TERMS OF BUSINESS
The following terms of business apply not only to the present instructions but also to all future instructions from you accepted by Dicksons Solicitors Limited. All work we carry out for you will be subject to these terms unless otherwise agreed in writing by a director.
We will provide the services set out in the engagement letter that will be sent to you. If there is any conflict between these terms of business and those contained in the engagement letter, the latter will apply.
In providing our services to you we will rely upon the information and instructions provided by you or by others authorised to do so on your behalf. Our ability to give the appropriate advice will depend on the nature and extent of the information and instructions we receive and the timescale under which we are operating. It is important you understand that:
- If we are asked to provide advice in an abbreviated format or on a short timescale, you will not receive all the information you might otherwise have obtained
- Advice is provided in relation to a specific set of facts and as a result we do not accept any responsibility for the applicability of that advice to other situations or to other parties or for any reliance placed upon it by such parties or in such situations
- We will not give advice on the tax implications of your instructions unless we specifically agree to do so in writing in advance.
We reserve the right to refuse, or to continue with, existing instructions if in so doing the firm would be presented with a conflict of interest as defined in accordance with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Code of Conduct.
In order to comply with the anti-money laundering legislation in relation to work involving property transactions, buying or selling businesses, the creation/operation of companies or trusts, establishing or transferring funds to onshore or offshore bank, savings or securities accounts, the receipt of funds by us into client account, and the management by us of client money, securities or assets, we are obliged to ask all clients to produce proof of identity and address and, where applicable, to disclose to us:
- Documents verifying the trustee(s) and beneficial owner(s) of any trust
- A list of the directors and shareholders, a copy of the certificate of incorporation, and confirmation of the status of any company
- The source of any funds.
We will be unable to accept instructions to act on your behalf if this information is not provided or is incomplete.
Information and confidentiality
We undertake to take all reasonable steps to safeguard and maintain the confidentiality, integrity and accessibly of information entrusted to us by you. We may, however, release information that we are required to disclose by law or by any professional or regulatory body, or for the purposes of any auditing process, or which becomes public knowledge. We may in certain circumstances be required by law to report to the National Criminal Intelligence Service any evidence or suspicion we have of money laundering. In such an event we are prohibited from notifying you of the fact or content of such a report. We might also be required to disclose information to a lending institution such as a bank or building society if we are acting on their behalf in the same transaction. Your continued instructions to us amount to your specific authority enabling us to disclose to such an institution such information as they may require or we deem appropriate to disclose.
We will not disclose the nature of the work we carry out for you without your written consent or unless it is public knowledge.
In the event of any claim (including wasted costs proceedings) or other complaint being intimated or brought against us, you will allow us to disclose and rely on all documents and information so that the Court or Tribunal has all relevant information available to you.
In the course of carrying out your instructions we may communicate with you and others via e-mail. You should be aware that the Internet is not a secure medium and we cannot guarantee the security or integrity of such communications.
Document storage and retrieval
When your case is concluded we are entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is money owing to us. Once our costs have been paid your file will be stored either at our secure off site storage facility, or electronically in which case the paperwork itself will be disposed of in a confidential manner. If we believe that we should retain the originals of any documents, for example deeds, wills or other legal documents, then we shall do so and of course we shall also retain any item that cannot be scanned into a computer. We will not charge you a fee for the safe custody of such documents or items.
We must retain the computer records, original documents or other items for a minimum of 8 years, after which we will destroy them as soon as is reasonably practicable and certainly within a further 12 months. The 3 exceptions to this are files relating to the preparation of Wills which we may keep indefinitely; files relating to the purchase of property which we shall retain for a minimum of 12 years; all Legal Aid files which we shall keep for a minimum period of 6 years from the conclusion of our current Legal Aid Contract. At any time during that period you may request your file or a copy of it which we will provide you with at a reasonable fee to cover the time involved and the cost of printing (if necessary).
Data Protection Act
We are obliged by the Data Protection Act to advise you that particulars are held on our database. We will ensure that your details are kept under strict conditions of confidentiality and security. You may request details of the personal information we hold about you at any time but we may in some circumstances in accordance with the Act require payment of a fee. We may from time to time use these details to send you information we think might be of interest to you. Please let us know if you do not wish to receive such information. Your continued instructions to us amount to your specific consent to us to obtain record keep and process personal data including sensitive personal information as defined by the Data Protection Act.
Copyright and intellectual property
We retain all copyright and intellectual property rights in all material developed, designed or created by us during the course of carrying out your instructions including systems, software, know-how, reports, written advice, drafts and working papers.
Our fees are based upon:
- Our quoted hourly rates
- The number and seniority of the individuals involved in your matter
- The complexity of the work
The rates for the individuals intended to be involved in the present matter are set out in the engagement letter and will be reviewed on 1 January each year. In addition to our hourly rate we will charge expenses which include, but are not restricted to, counsel’s and expert’s fees, search fees, photocopying, and courier and travel charges. In all privately funded matters the charge for travel in a private motor vehicle is £0.60 pence per mile, and photocopying charge is £0.10 pence per sheet. In addition, unless zero-rating or an exemption applies, VAT will be charged.
We will provide you with an initial estimate of the likely timescale and costs of completing your instructions. This estimate is not intended to be final or binding, and we will update it every 6 months unless the situation changes or you have made a different arrangement with us. If the scope of the instructions or the underlying facts change significantly we may update the estimate at that time. Any estimate is based upon the assumption that the information and instructions are provided in good time and that any key personnel are available. If delays or problems occur beyond our control this may result in additional fees being charged.
At the outset we will discuss with you the funding of the likely expenditure and the options open to you including the existence of any insurance cover in your favour, fixed fees, conditional fees, after-the-event insurance, and Public Funding through the Legal Aid Scheme. If we act on your behalf under the Legal Aid Scheme then your continued instructions to us amount to your specific authority to disclose your file and its entire contents to the Legal Aid Agency for the purposes of carrying out their audit process. If you provide incorrect or incomplete information as a result of which the amount payable to us under the Legal Aid Scheme is reduced, either wholly or in part, we reserve the right to charge you for all the work done on your behalf at the private rates set out in the engagement letter accompanying these terms.
It is our policy to ask clients to provide a sum of money on account to cover the likely fees and expenses on the first stage of your instructions. The exact amount will be agreed on an individual basis for each case. We may ask for further payments on account as the matter progresses and will not undertake any further work on your matter until such further payments are received. Any payments made by you will be allocated in due course towards settlement of any interim or final invoice or towards any expenses that we have notified you of as soon as the invoice has been raised or the expense incurred. Alternatively we may accept a director’s guarantee for costs in the case of a limited company.
Unless we have specifically agreed otherwise, we will submit invoices on an interim basis, normally monthly, for services provided and expenses incurred. All invoices, whether interim or final, are payable within 30 days of the date of the invoice and we will charge you interest on all unpaid sums at the rate of 8% per annum with interest accruing on a daily basis from the date of the invoice. The Company’s VAT registration number is 660706541.
If you are dissatisfied with any invoice you have the right to apply to the Court under the provisions of sections 70, 71 and 72 Solicitors Act 1974 to have the invoice checked by an officer of the Court. You may incur additional costs undertaking this procedure. Alternatively you may ask us to deal with it by way of a complaint to the client care director, Stephen Marsden whose contact details are: –
32-36 Cheapside Hanley Stoke on Trent ST1 1HQ
Tel: 01782 262424
Court proceedings and costs
In cases involving court or arbitral proceedings, the tribunal may award costs during the progress of the case. In such cases we will tell you immediately whether you have been ordered to pay the costs or whether they are to be paid by another party. It is important you understand that whether or not you recover some or all of your costs from another party, you remain liable to pay our costs in full. This applies during the progress of the case as well as at its conclusion.
At the conclusion of court proceedings, the court assesses the costs payable by the losing party and it is usual for the winner to be awarded a proportion, but usually not all, of their own costs. Therefore, if you are unsuccessful in any proceedings you may have to pay the other party’s costs as well as your own.
You should be aware that if the losing party is in receipt of Legal Aid you are unlikely to be able to recover any costs from them.
There are strict rules concerning the way we handle client money, which are to be found in the SRA Accounts Rules 2019 and any subsequent amendments, and with which we comply. We will not pay out any money to you or on your behalf until we are in possession of cleared funds. If we hold cleared funds on your behalf whilst at the same time you owe us money in any matter we reserve the right to use such funds in settlement of our costs and/or expenses. If you are successful in a contentious matter and are awarded interest as well as costs we will be entitled to retain such interest on any monies still owed to us by you.
Where you do not owe us money we will account to you for interest earned on your money held in our general client account depending on the amount of money we hold and the length of time that we hold it. However, we will not normally account for interest of less than £40.
Whilst we are confident we will provide you with an efficient and effective professional service, if you have any queries or concerns about the service you are receiving or wish to discuss how the service might be improved please raise them in the first instance with the lawyer handling your case. If you are not satisfied with the outcome of that then raise it with the director supervising your particular matter. If that does not resolve the problem to your satisfaction, or if you would prefer not to speak to the supervising director, please contact Stephen Marsden, the client care director. He will provide upon request details of our complaint resolution procedures.
All solicitors must attempt to resolve problems that may arise with their services. It is therefore important that you immediately raise with us any concerns you may have. We value your instruction and would wish to be told at once if you have any reason to be unhappy with us.
If for any reason we are unable to resolve the problem between us then, should you wish to take the matter further, you should contact the Legal Ombudsman whose details can be found at www.legalombudsman.org.uk to consider the complaint. Alternatively you can write to them at Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ or telephone 0300 555 0333. Normally you will need to lodge a complaint within 6 months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint. Our conduct is governed by detailed professional rules and regulations known as the SRA Code of Conduct which can be found at www.sra.org.uk.
The Company is regulated by the SRA. 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 SRA is the independent complaints handling body of the Law Society.
The Company is not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. However, we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority so that we can 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 regulated by the SRA. The register can be accessed by the Financial Conduct Authority website at www.fca.org.uk/register
Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999
Unless prior consent has been given in writing by a director, no individual who is not a party to this contract will have the right to enforce any of its terms under the Contract (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999.
Any damages you claim against us arising out of, or in connection with, the present instruction will be limited to that proportion of the loss or damage including interest and costs that is allocated to us by a Court. This proportion will be allocated after taking into account any contribution to that loss or damage by any other person responsible in line with the Civil Liability (Contribution) Act 1978. In assessing their contribution to any loss, no account shall be taken of any limit imposed on the amount of liability of any other person.
Limitation of liability
All forms of advice, information and reports we provide are confidential and are supplied solely for the purpose of the present instruction. They should not be disclosed to anyone else without our prior written consent. We disclaim all responsibility for any consequence for anyone apart from you relying upon our advice.
Our liability to you for any breaches of this retainer, including damages interest and costs, shall not exceed £5,000,000 (five million pounds) or such higher amount (if any) as may be expressly agreed in writing between us.
This limitation of liability has no application to any cause of action for death, personal injury or any other liability that cannot be limited or excluded as a matter of law.
Our main Professional Indemnity Insurers are Axis Speciality Europe S E, 3rd Floor, 71 Fenchurch Street, London, EC3M 4BS
Additional insurance is provided by Newline Insurance Company Limited, Corn 4th Floor, 55 Mark Lane, London, EC3R 7NE
We shall not be liable for failure to perform or for any delay in performing our obligations if the failure or delay is due to causes beyond our control including but not limited to extreme weather, riot, curfew, war, terrorism, industrial action, the conduct of any police or other official investigation or delays in providing or non-provision of National Criminal Intelligence Service consent following a disclosure under the anti-money laundering legislation.
Either party may terminate this agreement by writing to the usual correspondence address of the other party, but in matters involving court proceedings we may require the permission of the court to cease acting for you. In the event that you have cause to write a termination letter, it should be marked for the attention of either the supervising director or main client contact. In either event you will be responsible for paying our fees in full to the date of termination. We will be entitled to retain your documents while fees or expenses remain unpaid.
We have the right to cease work and terminate this agreement if any invoice remains unpaid for more than 30 days or you refuse or fail for any reason to pay money on account within 14 days of a written request. Again, in matters involving court proceedings the permission of the court may be required. In addition, we reserve the right to terminate this agreement in any of the situations set out above under the heading Force Majeure.
This agreement will be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and the parties submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
Your continuing instructions amount to an acceptance of these terms of business.
Click here to view our Complaints Procedure.
If you have any questions about our terms and conditions, please write to us by email to http://dicksonssolicitors.co.uk/ or by post to:
For further information
Hanley Office Cheadle Office
30-36 Cheapside 68 High Street
ST1 1HQ ST10 1AJ