Terms and Conditions
Terms and Conditions of Business
These Terms and Conditions of Business along with the accompanying engagement letter govern the lawyer-client relationship which will exist between us. By continuing to instruct this firm we shall be entitled to assume you have agreed to the terms and conditions set out here. Unless otherwise agreed, and subject to the application of then current hourly rates, these Terms and Conditions of Business shall apply to any future instructions given by you to this firm. Nobody is authorised to alter these terms other than in writing.
- Service Standards
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 you to set out in this statement the basis on which we will provide our professional services. The firm sets the following standards:
- We will regularly update you with progress on your matter
- We will communicate with you in plain language
- We will explain to you the legal work required as your matter progresses
- We will update you on the cost of your matter, as appropriate
- We will update you on whether the likely outcomes still justify the likely costs and risks associated with your matter whenever there is a material change in circumstances
- We will update you on the likely timescales for each stage of this matter and any important changes in those estimates
- We will continue to review whether there are alternative methods by which your matter can be funded
In return, we request that our clients assume the following responsibilities:
- To provide clear, truthful instructions to us at all times
- To respond to communications from us promptly and to attend arranged appointments
- To notify contact details, change of address, telephone numbers etc. promptly
- To discharge payments requested from you promptly
- Hours of business
The normal hours of opening at our offices are between 9.00am and 5.00pm on weekdays. Messages can be left via voicemail outside those hours and appointments can be arranged at other times when this is essential.
- People responsible for your work
The person responsible for dealing with your work and the person responsible for the overall supervision of the matter will be set out in the engagement letter. 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.
- Storage of papers and documents
After completing the work, we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses. We will keep your file of papers in storage for not less than 6 years except those papers that you ask to be returned to you. After that, storage is on the clear understanding that we have the right to destroy your file after such period as we consider reasonable without further reference to you, or to make a charge for storage if we ask you to collect your papers and you fail to do so. We will not of course destroy any documents such as wills, deeds, and other securities, which we agree to hold in safe custody. 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 at our lowest charge out rate 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.
- Financial services
We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and cannot advise on any financial matters. If any such matters arise you should use a suitably qualified adviser.
You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time but we will still 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. We may only decide to stop acting for you if we have good reason, for example, if you do not pay an interim bill, fail to provide us with instructions or if a conflict of interest arises. We will tell you the reason and give you notice in writing.
Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013, you have the right to cancel this contract within 14 days without giving any reason. This only applies where contracts are agreed away from our premises or where we are not both physically present. To exercise the right to cancel, you must inform us of your decision to cancel this contract by a clear statement (e.g. a letter sent by post, fax or e-mail). To meet the cancellation deadline, it is sufficient for you to send your communication concerning your exercise of the right to cancel before the cancellation period has expired. Please note that should you exercise your right to cancel, reapplying for legal aid for the same issue might be difficult if our retainer is terminated.
- Tax advice
Any work that we do for you may involve tax implications or necessitate the consideration of tax planning strategies. We are not qualified to advise you on the tax implications of a transaction that you instruct us to carry out, or the likelihood of them arising. If you have any concerns in this respect, then you are advised to refer to a suitably-qualified adviser.
- Data protection
We use the information you provide primarily for the provision of legal services to you and for related purposes including updating and enhancing client records, analysis to help us manage our practice, statutory returns and legal/regulatory compliance. Our use of that information is subject to your instructions, the Data Protection Act 1998 and Data Protection Act 2018 and our duty of confidentiality. Please note that our work for you may require us to give information to third parties such as expert witnesses and other professional advisers. You have a right of access under data protection legislation to the personal data that we hold about you. The firm is registered with the Information Commissioner. Further information regarding data protection and privacy is available from the Information Commissioner’s Office www.ico.gov.uk.
- Equality and diversity
We are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all our dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our Equality and Diversity Policy.
We shall communicate with you in the most effective way, as agreed between us. You should be aware that the use of e-mail is not secure for confidential matters. We take every precaution to ensure that e-mail is virus free but we cannot guarantee this. If you require correspondence to be addressed to a particular person or marked private and confidential then you must tell us.
- Identity, disclosure and confidentiality requirements
The law requires solicitors to get satisfactory evidence of the identity of their clients and sometimes people related to them. This is because solicitors who deal with money and property on behalf of their client can be used by criminals wanting to launder money. To comply with the law, we need to get evidence of your identity as soon as possible. If you cannot provide us with the specific identification requested, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss other ways to verify your
identity. 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.
Solicitors are under a professional and legal obligation to keep the affairs of the client confidential. This obligation, however, is subject to a statutory exception: legislation on money laundering and terrorist financing has placed solicitors under a legal duty in certain circumstances to disclose information to the National Crime Agency. 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 disclosure. If, while we are acting for you, it becomes necessary to make such a disclosure, we may not be able to inform you that it has been made, or of the reasons for it, because the law prohibits ‘tipping-off’. Where the law permits us, we will tell you about any potential money laundering problem and explain what action we may need to take. External firms or organisations may conduct audit or quality checks on our practice. These external firms or organisations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files. We may need to disclose your information to third parties (such as barristers, accountants or government agencies) to enable us to handle your affairs. We may also need to permit third parties (such as our auditors and the Solicitors Regulation Authority) to have access to your information for administrative or regulatory purposes. We may also outsource work. This might be for example costings, research and preparation to assist with your matter. Information from your file may therefore be made available in such circumstances. We will always aim to obtain a confidentiality agreement with the third party. We will not otherwise disclose your information to any third party unless permitted or required to do so by law. If you do not want your file to be outsourced please tell us as soon as possible.
- Limit on our liability for professional negligence
Our liability to you for a breach of your instructions shall be limited to £3M, unless we expressly state a higher amount in the letter accompanying these terms of business. We will not be liable for any consequential, special, indirect or exemplary damages, costs or losses, or any damages, costs or losses attributable to lost profits or opportunities. We can only limit our liability to the extent the law allows. In particular, we cannot limit our liability for death or personal injury caused by our negligence.
- Complaints Procedure
Our complaints procedures, including complaints about the bill, will be set out in the engagement letter accompanying these Terms.
- Provision of Service Regulations 2009
In accordance with the Provision of Service Regulations 2009 details of our Professional Indemnity Insurance can be obtained by contacting our offices.