Terms of Business
The complete legal service
1 - OUR SERVICE TO YOU:
- We will offer you a meeting with the lawyer who will be responsible for dealing with your file.
- We will inform you of the name of the supervising partner who is responsible for your overall relationship with us.
- We will communicate with you in plain language.
- We will communicate with you in the way you prefer.
- We will update you regularly with progress on your matter.
- We will explain to you the legal work required as your matter progresses.
- When you contact us you can expect a response, or an acknowledgment to inform you of the timeframe for a full response, within one working day.
- If the issue is time sensitive or you tell us you need a response in a particular timeframe, we will endeavour to meet your requirements.
- We will provide you with an estimate of the likely costs of your matter at the outset and will update you 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 inform you at the outset of the matter on the likely timescales for each stage and will update you if there are any important changes to these estimates.
- We will continue to review whether there are alternative methods by which your matter can be funded.
2 - YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES
- You will provide us with clear, timely and accurate instructions.
- You will provide all documentation required to complete the transaction in a timely manner.
- You will let us know straight away if anything changes.
- You will notify us if you have any important time limits.
- You will safeguard any documents that are likely to be required for discovery.
3 - TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS
In these Terms and Conditions of Business references to “the Firm”, “we”, “us“ or “our” are references to Alan Simpson & Co Solicitors and any successor or assignee. Alan Simpson & Co is a sole practitioner practising in England and Wales its registered office at Mill Court, 19 London Hill, Rayleigh, Essex, SS6 7HW.
4 - YOUR LAWYER
We will arrange for a solicitor with the relevant expertise and seniority to deal with your affairs and will advise you of his/her name and contact details. There may be instances where certain routine work can be carried out more cost effectively and just as efficiently by a junior solicitor or paralegal under the close supervision of the supervising Solicitor.
We place great importance on ensuring continuity. However, we will keep you fully informed of any change in the people dealing with your affairs, should a change become necessary.
5 - OFFICE HOURS
Our office hours are Monday to Friday 9:00am to 5:30pm. Saturdays 9:00am to 12:00noon.
If you wish to contact us outside of these times, you can email us, and we will respond promptly at the start of the next working day.
6 - BANK DETAILS
Alan Simpson Client Account
Lloyds Bank PLC,
78 High Street,
Sort Code: 30-96-94
Client Account: 00303889
Our solicitors’ client bank account details will not change during the course of a transaction and we will only provide these to you by hard copy. Please verify our client account details either directly with the Solicitor or otherwise as necessary before sending any funds.
Please be vigilant with any requests for or notifications of change of bank account details or general requests for account details and if in doubt do not transfer funds until checking with this firm. We will not accept responsibility or liability or loss arising from funds being sent to an incorrect account.
7 - CONVEYANCING QUALITY SCHEME
The Practice of Alan Simpson & Co is an accredited member of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme, CQS number 02123. The scheme is designed to improve the transparency of transactions, raise service levels and provide better communication and a more efficient process. To achieve this we need your authority to enable us to share information with other parties involved in this transaction and any related chain of transactions.
8 - TRAINING
All our staff are trained in areas relevant to your needs. All lawyers are kept up to date with recent changes in the law and our other staff are trained to make dealing with us as effortless and smooth a process as possible.
9 - EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY
We are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all our dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our equality and diversity policy.
10 - CONFIDENTIALITY
We are under a professional and legal obligation to keep affairs of the client confidential. We will only disclose information given to us by you if you agree to us doing so (whether expressly or impliedly) or if we are compelled to disclose it by a court order or other legal requirement.
In order to comply with its statutory requirements, the Firm operates an anti-money laundering reporting procedure. If the Firm forms a reasonable suspicion that you (or any other party involved in this matter) are involved in money laundering or hold the proceeds of crime, the Firm is required by law to make a report to the National Crime Agency (NCA) without advising you that we are doing so. The Firm is also prohibited from confirming or denying that a report has been made. These requirements override the Firm’s duty of confidentiality to the client. Proceeds of crime are assets or income that have been acquired through some illegal activity, for example drug trafficking, non-payment of tax, or fraudulently obtaining benefits. If a report is made to NCA, the Firm must stop work on the matter until it is authorised to proceed. Any fees, disbursements and expenses incurred in complying with the above will be charged to you. The Firm does not accept liability for any consequential losses arising as a result of complying with its statutory obligations.
There are also other situations where we may need to provide information about you or your affairs to a third part, such as our accountants, our bank our professional indemnity insurers or the SRA.
If you would prefer to withhold consent, work in your file will not be effected in any way. Since very few of our clients do object to this, we assume that we do have your consent unless you notify us to the contrary. We will also assume, unless you indicate otherwise, that consent on this occasion will extend to all future matters that we conduct on your behalf.
Please contact us if we can explain this further or if you would like us to mark your file as not to be inspected.
11 - DATA PROTECTION
We use the information you provide for the provision of legal services to you and for legal and regulatory compliance. Our use of that information is subject to your instructions and consent, The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (EU) 2016/679 and our duties under the Solicitors Regulation Authority Rules. Our work for you may require us to give information to third parties, such as expert witnesses and other professional advisers, if so we will first seek your express consent. You have the right of access to the personal data that we hold about you. You may withdraw your consent to specific use of your data at any time subject to our compliance with the SRA Rules (see s.15).
12 - INITIAL ADVICE
We may agree to meet with you on a “fixed fee” basis if you are unsure about whether or not we will be able to help and would like to have an informal meeting before instructing us. This will need to be agreed in advance.
13 - USE OF OTHER PROFESSIONALS
When needed, we will arrange with your agreement and consent for other professionals to assist with your case. These may be, for example, Barristers, Surveyors, Interpreters or Enquiry Agents. Although we take great care in selecting the appropriate professional, we cannot be responsible for their conduct of matters that are under their control.
14 - INSTRUCTIONS
When you instruct us in relation to a new matter, transaction or case, we will normally send you an engagement letter, together with a supplemental letter or email confirming your instructions, although if you have instructed us before, we may not send you the formal engagement letter again. The terms of any engagement letter, supplemental letter or email and these Terms and Conditions of Business will together form the contract between us in relation to that matter, transaction or case. If you are arranging for any other person to pay our fees and expenses, you must ensure that they are aware of all the terms of the contract between us.
Your contact is with Alan Simpson & Co Solicitors. There is no contact between you and any fee earner, employee or consultant of the Firm. Any advice given to (or other work done for) you by a fee earner, employee or consultant of the Firm is given (or done) by that person on behalf of the Firm and not in his or her individual capacity and no such person assumes any personal responsibility to you for the advice or other work.
Where we are instructed by more than one person, firm or firm to represent their legal interest those instructions will be considered to be joint and several unless another arrangements is agreed in writing between us. By joint and several we mean that responsibility for communicating with us and for paying our fees rests with each of you individually as well as collectively. This also means that we are entitled to take instructions from one of you on behalf of each client.
15 - WILLS, DEEDS, PAPERS, DOCUMENT STORAGE & RETENTION
Upon completion of a matter all documents and other material provided by the clients for the purposes of the work undertaken will be returned upon request. Clients may store documents in the Firm’s safe, which will be held until the client requests their return. No charge is made but the Firm cannot accept responsibility for loss of or damage to any items stored.
General correspondence prepared or received by the Firm during conduct of the matter will be retained and stored, in accordance with SRA Guidance for a period of Seven Years, after which time it will be destroyed without further reference to the client.
Should a Will or other legal document be signed elsewhere than on our premises, we will provide you with the necessary information as to how the document is to be signed and witnessed. If you fail to act on the written directions and this results in the document becoming defective, we accept no liability for any consequences that stem from such defects.
We will automatically register your will with Certainty the National Will Register (https://www.nationalwillregister.co.uk/). There is no additional fee for registration but if you do not wish for your will to be registered then please let us know.
16 - CRITICAL DATES
Once your matter, transaction or case is completed, we cannot accept an on-going responsibility for reminding you of critical dates relating to matters such as rent reviews, lease renewals, the exercise of options or the service of notices within time limits unless we have current and specific written instructions from you to deal with them prior to the critical date.
17 - CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
In your interest, and to avoid potential conflict of interest, you should ensure that the lawyer responsible for your matter is advised of your full and correct name and address and, in the case of corporate clients, the registered office and registered number of the firm and, in the case of partnerships, the names of the partners or members and the business address. All material information in relation to a matter should be given at the earliest opportunity to the lawyer responsible so that we can check that we are not prevented from acting for you because of earlier instructions from an interested party.
18 - IDENTITY
The law requires solicitors to obtain 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 need to obtain and record evidence of your identity before any work is undertaken. In order to do this we require you to bring two forms of identification (one photographic (e.g. Passport) and one showing your address (e.g. utility bill or bank statement)) to our office so that we can photocopy it for our records. We are required to keep this evidence of identity for at least seven years following completion of any work we are undertaking for you.
There may be rare occasions where we feel it necessary to undertake additional online identity checks. By instructing us or continuing to instruct us, you give your permission for us to carry out these searches, and agree to pay the cost of them to a maximum of £30.00 plus VAT per person.
19 - INTEREST
Our policy on interest arising from holding client monies is available on request.
Where you obtain borrowing from a lender, we will request the lender to forward the advance to us prior to the completion date to ensure that cleared funds are available in time for completion. You should note that the lender may charge interest from the date of issue of the funds.
20 - FINANCIAL SERVICES
Occasionally our work for you may involve investment. We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and so may refer you to someone who is authorised to provide the necessary advice. However, we can provide certain limited services in relation to investments, provided they are closely linked with the legal services we are providing to you, as we are members of The Law Society of England and Wales, which 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 investment advice you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with either of those bodies.
21 - CHANGE OF ADDRESS
Any change of your address should be notified to the lawyer responsible for your matter as soon as possible. Your address for all purposes, including correspondence and service of notices, shall be the initial address notified to us by you unless you notify us otherwise.
22 - FEEDBACK
We believe in continuous improvement and encourage feedback from our clients. If you feel there is any way by which we can improve our service, please let us know. We may ask you to complete a client satisfaction survey at the completion of your mater.
23 - FEES
Where fees are fixed at the commencement of a matter this will be recorded in writing. In the absence of a written agreement the amount of the agreed fees will not be binding upon the client or the Firm.
When fees are not fixed the fee earner with conduct of the file will, in appropriate cases, provide clients with an estimate or forecast of the fees likely to be incurred in the matter, but such estimate shall not be binding on the Firm. The fee earner will then inform the client before the fees incurred exceed the amount estimated. Clients may impose an upper limit on the amount of fees that can be incurred without reference to them. Where fees are calculated by reference to the amount of time spent, consideration will also be given to the amount of money involved, the complexity, urgency or novelty of the matter, the degree of specialist knowledge required and any other relevant considerations. To the extent that time is a factor, the hourly rate is based upon the seniority and experience of the fee earner dealing with the matter. Rates may increase periodically.
Where fees are based wholly or partly upon a percentage of the value of the transaction, the rate of likely fees will be known to the client at the commencement of the transaction.
In all of the above cases, the Firm will maintain an accurate record of all time spent on each matter and will, if requested, provide the client with details of the time spent.
Alan Simpson & Co Solicitors reserves the right to charge for work done and expenses incurred in matters that either do not proceed to completion or our retainer is terminated for whatever reason.
Fees are subject to VAT at the current rate. Agreed fees and estimates will be exclusive of VAT and disbursements unless otherwise clearly stated.
All disbursements paid by the Firm on behalf of clients will be charged either immediately or in the next invoice for the matter.
The Firm may require payments on account by clients before paying certain disbursements. In some circumstances we may require money on account to begin work on your matter. We will advise you accordingly if monies are required.
Some disbursements are subject to VAT.
Disbursements will usually include travel expenses, Court fees and invoices for outside services incurred on behalf of the client. The Firm retains the right to also charge in exceptional cases some of the Firm’s own expenses such as photocopying, binding, fax and telephone expenses. Such expenses will be invoiced as disbursements in addition to the fees for legal services.
Where sums are transferred by CHAPS to enable funds to be available, an administration fee of £40.00 plus VAT will be charged by us for this service.
When accepting instructions to act on behalf of a limited firm, we may require a Director and/or controlling shareholder to sign a form of personal guarantee in respect of the charges and expenses of this Firm. If such a request is refused, we will be entitled to stop acting and to require immediate payment of our charges on an hourly basis, and expenses, as set out earlier.
24 - CASH
We are not able to accept cash of £1,000.00 or more on any matter, whether in a single payment or a series of payments. There are exceptions to this rule where partners in the Firm act as Executors and Attorneys.
25 - CARD PAYMENTS
Alan Simpson & Co Solicitors accepts payments by debit and credit cards
26 - PUBLIC FUNDING
This firm does not carry out Publicly Funded work. You have chosen to instruct this firm and pay on a private basis. You should inform this firm if your financial circumstances change, which may entitle you to receive public funding.
27 - VALUE ADDED TAX (VAT)
VAT will be charged on all fees and disbursements as appropriate. Our VAT number is 583 1137 48.
If you are VAT registered, we will supply to you, on request, copies of any disbursements invoices against which you may reclaim the input VAT.
28 - PAYMENT OF INVOICES
All invoices are payable upon receipt. If payment is not made within 30 days of receipt, the Firm will be entitled to charge interest on fees outstanding at 4% above the base rate of Lloyds Bank from time to time. Where an invoice is not paid within this time, the debt will be passed to the Firm’s debt recovering team for collection.
If fees are unpaid after 30 days then Alan Simpson & Co will add an administrative charge of £50.00 plus VAT to the bill to take account of the administrative expenses incurred in recovery of bills.
If payment of fees or disbursements (whether on account or otherwise) or VAT is not made in accordance with these terms, the Firm may terminate the retainer with the client or cease to act for the client in relation to that matter.
29 - FEES ON ACCOUNT
We may ask you to pay sums on account of fees and disbursements to be incurred. Any such money paid to us will be held in our client account until an appropriate invoice is delivered to you in the case of fees or until it is necessary to pay a disbursement. We will be entitled to transfer money held on your behalf from our client account in order to discharge outstanding fees arising as a result of invoices delivered to you or disbursements incurred.
30 - INTERIM BILLS
Unless otherwise agreed, or unless matters are completed prior to that time, it is our practice to submit periodic interim bills.
31 - LIENS
We are entitled by law to retain any money, papers or other property belonging to you that properly come into our possession pending payment of our fees, whether or not the property is acquired in connection with the matter for which the fees were incurred. This is known as a “general lien”. We are not entitled to sell property held under a lien, but we are entitled to hold property, other than money, even if the value of it greatly exceeds the amount due to us in respect of our fees.
32 - COMPLAINTS
If you are ever dissatisfied with the service provided or the fees that we have charged and feel that you need to speak to someone other than the lawyer who has been advising you, please telephone or write to the Principal of the Firm, Mr Alan Simpson. Our detailed complaints procedure is available upon request.
If the complaint is not resolved to your satisfaction and you wish to involve an outside body, then you can contact the Legal Ombudsman service by telephone on 0300 555 0333, by post to PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ, or by email to email@example.com. In normal circumstances, the Legal Ombudsman expects you to allow us eight weeks to try to resolve your complaint before contacting them. The time limit for making a complaint to the ombudsman is within six months of receiving a final response from us, and within six years of the date of the act or omission or within three years from when you should reasonably have known there were grounds for a complaint. For more information on complaints procedures, you can download the Legal Ombudsman’s leaflet called “Making a Complaint” from the Legal Ombudsman’s website at www.legalombudsman.org.uk.
33 - LIMIT OF LIABILITY
We will use reasonable skill and care in providing services to you. Any advice we give is for your sole use and does not constitute advice to any other person who may rely on it.
We accept liability without limit for death or personal injury caused by our negligence or by the negligence of any fee earner, employee or consultant of the Firm and for any other liability which, by law, we cannot exclude.
You agree that, to the extent permitted under any applicable law, if, as a matter of law, a duty care or any other duty, liability or obligation would other be owed to you by any fee earner, employee or consultant of the Firm, that duty is excluded and you agree that you will not bring any claim, whether on the basis of breach of contract, tort (including without limitation, negligence), breach of statutory duty or otherwise howsoever against any fee earner, employee or consultant of the Firm in respect of any loss or damage that you, or any person, firm or firm associated with you, suffer or incur, directly or indirectly, in connection in any way with any advice given to or other work done for you. Accordingly, any claim that you wish to make can only be made against the Firm and not against a fee earner, employee or consultant of the Firm.
In relation to any loss or damage you suffer as a result of a breach by us of our contractual obligations to you or as a result of our negligence, our total aggregate liability shall in no circumstances exceed £3m, being the level of our standard professional indemnity insurance cover. However, we may from time to time agree a lower liability cap with you on a case by case basis. 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.
34 - INSURANCE MEDIATION
This firm is not authorised by the Financial Services Authority. However, we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Services 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 www.fca.org..
35 - LAW SOCIETY & SRA
The Law Society is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 but responsibility for regulation and complaints handling has been separated from the Law Society’s representative functions. The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory body of the Law Society and the Legal Complaints Service is the independent complaints handling body of the Law Society.
36 - TERMINATION
You may terminate your instructions at any time (subject to these Terms and Conditions of Business) on notice in writing. We may also withdraw from acting for you, but normally will only do so for professional reasons or arising from your failure to comply with these Terms and Conditions of Business.
We will render an invoice to you which will become payable in accordance with these Terms and Conditions of Business for all work carried out up to or in consequence of the conclusion of our contract with you.
37 - RIGHT TO CANCEL
Under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, for some non-business instructions, you may have the right to withdraw, without charge, within seven working days of the date on which you asked us to act for you. However, if we start work with your consent within that period, you lose that right to withdraw. Your acceptance of these Terms and Conditions of Business will amount to such a consent. If you seek to withdraw instructions, you should give notice by telephone, e-mail or letter to the person responsible for your work. The Regulations require us to inform you that the work involved is likely to take more than 30 days.
Under the Cancellation of Contracts made in a Consumer’s Home or Place of Business Regulations 2008, you may have the right to cancel your instructions without charge within seven days by giving notice in writing. The Regulations apply where you have given us instructions to act for you either during a visit by us to your home or place of business, or where you instruct us during an excursion that we have arranged. However, if we start work with your written consent within the seven day cancellation period, we may invoice you for the work done up to the time of cancellation, at which point the contract comes to an end. If you wish to cancel your instructions in accordance with the Regulations, you should do so by writing to us at our business address, marking your letter for the attention of our Principal. Alternatively you may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your notice of cancellation is deemed to be served on us on the date it is sent.
38 - JURISDICTION
Any dispute or legal issue arising from our Terms and Conditions of Business will be determined by the law of England and Wales, and considered exclusively by the English and Welsh courts. If any part of these Terms and Conditions of Business and attached letter is found by the court to be illegal, invalid or unenforceable then that provision shall, to the extent required, be severed and shall be ineffective but without affecting any other provisions that shall remain in full force and effect.
39 - TERMS AND CONDITIONS
By instructing or continuing to instruct us, you are deemed to have accepted these Terms and Conditions of Business. We reserve the right to amend these Terms and Conditions of Business at any time provided we give you prior notice of the proposed change.
Each fee earner, employee and consultant of Alan Simpson & Co Solicitors shall be entitled to the benefit of these Terms and Conditions of Business under the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999, but the contract with you may be varied from time to time or terminated without the consent of any such person.
These Terms and Conditions of Business supersede any prior agreement whether written or oral.
Unless otherwise agreed and subject to the application of the current hourly rates, these Terms and Conditions of Business shall apply to any future instructions given to you by Alan Simpson & Co Solicitors.