1. PLACE & HOURS OF BUSINESS
Kilvington Solicitors’ normal hours of opening are 9.00am to 5.00pm on weekdays.
2. SETTING STANDARDS
All members of our firm are required to meet certain standards with regard to Client Care. These include:
(a) Sending you copies of all important correspondence
(b) Returning your telephone calls during the course of the same day, if at all possible
(c) Dealing with correspondence of any sort promptly
(d) Writing letters to you and others in plain and concise language
(e) Giving appointments to you without any undue delay
(f) Dealing with you and all persons with the same attention, courtesy and consideration regardless of age, race, colour, ethnic or national origins, sex, religion or belief, disability or sexual orientation.
Should there be any aspect of our service with which you are unhappy you should first raise the issue with the person dealing with your matter and then with the supervising partner. If still unresolved, you should refer to the Legal Ombudsman. A copy of our full complaints procedure is available on request.
4. PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY
We maintain Professional Indemnity Insurance in the interest of our clients.
If you have given us initial instructions “from a distance” by telephone, internet/email or by letter or fax or we have visited you at home, you have a right to cancel your instructions to us within 14 days without giving any reason. You can do this by informing us in a clear written statement before the cancellation period has expired. If you instructed us to proceed immediately, you will be obliged to pay us for any work done or monies paid out on your behalf. Otherwise, you may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time. We will decide to stop acting for you only with good reason (e.g. conflict of interest, failing to provide information) and on giving you reasonable notice. If you or we decide that we will stop acting for you, you will be obliged to pay our charges on an hourly basis and any expenses already paid on your behalf.
6.1 Unless and until an alternative fee arrangement has been agreed and confirmed in writing by us the basis of our fees is by reference to time spent on your affairs. This includes advising, seeing you (and others, if necessary), travelling, preparing and checking documents, dealing with correspondence, making and receiving telephone calls, general care and conduct of your matter.
6.2 Every fee earner’s time is charged at an hourly rate (+ VAT) which reflects overhead and profit costs. Current hourly rates are £210 for a partner/consultant, £180 for a solicitor and £121 – £146 for other qualified fee-earners.
6.3 The hourly rate quoted is 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 as soon as they have been set.
6.4 In the event of your case involving exceptional circumstances (for instance, exceptional complexity or particular requirements as to speed) we reserve the right to increase the hourly rate for that particular work.
6.5 In court work, clients must be aware that they are primarily responsible for our costs. The court may also order that you pay all or part of your opponent’s costs. If you win a case, the opponent may still not be ordered to pay your costs or may not be able to. In ancillary relief proceedings, costs are not normally awarded so each party bears their own in any event.
6.6 Estimates: It is often difficult to estimate how many hours of work will be necessary to complete a matter, partly because so much depends upon the way in which others react. An estimate of charges is set out in the client care 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 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. Estimates may change as the matter proceeds, and it becomes clearer how much time is likely to be needed. We will let you know as soon as we can if this is the case.
6.7 Fixed Fees: Where we undertake to work for a fixed fee please refer to the client care letter delivered at the start of the matter in which we will confirm the agreed rate.
6.8 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.
6.9 Disbursements: There may be certain additional expenses (known as disbursements) in the conduct of the matter, for example for items such as Court fees, HM Land Registry fees, search fees, Probate Registry fees. It is normal practice to ask clients to make payments on account of these anticipated costs. We have no obligation to make such payments unless funds have been provided by the client for those purposes. If we make such a payment on behalf of a client we reserve the right to charge interest on the amount due to us at the rate applicable to outstanding bills until reimbursement is made. VAT is payable on certain disbursements.
6.10 Final bills will contain a narrative of the work conducted on your behalf. All our bills contain notification of your rights under the Solicitors Act if you wish to query our charges.
6.11 In all cases we have an overall responsibility to ensure that our fees are fair and reasonable for dealing with a particular matter.
7. PAYMENT IN LIEU OF INTEREST
The SRA Accounts Rules require us when fair and reasonable to pay you money in lieu of interest on funds held on your behalf. Please ask for our COFA plus Interest Policy if you require further information.
8. ARRANGEMENTS FOR PAYMENT OF FEES
8.1 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.
8.2 ADMINISTRATION OF ESTATES: It is our usual practice to submit a final bill when the administration has been completed and the estate accounts are delivered for approval. In a protracted estate matter, we may agree with you an interim payment on account.
8.3 If at completion of a matter, we hold sufficient funds on your behalf and we have sent you a bill, we will, with your authority, deduct our charges from the funds.
8.4 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. You should be aware that we are entitled to retain your file until an account is settled and that we are entitled to charge interest on unpaid bills at 8% from two weeks after delivery of the bill, our payment terms being 14 days from receipt of the invoice.
9. DATA PROTECTION
For the purposes of the Data Protection Act 1998 we are required to advise clients that their particulars are held on our database. However, any information held is for the personal use of this firm in carrying out instructions on your behalf and it will neither knowingly, nor intentionally, be transferred to or shared with any other person or corporation unless we are obliged to pass on information e.g. by statute.
If we are instructed on a purchase and we are also acting for your proposed lender, we have a duty to fully reveal to your lender all relevant facts about the purchase and the mortgage. This includes any differences between your mortgage application and information we receive during the transaction and any cash back payments or discount schemes that a seller is giving to you.
The return of our client care letter will constitute your consent to such situations.
10. STORAGE OF PAPERS & DEEDS
We shall keep our file of papers (except any of your papers which you ask to be returned to you) for no more than 15 years and on the understanding that we have your authority to destroy the file 15 years after sending you our final bill. The file includes copies of emails and other data held electronically. We will not destroy documents which you ask us to deposit in safe keeping.
11. THE PROCEEDS OF CRIME ACT 2002 & MONEY LAUNDERING REGULATIONS 2007
11.1 As part of the Government’s policy on the prevention of money laundering, solicitors have been placed under certain obligations to prevent people using our services in a way that may expose both this firm and our clients to criminal prosecution.
11.2 As part of our initial dealings with you it will be necessary for us to ask you for evidence of your identity and your place of residence.
11.3 Additionally, from time to time, we will have to ask other questions about your instructions to us, concerning the proposed source of funds or 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 criminal offence.
11.4 Under the provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (“POCA”), we may be required to make a report to the relevant authorities if at any time we become aware of or suspect (whether from you or any other person) the existence of the proceeds of crime in relation to any services on which we are engaged. Our obligation to make such a report will, in certain circumstances, override our duty of solicitor/client confidentiality and we may not be permitted toinform you whether or not we have made, or might intend to make, such a report.
We may terminate the provision of any services to you or be instructed to do so by the relevant authorities, if you fail to comply with your obligation to provide evidence of identity or we suspect that you or any other party connected with you or with the matter is involved in activities proscribed by POCA.
11.5 The firm’s policy is to only accept up to £500 in cash payments 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, unless they are a named beneficiary in an estate.
12. FINANCIAL SERVICES
12.1 If during a transaction you need advice on investments, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, as we are not. However, as we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation 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.
12.2 This firm is included on the register maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority so that we can carry out insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the advising on, selling and administration of insurance contracts. The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority website at: www.fca.org.uk/register.
12.3 If you have a problem with the service we have provided in these areas, please let us know. We will try to resolve any problem quickly via our internal complaints procedure (see earlier) but if we cannot then the Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory body of the Law Society and the Legal Ombudsman is the independent complaints handling body established under the Legal Services Act 2007 and they provide complaints and redress mechanisms.
12.4 In the event of a banking failure it is unlikely that the firm would be held liable for any losses of client account money. If a corporate body client is not considered a small company by FSCS, then they will not be eligible for compensation. We currently hold our client account funds in Svenska Handelsbanken. The £85,000 Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) limit will apply to each individual client so if you hold other personal monies yourself in the same bank as our client account, the limit remains £85,000 in total, so it may be advisable to check with your own bank as some banks now trade under different trading names. In the event of a bank failure, you agree to us disclosing details to the FSCS.
13.1Tax – We are not qualified to advise you on the tax implications of transactions you instruct us to carry out but we will advise you on the likelihood of them arising. In all matters where they may arise you should seek the advice of a qualified accountant.
- Property matters – We will not advise you on the planning implications of your proposed purchase, unless specifically requested to do so by you, otherwise than by reporting to you on any relevant information provided by the results of the “local search”.
We will not carry out a physical inspection of the property nor advise on the valuation of the property or the suitability of your mortgage or any other financial arrangements.
We shall not advise generally on environmental liabilities where we shall assume that you are making your own arrangements for any appropriate environmental survey or investigations. We may, however, need to obtain on behalf of your lender, at your expense, an environmental search.
14. GOVERNING LAW
These Terms 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.
15. ACCEPTANCE OF TERMS
These Terms of Business, unless varied in writing, indicate the basis on which this firm will carry out professional services on your behalf now and in any future instructions.