At MS-Legal we tailor our fees to the specific circumstances of the client and the case on which we are instructed. At the start of the retainer we will agree with the client whether to charge on a (1) a set hourly rate, or (2) on a fixed fee basis. In addition to our fees, clients may have to pay for disbursements and taxes which are detailed in the relevant sections below.
- Hourly Rates
In our LITIGATION, ARBITRATION and COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE work we would normally agree with the client to charge at an hourly rate where our fees are charged according to the time we spend on the case, while also taking into consideration the value, urgency, complexity and degree of attention required.
The current hourly charge rates for our casework staff are as follows:
Principal Partner: £500 – £550.00
Solicitors with at least 10 years’ experience £400.00 – £500.00
Solicitors with less than 10 years’ experience £275.00 – £350.00
Trainees and paralegals £200.00 – £250.00
These rates may be liable to increase in the future, but we shall notify the client of any increase if it should occur during the lifetime of the case for which they have instructed us. There may also be circumstances where we would be entitled to increase these rates on account of exceptional expertise required, urgency, circumstances which have occurred beyond our control and which we could not have foreseen etc. We would discuss the matter with the client if such circumstances arise.
We would agree with the client a billing cycle where we would deliver our invoices either on a monthly basis or at certain stages in the case. Our invoices are payable within 28 days of the client’s receipt of the same.
- Fixed fees
We may agree with the client at the outset a fixed fee structure for their case. This is where we agree to fix the total figure for our fees for the entire life of the case.
In RESIDENTIAL CONVEYANCING transactions, our fixed fee rates are typically charged depending on the value of the transaction (in addition to matters of complexity etc. referred to above). While each transaction will be subject to its own circumstances, we provide here a general guide of the approximate fixed fees applicable.
For sales and purchases of Freehold properties:
£750 for properties worth £250,000 or less
£1000 for properties worth £250,001 to £500,000
£1250 for properties worth £500,001 to £1000,000
£2500 for properties worth £1000,001 to £2000,000
1% of the value of properties worth £2000,001 to £5000,000
0.5% of the value of properties worth £5000,001 and above
For sales and purchases of Leasehold properties the above rates are increased by 15%. So, for example, where we are charging £1000 on a Freehold property worth £300,000, we would be charging £1,150 for a Leasehold property transaction of the same value.
These fees cover the following stages in a typical transaction:
- reviewing contracts of sale, lease agreements etc. and negotiate any required amendments,
- investigating the title to the property to ensure the seller/leaseholder legally owns the property,
- carrying out checks and searches for any issues that might affect the property,
- handling the exchange of contracts, making the deal legally binding,
- handling the transfer of funds,
- ensuring Stamp Duty and any other relevant costs are paid,
- registering the transaction with HM Land Registry.
In addition, the client will be responsible for settling disbursements for any searches conducted. Searches typically include: local authority, water & drainage, chancel, environmental, bankruptcy and others. The cost of these searches varies from around £100-£800.
Land Registry fees for registration of title is an additional required payment, the cost of which depends on the value of the property being registered, and typically range from £40 to £1100. We will discuss the cost of the disbursements with the client at the start of the retainer.
The client may also have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) to the government. This depends on the purchase price of the property. This can be calculated by using HMRC’s website or if the property is located in Wales by using the Welsh Revenue Authority’s website here..
Timescale for conveyancing transactions varies depending on many factors including complexity of the transaction, timely responses to our enquiries, whether mortgage funding is required, whether the transaction forms part of a chain etc. In our experience, most transactions complete between 6-12 weeks from contracts being drafted.
All conveyancing work is carried out either by our Principal Partner or consultants working under his supervision. Our Principal and conveyancing consultants each enjoy over 20 years experience in this field of work. They are all qualified solicitors, regulated by The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
For uncontested PROBATE matters our fixed fees will normally be determined be the value of the estate. Unless agreed otherwise with the client we would charge:
6% of the value of estates worth £500,000 or less
4% of the value of estates worth £500,001 – £2,000,000
2% of the value of estates worth £2,000,001 and above
Depending on the value of the estate and the way it is to be distributed, inheritance tax (IHT) may also be payable. IHT rates may change from year to year and we will discuss with the client if the estate is liable to pay IHT, and if so, how much.
Our fees cover the cost the following stages of work:
- advising the client in the process, timescale, documents required for
- preparing the IHT tax return and liaising with HM Land Revenue
- preparing any oaths/affidavits/statements
- preparing and lodging, with the court, an application for the Grant of Probate (where there a valid will) or Letters of Administration (where the deceased left no will), and
- Serving the Grant on all known asset holders for the purpose of transferring the assets to the named beneficiaries.
In addition to our fees, the client will have to pay for disbursements associate with the process. At present the court fee for estates valued at £5,000 or over is £215. This is subject to change from time to time. There may be other disbursements such bankruptcy searches, currently charged ay £2.90 per beneficiary. If an advert has to posted on the London Gazette then there is usually a charge of £200 for this. Bank transfers from our client account are charged at £17 per transfer
If we are instructed to transfer title of real property after the Grant has been issued by the court, then we would normally charge a separate fee for this service in line with our conveyancing work.
The timescale taken for a straight forward probate application is approximately three-six months from the date the client furnishes us with all the documents which we require. If the estate is complex in terms of assets structures, location and/or number of beneficiaries, or if there are delays at the court or HM Revenue & Customs then the timescale may be considerably longer. We will of course keep the client update throughout the process.
All probate work is either carried out by our Principal Partner or is conducted under his supervision. Our Principal and consultants working under the Principal’s supervision each enjoy over 20 years experience in non-contentious probate work. They are all qualified solicitors, regulated by The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Terms of payment
Where we agree a fixed fee with our client our fees are payable whether or not the matter proceeds to completion. Our fees are payable on the earlier of the following: (1) completion of the transaction, or (2) three months from the date of we take on the client’s matter. Our fixed fees are charged on the basis that the matter proceeds without undue complication. Should any unforeseen events occur, which entail us to conduct extra work, then we will charge at our hourly rates for such extra work. We will of course discuss this with the client before reverting to our hourly rates.
For private (non-corporate) clients, invoices which remain unpaid on time (within 28 days of delivery), may be subject to a default interest charge of 4% per annum, above the Bank of England base, on the unpaid sum from the due date of payment.
For corporate clients, we may rely on the rates stipulated by The Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998
All of our rates quoted above are EXCLUSIVE of disbursements. Disbursements refer to payments to be made to third parties which are necessary for the progression of the client’s case. Disbursements include as search fees, court fees, barristers’ fees, translators, couriers, travel expenses, government registration charges etc. At the start of the case we will provide the client with an estimate of the likely disbursements to be incurred in their case. We may have to ask the client to put us in funds on account of our fees and/or disbursements in advance.
Value Added Tax (VAT)
The fees and disbursements referred to above are EXCLUSIVE of VAT. VAT is a tax charged by the British government on the sale of some goods and services, including legal services. The current rate of VAT is 20% (of the value of our bill), but this may change from time to time. Most, but not all, of our clients will have to pay VAT on our bills. This depends on where in the world the client is located and the type of work we carry out for him/her. At the outset of the case we will discuss with the client whether or not they will have to pay VAT on our invoices.