Hays DX feels the heat as 25 firms take action

AN INCREASING number of law firms are investigating their invoices from legal postal service Hays DX amid allegations of over-charging.

There is widespread concern after The Lawyer exclusively revealed that David Ballard, director of cost-reduction specialist BCR Associates, found savings for law firms on almost 100 occasions over the past five years.

A Hays spokeswoman says: “We haven't been made aware of any problems with our lawyers.”

At least 25 firms are known to be challenging their costs, and several are making claims.

Ian Douglas, a partner at Kent firm Hallett & Co, says: “It seems to us that Hays has been over-charging us.”

Fellow partner Richard Ricks says the firm has gone back over its bills for the past six years and is this week seeking £20,000 in repayments from Hays.

Staff at Lincolnshire firm Roythorne & Co are monitoring their own payments, and believe Hays owes them £20,000 in repayments. “There are potential savings for us, so we are taking it further,” says finance director Terry Hope.

Ballard says he has found significant “discrepancies” and will be shortly filing claims on behalf of Halletts and Roythornes.

Hays DX is part of FTSE100 corporation Hays Plc, which recorded a £201m profit in the year to June 1998.

Asked if she is confident Hays is not over-charging its customers, a spokeswoman says: “In a very few instances anticipated volumes are not met and we then renegotiate subscription rates for those members. But they are very, very few.”

A recent Hays “media briefing note” reads: “Hays DX is currently undertaking a research project to evaluate market awareness and image for the company, and the service it provides. Preliminary results indicate that Hays DX enjoys a high reputation amongst the legal profession.”

See news analysis, page 10