Context: I am employed in the UK.
Back in mid-July, I was prospecting for a lawyer to advise me on a new contract my employer wanted me to sign. One of the solicitors who replied to my email asked for a phone call to "discuss [my] quote and [their] advice".
The solicitor informed me on the phone of his hourly rate, basic admin details, and then asked me more details about my situation. It's important to note I didn't sign anything or even explicitly verbally agreed to engage in a contract with him. All in all, the call roughly lasted 50min.
Following the call, he sent me an email summarizing my situation with my employer. Although the email was somewhat lengthy, well organized, and a well understood roundup, it didn't include anything more than what I told him over the phone (no legal advice, or answers to my concerns).
Another email followed up a couple of days later, offering me to sign an engagement letter with this lawyer's company, in order to "set out the basis upon which [they] will provide legal services to [me]". This letter contained the scope of the advice they would provide, the estimated work time required for the instruction, along with estimated fees. The terms of the service were generic and very vague. If it matters: The letter was wrongly titled "Your Employment Agreement with [some employer/company unrelated to me]".
I replied informing him I would prefer to wait before engaging contractually with his company.
He replied he would then send me an invoice for the "initial advice (1 hour)".
I replied I hadn't realized I engaged in any contract with him by accepting his call. I also informed him about the mistake in the engagement letter.
Now more than 2 months later (end of September), I just received his invoice, charging me for "Advising in relation to employment agreement with [the same employer/company unrelated to me]". Also, the bill is properly dated (Sept), but the service is dated end of August (date at which nothing happened).
In this context, a couple of questions come to mind:
- What is the validity of such an invoice?
- Is this legal and standard practice in the lawyering industry?
- What can happen if I don't settle the invoice? Am I in my rights not to pay?
- Do I even need to reply?
Many thanks for your response!