Terms of Business
Standard Terms of Business
1.1 These terms, when accepted, shall constitute our agreement to act as your Solicitors with regard to any instructions received from you, unless otherwise agreed. Our agreement shall continue until terminated by us or you, or superseded in writing, or our instructions from you are concluded, or it is otherwise brought to an end.
1.2 We reserve the right to amend the terms of this agreement because of legislative or other changes. In this event, a revised agreement will be prepared and sent to you.
1.3 Additional terms may be agreed between us and these will be set out in a letter or written quotation separately. In case of any conflict between these standard business terms and the terms of any letter or written quotation from us, the terms of the letter or written quotation shall prevail.
2.1 One of our Partners will be appointed your Client Partner in overall charge of the matter. He or she will have ultimate responsibility for the conduct of the matter and will discuss and resolve any difficulties which may arise.
2.2 In addition, Partners, Assistant Solicitors, Trainee Solicitors, Legal Executives or Paralegals may be assigned to undertake the day to day handling of the work and to ensure that not only is your file handled promptly and efficiently but also that the work is carried out with the right degree of expertise.
2.3 If you encounter any difficulty which cannot be resolved with either the person handling the day to day conduct of the matter, or your Client Partner, please refer to our Complaint Handling Procedure overleaf.
3 Confidentiality and Identification
3.1 Whilst we shall abide by the long established rule that everything a client discloses to his solicitor is confidential, we do have an absolute obligation under the Terrorism Act 2000, Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 to report to the Serious Organised Crime Agency any knowledge or suspicion relating to the involvement of the proceeds of crime (including income tax evasion) and we are precluded by law from informing you or any other person of our intention to do so.
3.2 Where a report is made to the Serious Organised Crime Agency in respect of you, we are not able to continue to act for you unless and until they give their consent. We therefore reserve the right to cease acting for you in those circumstances.
3.3 Where we make a report to the Serious Organised Crime Agency and you thereby suffer any loss or damage, we shall not be liable for any loss or consequential loss suffered by you or any third party where our decision to report to the Serious Organised Crime Agency was made in good faith.
3.4 We are required by law to establish the identity of our clients at the time of instructions. Without satisfactory evidence of your identity, we reserve the right to decline instructions.
3.5 External organisations may conduct audit or quality checks on our practice from time to time. They may wish to audit/quality check your file and related papers for this purpose. It is a specific requirement imposed by us that these external firms or organisations fully maintain confidentiality in relation to any files and papers which are audited/quality checked by them. Your files may also be reviewed in a due diligence exercise in relation to the sale or transfer of all or part of our business, the acquisition of another business by us or the acquisition of new business. If you do not wish your file to be used in this way, please let us know as soon as possible.
3.6 Sometimes we ask other individuals or organisations to work on our files, for example, for costs draftsmen to prepare complex bills. We will obviously seek a confidentiality agreement with these outsourced providers. If you do not want your file to be outsourced, please tell us as soon as possible.
3.7 We may wish to store your client file and other confidential information using cloud storage. If you do not wish your file to be used in this way, please let us know as soon as possible.
3.8 In the event that we have to make a notification under the terms of our Professional Indemnity policy, information about the client and your file may be seen by our insurers or their appointed agents. Details of this firm’s insurers are available at our offices at Haymarket House.
4 Data Protection
4.1 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 to manage our practice
- Statutory returns
- Legal and regulatory compliance
Our use of that information is subject to your instructions, the Data Protection Act 1998, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) once enacted and our duty of confidentiality. Please note that our works may require us to give information to third parties, such as expert witnesses and other professional advisors. You have a right of access under data protection legislation to the personal data that we hold for you.
We may from time to time send you information that we think might be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive that information, please notify our office in writing.
5.1 At the outset of your instructions from time to time, we may ask you for monies on account of our fees and disbursements. In the case of disbursements, we shall generally ask you to put us in funds before we undertake the work and incur our liability to a third party for these expenses.
5.2 In the event of any account or request for payment on account not being met, we reserve the right, following giving notice to you, to decline to act further, not only in respect of the matter on which any account or request for payments remains outstanding but also in respect of any other matter in which we have accepted instructions from you.
5.3 You may set a limit to the fees and disbursements (excluding VAT) which we may incur without further reference to you. This must be in writing. If you do not, however, no limit shall apply.
5.4 We can, if required, provide details of the time spent and the costs incurred at any point in the matter.
5.5 Details of our current hourly charges will be provided separately.
5.6 When making a charge for our services, our professional rules oblige us to have regard to the following:
5.6.1 generally, the time spent by the Partners and staff, for example, on the telephone, writing letters and emails, dealing with documents, in consideration and preparation or in meetings, travelling or at Court. The minimum unit of chargeable time is six minutes, and
5.6.2 particularly, the complexity of the matter or the novelty of the questions raised, the skill, labour, specialised knowledge and responsibility involved, the number and importance of the documents prepared or perused, the place where and the circumstances in which the business or any part is transacted, its value, and the overall importance of the matter to the client.
5.7 Whilst our charges are calculated generally by reference to the time spent, we reserve the right to add extra sum, a “mark-up”, to our hourly charges to reflect the factors referred to in 4.6.2 above, when calculating a reasonable fee for the work undertaken. VAT is added at the appropriate rate.
5.8 In the event of your instructions proving abortive, we will render an account for the work undertaken.
5.9 We reserve the right to change our charging rates from time to time to take into account changes in overheads, inflation, or other factors.
5.10 To keep you closely appraised of the incidence and level of costs in the matter, we shall render accounts to you on a regular basis. Whilst the aim in doing so is to make a charge for all work undertaken up to the date of the invoice, some adjustment may be needed when the matter is finally completed.
5.11 Save where otherwise agreed in writing, our account payment terms are one month and we reserve the right to decline to undertake further work if our accounts are not paid within this period and if appropriate, to apply to be removed from the Court Record as acting as your Solicitor.
5.12 Payment of our invoices or monies requested on account can be made by direct bank transfer, by cheque, or by the use of a debit or credit card. Details of our bank for direct payments are available on request and will be shown on our invoice. Cash payments of more than £500.00 cannot be accepted. Payment by American Express is not accepted.
5.13 Interest is charged on all outstanding accounts, including disbursements at the rate for the time being payable on judgement debts, currently 8%, save that where interest may be claimed under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 (as amended) interest is charged at the Reference Rate plus 8% and compensation is payable.
5.14 At the conclusion of your instructions, no documentation or property belonging to you will be released by us until all outstanding accounts have been settled in full.
6 Payment of Money
6.1 We will not accept whether as settlement of a bill or payment on account or as payment for disbursements sums in excess of £500.00 in cash.
6.2 Our bankers are instructed not to accept any payments direct into our account in cash.
6.3 Any payment which you request us to make direct to a bank account may incur a fee at our standard rate which will be deducted from the monies remitted. We will advise you if a charge applies.
6.4 Payment of any deposit, completion monies or similar payments may only be made by a maximum of 4 payments.
7 Payment of Interest to you
7.1 We shall pay you interest on monies standing to your credit on client accounts in your name with this firm in accordance with our written policy complying with Solicitors Regulation Authority Accounts Rules 2011. A copy of this policy is available on request. Please note in particular that interest paid to clients is unlikely to be as high as if the client had deposited funds themselves because it is usually necessary to hold sums available for instant access to facilitate your transaction. Our policy also includes a “de minimis” rule so that interest is unlikely to be paid on small amounts of money held or on sums held for a short period of time. All payments of interest will be considered in the light of what is fair and reasonable in each individual situation.
8.1 We shall disclose to you all commissions earned by us in relation to your instructions and save where otherwise agreed in writing, we shall retain the same.
8.2 In the event of any commissions earned by us becoming repayable through clawback for whatever reason, we shall be entitled to reimbursement from you of all commissions so repayable.
8.3 We shall disclose to you any referral fees paid to third party introducers relevant to your case.
9 Court Proceedings
If Court proceedings are commenced, please note the following:
9.1 Whatever the outcome, you will be responsible for paying this firm’s fees, disbursements and VAT in full, regardless of any Order for costs made against your opponent.
9.2 It is probable that, if you lose the case, you will have to pay your opponent’s costs as well as your own.
9.3 Even if you win, it is unlikely that the Court will order your opponent to pay the full amount of your own costs, disbursements and VAT and in particular those costs will be limited to those which were reasonably incurred and proportionate in amount.
9.4 If your opponent is publicly funded, you may not recover your costs, even if you are successful at Court.
9.5 Regardless of the final outcome of the case, you may be ordered to pay your opponent’s costs of any pre-trial hearing and those costs may be assessed on the day of the hearing and be ordered to be paid by you straight away.
10 Storage/Release of Original File Papers
At the conclusion of your instructions, if you require the return of any file papers, please let us know when you arrange payment of our final account. If not, we will store them for a limited period prior to destruction. Unless we have your specific written instructions not to, they will be automatically destroyed. Our files are generally stored for a period of 6 years and we do not charge for this service. If you request the file(s) back after they have been sent to store we will charge you a reasonable fee for retrieval of the file(s) as we are charged by the storage company. The current fee payable is £15 + VAT. If the file is retrieved in order to instruct us on a new related matter, we will not charge for such retrieval.
11 Proper Law
This agreement shall be subject to the laws of England and you agree to submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Courts of England and Wales.
12 Duty of Care
12.1 Our duty of care is limited to a duty owed to our client and not to third parties. In the event that a bank or other financial institutions in which your money is held by us failed, then this firm will not accept liability for losses resulting from such banking failure. In the event of such institution collapsing, we will seek consent from you to disclose your details to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). Our liability to you in respect of any monies held on your behalf in such bank or financial institution is limited to any sums which may be paid under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. The current compensation limit for loss of funds is £85,000.
13 Avoiding Scams
13.1 Criminals attempt to access financial data, including through email and computer systems. We would warn you of the risk of this and of your own responsibility for your own data and bank account details and of the need to ensure that your own computer system has up to date anti-viral and malware software. We will only provide our client account banking details to you in a secure manner at a face to face meeting with you or by letter which is not sent by email. We do not notify changes to important business information, such as bank account details, by email.
14 Financial Services
This firm is not authorised by the Financial Services Authority. We are able in certain circumstances to offer a limited range of investment services because we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. We are included on the register maintained by the Financial Services Authority so that we can carry on insurance mediation activities, which is broadly the advising on, selling and administration of insurance contracts. This part of our business, including arrangements for complaints or redress if something goes wrong, 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 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.
15 Complaint Handling Procedure
We at Brain Chase Coles hope and believe that you will be well satisfied with the service which you receive from this practice.
We recognise that occasionally problems arise which may cause you to be dissatisfied with the service you are receiving.
If, during the course of a matter which is being handled on your behalf, you consider that there is some problem with the service provided, you should first of all try to resolve that problem with the person who is handling your case, or your Client Partner. All staff are required to respond promptly to any such complaint.
If for any reason you are not able to resolve the problem with the persons mentioned above, then you should refer your complaint to the Partner who is in charge of the firm’s complaints procedures, Mr N G Massey-Chase. You may contact him either by letter or by telephone and, if necessary, he will arrange to meet you and in any event, he will investigate the matter fully and give as quick a response as possible. In the event of a complaint against Mr N G Massey-Chase that complaint should be referred to Mrs M S Stevenson.
Following contact with either Mr Massey-Chase or Mrs Stevenson, you will be provided with a copy of our Complaints Handling Policy and Procedure.
You also have the right to object to our bills and to apply for an assessment of the bill under Part 111 of the Solicitor Act 1974. If all or part of the bill remains unpaid, the Firm may be entitled to charge interest. You should note that the Legal Ombudsman may not consider a complaint about the bill if the client has applied to the Court for assessment of the bill.
If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint, you can ask the Legal Ombudsman at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ, website: www/legalombudsman.org.uk, telephone number 0300 555 0333, to consider the complaint. Normally, you will need to put a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within twelve months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint.