Waller Needham & Green Solicitors – Costs and Servicing Information
This is a vexed and difficult area when it comes to legal work.
It is nearly always best for solicitors to provide a complete service but there is something of a trend towards “bundling” of services in an effort to save money. By bundling generally the solicitors are assigned a specific task or tasks and the clients are left to fend for themselves in dealing with the matter otherwise. This can often be counter-productive with solicitors refusing to accept responsibility where it goes wrong and/or resulting in the client paying much more ultimately when the lawyers need to unpick arrangements their clients have made. It is the nature of the beast that “banana skins” lie along the route of most legal cases which experienced solicitors can generally spot and avoid.
There is also much misleading information out there (particularly on the internet) which is suggestive of costs being likely to be lower than would actually be the case. Virtually all solicitors’ charges are primarily based on an hourly rate and this is the most reliable point of comparison. A significant factor in establishing a solicitors charging rate is determining the “expense of time” which is essentially the hourly rate a solicitor needs to charge to recover his overheads and make a profit. Clearly therefore solicitors with expensive premises in prime locations are likely to charge higher rates than those with less salubrious premises and equipment. There is a trend gathering momentum towards a commercialised rather than vocational approach with many firms, particularly large ones, where many unqualified and non-solicitor fee earners provide the bulk of the services with only the lightest supervision/involvement from qualified persons.
We pride ourselves on our traditional approach in providing services to our clients directly through experienced and qualified solicitors. We do not have salubrious premises or expensive equipment or indeed glamorous lifestyles! We continue to have a vocational approach more akin to say the teaching profession or clergy than those you might see on Dragons Den!
We will not rule out bundling our services to occasionally limit our efforts to a specific task within the legal process. Though, for the reasons stated, this is not something we would generally encourage.
Our equivalent hourly rate is fixed ordinarily below that of most other firms for the reasons stated above. Nevertheless we aim to ensure all our clients receive assistance from solicitors rather than clerks, paralegals, licensed conveyancers or legal executives.
We endeavor to provide what are effectively fixed fees for straightforward cases. This is an area of practice where the vast bulk of solicitors engage conveyancing clerks to do virtually all the work. We provide experienced solicitors to do the work and it is particularly difficult to charge “rock bottom” fees and retain any worthwhile profit. As a consequence much of our conveyancing work falls below our hourly rate and is provided as much as a service to our clients than as a significant contribution towards our turnover. With this in mind our fees are unlikely to be the lowest you may find but you will have the comfort of knowing that a qualified solicitor is dealing with your case.
We are also Conveyancing Quality Scheme registered. By being members of this scheme we promote a more uniform and reasonable approach to conveyancing such as is shared between all members of the scheme. Members of the scheme and their clients can be assured certain standards are attained. High levels of training and keeping up-to-date with the law are required to remain members of the scheme.
Our basic charges vary from £400 to £2,000 plus VAT as few transactions are the same; varying in value and complexity. You will need to contact us to obtain a statement of our anticipated fees and disbursements in your case. On average our fees for acting on a sale are of the order of £650 + VAT (at 20% £130) making a total of £780, and on a purchase £750 + VAT (at 20% £150) making a total of £900.
Purchasing a new build, or less than 10 years old, or a transaction involving leasehold or unregistered land typically adds around £300 + VAT (at 20% £60) and therefore £360 in total.
In addition to our charges for conveyancing there are disbursements and on a purchase there are other charges to be paid. These generally include Stamp Duty (on a purchase), local and other pre contract searches (approximately £200), Land Registry fees (usually £100 – £300 on a purchase and £9 on sales). Additionally, an immediate money transfer for CHAPS secured payments to discharge mortgages or transfer funds on a purchase to complete currently run at £29 + VAT (at 20% £5.80) making a total of £34.80.
The Conveyancing Department is headed by Christopher Waller who is the appointed officer for the CQS scheme. He deals with all conveyancing for our Broadway office clients. Mr Trayford, a Solicitor and Partner, deals with conveyancing for our Bretton office clients. Profiles of the above can be found on our website.
Within our basic charges we will attend to the following:
- Take instructions;
- Carry out routine money laundering checks;
- Receive title deeds;
- Prepare on Sale or scrutinize on Purchase contact;
- Procure completion of Protocol forms for Fixtures and Fittings and Property Information;
- Collate and dispatch contracts and supporting documents on Sale or scrutinize them on Purchase;
- Raise or attend to pre-contract enquiries;
- Requisition Local and other pre-contract searches on Purchase;
- Drafting or scrutinizing draft transfer;
- Attendance upon you for signing contract and transfer;
- Exchanging contracts and fixing Completion date;
- Attending to completion and on Sale discharge of mortgage;
- Attending to Stamp Duty and Registration of Title on Purchase
Most transactions will take of the order of 3 months from instruction unless held back by other transactions in the chain.
Probate and Administration
When bereaved it is not easy to take on the task of sorting out the financial affairs of the deceased. Many people who are naturally upset by the turn of events simply want to get everything sorted out straightaway and put it behind them, but unfortunately, this can result in things going seriously wrong. Dealing with the affairs of a deceased person can be difficult and complex. The guidance and assistance of an experienced probate practitioner can make all the difference in ensuring a satisfactory and less stressful handling of matters. Every case is different and with its own pinch points such that it is reassuring to have an experienced solicitor handling your case to avoid “banana skins” and find the right solutions. As mentioned above we believe we should provide a complete service from initial instructions through to probate, distribution and final accounts and information herein is provided on that basis.
We are certainly not embarrassed to publish our average fees, something which we note is not generally done by other firms, possibly on the basis that they think it would put clients off. We are confident that our fees will compare favourably. Our hourly rate is generally at the lower end of the scale for firms in Peterborough that charge in the £200 to £300 per hour bracket (our current hourly rates are between £175 and £225 per hour plus VAT and disbursements). Additionally, we only tend to add the recommended percentage fee according to case law in difficult or high end cases (Jemma Trust Co Ltd –v- Liptrott  All England Reports page 510 – estates of up to £4 million – half a percent of the gross estate).
The average of 34 cases to December 2018 for probate and administration excluding those under £500 yields an average of £5,806.44 (plus VAT and disbursements). Cases of £500 or less generally consist of surviving spouses receiving entitlements of jointly owned assets with ourselves assisting to regularise matters at the Land Registry in respect of transfers of freehold property held by the deceased with the surviving spouse as beneficial joint tenants. In the above calculation one exceptional case yielded fees of £25,961 and was a difficult case involving inheritance tax, numerous freehold and leasehold properties and investments. If this case were excluded the average fell to £5,197.97 plus VAT and disbursements. The average fell still further to £4,844.90 plus VAT and disbursements where the only other case above £15,000 is excluded. Thus for 95% of cases our fee exclusive of VAT and disbursements is less than £5,000. It is for this reason we equate our fees in the vast majority of cases as being similar to the cost of funeral expenses.
As we stated above VAT on our fee needs to be added and that runs at 20% and disbursements need to be paid. Disbursements are the expenses arising on top of our fees. Typically disbursements consist of a Court fee of £165 (we generally ask for 20 official copies at 50p each – they are much more expensive to obtain if not obtained at the same time as the Grant), please note that probate Court fees are currently set to increase dramatically in April 2019, Notice to creditors under Section 27 of the Trustee Act £200 to £300, where a land transfer occurs the Land Registry fees of typically £40 and where land is sold estate agents fees generally of £2,000 to £4,000, Bankruptcy and Unidentified Assets Register searches of the order of £30 and oath fees between £5 to £14.
Rather than simply know what our average charges are we should give you an idea of the price ranges we estimate typically apply to different case categories and loosely therefore suggest that they will be as follows: –
- Straightforward low value cases will be in the £1,000 to £5,000 bracket plus VAT and disbursements.
- Average cases in terms of value and complexity will be in the £4,000 to £10,000 bracket plus VAT and disbursements.
- Difficult cases and/or of significant value will be in the £7,000 to £15,000 bracket plus VAT and disbursements.
- Cases of exceptional difficulty and/or value will be in the £15,000 to £30,000 bracket plus VAT and disbursements.
Services provided within the scope of our fees
As we have stated we generally do all the work from start to finish save for arranging the funeral and registering the death at the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages which are usually left to relatives assuming such are available and willing.
To be more specific this includes liaising with relatives and beneficiaries to gather information and documents concerning the deceased’s financial affairs, notifying beneficiaries of their entitlement, corresponding with institutions with whom the deceased had dealings to obtain precise information regarding assets and liabilities at the date of death, checking the Will and/or Rules of Intestacy applicable, preparing Inheritance Tax Returns, preparing Executors or Administrators Oath, applying for Grant of Representation, calling in assets and arranging sale/transfer of freehold/leasehold property and sale/transfer of shares and investments, discharging liabilities of the deceased including debts and taxes, carrying out solvency and other searches including of Unidentified Assets Register, placing the Section 27 Trustee Act Notice in the London Gazette and appropriate local press, diarising earliest distribution date six months after Grant of Representation, attending to interim distributions and pecuniary legacies, preparing and approving estate accounts and distributing residuary legacies.
These services are provided by Mr Waller at our Broadway office and by Mr Trayford at our Bretton office. Mr Robertshaw also does some Probate casework. Profiles can be found elsewhere on our website.
Some firms are putting forward overly optimistic timescales which may be misleading. Accurate information procured directly from all relevant sources is required as the executors/administrators are stating on oath or statement of truth the correct position as to the net estate (a penalty of up to seven years imprisonment exists!) and the executors/administrators are also putting forward a precise breakdown of assets on the Inheritance Tax Return and can face prosecution for false information. The process of gathering and checking this information can easily take two to four months but much will depend on the complexity of the case. Even when in a position to apply for a Grant of Representation there can be good reason to wait. If there is a house to sell then the estate is exempt from council tax until six months after a grant and it may be thought best to wait until a buyer has at least instructed solicitors in the purchase.
After a grant has been obtained then executors are obliged to preserve assets for creditors and potential claims for at least six months. A view can be taken on this especially when executors are also beneficiaries because they are distributing to themselves and can swell the assets from their own resources if a claim arises in the six month period. The reassurance they require will not however arise until after the six month period. So therefore in a typical case unless corners are cut a probate case will take eight to twelve months or longer if difficulties arise e.g. in the sale of assets.
Employment Tribunals Work
As a firm, Waller Needham & Green have provided Employment Law advice for over 30 years and we are therefore experienced in this area of law. That being said, contentious employment matters do not form a significant part of our litigation workload, although we do regularly advise employees in respect of Settlement Agreements. As such, we are unable to provide an average cost in respect of employment tribunals that we have dealt with recently.
In addition, litigation is complex with each case generally being very fact specific. Therefore even armed with details of the costs of previous employment tribunal cases it is difficult to provide an accurate estimate of the likely costs you will incur bringing or defending your employment claim as the costs very much depend on the circumstances of the dispute in question. It is for this reason that our hourly rate, which we would say is very competitively set compared to our competitors in respect of a qualified solicitor acting (rather than an unqualified paralegal etc.) with similar experience, is a better guide to the costs you will incur; ours being between £175 – £195 + VAT.
We are, however, committed to being as transparent as possible in respect of our fees and as such set out below a guide to the likely legal fees you may incur during the process from initial instruction through to resolution:
- Straightforward case: £2,500 – £5,000 (excluding VAT)
- Medium complexity case: £5,000 – £7,500 (excluding VAT)
- High complexity case: £7,500 – £15,000 (excluding VAT)
You may have the benefit of insurance that could assist you in covering the costs of any employment tribunal claim. This is something that you can check with your insurer.
Factors that may Increase Costs
Although we have used our best efforts to provide accurate costs information, there are some factors that could potentially make a case more complex, and therefore more costly:
- If it is necessary to make or defend applications to amend Claims or Responses or to provide further information about an existing Claim or Response;
- Defending Claims that are brought by litigants in person;
- Making or defending a costs application;
- Complex preliminary issues such as whether the claimant is disabled or the Claim has been presented out of time;
- The number of witnesses and documents;
- Allegations of discrimination that are linked to the dismissal.
Services Provided Within the Scope of our Fees
We provide a complete service from initial instruction through to completion of your case. As such, our costs set out above include all costs associated with bringing or defending a case at an Employment Tribunal, including preparation and representation at the hearing. There are no hidden costs and we will endeavor to keep you updated as to costs estimates as you case progresses.
- Taking your initial instructions, reviewing the papers and advising you on merits and likely compensation (this is likely to be revisited throughout the matter and subject to change);
- Entering into pre-claim conciliation where this is mandatory to explore whether a settlement can be reached;
- Preparing claim or response;
- Reviewing and advising on claim or response from other party;
- Exploring settlement and negotiating settlement throughout the process;
- Preparing or considering a schedule of loss;
- Preparing for (and attending) a Preliminary Hearing;
- Exchanging documents with the other party and agreeing a bundle of documents;
- Taking witness statements, drafting statements and agreeing their content with witnesses;
- Preparing a documents bundle;
- Reviewing and advising on the other party’s witness statements;
- Agreeing a list of issues, a chronology and/or cast list;
- Preparation and attendance at Final Hearing, including instructions to the barrister (if instructed).
The time that it takes from taking your initial instructions to the final resolution of your matter depends largely on the stage at which your case is resolved.
If a settlement is reached during pre-claim conciliation, your case is likely to take 4 – 6 weeks. If your claim proceeds to a Final Hearing, your case is likely to take between 6 months to a year and in some cases it may be even longer.
However, this is just an estimate and we will of course be able to give you a more accurate timescale once we have more information and as the matter progresses.
The Employment Department is headed by Martin Trayford who is a Partner at the firm and has over 30 years experience dealing with Employment Law matters. His hourly rate is £195 + VAT.
Nick Robertshaw is an Associate Solicitor at the firm specialising in Litigation, including Employment Law. His hourly rate is £175 + VAT.
Full profiles for our solicitors can be found elsewhere on our website.
Road Traffic Offences
Waller Needham & Green are an experienced and established criminal practice providing advice and representation on a wide range of criminal cases such as offences of violence, sexual offences, theft, benefit fraud, burglary, domestic violence, fraud and Road Traffic offences.
Damian has been a Solicitor since 1990 and gained his Higher Rights of Audience to conduct cases in the Crown Court in 1997. He is a Partner in the Practice and has a vast experience of dealing with all types of cases in both the Magistrates Court and the Crown Court. He has also dealt with appeals to the Crown Court including advocacy and also represented and conducted advocacy at the Court of Appeal Criminal Division.
He is experienced in dealing with all motor offences before the Magistrates Court particularly offences such as driving with excess alcohol, failing to provide a specimen for analysis, drug driving, careless driving, failing to report/stop after an accident, speeding and cases involving potential disqualification under the totting-up procedures.
Driving with excess alcohol, failing to provide a specimen, careless driving, excess alcohol in charge, fail to stop/report accident, guilty plea – fixed fee £200 plus VAT
- 2 hours attendance/preparation:
- considering evidence
- taking your instructions
- providing advice on likely sentence
- Attendance and representation at a single Hearing at the Magistrates Court
The fee does not include:-
- instruction of any expert witnesses
- taking statements from any witnesses
- advice and assistance in relation to special reasons Hearing
- advice or assistance in relation to any appeal
The key stages of your matter are based on the presumption that you have entered a guilty plea and have a date for your Hearing.
- meet with your Solicitor to provide instructions on what happened
- we will consider initial disclosure, and any other evidence and provide advice
- arranging to take any witness statements if necessary (this will have an additional cost and our hourly rate is £200 plus VAT)
- we will explain the Court procedure to you so you know what to expect on the day of your Hearing, and the sentencing options available to the Court
- we will conduct any further preparatory work, obtain further instructions from you if necessary and answer any follow up queries you have
- we cannot provide a timescale of when your hearing will take place, as this depends on the Court listing for that day
- we will attend Court on the day and meet with you prior to going before the Court. We will discuss the outcome with you. If advice is required on appeal, this will carry an additional cost
You can contact us at Waller Needham & Green 72 Broadway Peterborough PE1 1SU
Tel: 01733 311422
Fax: 01733 557570
DX: 16854 Peterborough 2
T: 01733 262182
F: 01733 331520
DX: 708490 Bretton