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Understanding Sears Tooth Agreements in Family Law | Your Family Law Guide

By Peter Thomas on June 20, 2023

sears tooth agreements being signed for legal fees

The Use of Sears Tooth Agreements in Family Law

Family law cases, particularly those related to divorce and financial settlements, can often be complex and emotionally charged. Navigating these waters requires not just legal expertise, but also a keen understanding of the various tools and mechanisms available to ensure fair representation. One such tool that has gained prominence in recent times is the Sears Tooth Agreement.

What is a Sears Tooth Agreement?

A Sears Tooth Agreement is a specific type of agreement between a solicitor and their client, most commonly used in family law cases. Named after the law firm Sears Tooth which first used it, the agreement allows a solicitor to directly collect their fees from any financial settlement obtained by the client, typically in a divorce case.

This type of agreement can be particularly useful in situations where a financially weaker party (usually the wife) may not have the immediate means to pay for legal representation. It ensures that everyone has access to legal representation, regardless of their current financial situation.

The Mechanics of a Sears Tooth Agreement

Under a Sears Tooth Agreement, a solicitor’s fees are secured by a charge over the assets that are the subject of the financial settlement. This means that once the court orders a settlement, the solicitor’s fees are paid directly from this settlement before the client receives their share. It’s worth noting that the agreement must be carefully drafted to comply with the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s rules and the agreement should always be in writing.

The Benefits and Risks

One of the main benefits of a Sears Tooth Agreement is that it can enable access to legal representation for those who might not otherwise be able to afford it. This is particularly important in family law cases, where the stakes can be high and the outcome can have significant long-term effects on the parties involved.

However, Sears Tooth Agreements are not without their risks. For the client, there’s a risk that the legal fees might consume a significant portion of their settlement. For the solicitor, there’s a risk that if the settlement is less than expected, or even non-existent, they may not receive full payment for their services.


As with any legal agreement, it’s important to fully understand the implications of a Sears Tooth Agreement before entering into one. For some, it can be a lifeline, providing access to legal representation in challenging family disputes. However, it’s always recommended that clients seek independent legal advice to ensure that they are making an informed decision.

The use of Sears Tooth Agreements in family law underlines the need for flexible and innovative legal solutions. As family law continues to evolve, these agreements remain a testament to the commitment of legal professionals to ensure fair and equitable representation for all parties involved.

Remember, every case is unique, and it’s essential to get legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances. If you think a Sears Tooth Agreement might be right for you, consult with one of our experienced family law solicitors who can guide you through the process.

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    • Peter Thomas

      Peter is a law graduate of The University of Wales Cardiff, where he gained a deep understanding of the legal system. After completing his studies, he began his career at the well-known Birmingham law firm Brendan Fleming, where he excelled and rose to the position of Associate. In 2005, Peter decided to set up his own firm, Peter Thomas Law, which became a trailblazer in providing family law services online, not just in Wales, but also beyond. His vast experience and expertise in high net worth matrimonial finance cases have made him one of the most sought-after legal minds in the field. Peter has handled some of the most complicated and high-profile cases, including those that have gone to the Court of Appeal. Despite his hectic schedule, Peter is married with two adult children and lives near our Wales office. When he’s not in the office, Peter loves to travel and immerse himself in different cultures. He has developed a passion for trekking holidays, which have taken him to places such as Everest base camp, Kilimanjaro, Belize, and Machu Picchu.

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