1. Our estimated fee or basis of charge may be varied in certain circumstances. In particular, variation may arise if the value of a transaction or the nature of the work undertaken differs from that upon which the fee estimate is based or if the amount of time, work or skill required for the proper conduct of a transaction is significantly more than initially expected or if the matter requires expedition. You will be informed by us of any such variation at the appropriate point in the transaction or as soon as practicable thereafter.
2. Our fee estimate will normally make reference to disbursements. These are payments made or incurred by us on your behalf in the course of a transaction. These may be significant expenses such as stamp duty, land registry fees, local and other search fees or less significant items such as the cost of bank charges, telephone calls, facsimile transmissions, photocopying or legal forms. It is seldom possible for us to foresee at the outset all the disbursements that may arise however our fee invoice or financial statement will show these items separately from any professional fees.
3. Our fee for acting in this matter will be on the basis of your agreement that this company will not be required to pay you interest on any monies held on your behalf during the normal course of the transaction, providing the amount of such interest does not exceed £20.
4. We may ask you to make a payment on account of fees or disbursements either at the outset or during the transaction.
5. If for any reason a transaction does not reach completion we will only make a charge for work done and disbursements already incurred. Any such charge will reflect the amount of work done and the time taken by us, either based on the notified basis of charge or as a proportion of the estimated fee. Where the work done is beyond the scope of that for which the estimated fee was given, or otherwise exceeds initial expectations, then the charge made will reflect the nature and complexity of the work done and the time taken. Our fee invoice is for immediate settlement and interest may be applied where payment is delayed as set out in paragraph 10.
6. If you require a mortgage advance, it is your responsibility to comply with the terms and conditions of the mortgage offer. In particular you should be aware of the financial implications of any deductions, retentions, redemption penalties or interest payable upon early repayment. If so requested by you we will help you with any difficulty you have in understanding the terms of a mortgage offer. Otherwise we will assume the mortgage offer is understood and accepted.
7. All lenders have specific legal work they require to be carried out in either granting or repaying a mortgage. All lenders require the borrower to pay the lender’s legal fees for such work. These will normally be taken into account in our estimate but we will advise you as soon as possible of any additional fees that may become payable as a result of the lender’s instructions. The lender requires us to pass them information you give us that might be relevant to their decision whether to finance the purchase and unless you tell us in writing to the contrary we shall be entitled to pass on any such information to them. If you instruct us not to pass on any such information to the mortgagee we may have to stop acting.
8. If your lender chooses to use the services of another conveyancer to deal with its legal work, it is standard practice for the lender to require the borrower to pay their charges, whose charges will be separate from ours.
9. Conveyancing transactions can only be financed using funds cleared for banking purposes. You must ensure that any money needed from you to finance the transaction is paid to us so that it can become cleared funds by the date it is needed. We must receive such money by the time and date and by the means of payment advised to you. If payment is made by cheque this will normally be by noon on the seventh working day* before cleared funds are required. If clearance is delayed because you provide funds after the specified time and date, or you pay by inappropriate means, we will not be liable for any delay or consequential loss arising out of such delay. Please note that to avoid internet fraud we do not provide our bank details by e-mail.
10. It is standard legal practice for solicitors’ fees and disbursements due to be paid as cleared funds before the date of completion and we reserve the right not to complete if this does not happen. Where we hold funds belonging to you, this payment will be deducted once a financial statement has been provided to you. If we hold insufficient or no client’s money then you should provide the required sum as cleared funds before the date of completion in accordance with the preceding term. After one month from delivery of our invoice we reserve the right to charge interest on any amount outstanding.
11. We will normally advise a minimum period of ten working days* between exchange of contracts and legal completion to deal safely with all pre-completion searches and formalities (including obtaining cleared funds from any lender and if necessary from you). Should you instruct us to complete a transaction and specify a completion date less than ten working days* after the date of exchange of contracts, we reserve the right to charge an expedition fee. Furthermore, we will not be liable for any direct or consequential loss arising from completion being delayed beyond the specified completion date provided we have used reasonable professional skill in attempting to complete on the specified date.
12. If we are requested to give a professional undertaking in order to assist the progress of your transaction, we may make a reasonable charge for providing this personal commitment. Such an undertaking is a binding pledge (usually given to another lawyer, that a particular action will be taken – often the payment of money) which we are personally liable to fulfil. We do therefore require appropriate security from you before giving such an undertaking which will be used as necessary to fulfil the undertaking.
13. You should consult appropriately qualified professionals for advice on non-legal matters such as the physical condition of a property and its connected services, its market value or investment or financial advice. Before exchanging contracts to purchase or lease premises you should have a structural survey (of a type appropriate to the nature of the premises) by a qualified surveyor and obtain any further information the survey report may state is required.
14. To assist the efficient progression of a transaction and to minimise costs you agree:-
14.1 to provide us with written confirmation of any significant variation of your original instructions;
14.2 to respond promptly in writing to any request for instructions you may receive from us;
14.3 that we are authorised to incur the costs and search fees (including repeat searches) which in our professional judgement are necessary to protect the interest of you or your lender;
14.4 to provide evidence of your identity when and how we may reasonably request;
14.5 to take whatever steps we may request to comply with current money laundering regulations;
14.6 to allow us to disclose that you are a client and reasonable supporting information to any competent authority requiring the information and our bank.
15. We shall only be liable for loss resulting directly from a breach of duty owed to you by this company and any such liability shall not exceed £3,000,000. We will not be liable for any consequential, special, indirect or exemplary damages, cost 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. No member, director, employee or other member of staff of Read Cooper Limited shall have any personal liability for any work undertaken and a personal signature on any letter or document is not an assumption of any personal legal liability.
16. It is a condition of our agreement to provide you with legal services that it is agreed that any dispute should be governed by English law and submitted to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English Courts.
17. We are confident that we will give you a high quality service but our code of professional conduct requires us to have a formal complaints procedure. If at any time you are not entirely happy with the way things are going, or our bill, you are entitled to complain. Please let the person dealing with your matter know straight away. Any complaint would be dealt with by either Peter Read or Colin Cooper. A copy of our complaints procedure is available on request. You have the right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman within six months from the end of our complaints process at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ if you are still not satisfied at its conclusion. The complaint must be made within six years of the alleged act/omission or three years from when you should have known about the complaint. The Ombudsman will not accept complaints where the act or date of awareness were before 6 October 2010. You may also have a right to object to a bill by applying to the court for an assessment of the bill under part III of the Solicitors Act 1974.
18. After completing a matter, we need to keep your papers (including personal data) for regulatory and evidential reasons and by accepting our terms of business you are consenting to this. On request we will send you any personal data we have not already removed or destroyed. Whilst not obliged to do so, we will normally keep our file of papers for at least six years (or one year if the matter was not completed) on the understanding that we have your authority to destroy the file six years after sending you our final bill (or one year if the matter was not completed).
19. We will not be liable for any losses, claims and delays or to repay any money in our client account lost through a banking failure or due to fraud.
20. You may end your instructions to us in writing at any time but we can keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses. We may decide to stop acting for you only with good reason. We must give you reasonable notice that we will stop acting for you. If you or we decide that we should stop acting for you, you will pay our charges and disbursements up until that point. Any such charge will reflect the amount of work done and the time taken by us, either based on the notified basis of charge or as a proportion of the estimated fee. Our fee invoice is for immediate settlement and interest may be applied where payment is delayed as set out in paragraph 10.