Client Care Terms and Conditions
We aim to assist you in all your concerns and to provide you with a professional service at all times.
As a firm of solicitors, it is necessary for us to comply with the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2011.
Under this code, our core duties are:
The following information gives full details of our terms and conditions.
Before we accept instructions from you, we are required under money laundering and anti terrorism legislation to verify your identity.
Identification documents we require are a passport or driving licence; if you do not have either of these we will accept a combination of documents including birth certificate, credit cards, and original utility bills showing your name and address.
Our Charges and Expenses
I and my team will always strive to give you the best value service possible.
My time is charged by the hour. Each hour is divided into 10 units (6 minutes each). Short or routine correspondence or brief telephone calls are charged by the single unit. Longer letters and calls are charged proportionally.
My hourly rates are reviewed on 1st April each year and you will be notifed of any changes.
I will always aim to give you a written estimate of the likely cost of your case and to keep you fully informed on a regular basis of the costs incurred.
If it is not possible to give you an estimate, we can agree a limit or set a date for a review of the case so that you can determine whether you wish to incur further costs.
If your case is lengthy we will deliver bills at regular intervals, either on a monthly or quarterly basis.
Value Added Tax is payable on legal fees and certain types of disbursement. Details will be given on our estimates.
Payment of invoices must be made within 28 days of delivery. After that interest will be charged on the whole of the balance at the rate of 2% per month or part of a month.
Expenses and Disbursements
In addition to my fees I may need to pay certain expenses (known as disbursements) on your behalf; for instance barrister’s fees. You will be asked to pay for these costs as they arise.
Right to Challenge
In certain circumstances you have the statutory right to challenge the amount you are charged by a solicitor. If an agreement cannot be reached you can ask the Law Society to check the charges that have been made. You will still need to pay half of the fees, all disbursements and VAT.
The Law Society will then issue a “Remuneration Certificate” which will state the amount they consider to be a fair and reasonable charge for the work done in your case. There is a time limit on your right to challenge fees, of one month from the date of your invoice.
At present my firm does not offer state funded legal representation. However, you may be able to obtain such funding from other solicitors if you meet the criteria. If you choose to use my services you will be agreeing to pay my fees in accordance with my terms and conditions whether or not you would be entitled to the same advice and representation through publicly funded services.
Legal Expenses Insurance
You should always check to see whether you are covered by Legal Expenses Insurance before instructing me to act on your behalf. If you are covered you should enquire as to whether the fees of your own solicitor will be paid by the insurance company or whether you need to instruct their solicitors. You will always be primarily responsible for my fees unless I agree specifically to accept instructions on your behalf from the insurers.
Professional Indemnity Insurance and Liability Limits
Our work is insured but our liability for losses as a result of professional mistakes is limited by these terms of business to the maximum sum insured under our Practice Indemnity Insurance Policy which is currently £2million. This is never less than the amount required by the Law Society and is stated on our Terms of Business Acceptance form.
Recovered Cost Order
In contentious matters which may involve a court hearing it may be that a court orders another party to pay your costs (the court has a discretion to order the ‘loser’ to pay the ‘winner’s’ costs). In such cases the court can decide whether or not to make a costs order and the level of that costs order. Therefore even if a costs order is made, it may not truly reflect the level of costs incurred in pursuing your matter and may only represent a proportion of the actual costs incurred.
You will always remain primarily responsible for fees and disbursements I incur on your behalf in pursuing such proceedings, although when a costs order is made I will do all I can to assist you in recovering the monies awarded towards the costs you have incurred.
It is sometimes the case that even if a costs order is made in your favour it is not possible to recover those costs from the other party.
If your opponent is in receipt of public funding it may not be possible to recover your costs even if you win your case as special rules apply. In contentious proceedings if you should lose your case the court may also make an order against you in respect of the other party’s costs. I will remind you of this possibility before commencing or defending proceedings so that you may consider whether you wish to continue with your action. Usually such orders will only be made where proceedings have been commenced within a court or tribunal. You cannot be made to pay costs simply for asserting a claim.
It may be possible to resolve a contentious matter through an alternative to court proceedings, such as mediation, though both parties have to be in agreement. I offer this service (as do others) and will suggest it to you if it seems to offer a solution. It is not usually possible for me to mediate once I have pursued a claim on your behalf although it is possible that I may suggest others who can assist you. In some cases I will need to advise you of the possibility of costs consequences or sanctions imposed by the court for refusing to consider mediation if it is a viable option.
You may terminate your instructions to me in writing at any time, but your papers and documents will be retained if any fees, VAT or disbursements remain owing.
If I decide to stop acting for you, I will do so for “good reason” and give you reasonable notice.
“Good reason” would include:
· If acting for you would breach the law or Solicitors Rules of Conduct
· If we have insufficient resources or expertise in the area in which you wish me to act
· If instructions have been given on your behalf by another person, or where other individuals are party to an action and I cannot check the instructions with all those involved;
· Where we know or have reason to believe that the instructions are affected by duress or undue influence;
· Where there is a loss of confidence or where we are unable to obtain proper instructions.
Should I decide to stop acting for you, any fees already incurred, VAT or disbursements will of course still remain payable.
I and my team will always do our best to give you a professional, friendly and high quality service. However, mistakes do happen. If at any time you are unhappy with the service you are receiving from me or my staff please let me know so that we can put things right.
If you have a serious complaint then please write to me and set out the details and it will be fully investigated.
A copy of our complaints procedure is available on request.
Archives and Files
When we have completed your case, various papers belonging to you will be returned. The remaining file will be retained for a given period but eventually it will be confidentially destroyed. The Law Society guidelines are that files which relate to employment law and the other areas of law we deal in, should be kept for between 6 and 12 years depending on individual circumstances.