- We aim to offer our clients quality legal advice with a personal service at a fair cost. This statement confirms the basis on which we will provide our professional services.
- Unless otherwise agreed, these Terms and Conditions of Business shall apply to any future instructions given by you to us.
- By instructing or continuing to instruct us, you are deemed to have accepted these Terms and Conditions. These Terms and Conditions can only be altered in writing.
- We are only able to progress matters on your instructions. We therefore ask that you promptly provide instructions and information to us when requested to do so and that if there are periods during which you will not be available, you warn us in advance and supply alternative contact details.
- If two or more persons are instructing us jointly on the same matter then, unless you advise us in writing to the contrary, we shall be entitled to assume that any one of them has the authority to give instructions for all. Everyone jointly instructing us will be individually responsible for the payment of all our fees.
HOURS OF BUSINESS
Our office is open from 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays). Please be aware that Mondays and Fridays are the busiest days, as is the last working day of the month.
We will aim to communicate with you by such a method as you may request. We may need to virus check discs or email. Unless you withdraw consent, we will communicate with others when appropriate by email, text or fax but we cannot be responsible for the security of correspondence and documents sent by email or fax.
COSTS AND DISBURSEMENTS
- Unless you have been provided with a written fixed quotation our fees are charged wholly or partly by an hourly rate. This hourly rate depends on the type and complexity of the work involved. You will be advised of the hourly rate at the outset of your matter.
- We will provide you with an estimate of what we expect our fees to be once we have sufficient information in relation to your matter to enable us to do so.
- Time spent on your matter will include meetings with you and perhaps others, any time spent travelling to appointments, considering, preparing and working on papers, correspondence and making and receiving telephone calls.
- Routine letters that we write and routine telephone calls that we make and receive will be charged as units of one tenth of an hour. Other non routine letters and telephone calls will be charged on a time basis.
- In addition to the time spent, our charges may include an “up lift” to take into account various factors including (but not limited to) the complexity of the issues, the speed at which action must be taken, the expertise or specialist knowledge that the case requires and, if appropriate, the value of the property or subject matter involved.
- The hourly rate will be reviewed on 1st January each year and we will advise you, in writing, of any increased rate from the review date.
- Factors beyond our control may result in an increase in the complexity, or the amount of time that the matter takes, in which event our initial estimate or quotation may need to be revised. If this arises, we will supply a revised estimate or quotation with an explanation of the reason for the increase. We will require your written agreement to the revised estimate or quotation before we can continue to act.
- Quotations and estimates are only valid if confirmed in writing. Unless accepted, quotations expire one month from the date the quotation is given.
- We reserve the right to make an additional charge for certain services such as home visits, international and long distance telephone calls and faxes, courier charges, and bank transfers.
- We may ask you to make a payment to us on account of anticipated disbursements (that is, fees and expenses paid by us on your behalf) such as Land or Probate Registry fees, court fees, experts’ fees and counsels fees including VAT where applicable. It is a condition of our agreeing to act, and of our continuing to act, that clients promptly meet any request for payments on account. Please be aware that we have no obligation to make such payments unless you have provided us with cleared funds for that purpose. We will not accept responsibility for any loss or additional expenses incurred by you as a result of your failure to provide cleared funds which we have requested from you.
- We reserve the right to submit interim invoices to you for payment if a matter is likely to be protracted.
- If, for any reason, we cease to represent you or if a matter does not proceed to completion you will be responsible for our fees for all work done up to that date and any disbursements incurred on your behalf unless we have agreed otherwise in writing beforehand.
- Should any account rendered for fees remain unpaid we reserve the right to transfer the account to a collection agency and to recover any charges so incurred in addition to the original debt and interest.
- Fees and disbursements invoiced to you are due for payment immediately on delivery of our invoice. Interest will be charged from that date on any amounts not paid within 30 days of delivery of the bill, calculated on a daily basis at 2% per month. If any invoice remains unpaid after 30 days from the date delivery, we reserve the right to terminate our retainer, that is to suspend work on your files and, ultimately, to refuse to continue to act for you.
- If we are in possession of any monies due to you, for instance damages recovered for you or the proceeds of sale of a property, we will deduct any fees and disbursements due to us from those monies.
- On occasions, at the end of a transaction, we are left with a small residual balance. We will return any significant balance to you, if we retain your contact details, when the balance is discovered. However, in circumstances where we no longer hold such details then, if the amount held is nominal and/or the cost of tracing you is out of all proportion to the amount held, then the balance will be sent to our nominated charity. By signing the client care letter or allowing us to continue to act for you, you are providing your explicit consent for the firm to do so. If the amount held exceeds £25, we shall make at least one attempt to contact you to refund funds or ask you to confirm if you are happy for the value to be sent to our nominated charity.
- If a request to collect a file/ Will / Deed or documents or documents from a file whether current or closed, we reserve the right to charge an administration fee of £25.00 plus VAT and /or copying charge which shall be 10 pence per page copied (or scanned) to ensure that we retain copies of all relevant correspondence and documents or £50.00 plus VAT, whichever is the greater. The charge must be paid prior to the release of the file or documentations requested.
OTHER PARTIES’ COSTS AND DISBURSEMENTS
In some transactions a client may be entitled to payment of costs by some other person. It is important that you understand that in such circumstances, the other person may not be required to pay all the charges and expenses which you incur with us. 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. The other person will not be liable to pay the VAT element of your costs if you are able to recover the VAT yourself.
Please be aware that any payment which we receive from you should be made in the following forms:
- Bank Draft
- Building Society cheque
- Personal cheque (which must be received in sufficient time for clearance to meet any deadline in connection with the transaction)
- Telegraphic Transfer to our own bank provided that BEFORE you instruct your bank to make the payment you advise us in advance AND you supply the full name, address, sort code and account number of your bank, and the amount being sent.
- We do not accept cash payments unless previously agreed by a Partner of this firm.
Payments by third parties
We WILL NOT accept payments by third parties except in exceptional circumstances and only with prior notice and agreement, and will require acceptable evidence of identity and address before the payment is made.
We reserve the right to cease acting for you if any payments are made by you or on your behalf in breach of the above requirements. We will not accept responsibility for any loss or additional expenses incurred by you as a result of such termination, or any delay in the transaction caused while we verify the source of the funds. Any additional charges incurred as a result of such delay will be your responsibility and must be paid before we continue to act for you.
PAYMENTS MADE BY US
In relation to sale or re mortgage transactions, by accepting our terms of business you will be giving to us EXPRESS AUTHORITY to discharge all mortgages, charges and other incumbrances that are registered against your property including undertakings given to third parties (such as banks or other financial institutions) to discharge monies due to them out of the proceeds of sale. This authority must be considered as irrevocable.
METHODS OF PAYMENT AND MONEY LAUNDERING REGULATIONS
Payment should be made to Taunton Solicitors by personal cheque, building society cheque or banker’s draft. Please allow 5 working days for the clearance of personal cheques. Direct bank transfers can be made by prior arrangement and this method is preferred where significant funds are required eg for completion of a property purchase. Due to the money laundering regulations, we are only permitted to accept limited amounts of cash in relation to any transaction. We will not be able to accept payments prior to your identify being verified. You will be asked to complete an AML form. We will require you to provide proof of identity and, separately, your address. It is also the firm’s policy to carry out electronic identity checks and a charge of £10.00 plus VAT for each individual involved in the matter will be made.
MONEY LAUNDERING LEGISLATION
- Under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, and earlier Anti-Terrorism Legislation, as solicitors, we are obliged to report any offender who we suspect has any monies which are the proceeds of criminal conduct and/or own any property which is the proceeds of criminal conduct. We cannot be held responsible for any losses which you incur as a result of our making such disclosure to the police or relevant authorities.
- By signing these terms and conditions of business and returning it to us you authorise us to disclose to the other parties in the transaction and, if applicable, to all other parties in the chain of transactions and their agents and advisers, all information which we have in relation to your involvement in the transaction including any related sale or mortgage and other financial arrangements and wishes as to dates for exchange and completion. You may withdraw this authority at any time but if you do so you should appreciate that we will inform the other party or parties and their agents or advisers that this authority has been withdrawn.
- We will not be liable for any loss, damage or delay arising out of the firm’s compliance with any statutory or regulatory requirement.
ACTING FOR LIMITED COMPANIES
When accepting instructions to act on behalf of a limited company, we may require a Director and/or controlling shareholder to sign a form of personal guarantee in respect of the charges and expenses of this firm. If such a request is refused, we will be entitled to stop acting and to require immediate payment of our charges on an hourly basis and expenses as set out earlier.
HOLDING CLIENTS MONEY
- 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 2011, interest will be calculated and paid to you at the rate from time to time payable on our bank’s Designated Client Accounts. Where interest is payable it will be paid will normally run from the date on which funds are received by us until the date of issue of any cheque from our Client Account.
- If a client instructs us in writing, monies on which interest may be payable can be held in separate deposit accounts exclusively related to that client and designated by the use of the client’s name. Where clients require us to open separate deposit accounts, we will do so. Naturally this involves additional administrative work and a charge for opening and operating such an account may be made. Transfers between designated deposit accounts and our general clients account will also be subject to a charge for each transfer. If you wish us to hold funds in this way please instruct us in writing. We will not open such an account on our own accord due to the large volume of client matters we deal with on a daily basis.
- In common with most other Solicitors and Banks, we charge a fee for transferring funds through the banking system (telegraphic transfers or other such payments) and for the provision of bank drafts. A charge will also be made where a cheque credited to your account with us is dishonoured. This does not apply to cheques drawn by debtors in our favour in respect of debt recovery matters which we are handling for you.
- Where a client obtains borrowing from a lender in a property transaction, we will ask the lender to arrange that the loan cheque is received by us a minimum of 4 working days prior to the completion date. If the money can be telegraphed, we will request that we receive it the day before completion. This will enable us to ensure that the necessary funds are available in time for completion. Please be aware that the lender may charge interest from the date of issue of their loan cheque or the telegraphing of the mortgage advance.
- On the 1st January 2016, the protection limit for deposits protection under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) was reduced to £85,000. FSCS limit applies to the individual client, so if you hold other personal monies in the same deposit-taking institution as our client account, the limit remains £85,000 in total. Furthermore, as our client account holds funds for several clients, but is treated as a single account your funds may have very limited protection in the event of Lloyds Bank PLC. There are certain exceptions for temporary high balance up to £1,000,000. For more information please go to http://www.lawsociety.org.uk. In summary, funds should only be deposited with us for the shortest time possible to facilitate your transaction. The firm offers no indemnity.
- In accordance with the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s Accounts Rules we are required to account to you for interest on money held by us in our client account when it is fair and reasonable to do so. This Policy seeks to provide for the payment of a fair sum of interest where appropriate and sets out the guidelines for when interest will be paid.
- The holding of client money must be incidental to the carrying out of clients’ instructions. We are required to hold client money in an instant access account to facilitate transactions. For these reasons, it is unlikely you will receive as much interest on the money held as might have been obtained had you held and invested the funds yourself.
We will not pay interest on money held:
- a) For payment of a professional disbursement once counsel or other professional has requested a delay in settlement;
- b) On an advance from us into our general client account to fund a payment on your behalf in excess of funds already held for you in that account;
- c) If there is an agreement to contract out of the provisions of this Policy; and
- d) On small balances or on funds held for short periods.
Any work that we do for you may involve tax implications or necessitate the consideration of tax planning strategies. We may not be qualified to advise you on the tax implications of a transaction that you instruct us to carry out, or the likelihood of them arising. If you have any concerns in this respect, please raise them with us in writing immediately. If we can undertake the research necessary to resolve the issue, we will do so and advise you accordingly. If we cannot, we may be able to identify a source of assistance for you.
- You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time.
- If we decide to stop acting for you, for example if you do not pay an interim bill or comply with the request for a payment on account, we will tell you the reason and give you notice in writing.
- On termination of the relationship between us you must pay us for all work we have done and expenses and liabilities (for example, under an undertaking) we have incurred on your behalf but not then invoiced or paid by you. You will also be responsible for and pay us for all work we do and expenses we incur in closing our file and ceasing to act for you. Where the courts are involved you must consent (or if you do not you will be deemed to consent) to an application to the court for the name of our firm to be removed from the record and must pay all costs and expenses incurred. We have and shall retain a lien on all your papers, deeds and documents until all monies owing to us or for which you are responsible are paid to us.
- Under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, for some non-business instructions, you may have the right to withdraw, without charge, within 7 working days of the date on which you asked us to act for you. However, if we start work with your consent within that period, you lose that right to withdraw. Your acceptance of these terms and conditions of business will amount to such consent. If you seek to withdraw instructions, you should give notice by telephone, email or letter to the person named in these terms of business as being responsible for your work. The Regulations require us to inform you that the work involved is likely to take more than 30
- Our aim is to give our clients the best possible service but at a competitive price. We are confident that you will be pleased with the services we provide. However, should there be any aspect of our service with which you are unhappy, please raise your concern in the first instance with the person dealing with your case who will take all reasonable steps to resolve your concerns. If you still have queries or concerns, please contact <RS> Insert the name of the Client Care Partner <format></format></RS>, our client care partner. In order to avoid any misunderstandings, we would prefer any formal complaint to the Complaints Partner to be made in writing.
Any complaint will be acknowledged immediately in writing, with a full resolved within 28 days. If matters cannot be sorted out between us then you are able to refer to various external agencies. In the first instance please contact:-
- Partner, Bruce Leyland 2 Tangier Central, Taunton, TA1 4AP (telephone 01823 351122) – (email: [email protected]). If your concern relates to a matter that has been dealt with by Mr Leyland, please contact Partner, Mrs Victoria Osborne at the same address (email: [email protected] )
- If your concern is not resolved to your satisfaction you can refer the dispute to:
Legal Ombudsman PO Box 15870, Birmingham B30 9EB (telephone: 0300 555 0333 [email protected]
If you are still dissatisfied you have the right to contact the Law Society’s Consumer Complaints Service and/or the Legal Ombudsman. Scheme Rule 4: Time Limits
From 1 April 2023, the time limits for referring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman will be not later than:
- one year from the date of the act or omission being complained about; or
- one year from the date when the complainant should have realised that there was cause for complaint.
The Legal Ombudsman will retain the ability to apply Rule 4.7, which allows an Ombudsman to exercise discretion to extend the 1 year time limit for specific customers if, on the evidence, it was fair and reasonable to do so.
- If you have a complaint concerning your legal costs you have the right to ask the court to assess or “tax” the costs. In respect of work which has not involved court proceedings (including all conveyancing work), the Law Society can provide a Remuneration Certificate stating whether the fees are reasonable and if not, what would be a reasonable amount. A request for taxation or a Remuneration Certificate should be made to us within one month of the delivery of the invoice.
OTHER TERMS AND CONDITIONS
- Unless we agree otherwise, we retain copyright in all written material prepared for or supplied to our clients. Our clients may, of course, use the material but only in respect of the matters in respect of which this firm is instructed and for which the material was specifically prepared. This firm accepts no responsibility for the consequences of clients using such material in any other circumstances.
- Once a particular matter has been conclude we cannot accept ongoing responsibility for reminding clients of changes in the law which might affect them or of critical dates in respect of such matters as rent reviews, lease renewals, the exercise of options, court proceedings and the like. We will only do so where we have accepted specific instructions in writing from you to advise you upon specific changes in law or to deal with the relevant matters immediately prior to the critical date in question.
- In the interests of efficiency, much of the information that you give us will be recorded on word or data processing systems. By instructing us, you are deemed to have consented to this. Our firm is registered under the provisions of the Data Protection Act. Information held by us is confidential and will not be disclosed by us to a third party without your consent unless we are required to do so by law, including but not limited to, under the rules of professional conduct, following a request by the police or other law enforcement organisations or under Money Laundering Regulations that we are obliged to comply with from time to time. In instructing us you give us consent to disclose such information as may be necessary for the successful and efficient conclusion of the matter upon which your instructions are based. Where we have your general consent, it may still be appropriate to obtain your consent to a specific piece of information being disclosed as the issue arises. When information is shared, we will take all necessary actions to mitigate the risks. This will include entering into a formal confidentiality agreement with the third party. Any third party we use will be UK based.
- It is important that you tell us in writing of any change in your address as soon as possible but in any event within seven days. Unless you do so we shall be entitled to treat your last address known to us as your address for all purposes including correspondence, notices and proceedings.
- Our failure to enforce at any time or for any period any one or more of these terms shall not be a waiver of them or of the right at any time subsequently to enforce all or any applicable terms and conditions.