How we charge for our services
It is common for individuals to inquire about the cost of my services, specifically regarding the handling of their cases. However, it is important to note that the answer to this question is not set in stone and can vary. The determination of the cost of my services is contingent upon several factors that must be considered before a quote can be provided.
This approach is not a means of evading a fair and transparent pricing structure. Prior to retaining our services as Specialists, Collision Reconstructionists, or Expert witnesses, it is essential to fully understand the various elements that will impact the cost of my services.
I have observed with profound dismay how my nascent industry is being devalued by the influx of new entrants into the Court Expert field. It is disheartening to hear from a protective client that my fees are considered exorbitant. It is worth noting that my current fees are lower than the rates that government entities were willing to pay per case a decade ago.
Expert witnesses are a crucial component of the legal system, providing valuable insights and expertise on specialized or technical subjects that can play a critical role in determining the outcome of a case. However, the concerning trend of expert witnesses offering their services at meager prices is detrimental to the industry for several reasons.
Low Prices Encourage Unqualified Individuals
One of the most significant problems with expert witnesses offering their services at very low prices is that it encourages unqualified individuals to pose as experts. When people see expert witnesses offering their services at significantly reduced prices, they may assume that this is the standard rate and that anyone claiming to be an expert can charge such low prices. This creates an opportunity for individuals with no qualifications or experience to enter the market and offer subpar services, ultimately tarnishing the industry’s reputation.
Low Prices Normalize Poor Quality Work
Expert witnesses who offer their services at very low prices are, in essence, normalizing poor-quality work. Clients may believe they are getting a bargain by hiring an expert witness who charges less, but this may lead to substandard work. This can result in incorrect decisions or outcomes in court cases, which can be harmful to both clients and the industry’s reputation.
Low Prices Create a Race to the Bottom
Another issue with low prices is that they lead to a race to the bottom. When expert witnesses start offering their services at very low prices, other experts may feel compelled to match or undercut these prices to remain competitive. This can result in a price war, with experts lowering their prices to unsustainable levels, ultimately harming the industry as a whole.
Low Prices Discourage Investment in Professional Development
Becoming a qualified expert witness requires extensive education, training, and experience. However, when expert witnesses charge very low prices for their services, they may struggle to make a living wage and invest in their professional development. This can result in a lack of investment in staying up-to-date with the latest developments in their field, which can ultimately impede their ability to provide high-quality services.
Low Prices Can Harm the Industry’s Reputation
Finally, low prices can have a detrimental impact on the industry’s reputation. When clients see expert witnesses charging very low rates, they may perceive the industry as lacking professionalism, or that the work of expert witnesses is not valuable. This can lead to a loss of trust in the industry and a reduction in the number of clients willing to hire expert witnesses for their services.
In conclusion, the trend of expert witnesses offering their services at meager prices is damaging the industry in several ways. It promotes unqualified individuals to pose as experts, normalizes poor quality work, creates a race to the bottom, discourages investment in professional development, and harms the industry’s reputation. Expert witnesses must charge fair rates that reflect the value of their services and the investment they have made in their education, training, and experience to preserve the industry’s integrity and reputation.
How we charge
At IBF Investigations, I do not typically subscribe to the conventional billing methods of my industry, both domestically and internationally, and amongst diverse service providers. Although hourly, mileage or per-page based billing is common, it is not my preferred method of billing for my services. Instead, I undertake a comprehensive evaluation of all potential billing items and considerably reduce them to arrive at a single, all-encompassing cost for the anticipated services. This pricing structure remains applicable until my client is in possession of my final report.
In the event that you engage my services without any prior relationship, it is important to note that as of January 2023, the following fees will apply for work carried out in South Africa:
- ZAR 8,500* – Review an existing Expert Report and comment (agree or disagree).
- ZAR 12,500* – URGENT Review of an existing Expert Report and comment (agree or disagree).
- ZAR 10,000* – Compile a “desk report” commenting on the Merits of your case, based on the evidence already in your possession.
- ZAR 15,000* – Compile an URGENT “desk report” commenting on the Merits of your case, based on the evidence already in your possession.
- ZAR 15,000 – Compile a Joint Minute Report with an opposing expert witness, outlining the elements of our reports we agreed to, and those we do not agree to. (One session).
- ZAR 20,000 – Compile an URGENT Joint Minute Report with an opposing expert witness, outlining the elements of our reports we agreed to, and those we do not agree to. (One session).
- ZAR 2,500* – Consulting fee, per hour (or part), if you would like to consult in person, via Telephone, or via a Virtual Meeting.
- ZAR 4,500* – URGENT Consulting fee, per hour (or part), if you would like to consult in person, via Telephone, or via a Virtual Meeting.
- ZAR 60,000* – To complete an investigation, including the scene, vehicles, and/or witnesses, and to compile a report.
- ZAR 75,000* – To complete a LIVE (At-scene) investigation, including the scene, vehicles, and/or witnesses, and to compile a report.
As a Court Expert, it is important to advise that in cases where I am retained for matters such as on-scene investigations, post-event investigations, vehicle examinations, review of repudiations, analysis of accidents, reconstruction of accidents, or review of merits, it is often unclear as to whether such matters will ultimately proceed to court.
Drawing from my extensive experience with cases that have gone to court even up to 11 years after my initial on-scene investigation, my initial quotations will typically encompass all services listed up to, but not including the submission of my final report, and will be exclusive of court fees. I acknowledge that the dynamic and unpredictable nature of litigation renders it difficult to accurately predict the potential impact on my rates several years into the future.
Additionally, I am unable to predict the number of court dates, postponements, or potential settlements before I testify. However, in instances where I do proceed to court, my billing structure is specially designed to minimize the cost to my clients.
Unlike some of my peers, I bill based on the value of my contribution, rather than solely on time spent in court. This means that if the trial is postponed, withdrawn, charges are dropped, or the case is settled before I testify, you will not be charged for my attendance.
Furthermore, in cases where my testimony is not required or my expertise is not fully utilized, I will adjust my billing accordingly. I am committed to ensuring that my clients are only charged for the specific services that are rendered.
It is important to bear in mind that all of the aforementioned circumstances could arise, and as such, I prefer to charge for court time as follows:
- When your trial date is set, you will reserve me, and pay only a minimal fee (because I have to decline other work, for those dates).
- If I arrive at court, I will charge an additional attendance fee, considering the reservation already.
- If I contribute to the case in any way – consulting, etc. – but do not testify, I charge an additional service fee.
- Finally, if I testify, I charge an additional expert witness fee.
My current fees, for court attendance in South Africa, as of January 2023, are as follows:
- ZAR 4,500* – Reservation, per reserved trial date – to “block out our calendar.” (Payable in advance, to reserve).
- ZAR 7,500* – Reservation, per reserved trial date in any HIGH COURT – to “block out our calendar.” (Payable in advance, to reserve).
- ZAR 6,500* – Attendance, per reserved trial date – to be present at court (added to Number 1, above).
- ZAR 9,500* – Attendance, per reserved trial date in any HIGH COURT – to be present at court (added to Number 2, above).
- ZAR 9,500* – Consulting fee, per reserved trial date – to assist with the trial, and cross-examination (added to Number 1, above).
- ZAR 12,500* – Consulting fee, per reserved trial date in any HIGH COURT – to assist with the trial, and cross-examination (added to Number 2, above).
- ZAR 12,500* – Expert Witness Fee, per reserved trial date – to provide testimony in chief, or during cross-examination (added to Number 1, above).
- ZAR 15,000* – Expert Witness Fee, per reserved trial date in any HIGH COURT – to provide testimony in chief, or during cross-examination (added to Number 2, above).
Therefore, the maximum rate you will ever pay is ZAR 15,000.00 per day, for my attendance at trial, excluding any direct additional costs, like travel, accommodation, toll fees, meals, etc.
- *All rates can change without notice.
- *Please visit this page for my latest fee structures.
- *All appointments, engagements, or commitments requested with less than 7 days’ notice will be regarded as URGENT.
Appointing me earlier
In regard to the matter of billing for court proceedings, it is pertinent to note that the costs associated therewith are sometimes more easily determined, as the work, commitment, time, duration, and location might be fixed and predictable. In contrast, when I am retained to conduct an investigation in a particular matter, and engaged in ongoing criminal matters, or where there are complex evidence dynamics, various elements of the case will influence the billing structure.
As such, the following are the primary factors that I will take into consideration when preparing a quotation for my services in your matter:
Number of Vehicles Involved
In certain circumstances where I am not present at the scene of a collision, it is important to note that the number of vehicles involved can significantly impact the scope and effort required for my investigation. A single-vehicle collision, involving only one vehicle, would require a limited amount of time and effort at the scene. Therefore, my standard protocol of examining each vehicle would not be necessary.
With respect to on-scene appointments, I typically consider up to two commercial vehicles with their trailers, or up to four light motor vehicles as a “standard investigation.” However, when the number of vehicles involved exceeds this threshold, additional time and effort will be required, and special allowances will have to be made for this increase in scope. It is important to keep this in mind when determining the appropriate billing structure for your matter.
Location of Vehicles
In certain cases, the relocation of vehicles involved in a collision can have a significant impact on my investigation. For instance, I were once retained to investigate a collision on the N2 outside Stormsriver in the Eastern Cape, where the Red VW Bus was available for examination at a local storage facility, but the Land Rover had already been removed and transported to Johannesburg in Gauteng, resulting in a delay of three days in obtaining access to the vehicle. This scenario is not uncommon with commercial vehicles, which are frequently transported to repair centers or storage yards of the owner’s choosing, which may be further away from the scene. Thus, the relocation of vehicles from the incident location is a crucial factor that I take into account when preparing my billing structure.
Location of the scene
As a Court Expert within the Southern Africa jurisdiction, which includes but is not limited to territories of Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya, and potentially other areas within the Middle East, I conduct on-site investigations of all incidents, whenever feasible. Due to the unpredictable nature of collisions, including their location and timing, as well as the potential relevance of various factors in any potential litigation, it is my standard practice to physically attend the scene of an incident. This may require me to incur travel expenses, including but not limited to airfare, lodging, and ground transportation, which may be billed to the client based on the location of the incident and my intention to physically attend, either at the time of the incident or post-event.
Nature of the request (type of case)
As a Court Expert, I understand that each case I undertake presents unique challenges and demands varying degrees of effort, resources, and time to conduct proper investigation and/or reconstruction. The services required can range from simple evidence preservation tasks, such as on-site photography and measurement, to the development of detailed reconstruction reports, animations, and advanced 3D models for use in court. In addition, certain cases may necessitate supplementary services such as experimental testing, exemplar vehicle examination, research, data analysis, and review of expert reports.
Furthermore, cases I take on can have various complexities and difficulties such as ballistic testing, or those involving murder by hanging, which require specialized expertise. Given the nature and scope of the cases I handle, it may not be feasible for me to provide a precise cost estimate until I have a clear understanding of the specific services required.
Travel, Accommodation, Toll Fees, etc.
As a Court Expert, I understand that in carrying out my services, I may need to travel to different locations within South Africa and abroad. However, due to the unpredictable nature of fuel prices and currency exchange rates, I may not be able to accurately determine the direct costs associated with my deployment beforehand. Additionally, there may be additional expenses incurred while traveling, including but not limited to toll fees on specific routes such as the N3 and N4 within South Africa, accommodation, airfare, visa fees, or medical testing costs when traveling internationally. While I regret any inconvenience caused to my clients by these expenses, I am obliged to pass them on, except where they are not applicable.
Bulk of Evidence
As a Court Expert, I understand that each case I undertake presents its own unique challenges and varying degrees of complexity. While some cases may be relatively straightforward, involving only a single vehicle and a pedestrian, others may require the examination of multiple expert reports, vehicle data or video analysis, complex dynamics, numerous vehicles, and multiple witnesses. In such cases, a comprehensive analysis and interpretation of the relevant evidence is necessary before a report can be prepared.
Unfortunately, due to the unpredictable nature of the cases I handle, I may not be able to provide an accurate cost estimate until I have thoroughly assessed the merits of the case and determined the level of effort, resources, and time required to properly investigate and reconstruct the incident. Rest assured that I will provide you with a detailed breakdown of my anticipated costs as soon as possible, so that you can make an informed decision about how to proceed with your case.