The Law Society of Scotland has issued guidance to all solicitors firms to give any client (consumer) an indication of the average costs that the client may incur in using that firm’s services for typical transactions. Cameron Clyde Legal ltd offer a wide range of services and what follows are guides of what sort of costs may be incurred in the areas of work identified.
Also, the law requires us to get identification for our all our client so we normally meet with our clients in person initially wherever possible and confirm ID at that meeting. ID also has to be kept current for all existing clients. We also have to confirm the source of funds for some transactions due to our obligation to comply with Anti-Money Laundering laws. This additional administrative work is factored in to our prices.
For the reasons we explain later in this guide you should speak to one of our solicitors to get a better idea of the likely costs that will apply in your unique circumstances. Every transaction is different. We will try and minimise the work we have to do for you and will ask you to do as much as you can to assist us in the work, helping to reduce your costs. Often we are relying on other persons, for example the other side, people signing documents that need to be posted, and we cannot control them. If there are delays in getting information or documents etc. to us then this may add to the costs.
Also, if we have to make visits out of the office, for example home visits or visits to hospitals, then these visits shall be additional cost, and we shall charge for mileage as well as our time.
We pride ourselves in offering a personal service and strive to make sure you are guided throughout the whole of your transaction. This almost inevitably means answering your queries as the transaction progresses and updating you on progress. Our considerable experience informs us that most clients like to have regular updates. That’s why our pricing allows for such conversations and updates. It would be easy for us to offer a cheaper price by severely limiting our contact with you, but we refuse to compromise our standards of service to all our clients. We know that your transaction is important to you and you are rightly anxious about it. We seek the satisfaction of job well done, as we are sure you do too.
To assist your better understanding of the pricing guide which follows there may be certain words or terminology used and we explain the more common words here:
Estimate: As its name suggests, this is an estimate of the costs we can foresee based on the information you have given us. It will be subject to change as the transaction progresses.
Fee: This is the amount of money that we have charged you for the work undertaken which will be specified in any fee note issued to you. It is to this figure that VAT is added, along with any outlays applicable.
Fee note: This is our bill which will detail the work done, our charge for that, any outlays and the VAT payable to HMRC.
Hourly/Unit costs: Where applicable some of our work is charged on the basis of the work done in your case. This is typically charged as a unit cost. An hour is divided into 10 units (i.e. 6 minutes each). A unit cost can be applied to all aspects of work: telephone calls, meetings, emails, research and preparation, time in court, travelling, etc.
Outlay: This is the sum of money that we have to pay out to third party, for example, the Courts, surveyors, The Registers of Scotland, the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), local authorities, searching companies, and Sheriff Officers. Wherever possible we shall seek to use the most economic service. Of course the fees for the Registers of Scotland, the OPG, the courts and similar are fixed and they are what they are. We do not make any profit from outlays. Remember that other agencies, especially government agencies such as local authorities, the courts, the OPG, etc. will increase their fees annually around April.
Quote: This represents the fee that we will have agreed to charge you at the outset of the work. This normally is only possible to agree in certain limited types of work when the normal scope of the work can reasonably be known at the time of initial instruction. However, if there are unforeseen or unanticipated complications, then these will be charged (billed or feed) normally at our current hourly or rates.
Terms of engagement: You will be issued with our letter of engagement which sets out our terms of engagement. This is the contract that we will have with you. It will set out our current hourly rate for any work charged on a unit basis as well as other matters.
VAT: Value Added Tax. This is imposed by the Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and is currently 20% of our fee. This is normally payable by all clients and we must add it to our fee.
Are the costs indicated in this guide fixed?
No. This guide is just that, a guide. It is an indication of what may be charged in certain cases. Your transaction will be unique and any number of varied reasons can be encountered which means that the following examples will not be an accurate indication of the costs that you will incur. A typical transaction may normally have two meetings totalling say 90 minutes. What happens if in your case there needs to be more meetings? In court actions, we can never predict quite what the other side are going to do, and what twists and turns will be encountered as the case develops. Even in conveyancing matters, what happens if there is discovered a problem with the title deed or the boundaries of the land, or if the lender imposes an unusual condition? This is why we invite you to speak to one of our solicitors to discuss the costs that you are likely to incur in your particular set of circumstances.
But don’t be anxious about an unexpected bill. If your transaction has additional work, we’ll tell you about it before we do any of that work and let you know the anticipated costs going forward.
Our examples of costs that follow are based on the matters proceeding exactly as predicted and taking no more than the time and work anticipated.
Child & Public Law
We cover all aspects of Child Law including attendance at Children’s Panels and can support and advise you all the way through the Children’s Referral process. In those cases costs will accrue on an hourly unit basis as per our terms of business. In some circumstances you may be entitled to Legal Aid (financial assistance from the government) and we can chat to you and guide you through that process also/
If someone becomes unable to manage their own affairs, be that making decisions about their welfare or finances or indeed both, and that person has not made a Power of Attorney, then a suitable person could be appointed by the court as a Guardian. This is done by an application (court action) in the Sheriff Court, and there needs to be a lot of preparatory work. It is not possible to say exactly how much work may be involved, but usually there will need to be reports from a GP and a Psychiatrist. We may need to serve papers on various persons using Sheriff Officers if signed for post cannot be used. These costs, and the costs for the court would be outlays. Our charges will be based on our hourly/unit rate in the terms of engagement. For an average Guardianship our costs may be £2,000 plus VAT £400. However, it is worth bearing in mind that, Legal Aid may be available for Guardianships, particularly those that include a Welfare Element and we would be happy to discuss that with you.
Separation (without going to court)
We would always hope to be able to settle your separation amicably by trying to negotiate a settlement with your estranged partner. If that is possible, then the aim would be to record that settlement in a contract (sometimes called a Minute of Agreement or Separation agreement). We would register that agreement once signed by both sides. The range of possible topics to discuss and make provision for are as varied as there are persons. Issues from the children, to the house, to the contents, to maintenance (sometimes called “aliment”) to business interests, bank accounts, insurances, pensions, pets, etc. It is therefore not possible to give a price for this work and instead we rely on the hourly/unit rate in our terms of engagement. Our experience tells us that typical agreements may cost £1,800 plus VAT at £360 and there is an outlay for registering the agreement and obtaining two official copies (extracts) of £44 which is usually split between both of you.
If a pension share is required then that would be an extra charge and we would normally need to communicate with the providers and get approval of the wording and find out what their charges may be, which would be passed on as an outlay to you. We have seen charges of £750 or more from pension providers.
If there is no dispute about finances, and there are no children of the marriage under 16 years, and there is agreement and co-operation from your spouse, then the costs for a Simplified divorce following one or two years separation in the Sheriff Court should not exceed £600 (including outlays) plus VAT of £120.00. If papers have to be served by Sheriff Officer instead of by signed for post there will be an additional charge and outlay. We will need your marriage certificate. If we have to order an extract it will cost around £15 as a further outlay.
Divorce (where finances and/or children involved)
If there is agreement and assuming that there is no need for any order from the court other than divorce, and assuming full co-operation of your spouse and any witnesses, then the charge for seeking a divorce, and satisfying the court as to the welfare of any child(ren), by preparing and having notarised (signed in the presence of a Notary Public) affidavits, may be no more than £1000 with £200 VAT plus outlays of court. If papers have to be served by Sheriff Officer instead of by signed for post there will be an additional charge and outlay. We will need your marriage certificate and the child(ren)’s birth certificate(s). If we have to order extracts it will cost around £15 each as an outlay.
If there is no agreement, then it is simply impossible to give an accurate indication of costs because we do not know what may be involved in bringing the court action to a conclusion. We will discuss with you the likelihood of success and risks in your particular case. You will always have control of whether to proceed, or continue, or not. We would charge you for all the work we do on an hourly/unit basis as per our terms of engagement letter. This is true for all court actions. You would need to speak to one of our solicitors to get a rough idea of what may be involved, but you will always be able to control the level of costs by seeking fees on a regular basis. See our terms of engagement in court matters for further details.
Separation and contact matters when court action is necessary
Where possible we will assist you in reaching a resolution outwith court. However, at times, court action is the only option and costs in relation to same are difficult, if not impossible to predict. In those cases we will be able to provide you regular updates in respect of fees and and costs to allow you to make informed decisions about how to progress. Such cases will be dealt with on an hourly/unit basis as per our terms of engagement letter.
GENERAL ADVICE AND BUSINESS 01463 513789
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We undertake general business as well. This is normally charged on our hourly/unit rate as indicated in our terms of engagement letter. Normally we can give advice, and often a letter (or email) or two can help resolve some issues. For others, then we may need to undertake more work, but that will always be discussed with you in advance.
Some examples of miscellaneous charges:
For notarising or certifying documents a fee may be £80 plus vat £16. Normally there are no outlays. Where you are not an existing client, we will need you to provide two forms of ID.