These terms set out the basis upon which we will act for you. They are of general application. We set out in a separate Matter Engagement Agreement and accompanying letter specific terms applying to the particular matter on which you have instructed us, including, for example, details of who is responsible for your work, how we will charge you for the work we complete and the amount of any payment on account we require before we start work on your matter. The Matter Engagement Agreement, accompanying letter and these terms should be read together.
We set out in the Matter Engagement Agreement and accompanying letter the name and status of the individual with day-to-day responsibility for dealing with the matter, and the name of the supervising Director responsible. From time to time, where appropriate or necessary, we may involve other fee-earners and if so, we will tell you their names and (if appropriate) their hourly rate. We try to avoid changing the people responsible for your work but if that becomes necessary, we will inform you promptly of any change. At all times we endeavour to carry out work at an appropriate level in terms of skill and cost.
We will regularly update you by telephone or in writing with progress on your matter.
Unless otherwise specifically agreed by us, any advice given by us in the course of our engagement:
Unless we have specifically agreed otherwise, we will not be bound to notify you of any changes in the law following the date on which the advice was given.
We will not undertake the following work as part of your retainer, unless we specifically agree otherwise. You should consider obtaining advice on these areas independently:
Our normal hours of business are 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday – Friday. Messages can be left on the answer phone outside those hours and appointments can be arranged at other times if necessary. We are closed on all bank holidays and usually between Boxing Day and the 2nd of January.
Details of our charges, expenses, also known as disbursements and VAT are specific to your case and are set out in detail in the Matter Engagement Agreement and letter which accompanies this document. Where we have referred to our standard hourly rates in the Matter Engagement Agreement, such standard hourly rates are listed and shown in pounds sterling. VAT will be added to these figures. Our standard hourly rates are reviewed periodically, we will notify you in writing of any increased rates.
7.1 Handling Client Money
We cannot pay out money on your behalf until we are in possession of cleared funds. We recommend that any cheques should therefore be received by us at least seven working days before monies are to be paid out to avoid clearance problems. If a longer clearance period is required, we shall advise you nearer the date.
Similarly, if we receive funds for you, it must be cleared through our Bank before we can pay you.
Where we hold funds on your behalf for any reason and you owe us money in any matter, we reserve the right to use such funds in settlement of fees outstanding to this firm.
7.2 Cash, Bitcoin and Crypto Currency
Our firm’s policy is not to accept payments in cash, bitcoin or other crypto. Please arrange for alternative methods of payment to be used such as cheque, credit or debit card or bank transfer.
We will add VAT to our charges and disbursements (where applicable) at the rate which applies when the work is done, or disbursements incurred. At present, VAT is 20%.
If this firm does not complete the work, we will charge you for the work done and disbursements incurred.
7.4 Court Hearings, Public Inquiries, Tribunal Hearings
It is our policy in matters which involve a court hearing, Public Inquiry or Tribunal Hearing to ask you to pay all previous interim bills, including disbursements and expenses prior to the hearing or inquiry taking place. If you fail to do so, we reserve the right to decline to act for you at the hearing.
If we are successful in litigation and if you are also awarded costs, any bills we send to you should still be paid within our normal terms. Any costs then recovered will be sent to you as soon as they are received by way of reimbursement.
Though a court may make an award of costs, you are still primarily responsible for our account within our normal terms. A cost award is an order that the unsuccessful party in litigation pay a contribution towards the legal costs of the successful party. Even if a costs order is made in your favour, it is unlikely you will recover more than two thirds of your legal costs – it is entirely in the discretion of the court as to how much is awarded. It can also take many weeks or even months to recover money from court. Some courts do require solicitors to provide lots of significant information about a case when a costs assessment is made. This can involve time-consuming work for the Fee Earner, and it may be necessary for us to submit to you a further account to cover the work that we undertake in this regard. This work will normally be charged for at our hourly rates.
To enable you to budget, we will normally invoice you monthly or at other periodic intervals, as we consider appropriate, before final completion of the work.
We are committed to providing an effective and responsive service to clients. In return, we request prompt payment of both interim and final costs bills and disbursement bills. All our bills are due for payment on presentation. We will be entitled to charge you interest on all unpaid bills at 10% per annum accruing daily (from one month of the date of delivery of the bill in non-contentious matters and from date of delivery of the bill in contentious matters). If you fail to pay our bills on time, we reserve the right to stop acting for you.
Please contact the fee-earner responsible for your matter straightaway if you have any query about your bill.
We accept payment for our services by cheque, debit or credit card or bank transfer. If you wish to make use of this facility you should discuss it with the person having conduct of your case/transaction. Please note you will be responsible for the payment of any charges in respect of bank transfers.
If we hold money on your behalf, we will usually deduct any outstanding fees and other expenses from such a sum before making payment to you.
7.6 Payment of Interest
Any money received on your behalf will be held in our client account. Interest on funds held in general client account will be paid where it is fair and reasonable to do so in accordance with the SRA Accounts Rules 2019 subject to a de Minimis limit of £50.
Where we hold funds on your behalf in a designated deposit account, we will account to you for all interest received in respect of that account.
In the unlikely event of a banking collapse or crisis, we will not be liable for losses resulting from a banking failure. Client monies are held in the Co-Op bank. Please note that the £85,000 FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme) limit applies to the individual client, and so if you hold other personal monies yourself in the same bank or banking group as the firm’s 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. The FSCS has special rules which cover temporary high balances held in client accounts. Any client account which holds more than £1,000,000 is not covered under these rules. We will seek consent for the disclosure to the FSCS of your details in the event of a deposit taking institution failure.
The Money Laundering Regulations require solicitors to obtain satisfactory evidence of the identity of their clients and, where there is a beneficial owner who is not a client, the beneficial owner before we undertake any work. This is because solicitors who deal with money and property on behalf of their clients can be targeted by criminals attempting to launder money.
To comply with the law, we need to obtain evidence of your identity as soon as possible. Our practice is to obtain an Electronic Data Verifying Report for all individuals and Companies that the firm represents, together with such other related parties to whom the firm is required to pay monies. This is not a credit check. In certain types of cases, we will also ask you to provide us with documents, such as a passport or driving licence, to verify your identity and address, if appropriate these requests are set out in a separate letter.
Any personal data we obtain for this purpose will only be processed for the purposes of preventing money laundering or terrorist financing unless such processing is permitted by law, or you consent to an alternative use of the data.
Please be aware we cannot start work for you unless and until you have provided such evidence to us. We reserve the right to refuse to act for you if we are not satisfied as to your identity.
If we act for a lender, such as a Bank or Building Society as part of your transaction we have a duty to reveal to them all relevant facts about the purchase and mortgage. This includes:
Exclusion of Liability
Any liability we may have to you in contract or negligence arising out of our compliance with the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 and related anti-money laundering legislation is hereby excluded.
We are professionally and legally obliged to keep your affairs confidential. However, solicitors may be required by statute to make a disclosure to the National Crime Agency where they know or suspect that a transaction may involve money laundering, tax evasion 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 and may not be able to tell you why.
The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) is US legislation designed to ensure that US citizens disclose their worldwide income to the US tax authority. The FATCA regime requires certain financial institutions to identify and report (to HMRC) payments made to a specified US person, or a non-US entity with one or more persons with control who are specified US persons. In certain limited circumstances in order to comply with the law we may have to share some of your information, including your FATCA status and, if applicable, your Global Intermediary Identification Number (GIIN) with financial institutions. It may also be necessary in limited circumstances for us to report payments to HMRC which we will explain, should the need arise.
Like most solicitors we use a pooled client account facility for banking client monies. This means we may need to pass information and documents relating to your identity to them. This is because when your money is held in our client account you are classed as a beneficial owner.
External firms or organisations may conduct audit or quality checks on our practice from time to time. They may wish to audit, or quality check your file and related papers for this purpose. It is a specific requirement imposed by us that these external firms or organisations fully maintain confidentiality in relation to any files and papers which are audited/quality checked by them. Your files may also be reviewed in a due diligence exercise relating to the sale or transfer of all or part of our business, the acquisition of another business by us or the acquisition of new business. If you do not wish your file to be used in this way, please let us know as soon as possible.
A copy of this document is also available on request.
We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. If, while we are acting for you, you need advice on investments, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised to provide the necessary advice.
We may be able to provide certain limited consumer credit services where these are incidental or closely linked to the legal work, we are doing for you. This is because we are members of the Law Society of England and Wales, which is a designated professional body.
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 investment advice you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with either of those bodies.
We are included on the register maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority so that we may carry on insurance distribution 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 website at www.fca.org.uk/financial-services-register.
If you specifically instruct us to do so, we will liaise with your Accountants or other professional advisers in relation to investments and other such matters and provide them with such information as is in our possession which relates to you, but you must rely upon the advice given by such other parties and no liability whatsoever will fall upon us in respect of any such advice given.
We will not advise you on any tax matters in relation to the transaction. Again, we will liaise with your Accountants or other professional advisers in respect of any tax matters if you specifically instruct us to do so but you must rely upon the advice given by such other parties and no liability whatsoever will fall upon us in respect of any such advice given.
If we have not met with you, the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 may apply. This means that you may have the right to cancel your instructions to us within fourteen working days of receiving these documents (Matter Engagement Agreement & Terms of Business). You can cancel your instructions by contacting us by post, fax or email to this office. Once you have instructed us to start 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, please sign the Matter Engagement Agreement, and return it to this office by post, fax or email. If we have not met with you, we cannot commence work on your file until we have your signed Matter Engagement Agreement. Acceptance of the Matter Engagement Agreement and Terms of Business will amount to consent to start work on your behalf.
We will usually communicate with you by telephone or email. Our e-mail is unencrypted. Whilst we take all reasonable security measures, there is a risk of interception. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss arising from a third-party gaining access to e-mail between us. We will assume that you consent to the use of e-mail unless you tell us in writing that you do not.
Due to the risk of cybercrime, we will never notify you of a change of bank details by email.
It remains your responsibility to ensure the security of any documentation you send to us by post. Unless we receive such documentation in our offices, we accept no responsibility for its loss or destruction. You may wish, when sending us confidential documents or ones which provide personal data, to send them via registered post or courier, at your expense.
Backhouse Jones is committed to promoting equality and diversity in all its dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our policy.
The firm has policies in relation to bribery, corruption and tax evasion. We have a zero-tolerance approach to bribery, corruption or tax evasion whether undertaken by our firm, our staff, our associates or any of our clients. We reserve the right to decline or terminate your instructions if you instruct us to engage in any of these activities.
After completing the work, we will keep all your papers and documents whilst money is owing to us. We will normally keep our file of papers (except for any of your papers which you ask to be returned to you and for which we may charge you postage) for a minimum of seven years from the date of the final bill when we will securely destroy them. Our privacy notice details how long we keep your papers for and why and can be found at: www.backhousejones.co.uk/privacy-policy/
We will not destroy documents you ask us to deposit in safe custody such as deeds or wills.
We do not make a charge for retrieving stored papers or deeds in response to continuing or new instructions to act for you. However, we may charge you for copying papers that are requested, reading correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions.
You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time. For example, you may decide you cannot give us clear or proper instructions on how to proceed, or if you were to lose confidence in our work.
We are entitled to keep all your client papers and documents while money is owing to us.
We will decide to stop acting for you only with good reason (for example if a conflict of interest should arise, or if you do not pay an interim bill or comply with a request for payment on account) and on giving you reasonable notice.
If the matter does not proceed (whether we are working on a fixed fee or not) we will submit a bill for the work done up to that point in your matter. The bill will be such sum as is reasonable having regard to the amount of work done and will include other expenses we have paid or agreed to pay on your behalf, plus VAT where applicable.
18.1 Queries, Concerns or Complaints
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, or about any bill raised by us, and you wish to make a complaint, please raise the matter first with the person having day to day responsibility for the matter. If that does not resolve the issue to your satisfaction or you would prefer to speak to somebody else, please contact the firm’s client care Director, Andrew Woolfall on 01254 828300 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org A copy of our complaints procedure is available on request or on our website at www.backhousejones.co.uk
If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint most clients can ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider the complaint. The Legal Ombudsman can be contacted at:
PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ
Tel: 0300 555 0333
The Legal Ombudsman can usually only investigate complaints up to one year from the date of the act/omission complained about or within one year of when you should reasonably have known there was a cause for complaint. If you wish to refer your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman this must be done within six months of our final response to your complaint.
If you are unhappy with our charges, you may also be entitled to apply to court for an assessment of the bill we render under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. Unless there are special circumstances an assessment of the bill should be sought within 12 months of the date of delivery. Please note that if all or part of the bill remains unpaid, we may be entitled to charge interest.
18.2 Your Comments and Feedback
We are constantly striving to improve the quality of our service. We would welcome and value any comments whatsoever, good or bad, verbally or in writing, which you can give us at any time regarding the service provided. We certainly regard this feedback as key to our future success. Please direct all comments to Andrew Woolfall, Client Care Director at: Andrew.email@example.com.
If you are unable to attend at our office due to a personal disability or specific requirements, we will arrange to see you at your home or other mutually convenient location upon receipt of such reasonable request. If you are likely to have difficulty in accessing our correspondence or communicating with us or any relevant authorities such as courts or tribunals, please let us know and we will look to make whatever reasonable arrangements that we can to accommodate your needs.
We will provide advice and legal services to you with reasonable skill and care, and we acknowledge that (subject to other exclusions and limitations in this agreement) we will be liable to you for losses, damages, costs or expenses (“Losses”) caused by our negligence or wilful default. Our responsibility shall only extend to the advice and services we provide on matters which you have instructed us on.
We will be reliant upon you for the accuracy of the information or documentation you provide. We will not be liable for any Losses caused wholly or in part by the provision by you of false, misleading, or incomplete information or documentation due to the acts or omissions of any person(s) other than Backhouse Jones. Where you have concerns, it is your responsibility to advise us.
In the event that you are being advised by one of several professionals and a limitation of liability has been agreed in relation to one or more of them, you agree that our liability to you will not be increased due to the limitation of liability agreed by you with other advisers.
Our liability to you for a breach of your instructions is limited to £3,000,000 including interest, legal costs and expenses unless we expressly state a higher amount in the letter accompanying these Terms of Business. 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. Neither will we be held liable for any costs or losses attributable to fraud perpetrated by any person, whether a party to this transaction or not.
We can only limit our liability to the extent the law allows. 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.
The firm holds indemnity insurance. If you require further information in relation to this, including details of our insurer and territorial coverage of the policy please contact the Client Care Director, Andrew Woolfall on 01254 828300 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Where our advice involves an assessment of legal or commercial risk, we will use reasonable efforts to provide you with as accurate an assessment of risk as possible, but you agree to accept any such assessment as an expression of our opinion only and not as a statement of fact. You agree that any decision to rely upon any assessment of risk made by us is solely your responsibility and that unless our assessment is shown to have been made negligently; you agree that we will not be liable to you for any Losses which you may incur as a result of any reliance place by you on such opinions.
These Terms of Business, The Matter Engagement Agreement and the accompanying letter are not intended to create any right enforceable by a person who is not a party to them.
Any dispute or legal issue arising from the Matter Engagement Agreement, the accompanying letter or our Terms of Business will be determined by the law of England and Wales and considered exclusively by the English and Welsh courts. This applies even if you or your business (or any part of it) are resident, domiciled or situated in a Country other than England or Wales or the case concerns persons, organisations or property situate outside the jurisdiction of England and Wales or where we take any steps on your behalf, or incur any liability of expense, outside the jurisdiction of the Courts of England and Wales.
We are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) based at: The Cube, 199 Wharfside Street, Birmingham. B1 1RN. This means we are governed by a Code of Conduct and other professional rules which can be accessed through the SRA’s website at: www.sra.org.uk or by contacting them on 08706062555.
The Matter Engagement Agreement, the letter accompanying it and Terms of Business set out the basis upon which you accept our terms, and unless otherwise agreed, shall apply to any future instructions given to you by this firm. Your continuing instructions in this matter will amount to your acceptance of our terms. Nevertheless, we do ask you please to sign and date the enclosed Matter Engagement Agreement and return it to us straightaway. Please note that we will not be able to carry out any work until we have received this.
We may require you to provide us with access to online filing and monitoring portals and systems (including but not limited to the Vehicle Operator Licensing Service and the Companies House online services) used by your business (Systems) so we can carry out work for you. You agree to: a) provide us with initial and ongoing access to the Systems upon receipt of our written request; b) us amending, uploading and filing information on the Systems on your behalf as an authorised person for your business; c) add or remove any of our employees from such Systems upon receipt of our written request; d) amend contact details, passwords and logins of any of our employees on such Systems upon receipt of our written request; e) make such other additional alterations or changes to the records and access rights on the Systems (upon receipt of our written request) as we deem necessary to enable us to carry out your work (Administrative Actions). You hereby also agree that we may carry out the Administrative Actions ourselves as we see fit without your consent in the event, we have been granted sufficient rights on the Systems (or any of them) by you (either through our own log in or yours). We shall: a) notify you in writing of any such Administrative Actions made by us; and b) remove our employees from the Systems (or any of them) (provided we have access to do this) within 7 days of receipt by us of a written request to do this from you. For the avoidance of doubt, notwithstanding anything contained in this clause, you are responsible for the timely amendments, uploading and filing of all documents and changes on the Systems and all fees, charges, costs, expenses and penalties in respect of the same and hereby indemnify us against all liabilities, costs, expenses, damages and losses (including but not limited to all interest, penalties and legal costs (calculated on a full indemnity basis) and all other reasonable professional costs and expenses) suffered or incurred by us arising out of or in connection with the same.