Terms and Conditions
1. Service standards
We aim to provide you with high standards of service at all times. We will:
keep you informed of the progress with your matter at agreed intervals;
communicate with you in plain language;
explain to you the work which is required as your matter progresses;
keep you informed of our costs at agreed intervals;
keep you advised of the likely timescales for each stage of this matter and any material changes in those estimates.
To achieve the best possible outcome in your case, we need to work together with you. We will:
review your matter regularly;
advise you on the law;
follow your instructions;
update you on whether the likely outcomes still justify the likely costs and risks associated with your matter whenever there is a material change in circumstances.
You need to:
provide us with clear and timely instructions;
keep safe any documents which are relevant to your matter and provide them to us when requested.
3. Anti-money laundering obligations
We are under a professional and legal obligation to keep your affairs confidential. This obligation, however, is subject to a statutory exception, which may require a lawyer who knows or suspects that a transaction on behalf of a client may involve money laundering or terrorist financing to make a disclosure to the Serious Organised Crime Agency.
If we are required to make a disclosure in relation to your matter, we may not be able to inform you that a disclosure has been made. We may also have to cease acting in your matter for a period of time and may not be able to tell you the reasons for it.
4. Financial matters
Our policy is to only accept cash up to £200 from clients, this includes cash payments into any of our bank accounts. 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.
5.1 How we calculate charges
Our charges will be calculated by reference to the time we actually spend working on your matter. This will include:
attending meetings and negotiations;
reading, preparing and working on papers;
making and responding to telephone calls, e-mails, faxes and letters;
preparation of costs estimates, schedules and bills;
attendance at courts or tribunals and travel time.
5.2 Hourly rates
We review our hourly rates each year in July to take into account increases in costs. We will notify you in writing if the rates you are being charged are increased and the date from which the increases will apply.
All routine correspondence which we write will be charged at 1/10th of the hourly rate, while routine correspondence we receive will be charged at 1/20th of the hourly rate. All routine telephone calls, either made or received, will be charged at 1/10th of the hourly rate. More complicated correspondence and telephone calls will be charged at the hourly rate for the actual time they take.
5.3 Other expenses
There may be other expenses which we need to pay on your behalf. These can include:
fees for expert reports;
These will be listed separately on your bill and you may be charged VAT in relation to these expenses.
5.4 Payment of expenses in advance Where we have to make payments to third parties to cover expenses such as court costs or fees for expert reports, we can ask you to pay us first. This will help prevent delays in your matter. As we become aware of payments which will need to be made we will write to you to ask you to send funds to us to cover the payments as the matter progresses.
When we send you bills, we will make sure we include the amounts you have already paid. If there are any advance funds left over, we will put them against our fees which need to be paid. You should note that the total bill for expenses may be greater than the amount which you have paid in advance.
5.5 Payment of bills
We will send you a bill for our fees and expenses at the end of every calendar month while the work is in progress. You may also set a limit on the fees and expenses we can incur in relation to your matter. This means you have to pay our fees and expenses up to this limit, but we must ask your permission to continue working on your matter if it looks like you will have to pay us more than the limit you have set. We will write to you before we reach the limit, and explain why your matter is likely to cost more, review our estimate of how much your matter is likely to cost and ask you to agree a new limit, before we do more work on your matter.
Payment of an invoice is required within 7 days. We may charge you interest on unpaid bills, from one month after the delivery of our bill. If this matter does not proceed to completion, we will charge you for the work done and for expenses incurred. We are entitled to pay your bill from monies received by us on your behalf and to retain your file papers or other property until payment is made.
5.6 Recovering costs If your matter is successful, you may obtain an order from the court for the payment of your costs by another person. However, in practice this usually results in only a part of the costs being recovered for you, because of the way in which the court measures the costs. You have to pay our charges and expenses in the first place and any amounts which can be recovered will be a contribution towards them. If the other party is in receipt of legal aid without costs entitlement or is uninsured, they simply may not be able to pay. Please note that in cases brought in the Employment Tribunals costs orders are unusual and it is far more likely that each party will bear their own costs regardless of whether they win or lose.
5.7 Other parties' costs If you are unsuccessful in your matter, it is likely that the court will order you to pay your opponent's costs in addition to our costs. Your opponent's costs can be assessed by the court to see if they are reasonable, so you will have the opportunity to review the costs and ask the court to reduce them. Please see the notes above in relation to Employment Tribunals.
6. 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 for management purposes and 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 disclose 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 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.
7.Storage of papers
After completing the work, we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owing to us for charges and expenses.
We will keep our file of your papers (except any of your papers which you ask to be returned to you) for no more than six years. We will keep the file on the understanding that we have the authority to destroy it six years after the date of the final bill we send to you for this matter. If we retrieve papers or documents from storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act for you, we will not normally charge for such retrieval. However we may charge you for:
time spent producing stored papers requested; and
reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions in relation to the retrieved papers.
8. Limitation of liability
Our liability to you for a breach of your instructions shall be limited to £500,000 or such other higher amount as expressly set out in the letter accompanying these terms of business. We will not be liable for any consequential, special, indirect or exemplary damages, costs or losses or any damages, costs or losses attributable to lost profits or opportunities. These limitations apply only to the extent that they are permitted by law. In particular they do not apply to any liability for death or personal injury caused by negligence.
9. Applicable law
Any dispute or legal issue arising from our terms of business will be determined by English law and will be submitted to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.
10. Ending our services
You may end your instructions to us in writing at any time, but we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owing to us for charges and expenses. We may decide to stop acting for you. For example, if you do not pay a bill or there is a conflict of interest. We must give you reasonable notice that we will stop acting for you. If you or we decide that we should stop acting for you, you will pay our charges up until that point on an hourly basis and expenses set out in these terms and conditions.