Friday, 17 June 2016

Comments and queries

Unfortunately, the note on the top bar explaining how Comments are dealt with in this blog disappeared when I tried to amend it a few weeks ago, and I still haven’t had time to sort this out.

In the meantime, in view of the number of comments and queries still being received, I thought I had better explain again how these are dealt with.

First, no comment appears in the blog until it has first been ‘moderated’. This ensures that spam and other rubbish is excluded. Pressures on my time usually lead to a delay of between two to three days and a week before a comment is published, and occasionally a lot longer.

Secondly, my practice is only to publish those comments and queries that are likely to be of some interest to other readers of the blog. The comments facility is not (and never has been) a means of obtaining free advice on individual planning problems.

Thus queries that are focused solely on a particular problem encountered by a reader, and on which they are trying to find advice, is likely to be deleted without being published. On the other hand, if an identified problem is a common one, then I may decide to publish it with my response, simply to illustrate the point that has been raised. However, this is always strictly on the basis that my comments in response to the question are not to be treated as legal advice, and that no responsibility can be accepted either by me or by Keystone Law for any loss or damage resulting from reliance being placed on such comments.

If a reader wishes to obtain specific advice on a planning problem they have encountered, the comments facility on the blog is not the appropriate means of doing so. The ‘Blogger’ software does not allow me to ascertain the enquirer’s email address, and so I could not respond personally in any event.

The way to seek specific advice is to send me an email at Keystone Law []. However, I must make it clear that I (or one of my colleagues in our planning law team) will only be able to give advice on the basis of full instructions on a fee-paying basis. We cannot offer free advice, nor can we “just give a few moments’ advice on the telephone”. We can only deal with substantive matters on the basis of a full professional retainer. We simply haven’t got time to deal with ‘quick’ queries.

If you wish to make use of our professional services, we shall need your full contact details (full name, home address [or business address where you are instructing us on behalf of a company], telephone numbers, etc.) and we shall also need to see emailed copies of all the relevant documents and/or correspondence that will be required in order to enable us to assess the matter.

Due to my own commitments, it will not usually be possible for me to deal personally with any resulting instructions, but readers of this blog may rest assured that all my colleagues in our planning law team are as knowledgeable and experienced in planning law as I am. (We have no juniors or trainees in the team, and so all instructions are dealt with at a senior level).

Our hourly charging rate is £310 (plus VAT). We have set this charging rate “because we’re worth it” (as one well-known advertising slogan puts it), and it does enable us to keep our workload under some sort of control by ensuring that the kind of instructions we get are substantial matters which really do need our legal input. In practice, our fees for the simplest advice are unlikely to be less than £1,500 (plus VAT), subject to a consideration of the relevant background facts by the member of our planning law team who would be handling the matter. Dealing with various formal procedures in addition to this advice (e.g. corresponding with the local planning authority or dealing with an application or appeal) would, of course, be significantly more expensive. However, before commencing work on the matter, we always agree the fee budget with our client and the scope of what is included within that sum.

Upon our receiving sufficient details of the matter to enable us to assess an appropriate fee budget, we will send you an engagement letter confirming the fee budget and setting out our standard terms of business. Your liability to pay fees for our services will commence upon our receiving a signed copy of that letter back from you.

I hope this note is helpful in clarifying the basis on which comments and queries are handled in this blog, and in explaining how readers who wish to obtain our professional advice can do so.


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