Charging for Legal Services – Probate, Employment Law, Debt Recovery and Residential Conveyancing
Basis of Charging
Most law firms base their charges on the time they spend dealing with your case or transaction. Often this will mean that you pay an hourly rate, or where you are offered a fixed price for a piece of work it will be because the type of work is relatively straightforward or it’s possible to estimate how much time your matter will take, often because there is no other party involved. Our lawyers will check with you during your initial meeting or telephone conversation with us whether you have other funding options available to you, such as cover under an insurance policy.
Please note that all charges are subject to the addition of VAT at the prevailing rate, which is currently 20%. Additionally, depending on the case or matter, there may be disbursements to be added which are payments that we will arrange on your behalf but which must be paid for by you. Full details of our charging rates, our estimate or fixed quote, and the timescales for payment of our fees will be set out in our engagement letter and in our Terms of Business, and will be notified to you before you instruct us. We will always be happy to give you as much costing information as we can and as regularly as you require.
Fixed Price Charging
If we are able to give you a fixed price for the work you wish us to undertake, we will tell you at the start and will confirm the price to you in writing. We will also tell you when this amount must be paid, which will depend on the kind of work it is. For example, in conveyancing work we will require you to pay our fees before completion, and in the case of a will we will expect our fees to be paid before the will is signed.
Charging by Time
Where we cannot offer you a fixed price for the work you wish us to carry out, we will tell you the hourly rate of everyone likely to work on your behalf, and our estimate of the likely overall cost at the outset of the matter. Our hourly charges vary between different levels of our staff on the basis of their qualification and experience. You can view Our People and their personal profiles here.
It is only possible to give an estimate of our charges when we’ve spoken with you and understood the precise work you want us to carry out, but the basic hourly rates which apply to most types of work we undertake on the basis of charging by time are as follows. Please note however that when you contact us to discuss instructing us for a specific legal matter we reserve the right to revise these rates to reflect the complexity, value or urgency of the matter, and our resources to accept your instructions, but any upward revision will be drawn to your attention before we accept your instructions.
|Partners, Consultants and Senior Lawyers||£330||Senior Associate Solicitors||£275 – £285|
|Associate Solicitors||£240 – £250||CILEx Fellows and Licensed Conveyancers||£195 – £285|
|Executives||£126 – £195||Senior Paralegals||£190|
|Graduate Trainee Solicitors and Paralegals||£150||Other Support Staff||£126|
These rates apply to all work we undertake for businesses, including debt collection and defending employment tribunal claims, and to some work we undertake for individuals including probate and employment tribunal claims. We will estimate the likely total cost of your matter when you have given us enough information to enable us to gauge how many hours we are likely to spend on it, and we will keep our estimate under regular review.
Where a range indicated the charging rate will depend on the seniority of the person undertaking your work, and the upper limit will only be applied when the person has at least 10 years’ experience in their role. A charge is only made for work undertaken by support staff which is delegated to them for cost effectiveness and is not routine internal administration.
Where your matter is urgent it may only be possible for us to estimate the cost of the initial stages, until we receive full details from you. In those circumstances we will estimate the cost of the initial stages before we commence work on your behalf and we will give you further charging information just as soon as we are able to do so.
Guidelines in Probate, Employment Law, Debt Recovery and Residential Conveyancing matters
Please note that in every case or matter we will give you bespoke charging information prior to accepting your instructions. However the following cost illustrations are given as guidelines. They do not constitute legally binding quotations and should be read in conjunction with the general charging information set out above.
To obtain a Grant of Probate and administer an uncontested estate made up of assets exclusively in the UK, we will charge on a time basis. In our experience, our fees for completing an average Probate matter will be around £5,000, plus VAT and disbursements, and the average duration will be 6 months in the case of an estate where no tax is payable or 12 months in the case of a taxable estate. If we are instructed only to obtain a Grant of Probate but not to administer the estate, our fees on average will be around £1,250 plus VAT and disbursements and the timescale will be around 2 months.
The basic steps which we will take in an average probate matter and their relative timescales are as follows:
|Step||Typical timescale from instruction|
|Identifying and valuing the estate||2 – 3 months|
|Arranging payment of inheritance tax (in taxable estates)||3 months|
|Applying for the grant||3 months|
|Notification of grant and realisation of assets||4 – 5 months|
|Payment of liabilities and legacies||5 – 6 months|
|Distribution of Estate||6 – 8 months|
Please note that the following steps and issues are excluded from the above cost estimates and timescales, and if required will increase costs and/or extend the typical timescale:
- Conveyancing on the sale of property or transfer of title
- Advising on intestacy
- Advising on questions of validity of the will
- Advising on potential claims
- Dealing with trusts
- Dealing with business or agricultural property relief
- Dealing with HMRC enquiries/requisitions
- Dealing with DWP enquiry
- Dealing with offshore jurisdictional assets or issues
- Disposing of stocks, shares and investments (UK or otherwise).
Our charges for bringing or defending either of the two main types of dismissal claims in the Employment Tribunal are based on the time spent in advising and representing you as our client. Each case involves unique circumstances and parties, and based on our experience we are able to provide the following estimates of charges and timescales in cases of low, medium and high complexity. The figures are subject to the addition of VAT, and the addition of disbursements such as Counsel’s fees which will depend upon the complexity of the case, the length of the hearing and the seniority of the barrister instructed.
|Type of case||Low Complexity||Medium Complexity||High Complexity|
|Bringing an unfair dismissal claim||£10,000 to £15,000||Up to 6 months||£12,000 to £17,000||Up to 12 months||£17,000 to £60,000||Up to 18 months|
|Defending an unfair dismissal claim||£9,000 to £15,000||Up to 6 months||£11,000 to £17,000||Up to 12 months||£16,000 to £60,000||Up to 18 months|
|Bringing a wrongful dismissal claim||£4,000 to £7,000||Up to 6 months||£7,000 to £12,000||Up to 6 months||£12,000 to £25,000||Up to 6 months|
|Defending a wrongful dismissal claim||£3,000 to £7,000||Up to 6 months||£6,000 to £12,000||Up to 6 months||£11,000 to £25,000||Up to 6 months|
Factors which will affect the level of our fees as set out within the above estimated bands include any or some of the following:
- Associated allegations of discrimination
- Allegations of automatic unfair dismissal such as whistleblowing; pregnancy etc.
- Defending claims bought by litigants in person
- Making or defending applications to amend or for further and better particulars of the claim
- Making or defending other interim applications or applications for costs
- Dealing with preliminary issues at a hearing
- Attending a judicial or other mediation
- The number of documents
- The number of witnesses and the length of their witness statements
- The number of days the case is listed for
- Whether an interpreter is required
- Whether there are any postponements
- The novelty and complexity of factual or legal issues
- The value of the claim and how early if at all settlement can be achieved
- The high profile nature of the case and whether there is media interest
- The conduct of the parties to the case and the manner in which instructions are given
|Stage||Process||Wrongful Dismissal||Unfair Dismissal
|Pre-issue||Initial instructions, reviewing papers, advising on merit and compensation and devising case and negotiation strategy.||3 months||3 months||3 months||3 months|
|Pre-issue negotiation and correspondence|
|Issue||Preparing the claim form or response form||1 month||1 month||1 month||1 month|
|Advising on the response from the other party|
|Case Management||Preparation of or consideration of schedule of loss||2 months||2 months||2 months||8 months|
|Preliminary Case Management Hearing often by telephone|
|Preliminary Hearing to determine a preliminary issue or application|
|Disclosure of documents and considering the other party’s disclosure and advising on how it impacts on the case|
|Preparation of hearing bundles|
|Taking, drafting, amending witness statements and then exchanging the same with the other party|
|Reviewing the other party’s witness statements and advising on how they impact on the case|
|Agreeing a chronology and list of issues|
|Final Hearing||Preparation for final hearing including if applicable preparing instructions to counsel||1 month||1 month||6 months||6 months|
Timescales vary depending on the attitude of the parties, and some cases can be resolved by negotiation within a day or two of us first being instructed. If the case proceeds the timescale will depend not only upon the approach of the parties but also upon which Employment Tribunal is allocated to hear the case, which could be in Ashford, Croydon, London or Southampton. Timescales can vary between 6 and 18 months to get to final hearing – sometimes with a further 6 months awaiting the judgment. Factors which will affect the timescale of the case include:
- The location, efficiency and backlog of cases in the Employment Tribunal
- How early settlement is achieved if at all
- The complexity of the case
- The number of claims and issues
- The number of documents
- The number of witnesses
- Whether there are any preliminary issues to be decided
- Whether there are any unforeseen postponements
In cases where we are instructed to recover a debt we charge on the basis of the time we spend on the case, irrespective of the value of the debt. We do not generally offer a fixed-price service unless a client wishes to instruct us on a regular basis in which case we will discuss a bespoke retainer arrangement.
Since debt recovery cases may be resolved by us writing a single letter or may involve court proceedings the range of costs and timescales is almost infinite. In the case of a debt being recovered by a single letter demanding payment our fees could be as little as £100 plus VAT, and the timescale a matter of a few days. In cases where the debt is not disputed but the debtor refuses to pay, our fees for bringing court proceedings, obtaining judgement and enforcing the judgement could be as much as £25,000 plus VAT and also disbursements such as court and bailiff fees. The timescale for such cases can be up to a year. Cases where liability for the debt is denied are usually contractual disputes and as such fall outside the scope of these guidelines.
The types of issues which affect the cost and timescale of debt recovery advice and representation can include:
- Adequacy of information and documentation supplied to us
- Nature of response, if any, from debtor
- Whether a contractual process, a claim protocol or an insolvency procedure has to be followed
- Administration by the court and its processing times
- The extent of any negotiations
- Whether enforcement action is required, and if so, by how many different methods
- The negotiation, drafting and implementation of an agreed payment plan, if a debtor accepts liability but asks for time to pay.
We offer a fixed-price service for carrying out the conveyancing of residential property, which is the transfer of ownership of a house or flat from the current owner(s) to its new owner(s). We do not act on both sides of a transaction as we believe there is a conflict of interest in acting for both seller and buyer in a property transaction, but we will happily act for you in both a sale and purchase, and both for you and your lender provided your lender is a member of UK Finance Mortgage Lenders (Council of Mortgage Lenders) or the Building Societies Association. We will provide you with a bespoke fee quotation before we begin working for you. The following is for guideline purposes only and does not constitute a legally-binding quotation.
The fee we will charge for our service in any transaction is based on our assessment of the time we are likely to spend on it. If there is a material complexity or change in your instructions which was not disclosed to us when we gave our quotation we reserve the right to amend it to take account of extra work which was not foreseen. However, we will discuss any proposed change to our quotation with you and it is only in exceptional circumstances that an increase in our fee will be appropriate. The following table sets out our basic charging structure, but please see the sections below the table which explain the factors we consider when deciding where within our range of fees your transaction falls, and also the sections on Disbursements and Timescales. Please note that VAT must be added to the prices listed in the table, but not to disbursements which are shown inclusive of any VAT which is payable. If we are asked to transfer money in the course of the transaction by same-day credit transfer there will be a charge of £40+vat per transfer, but in most cases you will be able to opt for another form of payment for which no charge is payable such as BACS transfer or cheque.
Please note that these guidelines do not apply to rural properties, to auction sales or purchases, to high-value transactions in excess of £1,000,000, to new-build properties, or to unusually complex, urgent or time-critical transactions. In all such cases we will provide you with a bespoke fee quotation once we have received details of the proposed transaction from you.
|Property Price||Freehold Sale||Leasehold Sale||Freehold Purchase or Re-mortgage||Leasehold Purchase|
Our Fee (+ vat and disbursements)
|Up to £500,000||£1000 – £1500||£1200 – £2000||£1100 – £1750||£1500 – £2500|
|£500,000 – £1,000,000||£1500 – £2400||£2000– £3300||£1750 – £3000||£2500 – £3600|
In preparing our fee quotation for your transaction, the kind of factors we will consider include the following, so please tell us if any of them is likely to apply. If we are unexpectedly required to advise you on any of these issues in the course of the transaction we reserve the right to revise our quotation to reflect the additional time spent on this aspect of your transaction.
- Unusual buildings (e.g. waterfront, windmills, listed, eco build etc.)
- Unregistered land
- Age restricted property
- Shared ownership
- Additional land law advice (including use of land and overage)
- New Builds
- Indemnity Insurance (other than chancel policies)
- Help to Buy Mortgage or Help to Buy ISA
- Deed of Variation and/or Lease Extension
- Price Retention
- Solar Panel Lease
- Non-leasehold Restrictions on Title
- Gifted Deposits
- Transfer of Freehold Ancillary to a Leasehold Transaction
- Buy to Let Purchase or Re-mortgage
Disbursements are fees charged by third parties for which you are liable, and we will calculate these for you when you ask us for a bespoke cost quotation. There are often few, if any, disbursements on a freehold sale, but in other transactions there may be many disbursements such as managing agents’ fees, search fees, Stamp Duty Land Tax, and Land Registry fees for registering a change of property owner.
|Searches||Local Authority Searches, Water/Drainage Searches, Environmental Searches and Chancel Insurance often cost up to £500|
|Stamp Duty Land Tax||Dependent on property price, please see Stamp Duty Land Tax Calculator|
|Land Registry Fee||Please see HM Land Registry fees|
|Notice to Freeholder of Assignment (and / or) Mortgage (Leasehold properties only)||As specified in the lease|
|Office Copy Entries||£6 – £18|
|Management Pack (Leasehold properties only)||Typically £200 – £750|
The average timescale from an estate agent sending us a “Memorandum of Sale” through to completion is between 2 and 4 months. Timescales are affected by, amongst others, the following factors:
- the length of the chain and the wishes of the various parties
- the lender’s requirements and the speed with which a mortgage offer is issued
- the speed with which searches are returned
- the speed with which the other side’s solicitors provide documents and reply to us
- whether any unusual additional documents are required (for example deeds of variation)
- whether the title to the property is leasehold or freehold
- whether the transaction is a sale or a purchase
- mortgage drawdown timescales
- unforeseen title issues affecting the property.
The Buying Process
|Seller markets the Property.|
|Buyer and Seller agree sale. The Estate Agent sends details to each party’s Solicitor.|
|We send you a questionnaire, together with our Home Buyer’s Guide and costs estimate.|
|We receive the Contract Pack from the Seller’s Solicitors, apply for Searches and raise enquiries about the Property with the Seller’s Solicitors.|
|The Seller’s Solicitors answer the questions about the Property which we send to you together with reports on the results of the various Searches.|
|Your Lender issues a Mortgage Offer and we send you a Mortgage Deed to sign or ask you to arrange an appointment to call and sign it in our presence.|
|We arrange for you to sign the Contract, Transfer and SDLT form, pay the deposit and agree a Completion date with the Seller.|
|Contracts are Exchanged and Completion is fixed.|
|We send the deposit to the Seller’s Solicitors.|
|We request the mortgage money from your Lender and carry out final Searches.|
|We send you a Completion statement, showing the money we require from you to complete.|
|You make arrangements for the Completion day.|
|On the Completion date, you are legally entitled to move in.|
|We receive the Transfer and any deeds from the Seller’s Solicitors, pay the Stamp Duty Land Tax, deduct our fees and apply for registration of your ownership of the Property at the Land Registry.|
|You are now the legal owner. Your Will should be updated to reflect your change in circumstances.|
The Selling Process
|The Seller places the Property on the market|
|Buyer and Seller agree terms. The Seller’s Estate Agent sends details to each Solicitor.|
|We send you several Property Forms to complete about the property together with Home Seller’s Guide and cost estimate.|
|We apply for the title documentation and details of amount outstanding on any mortgage(s) or charge(s) on the Property.|
|When we have received the completed Property Forms from you we prepare the Contract Pack, which includes the Property Forms, Title and Contract and send it to the Buyer’s Solicitors.|
|The Buyer’s Solicitors raise enquiries about the property which we will refer to you or answer from legal documents which we can obtain.|
|We arrange for you to sign the Contract and Transfer and with your approval agree a completion date with the Buyer.|
|Contracts are exchanged and Completion is fixed. The Buyer pays the Deposit. We obtain details of the amount outstanding on any mortgage and any charges for the day of Completion.|
|We send you a Completion Statement including Legal Costs. You make arrangements to move out and to hand keys to the Agents.|
|On the day of Completion, you move out and remove all items from the Property. We send the Transfer to the Buyer’s Solicitors, pay the Estate Agents, pay off any mortgage(s) and/or charges, deduct our fees and send you the balance of the proceeds of sale.|
|You are no longer the legal owner. Your Will should be updated to reflect your change in circumstances.|