Terms and Conditions of Business
TERMS OF BUSINESS
At Jacobs & Reeves we pride ourselves in providing a prompt, reliable and efficient service for all our clients and we will do all we can to ensure that your affairs are handled in this way, Unfortunately difficulties can sometimes arise between Solicitors and their clients not least because legal matters and procedures can be complicated. We hope these detailed Terms of Business will minimise the risk of such difficulties. Please note that these standard terms should be read in conjunction with the terms set out in the Retainer Letter that you have been or will be sent.
CALCULATION OF FEES
(a) These are assessed by reference to the amount of work done in connection with the particular matter. Usually this work is calculated on an hourly basis but occasionally and mostly in connection with the buying or selling of houses, we will provide a quotation of our fees in advance and our terms relating to such quotations are set out in 1(d) below. Where our fees are calculated on an hourly basis, account will be taken of all time spent in connection with the matter for you including all meetings, telephone conversations and correspondence with relevant parties, consideration and preparation of relevant documents and papers, time spent at Court or at meetings etc., away from our office and any travelling in relation to these. For ease, as regards correspondence, unless more time was actually involved it will be assumed that each telephone call made or received and each letter written or email sent takes 6 minutes, i.e. 10 per hour, and reading each letter or email received (excluding any accompanying documents) 3 minutes, i.e. 20 per hour. We would point out that when attending Court much time can be spent waiting for a case to be dealt with: Such time will usually be charged to your file as we will be at Court on your behalf and not be able to attend to the work of other Clients. We will provide updated estimates of our charges as your matter proceeds but such estimates should not be regarded as fixed fee quotations.
(b) The actual amount of our charges will be worked out by applying our current hourly rate to the amount of time spent on your file. We shall confirm the hourly rate applicable to the person or persons dealing with your matter in our Retainer Letter.
We review such charging rates on the 1st of January each year and shall confirm any new charging rate as soon as possible after this review. We shall also confirm to you in writing should the rate change for any other reason, for example, if your matter is referred to a more senior Fee Earner.
We must also point out that the hourly rate quoted is for work done in the usual course of business and we reserve the right to charge at a higher rate if due to urgent circumstances your matter has to be dealt within priority to other work or if it has to be dealt with outside general office hours or if the matter involves an unusually high degree of responsibility, complexity or skill,. We shall try to point this out to you at the time.
(c) As mentioned above and in the majority of cases, our fees will be charged by reference to an hourly rate quoted is for work done in the usual course of business and we reserve the right to charge at a higher rate if due to urgent circumstances your matter has to be dealt with in priority to other work or if it has to be dealt with outside general office hours or if the matter involves an unusually high degree of responsibility, complexity or skill. We shall try to point this out to you at the time. The reason for this is that the progress of your matter can and will be affected by a wide variety of factors, many of which may be beyond your or our control, for example the conduct of the parties with whom we are dealing. This means that we will not be able to predict with any certainty how your matter may develop. For that reason, it is unlikely to be practicable for us to quote a set fee for dealing with your matter. In our Retainer Letter, we will offer a guide as to what we think our ultimate charges will be, but would stress that such figures will merely be a guide for your reference and are not intended to be a binding quotation. Further, and in order to keep you well informed, we shall provide to you on a regular basis a statement of the amount of our charges (and Disbursements - see below) as at that date, with a revised estimate of future costs, if appropriate. Should you wish to do so, please feel free to ask for an update at any time. Where work is carried out by a secretary which work progresses the matter and would be chargeable if carried out by the lawyer dealing with your matter we reserve the right to charge for that work at a reasonable rate.
(d) Where we have quoted a specific sum for dealing with a particular matter on your behalf, and if this is the case we shall confirm the quotation in our Retainer Letter, that quotation is based upon our experience in dealing with such matters and our knowledge of the work that is normally involved in the same. We reserve the right to revise such quotation in the event of additional work being required by reason of some unforseen development or circumstances. However, we confirm we shall advise you of such possibility and discuss it with you. If for some reason, the matter is not completed, we shall charge you an amount for time spent in dealing with the work that has been done by that stage, together with any disbursements incurred on your behalf.
(e) If we agree a Conditional Fee Agreement or Damages Based Agreement with you, the details and terms of payment will be set out in a separate agreement.
(f) Our fees are subject to the addition of VAT (or any replacement tax) at the prevailing rate.
These are the expenses which we incur on your behalf and may be divided into two categories.
(a) Those expenses which we pay to another party or business on your behalf such as Court fees, Barrister's fees, Search fees, Inquiry Agents and Process Server's fees, fees for Medical Reports and other similar items. Such expenses will be passed on to you without any increase. We will endeavour to advise you of any such disbursements which we believe it will be necessary to incur on your behalf and we will not incur such expenses without your approval.
(b) Other and usually more minor expenses which may occur in dealing with your matter, for example the cost of bulk photocopying, reverse charge calls, electronic transfer of funds, courier or special delivery charges, travel and car parking expenses and other similar items.
(1) MONEY ON ACCOUNT:-
In common with most other practices, it is our policy upon receipt of instructions on a new matter from any Client to request a payment of money on account of our anticipated charges and disbursements. The amount requested will vary in each case according to the nature of the matter and the likely disbursements and we shall confirm the sum we require in correspondence. Such money is held in a separate Client Account and supervised in accordance with the strict rules of The Solicitors Regulation Authority (“SRA”). We may and will only use that money on your behalf in order to pay disbursements incurred on your behalf or our proper charges unless you request or authorise any payment for any other purpose. We reserve the right to request further payments on account whether made at the time of submitting an interim bill (see below) or otherwise as and when we consider these to be necessary for the proper conduct of your case. We would also point out that a request for payment of a specific sum on account of costs is not to be regarded as any binding quotation or assurance as to the ultimate amount of our charges calculated in the manner indicated above and disbursements. If you set an initial limit on our charges we will not carry out work at a cost beyond that limit without seeking further authority from you.
Failure to make a payment on account of either costs or disbursements when properly requested will entitle us to suspend work for you or cancel your retainer at our discretion although in either case we will notify you in writing. VAT Reg. No. 291 7925 22
(2) INTERIM INVOICES:-
Where appropriate we will try to submit regular interim invoices. Unless otherwise stated such invoices will be by way of payment on account generally, rather than final bills for any specific period to which they may relate.
(3) TERMS OF PAYMENT:-
(a) We require all sums due under any invoices, final or interim, to be paid within 21 days of delivery unless otherwise agreed in writing and reserve the right to charge interest on all sums outstanding (including any disbursements that we have actually paid on your behalf) beyond such time at the prevailing Law Society Interest Rate (4% above Barclays Bank Plc Base Rate) before and after judgment.
(b) Where following a Court case you are entitled to recover your costs from another party following a Judgment or Order in your favour, then you will probably recover interest on those costs from the date of the Judgment or Order. We shall be entitled to retain this interest to the extent that it relates to costs and disbursements not already paid by you.
(c) Whilst different matters for a Client are usually dealt with on separate files and separate ledgers, we reserve the right to apply any funds held to the credit of a Client in a particular matter to payment of charges and disbursements properly due and outstanding in respect of any other matter including any interest that may be payable in respect of the same.
(d) We reserve the right to exercise a lien over (i.e. retain) all Deeds, documents and other papers and items belonging to you and held by us whilst any sums due to us remain outstanding whether or not such sums relate to those Deeds, documents papers or other items.
(e) In the event of non-payment of our charges you will be responsible for our reasonable costs incurred including payment at our standard hourly rate for time spent in pursuing payment and/or enforcing any judgement.
We hold client monies in banking institutions regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. In the event of any such institution being unable to repay depositors in full, we shall not be liable to you for any losses suffered.
There are a number of points we would ask our clients to bear in mind if their matter involves a court case or the possibility of a court case. Usually the person who wins is entitled to recover their legal costs from the loser (although not as often in cases relating to matrimonial finance and property). Whether the amount of these costs is settled by agreement or by a review of the court (a procedure known as "Assessment") it is usually the case that the sum recovered does not provide a full refund of the winner's legal costs. However please note that even if you gain an order for your opponent to pay your costs, in practice it may prove difficult or even impossible to recover payment leaving you out of pocket.
We should also point out that you will remain responsible for our charges in accordance with these Terms of Business, and an order for costs against another party represents a benefit to you but does not release you from liability to make payment to us. There will also be occasions in such matters where for some reason whether a case is decided by the Court or settled out of Court, no recovery of costs is possible.
It could equally be the case that an Order for Costs may be made against you either generally in relation to the case or perhaps in respect of one particular hearing or aspect of your case. The risk and likelihood of an Order being made against you is something which we shall discuss with you as necessary during the conduct of your case.
(1) DAY TO DAY MATTERS:- The member of staff (and where appropriate his or her assistant) primarily responsible for dealing with any particular matter on your behalf will be confirmed in our Retainer Letter as will supervision arrangements.
(2) DISSATISFACTION:-If you become concerned about any aspect of our service or the way in which the matter is being handled then please in the first place contact the member of staff dealing with your matter for often such difficulties are easily resolved. However, if after doing so you are still unhappy then please refer to the Complaints Officer identified in our Retainer Letter. Whilst we would hope any such issues can be readily resolved but if you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can ask the Legal Ombudsman (address PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ, www.legalombudsman.org.uk, telephone 0300 555 0333) to consider the complaint.
COMPULSORY LAYER OF PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE
We maintain professional indemnity insurance in accordance with the requirements of the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Details of the insurer’s coverage are as follows: QBE Insurance (Europe) Ltd, Plantation Place, 30 Fenchurch Street, London, EC3M 3BD. Policy number: PISRQM014509.
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 offices or made available on request.
Our liability to you for a breach of your instructions shall be limited to £2,000,000.00 (two million pounds sterling), unless we notify you at any other time otherwise. We shall not be liable for any consequential, special, indirect or exemplary damages, costs or losses, or any damages, costs or losses attributable to lost profits or opportunities. We can only limit our liability to the extent the law allows. In particular, we cannot limit our liability for death or personal injury caused by our negligence. Should you have any questions in this regard, please contact the firm’s Practice Manager on 01202674425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may terminate your instructions at any time. 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 notify us immediately in writing. If we should decide to stop acting for you, we will tell you the reason and give you notice in writing.
EQUALITY & DIVERSITY
As a firm we are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all our dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact the fee earner dealing with your matter if you would like a copy of our Equality and Diversity Policy.
Please note that communication by email is not a secure method of transmitting sensitive or personal data. As a result, we will not accept bank details by email and will require you to either communicate your bank details preferably by letter or in person at the office. If you have the necessary facilities we may communicate with you by email unless you instruct us in writing not to do so. Any document transmitted to you by email will not be encrypted unless you request us in writing and we are able to implement accepted encryption standards and protocols.
Data Protection Privacy Notice
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, data protection law and duty of confidentiality.
Please note that our work for you may require us to pass on such information to third parties such expert witnesses and other professional advisers, including sometimes advisers appointed by another party to your matter. We may also give such information to other who perform services for us, such as typing or photocopying. Our practice may be audited or checked by our accountants or our regulator, or by other organisations. We do not normally copy such information to anyone outside the European Economic Area, however we may do so when the particular circumstances of your matter so require. All such third parties are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files.
You have a right of access under data protection law to the personal data that we hold about you. We seek to keep that personal data correct and up to date. You should let us know if you believe the information we hold about you needs to be corrected or updated.
We have appointed the following person as our representative for the purposes of the Data Protection Act:- Janice Singleton Jacobs & Reeves 153 High Street Poole BH15 1AU
Data Protection in respect of Money Laundering Checks
We may receive personal data from you for the purposes of our money laundering checks, such as a copy of your passport. These will be processed only for the purposes of preventing money laundering and terrorist financing, or as otherwise permitted by law or with your express consent.
You consent to us retaining such data for longer than the five year statutory period, unless you tell us otherwise.
Data Protection – Your Obligations
If you send us personal data about anyone other than yourself you will ensure you have appropriate consents and notices in place to enable you to transfer that personal data to us, as so that we may use it for purposes for which you provide it to us.
Keeping You Informed
We may from time to time send you information which we think might be of interest to you (for example about legal developments or our other services). If you do not wish to receive that information please notify us, preferably in writing.
We may, from time to time, use the details we hold to send you information which we think might be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive that information please notify our head office in writing. You have a right of access under data protection to the personal data that we hold about you.
If you do not consent to us keeping your AML identification records beyond the statutory 5 year period, you must inform us in writing.
COMPANIES and UNINCORPORATED ORGANISATIONS
In the event of our receiving instructions to carry out any work on behalf of a Limited Company or Unincorporated Association or Club or Organisation (“Entity”), such instructions are accepted on the basis that the Directors of the Company or the Officers or Representatives of such Entity who give those instructions are Clients of the firm together with the Company or Entity. Accordingly in the event of such Company or Entity failing to pay any sums due to this firm in accordance with the foregoing terms we shall be entitled to recover such monies from such Directors Officers or Representatives.
Where we are instructed by two or more individuals (including companies or other organisations) then we shall be entitled to assume that you will act in a true and faithful manner in your dealings between yourselves and in particular unless we are notified to the contrary in writing:-
(a) Where we are given an address for correspondence purposes we shall be entitled to assume that all correspondence sent to that address will come or be brought to the attention of all of you, even if addressed only to one or some of you.
(b) We shall be entitled to rely upon instructions given by any one of you as being given on behalf and with the consent of each of you.
(c) Where we are given an email address or receive an email from you and the email address is based on the name of one of you or indeed an obvious nickname for one of you then again we shall be entitled to assume that all email correspondence will come or be brought to the attention of each of you.
LAWYERS WORKING AT JACOBS & REEVES
Whilst Jacobs & Reeves is a firm of Solicitors and all partners in the firm are qualified solicitors, not all the lawyers working for us are qualified solicitors. In addition there are:-
CILEX- Chartered Institute of Legal Executives who have achieved a formal qualification from that organisation
Trainee Solicitors - who have passed the Law Society professional examinations and are undergoing work experience (usually for two years) prior to qualification as solicitors.
Litigation, Probate or Conveyancing Executives– who have no or incomplete formal legal qualifications but have demonstrated they have the ability and experience to conduct the relevant legal work to the required standard.
Please note therefore the person allocated to deal with your work or who may work on your file from time to time may not be an actual solicitor himself or herself but his or her status will be clarified in our Retainer Letter.
(1) Legal Aid or private loan facilities
There are a number of alternatives to private payment in respect of a whole variety of legal matters. It is possible that you may qualify for payment of legal costs from public funds by the Legal Aid Agency ("LAA or for funding by a loan from a legal funder whose panel we have joined).
(2) Fee Agreements
In addition, your case may be suitable for a Conditional Fee Agreement or a Damages Based Agreement or in family work a Fees Deferral Agreement. In addition it may be covered under an arrangement with a third party such as a Trade Union. Each of these arrangements has its own rules and particular features and we shall advise you of these separately as and when appropriate.
(3) Litigation Costs Insurance
Various insurance products are available to assist with legal costs. The choice and availability will depend upon the nature and merits of your case. It may also be that your costs could be covered under an existing insurance policy (e.g. your home policy).
We endeavour to advise clients, where appropriate, of the availability of such arrangements or facilities but if you wish to know more about them or feel that one or more of these may be appropriate for your case, please ask the person dealing with your matter for more information.
FINANCIAL ADVICE AND INSURANCE MEDIATION
If during this transaction you need advice on investments, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”), as we are not. However, as we are regulated by the SRA, we may be able to provide certain limited investment services where these are closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you.
If you have any problems with the service we have provided for you then please let us know. We will try to resolve any problem quickly and operate an internal complaints handling system to help us to resolve the problem between ourselves. If for any reason we are unable to resolve the problem between us, then we are regulated by the SRA which also provides a complaints and redress scheme.
Whilst we are is not authorised by the FCA, we are included on the register maintained by the FCA 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 via the FCA Web site: www.fca.org.uk. The requirements of the FCA are that when we arrange any insurance we need to advise clients about the range of insurers we have checked before recommending a particular policy and if it is not on a fair market analysis we must explain the basis upon which the recommendation has been made. Furthermore we are obliged to ensure that we check the suitability of any such policy for clients and notify them of this in a written "demand and needs statement" before the insurance is put in place. To minimise the additional work involved we now take this opportunity to deal with those obligations. Please note that when we select a policy we shall do so from one of the several indemnity insurers in whom we have confidence. We will not necessarily choose the policy with the lowest premium. Much is likely to depend upon the speed and convenience with which the policy can be put in place. For example, some insurers issue us with policy packs which we can use to write up and issue policies ourselves. You may take it however that we will only use insurers with whom we have an existing working relationship or any others whom we may be satisfied are satisfactory. As regards the suitability of a policy for clients, if we identify a problem that cannot readily be overcome without putting such a policy in place we will inform you of that fact at that time. We will only recommend that you put in place a policy that we consider necessary and sufficient to overcome the legal difficulty we have encountered.
We do not generally sell or advise on insurance policies except in one particular area of practice. Often in connection with conveyancing work one encounters a problem that can be overcome by a suitable insurance policy. Examples include a defect in the title to a property, the lack of an easement such as the right of way or defective provisions in a Lease. A variety of legal indemnity insurers offer policies to cover such problems.
ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING POLICY
The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 has put all professionals under a duty (breach of which is punishable by imprisonment in serious cases) to report to the authorities wherever there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that they are being asked or expected to deal with the proceeds of crime by any client. This duty overrides any duty of confidentiality or otherwise which we may owe you.
We confirm that accordingly it is our firm’s policy to take such responsibilities seriously and to report any suspicions in the required manner even if this were to jeopardise our client’s case or transaction – our professional obligations and the sanctions for failing to observe them demand that this be the case. Accordingly our own procedures have been reviewed and amended as necessary.
MONEY LAUNDERING REGULATIONS 2007
In order to enable us to satisfy our obligations under these Regulations and related legislation, it will almost always be necessary for you to supply appropriate proof of identity before we are able to act, or continue to act for you, or for any principal whom you may represent. We will also not be able to receive funds from, or pay any funds to, you or on your behalf unless all necessary identification and other procedures have been satisfied for the purpose of the Regulations.
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 immediately and we may be able to identify a source of assistance for you. Accordingly we cannot accept responsibility for any adverse tax consequences of work carried out by us upon your behalf.
PLANNING IN PROPERTY TRANSACTIONS
We will not advise you on the planning implications of your proposed purchase unless specifically requested to do so by you in writing, otherwise than by reporting to you on any relevant information provided by the results of the "local search."
COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS
This sounds frightening and it may be. Litigation is often described as "an adversarial process" - two sides are in dispute. It is therefore unpredictable both as to outcome and as to cost. At the beginning and at regular intervals we will need to consider with you what you can hope to achieve by litigation, at what cost and what the likely net benefit may be to you. If we doubt that it makes financial sense for you to pursue the case, we will tell you.
DEALINGS WITH EXTERNAL ASSESSORS
We are pleased to have achieved accreditation to the Law Society’s Lexcel Quality Mark. We also have satisfied the requirements of the Legal Aid Agency to gain a contract for the provision of publically funded family law work. In addition, we are accredited members of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality and Accident Line Schemes.
Maintenance of such accreditations requires external audit from time to time by external assessors on behalf of those bodies. As you will appreciate we regard the information and documentation we hold in relation to your matter as strictly confidential and we shall ensure the party to whom we outsource agrees to keep your data secure and is bound either by law or by agreement to suitable standards of data protection.
However an exception to this has to be the need for external assessors to review, usually annually, a limited number of client files on a random basis in order to check we are dealing with matters in accordance with the requirements of the quality standards. We shall therefore presume you have no objection to your file being audited in this way by such external assessors whether for the schemes specifically mentioned above or others to which we may be accredited from time to time unless you notify us to the contrary in writing (but not by email).
CONCLUSION OF YOUR MATTER
At the conclusion of your matter, we shall report to you with a final accounting statement where appropriate and also advise of anything that remains to be done, either by you or by us on your behalf. We will also detail what is to happen to your file of papers and other deeds and documents we may be holding on your behalf. We will generally retain these, with the exception of any documents that you require us to return. In the case of property deeds and other similar documents that should be retained, we shall keep these in our Deeds store*. For so long as you remain a client of the firm, if it is necessary to retrieve these documents to facilitate a sale or similar transaction in which we are instructed, we would not normally make a charge. If, however, we retrieve deeds or documents from storage for you or you wish us to pass these to some other nominated person or company on your behalf, then we will make a charge of £60, which may be waived at our discretion. We may also make a charge, based on time spent, for producing stored deeds or documents to you, or another at your request. We may also charge for reading correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions. This will be charged at the current hourly rate of the fee earner retrieving the pages or documents.
As regards the remainder of your papers and your file, we will retain these for an appropriate period of time and then these items will be destroyed. We will notify you of the proposed destruction date at the time we close your file.
*no charge will be made for the storage of deeds, wills or other securities.
Jacobs & Reeves, Solicitors,
Principal Office at 153 High Street, Poole,
Dorset BH15 1AU.
Office also in Wimborne
Poole Office: Tel: 01202 674425 Fax: 01202 681167
Wimborne Office: Tel: 01202 880382 Fax: 01202 842602
A list of partners may be obtained upon request addressed to the Principal Office.
Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Jacobs & Reeves - SRA numbers: 51817 (Poole) and 51818 (Wimborne)
Edition Date May 2018