Where instructions are taken in new matters, a letter will be issued to the client enclosing this document and detailing any special terms, except in the case of regular clients who are already aware of the firm’s terms of business.
The legal work in the firm is dealt with by lawyers who may be:
(1) Partners/Directors (who are necessarily solicitors);
(2) Solicitors, who may be associates, assistants or practising consultants;
(3) Qualified legal executives;
(4) Non-qualified but experienced managers or
(5) Trainee solicitors/legal executives or paralegal clerks (acting under supervision)
The letter accompanying these Terms will confirm who is dealing with the relevant matter.
We will always update you when any progress is made on your matter.
We will communicate with you in plain language.
We will explain to you the legal work required as your matter progresses.
We will update you on the cost of your matter at least every six months.
We will update you on whether the likely outcomes still justify the likely costs and risks associated with your matter whenever there is a material change in circumstances.
We will update you on the likely timescales for each stage of this matter and any important changes in those estimates.
We will continue to review whether there are alternative methods by which your matter can be funded.
4. OUR RESPONSIBILITIES
We will review your matter regularly.
We will advise you of any relevant changes in the law.
We will advise you of any circumstances and risks of which we are aware or consider to be reasonably foreseeable that could affect the outcome of your matter.
5. YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES
You will provide us with clear, timely and accurate instructions.
You will provide all documentation required to complete the matter in a timely manner.
You will safeguard any documents which are likely to be required for discovery.
6. HOURS OF BUSINESS
Our opening hours are Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm. We are closed on bank holidays and during the period between Christmas and New Year.
Our services are provided by way of a range of different funding arrangements, including public funding. The way your case is to be funded will be clearly set out in the letter accompanying these Terms of Business.
A standard charge-out rate (VAT exclusive) will apply but this is not fixed and is subject to variation in either direction dependant on the complexity and value element of the work:
• Medically qualified senior consulting solicitor/barrister – £395 per hour
• Partners/Directors – £295 per hour
• Solicitors – £250 per hour
• Trainee Solicitors/Paralegals – £180 per hour
Where hourly rates apply the current charge-out rate of the lawyer dealing with the matter will be set out in the letter accompanying these Terms. Chargeable time covers all time spent on the client’s affairs which may include attendances on the client and others; any time spent in travelling; considering, preparing and working on correspondence; making and receiving telephone calls. Routine letters and telephone calls are charged at one tenth of the hourly rate of the person carrying out work on your case. The standard rates are reviewed from time to time, usually annually in April, and the client will be notified of any change if it is not broadly in line with inflation or if it materially affects the client’s liability for fees.
8. ESTIMATED OR QUOTED FEES
In some cases, an estimated fee for the work will have been agreed. Unless otherwise stated this is exclusive of VAT and disbursements, which are referred to below. Should any unanticipated matter arise so as to affect the estimated fee, you will be notified before any additional cost is incurred. If, for any reason the matter is not completed then you will be invoiced for a sum deemed appropriate for the amount of time spent on the matter, together with any disbursements incurred.
Disbursements are payments made by this firm to other parties or persons on behalf of clients. Some are subject to VAT. These will appear on the firm’s invoices, or payment may be requested separately. Unless we notify you otherwise, the firm will require payment on account prior to or immediately after incurring certain disbursements, for example, court fees, counsel’s fees, expert’s fees etc. and is under no obligation to effect payment unless put in funds to do so. If the firm is holding money in client account it may use such money to cover disbursements. In such circumstances, we will notify you in advance.
10. PAYMENT TERMS
Unless otherwise agreed, invoices are due for payment within 30 days and your attention to this would be appreciated. However, where the firm is in funds, accounts will be settled by way of deduction, interim bills will be raised on a monthly basis. Interest on overdue invoices may be charged at the rate payable on judgement debts from 30 days after delivery of our bill.
In all cases, you may set a limit on fees to be incurred. This can however create risks, as this may prevent a case being completed or essential work being carried out. If you impose an unrealistic limit or are not prepared to remove a limit without which the firm cannot do a full and professional job, or complete or progress the matter, the firm reserves the right to treat this as a termination of the retainer by you.
11. EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY
Carter Moore is committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of its dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our equality and diversity policy.
12. 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. You have a right of access under data protection legislation to the personal data that we hold about you.
We may from time to time send you information which we think might be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive that information please notify our office in writing.
Sometimes we ask other companies or people to do typing or photocopying on our files to ensure this is done promptly. 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.
14. VETTING OF FILES AND CONFIDENTIALITY
External firms or organisations may conduct audit or quality checks on our practice. These external firms or organisations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files.
We are currently working towards achieving Lexcel accreditation, which will involve a sample of our files being reviewed to ensure that we meet the required standards. Please let us know as soon as possible if you object to your matter being reviewed as part of an external audit process.
15. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY
We restrict liability to you for any losses or damages caused by negligence or wilful default on our part to £3,000,000. We do not accept liability for losses arising from the provision of false, misleading or incorrect or incomplete instructions, information and documentation or due to the acts or omissions of any persons not employed by Carter Moore Solicitors, including agents instructed to act on your behalf.
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 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.
Please ask if you would like us to explain any of the terms above.
16. 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.
17. TERMINATING THE RETAINER
You may end your instructions to us in writing at any time, but we can keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses.
We may decide to stop acting for you only with good reason, e.g. if you do not pay an interim bill or there is a conflict of interest. We must give you reasonable notice that we will stop acting for you.
If you or we decide that we should stop acting for you, you will pay our charges up until that point. These are calculated on an hourly basis plus expenses as set out in these terms and conditions.
18. MONEY LAUNDERING/CASH RECEIPTS
The law requires solicitors to get satisfactory evidence of the identity of their clients and sometimes people related to them. This is because solicitors who deal with money and property on behalf of their client can be used by criminals wanting to launder money.
To comply with the law, we may need to obtain evidence of your identity. If so we will notify you of this in the letter accompanying these terms. In these circumstances, we are required to have sight of one form of identification and one form of proof of address. The identification should be either the original of your passport or photo driving licence, together with a recent utility or Council Tax bill (less than 3 months old but not a mobile phone bill).
If you are unable to attend our offices with the original please provide us with a copy certified by either a solicitor or your bank.
If you cannot provide us with the specific identification requested, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss other ways to verify your identity.
We are professionally and legally obliged to keep your affairs confidential. However, solicitors may be required by statute to make a disclosure to the Serious Organised 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.
Our practice’s policy is not to accept cash from clients. 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.
19. PAYMENT OF INTEREST
Any money received on your behalf will be held in our client account. Interest will be calculated and paid to you at the rate set by Lloyds TSB. That of course may change. The period for which interest will be paid normally runs from the date(s) when funds are received by us until the date(s) on the cheque(s) issued to you. The payment of interest is subject to certain minimum amounts and periods of time set out in the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules 1998.
20. LIABILITY FOR CLIENT MONEY IF A BANK COLLAPSES
It is unlikely that we will be liable in negligence if client money is lost as a result of a banking failure. Any money that we hold for you in our client account will be held with Lloyds TSB. The £85,000 FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme) limit applies to the individual client and therefore if you hold other personal monies in the same bank as our client account the limit remains £85,000 in total. Some deposit taking institutions have several brands, i.e. where the same institution is trading under different names. You should check either with your bank, the FSA or a financial adviser for more information. If we make a claim under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in respect of client money on your behalf, we will, subject to your consent, give certain client information to the FSCS to help them identify clients and amounts to which clients are entitled in client accounts.
21. DISTANCE SELLING
If we have not met with you the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 will apply to this file. This means you have the right to cancel your instructions to us within seven working days of receiving this letter. You can cancel your instructions by contacting us by post or by fax to this office. Once we have started work on your file, you may be charged if you then cancel your instructions. If you would like us to commence work on your file within the next seven working days, please sign these terms and conditions and return it to this office by post or fax.
22. FINANCIAL SERVICES
We are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority. However, we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Services 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 regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Services website at www.fsa.gov.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 either of those bodies.
Carter Moore is committed to high quality legal advice and client care. If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service you have received or about the bill, please contact Amy Woods by post to 13 St John Street, Manchester, M3 4DQ / email to firstname.lastname@example.org / telephone to 08458 737 333. We have a procedure in place which details how we handle complaints which is available upon request. If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider it. 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. You may also be entitled to object to the bill by applying to the court for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. Please note that if all or part of the bill remains unpaid, the firm may be entitled to charge interest.
Details for the Legal Ombudsman are as follows:
PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton,
24. STORAGE OF PAPERS
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. We will retain your file of papers for six years, except for those papers you ask to be returned to you. The files will then be destroyed confidentially.
Where stored papers are retrieved from storage in connection with continuing or new instructions to this firm to act in connection with the client’s affairs; normally no charge will be made for such retrieval. However, this firm reserves the right to make a £25 administration charge for retrieval of your papers. This covers the fees charged to us by our storage company, time spent by our staff in processing the request and reasonable postage costs. Papers will be sent out by standard delivery. Should you require secure delivery, or if the papers weigh over 4kg, we reserve the right to charge you for the additional postage costs, or ask you to make alternative arrangements for collection.
25. PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE
We are insured by Hanover Ltd for our Professional Indemnity Insurance. We are required to provide clients with contact details and details of territorial coverage of this insurance policy. Should you require this information from us please make a request in writing.
26. INTEREST ON MONIES HELD IN CLIENT ACCOUNT
We will account to the client for interest at the end of their matter, where interest earned is over the sum of £20.
The interest payable is calculated in accordance with the prevailing interest rate set by Lloyds TSB Bank Plc on an instant access current account for the total period that the monies are held in client account.