We aim to offer our clients quality legal advice with a personal service at a fair cost. As a start, we hope it is helpful to set out in this statement the basis on which we will provide our professional services.
OUR COMMITMENT TO YOU
- REPRESENT your interests and keep your business confidential.
- EXPLAIN to you the legal work which may be required and the prospects of a successful outcome.
- MAKE SURE that you understand the likely degree of financial risk which you will be taking on.
- ADVISE YOU if legal aid might be available to you.
- KEEP YOU regularly informed of progress or, if there is none, when you are next likely to hear from us.
- AVOID using technical legal language when writing to you. Tell us when we fail in this aim!
- DEAL with your queries promptly, for example, we will always try to return your telephone call on the same day.
OUR HOURS OF BUSINESS
- The normal hours of opening at our offices are between 9.00am and 5.00pm on weekdays.
PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR WORK
- All matters are supervised by a Solicitor but the day-to-day conduct of a matter may be with a Lawyer. We will inform you in writing the name of the supervising Solicitor and the Lawyer with conduct of your matter. We will try to avoid changing the people who handle your work but if this cannot be avoided, we will tell you promptly of any change and why it may be necessary.
CHARGES AND EXPENSES
- Our charges will be calculated mainly by reference to the fixed costs at each stage of the proceedings.
- Occasionally there may be some of those charges which are not recoverable, these will also be payable by you.
- If your case becomes defended or a Counterclaim is made against you it may be necessary for your file to be passed to the Litigation Department. This will only be done with your authority.
- The Litigation Department charges by reference to the time actually spent by the Solicitor and other staff in respect of any work which they carry out on your behalf.
- This will include meetings with you and perhaps others, reading and working on papers, correspondence, including e-mails, preparation of any detailed costs, calculations and time spent travelling away from the office when this is necessary. From time to time we may arrange for some of this work to be carried out by persons not directly employed by us.
- Routine letters and emails are charged as 6 minute units of time and we charge for the time spent making and taking telephone calls in 6 minute units and considering incoming letters and emails at units of 6 minutes per page.
- The Current hourly rates will be provided to you. We will add VAT to these at the rate that applies when the work is done. At present, VAT is 20%.
- These hourly rates have to be reviewed periodically to reflect increases in overhead costs and inflation. Normally the rates are reviewed with effect from 1 January each year. If a review is carried out before this matter has been concluded, we will inform you of any variation in the rate before it takes effect.
- In addition to the time spent, we may take into account a number of factors including any need to carry out work outside our normal office hours, the complexity of the issues, the speed at which action has to be taken, and any particular specialist expertise when the case may demand.
- Solicitors have to pay out various other expenses on behalf of Clients ranging from Court fees, experts’ fees, and so on. We have no obligation to make such payments unless you have provided us with the funds for that purpose. VAT is payable on certain expenses. We refer to such payments generally as ‘disbursements’.
- If, for any reason, this matter does not proceed to completion, we will be entitled to charge you for work done and expenses incurred.
- Our payment terms are strictly 28 days from the date of our invoice. We reserve the right to deduct our charges and expenses from any monies held on behalf of our Client in settlement of outstanding bills which exceed our payment terms.
- Where possible invoices will be sent to you electronically.
- It is normal practice to ask Clients to pay sums of money from time to time on account of the charges and expenses which are expected in the following weeks or months. We find that this helps Clients in budgeting for costs as well as keeping them informed of the legal expenses which are being incurred. If such requests are not met with prompt payment, delay in the progress of a case may result. In the unlikely event of any bill or request for payment not being met, we reserve the right to stop acting for you further and all of our invoices will be payable.
- The common law entitles us to retain any money, papers or other property belonging to you which properly comes into our possession pending payment of our costs, whether or not the property is acquired in connection with the matter for which the costs were incurred. This is known as a “general lien”. We are not entitled to sell property held under a lien but we are entitled to hold property, other than money, even if the value of it greatly exceeds the amount due to us in respect of costs.
- As we are conducting litigation for you, we have additional rights in any property recovered or preserved for you whether it is in our possession or not and in respect of all costs incurred, whether billed or unbilled. We also have a right to ask the Court to make a Charging Order in our favour for any assessed costs.
OTHER PARTIES’ CHARGES AND EXPENSES
- In some cases and transactions a Client may be entitled to payment of costs by some other person. It is important that you understand that in such circumstances, the other person may not be required to pay all the charges and expenses which you incur with us. You have to pay our charges and expenses in the first place and any amounts which can be recovered will be a contribution towards them. If the other party is in receipt of legal aid no costs are likely to be recovered.
- If you are successful and a Court orders another party to pay some or all of your charges and expenses, interest can be claimed on them from the other party from the date of the Court Order. We will account to you for such interest to the extent that you have paid our charges or expenses on account.
- You will also be responsible for paying our charges and expenses of seeking to recover any costs that the Court orders the other party to pay to you.
- A Client who is unsuccessful in a Court case may be ordered to pay the other party’s legal charges and expenses. That money would be payable in addition to our charges and expenses. Arrangements can be made to take out insurance to cover liability for such legal expenses. Please discuss this with us if you are interested in this possibility although we are unable to advise you or arrange a policy as we are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. Please tell us if you have a Legal Insurance Protection Policy.
- Any money received on your behalf will be held in our Client Account. With reference to the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 interest will be calculated and paid to you at the rate from time to time payable to Lloyds’ Client Account (with a de minimus of £20.00), the period for which interest is calculated is for the period “cleared funds” are held.
STORAGE OF PAPERS AND DOCUMENTS
- After completing the work, we are entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is money owing to us for our charges and expenses. In addition we will keep your file of papers for you in storage for not less than 6 years. After that, storage is on the clear understanding that we have the right to destroy it after such period as we consider reasonable or to make a charge for storage if we ask you to collect your papers and you fail to do so. No charge will be made to you for such storage unless prior notice in writing is given to you of a charge to be made from a future date which may be specified in that notice.
- If we retrieve papers or documents from storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act in connection with your affairs, we will not normally charge for such retrieval. However, we may make a charge based on time spent for producing stored papers or documents to you or another at your request. We may also charge for reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions.
- We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority.
- You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time but we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is money owing to us for our charges and expenses. If at any stage you do not wish us to continue doing work and/or incurring charges and expenses on your behalf, you must tell us this clearly in writing.
- If we decide to stop acting for you, for example if you do not pay an interim bill or comply with the request for a payment on account, we will tell you the reason and give you notice in writing.
- Under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, for some non-business instructions, you may have the right to withdraw, without charge, within 7 working days of the date on which you asked us to act for you. However, if we start work with your consent within that period, you lose that right to withdraw.
- Your acceptance of these Terms and Conditions of Business will amount to such a consent. If you seek to withdraw instructions, you should give notice by telephone, e-mail or letter to the person named in these Terms of Business as being responsible for your work. The Regulations require us to inform you that the work involved is likely to take more than 30 days.
- When accepting instructions to act on behalf of a Limited Company, we may require a Director and/or controlling shareholder to sign a form of Personal Guarantee in respect of the charges and expenses of this Company. If such a request is refused, we will be entitled to stop acting and to require immediate payment of our charges on an hourly basis and expenses as set out earlier.
- We are not qualified to advise you on any tax implications but should such an issue arise we will advise you promptly and recommend that you instruct or seek advice from another advisor.
IDENTITY AND DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS
- We are entitled to refuse to act for you if you fail to supply appropriate proof of identity for yourself or for any principal whom you may represent.
- We will not be liable for any loss, damage or delay arising out of the Companies compliance with any statutory or regulatory requirement.
COMMUNICATION BETWEEN YOU AND US
- Our aim is to offer all our Clients an efficient and effective service at all times. We hope that you will be pleased with the work we do for you. Should there be any aspect of our service with which you are unhappy, please raise your concern in the first instance with the person dealing with your case. If you still have queries or concerns, please contact the supervising Solicitor.
- We will aim to communicate with you by such a method as you may request. We may need to virus check discs or e-maiI. Unless you withdraw consent, we will communicate with others when appropriate by e-maiI or fax but we cannot be responsible for the security of correspondence and documents sent by emaiI or fax.
- The Data Protection Act requires us to advise you that your particulars are held on our database. We may, from time to time, use these details to send you information which we think might be of interest to you.
- Except in situations which would lead to a conflict of interest, we are free to act for any other clients who may wish to instruct us. We may, therefore, act for other clients on whose behalf we may hold information which might be material to your instructions but which we cannot disclose because of our duty of confidentiality to them. When instructing us, you agree that we will not be under an obligation to disclose this information to you because of our duty of confidentiality to other client(s). We would never, however, act for other clients where this could potentially prejudice your interests.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS
- Unless otherwise agreed, these Terms and Conditions of Business shall apply to any future instructions given by you to this firm.
- Your continuing instructions in this matter will amount to an acceptance of these Terms and Conditions of Business.
COSTS ESTIMATE AND TIME ESTIMATE
- These will be provided by way of a separate letter to you. If you require any further information in this regard, we shall be happy to provide fuller details on request.
All Solicitors must attempt to resolve problems that may arise with their services. It is therefore important that you immediately raise any concerns you may have with us. We value you and would not wish to think you have any reason to be unhappy with us. In the event that you have a problem, you are entitled to complain. Our Complaints Procedure is available upon request.
In the event that you are not satisfied with the firm’s response the Legal Ombudsman may be able to consider your complaint. There are, however, restrictions to this service for organisations, as set out on their website (see below). Normally, you should bring your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of the end of our complaints handling process. In addition, you should note that the Legal Ombudsman will not be able to accept your complaint if:
- More than six years have elapsed from the date of the alleged act or omission giving rise to your complaint; or
- More than three years have elapsed since the time that you should have known about your entitlement to make a complaint; or
- The date of the alleged act or omission giving rise to the complaint was before the 6thOctober 2010.
The contact details for the Legal Ombudsman are:
Address: Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ
You may also be able to object to our bill by applying to the Court for an assessment under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. If you exercise this right you would be prevented from making a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman. In addition, if you apply to the Court for an assessment and if all or part of the bill remains unpaid at the end of that assessment, we are entitled to charge interest at the rate payable for the time being on Court Judgement debts which is currently 8% per annum. There are strict time limits that apply to this process and you may wish to seek independent legal advice.
In accordance with the disclosure requirement of the Provision of Services Regulations 2009, our Professional Indemnity Insurer is Travelers Insurance Company Limited, Exchequer Court, 33 St Mary Axe, London EC38 8HE. The Territorial coverage is worldwide.
The cover is for a maximum of £3 million pounds per claim.
We are Authorised and Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (reg no 565761) in relation to the work we do. Full details can be accessed at www.sra.org.uk/rules.