Terms and Conditions
Our aim is to offer quality legal advice with a personal service at a cost that is fair and reasonable and properly reflects the value of the work we do for you. We feel it would be helpful to you if we set out in this statement the basis on which we provide our professional services.
We reserve the right to alter these Terms and Conditions from time to time. Should this become necessary a copy of our current Terms and Conditions are available upon request.
- represent your interests and keep your business confidential.
- communicate to you the legal work which may be required and give an honest and realistic assessment about the prospects of a successful outcome. We shall also keep you informed of cost implications and keep your costs under constant review to ensure you receive estimates periodically. If we feel an estimate may be exceeded a fresh estimate will be given. We will try to ensure you do not have any nasty shocks when you receive your bills.
- monitor your personal circumstances throughout the duration of your case and let you know if we feel you will be eligible for Legal Aid. In such circumstances we will recommend a Legal Aid practice so that you can secure the benefit of Legal Aid if that is your wish.
- keep you fully informed about the financial balance of your account on every invoice issued and assist you to manage your financial relationship with us to ensure that we are able to complete our work for you in the most efficient manner possible.
- when communicating with you we shall try to avoid using legal jargon wherever possible.
- On occasions it is necessary to pay out various expenses on behalf of clients ranging from Court fees, Barristers fees and the fees of experts and so on. VAT is payable on certain expenses. We refer to such payments generally as “disbursements”. It is not our policy to make such payments unless you have already placed us in funds for that purpose. These advance payments can be made directly into our account by bank transfer, cheque or cash. We will not ask for these funds until just before they are required by the third party to assist your cash flow. If you have deposited funds for a disbursement and for some reason the onward payment date has changed, we will use any funds held against your invoices and request a further deposit when the next due dates are known. We do not believe that is it desirable to hold your money for disbursements any longer than necessary.
- VAT automatically has to be added to all bills with the exception of Court fees and services to clients domiciled outside the UK.
- All work on your case will be charged for according to the time spent. Each hour of work is divided into 10 units of time. For example, if the hourly charging rate is £100, the charge for 1 unit is £10. All work is charged for on the basis of the time actually taken. Should urgent work be required that can only be done by fee earners outside of normal office hours a special unsociable hours rate will be used. Routine letters and emails received are automatically charged at ½ unit prior to being dealt with by the fee earner.
- The current hourly rates of all persons who may undertake work on your case are detailed in your personalised letter of engagement.
- Sometimes it may be possible to give you a fixed quote for the work we will undertake and if so we will not exceed the amount of that quote without your prior knowledge and consent. We would ask you to make any such request in writing at the earliest opportunity to the person responsible for the day to day conduct of your case.
- All new clients will be asked to deposit £1000 (and any imminent court fees) into our account prior to any work being undertaken. Should the cost estimate provided be less than £1000 then a reduced deposit will be requested. (These deposits will be credited to your account and used against outstanding or future invoices).
- Our policy is to deliver an interim bill on a fortnightly basis, or sooner if the combined amount owing for all matters to a single client reaches £360 (including disbursements and VAT) or there are any disbursements to be billed regardless of the amount. You will be provided with an itemised print out with each interim bill. If you think it is incorrect please let us know. We find a billing procedure of this type helps clients to budget for costs as well as keeping them informed of the legal expenses being incurred on their behalf. Interim bills will itemise the work done in the attached printout. In the event of a valid request for payment not being met, we reserve our right to immediately stop acting for you.
- Payment is due to us upon receipt of any bill. Any payment received will be automatically offset against the earliest unpaid and/or part unpaid invoice issued. In relation to our fees (not including disbursements) we will accept any personal Visa card or MasterCard payment without there being a handling charge. Commercial cards will be accepted but subject to a 2% handling fee which will be billed separately.
- We reserve the right to add interest to bills that remain unpaid after 14 days at the rate 4.9% above the base rate of Lloyds TSB Bank plc applicable at the time. These interest charges will be invoiced separately. If an invoice remains unpaid after 14 days as well as interest being charged we reserve the right to cease working on your behalf until all outstanding invoices have been settled. Also we reserve the right to withdraw credit facilities following any late payment.
- There may be times when we shall require you to sign a Legal Charge over your property or other assets to secure our costs.
- We will ask for all unpaid costs to be cleared before attending any Court hearing on your behalf. We will also ask you for payment on account to cover the estimated costs of attending that hearing.
- We will always require payment on account for any disbursement and/or Barrister’s fees before confirming the booking. These payments will only be accepted as a bank transfer, cash or cheque.
Cash Payment Limit
Please note that we are unable to accept cash over £2000 from any source.
After the initial deposit has been used, clients will be offered credit to a limit of £360 (including vat and disbursements) subject to an acceptable credit report from TransUnion International UK Ltd. Should the credit limit be fully used against our fees/costs an invoice will be issued for immediate payment. Additional work will be halted when this credit limit is reached until payment is made. This is in everybody’s interests and ensures that work will only be done at a pace that can be afforded by the client.
Clients who do not want credit and/or a credit report to be provided by TransUnion International UK Ltd for personal reasons such as limiting the number of enquiries (hard or soft) on their credit file, will be required to make sufficient funds available and no credit will be offered at any time.
Money Laundering Obligations
We are obliged by our regulators the SRA to undertake money laundering checks on all client at the outset of all matters. We use an approved scheme operated by the credit reference agent TransUnion International UK Ltd. The use of this system does not generate an entry on the individual’s credit file. If for any reason TransUnion International UK Ltd is unable to provide an adequate report we will require clients to provide a passport and a utility bill which links your name to your address for copying and saving on your file. Please note we are entitled to charge you for undertaking this obligation.
Failure to complete a money laundering check by the methods detailed above will result in us being unable to provide our services. Money laundering checks may need to be renewed every 12 months.
Equality and Diversity
We are committed to practicing equality and diversity in all of our dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our equality and diversity policy.
- You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time but we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is money owing to us for our charges and expenses. If at any stage you do not wish us to continue doing work and/or incurring charges and expenses on your behalf, you must tell us clearly in writing.
- If we decide to stop acting for you, for example if you ask us to do something improper or if you do not pay an interim bill when requested to do so or comply with a request for a payment on account, we will tell you the reason and give you notice in writing. You will be liable to pay any outstanding fees.
Our aim is to offer an efficient and effective service. We shall look to communicate with you by such method as you request. At the outset we will ask for your email address and will use this for all communication such as letters, invoices and general items unless you prefer us to use the post.
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 manage our practice
- Statutory returns
- 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 to access under data protection legislation to the personal data that we hold about you.