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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 25358
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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Hi, I need a solicitor to witness me signing some documents

Resolved Question:

Hi, I need a solicitor to witness me signing some documents in order to take over the lease of my new pub.

Can any solicitor do this, what should this be costing me, and is there anyone I can come to around the Liverpool or Manchester area to do this? I need to do it on Monday and get the documents back on Tuesday (w/c 17th March 2014).

Also, I would need a letter from a solicitor with wording (on letter headed paper) saying something similar to the following:

"We confirm that we have been appointed as solicitors to act for (me) in relatino to matters concerning the premesis known as (my pub)"

Could someone let me know if they can help me with this this weekend or Monday morning at the latest, and an approximate price. I'm really happy with the contract I'm signing into, so just need witnesses and this letter of engagement.

Many thanks,

Phil.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 3 years ago.

Joshua :

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

Joshua :

May I ask why you need a solicitor to be involved please? Does it have to do with contracting out of part II of the Landlord and Tenant Act?

Customer:

Hi, The Brewery I will be taking the agreement with insist that as part of the application for the lease, I must have an accountant and a solicitor. An accountant has been selected which is InnTrade and they have given me all of the forecast accounting figures, which have been supplied to the brewery. I now need a solicitor purely to witness me sign the agreement. Also, I must supply a letter of engagement from a solicitors, which basically says that they are my choice to represent me should I need legal advice.

Customer:

I believe they call this a letter of engagement.

Joshua :

the difficulty you are going to encounter with this is that if a solicitor both witnesses the lease agreement or agreement that you have been asked to sign and provides you with a letter of engagement, this will be evidence that they have acted for you and advised you upon the agreement. as a consequence of this, the firm would have concerns with regards XXXXX XXXXX to you in the event that any agreement you sign is unsuitable for any reason in the future - i.e. you may be able to make a claim against them.

I fully appreciate you do not wish them to advise you upon the document and no doubt would be willing to confirm that you would not hold liable in respect of the contents of the document however the regulations and standards applied to solicitors is so high that it is unlikely the solicitor would be able to avoid liability in respect of the document whether they have advised upon it or not if they have both witnessed it and issued a letter of engagement along the lines you suggest

Joshua :

I cannot guarantee that all solicitors would approach this in the same way however certainly if you came to me with this request, I would advise you that I would need to formally act for you and advise you in connection with the agreement in order to both witness the same and issued a letter of engagement you request. I imagine an overwhelming majority of solicitors would share the same concerns. My view would therefore be that the general response you will receive is that the matter will need to be treated as a formal instruction in respect of advising and reporting to you on the agreement you have been asked to sign

Joshua :

this inevitably will be a frustration for you and it may be that you will be able to find a solicitor that is less risk averse however as a profession, we are generally very risk averse folk for good reason that we can be held liable for negligence very easily by clients if there is a hint of unorthodoxy in relation to an instruction

Customer:

I see. Hmm, this makes things a little more complicated.

So I could ask a solicitor to do either of these things? The wording on the documents I've been asked to sign seem to say that it can be anyone witnessing the signature. It's just the letter of engagement that they actually say must be from a solicitor.

Joshua :

assuming this is a relatively standard pubco lease arrangement my assumption would be that the standard fee from a solicitor would be anything from £750-1500 + VAT though you may be able to negotiate this lower if you narrow the instruction to the bare minimum.

Joshua :

leases can be witnessed by anybody and in this respect this is simple enough. You could ask a friend or neighbour to witness your signature and that would do. It is a letter of engagement issue which is likely to cause you potential difficulty. can you Tommy precisely what the pubco has asked you to obtain in terms of a letter - word for word if you have it?

Customer:

Sorry for the delay. All I have been sent is a sample of what I should be asking for from a solicitor. I'm happy to have a family member witness me sign the agreement. I'll attach the sample my area manager has sent me.

Customer:

I can't attach it but it is here: http://we.tl/c5uFgfJkZM

Joshua :

thank you. the question I would immediately asked you if you requested such a letter from me would be what precisely is it you would like assistance with. solicitors for many of the above reasons will typically be reluctant to issue a letter such as this for a new client with whom they have no prior relationship without a firm instruction from you to do something. In other words, they may be uncomfortable in accepting a general retainer to do nothing for you at the present. My feeling is you may meet with more success if you approach a solicitor with actual request for them to do something for you. If you do not wish to have solicitors advice in respect of the agreement you are being asked to sign, one of the simplest things you could ask a solicitor to do is review and report to you on thelandlords title the land registry. This is likely to be relatively straightforward and would not result in significant costs and should enable you to obtain a letter in the form you wish without too many further questions being asked.

Joshua :

I would imagine costs for reviewing title reporting to you on it could be anything between £100 and £300 depending upon the competitiveness of the quote

Joshua :

it may be that you will be lucky and find a solicitor that is perfectly happy to accept a general retainer and issue the letter you require but my suspicion is most solicitors if not the overwhelming majority may be reluctant.

Joshua :

In terms of solicitors are being available on Saturday, unfortunately most firms do not open on Saturday but one to do. my understanding is this organisation provides Saturday opening hours if there is one near you: www.qualitysolicitors.com/‎

Joshua :

alternatively, you should be able to make an appointment early on Monday morning if this is not too late

Joshua :

is there anything above I can clarify for you?

Customer:

No that's great. Many thanks for your assistance.

Joshua :

A pleasure. just a word of warning before you go…

Joshua :

If this is a lease you are taking from a pub co, to ensure you fully understand every aspect of the same as they are famously one-sided in favour of the pub co. to the extent that there has been much call for regulation of such lease is so far successfully resisted by lobbying by the pub co. companies. there is essentially no consumer protection in respect of such leases and accordingly, each clause should be read in detail and thought about carefully. Ideally, you would seek solicitors advice in respect of the document before you sign it but you do not have to but as a minimum, I would strongly recommend that you take significant time to read the document as above thinking about each clause carefully as such leases can impose potentially colossal financial obligations upon you particularly if the business struggles in anyway.

Joshua :

after that rather depressing word of caution, I wish you the very best of luck with your new venture

Joshua :

If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to rate my service to you today. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me though.

Customer:

Thanks for the advice, I'll make a couple of phone calls and see if I can get to speak with someone. I've taken over this place from manager to new tenant so hoping that it will go smoothly, but I will need to take more advice on this agreement. Thanks again.

Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 25358
Experience: LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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