TERMS AND CONDITIONS
We aim to offer our clients quality legal advice with a personal service at a fair cost.
This statement confirms the basis on which we will provide our professional services.
Unless otherwise agreed, these Terms and Conditions of Business shall apply to any future instructions given by you to us.
By instructing or continuing to instruct us, you are deemed to have accepted these Terms and Conditions. These Terms and Conditions can only be altered in writing.
We are only able to progress matters on your instructions. We therefore ask that you promptly provide instructions and information to us when requested to do so and that if there are periods during which you will not be available, you warn us in advance and supply alternative contact details.
If two or more persons are instructing us jointly on the same matter then, unless you advise us in writing to the contrary, we shall be entitled to assume that any one of them has the authority to give instructions for all. Everyone jointly instructing us will be individually responsible for the payment of all our fees.
HOURS OF BUSINESS
Our office is open from 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays). Please be aware that Mondays and Fridays are the busiest days, as is the last working day of the month.
We will aim to communicate with you by such a method as you may request. We may need to virus check discs or email. Unless you withdraw consent, we will communicate with others when appropriate by email, text or fax but we cannot be responsible for the security of correspondence and documents sent by email or fax.
COSTS AND DISBURSEMENTS
Unless you have been provided with a written fixed quotation our fees are charged wholly or partly by an hourly rate. This hourly rate depends on the type and complexity of the work involved. You will be advised of the hourly rate of the fee earner with conduct of your case at the outset of your matter however for the avoidance of doubt we can confirm the following staff hourly charge rates, which are all plus VAT:
We will provide you with an estimate of what we expect our fees to be once we have sufficient information in relation to your matter to enable us to do so.
Time spent on your matter will include meetings with you and perhaps others, any time spent travelling to appointments, considering, preparing and working on papers, correspondence and making and receiving telephone calls.
Routine letters that we write and routine telephone calls that we make and receive will be charged as units of one tenth of an hour. Other non routine letters and telephone calls will be charged on a time basis.
In addition to the time spent, our charges may include an “up lift” to take into account various factors including (but not limited to) the complexity of the issues, the speed at which action must be taken, the expertise or specialist knowledge that the case requires and, if appropriate, the value of the property or subject matter involved.
The hourly rate will be reviewed on 1st September each year and we will advise you, in writing, of any increased rate from the review date.
Factors beyond our control may result in an increase in the complexity, or the amount of time that the matter takes, in which event our initial estimate or quotation may need to be revised. If this arises, we will supply a revised estimate or quotation with an explanation of the reason for the increase. We will require your written agreement to the revised estimate or quotation before we can continue to act.
Quotations and estimates are only valid if confirmed in writing. Unless accepted, quotations expire one month from the date the quotation is given.
We reserve the right to make an additional charge for certain services such as home visits, international and long-distance telephone calls and faxes, courier charges, and bank transfers.
We may ask you to make a payment to us on account of anticipated disbursements (that is, fees and expenses paid by us on your behalf) such as Land or Probate Registry fees, court fees, experts’ fees and counsels’ fees including VAT where applicable. It is a condition of our agreeing to act, and of our continuing to act, that clients promptly meet any request for payments on account. Please be aware that we have no obligation to make such payments unless you have provided us with cleared funds for that purpose. We will not accept responsibility for any loss or additional expenses incurred by you as a result of your failure to provide cleared funds which we have requested from you.
We reserve the right to submit interim invoices to you for payment if a matter is likely to be protracted.
If, for any reason, we cease to represent you or if a matter does not proceed to completion you will be responsible for our fees for all work done up to that date and any disbursements incurred on your behalf unless we have agreed otherwise in writing beforehand.
Fees and disbursements invoiced to you are due for payment immediately on delivery of our invoice. Interest will be charged from that date on any amounts not paid within 30 days of delivery of the bill, calculated on a daily basis at 8% above the base rate from time to time of the Bank of England. If any invoice remains unpaid after 30 days from the date of delivery, we reserve the right to terminate our retainer, that is to suspend work on your files and, ultimately, to refuse to continue to act for you.
If we are in possession of any monies due to you, for instance damages recovered for you or the proceeds of sale of a property, we will deduct any fees and disbursements due to us from those monies.
With regard to fixed fee work we can advise that we charge the following:
|Additional Service||Associated Fixed Fee (£)|
|Management Company Deed of Covenant||150.00|
|Freehold Managed Area Supplement||200.00|
|Post Completion Retention||75.00|
|Drafting Rider to Contract||75.00|
|Shared Ownership Lease||200.00|
|Declaration of Trust||250.00|
|Statutory Declaration/Statement of Truth||150.00|
|Deed of Easement/Covenant/Grant/Release/Variation||POA (Hourly Rate)|
|Deed of Postponement||275.00|
|Voluntary First Registration of Land/Property||750.00|
|Application for Adverse Possession||950.00 (Application Only)|
|Dealing with Unregistered Land||300.00|
|Bridging Finance Involvement||500.00|
|Limited Company Purchase||200.00|
|Personal Guarantee on Mortgage||300.00|
|Transfer of Part||100.00|
|New Build Property||200.00|
|Right to Buy||250.00|
|Restrictions on Title (Sale Only)||100.00 (per restriction)|
|Additional Charges on Title (Sale Only)||100.00 (per charge)|
|Dealing with Additional Land/Title||75.00 (per additional title)|
|Documents noted on the title (After first)||50.00 (per additional document)|
|Help to Buy Mortgage (Sale & Purchase)||250.00|
|Help to Buy ISA||50.00|
|Last Will and Testament||34.00|
|Lasting Powers of Attorney||150.00|
|Bank Transfer Fee||25.00|
All of the above are plus VAT. Our fixed fees are reviewed on the 1st September each year.
Within the fees stated in your quote, this Firm may make a payment to the person or company that referred you to us. This may be an estate agent or financial advisor.
If you have been referred to us under a referral agreement please note that you are our client, not the person who has referred you to us. On this basis we will only act in your best interests regardless of whether the advice given is in the interests of the person or company who referred you to us. Payment of a referral fee will not affect our independence or the integrity of the service we provide to you.
If we have a referral arrangement with your agent/advisor that involves us paying a fee, this is paid out of our marketing budget and will not be passed on to you.
OTHER PARTIES’ COSTS AND DISBURSEMENTS
In some transactions a client may be entitled to payment of costs by some other person. It is important that you understand that in such circumstances, the other person may not be required to pay all the charges and expenses which you incur with us. You have to pay our charges and expenses in the first place and any amounts which can be recovered will be a contribution towards them. The other person will not be liable to pay the VAT element of your costs if you are able to recover the VAT yourself.
There are an increasing amount of email scams and cyber-crime currently being reported in the media but despite security measures of companies and individuals being in place, emails can be hacked and the contents altered. As a result, this Firm will not give out bank details by email.
Our bank details will not change during the course of your transaction, they will remain as detailed below. If you have any queries with regard to making a payment please telephone 01484 840 445 and speak to the lawyer dealing with your case. It is your responsibility to make sure that the bank details you are sending funds to are correct. Open Law cannot accept any responsibility for funds transferred to an incorrect bank account, where you have relied on details supplied by email.
Please be aware that any payment which we receive from you should be made in the following forms:
Please contact our office to confirm our bank details.
Cheques or a banker’s drafts should be made payable to Open Law Limited.
We are not obliged to accept cash payments, but we will accept cash to the maximum of £250.00 per transaction (for this purpose a sale and purchase constitute one transaction as does the purchase or sale of a portfolio of properties).
We reserve the right to charge additional fees in respect of any additional costs or time expended for counting, checking and banking cash.
Cash payments must NOT be made direct into our account without our prior agreement.
PAYMENTS BY THIRD PARTIES
We WILL NOT accept payments by third parties except in exceptional circumstances and only with prior notice and agreement, and will require acceptable evidence of identity and address before the payment is made.
We reserve the right to cease acting for you if any payments are made by you or on your behalf in breach of the above requirements. We will not accept responsibility for any loss or additional expenses incurred by you as a result of such termination, or any delay in the transaction caused while we verify the source of the funds. Any additional charges incurred as a result of such delay will be your responsibility and must be paid before we continue to act for you.
PAYMENTS MADE BY US
In relation to sale or re mortgage transactions, by accepting our terms of business you will be giving to us EXPRESS AUTHORITY to discharge all mortgages, charges and other incumbrances that are registered against your property including undertakings given to third parties (such as banks or other financial institutions) to discharge monies due to them out of the proceeds of sale. This authority must be considered as irrevocable.
Please note our current bank has a cut off time of 3:30pm for CHAPS transactions and therefore we cannot make payments of mortgage redemptions and sums to you after 3:20pm on the day of completion due to the time it takes us to set up a CHAPS payment.
With regards to sale transactions we will only redeem mortgages and release funds to you when the keys have been handed to the buyers and we hold a signed Transfer Deed on file. This means if the keys are not with the estate agents/buyers by 3:00pm or we do not hold your signed Transfer Deed we may redeem your mortgage and release funds to you on the next working day.
We reserve the right to charge an electronic funds transfer administration fee of £25.00 plus VAT where redemption monies, balance of funds or purchase money is sent by bank transfer
MONEY LAUNDERING LEGISLATION
Under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, and earlier Anti-Terrorism Legislation, as solicitors, we are obliged to report any offender who we suspect has any monies which are the proceeds of criminal conduct and/or own any property which is the proceeds of criminal conduct. We cannot be held responsible for any losses which you incur as a result of our making such disclosure to the police or relevant authorities.
By signing these terms and conditions of business and returning it to us you authorise us to disclose to the other parties in the transaction and, if applicable, to all other parties in the chain of transactions and their agents and advisers, all information which we have in relation to your involvement in the transaction including any related sale or mortgage and other financial arrangements and wishes as to dates for exchange and completion. You may withdraw this authority at any time but if you do so you should appreciate that we will inform the other party or parties and their agents or advisers that this authority has been withdrawn.
We will not be liable for any loss, damage or delay arising out of the firm’s compliance with any statutory or regulatory requirement.
ACTING FOR LIMITED COMPANIES
When accepting instructions to act on behalf of a limited company, we may require a Director and/or controlling shareholder to sign a form of personal guarantee in respect of the charges and expenses of this firm. If such a request is refused, we will be entitled to stop acting and to require immediate payment of our charges on an hourly basis and expenses as set out earlier.
HOLDING CLIENTS’ MONEY
Any money received on your behalf will be held in our Client Account. Subject to certain minimum amounts and periods of time set out in the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules 2011, interest will be calculated and paid to you at the rate from time to time payable on our bank’s Designated Client Accounts. The period for which interest will be paid will normally run from the date on which funds are received by us until the date of issue of any cheque from our Client Account.
If a client instructs us in writing, monies on which interest may be payable can be held in separate deposit accounts exclusively related to that client and designated by the use of the client’s name. Where clients require us to open separate deposit accounts, we will do so. Naturally this involves additional administrative work and a charge for opening and operating such an account may be made. Transfers between designated deposit accounts and our general clients account will also be subject to a charge for each transfer. If you wish us to hold funds in this way please instruct us in writing. We will not open such an account on our own accord due to the large volume of client matters we deal with on a daily basis.
Where a client obtains borrowing from a lender in a property transaction, we will ask the lender to arrange that the loan cheque is received by us a minimum of 4 working days prior to the completion date. If the money can be telegraphed, we will request that we receive it the day before completion. This will enable us to ensure that the necessary funds are available in time for completion. Please be aware that the lender may charge interest from the date of issue of their loan cheque or the telegraphing of the mortgage advance.
Any work that we do for you may involve tax implications or necessitate the consideration of tax planning strategies. We may not be qualified to advise you on the tax implications of a transaction that you instruct us to carry out, or the likelihood of them arising. If you have any concerns in this respect, please raise them with us in writing immediately. If we can undertake the research necessary to resolve the issue, we will do so and advise you accordingly. If we cannot, we may be able to identify a source of assistance for you.
You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time.
If we decide to stop acting for you, for example if you do not pay an interim bill or comply with the request for a payment on account, we will tell you the reason and give you notice in writing.
On termination of the relationship between us you must pay us for all work we have done and expenses and liabilities (for example, under an undertaking) we have incurred on your behalf but not then invoiced or paid by you. You will also be responsible for and pay us for all work we do and expenses we incur in closing our file and ceasing to act for you. Where the courts are involved you must consent (or if you do not you will be deemed to consent) to an application to the court for the name of our firm to be removed from the record and must pay all costs and expenses incurred. We have and shall retain a lien on all your papers, deeds and documents until all monies owing to us or for which you are responsible are paid to us.
Under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, for some non-business instructions, you may have the right to withdraw, without charge, within 7 working days of the date on which you asked us to act for you. However, if we start work with your consent within that period, you lose that right to withdraw. Your acceptance of these terms and conditions of business will amount to such consent. If you seek to withdraw instructions, you should give notice by telephone, email or letter to the person named in these terms of business as being responsible for your work. The Regulations require us to inform you that the work involved is likely to take more than 30 days.
Our aim is to give our clients the best possible service but at a competitive price. We are confident that you will be pleased with the services we provide. However, should there be any aspect of our service with which you are unhappy, please raise your concern in the first instance with the person dealing with your case who will take all reasonable steps to resolve your concerns. If you still have queries or concerns, please contact Lisa Rowell, our client care director. In order to avoid any misunderstandings, we would prefer any formal complaint to the Complaints Partner to be made in writing.
If you are still dissatisfied you have the right to contact the Law Society’s Consumer Complaints Service and/or the Legal Ombudsman.
If you have a complaint concerning your legal costs you have the right to ask the court to assess or “tax” the costs. In respect of work which has not involved court proceedings (including all conveyancing work), the Law Society can provide a Remuneration Certificate stating whether the fees are reasonable and if not, what would be a reasonable amount. A request for taxation or a Remuneration Certificate should be made to us within one month of the delivery of the invoice.
OTHER TERMS AND CONDITIONS
Unless we agree otherwise, we retain copyright in all written material prepared for or supplied to our clients. Our clients may, of course, use the material but only in respect of the matters in respect of which this firm is instructed and for which the material was specifically prepared. This firm accepts no responsibility for the consequences of clients using such material in any other circumstances.
Once a particular matter has been concluded we cannot accept ongoing responsibility for reminding clients of changes in the law which might affect them or of critical dates in respect of such matters as rent reviews, lease renewals, the exercise of options, court proceedings and the like. We will only do so where we have accepted specific instructions in writing from you to advise you upon specific changes in law or to deal with the relevant matters immediately prior to the critical date in question.
In the interests of efficiency, much of the information that you give us will be recorded on word or data processing systems. By instructing us, you are deemed to have consented to this. Our firm is registered under the provisions of the Data Protection Act. Information held by us is confidential and will not be disclosed by us to a third party without your consent unless we are required to do so by law, including but not limited to, under the rules of professional conduct, following a request by the police or other law enforcement organisations or under Money Laundering Regulations that we are obliged to comply with from time to time. In instructing us you give us consent to disclose such information as may be necessary for the successful and efficient conclusion of the matter upon which your instructions are based.
It is important that you tell us in writing of any change in your address as soon as possible but in any event within seven days. Unless you do so we shall be entitled to treat your last address known to us as your address for all purposes including correspondence, notices and proceedings.
Our failure to enforce at any time or for any period any one or more of these terms shall not be a waiver of them or of the right at any time subsequently to enforce all or any applicable terms and conditions.