Terms Of Business
Quality Of Service
At McCartney Stewart we strive to attain a high quality of general legal service while maintaining a friendly “personal family solicitor” approach. In order to provide a legal service a whole network of people and facilities are required to back up the individual solicitor. There is the office itself, typing, cash room and clerical staff; computers and electronics; books and periodicals to keep abreast of legal changes; professional indemnity insurance and other overheads. A legal service has to be paid for, but we hope that you will find that our fee represents good value for money.
Our office is at lB Paisley Road, Renfrew (Tel. No. 0141 885 1858) (Fax No. 0141 886 5425) (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). Our office hours are Monday to Friday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Outwith office hours an answerphone will take messages in the office. Consultations outwith office hours are available by arrangement.
Free Initial Meeting
We will be happy to have an initial telephone discussion or meeting with you to decide whether we can be of help to you. There will be no charge for this.
Instructions may be given to us in writing or verbally. We may well ask you to confirm verbal instructions in writing. Any amendments to your instructions should be notified to us immediately they arise. We can only act on the information and instructions that you provide. Please do not “assume” that we know all about your personal circumstances - we would always rather have too much information than too little.
The basis on which we shall charge you fees for a particular matter will be a lump sum, or will depend on the time spent carrying out the work or on some particular scale of charges appropriate to the type of work. In assessing the fees we take into account a number of important factors, including: the value of the transaction, the complexity and difficulty of the matter, the skill, knowledge and responsibility involved, the urgency of the matter and the place where we are required to carry out the work. We are happy to tell you at any time what the fees are to date. In executry cases, our fees will be assessed and certified by the Auditor of Court. In executry cases where the value of the estate exceeds £150,000., the auditor’s fee for the assessment of our account will be a charge against the estate. Where our charge is not a lump sum our time charges will be based on an hourly rate of £130 for the current calendar year. This hourly rate will increase in subsequent years. Your bill may be based on hourly charges or on the basis of the charging methods shown in the accompanying schedule, or a combination of both. All fees will be subject to VAT and all outlays incurred on your behalf will be charged in addition. In the event that a transaction does not complete due to circumstances beyond our control we shall be entitled to charge a reasonable fee for the work carried out based on the hourly rate, the accompanying schedule, or a combination of both.
Any estimate that may be given will be a probable fee based on our experience of the work involved in a typical transaction of the kind that you envisage. If the work turns out to be more complicated or takes longer than we anticipated then we may increase our estimate in line with this. We will inform you as soon as possible about this. Please note that at the outset of a particular transaction you may be requested to make a payment to account of the anticipated fees and outlays before any work is undertaken on your behalf.
Payment To Us
If you require to make any payment to us and it is your intention to make payment by means of a personal cheque, please ensure that your cheque arrives with us no later than seven days before the required date to allow time for clearance. If you would prefer to make payment by means of a bank draft or building society counter cheque, please arrange to forward this to us no later than three working days before the date required. In addition, you must also obtain a letter from your bank or building society confirming that the bank draft or building society counter cheque was drawn from an account in your name, or provide us with a photocopy of your passbook or statement showing the funds being uplifted from an account in your own name. In order to comply with the Money Laundering Regulations and Proceeds of Crime legislation we cannot accept cash of more than £750.
Costs Paid On Your Behalf
Where fees, outlays or expenses are to be paid by us on your behalf, we will endeavour to give you details of these in advance in order that you may place us in funds before the sums are due. If however we are unable to do so, we will require to be repaid by you within seven days of your receiving a request for payment of the appropriate sum.
In all transactions for the purchase and sale of property our account (including outlays) must be paid on or before the date of entry. In other matters we will issue our account either at the end of the matter or at regular intervals. Payment is due within thirty days of the date of the account. If not paid within this time we reserve the right to charge interest on the whole sum overdue, at 4 per cent over the Bank of Scotland base rate.
Independent Fee Assessment
The Auditor of Court is always available to provide a completely independent assessment of a fair fee for a piece of legal work carried out. On occasions, in order to ensure that a file has been correctly charged, we may voluntarily send the file to the Auditor. Unless agreed with you beforehand, we will pay the Auditor’s fee. Should you at any time be dissatisfied with the amount of a fee charged by us then you are entitled to ask us to have the Auditor charge the fee independently. In that case both sides are bound by the fee as fixed by the Auditor. If the Auditor reduces the amount of our original fee we will only charge that reduced amount and we will pay the Auditor’s costs. If he confirms that our fee is correct or undercharged then you will be responsible for the Auditor’s costs.
How Long Will It Take?
The nature of legal work makes it difficult to estimate precisely, in many cases, how long something will take to complete. When we discuss your requirements at the outset we will also discuss timescales. Often, however, the speed at which we can complete a piece of work is directly affected by the co-operation we receive from other people outwith our control. In a matter which involves a dispute, it may well be in the other side’s interest to “drag out” the matter for as long as possible. It is in our interest as much as yours to complete a piece of work as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, it is your business; If you have not heard recently from the person dealing with your work then please ring us and ask.
Conflict Of Interest
In general, we cannot act for two or more parties if they have conflicting interests. Please advise us at the outset if you are aware of potential conflicts which may arise. If we decide that we can still act (i.e., if you are one of the exceptions to the general rule) we will confirm this to you in writing.
Unless we agree otherwise in writing, we shall assume that where we act for more than one person but only one of them tells us what to do, that person has the authority of the other(s) to do so. Where we do act for more than one person, each person for whom we do work is equally responsible for the instructions given to us and for payment of our fees and outlays in connection with that matter. If you do not understand what this means, please ask us to explain.
Private Limited Companies
If we are given instructions by a private limited company, then unless otherwise agreed with you in advance, it is a condition of our accepting those instructions that the directors are jointly and severally liable along with the company for payment of our fees and costs and any interest thereon.
Copyright And Third Parties
All copyright in documents we produce is reserved to us. Advice given and documents prepared are for your use only and may not be copied or used by any third party without our express written consent.
Law Society Of Scotland
Like all Scottish solicitors, we are members of the Law Society of Scotland and subject to its professional rules at all times.
Proceeds OF Crime Act And Money Laundering Regulations
We require to comply with the Proceeds of Crime Act and the Money Laundering Regulations. We require to be satisfied as to the identity of clients and as to the source of any funds passing through our hands. We require to know that any funds passing through our hands do not contravene the Proceeds of Crime Act or Money Laundering Regulations. We will require to obtain from our clients information as to the source of funds. We reserve the right to withdraw from acting on behalf of clients if there is a failure to provide us with the information requested. Should we know or suspect that criminal property is involved, including tax evasion or benefit fraud, then you should not rely on our duty of confidentiality.
We are required by the rules of The Law Society of Scotland to keep the file which we hold on your behalf. In certain cases we are required to keep the file for up to 10 years. It is our firm’s policy that at the end of each transaction or piece of work the file is scanned onto a CD-Rom which is then retained in our office for safe keeping. After a period of 6 months the paper file is destroyed. This will allow quick retrieval of any information from the file on CD-Rom. The charge for the scanning ranges from £10 plus Vat to £20 plus Vat and a note of the charge will be included in your fee note as an outlay.
Incidental Financial Business
On occasions, we may undertake incidental financial business on your behalf such as the sale of specific shares through Stockbrokers on your instructions. We will limit our incidental financial business activities to arranging the sale of these shares given the limited scope of activities allowed under the incidental financial business regime. We are licensed by the Law Society of Scotland to carry on incidental financial business under the Solicitors (Scotland) (Incidental Financial Business) Practice Rules 2004. We are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. We have Professional Indemnity Insurance under the Law Society of Scotland’s Master Policy. The current level of indemnity on the Master Policy is £1.25m per claim. We are also covered by the Scottish Solicitors’ Guarantee Fund which is a fund established by Section 43 of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980 for the purpose of making grants in order to compensate persons who, in the opinion of the Council of the Law Society of Scotland suffer pecuniary loss by reason of dishonesty on the part of a Scottish solicitor in connection with the practice of the solicitor.
Funds On Deposit
Where we hold funds on your behalf and we are required in terms of the Solicitors (Scotland) Accounts etc. Rules to invest these funds on your behalf, the funds will be placed on deposit with the Royal Bank of Scotland plc Clients’ Monies Service. The total interest earned on these funds will be shared with you. You will be paid interest on the funds lodged on deposit at the Bank’s Business Interest Access Reserve Interest Rate from time to time.
You are entitled to change solicitors at any time but you will be responsible for all fees and outlays due to us up until the time of change. We are entitled to hold the title deeds, files or other papers until payment.
As members of the Law Society of Scotland we are required to arrange Professional Indemnity Insurance. We are insured under the Law Society of Scotland Master Policy for Professional McCartney Stewart, Solicitors. Indemnity Insurers which is arranged by Marsh Limited and underwritten by Royal and Sun Alliance Insurance Plc as lead insurer. Our level of indemnity is currently £1.5 million.
Limitation Of Liability
We will maintain Professional Indemnity insurance for an amount of not less than £1.5 million pounds. In the event that there is a claim of any sort against us by you, our liability to you will in any case be limited to this amount, or a higher sum not exceeding the upper limit of our Professional Indemnity Insurance for the time being. This is agreed as being a reasonable restriction on our liability unless you have agreed to a different arrangement with us.
Client Relations Partner
If you are unhappy about the quality of service provided, or the amount of our fees, then you should, in the first instance, take the matter up with the solicitor with whom you have been dealing. Alternatively, if you prefer, or if you are still not satisfied, we would invite you to raise the matter with our Client Relations Partner. That partner will ensure that any such complaint is fully investigated and that you receive a response within ten working days. Furthermore, you have a right to complain to the Law Society of Scotland, 26 Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh, EH3 7YR (website address www.lawscot.org.uk) and telephone 0131 226 7411 and thereafter to complain against any finding of the Society to the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman, 17 Waterloo Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3QL (telephone number 0131 244 3044).
These terms and conditions unless modified by the terms of any letter accompanying them, constitute the whole agreement between us and may be relied upon by either party.
Schedule Of Charging
Part 1 - General
Unit Charges ("U")
Any item may be charged according to the number of units. Time spent charged in units is on the basis that 1 unit is equivalent to 6 minutes. The value of the unit reflects the hourly rate which may be adjusted by reference to the circumstances. A list of detailed charges in units is contained in Part 3.
According To Circumstances Charging
Any item of business, or a whole account, may be charged according to circumstances. Any item of business charged by that method or by reference to units will aim to be a sum which is fair and reasonable both to us and to you, taking into consideration the following factors where relevant: (a) the importance of the matter to you; (b) the amount or value of any money or property involved; (c) the complexity of the matter or the difficulty or novelty of the question raised; (d) the skill, labour, specialised knowledge and responsibility involved on our part; (e) the time expended; (f) the length, number and importance of any document or other papers prepared or perused; (g) the place where and the circumstances in which the services of any part thereof are rendered, including the degree of expedition required.
Written Fee Charging Agreements
In a case where the fee is agreed in writing in advance, it will not be subject to obligatory taxation. Such an agreement is required for speculative case with After The Event Insurance.
Applying Factors Referred To Above
(a) where time expended is the dominant factor the total time expended will be totalled and multiplied by the hourly rate;
(b) A percentage of the amount or value of the money or property involved may be added in order to compensate for the risk or indemnity element in carrying out the work. An appropriate percentage may be 0.50% of the first £100,000 with lower percentages of higher amounts;
(c) The value of the money or property involved may be the dominant factor particularly in a conveyancing transaction or an executry. The sum charged will aim to be reasonably proportionate to the value of property involved.
Value Of Transaction
Where the value of the transaction is the dominant factor, the value will be taken to be either the amount stated in the writ or calculated as follows:-
(i) Where, before an executed writ has been delivered, the parties to it have made a contract for the development of the subjects and the value of that contract is not reflected in the price or consideration shown in the writ, the “value” shall be the total of the price or consideration shown in the writ plus the value of the development contract.
(ii) Where before an executed writ has been delivered, the purchaser has, through us, made a contract with a third party for the development of the subjects, the value shall be the total of the price or consideration shown in the writ plus the value of the contract.
(b) If the consideration is termly or periodic payment the value shall be the capitalised value, i.e. in leases or similar contracts, the total sum exigible under the whole contract or during the first 10 years, whichever is the lesser. Where the right of a landlord to recover possession is restricted by statute, the period of the lease shall be taken to be 10 years.
(c) Where no price or consideration is stated, the value of the subject matter will be calculated according to the best evidence available. (e.g. stamp duty value, stamp duty value in any transaction within the last 3 years, last price at which property valued in the last 3 years, survey report, etc.)
(d) Where in a purchase from a local or national government body or agency the price is discounted, the gross value before discount shall be the value.
Where deeds are revised by us, the fee will be one half of the drawing fee otherwise specified in this schedule.
Parties Having Distinct Interest
Where we properly act for more than one party in any matter or business in which several parties have distinct interests, we will charge against each party in respect of our professional responsibility for each distinct interest
Posts & Incidents
This charge will cover posts, telephone and fax calls and minor outlays. It will not normally exceed 5%. If a courier or other specialised delivery service is used, their fee may be charged as an outlay.
Where we have acted in any matter which has not been completed by us, we will charge for the work which has been done.
Presentation Of Accounts
(a) where an account is presented to you, we will normally do so in the form of a fee note indicating the amount of our fee and the matter to which it relates. If requested by you, we will give such helpful information as can readily be derived from the records but if you insist on a fully itemised account, it will be prepared at your expense.
(b) if you remain dissatisfied, our account can be lodged with an independent official called the Auditor of court for assessment and adjudication, or “taxation” as it is known. We may have a fully itemised account prepared if you request a taxation and it may be submitted for taxation even if it is for a greater amount than the note of fee.
(c) The Auditor will charge a fee for the taxation and this is normally borne by the paying party. Any award of expenses of taxation is wholly within the discretion of the Auditor.
(d) Taxation is necessary by law and in practice in certain circumstances, such as where we act for a liquidator, Trustee in Bankruptcy, Judicial Factor, etc.
(e) Where we have reached an agreement in writing with you as to our fees in respect of any work done, we are not obliged to concur in any requests by you for taxation, in terms of s.61A of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980.
Part 3 - Detailed Charges Expressed In Units
The following unit charges may be used in any account or for part of an account where other charges are used.
(i) Deeds, documents intended to have contractual effect, court writs (other than simple debt recovery), court pleadings, affidavits, motions of substance, financial statements and accounts, inventories (other than inventories of writs) and relative schedules, memorials for opinion are all chargeable at 5 units per sheet (a sheet is 250 words or part thereof)
(ii) where a pro-forma document has been used and variables or standard clauses inserted, the rate for that part of the document will be 3 units per sheet.
(iii) other papers to include transfers, minutes of meeting, statements, routine or straightforward motions, simple debt recovery court writs will be charged at 3 units per sheet. Intimations and certificates thereof will be charged at 1.25 units.
Copying - By Any Means
No charge will be made if the number of copies made in the whole matter is 50 or less. Where the number of copies is more than 50, all copies will be charged at 0.02 units per page.
Time spent conducting a trial, proof or formal debate hearing before a court including a tribunal, enquiry, licensing board or arbiter will be charged at 12 units per hour. All other time will be charged at 10 units per hour. Units of time are indivisible unless otherwise stated.
Normal letter, faxes and e-mails and letters with cheques will be charged at 1.25 units per page. A ''page'' is 125 words or part thereof. Formal letters (i.e. acknowledges/confirmatory letters) and circulars be charged at 0.50 units. Letters of a similar nature (i.e. the same letter going to several people), for the 2nd and subsequent letter irrespective of length, the rate will be 0.50 units per page.
For the first 6 minutes or part thereof, 1 unit. Calls of over 6 minutes will be charged on a time basis. Formal telephone calls (acknowledging/confirming) will be charged at 0.50 units.
Recording Writs, including warrant of registration, certificate of value/exemption clause where necessary, presentation of writ, receiving writ or an extract will be charged at 3.25 units. Quick copies and Extracts where ordered after the date of recording will be charged at 2.25 units (where extracts of several deeds are ordered at the same time 2.25 units will be charged for the first and 1 unit for each of the others). Lending/delivering titles and other papers. Each lending – 2.25 units. Inventory per sheet 1 Unit.
Acting As Notary
Notarial Certificates and attestations and similar acts including notarising court affidavits – 3 units (this fee does not include the drawing or revising of the documents) Notarial copies per sheet – 1 unit. Maritime protests: Noting protests – 10 units, drawing instrument and necessary documents – 5 units, attendance at execution – 3 units
Part 4 - Writs Relating To Heritable Property
Missives will be charged in accordance with part 3 (1)(i) In transactions with acquiring authorities charges will be made on a percentage of value with minimum fee as shown below:-
(i) statutory conveyances – 1% of value, minimum 27.5 units
(ii) compulsory purchase and general vesting declaration where no completion of title, but title is produced, investigation carried out or search produced – 0.5% of value, minimum 13.25 units
(iii) receipt and undertaking – 0.25% of value, minimum 5.5 units
(iv) where missives concluded and conveyance completed – per Part 3
(v) Notice of payment of compensation with no other work – 5 units
Where the loan transaction involves some ancillary matter, such as assignation of a life policy, an extra charge will be made. In the case of Standard Securities by companies, we will charge for all additional work involved in complying with relevant statutory requirements. Where the Standard Security does not specify the amount of the loan, the value will be the amount which the lender is expecting the Security to cover regardless of the value of the security subject. Ancillary matters such as calling up Standard Securities, etc, unless otherwise agreed, will be charged in accordance with Part 3.
Part 5 - Executry Estates & Trusts
(A) Administration Of Executry Estates
Unless otherwise agreed, the following may be charged in accordance with Part 3
Making all investigations to ascertain the particulars and value of the estate passing on death, (including inter vivos gifts), debts and encumbrances affecting the estate and the estate to be included in the appropriate inheritance tax accounts. (Where stocks and shares are held by a nominee company or under a portfolio management arrangement, the minimum rate for investigation will be 0.25%).
Preparing and giving up inheritance tax Inventories and other accounts.
Obtaining confirmation and any eik to confirmation.
Resealing confirmation, probate or letters of administration and obtaining or making certificates or copies.
Preparing deeds of assumption or resignation of trustees and deeds of appointment or apportionment.
Preparation of deeds implementing provisions of will or intestacy.
Calculations and discharge of prior rights, legal rights, deeds of election where formal deeds prepared.
Receipts or discharges for pecuniary and specific legacies.
Discharges of provisions and residues (NB Discharges will normally be prepared by the solicitor for the trustees or executors and paid for by the estate, but a beneficiary who is independently advised shall pay his own solicitor’s revising fee. Residuary legatees entitled to payment at different dates shall each pay for the discharge granted by them and for the conveyance and transfer of their share of the estate unless the trust deed otherwise provides.)
Discharges of trustees or executors not otherwise provided for, including ratifications by beneficiaries.
Dispositions, assignation or conveyances of a beneficial interest.
Examining deeds on behalf of beneficiaries concurring in conveyance.
Expeding special or general service
Appointment of executor-dative and preparing bond of caution.
All tax work in respect of income tax, capital gains tax, inheritance tax and stamp duty land tax, etc
Any other individual items involving documents and papers, time, correspondence, telephone calls, copyings, etc.
Commissions on collection of revenue and capital transactions will be charged in accordance with paragraphs (B) & (C) below. Specific items of work separately chargeable under any other part of this schedule shall be charged under the provisions of the appropriate part.
(B) Commisions On Collection Of Revenue In Executry Estate
A percentage commission may be charged at rates not to exceed the maximum values indicated in this paragraph.
Interest and dividends on stocks and shares collected by us – up to £1000 – 5%, on the next £4000 – 3.5% on the balance over £5,000 – 2%
Feu duties, ground annuals, interest on heritable securities and other miscellaneous and periodical payments – not exceeding 10% of the actual amount received.
(C) Commissions On Capital Transactions In Executry Estates
A percentage commission may be charged at rates no to exceed the maximum values indicated in this paragraph.
Realising capital for any purpose other than re-investment for the same client
(a) Money forming part of the original estate uplifted from banks or building societies: 0.50% to 1.00% on a sliding scale namely; on each payment of up to £30,000 – 1%. On the balance over £30,000 – 0.50%
(b) Policies of assurance not exceeding 1% (sliding scale as above)
(c) Heritable property:- in accordance with part 7 (conveyances following sales will be charged in accordance with Part 4)
(d) Stocks, share and other securities realisable on the Stock Exchange
(i) on the first £30,000 of each sum – 1.5%
(ii) on the next £30,000 of each sum – 1%
(iii) on the balance over £60,000 – 0.75%
(e) Other stocks, shares and securities not realisable on the Stock Exchange and interest in private partnerships – 1% to 5% (this does not cover the investigation of unquoted investments, for which fees will be charged in accordance with Part 3)
(f) Book debts, etc – 1% to 10%
(g) Miscellaneous property – 1% to 7.5%
(h) Bonds – 0.5%
(i) National savings – 1%
Investing or re-investing Capital
On the first £30,000 – 0.75%
On the next £30,000 – 0.50%
On the balance over £60,000 – 0.25%
Where securities or other assets in executry estates are not realised but are transferred to beneficiaries direct – 0.25% to 1.50% on the total transfer value or in accordance with Part 3.
(D) Executries Becoming Trusts
Work relating to the continuing administration of the trust will be charged in accordance with paragraph E below or Part 3 above.
(E) Administration Of Trusts
A percentage commission may be charged at rates not to exceed the maximum values indicated in this paragraph.
Where we collect income and distribute it among beneficiaries we will normally charge for the collection of income on the following basis:
(a) on interest and dividends on stocks and shares;
Where individual payments are up to £1,000 – 5%
On the next £4,000 – 3.5%
On the balance over £5,000 – 2%
(b) Rents, feu duties, ground annuals, interests on heritable securities, and other miscellaneous and periodic payments – a percentage not exceeding 10% of the actual amount received.
(c) Where the work involved is greater than normal, e.g. where there are a large number of beneficiaries charges may be made in accordance with Part 3.
1) Realising capital of the Trust Estate, as in paragraph 5 (C) 1) above
2) Investing or re-investing capital, as in paragraph 5 (C) 2) above (the sliding scales may be varied depending on the particular circumstances and amounts involved)
(F) Trusts And Wills
Creation of Wills and Trusts and other work for Testators, Trusters and Trustees
All work in connection with the drafting and creation of wills, trust dispositions and settlements, inter vivos mortis causa and marriage contract trusts, codicils and deeds of appointment and apportionment, administration and termination of trusts, changing of trustees, including discharges, indemnities and minutes of agreement relating to trusts will be charged in accordance with part 3 taking into consideration, where appropriate, commissions under para E above.
Part 6 - General Business
Partnerships, mercantile transactions, incorporated companies, powers of attorney, contracts or agreements, tax or other similar matters for which professional charges are not otherwise prescribed in this schedule, will, unless otherwise agreed, be charged in accordance with Part 3.
Part 7 - Sale Purchase Or Lease
Negotiating sales, purchases or leases
(a) Sale or purchase of debentures, stocks, shares and securities realisable on the Stock Exchange – not to exceed 1.5% on price
(b) Other stocks, shares and securities not realisable on the Stock Exchange and interest in private partnerships - not to exceed 5%
(c) All other kinds of property heritable or moveable – on sale or lease, 1% to 2.5% on price or rent capitalised under part 8, but not exceeding 1.5% where we charge fees under Part 4. (Where we do not negotiate the sale but merely adjust the missives or agreement of sale, we will charge in accordance with part 3. Unless otherwise agreed, where a contract is not concluded, we will charge in accordance with part 3) Where property is sold or purchased or taken on lease by auction, we will charge in accordance with Part 3 unless otherwise agreed.
Part 8 - Cash Intromissions
(a) Commission on revenue will be charged on monies received and distributed in accordance with Part 5 (B)
(b) Commission on capital realised with be charged in accordance with Part 5(C) 1
(c) Capital invested or re-invested will be charged commission as in Part 5 (C) 2
(d) Where securities or other assets are not realised but are transferred to beneficiaries direct – 1% on total amount transferred or in accordance with Part 3. (The sliding scale may be varied depending on the circumstances and amounts involved)
(e) Recovery of debts, in the absence of any prior agreement, will be charged in accordance with Part 3.