General Terms of Business

McGlennons Solicitors -Terms of Business

These terms set out information that is given at the outset of a retainer and are in compliance with Chapter 1 of the Solicitors’ Code of Conduct 2011. 

1. Introduction

In our initial letter or email to you we will set out:

  • The terms of the retainer and who will look after your matter
  • What steps we intend to take next
  • Our estimate of the costs for dealing with the matter as well as any disbursements (money we pay out on your behalf)
  • Any requirement for an advance payment on account of costs

These terms will form part of your contract with us unless the fee earner agrees with you in writing any changes that will apply.

2. Our People

The Principal of the firm is William Essex. His hourly rate is £240. William deals mainly with estate administration, wills preparation and conveyancing, in particular lease extensions and freehold reversion  purchase.

Gwyn Jones is a solicitor Consultant of 25 years standing. His hourly rate is £240. Gwyn deals with estate administration, probate and Wills; also commercial conveyancing, as well as contentious probate matters and other litigation

Zankhna Vyas is a qualified solicitor whose work is mainly with  residential conveyancing. Her hourly rate is £180

VAT is payable at 20 % in addition

3. Setting Ourselves Standards

Our aim is that our staff  meet certain standards in relation to client care.  We promise:

  • To update you with progress on your matter regularly and advise you of any changes in the law. This will be by email, post or telephone as appropriate.
  • To explain the legal work required as your matter progresses.
  • To update you on the likely timescales for each stage of this matter and any important changes in those estimates.
  • To send you copies of all substantive correspondence within 3 days of receipt by us.
  • To respond to telephone calls or emails from you during the course of the same day whereever possible (by midday the following working day where these are received after 4 pm).
  • Correspondence to be dealt with within 3 days of receipt.
  • Appointments are to be offered to clients within 7 days of their telephone call.
  • All letters and legal documents (in particular Wills) are to be written in clear English.

4. Responsibilities

Our responsibilities:

  • We will review your matter regularly.
  • We will advise you of any changes in the law.
  • We will advise you of any circumstances and risks of which we are aware or consider to be reasonably foreseeable that could affect the outcome of your matter.

Your responsibilities:

  • You will provide us with clear, timely and accurate instructions.
  • You will provide all documentation required to complete the transaction in a timely manner.
  • You will safeguard any documents which are likely to be required for disclosure.

5. Hours of Business

Our Office is opened from 9.00 am until 5.30 pm Monday to Friday inclusive except Bank Holidays. Visits can be fixed outside these times by arrangement with your fee earner.

Clients are requested always to make an appointment before visiting our office.  We will do our best to see you if you call without an appointment, but that may not always be possible.

6. Professional Indemnity Insurance

McGlennons Solicitors have £2 million Professional Indemnity Cover per case- details of the extent of cover are available for inspection

Our liability to you for a breach of your instructions shall be limited to £2,000,000, unless we expressly state a higher amount in the letter accompanying these terms of business. We will not be liable for any consequential, special, indirect or exemplary damages, costs or losses or any damages, costs or losses attributable to lost profits or opportunities.

We can only limit our liability to the extent the law allows. In particular, we cannot limit our liability for death or personal injury caused by our negligence.

If any work we do for you involves tax implications or necessitated consideration of tax planning strategies then we can accept no liability unless we have specifically accepted liability for such advice in advance. We would be happy to work with your tax specialist or introduce you to an accountant or tax expert who may be qualified to help.

Please ask if you would like us to explain any of the terms above

7. Equality and Diversity Policy

McGlennons has a firm commitment towards equal treatment of all clients, irrespective of their gender, race, ethnic origin, disability, age, nationality, national origin, sexuality, religion or belief, marital status and social class. We oppose all forms of unlawful and unfair discrimination.

8. Data Protection

We use the information you provide primarily for the provision of legal services to  you and for related purposes including:

– analysis to help us manage our practice

– updating and enhancing client records

– statutory returns

– legal and regulatory compliance

Our use of that information is subject to your instructions, the Data Protection Act 1998 and our duty of confidentiality. Please note that our work for you may require us to give information to third parties such as expert witnesses and other professional advisers. Under data protection legislation you have a right of access under data protection legislation to the personal data that we hold about you.

9. Storage of Documents

After completing the work, we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses.

We will keep our file of your papers for up to 6 years, except those papers that you ask to be returned to you. We keep files on the understanding that we can destroy them 6 years after the date of the final bill. We will not destroy documents you ask us to deposit in safe custody.

If we take papers or documents out of storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act for you, we will charge £30 + VAT for such retrieval.

We will keep your Wills and Title Deeds free of charge for you at our main office.

10. Vetting of Files and Confidentiality

External firms or organisations may conduct audit or quality checks on our practice. These external firms or organisations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files.

As a member of the Law Society Conveyancing Quality Scheme you may be approached to take part in a survey of customer satisfaction. Please let us know if you prefer not to be contacted for this reason.

11. Financial Services 

We are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority to give specific advice on investments. If while we are acting for you, you need advice on investments, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised to provide the necessary advice.

However, as we are members of the Law Society of England and Wales, we may be able to provide certain limited investment advice services where these are closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you. We are included on the register maintained by the Financial Services Authority so that we can carry on insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the advising on, selling and administration of insurance contracts.

This part of our business, including arrangements for complaints or redress if something goes wrong, is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Services Authority website at www.fsa.gov.uk/register.

The Solicitors Regulations Authority is the independent regulatory arm of the Law Society.  The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints against lawyers. If you are unhappy with any investment advice you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with either of those bodies.

12. Distance Selling 

If we have not met with you, the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 apply here. This means that you have the right to cancel your instructions to us within seven working days of receiving these Terms or our client care letter. Adding on an extra day for the letter to reach you, you have eight working days from the date above, to cancel your instructions which you can do by fax or telephone.

Once we have started work on your file and you then cancel your instructions, you will be charged. If you would like us to commence work on your file within the next seven days please write or email your acceptance of these Terms .

13. Complaints

Our aim is to provide a good professional service.  However, sometimes things go wrong and you need to tell us about it.  This will help us maintain and improve our standards.

If you have a complaint about the work of Tony Brown or Victoria Tyson, please raise the matter in writing with the Principal William Essex.  If it is about the work of William Essex then Tony Brown will investigate.

Within 3 working days, the complaint will be recorded in the Central Register and one or more of the following steps will be taken:-

  • A detailed reply will be issued or we will invite you to a meeting to discuss the matter.  The meeting can be attended by both Fee earners.
  • Following such a meeting it is hoped that a solution will have been agreed.  If we accept that there are grounds for the complaint, the matter may be resolved by way of an apology or a reduction of our fee.
  • If you are still not satisfied, then we would invite a local firm of solicitors or local Law Society to review the complaint or refer the matter to independent mediation.
  • Should matters till not be resolved, then we will let you have the name and address of the Legal Ombudsman

14. Money Laundering

Our firm is required by UK money laundering regulations to identify all clients and to keep copies of identification requested by us.  Therefore, please arrange for us to have a copy of your passport as well as utility bills or other evidence of your address.

In addition we must be absolutely certain of the source of any funds for the transactions that we undertake on your behalf.  The law requires us to report to The National Criminal Intelligence Service details of any transaction in which the source of funds cannot be ascertained or where suspicion arises.  We are not allowed to disclose to you either when a report has been made or its contents.

We will not handle amounts of cash which exceed £500 per payment.

15. COSTS INFORMATION

15.1. General Approach to Costs

When we first take instructions from you, we will confirm our advice in relation to what the legal costs may be.

Most instructions are taken for a fixed fee, in particular house or flat conveyancing, wills and Probate.  However, sometimes work is undertaken which was not anticipated at the start, or problems arise that were not expected when we originally agreed the fee.

In such cases, the extra work may be charged on a time and work basis but we will advise you when an additional charge may be made.  Examples of where additional charges may arise would be:-

  1. In conveyancing where problems arise with the lease or in establishing information
  2. In Compromise Agreements where there is a need to negotiate with the employer
  3. In Probate cases where a Will is challenged by one of the beneficiaries
  4. In Will preparation where separate meetings are needed with family members or financial advisers or specialist tax advice is needed

Unless a fixed fee is agreed (and there is no additional work element) our costs are based on a fair and reasonable sum for the work and responsibility undertaken.  Mainly this is by reference to the time spent working on the file and the seniority of the person working, the number of letters or emails written, or telephone calls made or received. Time may be spent in many ways, for instance in attending upon you, drafting any necessary documents or forms or considering the same, travel and considering what action may be needed from time to time during the conduct of the matter. In Probate cases a value element is added.  This is based on all of the estate and is in accordance with guidelines set out by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

The Fee Earner handling your case will give an idea of what the total fees may be, and if requested, may set a cap on these fees before carrying out further work.

15.2. Costs- The Basis of Calculation

Where no fixed costs are given (or in cases where there has been additional work) then fees are charged according to the hourly rate of each Fee Earner. Time may be spent in many ways, for instance in attending upon you, drafting any necessary documents or forms or considering the same, travel and considering what action may be needed from time to time during the conduct of the matter

  • Time spent travelling and waiting is charged at one half hourly rate
  • Each page of letter out , email and routine telephone call (up to 6 minutes) is charged at 1/10th hourly unit.
  • Each letter/email/other document in charged at 1/20th hourly unit
  • No charge made for ‘acknowledgment emails’ whether in or out
  • Longer telephone calls are charged according to time spent

Unless varied in the Client Care letter these rates will form the basis on which charges will be made. When a bill is presented you will have a right to object and seek an assessment under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974.

15.3. Interest 

Interest will be charged on unpaid costs, VAT and disbursements at 8% per annum.  We may exercise right to retain papers where costs remain unpaid.

Monies coming in and out on the case will be held via this firm’s client account, which is guaranteed entirely against default by the Law Society.

We will usually place substantial sums in special deposit accounts so that interest accrues to the estate. The payment of interest is subject to certain minimum amounts and periods set out in the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules 1998.

15.4. Value Added Tax

For work carried out after 4th January 2011 the rate is 20% (before that date 17.5%)

15.5. Litigation Costs

Before instructing us to carry out work on your behalf, we assume that you have checked on the availability of public funding (or Legal Aid) and also considered whether the costs of dealing with your claim can be met under a legal expenses policy associated with buildings contents or car insurance, or assistance provided by any other third party, such as an employer or trade union. After the Event insurance may also be available.

We will also examine if assistance can be given under a Conditional Fee agreement

We think it important that the costs of taking your claim to Court are carefully weighed up before you proceed.  When your case succeeds, you are still liable for your own costs and (unless specifically agreed otherwise) you will have to pay our costs even if your opponent’s are ordered to pay them.  Please note if your case is unsuccessful, you will have to pay your opponent’s costs as well as your own.

We strongly advise that the financial strength of your opponent is established before you embark on Court action.  We recommend as well, pre-action meetings take place to explore settlement.

We aim to present bills at quarterly intervals, or when a particular stage is reached in litigation.  Before continuing with an action, we will require existing bills to be paid within 30 days.  If the bill is not paid within that time, and you have not come to us with any proposals, then we will notify the Court and your opponent that you will now be acting in person

15.6 Conveyancing Costs

For residential conveyancing our fees are based on the formula £350 plus 0.1% of the value of the transaction.

To reflect the extra investigation and time spent we add supplements as follows:

For leasehold transactions- £175

For acting for your mortgage lender in your purchase- £175

Unregistered land- £150

Preparing declaration of trust- £250

New build/shared ownership properties- £125

For purchasing/selling share in freehold (separate title number) -£150

Redeeming a mortgage- £125

For preparing SDLT form, photocopying and postage and other incidentals- no additional charge

16. Investments

Please note that although we are regulated by the Law Society to give investment advice, we cannot accept a duty of care in relation to that advice, and we firmly recommend that you contact an independent financial adviser.  We will be happy to introduce you to advisers (or other specialists) but we would accept no responsibility for the service given.