Existing or prospective clients naturally wish, where possible, to have some idea of the anticipated legal costs associated with their case or transaction.
Various factors affect the cost and it is therefore difficult to predict, with absolute certainty, what may be involved in any particular case or transaction and to provide a definitive estimate of our charges for all the work involved.
In all cases we will issue a terms of engagement letter which covers a variety of matters.
Where feasible, the terms of engagement letter will include an estimate of the legal fee and expected disbursements. Where an estimate cannot be provided, it will refer simply to the hourly rate of charge (currently £200) plus VAT and disbursements.
We periodically review our hourly rate, but any alteration is unlikely to apply to ongoing cases or transactions.
VAT is currently charged at 20%
Disbursements are dealt with below.
Price transparency guidelines encourage solicitors in Scotland to provide as much assistance as possible to allow a client, or potential client, to form an idea about the cost of their anticipated transaction.
There follows some information about the various types of work which we carry out and illustrations of legal fees and disbursements or the method of calculation, which it is hoped may assist.
Please note that figures or data from third party sites referred to below are as at the date of first publication on our website and may be subject to change.
The following is a non-exhaustive overview of some of the main work involved in a purchase transaction:-
- • Taking Instructions from client
- • Submitting a formal offer
- • Receiving and reviewing the Home Report or Survey Report
- • Receiving a Qualified Acceptance and reporting to client
- • Examining the title deeds, reporting on the title to the client, and framing the Disposition
- • If applicable receiving a Mortgage Offer and either acting for the Lender in the transaction, or dealing with the Lender’s solicitor
- • Concluding missives for the purchase and having client sign the standard security
- • Receiving the searches and requesting loan funds from the Lender
- • Requesting the deposit & expenses from the client
- • Settling the transaction for the client
- • Dealing with the LBTT Return if applicable
- • Registering the deeds at the Land Register of Scotland
The following is a non-exhaustive overview of some of the main work involved in a sale transaction:-
- • Sending the formal offer to the client for instructions with a copy of the Scottish Standard Clauses
- • Receiving instructions and issuing a Qualified Acceptance
- • Ordering up the Title Deeds and instructing a Multi Search
- • Sending the searches with our conveyancing drafts to the purchasing Solicitor.
- • Dealing with observations on title raised by the purchasing Solicitor.
- • Arranging for our client to sign the Disposition.
- • If applicable requesting a redemption statement from the Lender.
- • Concluding missives for the sale.
- • Registering an Advance Notice.
- • Settling the transaction for the client.
- • If applicable redeeming the client’s mortgage.
- • Sending any surplus monies to the client.
In recent months our typical professional fee for dealing with this work in a “normal” transaction has been in the range of £750 to £950 plus VAT plus disbursements (Note: this is not a scientific mean or average figure but merely illustrative). The actual or estimated professional fee in your particular case may be substantially more, for the reasons given above, depending upon the circumstances. This information is therefore provided in the interests of transparency, but cannot unfortunately be relied upon as a generalised estimate of a professional fee.
In many cases, if we are supplied with enough reliable detail about a transaction, we will endeavour to provide a written estimate and in such cases, we are usually able to adhere to such an estimate, unless unexpected additional work or complications arise during the transaction. Any number of unforeseen issues may arise but, for example, if there were issues regarding the title deeds or unauthorised alterations this might involve additional work for the client and/or the lenders. We would let the client know as soon as we were aware of issues which may impact on our estimated professional fee (or the disbursements).
In cases where it is not feasible to attempt to provide even an estimate of costs in advance, our terms of engagement would refer only to our hourly rate of charge as mentioned above. In such cases, if desired, interim accounts or checks can be undertaken to monitor fees and costs
It is perhaps important for clients to appreciate that, in almost all cases, more time and work is involved for the solicitor than is actually charged for, whether compared with a prior estimate of fees or a calculation based on hourly rate. Also, there is no desire or incentive for the solicitor to spend more time on a file than is necessary and to find or exaggerate problems where they need not exist. We are acting purely in the interests of the client at all times.
With a purchase transaction, the usual disbursements which the solicitor needs to make on a client’s behalf are (where it applies) Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) and the fees payable to the Registers of Scotland to register title and (where applicable) the mortgage deed.
Both LBTT and registrations fees vary according to the price paid for the property.
You should consult the website hosted by Revenue Scotland to find out whether LBTT is payable in your transaction and how much is payable. The site has a tax calculator.
There are two key elements to the tax being, firstly, the basic LBTT and secondly (where applicable) Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS) which imposes additional tax on second homes in Scotland.
A partial Relief is given to First Time Buyers (FTBR)
If ADS does not arise, no basic LBTT is currently payable on a purchase price of £145,000 or less. Above that figure, the tax is banded accordingly. For example if the purchase price were £200,000 and if FTBR does not apply, the LBTT payable is currently £1,100.00.
If you are entitled to FTBR, the ordinary LBTT is £500.
Applying the same considerations to a price of £300,000, the basic LBTT without FTBR is £4,600 and with FTBR, £4,000.
Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS) applies in Scotland if upon completion of the purchase transaction the purchaser (or either one if there are two purchasers) owns another residential property anywhere in the world.
If the house being purchased is to be used as your main residence and you sell your previous main residence at the same time or within 18 months afterwards ADS would not apply or can be reclaimed.
Using the same figures as above for illustration purposes, if the price were £200,000 the total tax payable is currently £9,100 and at £300,000, £16,600.
Even at lower purchase prices, where ordinary LBTT would not apply, the ADS alone can be reasonably substantial. For example if the price were £100,000, the ADS would be £4,000.
As regards the fees payable to Registers of Scotland to register title and again using the prices above as illustrations, the fees would be £140, £400 and £530 for purchases at £100,000, £200,000 and £300,000, respectively.
Registration of a mortgage deed (standard security) attracts a flat fee of £80.
For more information on fees charged by Registers of Scotland you can refer to their website:-
When budgeting for a purchase you need to be aware that your solicitor will, prior to completion of the transaction, require to be in possession of the money needed to pay the purchase price and all of the fees, disbursements and land tax mentioned above (or any other costs arising in the course of the transaction). It is not a matter of arranging enough money only to meet the price and then receiving an invoice for the fee and disbursements afterwards.
In the case of LBTT and ADS, although Revenue Scotland permit 30 days to notify a transaction and pay the tax, we MUST be in possession of the funds required to meet the tax at the point of completion of the transaction.
The largest outlays associated with a sale, which your solicitor may have to make on your behalf, are repayment of any associated mortgage (if applicable) and the commission fee etc payable to your estate agent, if you have engaged one to market your house. These payments will usually be made on your behalf out of the sale price received. In the case of a mortgage repayment (undertaken in the course of a sale) it can only be done by the solicitor on behalf of the selling client so that the solicitor has control of the discharge of mortgage.
As far as the conveyancing transaction itself is concerned, there are a variety of payments which your solicitor will routinely make on your behalf. In Scotland the seller (through their solicitor) is responsible for procuring and exhibiting the title and local authority searches and the approximate cost of the usual searches is likely to be between £105 and £250.
Other disbursements may often arise and the examples are too numerous to set out in full here. It might for example be necessary to commission a new deed plan for the property which could cost between £75 and £300, purely as an illustration. Copy title deeds may be needed which, depending upon their number and extent, could be around £100. A title indemnity policy may be needed, which could cost between £20 and £500 (purely as an illustration) depending on the type.
In most cases the disbursements are paid or recovered by the solicitor out of the sale proceeds after the transaction has completed. The sale price is received by the seller’s solicitor from the purchaser’s solicitor, usually by way of electronic transfer.
The seller’s solicitor will not issue an invoice for their fee or disbursements for payment after completion, but instead will deduct the fee, VAT and disbursements from the price received before the balance is remitted to the client (the net proceeds).
In a minority of cases there may be a known shortfall between the sale price and the amount required to redeem the mortgage or pay the fees and disbursements, in which case funds will be required from the client in advance of completion. The solicitor may also recover payments in advance of incurring certain outlays when required, during the currency of the transaction and prior to completion.
For straightforward preparation and registration of mortgage discharge outwith the context of a house sale our usual fee is currently £150 + VAT + disbursements. The primary disbursement would be the fee payable to the Registers of Scotland (currently either £60 or £80 depending on the circumstances). A search fee of around £40 may apply if applicable.
The following is a non-exhaustive overview of some of the main work involved in marketing a property for sale:-
- • Attending at property and noting particulars including measurements and photographs
- • Drafting Particulars of Sale including floorplan
- • Where required arranging Home Report
- • Arranging For Sale sign where desired
- • Instructing advertisements online and in paper media as required
- • Inserting Particulars on JD Clark & Allan’s website and in office windows
- • Fielding enquiries; circulating Particulars and Home Report and arranging viewings
- • Noting interest of prospective purchasers; receiving offers; fixing closing date
- • Obtaining client’s instructions on offer(s) received and issuing oral acceptance
Our fee for marketing a property for sale is normally charged at 1% of the sale price achieved.
VAT requires to be added at 20%
The outlays associated with the marketing process are the fee payable to the Chartered Surveyors for the Home Report and the cost of advertising.
The fee for the Home Report is linked to the assessed market value of the property but typically ranges from £450 to £750.
The advertising fee for BSPC is currently £225 – 395 depending on the market value and feature type.
In most cases we require pre-payment of these outlays prior to instructing the Report or advertisements, as the case may be.
We do not charge additional fees for a For Sale sign or photographs or floor-plan.
For landlords who are registered with the local authority and who are in possession of current EPC, Electrical and Gas certification we can assist with the preparation of the Private Residential Tenancy Agreement.
The work typically involved is gathering details of prospective tenant; advising client; preparing draft Private Residential Tenancy Agreement; sending draft for approval; arranging signature of agreement and supplying parties with a copy.
In the ordinary case with no unforeseen complications our current professional fee is £250 plus VAT (£50) ie £300.
We can assist with contentious matters which involve, or potentially involve, court action in the Sheriff Court or the Court of Session. In the case of Sheriff Court matters we can if appropriate represent you directly or engage an Advocate on your behalf.
Where specialist advice or representation is needed, we can obtain that on your behalf or put you in touch with other solicitors.
JD Clark & Allan are not registered to conduct civil cases with Legal Aid and any work undertaken on your behalf will require to be funded privately by you.
In most cases it is impossible to control or predict the course or outcome of a case and the default position is that our professional fee is based on the hourly rate of £200 + VAT + disbursements.
Many situations of a contentious nature can be explored and resolved without the necessity of court action, although naturally court action may be required as a last resort, or may already have been commenced by an opponent and requires to be defended by you.
The range and types of situation are many and various, but commonly involve matrimonial and related separation; child-care issues; neighbour and property disputes; debt recovery; contractual issues; personal injury* etc
At its most simple and straightforward a Separation Agreement between separating spouses or cohabitants might attract a professional fee of around £600 + VAT + disbursements. (The usual disbursement associated with registering the Agreement is £44). However the illustration provided would typically arise where the terms had already been agreed in principle and were simply being reflected in a formal Agreement with each party receiving independent legal advice.
In many cases the costs may be considerably higher, either because matters are not agreed and require to be negotiated and/or there is additional legal work to give effect to an Agreement, such as conveyancing work or pension-sharing administration.
Formal Agreements may also be required where there is presently no dispute or controversy, such as pre-nuptial Agreements or cohabitation Agreements and in those cases, again, the main essentials are liable to have been agreed in principle by the parties in advance and require to be formalised, with each party being separately advised. In those instances it is usually possible to provide a prior estimate of fee if sufficient background detail is available and matters remain simple throughout.
In some cases, court action is necessary in order to make practical progress where negotiations have been unsuccessful and most are, by their nature, contentious (ie likely to be defended and progress through the court system). Alternatively, as noted, a court action may already have been commenced and requires to be defended.
Professional fees, in addition to court admin fees, outlays for specialist reports and valuations, fees payable to witnesses for attending court and generally all work associated with conducting a litigation can comfortably amount to thousands of pounds and often tens of thousands of pounds depending on the length and complexity and a host of other factors. In reality these costs are not fully recovered at all, or in their entirety, even in the event of “success” at court.
The exact course of any litigation can never be predicted with any certainty.
For these reasons litigation should as mentioned always be a last resort* and before commencing a court action on your behalf or taking steps to defend an action raised against you, we would usually take reasonably substantial payments to account of fees and disbursements, coupled with regular interim payments as the case continued. Third party reports or valuations, fees payable to Counsel (ie Advocates) or other agents instructed on your behalf would usually require to be pre-paid.
*In significant actions for damages as a result of personal injury through third party negligence including medical negligence, we would consult with or refer to specialist solicitors who operate a “no-win, no-fee” arrangement. These agents are not compelled to take on a case, but will assess prospects of success and accept or decline a case as they deem appropriate. Their work would be done on a speculative basis and an insurance policy taken out to cover the opponent’s costs if the case were unsuccessful. If your case were taken on, you would require to sign up to the specified terms of business which would spell out the detail.
Certain court actions are (potentially) administrative procedures not (necessarily) involving opposition or dispute. For example simplified divorce applications (see https://www.scotcourts.gov.uk ) or divorce actions not qualifying as simplified actions but where there are no financial or other disputes or they have been resolved by formal agreement. In such cases it may be possible upon request to provide a prior estimate of fees and outlays.
Other actions which might mainly be administrative, such as Guardianship applications under the Adults With Incapacity (Scotland) Act, 2000, still have the potential to be defended or contested by family members but, even unopposed, are very time-consuming and entail large amounts of information and medical and technical input. In such cases, again, it is not possible to estimate fees and outlays and they require to be charged at the default hourly rate plus VAT and disbursements.
(Guardians can usually recover the costs from the Adult’s estate after the event, if permitted by the court).
Simple Procedure (no solicitors)
You should note that in many cases you can pursue a court remedy without employing a solicitor.
Please refer to the website for the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service for guidance on this and the complete range of topics covered there:-
In relation to claims with a financial value of £5000 or less the procedure is called Simple Procedure, for which see:- https://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/taking-action/simple-procedure
The following passage is taken from that site:-
Simple procedure is a court process designed to provide a speedy, inexpensive and informal way to resolve disputes. A claim is made in the sheriff court by a claimant. The party against whom the claim is made is known as a respondent. The final decision in a claim is made by a sheriff or a summary sheriff. You do not need to use a solicitor to use the simple procedure, but you can do if you wish.
Simple Procedure claims should be submitted using Civil Online. If you feel you cannot submit your claim electronically, you must contact your local Sheriff Court to seek the approval of the Sheriff for the claim to proceed in paper format – click here for more information.
A simple procedure claim can be made:
- • for payment of a sum of money where the value of the claim is £5000 or less;
- • for delivery or for recovery of possession of moveable property, but only where there is an alternative claim for payment of a sum of money of £5000 or less; or
- • for an order to make someone do something specific, but only where there is an alternative claim for payment of a sum of money of £5000 or less.
Simple procedure cannot be used for a claim for delivery or recovery of possession of moveable property, or a claim for an order to make someone do something specific which:
- • does not have an alternative claim for payment of a sum of money;
- • has an additional claim for payment of a sum of money of £5000 or less.
Summary cause procedure would have to be used instead.
JD Clark & Allan are registered for criminal legal aid (only) and where you qualify and an application is successful we can assist you on that basis.
In other cases, where legal aid is not available, we can represent you on a private-paying basis where similar considerations arise as mentioned under the previous heading.
These may be relatively simple or complex and the professional fee will range from £150 + VAT to a figure based on the time spent (at £200 per hour + VAT)
Even in the case of simple Wills, there may be an additional cost associated with out-of-office consultations or protracted instructions.
Powers of Attorney
Welfare and/or Financial Powers of Attorney registered with the Office of the Public Guardian will typically cost £200 + VAT + the fee payable to the Office of the Public Guardian (currently £81). If a married or cohabiting couple instruct virtually identical Power of Attorney, a restricted professional fee of £300 + VAT + registration dues will be charged. As in all other types of work the figures stated here are illustrative and would depend on the specific circumstances of each case.
The professional fee charged for winding up an estate and all related aspects is charged at the default hourly rate, currently £200 per hour + VAT + disbursements. Commonly these costs will be chargeable to the estate.
See passage above dealing with civil court work.