Over the past few decades there has been more and more pressure placed on financial institutions, employers, companies and solicitors to obtain independent legal advice for their clients before entering into contracts. This is primarily due to those same clients making claims that they were not properly and independently advised on the contract they signed. Many claims stem from clients who say they did not fully understand what it was they were agreeing to and the terms and conditions of the contract.
What is Independent Legal Advice?
Independent legal advice is when clients get formal advice from a solicitor who is not connected to a transaction, drafting of a particular contract, or selling of a product. That solicitor is considered separate from the other parties involved in the contract, and therefore independent. The solicitor giving independent legal advice will be asked to complete a certificate of independent legal advice which is then included in the agreement or contract. Without such independent legal advice, a contract, agreement or transaction might not be enforceable by one or more of the parties who intend to rely on it.
For example, when a customer enters a bank to request a mortgage, the bank will likely ask that the customer seeks independent legal advice from a solicitor before entering into the mortgage agreement. This is both to protect the bank from any legal action from the customer, but also to ensure that the customer is fully aware of the terms and conditions of the mortgage, their consequences, and that they not entering into an agreement with a large business without all the relevant information. Without a completed certificate of legal advice, the parties may find it difficult to enforce elements of the agreement.
Britton and Time Solicitors can give Independent Legal Advice on the following matters:
- Personal Guarantees from directors of a company (on debentures, deeds, loans including bridging loans and mortgages)
- Personal Guarantees (where a separate and independent person guarantees the repayment of a mortgage or other type of facility made to someone else)
- A standard form third party legal mortgage over a property (usually known as a legal charge) given by a company in favour of another corporate lender securing a specific sum owed by another party to the lender.
- Consent to Mortgage form by Occupier
- Springboard family mortgages which allows family or friends to help secure a mortgage
- Transfers of Equity
- Equity Release
- Settlement Agreements or Employment termination agreements including COT3 agreements
- JBSP (Joint Borrower Sole Proprietor)
During a transaction, be it in a business or personal context, you may find yourself in a situation where you are being told that you must take independent legal advice. Typically, independent legal advice is required for a matter that is incidental to, but critical for the completion of a transaction.
How Does Independent Legal Advice Protect Me?
Clients often think that this type of advice is simply another way of solicitors making money. However, it is essential that there is fairness and equality when entering into contracts. The purpose of Britton and Time Solicitors Brighton giving independent legal advice, is to ensure that the parties are on equal footing and one is not taking advantage of the other. It gives Britton and Time Solicitors the opportunity to review the legal document and advise the client on its pros and cons as well as consequences. Independent legal advice can confirm that the client understands the document properly and verify they are not under any undue influence or pressure to sign the document (this includes duress and coercion).
Documents, such as prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements, separation agreements, as well as deeds, bridging loans and mortgages, require independent legal advice to ensure the document is fair and valid. Paying the extra costs for independent legal advice can be worthwhile to limit future costly litigation.
Entering into any of the agreements mentioned above will usually mean you agreeing to take on some kind of significant and potentially life-changing liability or, in some other cases, you will be given a waiver to some type of right without enjoying a personal benefit for so doing. It is advisable that you understand fully all the implications and seek appropriate independent legal advice.
How much will it cost?
At Britton and Time Solicitors Brighton, we understand that independent legal advice is time consuming and usually imperative to your circumstances. We are often able to act on short notice to maintain deadlines.
Our basic forms of independent legal advice range from £450 plus VAT (for one person) to £750 + VAT. Cost of additional independent legal advice for individuals is usually costed at £200 plus VAT. All clients will be required to produce original photo identification documents as well as a proof of address.
If you need Independent legal advice, then you probably need to speak to Britton and Time Solicitors. For advice please contact us on the contact page or call (01273) 726951.