognitions under advice and assistance

At paragraph 1D in the Table of Fees listed in Part 2 of Schedule 3 of the Advice and Assistance (Scotland) Regulations 1996 is the fee for taking and drawing precognitions.

This fee subsumes:

  • Framing the precognition.
  • The time charged for taking it.

There may be situations where advice has been given over and above taking the precognition which is separately chargeable, and which should be made clear in the work item description.

Attendance with client providing advice on the next steps to be taken and taking precognition


Time engaged 40 minutes (10 minutes advising)
Precognition (2 sheets)

As can be seen, you must adjust the time charged for the meeting at which the precognition is taken accordingly.

Please note that you should:

  • Not include any time expended on taking the precognition.
  • Show the actual total time of the meeting and the extent to which this time has been adjusted.

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