EXPLANATORY NOTE TO CLIENTS: Licensed Conveyancers are required by their professional practice rules to advise clients at the time of accepting instructions of the terms upon which they will normally act for clients. The following terms are intended to cover a wide range of circumstances. Not all of these will apply to your particular transaction. These terms are intended to assist in simplifying the conveyancing by making it clear to both what is expected in certain circumstances and in other cases to vary the professional practice rules where experience has shown them to be administratively cumbersome or uneconomic to operate. These terms assist in clarifying the duties upon which professional services are provided.
TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT:
- We are under a responsibility to keep all information relating to your affairs completely confidential unless authorised by you to disclose information to someone else. We have duties and obligations that affect these obligations to you. We are obliged to disclose in certain circumstances information to the National Crime Agency. This will override our duty of confidentiality to you.
- All fees and taxable disbursements will have V.A.T. added. The rate of V.A.T. payable will be that applying at the tax point (this will normally be the date of legal completion or the date of our invoice for profession fees, if different).
- The fees estimated may be varied in certain circumstances. In particular, variation may occur 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. Any such variation will be advised to the client at the appropriate time during the transaction or as soon as practical thereafter.
- The fee estimate will normally make reference to disbursements. These are payments made or incurred on the client’s behalf by a Conveyancer in the course of a transaction. These are expenses, such as stamp duty, land registry fees, local and other search fees. It is not always possible for a Conveyancer to foresee at the outset all disbursements that may arise but the Conveyancer’s fee invoice or financial statement will show these items separately from any professional fees.
- Where the cost of a disbursement is readily ascertainable (e.g. a local search) then the actual cost will be charged, For less readily quantifiable disbursements (such as the cost of telephone calls or postages) an estimated or standard charge may be made.
- We may request you to provide payment on account in respect of fees or disbursements, either at the outset or during the course of a transaction. This is normal professional practice where certain expenses are incurred by the Conveyancer at the beginning of a transaction or where a matter is, or is likely to be, unusually lengthy. In such cases payments on account or interim fee invoices avoid the need to render a single fee account relating to the whole transaction and permit the client to keep track of expenses.
- As part of the conveyancing process being undertaken by us on your behalf, there may be the need for a legal indemnity insurance policy to protect you, and/or the lender, against a defect in the property’s title or requested by the buyer for this purpose. Given the nature of the risk and relative timescales involved, we have carried out a limited search of the market, and although we are not contractually obliged to purchase insurance products on your behalf from them, we recommend policies from Legal & Contingency which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Our past experience suggests that cover provided by Legal & Contingency is both suitable and available at a reasonable cost and they provide a full range of specialty products to cover the most risks. You can, if you wish, request details of the insurance undertakings with which we conduct business.
We are not authorised by the FCA. However, we are included on the register maintained by the FCA so that we can carry out insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the advising, selling and administration of insurance contracts. No fees are paid to us for obtaining insurance you will be paying the cost of the policy only. This part of our business, including arrangements for complaints or redress if something goes wrong, is regulated by the relevant representative professional body. The register can be accessed via the FCA website at www.fca.org.uk/register
- If, for any reason a transaction does not continue to completion then the Conveyancer will make a charge for work done. Any such charge will normally represent the amount of work done by the Conveyancer either based upon the agreed basis of charge or as a proportion of the estimated fee relating to the amount of work done, plus any disbursements incurred.
- If the client is to receive a mortgage advance then it is the client’s responsibility to comply with the terms and conditions specified in the mortgage offer document issued by the intended mortgage lender. In particular the client should be aware of the financial implications of any deductions, retentions, redemption penalties or interest payable upon early repayment. If so requested by the client, we will advise the client experiencing any difficulty in understanding the terms of a mortgage offer. Otherwise we will assume the mortgage offer is understood and acceptable to the client.
- When receiving mortgage instructions we are under a duty to act on the Lenders behalf in accordance with their instructions. We are under a separate duty to provide all information that they may require. If as a consequence a situation arises where we have to report information that you consider might be prejudicial and you refuse permission for disclosure by us, in accordance with our professional rules we would withdraw from acting on your behalf.
- If the client’s mortgage lender chooses to use a firm other than ours for its legal work then it is standard practice for the lender to require the client to meet any charges made by that firm, whose charges will be separate from those of the Conveyancer.
- Should we pay or receive any commission or other benefit as a result of receiving a client’s instructions or introducing a client to another party with whom the client does business (e.g. by affecting a policy of life assurance) then we will inform the client of that fact in writing. The client’s acceptance of these terms include consent for the conveyancer to pay or retain any such commission or benefit, if such an arrangement should exist.
- Unless it is agreed to the contrary in writing, we shall not be required to open special deposit accounts or accounts to the client for any interest which accrues or ought to accrue on any money held by us for or on behalf of the client and the client’s acceptance of these terms shall be an arrangement to this effect.
- Conveyancing transactions can only be financed using funds for banking purposes. We must ensure that any money needed from the client to finance the transaction is paid so that it can become cleared funds by the date it is needed. Such money must be received by us by the time and date and by the means of payment advised to the client. If clearance is delayed because the client provides funds after the specified time and date, or pays by inappropriate means, then we will not be liable for any delay or consequential loss in dealing with the matter dependent upon cleared funds for as long as the client’s funds remain uncleared.
- We will only accept funds from the client and cannot accept any monies from a third party. Additionally we may also need to obtain information as to the source of funds provided. Our bank details, which will not change during the course of the transaction are Lloyds Bank, Church Street, Sheffield SORT CODE 30-97-51, ACCOUNT NUMBER 48351268
- Legal fees due to us and disbursements will be deducted by us from funds held on behalf of the client once a financial statement has been rendered. If there is insufficient clients money held to permit this and in the event of any delay in payment by the client of money shown on the financial statement as being due to us then daily interest may be charged at the rate of 2% per calendar month, or part thereof, (compounded monthly) from the date of the financial statement until the outstanding sum is received by us and becomes cleared funds.
- If a client is purchasing with a mortgage we will normally advise a minimum period of ten working days* between exchange of contracts and legal completion. This period is regarded as the minimum practical period in which safely to deal with all pre-completion searches and formalities (including obtaining cleared funds from the lender and if necessary, from the client) to enable all parties to be fully protected at completion. We will require that all necessary stamp duty and land registry fees are held by the Conveyancer as cleared funds by the proposed completion date and we may delay completion until such funds are so held.
- Unless it is agreed to the contrary in writing, should the client instruct us to complete a transaction and specify a completion date less than ten days after the date of exchange of contracts, we may charge an expedition fee. Furthermore, we will not be liable for any consequential loss arising from completion being delayed beyond the specified completion date, provided the Conveyancer has used reasonable professional skill in attempting to complete on the specified date.
- If we are requested to give a professional undertaking in order to assist the progress of the client’s transaction we may make a reasonable charge for providing this personal commitment. Such an undertaking is a binding pledge (usually given by us to another lawyer that a particular action will be taken – often the payment of money) which we are personally liable to fulfill. We may require appropriate security from the client before giving such an undertaking.
- We are specialist property lawyers, qualified to advise the client on property law. The client should consult appropriately qualified professionals for advice on non-legal matters such as the structural condition of a property and its services, its market value, or concerning specific investment or financial advice.
- To assist the efficient progression of a transaction and to minimise costs the client agrees (i) to respond promptly in writing to any request for confirmation of any significant variation from the client’s original instructions and (ii) to respond promptly in writing to any request for instructions the client may receive from us.
- Following completion of all work, your file of papers will be retained and stored by us for a period of 15 years when acting in a purchase and 6 years when acting in a sale, after which time, your file of papers will be destroyed. By signing this form you are providing consent to the destruction of your file. Should you wish to retain your file you should notify us in writing during the period in which your file is in storage.
*The expression "working day" does not include Saturdays, Sundays, bank holidays and statutory holidays.
COMPLAINTS:A complaint is an oral or written expression of dissatisfaction which alleges that the complainant has suffered (or may suffer) financial loss, distress, inconvenience, or detriment.
Once we have received your complaint, Steven will write to you within 7 days to explain how your complaint will be investigated if a complete response to your complaint has not been made by that time. You will be told the latest date by which a complete answer will be given to your complaint (this should be not more than 28 days after we received your complaint). If you have made the complaint verbally - either at a meeting or on the telephone - we will set out in our full response our understanding of the nature of your complaint.
The assessment of the complaint will be based upon a sufficient and impartial investigation. We will explain in writing our findings and, where the complaint is upheld, will offer remedial action or redress. This will be dealt with promptly.
If after following the review process you remain dissatisfied with any aspect of our handling of your complaint, you may contact directly the Legal Ombudsman to ask them to consider the complaint further:
Tel no: 0300 555 0333
Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806 Wolverhampton MV1 9WJ
Unless it agrees there are good reasons not to do so, the Legal Ombudsman will expect you in the first instance to allow us to consider and respond to your complaint in accordance with the procedure set out above. You can refer your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman up to 6 months after you have received our final written response to your complaint. You can also refer your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman if we have not resolved your complaint within 8 weeks of us receiving it. A complaint can be referred to the Legal Ombudsman up to six years from the date of the act or omission or up to 3 years after discovering a problem. The Legal Ombudsman deals with service related complaints; any conduct-related complaints will be referred to the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.
If you make a valid claim against us for a loss arising out of work for which we are legally responsible, and we are unable to meet our liability in full, you may be entitled to claim from the Compensation Fund administered by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (from whom details can be obtained)
MONEY LAUNDERING: Laws are in place to reduce money laundering activity. Essentially, the legislation is aimed at dealings in criminal property, and includes – for instance – becoming involved in any transaction funded in whole or in part by the proceeds of tax evasion.
As a consequence, we might be obliged to report to the relevant authorities (and indeed, we are subject to very severe penalties should we fail to do so) any transaction, activity or arrangement which appears to us to give rise to suspicions of money laundering, notwithstanding any issues of confidentiality or legal privilege.
If, having made appropriate enquiries, we feel it necessary to make such a report, we reserve the right to do so, and without reference to you, either before or after any such report is made. By signing the letter sent with this leaflet, and in circumstances which give rise to reasonable grounds for suspicion, you are expressly authorising us to make such a report.
As part of our initial process of obtaining your instructions it will be necessary for us to ask you a series of questions concerning your identity, including evidence of your place of residence and source of funds. We will need to obtain documentary evidence of this. This is a requirement of the Regulations.
Additionally, we may have to ask other questions about the proposed source and flow of funds from you. We may also ask other questions to satisfy ourselves that there is no suspicion of money laundering and that you, as the client and we, as your advisers, are not becoming involved in any money laundering offence.