13 reviews (4/5) and information for Hawkins Ryan, 19 Tuesday Market Place, King's Lynn
How to find us
19 Tuesday Market Place, King's Lynn, Norfolk, PE30 1JW
Facilities Office accepts Legal Aid
Languages spoken English, French, Punjabi, Spanish
Size of firm 8 solicitors
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Legal services at this branch
- Commercial litigation
- Commercial property
- Company and commercial
- Conveyancing - residential
- Crime - general
- Family - general
- Insolvency and restructuring - business
- Intellectual property
- Landlord and tenant - residential
- Litigation - general
- Neighbour disputes
- Personal injury
- Private client - Probate
- Private client - trusts
- Private client - Wills
- Professional negligence
General Legal advice
28/01/21 - Reviewed by Anonymous
Used these last year for a house move, what an awful mistake! Incompetent, Very slow, absolutely no communication, you have to chase yourself then you find out you are not actually waiting for anyone else just them. Your solicitor is busy no matter how many times you call, I got angry after the fourth call with no reply. It actually gets upsetting, it’s very unprofessional. You are just strung along. Made my move very stressful, I do not recommend at all.
15/01/21 - Reviewed by Anonymous
Reception is a joke, very rude straight away wasn't interested. Was told that someone would call and never called. Complete waste of time.
General Legal advice
02/12/19 - Reviewed by Anonymous
Well waiting on conclusion of a late Aunts estate it’s been a couple of years now. Was told should be end of June.....it’s now Dec 2nd. One star rating would be a bit generous don’t you think?
08/08/19 - Reviewed by Anonymous
Rachel Hepworth at this firm has been an. absolute god send to me and my family. She is everything you would expect and want from a solicitor, professional, passionate, great communicator, knowledgeable and experienced. Brilliant 5 stars is not enough!
Compiled from data from the Legal Ombudsman website
Outcome: Delay, Failure to keep informed
To pay compensation for emotional impact and/or disruption caused
General Legal advice
19/06/18 - Reviewed by Robin Parker
Hawkins Ryan did a will and conveyancing on a small piece of land for me. Both were done to my complete satisfaction and at very reasonable prices. The conveyancing took longer than expected due to problems inherent to the land but no additional fees were charged over the original quotation. Staff pleasant to deal with and provided information on the state of play whenever it was requested.
08/12/19 - Response by Anonymous
Why would anybody not find this review helpful !?
29/11/17 - Reviewed by Monica Rasberry
In addition to the services of this practice and the excellent service we experienced obtaining probate, I would like to express my absolute delight in how the conveyancing of our late mothers property was handled by Laura Backham.
Excellent, well informed, prompt and kept up to date, from start to finish. Laura kept us well informed and dealt with issues, such as the house not being registered, to rights to mineral mine issues that arose.All aspects handled promptly and professionally.
I also received feedback from the estate agent who sold the property. They also expressed the ease and we'll informed nature of Laura Backham and said her work and approach made it extremely helpful. I would fully recommend Laura's services and would not hesitate to ask for her assistance in the future.
08/12/19 - Response by Anonymous
A very positive review so why would anyone give it the "thumbs down".?
Very strange !!
Will and probate
31/10/17 - Reviewed by SUSAN ROUSE
I would like to thank Andrew Stevenson (Hawkins Ryan Solicitors) for the professional way our late Mothers estate was dealt with, Very efficient and fast service. This can be overwhelming when you are also dealing with a family bereavement . The procedure of probate that was to follow was explained in a straight forward and easy to understand manner . I would like to thank you again Andrew for your kindness to us at this sad time .Your patience was very much appreciated. Regards Susan Rouse
Will and probate
30/10/17 - Reviewed by Harvey Scott
My family recently used Andrew Stevenson (Hawkins Ryan Solicitors) to handle my late mothers financial affairs, i.e. probate, bank accounts etc. What a very professional and friendly experience we received! Probate came through in two weeks and the financial aspects shortly afterwards. I cannot praise them enough through this difficult and emotional time for us, and do not hesitate in recommending Andrew. We currently have house conveyancing being handled by one of Andrews colleagues and if all runs as smoothly, I shall not hesitate singing their praises again!
Will and probate
30/10/17 - Reviewed by Monica Rasberry
Excellent, speedy professional service from Andrew Stevenson. Probate dealt with and completed in two weeks. I was kept well informed every step of the way.
Agreed fixed fee, for probate and conveyancing. I would fully recommend Andrew Stevenson's services.
Will and probate
25/08/17 - Reviewed by Ann Bolton
This is the latest in a long line of dealings with Hawkins, later Hawkins Ryan, starting in the late 1960s.They had dealt with 6 house puchases and 5 sales, and our Wills twice. They have always given first class service and we wouldn't think of using any other firm of Solicitors. Don't be put off by the poor reviews, delays with house purchases are not always their fault. They rely on the other parties and their Solicitors getting a move on too.
Will and probate
07/05/17 - Reviewed by Mrs Joanne Berry
Absolutely awful Solicitors, have dealt with others before, but never like this firm. Slap dash and totally unreliable, rip off and con artists, and to be honest liars. If you are put on hold it explains that they keep you informed every step of the way, no they don't, my dad died 3 months ago, I have had one letter off them, no phonecalls explaining what is going on, I only have questions answered if I phone them, they never return your calls, and most of the time you deal with receptionists or secretaries very rarely the solicitors themselves. I still don't know what is happening but my bill so far is approx. Â£3000 but for what??? I have no idea, my only recommendation would be go somewhere else, and avoid these solicitors, if you can call them that, at all costs. You have been warned.
24/06/17 - Response by Anonymous
Totally agree, don't use this firm. I would go so far as to say they are dishonest and bullying.
Compiled from data from the Solicitors Regulation Authority website
Outcome: Regulatory settlement agreement
This outcome was reached by SRA decision.
1. Mr Paul Sheerin (a partner of Hawkins Ryan Solicitors ("the firm"), 19 Tuesday Market Place, King's Lynn, Norfolk, PE30 1JW) agrees on behalf of the firm to the following outcome of the investigation into the firm's professional conduct under reference LL/1101436-2014/SOM.
2. The Forensic Investigation Department ("FI") of the Solicitors Regulation Authority ("SRA") commenced an inspection of the firm's books of accounts on 14 November 2012 and produced a Report dated 25 June 2013 ("The Report").
3. The Report identified that the firm acted in 146 conveyancing transactions between December 2009 and January 2013 where clients had been party to a Stamp Duty Land Tax ("SDLT") scheme to avoid paying the stamp duty. This initially resulted in the non payment of at least ?3,763,634.47 to HM Revenue and Customs ("HMRC"). The Report concentrated on the conveyancing transactions conducted by the firm between December 2009 and March 2012.
4. The promoters of the schemes were Inventive Tax Strategies Ltd ("ITS") and its associated companies namely Sterling Tax Strategies Limited ("STS") and iTax Consulting Limited. ITS and STS went into Administration on 24 October 2013 and 18 December 2013 respectively.
5. The total fees billed by ITS and its associated companies through the firm totalled ?1,591,522.85 (including VAT). In addition to their normal conveyancing charges billed to clients, the firm also billed ITS and its associated companies at least an estimated further ?71,500.00 (excluding VAT) for facilitation of the SDLT schemes between December 2009 and January 2013. This comprised of charges of ?500.00 plus VAT per matter.
6. Mr Sheerin states that he takes full responsibility for the firm becoming involved in SDLT planning and for the schemes used. The firm was also instructed to act for the mortgage provider ("the lender client(s)") in 130 transactions and the firm stated that the lender clients were advised of the use of the SDLT schemes in a total of 26 matters.
7. HMRC had issued technical news letters in August 2007 and June 2010, which demonstrated that HMRC did not consider the schemes to be legitimate tax avoidance schemes.
8. Anti avoidance legislation was enacted with effect from December 2006 with HMRC's aim to actively challenge property sale arrangements which had been artificially structured to avoid paying the correct amount of SDLT.
The Schemes undertaken
9. Matters involving SDLT avoidance were undertaken by the firm using the following schemes:
"Husband & Wife Scheme (a subsale scheme) - 6 transactions;
"Unlimited Company Scheme" - 85 transactions;
"3S Scheme"/ "Suspended Sub sale Scheme" (a suspended sub sale scheme) - 13 transactions;
"Option Scheme" - 6 transactions;
"Crystal Scheme" (a delayed sub sale scheme) - 33 transactions;
"Trust Subsale Scheme" - 1 transaction;
"Dual Completion"/ "DC Planning Scheme" - 1 transaction; and,
"Jovian Planning Scheme" - 1 transaction.
Husband & Wife Scheme
10. The firm undertook 6 conveyancing transactions using this scheme and acted for a lender client in all of those transactions.
11. The transaction comprised 2 contracts. The first contract is usually the sale by the seller to the wife and the second contract, a subsale by the wife to her husband (or vice versa) and the parties need not be husband and wife. The subsale from wife to husband was in the form of a deed of gift. A deed was created to gift between 79% and 99% of the property to the husband, with the wife retaining the remainder and the property held by the wife as bare trustee for her husband absolutely. Both transactions completed simultaneously. The consideration in the first contract would be for 100% of the market value and the consideration in the second contract would be for less than 20% of the actual market value, bringing it within the nil rate band, or 1% rate band for SDLT.
12. Where a mortgage is required, this is normally made to husband and wife jointly and the instructions will reflect this. For subsale relief to be available, the transfer of funds from each client must be separate and distinct and the husband and wife should be treated as separate clients, including using separate client ledger accounts to deal with the two contracts and each client (husband, wife and lender).
Unlimited Company Scheme
13. The firm undertook 88 conveyancing transactions using this scheme and acted for a lender client in 78 of those transactions.
14. In the "Unlimited Company Scheme", a limited company was incorporated with the purchaser client subscribing for shares, with the company's specific purpose being to purchase the property. The company contracts with the seller to purchase the property and the funds generated by the share subscription are used by the company to facilitate the purchase. A repayment of the capital is made by way of a transfer of the property to the shareholders of the company (the purchaser client) which is done simultaneously at the time of completion. The company is subsequently wound up once registration has taken place. The firm stopped undertaking this scheme in October 2012.
3S Scheme/Suspended Sub sale Scheme/
15. The firm undertook 13 conveyancing transactions using this scheme and acted for a lender client in 9 of those transactions.
16. The "3S Scheme"/"Suspended sub sale scheme" required clients to elect a nominee and also required the creation of a partnership agreement in which the purchasers are the respective partners. The transaction involved 3 contracts. The first contract required the client to exchange with the seller in the usual way. The clients entered into a second contract immediately before completion with their nominee for a specified fixed consideration, normally 0.43% of the purchase price with completion set for 124 years. This contract was stated to be subject to any mortgagee charge and the purchase money was held to order, subject to completion of the contract between seller and purchaser. The consideration for the second contract was normally provided by the purchaser and passed to the nominee as a gift. The nominee would enter into a third contract with the partnership for a nominal sum. The effect of the third contract was to assign all rights and obligations under the second contract to the partnership at the point of its completion, which would be in 124 years. As the consideration in both the second and third contracts was said to be less than the SDLT threshold of ?125,000.00 no SDLT was paid.
17. The firm undertook 6 conveyancing transactions using this scheme and acted for a lender client in 5 of those transactions.
18. In the "Option scheme", the scheme used an option agreement utilising an offshore company on a similar basis to the Crystal Scheme (see below). The use of an option is said to defer the effect of section 75A of the 2003 Finance Act. The firm stopped undertaking this scheme in April 2012.
19. The firm undertook 33 conveyancing transactions using this scheme between April 2012 and January 2013 and acted for a lender client in 32 of those transactions (of which disclosure was made in 21 transactions).
20. The "Crystal Scheme" required purchaser clients to use an incorporated company in the Isle of Man which had been established by the scheme providers for the specific purpose of operating all transactions using this scheme. The purchaser clients would exchange contracts with the seller. Prior to completion, the purchaser client would exchange contracts for the sale of the property to the company in the Isle of Man as a sub sale with the completion date stated to be 124 years. On completion, the purchaser client simultaneously performed the sub sale contract with the company, consideration having already been provided to the company by way of a gift. Since the consideration was said to be less than the SDLT threshold of ?125,000.00, no SDLT was paid.
Trust subsale scheme
21. The firm undertook 1 conveyancing transaction using this scheme which did not involve a lender client.
22. In the "Trust subsale scheme", the purchaser client would enter into a contract with the vendor and exchange in the normal way. However, the scheme also required the creation of 2 discretionary trusts (of which the purchaser client would be a beneficiary and not a trustee) created prior to completion. The purchaser client would enter into a subsale contract with the 1st trust in which the property was contracted to be sold in 124 years (the consideration being the estimated value of the property in 124 years). Prior to completion, the purchaser client would exchange contracts for the sale of the property to the 1st trust (as a subsale) with a completion date stated to be in 124 years. On completion with the vendor, the purchaser client would simultaneously perform the subsale contract with the trustees providing the consideration (which the purchaser client would have previously provided to the trustees). Following completion, the trustees would exchange contracts to sell the property to the 2nd trust (the purchaser client being a beneficiary). Since the subsale estimated consideration was said to be less than the SDLT threshold of ?125,000.00, no SDLT was paid.
Dual Completion / DC Planning Scheme
23. The firm undertook 1 conveyancing transaction using this scheme which did not involve a lender client.
24. The "Dual Completion/DC Planning Scheme" was based on the Husband & Wife Scheme (above) except that a contract was drawn up between the 2 clients (husband and wife) instead of using a supplemental deed. This was still a subsale with both the initial contract (between vendor and client) and subsale contract (between husband and wife) taking place simultaneously. The consideration for the subsale contract in the conveyancing transaction undertaken using this scheme was 11% of the market value of the property. Following simultaneous completion, the SDLT1 would be completed quoting code 28 and an application to register the initial contract would be made to HMLR. An OS1 would also be made to HMLR in respect of the subsale contract with a view to delaying registration of the subsale contract/conveyance. A second TR1 would be submitted to HMLR recording the transfer from husband to wife for the subsale consideration.
Jovian Planning Scheme
25. The firm undertook 1 conveyancing transaction using this scheme which also involved a lender client.
26. The "Jovian Planning Scheme" is very similar to the "Option Scheme" described above except that a contract is placed between the option agreement. The client would enter into a contract to purchase from the vendor and, following exchange, the client would also enter into a contract with a specific purpose vehicle ("spv") in which the client would agree to grant the spv an option to purchase the property. The option would take the form of a deed which would be granted on completion (of the contract with the vendor) with consideration paid by the spv. The option deed would state that if the option was not executed within a specified period any right to require the purchaser to enter into the deed would lapse. The option deed would only be exercisable after a 30 year period and could be assigned by the spv with the client's consent. If the client wished to sell the property within the 30 years the option would be assigned to the new purchaser. If the property was still owned after 30 years, the spv would exercise the option to purchase at market value. In addition to the deed, there would be an express agreement stating that the client would not be bound to convey the property to the spv unless notice was provided pursuant to the option deed.
Failure to disclose material information to lenders clients and failure to act in lender clients' best interests
27. The firm had an obligation to disclose to their lender clients all information material to the clients' matters.
28. Of the 146 conveyancing transactions in which the firm acted, 130 involved mortgages with the firm acting for both purchaser and lender clients. Save for in 26 conveyancing transactions, the firm did not tell their lender clients that the purchaser clients were using a SDLT scheme to avoid paying stamp duty nor did it tell the lender clients how the transactions were structured. The result was that the lender clients were not given material information sufficient to reach an informed decision as to whether to proceed with the mortgage offer or to renegotiate the terms.
29. In failing to disclose material information, the firm failed to act in the best interests of their lender clients.
Acting in transactions where there was a conflict or a significant risk of conflict between the interest of two or more clients
30. Save for 26 conveyancing transactions, the firm failed to disclose to his lender clients the use of the SDLT schemes at any time during the course of the transactions, notwithstanding the fact that the transactions gave rise to a conflict or a significant risk of conflict between the interests of the purchaser and lender clients.
31. A conflict or significant risk of conflict existed with all of these schemes because the firm owed separate duties to act in the best interests of both the purchaser and lender clients in relation to the same transaction.
32. The firm was under an obligation to disclose to their lender client(s) that the purchaser wished to use an SDLT scheme, together with how the scheme operated and how the mortgage funds would be used, in circumstances where the purchaser client(s) may not have wanted the lender client(s) to be told in case the lender(s) withdrew or amended the mortgage offer.
33. A conflict or significant risk of conflict also existed between the purchaser clients who utilised the Husband and Wife schemes and those clients who utilised the Option Schemes. The firm owed separate duties to act in the best interests of each client. The Husband and Wife should have been treated as separate clients and not as the same client.
No written Referral Agreement
34. There was no evidence that the firm had entered into a formal referral agreement with inventive Tax Strategies.
35. Rule 32 of the Solicitors' Accounts Rules 1998 ("the SAR 1998") and Rule 29 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 ("the SAR 2011") required the firm to record the various stages of the transaction(s) on at least 2 separate ledgers to deal with the various stages of the transaction(s).
36. With the exception of the "Unlimited Company Scheme", the firm had undertaken all other transactions (56) with the use of one ledger for those matters.
37. Mr Sheerin states on behalf of the firm that:
37.1. the firm is no longer involved in implementing SDLT schemes;
37.2. following the warning notice issued by the SRA, the firm took leading counsel's opinion on whether to report the use of SDLT schemes to lenders and his advice was that the firm did not need to report but he felt that in the current climate it would be prudent to report the use which advice the firm acted upon;
37.3. he believes that in approximately 50% of the cases in which the firm was instructed, it did not proceed with SDLT planning on behalf of the purchaser clients either because the lenders would not agree or because the clients decided, having heard the firm's general advice on such schemes, that they did not wish to continue with the tax planning;
37.4. while he would not advise purchaser clients on the specific technical issues surrounding each scheme, the firm did advise purchaser clients about the nature of SDLT schemes and the attitude of HMRC towards them.
38. The firm fully co-operated with the SRA during the course of its investigation.
39. Mr Sheerin makes on behalf of the firm, and the SRA accepts, the following admissions:
a) Contrary to Rules 1.04, 1.05, 1.06 and 4.02 of the Solicitors' Code of Conduct 2007 ("the 2007 Code"), Principles 4 and 5 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011 and O 1.1, 1.2, 1.12 and 4.2 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011 ("the 2011 Code"), the firm failed to disclose material information to lender clients and act in lender clients' best interests;
b) Contrary to Rules 3.01 (1) and 3.01 (2) (a) of the 2007 Code, Principles 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011 and O 3.5 of the 2011 Code, the firm acted in transactions where there was a conflict or a significant risk of conflict between the interests of two or more clients;
c) Contrary to Rule 9.02 of the 2007 Code, Principle 7 of the SRA Principles 2011 and O 9.7 of the 2011 Code, the firm failed to have in place a written Referral Agreement with Inventive Tax Strategies;
d) Contrary to Rule 32 (1) and (2) of the SAR 1998 and Rule 29 of the SAR 2011, the firm failed to keep accounting records properly written up.
40. The firm is fined ?2,000.00 and rebuked for the breaches identified at paragraph 39 above.
41. The firm agrees to pay the SRA costs in the sum of ?3.636.47 within 28 days of receipt of an invoice for the cost from the SRA.
42. The firm agrees that this outcome may be published by the SRA and it may also disclose to any person upon request or otherwise.
43. The firm agrees that it will not act in any way inconsistent with this agreement by, for example, denying its respective admitted misconduct.
44. If the firm acts in any way inconsistent with this Agreement, it accepts that the issues may be referred back to the SRA for consideration or referral of its conduct to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal on the original facts and allegations and also on the basis that such failure to comply with this agreement may constitute a breach of Principles 2, 6 and 7 SRA Principles 2011.
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