What is a Sears Tooth Agreement?

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There can sometimes be a situation where you don’t have cash or liquid assets to pay the legal fees incurred in your divorce, but you know you will benefit from a financial settlement once the divorce concludes.

A Sears Tooth agreement assigns part or all of your financial settlement to your solicitor in order to cover their costs of acting for you in respect of your divorce. In simple terms, your solicitor works for no fee upfront but is paid from the proceeds of your divorce settlement. These types of agreement must be in place with the solicitor prior to the case getting underway.

When would a Sears Tooth agreement be suitable?

Many solicitors don’t offer this option as the payment of their fees is dependent on the outcome of the case. A risky case, or a situation where there are not significant assets, could mean that the solicitor receives little or no payment for their work.

So, a Sears Tooth agreement is normally only suitable for cases where there is likely to be a high chance of success, and a significant financial settlement from which your solicitor can take their fees.

You will need to speak to your solicitor and establish exactly what you both expect the final settlement could be. All assets will need to be valued and then your solicitor can establish what you’re likely to receive in a financial settlement, and whether it is enough to cover their costs.

A deed of retainer and assignment will then be drafted. This outlines the costs and the terms of your Sears Tooth agreement. You will then need to ask an independent legal adviser to witness this deed. Once such an agreement is signed, it must be disclosed to the Court and it becomes legally binding.

What are the benefits of a Sears Tooth agreement?

The main reason you could consider a Sears Tooth agreement is if you do not have money available to pay your solicitor upfront, but you know you will have funds once the divorce has been finalised. It enables you to benefit from receiving legal advice even though you may not be able to pay your solicitor upfront.

A Sears Tooth agreement also helps you to avoid having to borrow money from a bank, or from friends or family.

 


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