(NOTE: This is a standard document and not all the information will necessarily be relevant to every client)
1 Our responsibilities
- treat you fairly and with respect;
- communicate with you in plain language;
- review your matter regularly;
- advise you of any changes in the law that affect your matter; and
- advise you of any reasonably foreseeable circumstances and risks that could affect the outcome of your matter
2 Your responsibilities
- provide us with clear, timely and accurate instructions
- provide all documentation and information that we reasonably request in a timely manner, and
- safeguard any documents that may be required for your matter, including documents that you may have to disclose to another party
3 Service levels and frequency of communication
We will update you by telephone or in writing with progress on your matter regularly and at least every six weeks. When we use the term ‘in writing’ we include any form of written electronic communication normally used for business purposes, such as emails
We will explain to you by telephone or in writing the legal work required as your matter progresses.
We will update you on the likely timescales for each stage of this matter and any important changes in those estimates. Whenever there is a material change in circumstances associated with your matter, we will update you on whether the likely outcomes still justify the likely costs and risks.
We will update you on the cost of your matter at the intervals set out in our letter confirming your instructions. If appropriate, we will continue to review whether there are alternative methods by which your matter can be funded.
4 Limit of liability
Our maximum aggregate liability to you in this matter will be £10,000,000.00 (ten million pounds) including interest and costs unless we expressly state a different figure in our letter confirming your instructions. If you wish to discuss a variation of this limit, please contact the person dealing with your matter. Agreeing a higher limit on our liability may result in us seeking an increase in our charges for handling your matter.
Where you are instructing us for purposes that are wholly or mainly outside your trade, business, craft or profession we will not be liable for:
- losses that were not foreseeable to you and us when this contract was formed
- losses not caused by any breach on the part of the firm, and
- business losses, including losses sustained by any individual not acting for purposes of their trade, business, craft or profession
Where you are instructing us for other purposes 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 profit or opportunity.
Dutton Gregory LLP is a limited liability partnership. This means that the firm's members are not personally liable for any acts or omissions by the firm, unless the law requires otherwise. This does not limit or exclude liability of the firm for the acts or omissions of its members.
We can only limit our liability to the extent the law allows. In particular, we cannot limit liability for death or personal injury caused by negligence.
Please ask if you would like us to explain any of the terms above.
We hold all client money either with Barclays Bank Plc in our undesignated client account or with one or more other UK or Irish Clearing Banks which are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The nature of the account used is dictated by the Solicitors' Accounts Rules. We are not liable for any losses you suffer as a result of any such banking institution being unable to repay depositors in full. You may, however, be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
The FSCS is the UK's statutory fund of last resort for customers of banking institutions. The FSCS can pay compensation if a banking institution is unable, or likely to be unable, to pay claims against it.
The current limit is £85,000 per banking institution. If you hold other personal money in the same banking institution as our client accounts, the limit remains £85,000 in total.
Some banking institutions have several brands. The compensation limit is currently £85,000 per institution, not per brand. You should check with your banking institution, the FCA or a financial advisor for more information.
The FSCS also provides up to £1,000,000.00 of short-term protection for certain high balances, for example relating to property transactions, inheritance, divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership, unfair dismissal, redundancy and personal injury compensation (there is no financial limit on protection for personal injury compensation). This is called the temporary high balance scheme and, if it applies, protection lasts for a maximum of six months.
The FSCS (including the temporary high balance scheme) will apply to qualifying balances held in our client account. In the unlikely event of a deposit-taking institution failure, we will presume (unless we hear from you in writing to the contrary) we have your consent to disclose necessary client details to the FSCS.
6 Regulated services
Dutton Gregory LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, The Cube, 199 Wharfside Street, Birmingham, B1 1RN (the SRA).
This means that we are governed by a Code of Conduct and other professional rules, which you can access on the SRA’s website (www.sra.org.uk) or by calling 0370 606 2555.
7 Professional indemnity insurance
We have professional indemnity insurance giving cover for claims against the firm. Details of this insurance, including contact details of our insurer and the territorial coverage of the policy, can be inspected at our office or made available on request.
To comply with our regulatory obligations and the terms of our professional indemnity insurance, we may disclose relevant documents and information to insurers, brokers and insurance advisers on a confidential basis. This could include details of any circumstances arising from our work for you that might give rise to a claim against us. Unless you notify us to the contrary, you consent to such disclosure by us even if the documents and information in question are confidential and/or subject to legal professional privilege.
8 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 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. Under data protection legislation, you have a right of access to the personal data that we hold about you.
We may, from time to time, send you information that we think might be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive that information, please notify our office, preferably in writing.
Please note that telephone calls may be recorded for quality, training, monitoring and market research purposes. Unless we hear from you to the contrary, we will assume that you consent to such recording.
9 Storage and retrieval of files
After completing the work, we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses. Thereafter, we will keep your files for at least 7 years, except those papers you ask to be returned to you. Where possible, we will store your file information electronically only apart from original documents which we will normally return to you. We may charge an annual fee for storing original documents in safe custody. We will notify you of our storage rates at the appropriate time.
We store files on the understanding that we can destroy them at the appropriate period after the date of the final bill. We will not destroy documents you ask us to deposit in safe custody.
If we retrieve your file from storage (including electronic storage) in relation to continuing or new instructions to act for you, we will not normally charge for the retrieval.
If we retrieve your file from storage for another reason, we may charge you for:
- time spent retrieving the paper and electronic file and producing it to you
- reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions in relation to the retrieved file
- providing additional copies of any documents
We will provide you with an electronic copy only of the file where appropriate.
Sometimes we ask other companies or people to carry out certain tasks, for example photocopying, on our files to ensure this is done promptly and in the most cost-effective manner. We will always seek a confidentiality agreement with these outsourced providers. If you do not want your file to be outsourced, please tell us as soon as possible.
11 External auditing and due diligence
External firms or organisations may conduct audit or quality checks on our practice from time to time. They may wish to audit or quality check your file and related papers for this purpose. It is a specific requirement imposed by us that these external firms or organisations fully maintain confidentiality in relation to any files and papers which are audited or quality checked.
Your files may also be reviewed in a due diligence exercise relating to the sale or transfer of all or part of our business, the acquisition of another business by us or the acquisition of new business If you do not wish your file to be used in this way, please let us know as soon as possible.
12 Terminating your instructions
You may end your instructions at any time, by giving us notice in writing. We can keep all your papers and documents while our charges or disbursements are outstanding.
We can only decide to stop acting for you with good reason and we must give you reasonable notice.
If you or we decide that we should stop acting for you, you are liable to pay our charges up until that point. These are calculated on the basis set out in our letter confirming your instructions.
13 Prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing
We are professionally and legally obliged to keep your affairs confidential. However, solicitors may be required by statute to make a disclosure to the National Crime Agency where they know or suspect that a transaction may involve money laundering or terrorist financing. If we make a disclosure in relation to your matter, we may not be able to tell you that a disclosure has been made. We may have to stop working on your matter for a period of time and may not be able to tell you why.
The information and documentation you provide us is confidential and subject to legal professional privilege unless:
- stated otherwise in this document or our letter confirming your instructions, or
- we advise you otherwise during the course of your matter
We cannot absolutely guarantee the security of information communicated by email or mobile phone.
Unless we hear from you to the contrary, we will assume that you consent for us to use these methods of communication.
15 Receiving and paying funds
Our policy is to only accept cash up to £500.00 in respect of any one instruction. If you try to avoid this policy by depositing cash directly with our bank, we may decide to charge you for any additional checks we decide are necessary to prove 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.
Please be aware that we do not notify changes to important business information, such as bank account details, by email.
Procedure and timing:
- If you have any cause for complaint during the course of the case then please raise it with the person handling your case immediately. It is to be hoped the matter can be resolved between you both at that stage.
- If the complaint cannot be resolved with the person handling your case then you may refer the matter to the Partner supervising the work whose name will have been given to you.
- If the supervisor is the Partner you are dealing with or if the supervising Partner cannot resolve your concerns then the procedure is for you to raise the issue in writing with Andrew Kirkconel, Complaints Handling Partner, Dutton Gregory LLP, Trussell House, 23 St Peter Street, Winchester, SO23 8BT (email@example.com).
- If the Complaints Handling Partner is the Partner you are dealing with then the procedure is for you to raise the issue in writing with the Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP), Dutton Gregory LLP, Trussell House, 23 St Peter Street, Winchester, SO23 8BT
We have eight weeks to consider your complaint. If we have not resolved it within this time, you may complain to the Legal Ombudsman. If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint, you can ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider the complaint. The Legal Ombudsman's contact details are:
PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ
0300 555 0333—from 8.30am to 5.30pm
Normally, you will need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint or within six years of the act or omission about which you are complaining occurring (or if outside of this period, within three years of when you should reasonably have been aware of it). Generally, the Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints relating to acts or omissions that happened after 5 October 2010.
The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints by consumers and very small businesses. This means some clients may not have the right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman, for example charities or clubs with an annual income of more than £1m, trustees of trusts with asset value of more than £1m and most businesses (unless they are defined as micro-enterprises). This does not prevent you from making a complaint directly to us about the service you have received or about the bill.
If we are unable to resolve your complaint, and it relates to a contract we entered into online or by other electronic means, you may also be able to submit your complaint to a certified alternative dispute resolution (ADR) provider in the UK via the EU ‘ODR platform’.
The ODR platform is an interactive website offering a single point of entry for disputes between consumers and traders relating to online contracts. The ODR platform is available to consumer clients only, i.e. where you have instructed us for purposes outside your trade, business, craft or profession.
The website address for the ODR platform is: http:/ec.europa.eu/consumers/odr.
17 Our bill
You are liable to pay legal fees as set out in our letter confirming your instructions. We will also usually discuss this at our initial meeting with you.
Bills should be paid as set out on the bill. We may charge interest on overdue bills at 4% above the Barclays Bank base rate applicable for the duration of the outstanding account (or the Court rate of 8% whichever is the higher).
If you pay a bill by credit card we charge an administration charge of 2.75% of the total bill to cover both the direct cost to us and the extra work involved in processing the payment.
We may cease acting for you if an interim bill remains unpaid after 14 days or if our reasonable request of a payment on account of fees is not met.
You have the right to challenge or complain about our bill. Please see the ‘Complaints’ section above for details of how to complain about our bill.
You have the right to challenge our bill by applying to the court to assess the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. The usual time limit for making such an application is one month from the date of delivery of the bill. If the application is made after one month but before 12 months from delivery of the bill, the court's permission is required for the bill to be assessed.
Unless there are special circumstances, the court will not usually order a bill to be assessed after:
- 12 months from delivery of the bill
- a judgment has been obtained for the recovery of the costs covered by the bill
- the bill has been paid, even if this is within 12 months
18 Payment of interest
Interest will be calculated and paid to you at a rate based on Barclays Bank PLC’s published rates on Solicitors Client Accounts from time to time. The period for which interest will be paid normally runs from the date(s) when funds are received by us until the date(s) the funds are paid out. The payment of interest is subject to certain minimum amounts and periods of time set out in the Solicitors Accounts Rules 2011. Details can be provided on request.
Please note: Interest is not due on money received on account of fees and disbursements (however long the money is held) except in circumstances where a refund becomes due and then is still subject to the minimum amounts referred to above.
19 Investment advice services
We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. If, while we are acting for you, you need advice on investments, we may refer you to someone who is authorised to provide the necessary advice.
However, we may provide certain limited investment advice services where these are closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you. This is because we are members of the Law Society of England and Wales, which is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory arm of the Law Society. The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints against lawyers. If you are unhappy with any investment advice you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with the SRA or Legal Ombudsman.
20 Consumer credit services
We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority in relation to consumer credit services. We may, however, provide certain limited consumer credit services where these are incidental to the professional services we provide. This is because we are members of the Law Society of England and Wales, which is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory arm of the Law Society. The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints against lawyers. If you are unhappy with any consumer credit services you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with the SRA or Legal Ombudsman.
21 Insurance mediation activity
We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. However, we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority so that we may 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 authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority website at www.fca.org.uk/register.
The Law Society of England and Wales is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory arm of the Law Society. The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints against lawyers. If you are unhappy with any insurance advice you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with the SRA or Legal Ombudsman.
22 Equality and diversity
We are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all our dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our equality and diversity policy which is also available on our website.
23 Consumer Contracts Regulations
If the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 (the Regulations) apply to the contract made between us and the contract is an off-premises contract or a distance contract (as set out in the Regulations) then the following provisions apply.
Right to cancel
You have the right to cancel this contract within 14 days from the day the contract was entered into without giving any reason.
The cancellation period will expire after 14 days from the day the contract was entered into.
To exercise the right to cancel, you must inform us of your decision to cancel this contract by a clear statement (e.g. a letter sent by post, fax or e-mail). You may use the attached model cancellation form, but it is not obligatory.
To meet the cancellation deadline, it is sufficient for you to send your communication concerning your exercise of the right to cancel before the cancellation period has expired.
Effects of cancellation
If you cancel this contract, we will reimburse to you all payments received from you.
We will make the reimbursement without undue delay, and not later than14 days after the day on which we are informed about your decision to cancel this contract.
We will make the reimbursement using the same means of payment as you used for the initial transaction, unless you have expressly agreed otherwise; in any event, you will not incur any fees as a result of the reimbursement.
If you requested us to begin the performance of services during the cancellation period, you shall pay us an amount which is in proportion to what has been performed until you have communicated to us your cancellation of the contract, in comparison with the full fees for the work we would otherwise have carried out.
24 Applicable law
Any dispute or legal issue arising from our Terms of Business will be determined by the law of England and Wales, and considered exclusively by the English and Welsh courts.
25 Future instructions
Unless otherwise agreed, these Terms of Business will apply to all future instructions you give us on this or any other matter.
Cancellation form (see section 23)
To Dutton Gregory LLP [ ] fax [ ] email [ ]
I/We [*] hereby give notice that I/We [*] cancel my/our [*] contract for the supply of the following service [*],
Ordered on [*]/ received on [*],
Name of consumer(s),
Address of consumer(s),
Signature of consumer(s),
[*] Delete as appropriate