TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS
This document contains the supplemental Terms of Business of Richards Solicitors ‘Richards. If any aspect is not clear, please contact the person dealing with your work.
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. In order to achieve this we believe that it is important to agree in advance the nature of our relationship with you. Please familiarise yourself with these Terms of Business before continuing to instruct us to avoid any misunderstandings in the future.
PROFESSIONAL RULES AND PRACTICE GUIDELINES
We will observe all of the standards and requirements set out in the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Handbook and we accept instructions to act for you on that basis. Both documents can be accessed via the SRA's website at: www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/handbook/.
During our retainer, we will:
1. Review your matter regularly.
2. Advise you of any changes in the law.
3. Advise you of any circumstances and risks of which we are aware or consider to be reasonably foreseeable that could affect the outcome of your matter.
YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES - PROVISION OF INFORMATION BY YOU
To enable us to carry out our work it is necessary that:
1. You make all payments due to us on time.
2. You provide full and accurate information necessary for dealing with your work. Where appropriate we may approach such third parties you approve for additional information or documents. We will rely on the information and documents being true, correct and complete and will not audit the information or those documents.
3. As and when requested you provide instructions and documentation to us in a timely and clear manner from time to time during the course of your work. You keep us informed about significant changes in your circumstances.
5. You will safeguard any document likely to be required for disclosure in litigation matters.
At the outset of each matter, we will discuss with you what is to be achieved and what is necessary to achieve it. Any material developments during the course of the matter, delays, or possible deviations from your instructions will always be reported to you, but we will be guided by you as to the extent and detail to which you wish us to report.
Richards Solicitors will not accept any liability arising from your failure to reply completely and accurately to any request for information or confirmation of instructions.
OUR HOURS OF BUSINESS
The normal hours of opening at our offices are between 9.00 am and 5.30 pm on weekdays. Messages can be left on the answer phone outside those hours and appointments can be arranged at other times when this is essential.
Funding for litigation/disputes
Where appropriate we will discuss how to fund your case, including eligibility for Legal Aid. Richards solicitors does not offer legal aid but if at any time during the conduct of your matter, you wish to be considered for Legal Aid because your circumstances have changed, please notify the person dealing with your matter.
You should always check to see whether you qualify for any legal assistance, for instance, under a home or vehicle insurance policy, or with union membership. 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.
Conditional fee agreement: if so requested we will consider entering into a conditional fee agreement with you in respect of this area of work where such agreements are permitted. Special terms will then be agreed with you in respect of the basis on which our fees are charged and disbursements are incurred and we will advise you as to insurance and other related issues.
In some litigation cases a successful client may be entitled to the payment of costs by some other party to the proceedings. However, it is rare for the system of “assessment” of costs, as it is known, to result in the other party having to pay the full amount of the costs incurred by the client with their own Solicitor. Further if the other party is in receipt of Legal Aid no costs are likely to be recovered.
It is important to be aware that Richards is employed by the client and that the client is personally responsible for the payment of Richards’ fees regardless of any order for costs made against opponents. In addition if your case is unsuccessful, you will probably have to pay your opponent’s costs as well as your own.
If you are successful in your case then the other party may be ordered to pay your costs. There are however circumstances in which you will still have to pay some or all of Richards’ fees including for example:-
- where the other parties do not pay promptly, or at all
ii) the Court orders for the other party to pay you less than our fees, leaving a balance which you will need to pay to settle our account,
iii) where the other person’s contributions cannot be recovered, for instance when they are incapable of paying or are legally aided.
In such situations you may like to consider employing Richards to recover the debt owed to you and we shall be pleased to discuss this when appropriate.
In the event that a client is successful and costs are payable by the other party, interest may be claimed on those costs against the other party as from the date on which the order for costs was made. If any of the fees and disbursements of Richards have been paid on account by the client then, Richards will account to the client for such interest but will otherwise be entitled to retain it.
Transactions: It is normal practice to ask clients to pay interim bills and 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, this firm must reserve the right to stop acting for you further.
Payment is due to us within 28 days of our sending you a bill. Interest will be charged on a daily basis at 4% over National Westminster Bank Plc base rate from time to time from the date of the bill in cases where payment is not made within 28 days of delivery by us of the bill.
The common law entitles us to retain any money, papers or other property belonging to you which properly come 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.
If 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. We reserve the right to apply to come off the Court record as acting for you. This will incur a cost which will be recoverable from you in addition to all other unpaid sums due.
We reserve the right to offset unpaid bills and disbursements against any monies received on your behalf. You will be notified in such an event.
On matters where a third party has agreed to pay your legal costs, these still remain your responsibility should the third party fail for any reason to settle the account within our payment terms.
We do not accept payments to us in cash in excess of £200.00. Monies due to you from us will be paid by cheque or bank transfer, but not in cash, and will not be made payable to a third party.
Any money received on your behalf will be held in our Client Account. Subject to certain minimum amounts and periods of time set out in the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules 1998, interest will be calculated and paid to you at the rate from time to time payable on National Westminster Plc Designated Client Accounts. The period for which interest will be paid will normally run from the date(s) on which funds are received by us until the date(s) of issue of any cheque(s) from our Client Account.
Where a client obtains borrowing from a lender in a property transaction, we will ask the lender to arrange that the loan cheque is received by us a minimum of 4 working days prior to the completion date. I the money can be telegraphed, we will request that we receive it the day before completion. This will enable us to ensure that the necessary funds are available in time for completion. Such clients need to be aware that the lender may charge interest from the date of issue of their loan cheque or the telegraphing of the payment.
If for any reason a matter does not proceed to completion, we will charge you for work undertaken and expenses incurred. Where we have agreed a fixed fee with you, unless otherwise agreed in the Engagement Letter, we will base our charges on the time that we have spent on the matter, at the hourly rate of the fee earner(s) involved in its conduct, but the amount charged will not exceed the agreed fixed fee. We will also charge for any expenses that have been incurred during the conduct of the matter.
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. We will not of course destroy any documents such as Wills, Deeds, and other securities, which you ask us 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 you both for
- time spent at the junior executive hourly rate for producing stored papers or documents to you or another at your request
- reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions.
FINANCIAL SERVICES AND INSURANCE CONTRACTS
If, while we are acting for you, you need advice on investments, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised by the Financial Services Authority, as we are not. However, as we are regulated by the Law Society, we may be able to provide certain limited investment services where these are closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you.
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. Insurance mediation activities and investment services, including arrangements for complaints or redress if something goes wrong, are regulated by The Law Society. The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority website at www.fca.gov.uk/register.
Our retainer with you will terminate automatically upon the completion of the work set out in these Terms.
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.
We reserve the right to terminate our engagement and to stop acting for you only with good reason. For instance if there is a failure or unacceptable delay to instruct us, a material change in the circumstances or information on which our original engagement was based or for any other reason there is a breakdown in confidence between us. We will always seek to give you reasonable notice of our decision but there may be circumstances where it is reasonable for us to give no notice. As mentioned above, we also reserve the right to discontinue work on all your current matters if any bill is not settled promptly. If we decide to stop acting for you, we will tell you the reason and give you notice in writing.
If we have not met with you, 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, email 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 firm. 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.
Any work that we do for you may involve tax implications or necessitate the consideration of tax planning strategies. We may not be 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, please raise them with us immediately. If we can undertake the research necessary to resolve the issue, we will do so and advise you accordingly. If we cannot, we may be able to identify a source of assistance for you.
IDENTITY, DISCLOSURE AND CONFIDENTIALITY REQUIREMENTS
The Money Laundering Regulations 2007 require us to
- obtain information about a client’s identity and to verify that information
- obtain identity information about people related to the client (beneficial owners), where relevant, and at times verify that information
- continue to monitor the transaction and keep identify information up to date
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 not already obtained.
We may verify your identity in a number of ways. If you are a new client of the firm then we will arrange to carry out an electronic verification of your identity if we consider that a saving of time and cost will be achieved by doing so. The cost of any such search will be charged to you. If the amount is in excess of £10.00 including VAT, we will seek your prior agreement. 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 Serious and Organised 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.
Our firm may be subject to audit or quality checks by external firms or organisations. These external firms or organisations are require to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files.
We may also outsource work. This might be for example typing or photocopying or costings, or 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. If you do not want your files to be outsourced, please tell us as soon as possible.
In order to comply with court and tribunal rules, all documentation relevant to any issues in litigation, however potentially damaging to your case, have to be preserved and may be required to be made available to the other side. This aspect of proceedings is known as “disclosure”. Subject to this, we will not reveal confidential information about your case except as provided by these terms of business and where, for example, your opponent is ordered to pay your costs, we have to meet obligations to reveal details of the case to them and to the court.
It may sometimes be necessary to discuss your matter with one of your nominated advisers such as your accountant, bank manager, estate agent etc. If we have handled a compensation claim for you, we may also need to send your file to specialist Costs draftsmen. If you do not want us to discuss your matter or provide any details about you or show your file without first consulting you, then please let us know.
The Data Protection Act requires us to advise you that your particulars are held on our database.
We use the information you provide primarily for the provision of legal services to you and for related purposes including;
- Updating and enhancing clients 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 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.
We may, from time to time, use these details to send you information which we think might be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive that information please notify our office in writing.
ACTING JOINTLY FOR CLIENTS
Where we act for two or more clients jointly it is on the clear understanding that we are authorised to act on instructions from either, both or any of them.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS
Unless otherwise agreed, these supplemental Terms and Conditions of Business shall apply to any future instructions given by you to this firm.
Although your continuing instructions in this matter will amount to an acceptance of these Terms and Conditions of Business, it may not be possible for us to start work on your behalf until our terms of engagement as sent to you have been signed and returned to us to keep on our file.