We aim to offer our clients quality legal advice with a personal service at a fair cost. We hope you will find this statement of how we will provide our services helpful to you. If there is anything you are unclear about, please contact us.
Our hours of business
The normal opening hours of our office are 9 am to 5.15 pm Mondays to Fridays. When the office is closed, telephone messages can be left on an answering machine. Where appropriate, appointments may be arranged outside our normal opening hours.
Communications between you and us
As Solicitors we are under a professional and legal obligation to keep your affairs confidential. This obligation is, however, subject to a statutory exception. Please see section "Identity and disclosure requirements" below for further information.
We will aim to communicate with you in plain English and will do our best to communicate with you by such method as you may request. Unless you withdraw consent, we will communicate with you and others when appropriate by e-mail or fax but we cannot be responsible for the security of correspondence and documents sent by e-mail or fax. E-mail is not a completely reliable means of communication so you should not rely on it solely in any case where it is important that we receive the communication from you.
If there is more than one of you, you authorise us to accept instructions from either or any of you.
Unless instructed otherwise, we may decline to disclose any information about you to any third party whether ostensibly making enquiries on your behalf or otherwise.
The Data Protection Act requires us to advise you that we will hold your particulars on our database. We use the information you provide to us 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 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.
We may from time to time use these details to send you information we think might be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive such information please notify us in writing.
As Solicitors we are bound by strict professional rules of conduct. Further details are available from the Law Society (www.lawsociety.org.uk / 0207 242 1222) and/or the Solicitors Regulation Authority (www.sra.org.uk / 0870 606 2555).
Professional Indemnity Insurance
As required by our governing bodies, we have professional indemnity insurance cover. Further details are available on request.
Vetting of files and confidentiality
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.
Equality and Diversity
We are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all our dealings with clients, third parties and employees. A copy of our policy is available on request.
Identity and disclosure requirements
In order to comply with Money Laundering Regulations and the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002: -
a) you must provide us with such evidence of your identity and, if applicable, that of directors, shareholders, controllers, partners and trustees of your Company, Firm or Trust and of connected parties as we may reasonably require and we may cease to act for you if you fail to do so
b) it is our policy not to accept cash payments exceeding in aggregate the sum of £1,000 in any 28 day period. If you circumvent this policy by depositing cash direct with our bank we reserve the right to charge for any additional checks we deem necessary regarding the source of the funds. Where we have to pay money to you, it will be paid by cheque or bank transfer. It will not be paid in cash or to a third party.
c) we are required to satisfy ourselves that there are no suspicious circumstances in respect of any payments or transactions and reserve the right (without being liable for any consequent loss you might suffer) to suspend further work or delay the progress of a transaction at any stage, even at completion, if we consider this to be necessary in order to check the source of any payment or to carry out any other investigations
d) if we become aware of any circumstances indicative of tax evasion or other criminal act, we may be under a duty to inform the appropriate authorities without notification to you. If that happens, we may not be able to inform you that a disclosure has been made or of the reasons for it because the law prohibits "tipping off".
Insurance and investment work
In relation to insurance and investment work we are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority. However, we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Services Authority (www.fsa.gov.uk/register) so that we can carry on insurance mediation activity, 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.
Any work we do for you may involve tax implications or necessitate consideration of tax planning strategies. We may not be qualified in all cases to advise you on the tax implications of a transaction so, if you have concerns in this respect, please raise them with us immediately. If we decide we can undertake the research necessary to resolve the issue, we will and will advise you accordingly. If not, we will tell you and, if appropriate, try to refer you to a third party who will be able to help.
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 store your file of papers for you for not less than two years. After that, we will have the right to destroy the file after such period as we consider reasonable unless you have first asked us to keep it in which case we may make a charge.
We will not destroy documents (such as Wills) which you have asked us to keep in safe custody for you. No charge will be made for such storage unless we give you prior notice in writing that a charge is to be made from a future date which will be specified in the notice.
If we take papers or documents out of storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act for you, we will not normally charge for such retrieval. However, in all other circumstances, we may charge you for: (a) the third party fee we incur in retrieving your papers (b) time spent producing stored papers that are requested (c) reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions in relation to the retrieved papers.
Charges and Expenses (non Legal Aid matters)
Save in circumstances where a fee is agreed at the outset, charges will be calculated on the basis of time spent. This includes advising, interviews with you and others, research, considering and drafting documentation, correspondence, telephone calls and (where relevant) time spent in Court, travelling and waiting time. Basic letters written and telephone calls whether made or received are charged as one six minute unit; longer ones according to how much time is actually spent. In litigation matters letters received are charged at 50% of the letters written rate unless they are complex when a higher charge will be made. Each Practitioner has an hourly charging rate of which you will be notified separately. Charging rates are reviewed periodically. Details of new charging rates will be notified in writing before the change takes effect.
In addition to the time spent, we may take into account a number of factors including any need to carry out work outside our normal office hours (9 am to 5.15 pm Monday to Friday), complexity of the issues, the speed at which action has to be taken and any particular specialist expertise which your case may require. In particular, in property transactions, the administration of estates and in cases involving a substantial financial value or benefit to a client, a charge reflecting the price of the property, the size of the estate or the value of the financial benefit may be considered. Where a charge reflecting any value element is to be added, we will explain it to you beforehand.
We will add VAT to our charges at the rate applicable at the time that the work is done. Our VAT registration number is 203 0602 35.
We have no obligation to pay expenses on your behalf (eg Land Registry fees, Court fees, Search fees) unless you have first put us in funds. We may also ask you to provide us with funds on account before undertaking any work for you.
If matters do not proceed to completion, we will be entitled to charge you for work done and expenses incurred.
Other parties' charges and expenses
In some cases you may be entitled to payment of costs by another person. You should understand that in such circumstances the other person may not be required to pay all the charges and expenses you incur with us. You have to pay our charges and expenses in the first place and any amounts recovered will be a contribution towards them. If the other party is in receipt of Legal Aid no costs are likely to be recovered.
If a Court orders another party to pay some or all of your charges and expenses, interest can be claimed on them from the other party from the date of the Court Order. We will account to you for such interest to the extent that you have paid our charges or expenses on account, but we are entitled to the rest of that interest. You will also be responsible for paying our charges and expenses of seeking to recover any costs that the Court orders the other party to pay to you.
A client who is unsuccessful in a Court case may be ordered to pay the other party's legal charges and expenses. That money would be payable in addition to our charges and expenses.
Bills and Payment
Bills may be sent at intervals. The intervals will vary according to the amount of work actually being undertaken and the stage reached. We hope this will help clients in budgeting for costs as well as keeping them informed of the legal expenses which are being incurred. If bills are not paid within fourteen days, delay in the progress of a case may result. In the unlikely event of any bill or request for payment not being met, we reserve the right to stop acting until payment has been made.
All accounts must be paid within one month of us sending you a bill. Interest may be charged on a daily basis at 4% above Barclays Bank's base rate from time to time on the whole or any part outstanding from the date of the bill in cases where payment in full has not been made within one month of the date of the bill.
At our discretion, payment by credit and debit card may be accepted for costs without surcharge and for disbursements subject to a surcharge.
If you are not satisfied with the amount of our charges, you have the right to object to our bill and apply for an assessment of it under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. You may also refer the matter to the Legal Ombudsman (see below for details). However, the Legal Ombudsman may not consider a complaint about the bill if you have applied to the Court for assessment.
After completing our work for you we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses.
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 Barclays Bank plc's Designated Client Accounts. The period for which interest will be paid will normally run from the date on which cleared funds are received by us until the date of issue of any cheque or other form of payment from our Client Account.
We are committed to high quality legal advice and client care. However, if you are unhappy about any aspect of the service you have received or about our bill, please contact our Client Care Partner Robert Green (telephone 01622 759051, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org) or our Client Complaints Manager Diane Oliver (telephone 01622 759051, e-mail email@example.com). We have a procedure in place which details how we handle complaints, a copy of which is available on request.
If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can ask the Legal Ombudsman (PO Box 15870, Birmingham, B30 9EB, 0300 555 0333 or at firstname.lastname@example.org) to consider your complaint. Normally you will need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of the date of receiving our final written response to your complaint.
We reserve the right to decline acting for you where any request for payment is outstanding, where no agreement is reached about the manner in which costs are to be provided for, where proceedings have been instituted at any time in the past to recover unpaid costs, where it is clear that the work could only be carried out under the Legal Aid Scheme, where advice is consistently rejected and/or the instructions given require the matter to be conducted in an unreasonable manner or one which would be prejudicial to the person giving the instructions, where complying with the instructions would necessitate a breach of any rules governing the conduct of Solicitors and their staff or proper standards of professional behaviour; or where it becomes inappropriate in our reasonable opinion to continue to represent you.