TERMS OF BUSINESS
Standard Terms of Business applying to all legal services.
Our aim is to deliver a friendly and efficient service that represents value for money. To achieve this level of service we work as a team, pooling our talents to provide a solution tailored to your needs.
Here are our standard terms of business:-
O’Hares are registered in Scotland as Scottish solicitors having their main trading address at 15 Station Road, Dumbarton, G82 1SA and are regulated by the Law Society of Scotland under the laws and Jurisdiction of Scotland. Your rights are protected by UK and EU Laws and Regulations. You agree to the terms of this contract in its entirety and accept that you are contracting with O’Hares for a legal facility only. The contract is formed on the basis that you have chosen a particular legal service and have capacity to contract and are 18 years old or above. For the avoidance of doubt, O’Hares reserve the right to terminate the contract under the following terms:-
In the event of any conflict of interest between O’Hares and you, the client. We have the sole right to consider what constitutes a conflict of interest.
In the event that O’Hares consider that the actions of the client are potentially illegal, we have the sole right to consider what constitutes potentially illegal actions.
In the event that O’Hares consider that the client is not accepting or disputing the legal advice provided, and/or we consider that the client is acting in bad faith
Normal working hours and conditions of instruction
Monday to Friday 9.00am – 12.45pm and 2.00pm – 5.00pm, subject to holidays. Clients are required to provide O’Hares with accurate, honest and timely information and instructions where O’Hares have requested this. O’Hares is reliant on the information provided by clients and as such the legal advice provided is based on the information provided by clients. Instructions may be given to O’Hares in writing, by email or verbally. Where O’Hares do act for more than one person, each person from whom we work is equally responsible for the instructions given to O’Hares and for payment of the fees and all the outlays (including but not restricted to searches, bank charges, post and incidents, third party costs, reports and registration dues) required by lenders and/or other parties in connection with the transaction.
If O’Hares are given instructions by a private limited company then, unless otherwise agreed with clients in advance, it is a condition of accepting these instructions that the Directors are jointly and severally liable along with the Company for payment of the fees and costs and any interest thereon. Unless O’Hares agree otherwise in writing, we shall assume that where we act for more than one person but only one of them instructs O’Hares that person has the authority of the other(s) to do so.
O’Hares will return telephone calls on the day of receipt if before 3pm and on the following working day if after 3pm. We will respond to emails as soon as possible but we cannot guarantee times or even in some cases delivery of messages and/or attachments. O’Hares urge all clients to telephone or post instructions. O’Hares will respond to mail/postal correspondence within one week of receipt. It is the client’s responsibility to return any documents we send to clients that require signature/completion as soon as possible. O’Hares do not accept responsibility for any delay or additional costs and effects due to the late return of documents by clients.
This Terms of Business forms the contract between our clients and O’Hares. We shall rely on this Terms of Business to regulate and set out the expected roles, costs and conduct of the parties. All Terms of Business are provided at the outset of each transaction and by continuing to instruct O’Hares in this matter, both parties accept and agree with the terms of this contact in its entirety. As such, you agree to fully indemnity O’Hares for the costs of undertaking your transaction.
Given the very complex nature of legal work, the unknown demands of other parties, unknown limits to client’s instructions, condition of the property, lenders’ requirements and that of local authorities and government bodies, O’Hares do not provide a fixed fee and your quote/estimate cannot be construed as a final or maximum amount to be paid. O’Hares cannot provide an all inclusive sum in advance for work or the outlays. Where possible, O’Hares have detailed costs contained in this contract and as such rely on either party raising any questions or issue(s) prior to undertaking further work.
Clients must advise O’Hares of any adverse matters over the property being transacted. Amongst other things, O’Hares require to know the rough age of the property, if clients are aware of any alterations/additions to the property, if clients are aware of any claims, if clients are aware of any issues or circumstances which may cause delay, or are aware of any defects over the property. O’Hares require to know if clients are aware of or have suspicions of any dispute, court action, (including pending or proposed) over the property or developments, or flooding and/or contaminated land over or near the property. Where property defects, undisclosed debts, securities, charges, alterations, boundary/access issues, disputes, involvement of third parties and contracts affecting the transaction occur, extra costs will be involved. If you are aware of any issues affecting the property or your circumstances, we require clients to let us know as soon as they are aware or suspect any potential issues with the property or change in personal circumstances. Clients agree in good faith to disclose any potential issue in advance to O’Hares. Please call to discuss if you are in any doubt. O’Hares accepts no responsibility for costs or delays where the client has withheld information.
It is the client’s responsibility to ensure that any buildings insurance is in place for the appropriate amount from the date of conclusion of contacts for your transaction. It is the client’s responsibility to sign, return and provide any if required NHBC Buildmark or Premier Guarantee documents for their property and to interact with the builder and NHBC or Premier Guarantee over new build properties. Clients remain liable for incidental outlays (e.g. notice of change of ownership, extracts or quick copies of prior deeds etc) which might arise or require to be obtained during the course of the transaction.
Overall responsibility for the work we carry out for you rests with Gerard John O’Hare. Should you have any queries or questions about any aspect of the service we are providing to you, please feel free to contact Mr O’Hare or, in his absence, Denise Garrett. Mr O’Hare is a fully qualified solicitor who is a member of The Law Society of Scotland, and holds a Full Unrestricted Practising Certificate issued by the Society.
We will advise you at regular intervals regarding the progress of our work on your behalf and keep you advised of all significant developments. It is therefore essential that you advise us of any changes to you contact details. If you are uncertain about what is happening at any time please do not hesitate to ask.
Should you at any time be dissatisfied with the service we have provided you with and you feel that your complaint has not been resolved to your satisfaction by our Client Relations Partner Mr O’Hare then you have the option of making a formal complaint no later than 12 months after the completion of our work on your behalf to the:
Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, The Stamp Office, 10-14 Waterloo Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3EG. Tel. 0131-528 5111. Web. www.ScottishLegalComplaints.com
Policy on fees and expenses
In the event of the work required involving more than the normal time or being of an unusually complex nature, the proposed fee may require to be increased. The quoted fee is based upon the price and, where applicable, the loan stated. Variation in price and/or loan could result in a variation of the fees. For the avoidance of doubt, you remain liable for all payments to your lenders, including situations where your redemption sum provided to us varies.
Conflict of Interest
We cannot act for two or more parties if they have conflicting interests. Please advise us at the outset if you are aware of any potential conflicts which may arise. If we decide that we can still act (i.e. if you are one of the exceptions to the general rule), we will confirm this to you. During the course of your transaction, additional work may be required for which we may charge an additional fee. If additional work is required, you will be responsible for paying our additional fees, together with any third party expenses involved. You will be advised by us of any additional work that may be required as soon as it has been identified as necessary, unless we have already detailed our charges for this work within these terms of business.
All outstanding fees and third party expenses and any balance of the funds required to complete are required to be paid to O’Hares and cleared through the banking system prior to completion. For the avoidance of doubt, cleared funds will be either:-
- a personal cheque (made payable to O’Hares, Solicitors) to be received by us at least 10 working days prior to completion; or
- a telegraphic transfer to be received by us at least 2 working days prior to completion. The cost of any transfers shall be at the expense of the client. If payment is made by way of telegraphic transfer, it is the client’s responsibility to provide evidence from their bank demonstrating that the funds have come from their own bank account.
It is the client’s responsibility to ensure that O’Hares are in receipt of an original written mortgage offer (we will not accept a faxed copy of your mortgage offer) from your lender if required at least 14 days prior to your completion date. If you are obtaining a mortgage, then it is the client’s responsibility to ensure that funds are in place for the date of entry or any subsequent amendment to the completion date. Clients must ensure that O’Hares are in receipt of the client’s original and full legal mortgage/loan agreement at least 14 days prior to completion. O’Hares will not be responsible for chasing the mortgage offer or any amendment to the mortgage offer under any circumstances, or for any issues arising from the late receipt of the loan papers. Clients are responsible for the arrangements of any amendment to their mortgage offer or similar loan.
Client’s lenders will provide O’Hares with a detailed request and strict criteria that they MUST comply with prior to releasing funds. In many cases, O’Hares will require further information from clients to comply with the loan terms. Clients must without delay provide, sign or warrant the information required by the lender, failing which clients accept that re-negotiation with the lender may cause delay, additional costs and in some cases withdrawal of the loan agreement. O’Hares cannot be held liable for requests by lenders or any subsequent action by the loan company. O’Hares are not responsible for the terms of the mortgage offer or the amount of loan as it is the client’s responsibility to check this. O’Hares is not regulated to provide financial advice and as such clients require to make their own enquiries and if in any doubt check with an independent suitably qualified third party. In aiding clients and the client’s lender to secure or discharge any loan, O’Hares are not providing financial advice on the products or the suitability of any agreement or decision taken. Clients will remain liable to O’Hares for any additional fee incurred as a result of additional work undertaken by O’Hares in relation to any lender matter.
Money Laundering and Confidentiality
The Money Laundering Regulations require O’Hares to be satisfied as to the identity of its clients and as to the source of any funds passing through its hands. To protect and secure client’s client ID, O’Hares require proof of identity in the form of either a photographic Passport or Driving Licence and a Council Tax Notice, utility bill or bank statement dated within 3 months verifying your current address – please refer to the Acceptable Forms of ID forming part of this Terms of Business.
O’Hares may require to ask clients for further proof of identity and/or source of funds. All information passed to O’Hares is kept confidential and will not be disclosed to third parties unless authorised by clients or as required by law. All papers and files relating to the transaction will be stored by O’Hares or its appointed representatives. Please note that if clients fail to provide such documentation as requested, the transaction may be delayed and O’Hares accept no responsibility or liability for any such delay where clients have failed to provide such documentation or to send funds from an account not belonging to the client. We will not guarantee that any work will be completed to any deadline should client identification (of which suitability O’Hares shall be the sole judge) is not be received timeously prior to the required date. For the avoidance of doubt, O’Hares will not accept or act on any instructions until such identification as above has been provided.
Dealing with Banks/Building Societies
O’Hares shall obtain the redemption figure(s) if required and forward to the clients for checking prior to any discharge. For the avoidance of doubt, clients are liable for all payments to their lender(s), including situations where the redemption sum provided to O’Hares varies. In the event of the work required involving more than the normal time or being of an unusually complex nature, the proposed fee may require to be increased, at which stage O’Hares would advise you and discuss matters. Loans paid off or accounts closed which still require to be formally discharged can cause delay and extra costs. You must advise us if this is the case as your lenders may not provide O’Hares with the required documents.
Bank Transfer Fees and Redemption of Mortgage
Where we have to redeem your mortgage, we may require to add up to 10 days interest in accordance with the lender’s direction to allow for clearance and to ensure that there is no shortfall with a borrower’s repayment. Please note that O’Hares shall electronically/CHAPs repay the loan if possible when the funds clear. Bank charges for telegraphic transfer fee (CHAPs) or payments to any account shall be £30 plus VAT. Please note it may take your lender over 30 days to close an account and this could result in the lender/bank taking further payments. Clients should ensure that they manage and have made arrangements with their lender and if required cancelled any payment on an agree date.
Early Redemption Charges (ERC) and Special Funding Arrangements with Lenders (SFA)
If clients are exempt from payment of the ERC or have reached a SFA which differs from or is not shown on your redemption statement, please ensure that your lender or financial adviser can provide us with written confirmation from the lender to show the agreement. O’Hares will require to charge an additional fee if they require to reach or negotiate an agreement with your lender to obtain such written confirmation.
Survey and Home Reports
It is the client’s responsibility to notify O’Hares of any issue that the surveyor has identified in the Report and to liaise with the surveyor if they wish to obtain further in-depth or structural reports. We do not visit the property and are reliant on the information and instructions provided by the clients. We will rely on the clients to advise us of any issues referred to in the Home Report/valuation and we take no responsibility for any delay in the settlement of the transaction where you do not make us aware of any such issues. In the event that we are instructed to procure from the local authority copies of any alterations/extension documentation, we will charge an additional fee of £150 plus VAT for this service.
As O’Hares do not always receive a copy of the survey or home report, it is the client’s responsibility to ensure that they are satisfied with the report and that if selling or transferring/remortgaging, the client has in place the correct documentation for all alterations noted in the survey valuation/Home Report. O’Hares will not be responsible for obtaining your survey/home report or the surveyor under any circumstances, nor for any issues arising where we have not received proper notification from the client. In the event that the client advises O’Hares that the property they are buying has been identified by the surveyor as being structurally altered, O’Hares will only request to examine the appropriate local authority documentation from the seller in the event that such structural alterations are less than 20 years old. O’Hares will not be involved in or responsible for ensuring that a survey or home report is suitable for your lender or the lender of any purchaser of your property.
Contaminated Land and Flooding Risk Assessment
We do not provide advice on environmental law or contaminated land matters and exclude any liability in relation to these issues. Given that the sellers will not necessarily provide such reports to aid in any extensive investigation, if you wish us to order the reports on your behalf relating to any potential contaminated land and/or provide a flood risk assessment, we can obtain such reports from independent providers at an additional cost of £150 plus VAT per report. O’Hares will not provide clients with any advice on any such reports and it is the client’s responsibility to ensure that they make their own enquiries with regard to any queries they may have regarding any such report(s).
Documents supplied by Third Parties to you
O’Hares will not be responsible for obtaining documents where clients are in direct contact with a third party. If O’Hares require to work with third parties or other solicitors during the course of the transaction, we may require to charge an additional fee for the work involved. If O’Hares require to make payments on your behalf to third parties, O’Hares shall require to charge a fee of £30 plus VAT. On any occasion where clients, other solicitors or the client’s lender require us to provide a written legal undertaking and/or certificates of execution, we can do so for an additional fee of £250 plus VAT. Undertakings can be complex documents and as such clients are specifically asked to discuss any requirement well in advance. In some cases, we may not be willing to provide any undertaking required by a third party.
Post-Settlement Claims and Disputes
O’Hares do not undertake litigation legal work and are therefore unable to carry out any work on the client’s behalf relating to post-settlement claims and disputes. If any post-settlement claims or disputes arise in terms of the missives, we will intimate these on the client’s behalf to the seller’s solicitors, but thereafter the client will require to instruct other solicitors to act on their behalf should they wish to pursue the matter further. As your agents, O’Hares require and you agree that in the event of any post-settlement dispute, O’Hares can provide your forwarding address to allow direct communication between the parties in the dispute. In the event that there is a time limit imposed for intimation of a claim in terms of the missives, it will be the client’s responsibility to ensure that they make contact in sufficient time to have this intimated timeously.
Buying from a Builder/Company and Properties inducing First Registration with Registers of Scotland
If the clients have instructed O’Hares in a transaction for their purchase of a property from a developer or builder or a repossession company/bank, a newbuild property or a property where the title is currently recorded in the Register of Sasines, an additional fee of £100 plus VAT will be charged to cover the additional work which requires to be carried out in such a transaction. You should also note that in the case of the purchase of a newbuild property, you will also require to pay for your own personal and property searches as incurred.
As the transaction will involve aspects of work other than legal work, O’Hares shall accept instructions from clients only on condition that they agree to allow us to share information from your file with any third party who supplies support services to us. We reserve the right to disburse to any third party such sums as are reasonably required for their associated service. Any such sum will be at the discretion of O’Hares and will be paid by the client directly and shall be deducted from the chargeable element of any work done by O’Hares without further cost to the client. By instructing O’Hares, the client agrees to this provision.
Utility Suppliers, Home Reports, Energy Performance Certificates and Local Authority Taxes
It is the client’s responsibility to satisfy themselves in regard to utility suppliers, information contained in any Home Report and Energy Performance Certificate and any applicable Council Tax payments and banding for any property.
Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) Forms
When you buy a property or land in Scotland, you are required to complete a Revenue Scotland Tax Return and submit it to Revenue Scotland with your details, including, where appropriate, your National Insurance/VAT numbers. We will complete and submit the return on your behalf, but you will remain legally responsible for the information submitted. This is required when applying to the Registers of Scotland for registration of the title in the client’s name. The Registers of Scotland will not register your title without it. O’Hares shall submit the client’s Revenue Scotland Tax Return application online to obtain the required Tax Return Acknowledgement. Unless O’Hares hear from you to the contrary, they will assume that the client finds it to be in order and authorise O’Hares to undertake the work and sign the return and submit it to Revenue Scotland on the client’s behalf.
Registers of Scotland
Registers of Scotland have recently changed their policy and have intimated that any required amendment to any application for registration will now attract an additional fee, including a charge for pre -registration checks and enquiries. Clients instruct O’Hares on the basis that they accept that they may be subject to additional costs payable to Registers of Scotland for pre-registration enquiries that previously no fee was incurred.
Clients require to advise O’Hares of the details of any factor as soon as possible. In the event that O’Hares are required to retain funds on the client’s behalf for future factoring invoices, they shall do so on the client’s behalf on their client account ledger and shall not be liable to pay or account for any interest on any sums held. If the factor or a third party has raised a Notice of any Potential Liability for Costs, Statutory Notice or a Repairs Grant over the property, O’Hares will require to discharge and/or deal with each entry, this will cost £100 plus VAT for each raised notice. In the event that the factor funds that are held are not required, we reserve the right to return these funds to you at a time chosen by us under deduction of a reasonable administration fee that shall not exceed £30 plus VAT. Any funds held by O’Hares in their client account for clients are not interest bearing.
The client accepts that their file will be destroyed by O’Hares without the client’s permission or agreement following completion of the transaction concerned, after a period of time deemed appropriate by O’Hares, irrespective of current Law Society guidelines on the subject. If the client requires O’Hares to deliver their file or files to a third party, it/they will only be released by O’Hares (provided it/they has/have not already been destroyed) following payment being made to O’Hares in full for all work carried out by O’Hares on the client’s behalf. O’Hares specifically reserve the right to retain all client files on that basis.
Due to the very complex nature of thee transactions laid down by the Scottish Government and lenders, clients will require to pay any third party costs and charges, registration dues and search fees. Please contact us to obtain further information as to the likely additional fees and outlays.
Transactions in Scotland are normally settled by bank cheque or, on occasion, telegraphic transfer of funds to or from our Client Account. There can be some exceptions and clients must advise O’Hares if they wish to try and negotiate for settlement by cleared funds. Please note that this is sometimes not possible. If the client does not specifically instruct O’Hares to settle any transaction by bank transfer, then O’Hares will assume that settlement by bank cheque will be acceptable to the client. Any free proceeds from transactions will be remitted to the client’s nominated account at a charge a fee of £30 plus VAT in 4 working days following on settlement of the transaction, provided the client has supplied the necessary details to enable us to do so. If you have requested payment of the proceeds by cheque, this will be forwarded to your (new) residential address when cleared funds are available. Please also note that we can only disburse the proceeds directly to the client and not to any third party.
Property/Personal and other Search fees
By instructing O’Hares, you also authorise us to obtain such searches as we deem necessary to enable us to carry out the transaction on your behalf, and to pay/reimburse the costs incurred.
You should note that this instruction and the scope of legal work involved with regard to the quote/estimate is limited to the transfer of legal title to or from the buyer/seller. The fee quote we have provided does not cover any additional work we may have to undertake on your behalf. By instructing us, you agree to these terms, which are based upon the price and, where applicable, the loan stated. With regard to outlays, we will have to pay outlays for registration dues to Registers of Scotland, search agencies for Reports required in connection with the transaction, and other incidentals, such as bank charges, on your behalf. We prefer not to ask clients to pay these costs during the transaction but these will require to be paid on or before the date of settlement. If you would prefer to pay these outlays in advance, please let request a note of the anticipated costs for payment. By instructing O’Hares you agree to these terms.
Headings in this document are for rough guidance only. O’Hares request all clients read the whole terms of business and advise us if you have any questions. O’Hares specifically issue this terms of business at the outset of any work. They do so for clients to ensure that ample time can be afforded to avoiding any misunderstanding and to help clients understand the process, costs and timescales at the outset of each transaction. O’Hares appreciate that not all law firms provide such detailed information at this early stage, but O’Hares firmly believe in providing as much information at the outset of any work to clients to ensure as smooth and transparent a process as possible.
O’Hares hope that you will have no cause for complaint, but in accordance with the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission’s requirements, we have a formal complaints procedure. Should you wish to raise a formal complaint, in the first instance, this must be addressed in writing (not email) to the Partner at O’Hares (Gerard John O’Hare), setting out the detailed and factual circumstances surrounding your grievance and posted to our main offices.
Acceptable Forms of ID
The Money Laundering Regulations require us to be satisfied as to the identity of our clients and as to the source of any funds passing through our hands. In order to comply with these Regulations, we will require proof of your identity and residence. We reserve the right to withdraw from acting from you if you fail to provide us with the information requested of you and required in connection with our Money Laundering procedures.
Choose one item from each of Lists A and B
|List A – Photographic Evidence||List B – Proof of Residence (dated within the last 3 months|
|Full current National Passport|
Photographic Driving Licence
Pensioner’s Travel Pass
Armed forces ID card
|Bank/Building Society Statement|
Building Society passbook
Credit Reference Agency Search
Gas/Electricity/Telephone bill (not mobile bill)
Council Tax Notice (valid for current year)
NOTICE BY O’HARES SOLICITORS
PURSUANT TO MONEY LAUNDERING REGULATIONS
AND PROCEEDS OF CRIME ACT
This notice has an important bearing upon the confidential relationship which is often assumed to exist between solicitor and client.
In terms of the Money Laundering Regulations, wherever your business involves the prospect of the transmission of significant sums of money, we require to ask you to provide us beforehand with three forms of personal identification of which one should be photographic (such as passport or driving licence) and the other two should be on documents issued by external bodies showing your address (such as utility bills, bank statements etc). We are not normally able to transmit funds on your behalf until this documentation is lodged in your file at this office. If this requirement causes any difficulty then please to let us know as soon as possible and we shall discuss with you any other means of identification that may be sufficient.
The further practical consequences of these regulations affects the manner in which we can receive payment of funds from yourself. If we have to receive any funds in excess of £1000 from yourselves in the course of your proposed transaction, then these funds have to be received in the form either of your personal cheque or a bankers draft and we cannot receive such funds in cash. In addition, on receipt of any such cheque or draft, we shall require to obtain your mandate addressed to the bank on which the cheque or draft has been drawn authorising that bank to respond to our request for confirmation that the cheque or draft has been drawn upon an account to which the bank has previously applied the requirements of the Money Laundering Regulations.
The Proceeds of Crime Act is considerably more draconian although it is unlikely to apply to yourself or to any clients of this firm. Nevertheless, we are obliged to advise you that this legislation (a) compels us to report to the authorities any irregularity which we suspect has taken place in connection with your acquisition of funds, and (b) prohibits us from acting for you in any respect for seven days after having made such a report, and (c) prohibits us from advising you in any way that we have made such a report.
This notice is intended to be self-explanatory but you should not hesitate to contact O’Hares Solicitors if any further explanation or clarification is required.