Price Transparency Guidance - April 2020
Price Transparency for Clients
Blaney Carnan Solicitors is registered with the Law Society of Scotland. Among many legal practice requirements, the Law Society has issued Guidance on what is called Transparent Pricing. This is information to be made available to clients and potential clients about fees, outlays and costs that may be incurred when instructing solicitors. The Guidance is in place for all firms in Scotland that offer legal services to consumers/private clients.
Here on our website, we provide some examples of pricing for the range of services in which we practise. These are, as required, only illustrations, not definitive costs. This is because each legal case or transaction is a like a fingerprint – no job is the same as any other job, and the uniqueness of the work is thus matched by the charges for it. Some kinds of work do carry a fixed fee; others are calculated by a scale or unit cost, varying with the amount of time or other effort that is appropriate for the completion of the case or transaction. Over and above fees, outlays are charges and costs paid out by Blaney Carnan Solicitors on behalf of the client to other companies, offices, organisations – e.g. Registers of Scotland, searching companies, local authorities, the sheriff court and others. These charges are incurred by the client as a necessary part of the work being done.
So while we have outlined these examples, and we hope they are helpful in describing the shape or configuration of the charges for your work, you can be almost sure that none of them exactly matches it, except by chance in a few limited cases. But this unavoidable mismatch is dealt with by another Law Society of Scotland requirement. All work to be carried out by solicitors in this firm or any other must be preceded by a written estimate or quotation of fees, vat and outlays to be incurred or expended. This costing is part of an obligation to issue clients with Terms of Business – a set of information made up of a formal letter and other related documentation.
Clients or potential clients reading this Price Transparency material should contact one of our solicitors for a specific and detailed estimate/quotation of fees as well as discussing the work to be done and any other preliminary matters.
Areas of work
A will is an important document to get right - in content, expression and execution. It is a mistake to think either that a will is not necessary or that it is necessarily straightforward. In Scotland, the law of inheritance can be complex and very often not what the ordinary client expects in terms of the rights of family members to a share – or not - of the estate. So Blaney Carnan Solicitors’ work will almost certainly involve discussing and advising on options and risks to achieve even the most basic will. If there are more complex family circumstances, dispositions of assets and/or potential or actual exposure to Inheritance Tax, then the work required may be extensive and thus carry an additional fee charge.
For a basic job of consultation, advice, preparation of a single will, completion, execution and storage, the fee may be £200 plus vat £40. In addition, Blaney Carnan Solicitors store each new file electronically for which there is a transaction charge of £15 plus vat £3. For couples preparing Wills in broadly similar terms, the fee may be £300 plus vat £60 and a transaction charge of £15 plus vat £3.
There are usually no other outlays associated with this process.
Power of Attorney (Incapacity)
There are various kinds of Power of Attorney (POA). The most-used is a document that supports a person who is incapacitated mentally and/or physically and cannot carry out his/her normal business and/or personal care – known as the Combined Power of Attorney. It allows a trusted friend or family member or multiplicity of people to do what is needed, armed with full legal rights conferred by “the Adult” as the granter of the POA is known under the Adults With Incapacity (Scotland) Act. The document is lengthy and complex and must be tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of the Adult. A basic POA may require meeting and consultation with the solicitor, the drafting of the POA document, its completion and execution (i.e. signing and witnessing) – it must also be certified by the solicitor, and then registered with the Public Guardian Scotland (OPG) to take effect.
For a basic single POA, the fee may be £275 plus vat £55 and a transaction charge of £15 plus vat £3. There may be an additional fee if a home or hospital visit is required. For couples preparing POAs in broadly similar terms, the fee may be £450 plus vat £90 and a transaction charge of £15 plus vat £3. The outlay is the registration fee in respect of each POA, currently £81, charged by, and paid to, the OPG.
Purchase of Residential Property (Conveyancing)
Blaney Carnan Solicitors deal with transactions for clients buying a home, whether it be a flat, house, new-build property or land to build upon. The work may involve: communications and advice by the solicitor with the client, correspondence with estate agents and the seller’s solicitor, drawing up a range of documents including a formal legal offer and further missives, examination of title, inspection of searches and reports, drawing of a new title (disposition) and mortgage security where necessary, arranging completion/settlement of the transaction, obtaining and managing the funds from both client and mortgage lender, completion of Anti Money Laundering procedures, submission of LBTT (Scottish Stamp Duty) return and making payment of tax where due to Revenue Scotland, registration of new title (and mortgage security where funding comes from a lender), and reporting to client and lender after registration.
The fixed fee for this work may be £650 plus vat £130 for purchases up to £250,000 and £750 plus vat £90 for purchases over £250,000.
Outlays are: a transaction charge of £15 plus vat £3, and (for a transaction with price of, say, £160,000 part-funded by a mortgage) £360 to Registers of Scotland for registration of the title; £60 for registration of the mortgage; £300 for LBTT (though less, if first purchase and more – payment of Additional Dwelling Supplement/ADS - if buying a second property). LBTT and title registration dues change on sliding scales according to the price of the property so the foregoing illustration is not applicable to properties of different prices.
Sale of Residential Property (Conveyancing)
Blaney Carnan Solicitors deal with transactions for clients selling a home, whether it be a flat, house, or land to build upon. The work may involve communication and advice by the solicitor with the client, correspondence with estate agents and the purchaser’s solicitor, drawing up a range of documents including a formal legal acceptance of the buyer’s offer and further missives, provision of title, ordering of searches and reports, revising of a new title (disposition) and discharging mortgage security where necessary, arranging completion/settlement of the transaction, managing the funds from buyer’s lawyer and redeeming outstanding mortgage to the lender, registration of discharge where necessary, reporting to and settling with the client.
The fixed fee for this work may be £650 plus vat £130.
Outlays are a transaction charge of £15 plus vat £3, £60 for registration of the mortgage discharge, £10 for Advance Notice for title, £198 for title, property and mining searches.
Remortgage of residential property (Conveyancing)
Blaney Carnan Solicitors deal with transactions for clients who are remortgaging a home. The work may involve communication and advice by the solicitor with the client, examination of title, drawing up a range of documents, including a new mortgage security and a discharge of the old mortgage, ordering and inspection of searches and reports, obtaining and managing funds from the new mortgage lender, redeeming outstanding mortgage to the old lender, registration of discharge arranging completion/settlement of the transaction, registration of new mortgage security, reporting to client and lender after registration.
The fixed fee for this work may be £450 plus vat £90.
Outlays are a transaction charge of £15 plus vat £3, £60 for registration of the mortgage discharge, £60 for registration of the new mortgage security, £10 for Advance Notice for the security, £198 for title, property and mining searches.
Discharge of security
For those lucky enough to have paid off their mortgage, there is an exercise to update title deeds known as discharge of security. Security is the correct Scottish legal word for mortgage. The mortgage lender has a charge over the client’s title while the loan remains under repayment, and this can be removed once full redemption has been made and the bank or lender no longer has a claim over the property.
For a basic discharge of security the fee may be £200 plus vat £40.
The outlays are a transaction charge of £15 plus vat £3 and a charge of £60 payable to the Registers of Scotland.
General advice and business
As general practice solicitors, Blaney Carnan Solicitors take on a range of clients and cases/transactions. Sometimes the work is preliminary advice, or assistance with a minor or brief legal issue requiring correspondence with other parties or solicitors, and/or creating of legal documentation. There really is no limit to the range of needs of clients when it comes to legal services and processes.
We often offer preliminary consultation without charge for a discussion or meeting, though we reserve the right to charge for all services and advice. Some examples of miscellaneous charges:
For notarising/certifying documents a fee may be £50 for each document notarised/certified plus vat £10.
For advising on and corresponding with a neighbour who is encroaching on a boundary the fee may be based on an hourly rate of £200 plus vat £40 per hour, but set as an initial maximum of £300 plus vat £60 and a transaction charge of £15 plus vat £3. No other usual outlays.
For advising on planning for retirement, property and wealth management, succession/inheritance planning, care costs and related matters, the fee may be based on an hourly rate of £200 plus vat £40 per hour, but set as an initial maximum of £400 plus vat £80 and a transaction charge of £15 plus vat £3. No other usual outlays.
Executry (deceased person)
Executry is the name used by lawyers for the work required in winding up the estate of someone who has died. It is another area where it is difficult, and often impossible, to give accurate levels of fee in advance for the simple reason that it is often impossible, at the outset, to predict how much work will be required. Accordingly, our Terms of Business often require us to include a time-and-line/hourly/unit rate charge. It also makes a difference to the amount of work whether or not there is available a valid will signed by the deceased – more work and other costs are likely if there is no will. The work may involve meetings and consultations between the family/executor and the solicitor, collating and valuing the assets and liabilities of the estate, corresponding with financial and other institutions (e.g. banks, building societies, share registrars, employers/pension administrators, DWP, HMRC, council tax departments, factors, mortgage lenders and more), drawing court documents and forms for Confirmation (the Scottish equivalent of ‘Probate’), dealing with the Sheriff Court processing the forms, ingathering the financial estate (i.e. collecting in all the money), accounting to the executor and distributing the bequests and shares of estate among beneficiaries.
There may also be a home/heritable property to sell or settle. That work is not included in this example as it is a conveyancing process (see Sale of Property above), nor is calculating and dealing with Inheritance Tax, which affects only a limited number of estates and generates considerable work.
The fee for executry work in winding up a particular estate not involving inheritance tax but comprising some savings accounts, some stocks and shares and some pension assets may be in the region of £2,400 plus vat £480.
Outlays will include, in executry cases, a transaction charge of £45 plus vat £9 and Court Confirmation dues of £261 plus £8 for each individual asset certificate, if needed.
Figures correct as at April 2020.