Terms of Business
Our terms of engagement are set out below and should be read carefully.
1. People responsible for your work
You will be told which Partner/Associate/Solicitor/Legal Executive will be responsible for carrying out your work as well as the Supervising Partner, who is ultimately responsible for your work.
If your Solicitor is not in the office or is engaged with other clients, please ask to speak to their secretrary who may be able to deal with your enquiry but if not, they will take a message and arrange for your Solicitor to ring you back as soon as is possible.
We try to avoid changing the people who handle your work but if this cannot be avoided we will inform you promptly who will be handling the matter.
2. Charges and disbursements
Our charges are calculated mainly by reference to the amount of time we spend on your matter. Each Partner/Associate Solcitor/Solicitor/Legal Executive charges according to an hourly rate, which is reviewed each year by the Partnership, and which you will be informed of at the outset.
Routine telephone calls, letters and e-mails sent and received are charged at a rate equivalent to 6 minutes of the solicitor’s time. Lengthy telephone calls, over 6 minutes, are recorded accurately as an attendance. Long letters may sometimes require perusal and preparation in addition to the standard letter charge.
We are happy to communicate with you by email if convenient but ask you to note that security and confidentiality of emails cannot be guaranteed.
Also note that emails and text messages (no matter how brief) will be charged in the same way as a letter or telephone call.
You will be responsible for all disbursements (expenses). They are an additional cost to your case, for example the costs of a medical report.
3. Timescale and estimate of costs
We will advise you at your initial interview of the timescale and estimate of costs for your matter.
We will inform you if unforeseen extra work becomes necessary, for example due to unexpected difficulties or if your requirements or the circumstances change significantly. We will also inform you in writing of the estimated cost of the further work before incurring extra costs.
Any money which you pay to us on account of costs and disbursements will be held in our client ledgers and will be transferred from those accounts when disbursements are incurred or when we have sent you a bill for work completed. We will pay interest on client money held on your behalf in accordance with the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules.
Payment of bills is due to us within 28 days of the date of the bill. If you do not pay the bill within this time, we will charge interest on it at 2% per calendar month on a daily basis from the date of the bill until it is paid.
If you have any query about the bill you should contact the Partner/Associate Solicitor/Solicitor/Legal Executive dealing with your matter straight away.
5. Financial services and insurance mediation
We are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority. However, we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Services Authority so that we can carry on insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the advising on selling and administration of insurance contracts. This part of our business, including arrangements for complaints or redress, is regulated by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Services Authority website at www.fsa.gov.uk/register.
The Law Society is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, but the responsibility for regulation and complaints handling has been separated from the Law Society’s representative functions.
The Solicitors’ Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory body of the Law Society and the Legal Complaints Service is the independent complaints handling body of the Law Society.
Your matter may involve investments. We are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority and so may refer you to someone who is authorised to provide any necessary advice, such as an Accountant or an Independent Financial Advisor.
However, we can provide certain limited services in relation to investments, provided they are closely linked with the legal services we are providing to you, as we are regulated by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority.
6. Money laundering
There are some important things you should know about our obligations in respect of money laundering:
6.1. Proof of Identity
The law now requires solicitors, as well as banks, buildings societies and others, to obtain satisfactory evidence of the identity of their client. This is because solicitors who deal with money and property on behalf of their client can be used by criminals wishing to launder money. In order to comply with the law on money laundering, we need to obtain evidence of your identity as soon as practicable. We would be grateful therefore, if you would provide us with documents to verify your identity and address if you have not already done so.
Evidence of age and date of birth:
a. Full valid passport
b. National identity card or resident’s permit
c. Current photocard driving license
d. Firearms certificate
e. State pension or benefit book
f. HMRC tax notification
Evidence of current address:
a. Home visit
b. Electoral roll check
c. Recent utility or council tax bill (less than 3 months old)
d. Recent mortgage statement
e. Recent bank/building society statement
f. Current driving license (if not used to verify name and date of birth)
g. Local council rent card or tenancy agreement
Solicitors are under a professional and legal obligation to keep the affairs of clients confidential. This obligation, however, is subject to a statutory exception. Recent legislation on money laundering and terrorist financing has placed solicitors under a legal duty in certain circumstances to disclose information to the National Criminal Intelligence Service. Where a solicitor knows or suspects that a transaction on behalf of a client involves money laundering, the solicitor may be required to make a money laundering disclosure.
If, whilst we are acting for you, it becomes necessary to make a money laundering disclosure, we may not be able to inform you that a disclosure has been made or of the reasons for it because the law prohibits "tipping-off". Where the law permits us to do so we will tell you about any potential money laundering problem and explain what action we may need to take.
6.3. Further notes on money laundering
a. We will not accept cash exceeding £1,000 (in respect of any one transaction).
b. We will not accept receipt of funds from a non-UK bank account.
c. We will not make payment to a non-UK bank account.
d. We will not accept payment of funds on your behalf from an unknown third party.
e. We will not make payment to an unknown third party.
f. If you fail to provide the information set out in paragraph 6.1 above we reserve the right to terminate our contract with you.
7. Service Standards and commitments
We operate a system throughout our practice insisting that our staff meet certain standards with regard to client care.
These standards specify that: -
a. Clients should receive information on progress of the matter at appropriate intervals.
b. Telephone calls from clients are to be returned during the course of the same day, if at all possible.
c. Correspondence of any sort is to be dealt with promptly.
d. Appointments are to be given to clients without undue delay.
e. Letters to clients should be written in plain, succinct English and should avoid legal jargon.
f. We will deal with information that we receive from you in accordance with our legal obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998.
g. We do occasionally outsource work, such as typing or photocopying. However, should we feel the need to do this we will take all reasonable precautions to preserve and protect client confidentiality. If you object to us outsourcing any of your work please kindly inform us and we will ensure that this will not happen without your consent.
h. This firm is committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of its dealings with clients, third parties and employees.
8. Tax advice
Whilst we can advise you in relation to issues relating to taxation in so far as they relate to the current matter, for more complex taxation advice we can refer you to an appropriate expert.
9. Storage and retention of your papers
We will on completion of your matter retain your file of papers for a minimum period of six years. At the end of that time the file will be destroyed and disposed of securely. In the case of deeds or documents which require retention, these will be stored securely.
If you require access to these documents or wish to review or remove them from storage the firm reserves the right to render an administration charge of £30 plus VAT.
You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time. We are entitled to keep all your documents while money is owing to us. We will only decide to stop acting for you on giving you reasonable notice.
As part of our continuing commitment to encouraging all our clients to have up to date Wills in place, we offer to prepare Wills for our existing clients at a reduced rate. Our normal charge is £225 plus VAT for a standard single Will and £325 plus VAT for mirror Wills.
We offer a reduced rate of £195 plus VAT for a single Will and £295 plus VAT for mirror Wills provided instructions are received within three months from the conclusion of this current matter. Please contact the solicitor dealing with your matter if you would like to take advantage of this offer and he will ask the Wills department to contact you.
Please do remind us if you feel that we do not keep to these standards at any stage during your case.
Although we hope that you will not have reason to complain about our services, if you do need to complain, please contact any Partner directly. We have an established system to ensure that complaints are dealt with as promptly and as effectively as possible. If any concerns you have are not satisfactorily resolved, please contact Mrs Madeline Barham who has been designated to deal with such matters. We shall always endeavour to deal with complaints internally. If for any reason we are unable to resolve the problem between us, then we are regulated by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority and complaints and redress mechanisms are provided through the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority and the Legal Complaints Service.
If you do not agree to engage us on the terms set out above, we would be grateful if you would contact us as soon as possible. However, your continuing instructions will amount to acceptance of these terms and conditions.