Cost Information

We have three members of the team who may work on your matter. Regardless of who works on your matter, they will be supervised by Christopher Waters, Solicitor and Director of Mortimers.

Judy Bonegal – Associate Solicitor

Judy qualified in 1977 following training at Dawkins & Grey in Birmingham where she then became an Associate Solicitor and subsequently a Partner.

She has dealt throughout her career with private client matters including residential conveyancing, Wills, Powers of Attorney and administration of estates.

In 2007 following the merger of Dawkins & Grey she moved to Thursfields Solicitors in Worcester and subsequently Stourport where she dealt solely with private client matters.

In 2017 she moved to Mortimers Bridgnorth office lured in part by the prospect of a much shorter daily commute. Judy looks after private client matters at the Bridgnorth office including Wills, administration of estates and Lasting Powers of Attorney. She also advises on lifetime mortgage and equity release matters.

In her spare time she enjoys horse riding, reading, cooking and looking after her alpacas and chickens.

Leane Spencer – Associate Solicitor

Leane joined Mortimers in 2015 having qualified as a solicitor in 2009. She studied in Cardiff and Toulouse gaining a degree in Law and French and completed the Legal Practice Course with distinction at the University of Glamorgan. She started her career specialising in social welfare law working with a charitable organisation in Cardiff.
Leane has been specialising in Wills, powers of attorney, Court of Protection applications, trusts, probate and related property matters since 2012 and has been a full accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly since 2013. She is also an Associate member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners and a member of the Law Society Private Client Section.
Leane has a background in managing a wide range of Wills and probate matters, including complex Will construction and validity issues, inheritance tax, calculating and providing advice on capital gains tax and completing income tax returns. She has administered a variety of different complex estates including agricultural estates, insolvent estates, foreign assets and mediating between arguing executors.
Leane specialises in dealing with elderly and vulnerable clients and is able to effectively combine her knowledge of the law with a natural attentive and approachable manner, putting clients at ease whilst ensuring that they understand the legal processes that they are having to deal with, often at very difficult times of their lives.

Zoe Smith – Chartered Legal Executive

After completing her law degree in Sheffield, Zoe studied the Chartered Institute of Legal Executive Graduate Diploma at Worcester College of Technology. Zoe then gained three years’ work experience in a local law firm, which lead to her qualifying as a Chartered Legal Executive in 2016. Zoe has specialised in Wills, powers of attorney, Court of Protection applications, trusts and probate since 2013. She is also an Associate member of Solicitors for the Elderly.
Zoe advises on all areas of Private Client law, in particular on drafting wills, lasting powers of attorney and giving tax advice. She also deals with the administration of estates, the creation of trusts and registration of enduring powers of attorney.
Zoe enjoys meeting new clients and has a thoughtful and welcoming manner that quickly puts her clients at ease. Zoe’s primary focus has always been to provide her clients with support, guidance and practical legal solutions.


Probate

When a family member or friend passes away you may find yourself responsible for winding up their affairs.
Probate is the term used for the legal process in dealing with the estate of someone who has died. If there is a Will then the executors named in the Will are responsible for administering the estate. If there is no Will, the rules of intestacy state who will be responsible for dealing with the estate.
The person responsible for administering the estate may need to apply for a grant from the probate registry, collect and realise the assets, discharge any liabilities (unpaid bills, taxes and funeral expenses) and ensure that the balance of the estate is shared out between the beneficiaries correctly. The person or people administering the estate are personally responsible for the estate and can be sued by beneficiaries or creditors if the estate hasn’t been dealt with correctly.
Our team’s extensive expertise allows them to deal with the most complex of estates and legal issues. We aim to help you to understand and address all of the various issues that can potentially arise during administration. We offer professional but sensitive guidance; we will save you as much time, money and heartache as we can and endeavour to settle the estate fairly and efficiently.

An example of our probate fees can be found below:

Full Service
The exact cost of administering an estate will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter. For example, if there is only one beneficiary and no property, costs will be at the lower end of the range. If there are multiple beneficiaries, a property and multiple bank accounts, costs will be at the higher end.

We anticipate that for a simple estate with few assets, liabilities and beneficiaries, this will take between 10 and 15 hours of work at £200 per hour plus VAT. This would put the total costs estimated at £2,000 to £3,000 plus VAT.

We will handle the full administration process for you. This estimate is for estates where:

• There is a valid Will
• There is no more than one property
• There are no more than 3 bank or building society accounts
• There are no other savings, investments or shareholdings
• There are 1-4 beneficiaries
• There are no disputes between beneficiaries on division of assets. If disputes arise this is likely to lead to an increase in costs
• There is no inheritance tax payable
• The executors do not need to submit a full inheritance tax return to HMRC
• There are no claims made against the estate

As part of the process we will:

• Identify the legally appointed executors or administrators and beneficiaries
• Accurately identify the type of probate application you will require
• Obtain the relevant documents required to make the application
• Complete the probate application and the relevant HMRC forms
• Draft a legal oath for you to swear
• Make the application to the Probate Registry on your behalf
• Obtain the grant from the Probate Registry
• Collect and distribute all assets in the estate
• Advise you about relevant matters along the way

How long will this take?

On average, estates that fall within this range are dealt with within 6 -12 months. Some may be administered more quickly and others can take much longer, depending on the circumstances.

Disbursements

There are other costs that you may have to pay for as part of the administration process and these are listed below together with an estimate of their cost and when payment for them is likely to be needed. We handle the payment of these costs on your behalf, from the estate funds, to ensure a smoother process.

Expense

Cost

When

Payment Required

Probate Registry Fee

£155.00

Date of Submission to Probate Registry

Copies of Grant

£0.50 per copy

Date of Submission to Probate Registry

Land Registry Office Copies

£3.00 per document

Date of Request from Land Registry

Land Registry Fee re change of Ownership of Registered Property

£20 – £125 depending on value of property

Date of Submission of Application to Land Registry

Land Registry Fee re change of Ownership of Unregistered Property

£40 – £910 depending on value of property

Date of Submission of Application to Land Registry

If Property Unregistered – Search Fees

£2.00 per name being searched

Date of Search at Land Registry

Recorded Delivery Fees for any document sent out by recorded delivery

The cost charged by Royal Mail plus VAT

Date of Postage

BACS Payment Fee

£20.00 plus VAT

Date payment made

CHAPS Payment Fee

£30 plus VAT

Date payment made

Bankruptcy Search Fees – Beneficiary based in UK           

£2.00 per name being searched

Date of Search at Land Registry

Bankruptcy Search Fees – Beneficiary based outside of UK           

Varies depending on Country but prices usually start at £82.80 per beneficiary

Date of Search

s27 Trustee Act Notices (Advertisement for Creditors in the local paper and/or London Gazette)

£82 - £200

Date of request for advertisement

Certainty Will Search

£45.60 - £238.80

Date of Search Request

Landmark Financial Asset Search

£162.00

Date of Search Request

VAT is payable on certain expenses.

Potential additional costs

There may be additional costs, that could range significantly, depending on the estate and how it is to be dealt with. We can give you a more accurate estimate once we have more information. Situations where additional costs are likely to arise include (but is not limited to):

• If there is no Will
• If the validity of the Will is challenged
• If the estate consists of any share holdings (stocks and bonds).
• If there are 5 or more beneficiaries
• If charities are named as residuary beneficiaries
• If disputes arise between beneficiaries
• If inheritance tax is payable
• If a full inheritance tax return is required
• If there is income tax payable
• If there is capital gains tax payable
• If a claim is made against the estate
• If a Deed of Variation or a Deed of Appointment are required
• If an ongoing trust needs to be set up which may need to be registered with HMRC
• Dealing with the sale or transfer of any property in the estate

Grant Only Service
If you want to deal with administering the estate yourself but want us to help you with the process of obtaining the Grant from the Probate Registry then we can assist you on a fixed fee basis of £750 plus VAT.
This service is available where there is no inheritance tax payable and only the short form inheritance tax return is required.
The following disbursements will be payable in addition to our fees:
Probate Registry Fee £155.00 Date of Submission to Probate Registry
Copies of Grant £0.50 per copy Date of Submission to Probate Registry

As part of the process we will:

• Identify the legally appointed executors or administrators and beneficiaries
• Accurately identify the type of probate application you will require
• Complete the probate application and the relevant HMRC forms
• Draft a legal oath for you to swear
• Make the application to the Probate Registry on your behalf
• Obtain the grant from the Probate Registry
• Advise you about all related matters along the way


EMPLOYMENT LAW FEES

We are required to provide price information regarding the areas of law in which we practice.

This note applies to Employment Law.

Initial Discussion

We are pleased to have an initial free discussion with you by telephone or to respond to an initial email enquiry. However, if you need more advice, if your matter is complex or we need to look at documents related to your matter, then this will be subject to a charge.

There is no legal aid for employment law, so we are only able to act for clients who are able and willing to pay for advice. We may require a payment on account from you before commencing work.

Estimate of Costs

We will do our best to give you an accurate estimate of the costs you may incur, both at the time that you first instruct Mortimers and at appropriate intervals whilst we work for you.

We have provided example costs for unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal below, to help you understand our fees.

We act for clients whether they are employees or employers.

Ways of Paying

The way in which the work that we do for you may be funded depends upon the type of case and our agreement with you. The following options are available:

• Payment by hourly rate
• Payment by agreed fee
• Payment by legal expenses insurance

Our current hourly rates are:

• Principal solicitor - £200 (plus VAT)
• Non-Legally qualified staff - £100 (plus VAT)

You may be aware of some providers who offer legal advice for free, or for a small or modest cost. For example, some organisations offer to do pro bono work; this is work done voluntarily and without charge. We do not currently take on pro bono work.

If you are a member of a union, you may be entitled to free legal advice from your union. We will advise you if we think that any of these funding methods are applicable in your case.

Payment on Account

In some cases we will ask you to make payments in advance to cover any anticipated fees or disbursements (ie payments made on your behalf). These advance payments are deposited into our Client Account and are governed by rules set out by the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s Account Rules. We will pay interest on the average balance that was held for you providing the interest accrued amounts to £20 or more. Interest is calculated at the rate available on an instant access savings account from Lloyds Bank.

We are required by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to deposit monies in instant access accounts only. This means that the interest rate paid on money in our Client Account may not be as high as you can achieve by placing the money in a savings account yourself.

Legal Expenses Insurance

In some circumstances, clients will have legal expenses insurance, which they can use to fund a claim against their previous employer. This can only be done once the insurers have agreed insurance cover in writing, and it is usual for such cover to become active only after a claim has been issued. It is unlikely that we will be paid under the insurance scheme for any costs incurred prior to issuing a claim, and therefore our client remains liable for that cost.

Additionally, the insurers would never pay for the time spent by us in communication with them about the nature of the claim and/or any updates which they need. In such circumstances, we will render an invoice to our client in relation to that time. This will be charged at the hourly rate set out above, ie £200 per hour plus VAT.

Settlement Agreements

We often are asked to advise on Settlement Agreements, which are agreements reached pursuant to Section 203 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, where the parties have reached an agreement about the termination of an employee’s contract of employment. Usually, but not necessarily, the employee will be being paid compensation in exchange for agreeing the termination.

Usually, the employer makes a contribution to the legal costs associated with the provision by this firm of what is known as the independent adviser’s certificate. Those contributions, in our experience, range between £250 and £500 plus VAT for a standard agreement. However, it may be that the agreement is not standard and therefore further additional work is required, which would take the costs over and above the cost contribution provided by the employer. We will always try to get the employer to pay a larger contribution, but it may be that this is not possible and in such circumstances, our client remains liable for any additional costs.

Further, it is important to note that if the Settlement Agreement does not result in agreement, then the employer will not pay the costs contribution which it offers, and any costs will be the responsibility of the Client

Specific Pieces of Work

We are happy to provide advice and/or to conduct specific pieces of work within an overall claim where we have not confirmed to the Tribunal that we are acting generally. This could be, for example, where a litigant in person is required by the Tribunal to file a Schedule of Loss. We can either draft that Schedule of loss or advise on the schedule as drafted by the individual. For this we would charge at the usual hourly rate.

Disbursements

On occasions, we will need to incur external fees on behalf of our clients. These may be barrister’s fees, expert’s fees, etc. VAT has to be added to most disbursements except court fees. It is difficult to predict barrister’s fees because they will involve an assessment of the particular work necessary in each particular case. It is, however, quite usual that barristers’ charges are approximately £250 per hour. If one is instructing a barrister, we will endeavour to ascertain the potential costs involved before undertaking any work which would incur barrister’s fees. We will contact our clients before incurring fees and obtain their approval.

Employment Tribunal Claims

There are presently no fees charged by the Employment Tribunals to issue claims in the Tribunal. Equally, it is unusual, but not impossible, for there to be a costs order in favour of a winning party or against a losing party.

What is involved

To help you understand the likely fees of a claim at the Employment Tribunal, the following information will give you an indication of our fees for bringing or defending claims for unfair dismissal.

The cost depends on several factors: the complexity of the case, the amount of evidence involved and the legal issues relating to the case. If a claim reaches a final hearing, it will go through several key stages. They are:

• Early conciliation. This is the process by which an attempt is made to resolve a dispute through ACAS, before issuing proceedings.
• Preparation and issue of a claim at an Employment Tribunal.
• Receipt and analysis of the response to the claim.
• Compliance with directions made by the Tribunal. Directions are instructions from the Judge for the proper management of the claim. They include exchange of relevant documents by and preparation of an agreed bundle of documents which will be used by the parties and by the Judge at the final hearing. Preparation and exchange of witness statements setting out the evidence that witnesses will give at the final hearing. Setting a date for the final hearing. Setting a timetable for the final hearing.
• Preliminary Hearings. Depending on the nature of the case, the Tribunal will sometimes set a case management conference to define the issues in the case and to give directions. This is known as a Preliminary Hearing and may take place at the Tribunal or by telephone. Other Preliminary Hearings may be held to determine a specific issue in a case, such as whether there is in fact a case to answer, whether part of a claim or response should be struck out or whether a claim is out of time.
• The Final Hearing. This is like a trial. It is where the evidence is heard and legal arguments are made. A judge will decide the case.

Each case has its own facts, legal issues and evidence. Many cases don’t go through the full process and are either settled or withdrawn before the case reaches the Final Hearing. If that happens, the cost of the case will be less than the guideline estimates below.

Unfair Dismissal Costs

As each case is individual, we are only able to give a guide to our fees in typical cases here.

• Simple cases tend to cost between £5,000 and £6,000.
• Complex cases will cost more. The range is about £8,000 to £10,000, particularly if more than one day is needed at the final hearing.
• Very complicated cases could exceed £10,000. These cases may involve substantial amounts of evidence or complex legal arguments.

These estimates include VAT. There may, however, be disbursements incurred which will increase this figure.

Work by Non-Legally Qualified Staff

Occasionally, we encounter situations where it is more appropriate to carry out certain aspects of a particular case with experienced but unqualified staff. If that decision is taken by the Principal Solicitor with conduct of a matter, the time spent by that member of staff will be charged at 50% of the principal rate, ie the charge will be at £100 per hour plus VAT.

How long will a case take to resolve?

The time that a claim of unfair dismissal or wrongful dismissal will take to complete from the preliminary stages through to final hearing depends on several factors; the complexity of the case, which we referred to earlier, but also the state of the Tribunal’s diary. A Final Hearing is fixed by the Tribunal either after the claim has been issued or at a Preliminary Hearing. Our experience tells us that it will be 6 to 10 months before a claim is likely to be concluded at a final hearing in simple cases and 12 to 18 months in more complicated cases.

Christopher Waters is an experienced Employment Law and Litigation Solicitor. He first practised in London and then in 1998, together with colleagues, founded Mortimers. Christopher takes on a positive and pragmatic approach to Employment Law and has a successful track record.