1. OUR MISSION We aim to deliver the best possible outcome that your circumstances allow and to provide a cost effective service. Where at all possible, we aim to achieve your stated objectives. We aim to: provide a helpful and friendly service, explain matters clearly avoiding technical language (where possible), explain the legal issues that apply and the legal work that may be needed, keep you fully informed of developments and likely timescales, respond promptly to your enquiries, return your telephone calls as soon as reasonably possible, and keep your matters confidential.
2. OUR RESPONSIBILITIES. Our high service standards mean we will communicate with you using plain language; we will explain what legal work is required and will advise you of risks of which we are aware which could affect the outcome of your matter; will review your matter regularly; we will update you regularly on legal charges; we will update our advice and your options as circumstances change, particularly if there are relevant changes in the law; we will advise you on the likely timescales for each stage of your matter; and will regularly review whether alternative methods of funding become available.
3. YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES. During the conduct of your matter we ask you to provide us with clear, timely and accurate instructions. If your circumstances change, you should notify the lawyer handling your matter at the earliest possible opportunity. We also ask that you provide any documentation that we ask for as soon as possible as any delay may prejudice our handling of your matter. You should safeguard all files, letters or documents relevant to your case which may be needed in evidence. We also ask that you pay legal fees and expenses promptly when requested to enable us to represent you to the best of our ability.
4. OFFICE HOURS. Monday to Friday 9.30 am to 5.30 pm by appointment only. Our office has disabled access but home and out-of-office visits can be agreed by prior arrangement.
5. LIMITS ON OUR ADVICE/ASSISTANCE. Please note that we do not provide insurance, tax, business or financial advice in relation to your matter, unless specifically mentioned in our client care letter. We are not independent financial advisers. If you require financial advice, you should consult an independent financial adviser. Neither are we specialist insurance advisers. If you require insurance advice, you should consult a suitable insurance adviser. We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority, or any successor organisation.
6. LEGAL CHARGES. At the outset, we will agree the basis on which we will charge you, full details of which will be set out in the client care letter that we send to you. Invoices are payable within fourteen (14) days of delivery.
“Legal fees” mean the fees charged by our lawyers for legal work undertaken on your behalf, to which Value Added Tax (VAT) will be added at the applicable rate.
“Expenses (sometimes called “disbursements”) refer to money spent on your behalf to progress your case, plus VAT, where appropriate. They include expenses such as court fees, expert’s report fees, barristers’ fees and travel costs, which are charged to you at cost;
“Legal charges” or “Costs” mean our legal fees plus VAT and expenses.
B. The following explanation applies if our client care letter states that our legal fees are calculated by reference to the hourly rates specified therein
A. All attendances on you and others and all preparatory casework done such as: taking instructions, advising, discussing, considering, drafting, calculating, reviewing etc are charged at the hourly rate.
B. Routine letters, calls, faxes, emails and texts, whether received or sent, are charged at one tenth of the hourly rate. Items are “routine” if they incur time of 6 minutes or less. If they incur more time, they are “non-routine”.
C. Non-routine letters calls faxes emails texts etc (whether sent or received) are charged according to the actual time spent by the fee earner at the hourly rate.
D. Where we work outside our office on your behalf, time spent travelling or waiting is charged to you at one half of our hourly rate. If we have to work outside our office hours, we reserve the right to charge an enhanced hourly rate, increased by up to 50% on the stated hourly rate.
E. Our hourly rates are increased from time to time. This is usually every six months, but only after notice has been given to you in writing.
F. If you wish to set a limit on the amount of legal charges we can incur on your behalf, you can do so by setting a costs budget – the total amount of legal charges which we must not exceed without your permission (except in an emergency). There may be a limit to the amount of work we can do on your behalf where you have set a costs budget.
G. We will inform you regularly of the costs you have incurred and are likely to incur. This will usually be every three months, unless a different frequency has been agreed in our client care letter.
H. We have a policy of issuing interim bills and, where appropriate, will deliver interim bills at any time prior to completion of your matter. Where we hold funds on account for you in this or any other matter, we reserve the right to deliver an interim bill for our legal fees, expenses and VAT and thereafter to make deductions therefrom accordingly.
I. We reserve the right not to carry out further work on your behalf whilst any costs remain outstanding.
J. Where we are holding money on your behalf, and we have to pay for an expense on your matter, we may withdraw money from your client account to make the payment.
K. Where on completion of your matter we are holding original documents such as your case file, letters, documents, books, passport, certificates or documents, we reserve the right to exercise a lien over them in respect of any unpaid costs. The lien means that we will not hand over the original documents until our outstanding costs have been paid in full.
L. We will exercise our statutory right to claim interest and compensation for debt recovery costs under the late payment legislation if any legal charges are not paid by the due date.
M. Where we consider it appropriate, we may require you to make a payment on account of our legal fees, expenses and/or VAT at any time in your case in order to proceed with your case.
C FIXED COSTS. The following explanation applies if our client care letter states that we are charging a fixed fee. If the matter is completed as anticipated, no further fee will be payable even if the matter takes longer than anticipated UNLESS the nature of your instructions change to such an extent that we are effectively being instructed to perform a different type of work. If the matter does not proceed, for example if you decide to cancel your instructions within the 14 day period, a pro rata fee of up to 50% of the fixed fee will be payable. This will be calculated as if the matter had been charged at an hourly rate of £250 per hour plus VAT (if applicable) on the basis mentioned in paragraph B above.
10. INVOICES. We may deliver one or more invoices to you for our legal charges, both during the matter or at the end thereof. Amounts payable by you under an invoice are payable within 14 days of delivery. If you are late paying, we may decline to undertake further legal work on your behalf. We will exercise our statutory right to claim interest on all outstanding sums at the rate of 8% or 3% above the Bank of England’s base rate, whichever is the greater, on a daily basis from the date of delivery of our invoice to the date of payment. If you have any queries about your bill, or wish to dispute any element thereof, you should contact the person responsible for your matter in the first instance upon receipt of the invoice, but see also clause 18 below.
11. PAYMENT OF MONEY TO US. We are unable to accept payment of more than £1000 in cash per matter, except by prior agreement. You can pay us by cheque and, by prior arrangement, by bank transfer to our bank account (including BACS, CHAPS, telephone or Internet banking). When making an online payment, you must use the file reference on the client care letter or other correspondence from us (unless we advise you otherwise). We are unable to accept payment by credit or debit card. For personal and business cheques, you should allow not less than 5 working days for the cheque to be cleared. If these terms are likely to cause you any problems, please speak to the person responsible for your case.
12. INTEREST RATE POLICY. Where we hold money on your behalf, we will account to you for interest when it is fair and reasonable to do so. However with bank current account interest rates so low, it is our policy not to pay interest unless the amount due would amount to £20 or more, in which case we will advise you of the amount payable and how it has been calculated.
13. MONEY LAUNDERING. The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, and the regulations made under the Act, which aim to prevent money laundering, require us to obtain proof of identity and/or evidence of source of funds from clients for whom we act. In certain circumstances, we must by law report to the National Crime Agency any evidence or suspicion of money laundering and this can override our duty of confidentiality. The law prohibits us from notifying you whether a report has been made. Accordingly we do not accept money from or pay money to third parties on behalf of a client, save in exceptional cases such as where a client does not have funds of their own and is being supported by a third party.
14. CLIENT IDENTIFICATION How we will do so in your case will be set out in the Client Care Letter. In the case of limited companies, special rules apply. We may not be able to proceed with your matter without the necessary ID evidence. Where you are unable to provide the requested evidence, the person responsible for your case will explain what alternative evidence is acceptable. We will keep copies of the documents provided both centrally and on your file. This procedure applies even to clients we have acted for in the past, unless the earlier work was only concluded recently. Occasionally, for long-drawn out matters, we may have to repeat the process.
15. STORAGE OF FILES. Following the conclusion of your matter, we will archive your file of papers. We cannot promise to retain files for a specific period of time, but will generally keep them for six years. We may charge for recovering a file from storage, although this charge may be waived if the file is required in relation to existing or new instructions. At the end of 6 years, unless you have instructed us in writing beforehand, we will destroy your file without further notice. If legal work is required to answer queries on an archived file, you will receive a new client care letter explaining any legal fees involved. If you require an archived file to be despatched by hand, post or courier a fee may be payable. We may not release a file or a document where a lien is being exercised in relation to unpaid legal charges.
16. TERMINATION OF INSTRUCTIONS
A. You can terminate your instructions to us at any time. However we request that you do so in writing. We are entitled to be paid for work done until we receive your written instructions. We are entitled to retain your file (and all papers and documents on it) until you settle any outstanding legal charges.
B. In certain circumstances (such as failure to provide us with instructions, failure to take our advice, conflict of interest or asking us to act unreasonably, illegally or in breach of our professional obligations) we may be entitled to stop acting for you. If that is the case, we will let you know in writing and will confirm the reasons for doing so.
C. Upon termination by us, you will be responsible for all legal charges up to the date of receipt of such notification, and for all essential work undertaken on your behalf immediately thereafter. Our fees will be calculated on the basis set out in our client care letter.
17. CANCELLATION RIGHTS. If you do not make first contact with us in person at our offices, for instance because you have consulted us by email, text or telephone, and you are not in receipt of legal aid, the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 apply. In those circumstances you have the right to cancel your instructions to us within 14 days of receiving these Terms of Business and the Client Care Letter. If you wish to cancel, you must do so using the attached form. If you would like us to start work within the cancellation period, you should write to us by post fax or email giving your express instructions to that effect. If you then decide to cancel, you would be liable for any legal charges incurred by us before the notice of cancellation was received.
18. COMPLAINTS. If you have an issue with any of the services we provide, you should contact the lawyer handling your matter in the first instance. If you are dissatisfied with our work or the conduct of any person at our office, including our legal charges, you may make a complaint. To make a complaint, you should telephone or write to the Complaints Officer, Mr Malik Nazeer. His contact details can be found in the client care letter that accompanies these terms and on our website.
We aim to resolve complaints as soon as possible and have a written procedure that sets out how we handle complaints which is available on request. If we have not resolved your complaint within eight weeks, you may refer your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman, an independent complaints body that deals with legal services complaints.
Normally, you will need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint. The Ombudsman will accept complaints up to six years from the date of the act or omission by us about which you are complaining (or if outside that period, within three years of the time when you should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint). Generally, the Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints relating to acts or omissions that happened on or after 6 October 2010 or complaints where the complainant should only reasonably have known there was cause for complaint on or after 6 October 2010.
You can write to: Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ. Telephone: 0300 555 0333 Email: email@example.com Website: www.legalombudsman.org.uk. Alternative complaints bodies (such as Ombudsman Services, ProMediate and Small Claims Mediation) exist which are competent to deal with complaints about legal services should you wish. We would agree to use any of these schemes.
19. DEALING WITH OTHERS During your matter we may have to deal with other professionals, persons or organisations as a normal part of handling your matter. We will assume that you have no objection to our discussing your matter with others where it is considered necessary to do so. If you do not wish us to do so, it may affect how we deal with your matter so please let us know when signing these Terms of Business.
20. JOINT INSTRUCTIONS When we are instructed by two or more persons jointly, we will assume, unless we have written instructions from you to the contrary, that the instructions given by one of you is on behalf of you all.
21. CHILDREN Where our client is a minor, we require the written authority of both parents of the child before we can act. Once we have that authority, we will accept instructions from either parent unless you advise us in writing of an alternative arrangement. Where a minor client reaches 18 during the matter, we will issue a client care letter to that client.
22. 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
• legal and regulatory compliance
Our use of that information is subject to your instructions, the Data Protection Act 1998 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.
23. EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY We are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of our dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our equality and diversity policy.
24. OUTSOURCING OF WORK. From time to time, we may outsource some or all of the work we do for you. Any organisation to which we outsource work is expected to maintain the same level of confidentiality as we do. If you do not want any aspect of your matter to be outsourced, please let us know in writing when signing these Terms of Business.
25. AUDITING OF FILES BY THIRD PARTIES. From time to time, your file may be audited by an external organisation to monitor the standard of service that is being delivered. Any such organisation will have the same obligation to protect your confidentiality as we do. If you do not wish your file to be audited, please let us know in writing when signing these Terms of Business.
26. TRANSFER OF FUNDS. You must not ask or allow a third party to pay any money to us or into our account without our prior knowledge and consent. Where we have a duty to pay money to you, we will pay it to you by cheque or bank transfer. Funds due to you will not be paid to a third party.
27. PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE. We have the benefit of the indemnity insurance cover required by our regulatory body with a cover limit of £3 million for any one claim, details of which are set out in the Client Care Letter.
28. LEGAL AID AND RELATED MATTERS. We only offer Legal Help or legal aid in the area of criminal law. If you wish to explore whether Legal Help or legal aid is available in your matter and whether you may qualify, you should contact a solicitor who does Legal Help work. You may find such a solicitor by searching on the Internet, for example the Find a Solicitor website at www.findasolicitor.co.uk, or contacting the Legal Services Commission.
29. OTHER WAYS OF FUNDING YOUR MATTER OR CASE. Before signing these terms and conditions, you should consider whether you have other ways of funding your legal costs – that is to say paying your legal fees, disbursements and vat – apart from paying us privately or relying on legal aid. Other ways may include advice agencies, pro bono assistance, family members, friends, unions, employers, professional bodies and charitable organisations. There may be further ways of funding your matter or case. If you have alternative ways of funding your matter or case, which you would like to use, you should let us know prior to signing these Terms and Conditions or as soon as possible thereafter.
30. CONTENTIOUS MATTERS
By instructing us on a contentious matter, you accept the risks and uncertainties which are inherent in contentious or litigious matters. Your matter is either contentious now or may become contentious at a later date – that is, involving proceedings before a court or tribunal. It is uncertain how long your matter will last, how much it will cost in terms of time and legal costs and how that will impact on you personally in terms of your health, well-being, finances and peace of mind. If you are unsuccessful in your proceedings, or the case is settled in favour of your opponent, you may have to pay the legal costs, VAT and disbursements of your opponent in full or in part. Accordingly, it is highly advisable to obtain (where possible) an after the event (ATE) insurance policy to cover your potential liability for these legal costs, although a premium will be payable. If you proceed without an ATE policy, you run the risk of being personally liable for both our legal charges and the legal costs of your opponent and this could leave you severely out of pocket or even facing financial ruin. Mediation may be available in your matter, which is often a cheaper and quicker alternative to court proceedings. If you consider that mediation could meet your objectives, please discuss the alternatives with the lawyer handling your matter and then confirm your instructions in writing.
32. CONTENTIOUS MATTERS – WINNING YOUR CASE
If you win your case, or it is settled in your favour, the other party or parties may be required to pay your legal fees, disbursements and VAT in full or in part. You may also be entitled to compensation or another remedy. If these costs and/or compensation are paid to us, we will set off the funds received against our legal charges, ie the amount you owe us for the legal work we have done on your behalf, and will pay the balance to you. If there is a shortfall, whether or not you are personally liable to pay the shortfall to us will depend on a range of circumstances, and our position in your particular case will be set out in the Client Care Letter. If your opponent is required to pay you compensation and/or costs, but does not do so, it will be necessary for you to take enforcement proceedings against your opponent to recover the sum due. We would need to enter into a separate, new agreement with you for this extra work and would quote a fee for our additional services. The other party may be able to appeal against any judgment or decision in your favour and this may delay or stop any payment of costs and/or compensation to you.
33. CONTENTIOUS MATTERS – LOSING YOUR CASE
If you lose your case or it is settled in your opponent’s favour, you may be required to pay your opponent’s legal costs, disbursements and VAT in full or in part. You may also be obliged to pay compensation or another remedy. Normally you will not have to pay anything in respect of legal costs, disbursements or VAT from your own funds if you have the benefit of an after the event (ATE) insurance policy under which your insurers are obliged to pay the sum due. Accordingly, it is highly advisable to obtain (where possible) an after the event (ATE) insurance policy to cover your potential liability for these legal costs, prior to proceeding with a contentious or litigious matter, even though a premium will be payable. If you do not have the benefit of an ATE policy you will be personally responsible for the legal costs, disbursements and VAT of your opponent in part or whole. You can challenge the amount of costs by requesting an assessment by the court, which will then determine the amount you must pay. If you fail to pay the amount ordered, your opponent may take the necessary enforcement proceedings against you. Depending on how much you have to pay, you could suffer serious financial loss or even ruin. If you wish to appeal any decision or judgment in favour of your opponent, that will not be included in the work we have agreed to do for you, and we would need to enter a separate, new agreement as to legal fees, disbursements and VAT.
34. CONTENTIOUS MATTERS – SETTLEMENT
You may be able to minimise your costs and the potential risks by seeking to settle your matter by negotiation with the other party. As it is likely that the court or tribunal would expect you to do so, you should always consider the possibility of settling your matter as a way of bringing the matter or proceedings to an early conclusion. This should be considered both before and after the issue of court or other proceedings. If you wish to try to settle your matter, you should let us know prior to signing these Terms and Conditions. If after signing these Terms and Conditions you wish to try to settle your case, you should let us know in writing as soon as possible.
35. VAT REGISTRATION. We are registered for VAT purposes. Our VAT number can be found on our letterhead, on all invoices and on our website.
36. APPLICABLE LAW Any dispute or legal issue arising between us shall be determined by the English courts in accordance with the laws of England.
37. REGULATION. We are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Full details, including the Code of Conduct which is part of the SRA handbook, which we are bound to observe, as well as advice to consumers can be found at www.sra.org.uk or call them on 0370 606 2555.
38. AGREEMENT. By signing a copy of our Terms of Business and returning them to us you are confirming that you would like us to assist you based on your instructions and our advice (as varied from time to time). If you have any questions or comments on these Terms of Business please raise them before you sign. We may not be able to proceed on your behalf until we receive your signed copy of the Terms of Business. Please note that your continuing instructions will amount to acceptance of these Terms of Business. These Terms of Business will continue in force after the end of our retainer so far as is necessary for putting any of its terms and conditions into effect.
Complaints Officer Malik Nazeer
firstname.lastname@example.org is the web address to forward your complaint to us in the event that you are dissatisfied this is your first point of communication if you have a dispute.
https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/odr/main/index.cfm?event=main.home.chooseLanguage This is the web address for complaints for European nationals who feel that there complaint has not been resolved by our complaints officer.