Thank you for instructing us to act for you. Our aim is to give you a friendly and efficient service and we hope you will find this booklet helpful. Further information is to be found in the accompanying documents, but please do not hesitate to contact the person handling your file if you have any queries.
The letter accompanying this booklet provides details of the person who will be responsible for the day to day conduct of your file ("matter").
Occasionally, for example when that person is out of the office or on holiday, another member of their department may work on your file.
All the time we spend on your behalf is recorded in units of six minutes. Writing letters, meeting with you or other people, making and receiving telephone calls, drafting documents, working out the best course of action, making calculations, copying, travel time, waiting time - everything we do - is recorded as time.
The rates vary according to the seniority and experience of the person responsible for your matter. Our charging rate covers the cost of all support staff who may assist on your file, for example secretarial support.
There may be occasion when other factors are brought into account in calculating the firm's fees. If appropriate, this will be described in more detail in the Client Care letter accompanying our booklet.
Our charging rates are reviewed periodically, and following review we will advise you of the new rates which will apply to work done after that date.
We will inform you if any unforeseen work becomes necessary (for example due to unexpected difficulties or if your requirements or circumstances significantly change during the course of the matter) and the impact that this may have on our estimated fees.
If you wish, you may set a limit on the charges and expenses to be incurred. This will allow us to work for you up to an agreed limit without our needing to refer back to you.
As soon as it appears the limit may be exceeded, we will inform you and obtain your agreement to proceed.
Depending on the nature of the work we are undertaking for you, there may be expenses that become payable. Our estimate of these expenses will be shown in the Client Care letter accompanying this booklet.
It is normal practice to ask clients to pay sums of money from time to time "on account" of charges and expenses which are expected during your matter. This helps to avoid delay in the progress of their case.
Again, the Client Care letter accompanying this booklet will confirm what monies, if any, are required on account.
We may request further payments on account for charges and expenses to be incurred as your matter progresses.
When we put these payments towards charges and expenses, we will send you a receipted bill. We offset any such payments against your final bill, but it is important that you understand that your total expenses may be greater than any advance payment.
In addition to the firm's fees, you will be charged VAT at the rate which applies when the work is done. You will also be charged for any out of pocket expenses incurred (also with VAT in addition if applicable). At present VAT is 20%
When we hold moneys on account in excess of what is required or hold money in contemplation of an expense which is not incurred immediately we pay interest at the prevailing bank rate on the sum held.
If the work you ask us to do is not completed, we will charge you for the time spent at the agreed rates.
We will send you a bill for our charges and expenses at the end of each month while your matter is in progress. We send a final bill at the completion of your matter.
Payment is due when we send you a bill and we expect payment of the bill within 14 days. If we are holding monies on account of costs then we shall use that money in or towards settlement of the bill when we send it to you.
We charge interest on unpaid bills at 8% per annum from the date payment is due. Interest is charged on a daily basis.
If you have a query about your bill you should contact the person responsible for your file straight away.
There are a number of things you can do to help us:-
Our office hours are 9 am to 5.15 pm. At other times there is an answerphone for messages.
We can be reached by the office lines or mobile phone which enables you to speak with us directly. If we are already on a telephone call or away from our desk, you may leave a message with a secretary, or voicemail
We each have an email address, and we respond to email as if it is normal incoming mail. Likewise, we are happy to receive communication by fax and treat them in the same way as incoming mail. Telephone numbers and email addresses are provided on the attached letter accompanying this booklet.
If it is necessary for you to call in to see us in person, it is advisable to make an appointment.
As the advice we give you must be recorded, we tend to communicate mainly in writing; this helps ensure that we both maintain a clear understanding of the status of your matter. It is therefore the most economical way to communicate.
Subject to our obligations under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (see below), any information about you, your business and its employees given to us and/or stored on our computer system will be treated as confidential and kept secure. It will not be disclosed to anyone outside the firm without your prior knowledge and / or where necessary, your agreement. You are welcome to ask for a copy of the information relating to you or your business stored on our computer system to check its accuracy.
Please also note that in addition to our usual annual Accounting audit, we are subject to periodic audits by the Solicitors Regulation Authority of a random selection of files and documentation to check that these are kept in good order. Please note that unless you instruct us specifically to exclude your file/s from any such audit we will assume that we have your consent to allow external inspectors to see your file/s. Please note however that should you chose to exclude your file from inspection we may cease to act for you. The external inspectors are subject to a duty of confidentiality in relation to all information seen by them during the course of their audit.
If you choose to communicate with us by email then you accept that the internet is not a secure medium and such communications may in exceptional circumstances be capable of being read by third parties.
Where we are working on a matter in conjunction with your other advisors, we will assume, unless you notify us otherwise, that we may disclose confidential information to and discuss it with those advisors.
Coupled with this, on occasion we may engage the services of a third party supplier to assist in the progress of your matter.
This Act creates a number of offences relating to the proceeds of crime, which include making it a criminal offence for you to enter into a financial transaction if you know that any monies represent the proceeds of crime. This may include, for example, monies saved as a result of tax evasion or benefit fraud.
If we become aware, or suspect the existence of the proceeds of crime in your matter, we are legally obliged to report the irregularity to the National Crime Agency (NCA). N.C.A will then give or withhold permission for us to continue to act on your behalf. We may make a report to N.C.A without telling you we have done so, and our obligations under this Act can in certain circumstances override the duty of the solicitor/ client confidentiality.
The person responsible for the day to day conduct of your file can provide you with further information in this respect of required.
Under legislation aimed at detecting and preventing money laundering, we are required to obtain evidence of identity from clients for whom we act, and to report to the NCIS any evidence or suspicion we may have of money laundering. If any report is made it will be done without any disclosure to the client concerned, in line with money laundering regulations.
We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct s 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 Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority website at register.fca.org.uk.
If during this transaction you need advice on investments, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised by the Financial Services Authority, as we are not. However, as we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority, 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 problem with the services 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 ourselves. if for any reason we are unable to resolve the Problem between us we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and Complaints and redress mechanisms are provided through the Solicitors Regulation Authority and The legal complaints Service
After completing the work, we are entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is money owing to us for our charges and expenses. We will keep our file of papers (except for any of your papers which you ask to be returned to you) for no more than six years.
We keep the file on the understanding that we have the authority to destroy it six years after the date of the final bill we send you for this matter. We will not destroy documents you ask us to deposit in safe custody.
If we retrieve papers or documents from storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act in connection with your affairs, we will not normally charge for such retrieval. However, we may make a charge based on the time spent producing stored papers or documents to you or another at your request. We may also charge for reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with the instructions given by you or on your behalf.
You may terminate your instructions with us in writing at any time. However, we are entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is money owing to us for our charges and expenses.
In some circumstances, you may consider we ought to stop acting for you, for example, if you cannot give clear or proper instructions on how we are to proceed, or if it is clear that you have lost confidence in how we are carrying out your work.
We may also decide to stop acting for you if you do not pay a bill or comply with our request for a payment on account, or if a conflict of interest arises. We will give you reasonable notice that we will stop acting for you and will only do so with very good reason. that there may also be a right to object to the bill by making a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman Service , and/or by applying to the court for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974; and
If you, or we, decide that we will no longer act for you, you will pay our charges on an hourly basis and expenses as already set out.
We are confident that we will give you a high quality service in all respects.
However, if you have any queries or concerns about our work for you which include our fees charged, please take them up first with the person with day-to-day responsibility for your matter If that does not resolve the problem to your satisfaction or you would prefer not to speak with that person, then please refer your query to this firm's Principal, Victor Aigbogun, and the matter will be dealt with pursuant to this firm's complaints procedure.
A full copy of our complaints procedure is available upon request.
In the unlikely event that you are still dissatisfied, and if your dissatisfaction relates to our bill you have the right to object to our bill by making a complaint to the legal Services Ombudsman whose address is 3rd Floor Sunlight House Quay Street Manchester M3 3AJ Their Telephone number is 01618397262 or 08456010794 (calls charged at Local Rate) and /or by applying to the court for an assessment of the bill under part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. If all or part of the bill remains unpaid this firm may be entitled to charge interest.
This booklet, together with the accompanying Client Care letter and Client Questionnaire confirm the terms on which we are willing to deal with the transaction on your behalf.
Once we have received your signed duplicate of the Client Care letter, together with your duly completed and signed Client Questionnaire, we will regard this firm instructed by you.
If your instructions have not been given at a face-to-face meeting, you will generally have the right to cancel these instructions without any cost to you within 7 working days of this documentation being received by us.
You can cancel the agreement by either delivering or posting a note to the office cancelling your instructions or by sending it by fax or e-mail.
You may not, however, cancel the agreement once we have, with your permission, started to do the work on your behalf.
By signing and returning the duplicate Client Care letter and Client Questionnaire, you are agreeing that:
This is an important document, so please keep it in a safe place for future reference