Terms of Business – Purchase
These terms and conditions will apply to the work which we do for you. Please read them carefully and check with us if there is anything you do not understand. A larger print of these terms and conditions can be supplied on request.
LEVELS OF SERVICE
OUR COMMITMENT TO YOU:
• We will treat you fairly.
• We will update you by telephone or in writing with progress on your matter regularly and, in any event, following agreed events.
• Except in exceptional circumstances, we will give you an appointment within 5 working days or, earlier if urgent. The normal hours of opening at our offices are 9am to 5pm on weekdays although we can arrange appointments at other times or home visits when this is essential.
• We will communicate with you in plain language.
• We will explain to you by telephone or in writing the legal work required as your matter progresses.
• We will update you on the cost of your matter six monthly or, if earlier, at agreed events.
• We will update you on costs, risks associated with your matter and likely outcomes whenever there is a material change in circumstances.
• We will update you on the likely timescales for each stage of this matter and any important changes in those estimates.
YOUR COMMITMENT TO US:
• You will respond to requests for information promptly and provide all documentation required to complete the transaction in good time.
• You will provide us with clear, timely and accurate instructions.
• You will be courteous and polite to our staff.
• You will keep appointments made for you and, if you need to cancel an appointment, you will give us as much notice as possible.
INSTRUCTIONS ON BEHALF OF OTHERS
Where you have instructed us jointly with another we will assume, unless you instruct us otherwise, that the instructions received from one is given on behalf of all parties.
COMPANY OR UNINCORPORATED BODY
Where you have instructed us on behalf of a company or unincorporated body, we will assume that you have the necessary authority to act on its behalf.
WHO WILL DO THE WORK
Our Residential Conveyancing Department comprises teams of experienced Solicitors, Legal Executives and Legal Assistants assisted by support staff. The Department is supervised by Solicitor, Laura Wilkinson. The teams have direct dial telephone numbers and E-mail addresses and please feel free to contact them at any time.
Although there is no legal requirement to employ a lawyer, using our property team means that you will have the benefit of our specialist knowledge and experience to effect all the formalities necessary to complete the sale on your behalf.
OUR CHARGES AND EXPENSES
For transactions for which we are able to estimate a fixed fee, our charges and expenses for this proposed transaction, based upon the information that you have supplied, will be as per our attached letter. Unless you have advised us at the time of requesting an estimate, our charges are calculated on the basis that:
• The property is registered under a single title at the Land Registry with no title defects;
• One contract is submitted to one purchaser or joint purchasers;
• The contract will be unconditional and will provide for vacant possession;
• Completion takes place on the date agreed in the contract.
If the scope of the work alters in any way we may have to contact you to revise the estimate set out in this letter. We will also contact you in any event to update you on costs if your matter has not completed within 6 months from the date of your instructions.
For all other matters or where we do not complete the transaction for any reason our charges will be based on the number of hours spent dealing with the matter including meetings with you and perhaps others, considering preparing and working on papers, correspondence and making and receiving telephone calls. This will be calculated at our current hourly rate of:
Director/ Consultant £195-£225.00
Senior Solicitor £195.00
Solicitor / Legal Executive £165.00
Legal Assistant/Trainee Solicitor £135.00
with letters written charged at 10% of the hourly rate and letters received at 5% of the hourly rate each. VAT is added to the whole at the rate that applies when the work is done which is presently 20%. We will notify you in writing of any increase in our hourly rate. Our total charge for work not completed will not however exceed the amount of our fixed fee estimate, unless you have given your specific agreement to any increase.
UNFORESEEN OR ADDITIONAL WORK AND OUR CHARGES
We will inform you if any unforeseen extra work becomes necessary, which will increase our charges above our estimate and provide an estimate of costs of any such extra work and obtain your agreement to pay such costs before we undertake the same.
METHOD OF PAYMENT/ BILLS
For fixed fee conveyancing transactions, full payment of our fee is due prior to completion. Otherwise, at regular intervals, and whenever it is appropriate to do so during the course of your matter, we will send you a bill of costs, which you will be required to treat as a complete self contained bill covering the period to that date – an interim bill. Such money as we are holding on your behalf on account of our costs will be applied against the interim bill and you will be expected to pay the balance (if any) as soon as possible thereafter. We will deliver further interim bills to you from time to time in respect of work already carried out on your behalf, which should again be treated as a complete self-contained bill. This system of billing makes sure that you are aware of the costs you are incurring as your case progresses.
Accounts should be settled within 14 days. In the event of a payment not being made within 14 days of any bill being rendered, we reserve the right to decline to act any further and the full amount of work done up to that date will be charged to you. Interest will be charged at 8% on bills that are not paid within that time
We accept payment by way of cash, cheque and most credit cards. If you pay by credit card we will charge an administration fee of 2%.
We are registered for VAT under number 302 8632 81.
STORAGE OF PAPERS AND DEEDS AND ASSOCIATED CHARGES
We will usually store your file for at least six years after the completion of any matter and subsequently it may be destroyed. We do not normally make a charge for retrieving stored papers, or deeds, in response to continuing or new instructions to act for you. However, we reserve the right to make a charge based on the time we spend on reading papers, writing letters, or other work necessary to comply with the instructions, including photocopying. If you have obtained a mortgage in connection with your purchase we will only be able to provide you with a copy of your file as the file itself will be held on behalf of your mortgagee.
We are committed to high quality legal advice and client care. If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service you have received or about the bill, please contact Marian Davies who is the Client Care Director of this firm. We have a procedure in place which details how we handle complaints and this is available upon request. We have eight weeks to consider your complaint. If we have not resolved it within this time you may complain to the Legal Ombudsman.
If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can ask the Legal Ombudsman, who may be contacted at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ or by email firstname.lastname@example.org, to consider the complaint. Normally, you will need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint or within six years of the act or omission about which you are complaining occurring (or if outside of this period, within three years of when you should reasonably have been aware of it).
Information passed to us is kept confidential and will not be disclosed to third parties except as authorised by you or required by law. If on your authority we are working in conjunction with other professional advisers we will assume that we may disclose any relevant aspect of your affairs to them. External firms or organisations may conduct audit or quality checks on this firm. These external firms or organisations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files. We will assume that unless you inform us otherwise you consent to such disclosure to such external firms or organisations.
Where we are also acting for your proposed lender in a property transaction, we have a duty to fully reveal to your lender all relevant facts about the property and mortgage. This includes:-
• any differences between your mortgage application and the information we receive during the transaction;
• where appropriate, any cash back payments or discount schemes that your seller is giving you.
We will assume that unless you tell us otherwise you agree that we may make any required disclosures to your proposed lender.
The internet and use of email are not secure. By giving us your email address you are authorising us to communicate with you and to send you information relating to our services from time to time using this method of communication.
We will use our best endeavours to protect the integrity of computer systems by screening for viruses on email sent or received and would expect you to do the same.
PRIVACY AND DATA PROTECTION
AMD Solicitors is committed to respecting the data which we hold on you. Your details will be kept on our database for administration and accounting purposes and so that we can send you relevant information on our services. Your details will be processed and kept securely in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998. Sometimes it is necessary to call on third parties to provide services which we cannot provide in-house, such as IT, typing and storage of archive files. We will always seek a confidentiality agreement with these outsourced providers. If you have a problem with this please tell us as soon as possible. We may from time to time send you information that we think might be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive that information please notify our office in writing.
OUR LIABILITY TO YOU
Our liability to you for a breach of your instructions shall be limited to the sum of £3,000,000. We hold Professional Indemnity insurance with Hannover Insurance Company full details of which can be inspected at our offices at 100 Henleaze Road, Henleaze, Bristol. We can only limit our liability to the extent the law allows and we cannot limited our liability for death or personal injury caused by our negligence. Our public liability insurance can be inspected upon request.
TERMINATING OUR RETAINER
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 up until that point. These are calculated on an hourly basis plus expenses or, where we have provided a fixed fee estimate, by proportion of the agreed fee as set out in these terms and conditions.
The Law society is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 but responsibility for regulation and complaints handling has been separated from the Law Society’s representative functions. The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory body of the Law Society and the Legal Ombudsman Service is the independent body handling complaints against Solicitors.
This firm is not authorised by the Financial Services Authority and the work that we carry out for you will not include financial, tax or investment advice. However, 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.
ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING REGULATION REQUIREMENTS
1. Proof of Identity
The law now requires solicitors, as well as banks, building societies and others, to obtain satisfactory evidence of the identity of their clients. This is because solicitors who deal with money and property on behalf of their clients can be used by criminals wishing to launder money. In order to comply with the law on money laundering, we will be asking you to supply us with the necessary documents to verify your identity.
2. Source of Funds
If you anticipate that you will have to supply us with funds in order for the transaction to proceed (i.e., the balance of the purchase price or shortfall to redeem your existing mortgage in part or whole) then in order that we may observe the strict regulations relating to the provision of funds, please confirm to us in writing as soon as possible where the funds are being held, in whose name and provide details of how the funds have been accrued (i.e. the origin of the funds / how they were raised). Please note that to comply with our obligations in this regard we may need to ask you to produce bank statements to verify this information.
Our firm’s policy is:
(a) not to accept cash from third parties;
(b) usually to only accept cash from clients up to a maximum of £500.00.
PAYMENT ON ACCOUNT OF OUR CHARGES/EXPENSES
It is the firm’s practice, in common with most other firms, to ask you where appropriate to make an initial payment at the commencement of any matter in which the firm acts. We will hold this money generally on account of the costs and disbursements which we are likely to incur on your behalf, and which we will usually put towards the first bill that we send to you.
MONIES HELD ON YOUR BEHALF
Unless we have agreed otherwise with you all monies that we hold on your behalf will be held in Barclays Bank Plc either in our current client account or in a deposit client account. Please note that this firm will not be liable to you for any losses resulting from a banking failure. The £85,000 Financial Services Compensation Scheme indemnity limit applies to each individual client which means that if you bank with Barclays Bank Plc and hold other money with them, the money we are holding for you will be aggregated with those other monies for the purpose of the indemnity limit scheme applying.
It is the firm’s policy to account to you for any interest earned on the monies that we hold on your behalf provided that the amount of interest exceeds £20.00.
In the interests of security, if we are sending to you monies in excess of £1,000 we will (unless you have instructed us specifically to the contrary) do so by way of electronic transfer to your bank for which we will charge a fee of £30 plus VAT.
The timescale for a property transaction depends on various factors and particularly the progress of other transactions in a “chain”. However, completion of a transaction usually occurs six to ten weeks after the issue of a draft contract. We will update you by telephone or in writing regularly throughout the matter.
Unless you vary your instructions to us, they will be as follows:
ON A SALE
• To prepare a Draft Contract for Sale.
• To check your answers to the Property Information and Fixtures Fittings and Contents Form.
• To send you the contract for signature.
• To exchange Contracts.
• To reply to Requisitions on Title.
• To approve the Transfer Deed on your behalf and send to you for execution.
• To provide you with a Statement of Account showing all monies payable and the balance due to you.
• To complete the sale and receive the sale monies.
• To discharge a first mortgage and Estate Agents fees.
• To Account to you.
Please note: Your commitment to us includes providing us with a complete set of your title deeds including all relevant planning or other consents. Under the terms of the sale contract, you will be selling with your personal guarantee that your title is in good order and nobody other than you has any right to make use of your property in any way (e.g. an informal right of way or access), except as formally provided for in your title deeds. This is called a Full Title Guarantee, and if there did prove to be any defect in your title, you would be obliged to use all reasonable endeavours to rectify it at your own expense.
ON A PURCHASE
• To ensure that you acquire in your purchase a freehold/ leasehold title duly registered at HM Land Registry.
• To ensure that the property has the relevant planning permission and Building Regulations Approval, but this will only include the obtaining of a Building Inspector’s certificate if the property has been constructed in the last ten years.
• To carry out relevant searches and Enquiries of the Local and other authorities and to report any matters arising to you.
• To provide you with a copy of the Fixtures Fittings and Contents Schedule and Sellers Information form as completed by the Sellers.
• To provide you with a Pre-Contract Report summarising the information we have obtained for you, for you to study prior to exchanging Contracts.
• To approve the Contract for you.
• To exchange Contracts.
• To raise any requisitions on the Title.
• To approve the Transfer Deed and ensure its due execution.
• To provide you with a Statement of monies required to complete your purchase.
• To complete your purchase.
• To lodge the Stamp Duty Land Tax Return and tax payable with HM Revenue & Customs.
• To attend to Registration of your Title at HM Land Registry.
• If you have a mortgage, to carry out the instructions of your mortgagee to obtain your mortgage advance, subject to the requirements and provisions of your mortgage as set out in its Mortgage Offer to you.
ON A RE-MORTGAGE
• To carry out the instructions of your new lenders (i.e. searches etc).
• To report on the title to your new lenders.
• To complete your new mortgage.
• To redeem your existing mortgage.
• To account to you.
• To attend to Registration at HM Land Registry.
PLEASE NOTE WE WILL NOT:
• advise on matters of taxation. We would advise that you seek the advice of your accountant before exchanging a Contract.
• give financial advice on the merits or demerits of the transaction you are entering into nor the Mortgage terms you have negotiated. We would advise that you seek the advice of your financial advisor at an early stage and, in any event, before exchanging a Contract.
• advise on the value of property or on the valuation provided by your Mortgagee’s surveyor. We would advise that you seek the advice of an independent Valuer.
• advise upon proposals for a change of use of the property or for its development.
PAYMENT ON ACCOUNT OF OUR CHARGES/EXPENSES
It is normal practice to ask clients to make payments on account from time to time. These payments help to meet our expected charges and expenses and help to avoid delaying progress in the matter.
To confirm your instructions to us on this basis, please sign and date the enclosed copy of these terms and conditions and return it to us immediately. If we have not met with you the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 apply which means that you have the right to cancel your instructions to us within 7 working days by contacting us by post or by fax or by e-mail. However, by returning the terms and conditions you give us permission to commence work for you immediately and forego your rights to “a cancellation cooling off period”. Until receipt of the signed copy we reserve the right not to start any work on your behalf. Once we have started work on your matter you may be charged if you then cancel your instructions.
I/We confirm I/we have read and understood, and I/we accept, these Terms and Conditions of Business.