Terms of Engagement

Our aim is to provide the highest quality service to our clients and to that end it is important that clients and their advisors are aware of the basis on which our service is provided and the terms on which it is carried out.We will conduct our business to the highest standards of Ethical and professional behavior. We will deliver our services promptly, courteously and efficiently.We will deliver clear and correct legal advice and conduct your case without delay.

Introduction

We can assist you with legal services in the following areas:

Property Transactions including, Sales Purchases, Buildings, Land, Leases, Fishing Vessels, Commercial Property, Bank Lending, Personal Injury & Negligence Actions Family Law, Litigation, Employment Law,

Licensing, Debt Recovery, Private Client Work.

Quality Service

Our aim is to understand your business and your legal requirements and to deliver a high quality solution to all our clients,(individual and company), while maintaining a friendly, personal approach. We have all of the necessary back up in terms of office facilities, highly qualified legal and support staff and I.T. Systems to provide you with a high level of service as well as a great location at our new custom built offices at Carndonagh Business Centre with ample client parking and spacious   consultation facilities .  Our office is also wheel chair accessible with designated Disabled Parking.

Contact Us

Our office hours are Monday to Thursday,9.00am to 5.30pm, Friday - 5.00 pm. Our lunch hour is from 1 to 2 pm each day.

You will be introduced to the individual principally responsible for your work. You can send an email directly to the desk of the person with whom you

are dealing at any time. You can also leave messages for the person with whom you are dealing. Consultations and meetings outside office hours are, of course, available as the need arises.

Free Initial Consultation

We will be happy to have an initial telephone discussion or short meeting with you. There will be no charge for this if the matter does not proceed unless

otherwise advised.

Instructions

Whilst communications may be conducted with us in writing,verbally or by e mail. We will require confirmation of verbal or email instructions in writing and we do not normally act on instructions received by email and we normally require our standard letter of engagement to be signed by the client and returned before we will act on your behalf. Any amendments to your instructions should be notified to us immediately as they arise. We can only act on the information and instructions that you provide. Please do not assume that we know all about your circumstances - we would always rather have too much information than too little.Your continuing instructions in any matter in which we are presently engaged will amount to an acceptance of these terms and conditions of business and the applicable charging rates. Unless otherwise agreed and subject to the application of the then current hourly rates these terms and conditions of business all also apply to any future instructions given by you to the firm in relation to any other matters.Charges will be outlined in advance where possible and during the course of any case at appropriate times but in default thereof the general rates set out below apply.

Charges

Except where another basis is agreed in writing for a specific transaction, our costs are calculated on the basis of services rendered and on the nature of the case, the work done as well as time expended. We will also take into account other factors, such as value, urgency, complexity and responsibility devolving upon us. We review our charging rates annually in January of each year. We generally would compute our time to be calculated from a range of €200 - €300 per hour (this is variable and subject to review each year) simply to cover all overheads, salaries, running costs and all operational costs as well as profit costs in order to sustain a viable business. However to ensure value we will try to agree costs with you or outline how they might be estimated so as to avoid costs simply arising on the basis of time expended. Costs also must be considered in the light of outlays incurred and counsels fees where they arise and accordingly you will be kept advised in relation to such expenditure and generally note we usually retain counsel for all contentious proceedings in the higher courts.All legal fees carry a Vat rate  currently at the rate of 23% as do other professional fees.The basis of all Solicitors charges are calculated by reference to a number of factors including the following:

a) The complexity of the matter.

b) The urgency of the matter.

c) The difficulty or novelty of the questions raised.

d) The skill, labor, specialized knowledge and responsibility involved.

e) The number and importance of the documents prepared and examined.

f) The amount or value of any transaction involved.

g) The importance of the matter to you.

h) The time reasonably spent by personnel in the solicitors firm on the matter.

i) The place, or places, and Circumstances in which the matter is pursued.

If you are about to or have recently instructed us please request a schedule or letter in respect of the costs or charges applicable in your case.

We point out that in the event that any litigation case is unsuccessful the unsuccessful party will usually be obliged to pay the costs of the successful party subject to the terms outlined in this leaflet. Please always ensure that you have some written confirmation from us of our basis of charge.

Estimates

Any estimate that may be given will be a probable fee based on our experience of the work involved in a typical transaction or case or proceedings of the kind that is envisaged. If the work turns out to be more complicated or takes longer than anticipated, we may require to increase our estimate accordingly. In some cases we will need confirmation of your ability to fund a transaction or proceedings and the source of that funding and it may be the case that an advance or interim payment may be required.

How long will it take?

The nature of legal work makes it difficult to estimate how long a transaction, case or proceedings will take to complete. When we discuss our requirements at the outset we will also discuss timescales. Often however, the speed at which we can complete work is directly affected by the co-operation we receive from others outside our control. For example in a matter that involves a dispute, it may well be a tactic adopted by the other side to prolong the matter for as long as possible. It is in our interest as much as yours to complete work as quickly and efficiently as possible. We will keep you regularly updated on the Progress of your case.

Confidentiality

Information passed to us is confidential and will not be disclosed to third parties unless authorized by you or required by law . We are members of  and are governed by The Law Society of Ireland.

Private Limited Companies & Limited Liability Partnerships

If we are given instructions by a private limited company or a limited liability partnership, then unless otherwise agreed with you in writing in advance, it is a condition of our accepting those instructions that the directors or members (as appropriate) are jointly and severally personally liable along with the company or LLP for payment of  our fees and costs and any interest thereon.

Accounts

We will render interim accounts should the need arise and normally at the conclusion of a case or transaction. However where there are protracted proceedings accounts may be submitted at intervals and in particular to cover outlay expended. We reserve the right to raise a full and detailed account at any time and unless otherwise agreed, payment is due within 28 days of the date of the account. If not paid within this time we reserve the right to charge interest on the whole sum overdue, in line with late payment legislation, currently at the rate of 8 %. If we hold money on your behalf we may deduct any sums due to us for legal services or outlays. This does not affect your right to independent assessment of the fees as set out below.

Clients Monies held

Moneys received from, or on behalf of a client shall be lodged forthwith to our client bank account to be held on trust for the client. If such is to be held for a long period you should request that they be placed on client deposit to accrue interest on your behalf all such transactions shall be responsible for any bank charges levied and such administration charges are arise from such handling.

Outlays or expenses incurred on your behalf

In general we will require payment in advance for outlays such as court fees search fees agents fees and other third party charges or professional expert fees. Where on occasion expenses are advanced on your behalf we will require to be reimbursed by you within a reasonable time and may be subject to interest for late payment .

Legal Charges in Court Actions/Party and Party Costs

You may be entitled to recover legal costs from the other party to any proceedings. These are termed Party and Party Costs.  These generally do not cover all of your costs incurred in a legal action and a shortfall may arise If this occurs you will have to pay the balance of our fees and Disbursements which can be taxed in default of agreement. These further costs are generally known as solicitor / client costs and are not charged on a percentage basis of any award or settlement but represent costs and outlays not recovered from the other side. The costs recovered from the other side where your case has been successful are known as the party and party costs and are not recovered on a full indemnity basis therefore the client is responsible for the balance costs payable which can be taxed in default of agreement and these are normally deducted from the award or settlement viz. The settlement or award cheque is endorsed over to us and we issue a cheque for the amount less the balance costs arising. You are entitled to receive the party and party account and be informed of the costs recovered from the other side. The party and party account furnished for payment to the paying party will endeavor to recover as much costs as possible to reflect all the work done on your behalf but payment will not arise until much later than the payment of the settlement or award cheque and it may be subject to taxation and in all cases it is reduced and sometimes substantially as the paying party wishes to minimize costs and only pay those costs which represent the costs directly reflecting the issues which were conceded or which a court found in your favor and no other costs such as certain ancillary costs which were necessary in order to succeed. Professional witnesses are not usually awarded all the costs they claim, nor are doctors or medical witnesses and therefore we as the solicitors who engage them are so responsible andlikewise there can be a shortfall in our professional fees. If a legal cost accountant is employed on your behalf to recover party and party costs so as to minimize the costs which are deducted you are responsible for his / her costs. On a commencement of a case in addition to you receiving this booklet we will advise you in writing of estimated costs which arise or may arise or as soon as becomes practicable to do so. If you are successful and the court orders the other party to pay some or all of your fees and disbursements, interest can be claimed on them from the other party from the date of certificate of taxation. You will also be responsible for paying our fees and disbursements if you instruct us to recover any fees and disbursements that the court orders the other party to pay to you.In some circumstances, the court may order you to pay the other party’s legal fees and disbursements; for example, if you lose the case. The money would be payable in addition to our fees and disbursements and particular regard therefore should be had to the next paragraph.

Possible Liability To Pay Costs Of Other Parties

Notwithstanding we are satisfied you have a good case, the law requires that it is explained to you that, in the event of the following circumstances arising, you may be liable to pay , in addition to your own costs, the costs of the defendant or other third parties

a) losing the case

b) agreeing to accept an amount less than your full claim, or

c) a court failing to award you your costs or a portion of them

d) the court awarding you the sum or less than the sum previously tendered to you

e) the court awarding costs against you

No Win no Fee

We do not offer clients Conditional Fee Agreements or contingency fee (“no win, no fee”) arrangements though if you have a complete inability to pay us as a result of losing a case where you also become responsible to pay the legal fees of the successful side you will have to discuss your financial position with us. Further you should note that to recover costs there must be a liability to pay costs and in this regard we would draw your attention to the following Supreme Court Case which establishes three conditions that must be fulfilled for costs to be recovered on taxation:

AG. McGarry- V- Sligo County Council,The Supreme Court, No2 of 1989 (ILRM) 785

a) The court has made an Order for Costs in favour of the party concerned

b) The matters claimed have been properly incurred

c) The party in question is under a legal liability to pay the costs

d) That the claiming party can receive no more than what he/she has actually expended or remained legally liable for, if such expenses were properly incurred.It is therefore, clear that a client has to retain his or her solicitor on a private basis and be under a legal liability to pay his or her costs in the event of his / her action proving unsuccessful. If your case is proceeding in Courts other than the ones local to our offices, it may be necessary at times for us to instruct other solicitors to act as our agents to attend those Courts. The agent’s charges will be passed on to you as disbursements. 

 

Independent Adjudication of Costs

The Office of the Taxing Master of the High Court is available to provide a completely independent assessment of a fair fee for any legal work carried out. On occasions,in order to ensure that a file has been correctly charged, we may voluntarily send the file to a legal cost accountant. Should you at any time be dissatisfied with the amount of a fee charged by us then you are entitled to ask us to have The Taxing Master adjudicate the costs independently.In that case both sides are bound by the fee as fixed by the Taxing Master subject only to either side appealing a ruling to the High Court. If the Taxing Master reduces the amount of our original fee we will only charge that reduced amount and should he reduce it by more than 1/6th we are bound to pay all the costs arising on the adjudication. If he/she confirms that our fee is correct or under charged then you will be responsible for such fees which arise. If a written fee-charging agreement exists between us we are not bound to submit our account to the Taxing Master for determination of the fee and if we do we may rely on the agreement.There is duty charged on taxation of costs payable to the Revenue and this duty forms part of the costs and is added to them but will be our responsibility if reduced by more than 1/6th.

Change of Solicitor /Outstanding Monies

You are entitled to change solicitors at any time but you will be responsible for all fees and outlays due to us until you notify us in writing that you are appointing another solicitor. We are entitled to hold the title deeds, files or other papers until payment of any outstanding invoice has been made in full at which time such documents as belong to you will be furnished to you. All working papers ,notes, attendances opinions and advices generated on the firms behalf remain the property of the firm however where copies of  our correspondence file are required same will be made available subject to a charge for copying same.

Professional Indemnity

We are obliged by the Law Society to carry insurance cover to the extent of the rate as fixed by them as a minimum to meet loss suffered as a result of any negligence on our part. We have arranged “top-up” cover so that our total level of insurance cover exceeds the sum fixed by the Law Society.In the unlikely event of a claim being intimated we would pass that to our insurers to deal with.

Data Protection

Information about our clients is important to us as it allows us to understand your business. Please therefore let us know if there are any errors in your details or if you would like a copy of your information. We employ other companies to perform functions on our behalf, but these companies do not have access to any of your confidential information and they may only use the contact information that we hold for that purpose. We also work closely with affiliated individuals and firms although we will only share your information where we consider it appropriate and beneficial to your interests. If you do not wish to be contacted by mail, telephone, e-mail or fax with legal updates please advise us.

Files and Papers

Our policy is to retain files and papers for a limited period following completion of any transaction. This will vary from work type to work type and if it is of importance to you please ask and we are happy to explain further. After that period, unless we have heard to the contrary, the papers and files may be destroyed.

Conflict of Interest

We shall try to establish prior to acting on your behalf that there is no conflict between your business and the business of any other client. As you will realize we could not act for two clients if their interests were in conflict. We shall alert you to any such conflict during a transaction which becomes apparent. In this event we would require to refer at least one of the clients involved, if not both, to another solicitor. This is a rule of professional conduct which applies to all solicitors for the benefit and protection of clients.

Property Transactions

We will normally agree with you our terms of engagement at the outset of instructions and will keep you fully advised of developments. Where you are a purchaser we may also be acting for you in respect of perfecting a mortgage over the property and borrowing funds to complete the purchase and stamping the purchase deed.We would therefore have to give specific undertakings to financial institutions banks and building societies to perfect and register the title and to stamp the purchase deed and to lodge the title documents with the said financial institutions. Therefore we must insist that in all cases without exception that we are in funds for stamp duty  payable to the Revenue on or prior to completion and our costs and outlays are paid and we regret we cannot deviate from this practice under any circumstances. All property transfer ( subject to a few exceptions carry stamp duty and registration fees at the relevant rates prevailing at the time of your transaction. If you are the seller of  property we deduct agreed costs and outlays from the proceeds of sale and discharge any mortgage or charges on the property and  furnish you with the balance of the proceeds of sale . At that time we will furnish to you  with our account and where appropriate a cash and disbursement account showing monies received  and expended .

Family Law Proceedings

Relationship breakdown is a sad and stressful event in the lives of those going through it. The decision to separate is a process rather than a single event. The parties may struggle with those difficulties for a time before they decide they cannot be resolved and decide to part. The way in which a couple handle their separation can make a huge difference to how well any children they may have adapt to the inevitable changes in their lives and in addition it will greatly reflect on legal costs that are incurred by both parties. Unlike the normal rule in litigation proceedings costs do not always follow the event and neither party to family law proceedings is ever considered a winner or a loser and very often each side are ordered to pay their own costs. We always strongly recommend mediation and if mediation is not successful we recommend a collaborative approach by both legal teams to reach a solution and consent terms being agreed between the parties.If for whatever reason matters proceed toformal court proceedings estimated costs will be outlined to you in writing and you should ensure you have estimated costs in your possession before proceedings issue. Costs can be substantial in family law proceedings owing to issues of discovery of assets arising and the necessity for ancillary court orders during the proceedings and often the necessity to employ forensic accountants and other professional witnesses and where there are children and custody issues and often the necessity to engage a child psychiatrist. Counsel practicing in the family law area are normally engaged and their brief fees can be high and these are an added cost factor. Cases can be settled at early stagetherefore substantially reducing costs but if not they may not settle until the day of the trial or trial will ensue and may last a number of days. Going to court should be a last resort.The judge rather than the parties then decides on all issues and the Court Orderis binding on all parties and can be enforced as a Court Order.

Wills and Last Testaments

It is always prudent to have a will to provide for your assets and affairs post death and should you not have one in place please speak to any member of the firm who will assist you in advice and drafting a will if that is your advice.When a person dies intestate (without making a will) with a spouse surviving and children the spouse takes 2/3 of the estate and the children take 1/3. If thereis no issue of the marriage the entire estate is devolved to the spouse. If there is no spouse the nearest next of kin then alive succeed in accordance with the rules applying to intestacy.One of the main reasons and best advantages for making a will is it allows you the client to provide for the devolution of property by means of a clear legal document. It is not left to the State (under the laws of intestacy) to divide up your assets on your clients behalf. Further it allows you to provide for the special needs of a family member, for example an invalid child, and also acts as an opportunity to ensure the absolute minimum amount of tax is paid on deathif that is ones wish.Making a Will helps to plan what is to happen in the aftermath of a death but nothing can adequately prepare us for theloss of a loved one. A lot of everyday tasks require attention and important decisions may have to be made with regard to the deceased’s property and personal belongings (for instance should the house be sold?). This is why it may be important to seek timely professional advice and assistance and to have a Will in existence at the time of death and to nominate a personal representative/s to administer your estate in accordance with your wishes. Executors are the persons named in the Will to deal with the estate. Where there is no will one or more of the closest living relatives is entitled to deal with the estate and this person is called “an administrator”.A “grant of representation” is the legal document which issues from the High Court Probate Office which allows the personal representative to collect all assets of the deceased and administer the estate. Where there is a Will, the legal document is known as a Grant of Probate and where there is no Will, it is known as a Grant of Administration. Until the document issues from the Probate Office, the personal representatives cannot generally do anything with the assets owned by the deceased person and it is only in very limited circumstances that it may be possible to administer an estate without obtaining a grant.For acting in the administration of an estate and completing the administration our costs may range from 2% to 3% of its value as a guideline only together with all outlays expended and vat which excludes transactions or court cases arising during the course of administration.

Administrative Actions

These are proceedings brought during the course of an administration of an estate either brought against the personal representatives or brought by them. The general rule here is that costs do not always follow the event but are more likely, save in exceptional circumstances, to be payable out of the estate as the personal representatives are acting in their official capacity regulating and administrating the assets of the deceased.

Representing Defendants.

If you are being sued and proceedings have been issued against you it is important to realize that should you be subject to a court order or your defence fails and your opponent is successful you will have to pay all the costs arising including your own subject only to taxation of those costs. therefore it is important that you have a bona fide defense to any action before instructing solicitors to represent you and that throughout the proceedings you consider if a tender or lodgment can be made to satisfy the claim against you, thereby reducing your exposure to legal costs or reducing those costs which you may ultimately be found liable for. We will always have to be in funds to contest proceedings and should we commence acting for you without agreement as to costs or without interim accounts being discharged, we reserve the right to come off record and to apply to court for such an order if that becomes necessary.

Communication between you and us

Our aim is to offer all our clients an efficient and effective service at all times. We hope that you will be satisfied with the work we carry out for you. However, should there be any aspect of our service with which you are unhappy, please raise your concerning the first place with the person who has been processing your case. If you still have queries or concerns, please contact our Client Care partner to whom any final difficulty can be reported. We will aim to communicate with you by such a method as you may request. We may need to virus check  e-mail or other forms of electronic communication and we guarantee that such communications will reach us or be capable of being opened/viewed in certain circumstances. You should therefore check that such communications have been delivered and read .Unless you withdraw consent, we will communicate with others when appropriate by e-mail or fax, but we cannot be responsible for the security of correspondence and documents sent by e-mail or fax. Please ensure that we have the following details from you:

Full name

Current address

Phone numbers

E mail

PPS numbers (where applicable)

Occupation

Marital Status

Date of Birth

The Data Protection Act requires us to advise you that your particulars are held on our database. We may, from time to time, use these details to send you information which we think might be of interest to you.

Remember        We AIM  to:

Act  in your best interests and keep your business confidential.

Inform  you and keep you informed about  your case or transaction in language you can understand .

Make  sure you know the important things about your case or transaction.

Help us to help you.

Provide all information you have which is relevant to your case or transaction provide any documents and reference numbers you have which are relevant. Follow any checklists or guidelines which you have been given. Retain a record of all our correspondence and follow our directions as they arise.