The following is no substitute for advice provided by a lawyer specifically for you. It is intended only to help you understand that advice. No responsibility is taken for any problems arising except due to paid legal advice.
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As always, unless otherwise provided, our fees are our hourly rates unless otherwise provided. However, in the case of Real Estate, we do offer some very reasonable flat rates, which apply unless the matter is exceptionally complex.
As always, we charge any out of pocket costs (disbursements) and any applicable sales taxes in addition to the fees. That is the norm for legal services, so when you compare, be sure to compare fee quotations, and not estimated totals. Estimates may vary, but actual costs should be the same from office to office.
If you are dealing with closely related, highly trustworthy individuals, you may only require a transfer of the property. Our fees for a transfer are only $250.00 plus $50.00 for each title after the first. This would be appropriate if you were being given some land by a family member. But in that case, we only guarantee that the title is transferred. We would make no warranties about the condition of title, of the land, would not handle any escrow or money, or any of the other warranties which we offer when we perform 'conveyancing'. Conveyancing fees are therefore based at least in part on a percentage of the values (risks) involved.
If you are financing the transaction with a mortgage, it is a normal requirement that you pay for the mortgagee's (bank's) lawyer. Provided you choose a reputable lawyer, the bank will almost always permit you to use the same lawyer. But there will be no avoiding the requirement for legal conveyancing in that case. See our discussion of conflicts of interest.
For conveyancing (where we handle one side of a sale and make an assortment of checks and guarantees to the client and to other parties so that the deal can proceeds), and for mortgaging, we normally charge by the non-mandatory Law Society of Saskatchewan Real Estate Tariff. The Law Society no longer provides this tariff on their web site, but we are not aware that it has ever been revoked, and it still constitutes a standard in Saskatchewan. The gist is that the same formula is applied to a seller, a purchaser, or a mortgagor (borrower). In the case of a purchaser financing with a mortgage they get charged the tariff once for the purchase and again for the mortgage. In each case, it starts with a minimum fee, rises according to the value involved, but then the rate of rise is reduced after $100,000. It is best to call or email for a quote, because the calculations are complex, and certain things (house calls, extra encumbrances, rushes, corporations, condominiums, etc.) may affect the calculations. The costs are also complex to calculate.
Our normal fees are based on an hourly rate, as follows. Out of pocket costs (disbursements) are always additional, and always charged at actual cost. Sales and services taxes will be applied as required by law. However, we can, since we are acting as your agent, take advantage of certain exemptions.
|Service by:||Since:||Hourly Rate|
|Kevin Jaques, B.A., LL.B.||1985 (call to bar)||90.00|
|Kevin Jaques, B.A., LL.B.||1999||120.00|
|Kevin Jaques, B.A., LL.B.||2004||150.00|
|Kevin Jaques, B.A., J.D.||2011||300.00|
When comparing hourly rates, the minimum increment is significant. Bookkeeping systems vary in their ability to track small amounts of time. Generally there are minimum increments, how much is charged for a task that doesn't take much time. Our minimum increment was 0.1 of an hour (6 minutes) until 2011, when the lawyer's minimum increment became 0.05 of an hour (3 minutes). Actually, the lawyer's rate is $150.00 per half hour, and so the minimum increment is actually 0.1 of that (3 minutes).
Initial consultations are free. These are expected to take just long enough for the lawyer to understand the problem, and explain the applicable fees, and provide an initial impression of the chances of success. This should normally be no longer than 20 minutes. Consultations beyond this scope will be charged at our regular hourly rates.
Generally we do not accept percentage fee arrangements to begin with. Once the case is underway, and we have heard the other side's argument, we will consider it. However, we must also be satisfied that the other party is financially able to pay the claim. Generally that decision rests with the client. If we were satisfied, and we would charge for the investigation of that issue, we would consider it. If so, we would expect the arrangement to return a higher level of fee, in exchange for waiting for payment and assuming the risk. The Law Society requires the client to enter a written agreement for such arrangements.
We require security of some sort before performing work. Generally, that is a deposit of money to our trust account, which we call a 'retainer' payment which is deposited to our trust account.
Lawyers must maintain bank accounts for 'trust money' separate from the lawyer's own money. The money 'in trust' still belongs to the client, but only the lawyer has signing authority. The lawyer can use it to pay disbursements, or to pay his or her own invoice, once it is issued. The Law Society of Saskatchewan has arrangements with the banks under which it monitors these accounts and insures them.
Such a retainer payment is not intended to be a quote or even estimate of what the fees will be. It is just the required amount the lawyer demands for security before commencing work. We try to not 'work beyond' the retainer, for our own protection as well as the client's, but due to the nature of legal work, this is not always possible, and frequently the time and disbursements will exceed the retainer.
The amount required for the retainer payment will depend on many factors and it will be for a specific stage in the procedure. We will advise from time to time when additional retainer payments are required.
Other security is negotiable.
If legal work is complete at the time of payment, we may simply accept payment without an invoice. But normally, we issue an 'Invoice' which performs the function of demanding payment, or 'billing'. It is not necessarily the amount which must be paid, because the client may have deposited money into trust. The trust money will be applied to the invoice, and the client will owe the balance. Generally, an invoice will only show the time and disbursements applied to one file. A client may have more than one file, in which case there may remain unbilled time and disbursements.
We issue monthly 'Billing Statements'. These show the history of the amount owing to us, including invoices, payments, and interest. Again, these do not show the amount which was paid to the trust account, until it is paid to the lawyer. Nor do they show unbilled work and disbursements. These do apply to all files for that billing account however.
We can supply a 'trust ledger card' upon request. This shows the history of money in trust.
From time to time when we issue an Invoice, we charge less than the time incurred would require. This is called an Offer Of Voluntary Reduction. However, we can retract this offer at any time before payment of the invoice amount. Further, if we must enforce payment, this offer is automatically retracted. In either case, the interest must be recalculated back to the date of the invoice.
We charge a high rate of interest, namely 2 per cent per month, compounded monthly. We are not, and do not wish to be in the business of providing credit. This is not intended to make a profit for us, but to encourage clients to find their credit elsewhere.
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