This webpage sets out our terms of business, which apply in all cases unless otherwise agreed in writing.
We pride ourselves on the standard of service and legal advice we give to all our clients, and we want to make sure that our service meets your expectations.
Essential features of our commitment to you are:
This firm will be giving a very high level of commitment to protecting you and your interests and so we expect a very high level of trust and respect. In the event you give us any reason to believe this is not the case we will no longer be able to work for you. We operate a “zero tolerance” policy to any situation where the expected client lawyer relationship of the utmost good faith appears undermined.
You can help us to do us best for you by telling us what we need to know. In particular, please:
In common with all professional practices and financial institutions, we are required to hold verification of client’s identity and address to comply with money laundering requirements. You will be requested to provide this information before we are able to proceed with your matters.
On occasion, information and evidence will be required as to the source of any funding. We reserve the right to refuse cash deposits. The anti-money laundering procedures we operate are for the protection of our clients. In certain circumstances, we are required to reveal to the appropriate authorities any suspicions we have of money-laundering.
We will give you the best information we can as to how much your case will cost. There are a variety of ways in which our fees can be calculated, and we may discuss with you what would be most appropriate to your case.
In straightforward matters the basis of our charges will be one of the following:
In such cases we will also estimate as far as possible the cost of other things you are likely to have to pay for (what we call “disbursements”) and when payment for them is likely to be needed; and, where we are acting for you by reference to an hourly rate or rates, the time we are likely to spend on the matter and therefore the likely overall cost. In the event of a fixed fee being agreed this will be strictly for the work stated. If you instruct us to carry out more work over and above that specifically within the scope covered by any agreed fee or hourly rate arrangement normally paid by you we will charge you at our current hourly rate of £295 per hour plus VAT up to a maximum of £3,500 plus VAT, although as soon as reasonably practicable we will provide you with an estimate of the overall cost of the extra work once its full extent becomes apparent.
More substantial or complex cases will often require further information to be collected or a certain stage reached before the likely overall cost can be properly assessed. In those circumstances our initial letter may give you or confirm one of the following:
We will then give you more reliable information about your potential cost liability as soon as we are in a position to do so, and will continue to update this as your matter progresses.
Our hourly rates are subject to review from time to time. We will notify you of any changes.
Please understand also that any estimate we give of the total fees and disbursements you are likely to incur, whether at the outset or as your matter progresses, will of necessity be only the best estimate we can give at that particular stage. An estimate might be exceeded because unforeseen work has become necessary, for example due to unexpected difficulties or if your requirements or the circumstances of your case change significantly. If that happens, however, we will inform you of the anticipated cost of extra work before incurring extra costs.
In appropriate cases we may in addition take into account factors which might justify a higher overall fee. These include the complexity of the job; its value and importance to you; an exceptional degree of urgency, which could for example necessitate weekend working; the degree of specialist knowledge required; and anything else which makes our responsibility unusual. We reserve the right to make an additional charge to reflect our degree of success and its importance to you. Whenever possible we will inform you if we believe that any such factors apply to your matter, giving details reasons, with the intention of trying to agree with you a charge which is fair and reasonable.
We may discuss with you how you propose to pay our fees and any disbursements likely to be incurred. We may also ask you to make payments on account from time to time and/or render interim accounts. You remain personally responsible to pay our charges even if you ask us to invoice a third party.
Generally, we will only pay a disbursement without having the money first if it does not exceed £150; and we will then raise a bill or ask you to reimburse the cost. In the case of larger disbursements we will usually ask you to put us in funds before we pay them.
Our fees and many disbursements we incur on your behalf are subject to VAT at the appropriate rate.
If we render a bill to you and we are at that time holding on your behalf (in our client account) money which is not held for another designated purpose, we shall discharge (or partially discharge) our bill from the money we hold. We also reserve the right to appropriate such money for the discharge of a bill rendered on a separate active matter that we are handling for you.
Finally, we reserve the right to charge you interest on any unpaid bills at the rate payable on judgement debts from one month after delivery of the bill. In addition you will be responsible for any costs and expenses we incur in recovering sums due from you.
Payment is due on presentation of our invoice unless stated by us to be otherwise. Any complaints concerning our charging policy should be referred to Stephen Williams in the first instance. You have the right to complain further to the Legal Ombudsman and ultimately the Courts.
You may terminate your instructions to us at any time, but please do so in writing.
We may decide to stop acting for you. However, we are only permitted to do so for good reason, such as your failure to pay an interim bill or to comply with our request for a payment on account. If we feel for any reason that utmost trust and respect has broken down between us we will stop acting for you immediately. In other situations we will give you reasonable notice that we intend to stop acting for you.
If you or we decide that we will no longer act for you, you will be responsible for the payment of our charges together with any disbursements incurred on your behalf, even in a case where a third party would have been responsible for payment had the matter proceeded to completion. Moreover, in the event that you terminate your instructions we will be entitled to retain all your papers and documents and any payments due to you while there is money owing to us for our fees and any disbursements we have paid on your behalf.
You may not transfer or assign your obligation to pay our charges unless we provide you with specific written authority.
If during this transaction 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 Solicitors Regulation Authority, we may be able to provide certain limited investment services where these are closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you.
If you have any problem with the service we have provided for you then please let us know. We will try to resolve any problem quickly and operate an internal complaints handling system to help us to resolve the problem between ourselves. If for any reason we are unable to resolve the problem between us, then we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and complaints and redress mechanisms are provided through the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Legal Ombudsman.
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.
You agree to the limit of our liability being £3,000,000 any one incident or series of incidents. You agree that is reasonable in all the circumstances.
Any money paid to us on your behalf is held in a separate client bank account. We pay gross interest to clients quarterly on money held in client account in accordance with the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules. The rate of interest applied is that considered fair and reasonable for the amount of money held. Interest of less that £20 per quarter will be disregarded but all other interest will be paid in accordance with the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules, unless some other arrangement has been agreed with you. Where a designates deposit account is held, interest due to you will be paid net of basis rate income tax unless evidence to the contrary is received.
As a matter of policy we do not hold or accept client monies. All charges will arise out of an invoice issued to you from this firm. In the event monies are inadvertently sent to us and which are not covered by an invoice, we will immediately forward them to their correct destination or return them to you.
We expect disbursements to be paid in advance or we may pay for disbursements from our own funds and charge them on in an invoice at a later date.
We usually issue invoices in advance and expect them to be paid before the commencement of work for all clients that are new or relatively new, to us. Please do not feel offended. That is also our firm`s policy.
When we act for you against another party in litigation you are warned that:
(a) Even if you are successful you are unlikely to recover all your costs due to this firm; and
(b) Where you are unsuccessful, not only will you be required to pay our costs, you will also probably be required to pay the successful party`s costs which may be a substantial sum.
We never forecast more than a 60% chance of success for any client in litigation as there are so many unpredictable factors that influence any court judgment. You must therefore factor the risk you may not succeed into your decision whether to proceed.
We retain client files for no more than 6 years as originals of final documents will always be sent to you and copies either emailed or posted during that time. Files older than 6 years will be destroyed in a secure fashion.
When we draft and supply documentation or amendments to existing documentation then copyright and other intellectual properties owned by this firm will be inherent in what we supply. If you fail to pay for our services within 30 days of the due date, then any licence granted to you to use the same will terminate.
Under these Regulations, you have the right to withdraw, without charge, your instructions to us on any new matter within seven working days after your instructions, unless these have been given or confirmed to us at a meeting.
The information we hold about you and your affairs is treated in the strictest confidence by us and will not be disclosed to a third party without your consent, unless we are required to do so by law. In the event that work is undertaken for you in conjunction with your other advisors, we will assume we have your authority to discuss relevant confidential information with them and to provide them with personal data and relevant documentation unless you tell us otherwise.
There follows a copy of our Complaints Handling Procedure:
We are committed to providing a high-quality legal service to all our clients. When something goes wrong, we need you to tell us about it. This will help us to improve our standards.
If you have a complaint, please contact us with the details.
If we have to change any of the timescales above, we will let you know and explain why.
Your continuing instructions will amount to your acceptance of these terms of engagement. The contract between us in governed by and construed in all respects in accordance with English Law and is subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England.