AUSTIN LAFFERTY SOLICITORS STANDARD TERMS AND CONDITIONS
1. ANTI-MONEY-LAUNDERING: We are specifically obliged under current law and Law Society of Scotland regulations to ensure that a client’s identity is verified, and also that any financial transactions are lawful. It is no reflection on any client that we have to make enquiries as to the provision of any funds which we hold, receive or administer on the client’s behalf. Whilst our principal duty is to our client, we also have very clear responsibilities as to prevention of what is called money laundering. Therefore we may at the outset of work or on the receipt of funds require clients to verify the source and provenance of the funds, and record that information on the client’s file and our database.
2. IDENTIFICATION: In terms of the Rules of the Law Society of Scotland we require to verify the identity of each client. The rules dictate that sometimes we have to re-identify clients or update their identification paperwork. We will ask new clients or those clients whose ID we are updating to produce at least two of the following items:
One of these:
Passport or identification document bearing photograph
Current Driving Licence
Bank or Building Society Passbook
AND one of these:
Gas, Electricity or Telephone Bill
Council Tax Demand
Bank or Building Statement
If a client has any difficulty in providing any of the above then he or she should not hesitate to get in contact with the solicitor they are dealing with.
3. Private Limited Companies: If we are given instructions by a private limited company then unless otherwise agreed with the client in advance, it is a condition of our accepting these instructions that the Directors are jointly and severally liable along with the Company for payment of our fees and costs and any interest thereon.
4. Contacting us: We are open from 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Telephones are answered from 9am to 1pm and from 2pm to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Fax lines are open at all times and we can also be contacted on our e-mail addresses. Answering machines are in all branches for out-of-hours calls. We are also available to meet with clients where essential in evenings and at weekends by prior appointment.
5. Instructions: Instructions may be given to us in writing and/or verbally. We may well ask the client to confirm in writing the terms of verbal instructions given to us. If there is any change in instructions we must be notified immediately. If anyone other than the client is to give us instructions or information we will require confirmation of this in writing. Due to commitments with other cases it can sometimes be difficult to reach the solicitor or staff member dealing with a client’s business, but any calls made will be returned as soon as possible.
6. Updates: We will advise at appropriate intervals regarding the progress of work and keep clients informed of all significant developments. If a client is uncertain about what is happening at any time, they should ask.
7. Conflict of Interest: In general we cannot act for two or more parties if they have conflicting interests. We should be advised by clients at the outset of any potential conflicts which may arise. If we decide that we can still act (i.e. under one of the exceptions to the general rule) we will confirm this in writing.
8. Liability: 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 personal payment of our fees and outlays in connection with that matter. This is known as joint and several liability. If a client does not understand what this means we shall be happy to explain.
9. Confidentiality: Information passed to us is kept confidential and will not be disclosed to third parties unless authorised by the client or required by law.
10. Copyright and Third Parties: All copyright in documents we produce is reserved to us. Advice given and documents prepared are for client use only and may not be copied or used by any third party without our express written consent.
11. The Length of Time It will Take: The nature of legal work, particularly Court work, often makes it difficult to estimate precisely how long a case or item of business will take to complete. When we discuss requirements at the outset we will also discuss time scales as best we can. We do attempt to meet these, and always try to deal with everyone as quickly and efficiently as possible. Please remember that quite often the speed at which work can be completed is affected by the co-operation (or lack of it) we receive from other people, firms or agencies beyond our control.
12. Fee Estimates: Any estimate that may be given will be a probable fee based on our experience of the work we have been asked to do. If the work turns out to be more complicated or takes longer than we anticipated then we may require to increase our estimate to take account of this. We will inform the client as soon as possible about this. Sometimes we will need confirmation of the client’s ability to fund a transaction, and a deposit may be requested. Quotations of fees are liable to amendment in the event of the work required involving more than normal time, being of an unusually complex nature or additional to the transaction instructed. If additional fees are chargeable, this will be on a time and line basis appropriate to the work done and the solicitor carrying it out.
13. Accounts: We will issue our account either at the end of a 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 amount overdue at 4% over Clydesdale Bank Base Lending Rate. If a client does not pay our account on time, we reserve the right to stop working and charge for the full amount of work we have done.
14. Expenses (costs) in Court Actions: If we act in connection with a Court action in which the client is partly or wholly successful, it may be possible to recover expenses from the opponent. In practice only a proportion of costs and fees are likely to be recoverable. The client is liable for our fees and outlays incurred on their behalf whether or not they are successful in an action, but credit will be given for all expenses recovered from the opponent.
15. Deduction of Fees and Outlays: Where we receive sums which belong to the client we shall be entitled to deduct from those sums all outstanding fees and outlays before sending the balance.
16. Sales and Purchase of Property: When selling property, we will deduct all outstanding costs together with our fees from the sale proceeds as soon as practicable after the date on which the sale is completed. When buying property, fees and costs will be payable by the client by agreement, but no later than the date on which the client becomes the owner of the new property.
17. Costs Paid on Behalf of clients: When fees, outlays or expenses are to be paid by us on behalf of a client, we will endeavour to give details of these in advance in order that the client may place us in funds before the sums are due. If however we are unable to do so, we will require to be repaid within seven days of the client receiving a request for payment of the appropriate sum.
18. Independent Fee Assessment: The Auditor of Court is available to provide a completely independent assessment of a fair fee for any piece of legal work carried out for a client. On occasions, to ensure that a file has been correctly charged, we may voluntarily send the file to the Auditor. Unless otherwise agreed with the client beforehand, we will in that event be responsible for payment of the Auditor`s fee. Should the client at any time be dissatisfied with the amount of a fee charged by us, he or she is entitled to ask us to have the Auditor review the file and set an appropriate level of fee for the work done. If the Auditor reduces the amount of the original fee we will only charge that reduced amount and we will pay the Auditor`s costs. If, however, the Auditor confirms that our fee is correct or undercharged, then the client will be responsible for the Auditor`s costs. However, where we have agreed a particular rate or scale of charges for work done, we shall be entitled to payment on the basis of that rate or scale. Where by law or rules of solicitor practice a file has to be assessed by the Auditor, the cost of that assessment shall be the client’s.
19. Outstanding Fees: the client is entitled to change solicitors at any time, will be responsible for the fees and any other outstanding payments due to us until the time of change. We are entitled to hold any title deeds, files or other papers until payment has been made.
20. 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.
21. Dissatisfaction: If for any reason a client is unhappy about the quality of service provided, or the amount of our fees, then he or she should, in the first instance, take the matter up with the solicitor with whom they have been dealing. Alternatively, should they prefer or feel the initial approach has not resolved the issue, they may raise the matter with our Client Relations Partner, who is Austin Lafferty, and who is based mainly at our Giffnock office. He will ensure that any such complaint is fully investigated, and that a detailed response is provided within ten working days. If still dissatisfied a client is always entitled to take the matter up with the Client Relations Office at the Law Society of Scotland, 26 Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh, EH3 7YR, and/or the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, The Stamp Office,10 - 14 Waterloo Place, Edinburgh EH1 3EG.
22. Whole Agreement: These terms and conditions, together with any letter accompanying them, supplementary note(s) and any schedule of costs, will form the whole agreement between us and our client to carry out the work referred to in that letter. A docquet of acceptance will be sent to the client for execution, but if the client continues to instruct us following receipt of these terms, the client is deemed to have accepted them.
23. Applicable Law: These terms and conditions are governed by the Law of Scotland and we are subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the Scottish Courts.
1. If any documentation is requested from clients, e.g. Building Warrants, planning permissions, title deeds., these ought to be provided within 72 hours or as soon as is practical.
2. Whilst we will examine title deeds, searches and reports, we are not responsible for examining title or investigating planning or other matters on properties neighbouring or adjoining the property being acquired.
3. We are not responsible for arranging or checking insurance on properties being bought or sold by clients, whether or not a mortgage is involved. The responsibility for such insurance is solely the client’s.
4. Fees (including where applicable interim fees) may be requested prior to the conclusion of an item of business, e.g. prior to the date of entry. Payment will be required within any stated time limit.
5. Any other sums of money required to be paid to the firm, e.g. purchase deposits will in all cases require to be paid, if by cheque, one week prior to the date of entry, and if in cash or by bank transfer no longer than two days prior to the date of entry. Information on the source of funds and the length of time held by the client will be given if asked by us. Where funds come from a third party other than our client, we are required to identify that person and also the source of funds.
6. Clients are asked to remember that quotations of fees are liable to amendment in the event of the work required involving more than normal time, being of an unusually complex nature or additional to the transaction instructed. If additional fees are chargeable, this will be on a time and line basis appropriate to the work done and the solicitor carrying it out.
7. We are not registered for financial advice in respect of mortgage lending or related services. We do not arrange mortgages. We take not responsibility for the provision of mortgage papers or funds which are matters generally beyond our control. We require to receive from the lender the necessary loan papers and all supporting information and documentation no later than 7 days before the due date of drawdown of funds. All provision of documentation and information required by the lender to issue the loan or mortgage offer in the first place is a matter strictly between the client, the lender and any mortgage adviser or broker instructed or consulted by the client.
8. We do not arrange buildings insurance for properties being purchased, sold, re-mortgaged or leased. Clients are required to ensure there is adequate insurance cover on property whether or not their mortgage lender is arranging cover.
9. Clients are asked to note that whilst we will explain the progress of both a sale and a purchase transaction s they proceed, it is at clients’ own risk if they conclude missives – that is form a binding contract – for purchase before any corresponding sale is concluded or achieved where they require the funds from the sale price to assist in the purchase.
10. Where the client is to provide us with a deposit or other funds to complete the transaction, it is essential that such funds have cleared fully into our bank account no later than 48 hours before the due date of payment. Please note that cheques and bank drafts require clearance days. We cannot use or pay out monies to 3rd parties on the basis of funds not yet cleared through our account. Please also note the Money Laundering notes above. We may require the client to provide information and documentation to allow us to verify the legitimacy of funds as we are obliged by law to do, and in the absence of such information and documentation we shall not be obliged to progress the relative transaction.