This Terms of Business letter, together with any amendments to these Terms with which you are provided, and any schedule of charges or estimate of fees and outlays, forms the basis of our agreement to carry out the work which you have instructed.
In our dealings with our clients, we aim to provide a high quality of service, to find out what our clients want, and to achieve it. We try to work quickly and efficiently and we hope that you find us to be friendly and approachable. At the end of this transaction, we hope that you will think that our fee represents good value for money.
The office is open and the telephones are answered between 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm Monday to Friday. We close the office for two days at each of Christmas, New Year, and Easter. If the person with whom you are dealing is unable to take your telephone call you can leave a message with another member of staff, or on our telephone answering machine. Our fax is open at all times. You can also contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Solicitors and Paralegals also have their own email addresses). By arrangement, we may be able to arrange meetings outwith normal hours.
Our Address is:
You can give us instructions in writing, by telephone, email or fax. Occasionally, we may ask for verbal instructions to be put in writing, so that everyone is clear about what is to happen. If you represent an organisation, partnership or limited company, please ensure that you confirm to us who is authorised to give instructions on behalf of the organisation. If you want somebody else to issue instructions to us on your behalf, please tell us, in writing, who they are.
Clients are reminded that clients have responsibilities in any transaction and:
If your instructions change, or you decide that you no longer wish to proceed with your instructions, please tell us quickly. We shall inform you what effect, if any, this has and whether it causes any extra expense.
We should be happy to have a telephone discussion or a meeting to decide whether or not we can be of assistance to you.
We shall tell you who is carrying out the work on your behalf. Occasionally, other members of staff may assist. If this is only for a short time, or for a particular aspect of the work, you may not be informed. However, if somebody different is doing any substantial amount of work, we shall let you know. If you are uncertain at any time as to what is happening, please ask us.
If more than one person is instructing us in relation to any matter, or we act for more than one person, (although only one person is instructing us about that matter), we shall assume, unless told otherwise, and that everyone for whom we are acting will be liable for our fees. This follows the legal principle called, “Joint and Several Liability”. This means that we can expect anybody for whom we act to pay our whole fee. If you are unclear as to the implications of this please ask us and we shall explain it in more detail.
If we are given instructions by a private limited company then, (unless we have agreed otherwise in advance), it is a condition of our accepting instructions, that the directors are jointly and severally liable personally, along with the company, for payment of our fees and outlays. In the case of the creation of private companies, those instructing us are liable for the payment of fees and outlays.
Any information which you give us is confidential. It will not be disclosed unless you have told us that we may do so or the law requires us to make a disclosure. We are data controllers for the purposes of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). We are registered under the Data Protection Act 1998 for data protection purposes. We may, occasionally, send information that we think may be of interest to you about changes in the law or legal services which we provide. If you do not wish to receive such information you should let us know. We shall ask for certain documents of identification to enable us to comply with Money Laundering Regulations. In the light of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Money Laundering Regulations 2007, clients may no longer rely upon duties of confidentiality if a solicitor knows or suspects that “criminal property” is involved in a transaction. The definition of criminal property is very wide and includes any suspicion of illegality, such as tax evasion or benefit fraud. In these circumstances, there is a duty on solicitors to make a report to the authorities. This is known as the obligation of disclosure. Failure by a solicitor to make such a report would render the solicitor liable to criminal sanctions. There is a further duty imposed on the solicitor that, if a client asks about disclosure, the solicitor may neither confirm nor deny what has been done. We do not accept cash payments in excess of £500. In accordance with Money Laundering Regulations, we require to see the source of funds for transactions. This may include seeing original copies of bank statements showing funds being held in a legitimate bank account.
Any trademark, copyright, design right or any other intellectual property right in documents that we produce or use is reserved to us. Advice given and documents prepared for you are for your use only and may not be copied or be used by any third party without our express written consent. If this point requires clarification, please contact us.
Like all Scottish solicitors, we are members of the Law Society of Scotland and subject to its professional rules.
The nature of legal work sometimes makes it difficult to estimate how long something will take to complete. Since most of our fees are calculated on the basis of professional time, this may make it difficult to work out how much it will cost. We shall try to give you estimates as to timescales and costs. Once we have given you an estimate we shall do our best to try to keep to it. However, you should appreciate that the work may take more time and may cost more. People who are outside our control can affect the time which things take.
Legal fees will either be calculated on the basis of a fixed fee for a particular matter, or will be worked out on the basis of the time spent carrying out a piece of work at an hourly rate. We are always prepared to let you know the state of fees and outlays inclusive of posts and incidents. Commissions will be charged on the collection of interests and dividends on stocks and shares at a maximum of 5%. The realisation of capital during the administration of the executry shall be charged up to a maximum of 1.5%. Legal services are subject to VAT. We shall set out the feeing basis in our Letter of Acceptance and Confirmation of Instructions to you (and, possibly, annually thereafter if the transaction goes on for a long time). If the matter becomes protracted or complicated due to unforeseen events, we reserve the right to increase an estimated fee.
In a court action whether or not any person is ordered to pay your costs, you will be responsible for payment of our fees in full, even if a smaller costs award is made by the court. Your opponent may not be able to afford to pay, or if they are legally aided, you may not recover your costs even if you are successful. If you lose a court action it is likely that you will have to pay the other side’s costs as well as your own. Elliot & Company WS does pursue some “speculative actions”, on behalf of clients where we agree to bear our own costs in the event of a lost action, in return for a success fee. These “Speculative Actions” are governed by separate agreements.
We shall issue our accounts or fee notes either at the end of a particular matter or at regular intervals in order to spread the cost. If you wish to pay for the work at monthly intervals this may be arranged and a direct debit or standing order put in place. If you prefer this method please speak to the solicitor dealing with your work. Payment is always due within thirty days of the date of the issue of the account. If it is not paid, we reserve the right to charge interest at 8% p.a. on overdue fees. If you do not pay our account on time, we reserve the right to stop working for you and to charge you for the full amount of work which we have done for you. If any fee has been restricted and you do not pay it within the thirty-day period, we reserve the right to lift the restriction. For clients paying fees and VAT by debit card, the firm will absorb the merchant charges from the bank. We are, however, not prepared to absorb the costs of clients paying fees and outlays by credit card. Accordingly, the 3% charge on fees and outlays paid by credit card payable by us will be passed on to the client.
Where legal aid or legal advice and assistance is available to cover the work, we shall explain the nature of the cover available to you. If we agree to work at the rates set by the Scottish Legal Aid Board (and we are not bound to accept such instructions) we may assist you in completing the necessary forms. If you receive legal aid or legal advice and assistance any money recovered or property recovered or preserved on your behalf may have to be paid to the Scottish Legal Aid Board to cover your legal costs. The general rule of the Scottish Legal Aid Board is that in the event of success, resulting in you receiving funds or preserving assets, you are expected to pay your own legal costs. As each case turns on its own particular circumstances you should discuss the full implications of legally aided work with the solicitor dealing with your case.
If we receive sums which belong to you and there are outstanding monies owed to us by you, either for outstanding fees or third party outlays, we may deduct these amounts before sending you the balance. However, we shall not deduct any monies without first advising you that we are going to do so. It is a condition of our engagement that you authorise us to pay cheques into our client account even if such cheques are made payable to you or to a third party. Post and incidental outlays will be charged at 5% of the fee rendered (before commissions are applied, if applicable).
If we are buying a property for you then we are unable to accept instructions from you to negotiate a reduction in price without good reason. If you wish to proceed with such a course of action we are required to withdraw from acting on your behalf. If we are selling a property for you and if you have instructed us to fix a closing date and we have advised other solicitors of that date we are unable to accept instructions from you to cancel that date for the purposes of accepting an earlier offer. In that event we should require to withdraw from acting on your behalf. When you are selling property, the sale proceeds will be paid into our client account. We shall deduct all outstanding costs and outlays together with our fees from the sale proceeds as soon as practicable after the sale has been completed. When you are buying property, fees and costs will be payable by you by agreement. However, this would normally be no later than at the date on which you become the owner of the new property. If we receive sale proceeds by cheque we can issue a cheque to repay a loan or bridging loan but we are prevented by our Accounts Rules from issuing a cheque, BACS or CHAPS payment until the incoming cheque has cleared. If we receive funds from you by cheque we should receive the cheque no later than five banking days prior to the settlement date. Before we send out any free proceeds of sale, the cheque received from the purchaser's solicitors must have cleared in our account. This can take up to five banking days. As soon as funds are cleared in our account, you can request that the free proceeds be transferred electronically via the banking CHAPS or BACS system to your nominated account. CHAPS payments would be made under deduction of our standard administration fee, currently £25 with VAT thereon. The implication of this is that house sellers may not receive any free proceeds until five banking days after the sale.
We shall complete a Land and Buildings Transaction Tax Return and submit this to Revenue Scotland on your behalf. Whilst we shall complete this for you, you are responsible for making sure that all the information (including the amount payable) is correct. Revenue Scotland may subsequently indicate that an additional amount is payable. If so, the payment is due by you. Revenue Scotland may in the future carry out an investigation into the transaction dealt with in the Tax Return. You agree that you will give us all the information which we require to deal with such an investigation promptly. You also agree that you will pay our fees for all additional work carried out by us in this way. If you do not deal with any of Revenue Scotland's requests, there may be difficulties in having your title registered. Unless specifically agreed we shall not give you tax advice.
If we pay your outlays, we ask for immediate repayment. Where outlays or expenses are paid by us on your behalf, we shall try to give you details of these in advance, so that you may place monies with us before the sums are due. We may, on occasion, require you to pay monies regularly into our client account so that we have money to pay routine outlays.
It is a condition of our engagement that you authorise us to make payments on your behalf from your funds of necessary outlays to third parties. In conveyancing matters we instruct First Scottish Searching Services. Their charges are payable by clients. First Scottish Searching Services may pay a commission to us.
Files for Executries and Trusts will be sent to the Independent Auditor. The Auditor’s charges for executries and trusts are payable from the executry or trust funds.
If you are dissatisfied with the amount of fees charged or, without our first having told you, the fees exceed any estimate supplied, you may ask for an independent review of the fees. The review will be carried out by Craig Donald, Auditor of Court, Tayside Central and Fife, who is an independent court official. He can confirm or increase fees as well as reduce fees. If the Auditor reduces the fees, this is what you will be charged and we shall pay the Auditor’s fee. If, however, the fee is confirmed or increased, you will be responsible for the Auditor’s charge. We also reserve the right to charge any increased fee set by the Auditor.
You are entitled to change solicitors at any time. However, should you choose to do so, any outstanding fees and outlays will become payable immediately. We are entitled to retain any title deeds, files or other papers until payment is made. This is called a solicitor’s lien. If you wish to instruct another solicitor, you should arrange to sign a mandate in favour of that solicitor and have this sent to us together with details of our reference.
Elliot & Company WS takes seriously its duty to deliver legal services to clients, regardless of any disability which a client may have or whether the client has the protected characteristics set out in the Equality Act 2010. We are happy to provide extra help to clients with a disability (permanent or temporary) by way of a home visit, if so requested. Larger font sizes are available.
Elliot & Company WS takes client relationship management seriously: good client relations are central to the business. However, if you are unhappy with any aspect of our service you should first take this matter up with the solicitor with whom you have been dealing. If you feel that your initial approach has not resolved the point, you are welcome to raise the matter with Donald Elliot, our Client Relations Manager. Mr Elliot will ensure that any such complaint is fully investigated and that you receive a detailed response within ten working days. If you are still dissatisfied, you are entitled to take the matter further. The single gateway for complaints is the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, The Stamp Office, 10-14 Waterloo Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3EG, 0131 201 2130.
We recognise that Alternative Dispute Resolution Regulations have implemented ADR/EDR Directive 2013/11/EU to promote alternative dispute resolution as a means of redress for customers in relation to unsatisfactory services. We have however chosen not to adopt an ADR process, and if you have any concerns about the services you receive from this firm you should contact the firm’s Client Relations Manager.
Our bank, the Royal Bank of Scotland plc, holds for our clients’ sums of money on which interest is earned. The Solicitors Accounts Rules require us to place funds into an interest bearing account when the amount of interest which could be earned over the course of the transaction exceeds £100. Given the low rate of interest, and the short duration of matters, we do not require to place much of our clients’ money into interest bearing accounts. The Royal Bank of Scotland plc refers to its interest bearing account as its, “Clients Monies Service”. Such funds will be held in a designated account on your behalf and attract interest (subject to tax as appropriate) at the Business Instant Access Reserve Rate of the Royal Bank of Scotland plc. We may be paid a commission on these funds. Client funds which we expect to earn less than £100 in interest are held in our client account with the Royal Bank of Scotland plc.
At the end of any work we do for you, any of your funds held by us which are no longer required will be returned to you. Where the address or contact details provided by a client are found not to be current then no further effort will be made to find new contact details before amounts of £50 or less are disposed of.
Subject to statutory retention periods periodically we shall destroy client documents after the work we have done has been completed.
Elliot & Company WS holds a Master policy up to £2m.
The current broker for the Law Society of Scotland is Lockton Insurers. Their address is 22 Rutland Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2AN.
These terms and conditions are governed by the Law of Scotland and are subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the Scottish Courts.