The Law Society, as the governing body of solicitors, requires all firms of solicitors to give their clients details of their Terms of Business. We recommend that you refer to this document at regular intervals and at key points as your matter progresses. These Terms and Conditions of Business, unless varied in writing, indicate the basis on which this Firm will carry out professional services on your behalf. Specific information relating to your matter is in a separate letter.
Following the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 we are obliged to give you the following information if you have given us initial instructions “from a distance” that is by telephone, internet/e.mail or by letter or facsimile. “You have a right to cancel your instructions to us within seven days without obligation but if you instruct us to proceed immediately that cooling off period is cancelled and you will be obliged to pay us for any work done or monies disbursed on your behalf”.
PLACE & HOURS OF BUSINESS
Funnell & Perring practice from their offices at 192-193 Queens Road, Hastings. Normal hours of opening are 9.00am 1.00pm and from 2.00pm to 5.00pm on weekdays. However it may be possible to arrange appointments outside these hours when it is both in the interest of the client and practical. Outside of these hours’ facsimile or e-mail messages can be sent or telephone messages can be left on our voicemail.
We operate systems throughout our Offices, insisting that all our staff meet certain standards with regard to Client care. These standards include:
To assist us in providing an efficient and effective service we ask that you:
RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE WORK
We have a number of specialists within our office and the person to whom you give your first instructions may not be the most appropriate person to conduct the work. In this event the person to whom you gave your first instructions will pass your details to the appropriate person and they will contact you. Work will be carried out by your Legal Representative personally. Their name and title appears in the attached letter. There may be times when your Legal Representative is not in the Office or is unable to take your call. Instead, you can speak to the Legal Representative’s Assistant or Secretary, who will be familiar with your file. If the Assistant or Secretary is unable to help, they would be pleased to take a message, and your Legal Representative will call you back as soon as possible. We aim to offer all our clients an efficient and effective service and we are confident that we will do so in your case. However, should there be any aspect of our service with which you are unhappy you should first raise the matter with the person responsible for your transaction or case. If your complaint remains unresolved then please write to the senior partner, Mr. Stephen Long.
PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY We maintain Professional Indemnity Insurance in the interest of our clients.
TERMINATION You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time. For example, you may decide that you cannot give us clear or proper instructions on how to proceed, or you may lose confidence in our work. We may be entitled to keep all your papers and documents whilst monies are owing to us. Any Will or Power of Attorney sent through the post will be in draft form for approval and not for signature unless indicated otherwise, and if nothing is heard within two weeks from the date it is sent, then we will consider the retainer for preparing the Will or Power of Attorney to be at an end.
Unless and until an alternative fee arrangement has been agreed and confirmed in writing by us the basis for calculation of our fees is as follows:- Our charges are calculated mainly by reference to time spent on your affairs, by your Legal Representative and other Legal Representatives in our Firm who deal with your matter. This includes advising; seeing you (and others, if necessary); time spent travelling; preparing and checking documents; dealing with correspondence; making and receiving telephone calls; general care and conduct of your matter. Special considerations may apply in the preparation of wills, change of name deeds and powers of attorney where we will often agree a fixed fee. If a draft document is sent to you and we do not hear back from you within 28 days, we reserve the right to invoice you for the preparation of the document despite the work not having been completed. Some matters are eligible for Public Funding (Legal Aid), and where appropriate, an alternative fee arrangement (e.g. contingency or conditional fees) may be considered. In contentious cases we will provide you with advice upon funding options which are available to you. We undertake Public Funding work (Legal Aid) in both family (matrimonial) and crime. Each Solicitor, Legal Executive, Conveyancing Executive, and other personnel’s time is charged at an hourly rate which reflects overhead and profit costs. Routine letters of one page and short telephone calls made and received will be charged at our basic six minute unit of calculation, at 10% of the hourly rate. Other letters and telephone calls will be charged on a time basis. If work is done by somebody other than your Legal Representative, then that person’s charging rate will apply. The current hourly rates will be available on application. Charge rates quoted are generally reviewed annually to take account of changes in salary and other overhead costs. If your matter is not concluded before the next review, we will confirm any new rates which apply for work done from then, as soon as they have been set. In the event of your case involving exceptional circumstances (for instance, but not exclusively, exceptional complexity, out of hours work or particular requirements as to speed) we reserve the right to increase the hourly rate for that particular work.
It is difficult to estimate, at this stage, how many hours of work will be necessary to complete your matter partly because so much depends upon the way in which others react. An estimate of charges is set out in the attached letter based on information presently known, and is given on the basis that your matter does not prove to be substantially more urgent, complex or time consuming than currently anticipated. You may, at any stage, wish to set a limit on the costs and disbursements that can be incurred by us on your behalf without further reference to you. Any limit must be notified to us in writing and be sent by Recorded Delivery or Registered Post. Estimates may change as the matter proceeds and it becomes clearer how much time is likely to be needed. Wherever possible we will let you know as soon as we can, if it becomes apparent that your matter has become more urgent, complex or time consuming than presently estimated. We will try and give you an indication of the anticipated future costs. However, this is sometimes difficult and figures given are only estimates.
Where we undertake to work for a fixed fee please refer to the letter delivered at the start of the matter in which we will confirm the agreed rate.
Save where there is specific written agreement to the contrary, fees are payable whether or not a case is successfully concluded or a transaction completed. Should your matter not be carried through to completion then a charge will be made in respect of work already completed. Depending upon the amount of work done, this may be a small proportion of the estimated charges or may be almost the full amount. VAT would be payable on that amount and you will also be billed for any disbursements incurred. The charges that we will be making in your matter cover the work that we have been instructed to undertake. If we are instructed to undertake further work we would need to make additional charges and we will provide you with an estimate of what they would be.
There will be certain additional expenses (known as disbursements) for example for items such as Court fees, Counsel’s fees, HM Land Registry fees, copying fees, local search fees, Probate Registry fees. We have no obligation to make such payments unless funds have been provided by the client for those purposes. In the event that we make such a payment we reserve the right to charge interest on the outstanding amount at the rate applicable to outstanding bills until reimbursement is received. VAT is payable on certain disbursements.
In property transactions the administration of estates and in transactions involving a substantial financial consideration or benefit to the client fees may be calculated both by reference to the time spent and also by reference to a value element based on, for example, the price of the property, the size of the estate or value of the financial benefit. The value element reflects the importance of the transaction and the consequent responsibility falling on the Firm. The percentage rates are set out in the attached letter, if relevant.
Unless fees have been agreed in advance, final bills will contain an accurate narrative of the work conducted on your behalf. All our bills contain notification of your rights under the Solicitors Act in the event that you wish to query our charges.
In all cases we have an overall responsibility to ensure that our fees are fair and reasonable for dealing with a particular matter.
PAYMENT IN LIEU OF INTEREST ON MONIES THAT WE HOLD ON YOUR BEHALF
The Solicitors’ Accounts Rules require us, in certain circumstances, to pay you money in lieu of interest on funds held on your behalf in our general client bank account, if the money in lieu of interest exceeds £20.00. Where these rules are applicable, a payment in lieu of interest will be paid to you at the rate of 2% below the Lloyds Bank base rate. This interest will be paid to you gross (i.e. without any deduction of tax). This may well be a considerable advantage to you. Please note that it will be your responsibility, in such circumstances, to account to the Inland Revenue for tax (if any) due on this money. We are obliged to inform you that there is a slight risk that monies held in our client account at Lloyds Bank might be lost in the event of bank failure. In these circumstances Funnell & Perring disclaims liability for any losses.
The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) covers deposits in authorised deposit taking institutions belonging to individuals or small businesses. Money held in a solicitor’s client account is protected up to £50,000 per qualifying individual or small business and per authorised deposit taking institution. The £50,000 limit applies to the balance of all monies held by you in the same banking “umbrella” of protection including joint, partnership and sole trader accounts as well as this company’s client account at Lloyds Bank. Therefore, you are advised to check with your bank or with the FSA as to whether any of the institutions you bank with fall under the same “umbrella” of protection as our client bank account (Lloyds).
ARRANGEMENTS FOR PAYMENT OF FEES PROPERTY TRANSACTIONS
We will send you a bill for our charges and expenses, normally after exchange of contracts. Payment of the bill is required prior to / on completion. If you are a purchaser and you have agreed with the lenders to pay their costs, we will send you a copy of their bill if we are instructed to act for your lenders. If sufficient funds are available on completion and we have sent you a bill, we will usually deduct our charges from the funds.
ADMINISTRATION OF ESTATES
It is our usual practice to deliver our first bill in connection with work done for obtaining the Grant of Representation and generally with regard to the administration of the estate following receipt of the Grant of Representation. We will also reimburse ourselves for any disbursements paid on behalf of the estate. We will submit subsequent bills on an interim three monthly basis (or when the work in progress exceeds £500.00) with a final bill when the administration has been completed and the estate accounts are delivered for approval. If we hold sufficient funds on your behalf and we have sent you a final bill, we will usually deduct our charges from these funds.
It is normal practice to ask clients to make payments on account of anticipated costs and disbursements. It is helpful if you can meet requests promptly to avoid any delay in the progress of your case. We shall deliver bills to you at regular intervals for the work carried out during the conduct of your matter, enabling you to budget for costs as the matter progresses. Accounts must be settled within 28 days. Interest will be charged on bills that are not paid within that time at 4% over Lloyds base rate. If bills, or a request for payment on account, remain unpaid it may be necessary to suspend work on your matter and, ultimately, to decline to act for you further. The full amount of the work done up to that date will be charged to you at that point and will be a debt due from you. In matters continuing for some period of time many clients find it convenient to arrange regular payments on account by way of Bank standing order. Those who wish to use this facility should discuss it with their Legal Representative. You can pay money to us in one or more of the following ways: Cash, Banker’s Draft Building Society Cheque Bank Telegraphic Transfer Personal Cheque, Standing Order Debit Card Credit Card If you pay with a Banker’s Draft, Building Society Cheque or personal Cheque, payment will not be treated as having cleared until our Bank have notified us of clearance. If you wish to pay by Bank Telegraphic Transfer you should request our Bank Details from your Legal Representative. We are able to accept payment by most major credit or debit cards by attendance at the office or over the telephone. A surcharge of 2.5% inc vat will be added to the sum payable to cover our costs in providing the credit card facility. If sums of money are due to you we can arrange payment by bank transfer. We make a charge for this service of £25 plus vat. Please note that this is a charge made by us and does not reflect our bank’s charge to us.
COSTS IN CONTENTIOUS MATTERS ONLY
Particularly at the conclusion of your matter, and if you are successful, you may succeed in getting your costs paid by someone else. However, it is rare for the system of “Assessment” of costs, as it is known, to result in you recovering the full amount of the costs that have been incurred on your behalf. It may also be the case, for example, that the other person may not be capable of paying what they have been ordered to pay. For this reason, responsibility for the payment of our costs remains with you; it will not be possible to postpone payment of our bills in the hope that they will be or should be met by someone else. In the event of such an assessment taking place we usually employ the services of a specialist Costs Draftsman to prepare bills of costs that require the approval of the Court. You will be responsible for the fees charged by the Costs Draftsman (unless and until they are paid by your opponent) but those fees will not exceed the charging rate we would levy for the work being done by a solicitor. If you are successful and the costs of the matter fall to be paid by the other party, we may be able to claim interest on those costs to be paid as from the date on which the Order for costs was made. We will retain this interest insofar as it relates to our charges which have not been asked for and paid on account. You should also bear in mind that you may be ordered to pay the costs of another party, especially if you are unsuccessful. Withdrawal from Proceedings- If following the institution of Court proceedings, you decide to discontinue your action you must be aware that unless your withdrawal is acceptable to the other party or parties without costs consequences you may be required to pay all or part of the other party or parties’ legal costs and disbursements. If the other party is in receipt of Public Funding costs may not be recovered. Clients must be aware that the primary liability for costs incurred with us is that of the client even in a case where it is expected that an order for costs will be obtained against another party. Further, the costs of seeking to enforce any such order for costs against another party have to be met by the client. Enforcement Proceedings – If, following successful litigation, the party charged with paying damages and/or costs fails to pay either in full or in part then the costs of all necessary enforcement proceedings are a separate issue and are to be funded appropriately. You may not recover all of the ordered damages or costs or the costs of enforcement. Special arrangements will apply if we have agreed a conditional fee or contingency fee arrangement. Part 36 Offer – If, in the course of proceedings, a Defendant makes an offer to settle or a payment in accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules the Claimant must be aware that to continue the action beyond that point in the hope of succeeding in a greater sum may have adverse costs consequences if the eventual order is for a smaller sum or the same sum as set out in the offer or paid into Court.
Solicitors within the Firm are members of the following Panels:
Stephen Long is a Member of The Law Society’s Family Panel.
Elizabeth Nevy is a member of Resolution.
For the purposes of the Data Protection Act 1988 we can assure all clients and prospective clients that any information held within our Firm is for the personal use of this Firm in carrying out instructions on behalf of the client and will neither knowingly, nor intentionally, be transferred to or shared with any other person or corporation. In connection with probate matters, to comply with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1988 please note that unless we hear from you to the contrary we will assume that you have given your authority to provide a list of the assets of the deceased as may be required by the Social Security Administration act 1992 Section 126 together with such other information as may be required by the appropriate authority. In conveyancing transactions where we act for both you (the client) and a mortgage lender (lender client) please note: We will advise the lender client of any relevant information arising during the retainer. We shall seek permission of the client to pass on information but if such permission is refused we must cease to act for both the client and the lender client.
AT THE END OF YOUR MATTER: STORAGE OF PAPER & DEEDS AND DESTRUCTION
Your file will consist of a large number of papers, some of which belong to you and some of which legally belong to us. The Law Society Rules require us to store papers for a minimum of six years where after they will only be destroyed upon the authority of a Partner in the Firm. At the end of your matter, we can send your papers in your file to you so that you can keep them yourself. If you wish us to do so, you should write to your Legal Representative and we will forward to you or, if bulky, make available for you to collect any papers that are legally yours. If we do not hear from you within one month from the date of the end of your matter, we shall assume that you are happy for the original documents to be destroyed after the minimum requisite period. The firm provides a safe custody service in respect of Wills, Deeds and other Securities and no charge will be made to the clients for such storage unless prior notice in writing is given to the clients of a charge to be made from a future date to be specified in that notice.
Unless otherwise agreed and subject to the application of current hourly rates, or revised Terms & Conditions, these terms and conditions of business shall apply to any future instructions given by you to us.
These Terms and Conditions are governed by and shall be construed in accordance with the Laws of England. Disputes arising hereunder shall be subject to the jurisdiction of the English Courts to which you submit.
THE PROCEEDS OF CRIME ACT 2002 & MONEY LAUNDERING REGULATIONS 2003
As you may be aware, there has recently been extensive new law designed to stop money laundering and we as solicitors are caught ‘in the middle’ of all of this. We are seen as ‘Gatekeepers’. In other words we are told that people are likely to use our services in a way that may expose both this firm and our clients to criminal prosecution. Please find following these Terms of Business a Summary of the New Law that we have prepared for our clients. This is designed to draw your attention to the possibility that, in the event of a client committing a money laundering offence, we may also be drawn into the matter.
As part of our initial dealings with you it will be necessary for us to ask you for evidence of your identity (including evidence of your place of residence). This is an obligation under the Money Laundering Regulations 2003.
Additionally, at the initial stage, and also as matters develop, we will have to ask other questions about your instructions to us, concerning the proposed source and flow of funds. We will also have to ask other relevant questions to satisfy ourselves that there is no suspicion of money laundering and/or that you as the client, and we as your advisers, are not becoming involved in any offences that we set out in the Summary attached. This is an obligation that we have to comply with under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Unless you have a pre-agreement regarding the receipt of funds by us, where you are proposing to send funds to us, you now have to obtain our prior (written) consent. Again this complies with our new legal obligations. We regret that if funds arrive at our bank in circumstances where this prior consent is not obtained, then we may not be able to receive them. Additionally, we may not be able to return such funds immediately if it seems to us that there are suspicious circumstances. We may then have to make a report (see our Summary) to the Authorities and wait for their consent to continue.
MONEY LAUNDERING REGULATIONS 2003 & PROCEEDS OF CRIME ACT 2002
The UK is a major international financial and legal centre, with a high reputation for honesty and integrity. Unfortunately, that is why financial and professional businesses, like banks and solicitors firms, are attractive to money launderers – criminals who sometimes try and hide stolen money by turning it into legitimate income.
The Government has introduced measures to: a) make it more difficult for criminals to make and keep money from their crimes, and; b) to confiscate proceeds of crime. For this reason there are compulsory checks which solicitors have to make of their clients. The Act extends to all criminal conduct no matter how petty. It makes no distinction between criminal conduct involving any sum. Penalties for breach by a practitioner, i.e. failing to report or “tipping-off” anyone thought to be involved in crime, are extreme and include the possibility of a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
Any client who is at risk of suspicion of any financial criminal conduct may expect that suspicion to be reported to SOCA in such a way that no explanation can be given until SOCA have given the chance to investigate. As part of our initial dealings with you it will be necessary for us to ask you to provide evidence of your identity, which includes evidence of your place of residence. Additionally, at the initial stage, and also as matters develop, we will have to ask other questions about your instructions to us, concerning the proposed source and flow of funds. We will also have to ask other such questions which satisfy ourselves that there is no suspicion of money laundering and/or that you as the client, and we as your advisers, are not becoming involved in any criminal offence. The new law creates positive duties to report and not to “tip-off” anyone thought to be concerned in money laundering or the proceeds of crime. The definitions of reportable circumstances are far reaching and include the knowledge or suspicion of conduct of any nature which may cause or arise from a criminal act. Before the Act practitioners had no positive duty to report such circumstances and their clients could, by and large, claim legal professional privilege. Such privilege, nominally retained by the Act, has, for all practical purposes, disappeared. You should be aware that as a result all legal practitioners must now inform clients at the start of their instructions that any knowledge gained in the course of acting may invoke the provisions of the Act if it reveals criminal conduct or the suspicion of such. Because there is then a duty to report such circumstances to the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) the conduct of the matter may be suspended without warning or explanation for a period of up to 38 days whilst SOCA investigates or otherwise authorises the practitioner to continue to act. If a referral is made to SOCA resulting in your case being adjourned, you may be liable to pay the Court’s adjournment fee.
ACCEPTANCE OF TERMS & CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS
Your continuing instructions will amount to acceptance of these Terms and Conditions of Business, but please sign and date the enclosed copy and return it to us immediately.SIGNED:………………………………………………………… DATE: