French Succession Law & Tax Planning

Precis of French Succession Law

How We Charge For Our Services

Succession Law Questionnaire

French Succession Law and Tax Planning

How we charge for our services

The work we carry out is very varied, and involves specialist bilingual skills. The fees charged for your transaction will often depend on events and people outside our control. We can only therefore ever give you our best estimate of how much we are likely to charge for your transaction.

Our current charging rate is £200 per hour. In exceptional cases, we may agree to negotiate our fees downwards. We do not however work on a contingency fee basis.

We charge concessionary rates for straightforward French wills of £100 plus VAT at 17.5 per cent for a single will, and £200 plus VAT at 17.5 per cent for a pair of similar straightforward wills for a husband and wife. We shall be the sole judges of what constitutes a ‘straightforward’ transaction.

Please note that we cannot discuss your case by telephone or otherwise until we have received your formal written instructions. Before we can decide whether or not we can accept your instructions, or determine what our fees are likely to be, we may also need to obtain from you and briefly review legible copies of all relevant correspondence and documentation in your possession. If a more detailed analysis of this or any other documentation is required, we will charge for the time we spend doing so.

If you want to put a ceiling on the costs you are prepared to invest in any matter, you will need to let us know in writing what this is before we agree to start working on your behalf. This ceiling can either be the most that you are willing to spend on the case, or the most that you are willing to spend without further discussion. We cannot guarantee to complete the case below your limit, but only to stop work when our fees have reached that level.

Our fees anticipate a reasonable level of telephone or written communication. We shall be the sole judge of the meaning of the word ‘reasonable’ for these purposes. For short telephone calls, Stephen Smith we may be available immediately. At particularly busy times, it may be some time before a telephone consultation can be arranged. By contrast, e-mail communications from you and opened by us during our usual client contact hours can sometimes be dealt with in a matter of minutes.

Meetings may sometimes be useful and efficient, particularly where several interested parties are present, since many topics can be discussed and agreed at one time. If a meeting becomes necessary, we shall charge for this on a time-spent basis (£200 per hour) in addition to the fees mentioned above.

If a matter is urgent from the outset, or if a matter which is not urgent from the outset later becomes urgent, we will normally charge at twice our normal hourly or fixed rate, which will be confirmed in writing at the earliest opportunity. We shall be the sole judges of what work is genuinely urgent. For example, any request by you for immediate action during our usual client contact hours, or any request for work/meetings to be carried out outside our usual client contact hours during the working week or at weekends will constitute a request by you for work to be undertaken by us urgently. This extra charge reflects the additional stress and difficulties inherent in anything urgent, as well as the disruption caused to our practice and the steps we need to take to avoid our other clients being disadvantaged by giving your matter priority.

Notwithstanding a matter being genuinely urgent, we cannot undertake even preliminary work until we first obtain cleared funds of a sum representing our estimate of all fees (duly marked up at usually twice our normal hourly or fixed rate of charges) and any disbursements required to deal with your urgent transaction.

Should your non-urgent transaction for any reason not proceed, then we shall make a charge for any preliminary advice given and/or other work carried out based on actual time spent. Should your urgent transaction for any reason not proceed, then we shall make a charge for any preliminary advice given and/or other work carried out based on actual time spent, duly marked up at usually twice our normal hourly or fixed rate of charges.

The basis upon which we undertake any work is that we must first have from you an advance payment in cleared funds on account of our costs. These payments are required in full at various stages (to be agreed) throughout your transaction. We will not continue working on a matter when a stage payment or other requested payment or invoice is overdue, even if there are various matters that remain to be dealt with. In such circumstances, we reserve the right to stop acting for you on short notice (in some cases immediately), even if this causes inconvenience or loss to you, and our liability in that respect is expressly excluded.

Please note that we are unable to accept payment by credit or debit card or by cash deposits.

If you are paying by cheque (which is slow to clear) please make your cheque payable to Stephen Smith (France) Ltd. Once your cheque has cleared (you should allow for at least five working days from the date we receive your cheque for this to happen) we will start working on your matter. Please note that we will not usually carry out any work on your matter until your cheque has cleared.

In many cases it will be simpler and more expedient for you to instruct your bank to electronically transfer payments (net of all banking charges) to our firm’s bank, details of which are as follows:

Name of our bank: The Royal Bank of Scotland Plc

Address of our bank: 8-10 Princes Street, Ipswich IP1 1GT

Account name: Stephen Smith (France) Ltd Client Account

Account number: 10068794

Sort Code: 16-22-17

IBAN Number: GB 74 RBOS 16221710068794


Funds from you will only be deemed to have been received upon confirmation from our bank that monies have been lodged in our account quoting your name and reference. Please therefore ensure that your bank quotes your name and reference on the electronic transfer form, so that these details appear on our bank account details which we can read online daily. Otherwise we are unable to start working on your matter.

In urgent cases your bank must email or fax to us confirmation that they have transferred payment to the above account.

Stephen Smith (France) Ltd

16 August 2020

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