This memorandum explains the basis on which we will carry out our work with you from the date that you receive this document. The memorandum applies to all of our work with you, and will be supplemented in respect of specific transactions or matters by a Costs Information Sheet.
As from 1 April 2010 all work the Firm does for its Clients is governed by these terms and conditions and any agreed written variation.
Ashworths Solicitors LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales under registered number OC351692.
Its registered address is The Old Exchange 12 Compton Road Wimbledon London SW19 7QD.
Your relationship is solely with Ashworths Solicitors LLP, and the LLP has sole legal liability for the work done for you and for any act or omission in the course of that work. No member, consultant or employee of the LLP will have any personal legal liability for that work whether in contract, tort or negligence. In particular, the fact that an individual member, consultant or employee signs in his or her own name any letter or other document in the course of carrying out that work does not mean he or she is assuming any personal legal liability for that letter or document.
We use the word ‘partner’ to refer to a member of the LLP, or an employee or consultant with equivalent standing and qualifications.
No reference to a ‘partner’ is to imply that any person is carrying on business with others in partnership for the purposes of the Partnership Act 1890.
Nature of our work and scope of retainer
The nature of the work that we carry out for you and the scope of our retainer will be set out in the Costs Information Sheet.
Please be aware that we may be able to give basic tax advice if specifically requested to do so, but we are unlikely to have sufficient detail of your financial affairs to be able to advise whether the work that we are undertaking is tax efficient. If you have any doubt about the taxation aspect of the work that we are carrying out it is recommended that you speak to your accountant or other tax adviser.
We are not planning lawyers and we will never provide advice about the likelihood of you achieving planning consent for a particular project or scheme.
We are not able to and will never provide financial advice.
People responsible for your work
The Costs Information Sheet that we send you from time to time will set out details of who will be dealing with your work from time to time. It will also confirm their status and give details of who supervises their work. The person who deals with your work is referred to as your Case Handler.
You have the direct dial telephone number for your Case Handler. If they are unavailable, please leave a message on their voicemail or with a secretary. You also have their direct email address.
We will try to avoid changing the people who handle your work but if this cannot be avoided, we will inform you promptly who will be handling the matter (and why the change was necessary).
Charges and expenses
Charging Policy – Non Fixed Fee
At the outset of a matter, we will have been able to agree as far as possible the work which we are to undertake on your behalf and will give you an estimate of the total time which we think this will take, and the total charges which we envisage will apply, including any disbursements (ie. payments to be made to third parties in connection with its work) to the extent that we are able to do so. Please note that our quotation is set out in the Costs Information Sheet.
You may at any stage set an upper limit for the amount we are able to charge you, by notice in writing to us. Once we have done work whose value is up to that limit, we will cease to do any further work, unless you authorises us to proceed.
Charging Policy – Fixed Fee
In some cases, it may be more appropriate for us to agree a fixed fee with you. In such a case the amount charged will not vary accordingly to the amount of work done. This is contained in the Costs Information Sheet.
The Costs Information Sheet will identify if a fee is only payable upon the successful completion of the matter. In any event all disbursements incurred to date are payable by you whether or not a matter proceeds to a successful completion.
If any unexpected extra work becomes necessary, we will agree with you what the nature and extent of that work is, and the reasons why it is outside the scope of what it originally agreed. We will give a supplementary estimate of the likely costs of the extra work and agree with you before commencing the work. If we cannot reach an agreement we will not be able to carry out the extra elements. If that prevents progress being made with the main work, and that has to cease, we will be entitled to be paid for the work done to date according to the above principles.
Charging Policy – Non-Contentious Work
Our charges for non-contentious work will be governed by the Solicitors’ (Non-Contentious Business) Remuneration Order 2009 which provides for Solicitors’ remuneration to be “fair and reasonable”. A copy will be supplied on request.
Where non-contentious business is particularly complex or involves substantial value or responsibility there may be an additional element in the fee to reflect this.
Charging Policy – Contentious Work
Following the issue of court proceedings charges are governed by the Solicitors Act 1974 which provides for the Court in the event of adjudication to decide what charges are reasonable, a procedure known as taxation.
In all other cases prior to the issue of court proceedings charges are governed by the principles set out above.
If successful in litigation, the Firm’s Client may be entitled to recover costs from the other party to the proceedings. However, the Court’s taxation of these costs rarely results in a full recovery by the successful Client. In those circumstances Clients are responsible for the payment for any shortfall to the Firm. If the other party is funded by the Legal Services Commission (formally “Legal Aid”), no costs are likely to be recovered.
Costs awarded against the other party may attract interest from the date of the Court’s order to the extent that the Client has paid the Firm’s fees and disbursements, the Firm will account to the Client for any interest paid by the other party, but will otherwise be entitled to retain it.
The Client may be liable for his or her own costs even if they are 100% successful.
The amount recovered from the opponent will be taken to discharge the Firm’s costs before being paid to the Client.
If the Client withdraws from the action he or she will be responsible for their own costs as well as those of their opponent.
If the case is funded by an insurer the Firm is under a duty to report the prospects of success and as a result of that report funding may be withdrawn.
A costs order does not mean automatic recovery of the Client’s costs as the opponent may not be able to pay and enforcement proceedings will then cost extra.
The Client is liable for their opponent’s costs in addition to their own costs even if he or she loses.
Where the opponent makes a payment into Court of part of the Client’s claim, if that payment is not accepted and the final judgment is for the same amount or a lesser amount, then the Client will have to pay the opponent’s costs from the date of payment in addition to the Client’s own costs.
From time to time we may incur additional disbursements that are not anticipated when preparing the Costs Information Sheet. Typical examples would include courier fees or additional Land Registry fees if we need to renew a search or examine other titles. We will always try to advise you beforehand of this additional expenditure but by its very nature it will not always be possible to do so. In any event, however, we will need to pass these costs on to you.
Sometimes we will also need to pass on the cost of carrying out electronic identification checks (as detailed in the Money Laundering section below).
Fees for Incidental Services
In addition, we charge a fee for providing other incidental services such as sending same day payments, retrieving old files and preparing Stamp Duty Land Transaction Returns. These charges are set out below (although they may not be appropriate to this particular transaction):
– Domestic same day transfer £35.00 plus VAT
– International bank transfer £50.00 plus VAT
– Preparation of SDLT Return £50.00 plus VAT
– Retrieval of old file £30.00 plus VAT
– Returned payment £20.00 plus VAT
– Multiple incoming payments £35.00 plus VAT
Please note that these charges may not reflect the actual cost or charge to the firm.
We will inform you if any unforeseen extra work becomes necessary – for example, due to unexpected complexities or difficulties or if your requirements or the circumstances change significantly during the matter. We will also inform you in writing of the estimated cost of the extra work before incurring extra costs.
If this firm does not complete the work (usually because the transaction proves to be abortive), we will charge you for the work done and expenses incurred. The charge will be based on the time spent carrying out your instructions. Time spent on your affairs will include meetings with you; considering, preparing and working on papers; correspondence; and making and receiving telephone calls.
In the event that we need to charge on this basis we will charge you the hourly rate as set out in the Costs Information Sheet. In the event that your Case Handler is assisted by a colleague you should be aware that the hourly rate for different grades of case handler does vary. We will advise you of the appropriate hourly rate in this event.
Routine letters and routine telephone calls made and received will be charged in units of 1/10th of an hour. Our charges for considering routine letters received will be in units of 1/20th of an hour. Other letters and calls made and received will be charged for on a time basis.
On 1 April each year the hourly rate will be reviewed (to take account of changes in our overheads) and we will notify you in writing of any increased rate. If you have any query about the revised rates, please contact your Case Handler straight away.
We will discuss with you how you are to pay for our charges and expenses.
The Costs Information Sheet will set out the amount that we need from you before commencing work on your behalf. We will then pay expenses as they become due. We may request further payments on account of expenses as the matter progresses. These amounts will be shown as paid on your final bill.
We are able to accept funds from you by cheques (made payable to
Ashworths Solicitors LLP
), by electronic banking or by credit or debit card payment. Please telephone us for our bank details or if you wish to pay by credit or debit card (although we are no longer able to receive funds “on account” using a credit or debit card). Please note that a surcharge may apply to card payments.
We will pay you interest on sums that we hold on your behalf in our clients account at a rate of interest 0.25% lower than the rate that we obtain from our bank and only where the amount exceeds £20. Interest that is retained by is used to defray our administration costs in running the clients account.
Where the Bank of England base rate is 0.25% or lower we will not be able to pay you interest on the sums that we hold on your behalf. In the event that our bankers charge us for holding your funds (which may well happen if interest rates fall below 0.25%) then we reserve the right to charge a client account administration charge of £35.00 plus VAT for each transaction that we run through our client account (which charge may not reflect the actual cost or charge to the firm).
We are undertaking work on your behalf which is regulated work, as defined by the legislation governing money laundering, we will be obliged to carry out identity checks on you. We would ask you for your co-operation in this regard, if we are unable to complete these checks we will not be able to carry out works on your behalf.
It is important that you should understand that, in certain circumstances, the legislation referred to above may oblige us to report suspicions involving possible money laundering transaction to the authorities.
If, as a result of us complying with the terms of this legislation, we would be obliged to do, or refrain from doing, anything in relation to your work, then we shall not be liable for any consequence of that.
In accepting these Terms of Business you hereby authorise us to carry out electronic identity checks against your name(s). The fact that these checks have been performed may be disclosed in registered maintained by Credit Reference Agencies.
Assessment of risk
We are required to give you our initial assessment of any unusual level of risk or uncertainty for you in this matter. We will confirm the level of risk when confirming our fees on the Costs Information Sheet.
From time to time it is necessary to put in place a Legal Indemnities Insurance Policy to cover certain risks (such as the enforcement of restrictive covenants or the absence of buildings regulation consent). When this is the case we will discuss it with you. Should a policy be required we are happy to act on your behalf in arranging it.
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 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 Law Society. The register can be accessed via the Financial Services Authority website at www.fsa.gov.uk/register.
We select products from a limited number of insurers depending on the type of policy that is being arranged. We are not contractually obliged to conduct business in this way. Please ask us for a list of insurers.
We will usually send you a bill for our charges and expenses prior to the completion of the above transaction. Payment of the bill is due on or before completion.
If sufficient funds are available on completion and we have sent you a bill, we will usually deduct our charges from the funds.
If you do not pay our bill on completion payment is due to us within 28 days of our sending the bill to you. If you do not pay the bill within this time, we will charge you interest on it at 9% per year on a daily basis from the date on which payment of our bill is due.
If you have any query about the bill, you should contact your Case Handler straight away. The complaints procedure (below) applies to queries about your bill, and you may also have the right to object to your bill by applying for it to be assessed under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974.
Despite our best efforts we may make a mistake, by which we mean any breach of our duties to you. If we do, and are liable to compensate you, you agree that our liability is limited in the following respects:
- It is the LLP that is liable, not an individual partner or member of staff; the Client agrees to make no claim against any individual except for fraud;
- Our maximum liability for any mistake (except for fraud) is £3 million (unless a different amount is agreed with you in writing);
- This overall limit applies whether the mistake affects just one piece of work we do for you or several, so long as it is the same or similar mistake;
- For the purpose of the overall limit, more than one mistake on a matter or transaction is considered as one mistake;
- We are liable for loss that we directly cause and for any indirect or consequential loss or loss of anticipated profit or other benefit where that total liability does not exceed £3 million. Otherwise we have no liability for any indirect or consequential loss or loss of anticipated profit or other benefit;
- We are not liable to the extent that our mistake results from something you do or fail to do (such as giving us the wrong information, or not giving us information at the time we ask for it);
- If others are also responsible for your loss, our liability is limited to its fair share, whether or not you are able to recover the rest from the others. These limits apply to the extent that they are permitted by law. We cannot, for example, avoid full liability if our mistake causes death or personal injury. If we think we have made a mistake we have no liability for any breach of our duties unless you let us know in writing about the mistake within 24 months of becoming aware of it, and starts any legal proceedings about it within 12 months of giving the Firm that written notice.
Data Protection Privacy Notice
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, data protection law and our duty of confidentiality.
Please note that our work for you may require us to pass on such information to third parties such as expert witnesses and other professional advisers, including sometimes advisers appointed by another party to your matter. We may also give such information to others who perform services for us, such as typing or photocopying. Our practice may be audited or checked by our accountants or our regulator, or by other organisations. We do not normally copy such information to anyone outside the European Economic Area, however we may do so however when the particular circumstances of your matter so require. All such third parties are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files.
You have a right of access under data protection law to the personal data that we hold about you. We seek to keep that personal data correct and up to date. You should let us know if you believe the information we hold about you needs to be corrected or updated.
The person responsible for data protection in this firm is Brendan Dean.
Data Protection in Respect of Money Laundering Checks
We may receive personal data from you for the purposes of our money laundering checks, such as a copy of your passport. These will be processed only for the purposes of preventing money laundering and terrorist financing, or as otherwise permitted by law or with your express consent.
You consent to us retaining such data for longer than the five year statutory period, unless you tell us otherwise.
Data Protection – Your Obligations
If you send us personal data about anyone other than yourself you will ensure you have any appropriate consents and notices in place to enable you to transfer that personal data to us, and so that we may use it for the purposes for which you provide it to us.
We may from time to time send you information which we think might be of interest to you (for example about legal developments or our other services). If you do not wish to receive that information please notify us, preferably in writing.
Storage of papers and deeds
After completing the work, we are entitled to keep all your papers and documents while money is owing to us. 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 sixteen years and on the understanding that we have your authority to destroy the file sixteen years after sending you our final bill. We will not destroy documents you ask us to deposit in safe custody.
We reserve the right to make a charge for retrieving stored papers or deeds in response to continuing or new instructions to act for you.
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 you may lose confidence in our work.
We are entitled to keep all your papers and documents while money is owing to us.
We will decide to stop acting for you only with good reason and on giving you reasonable notice.
If you or we decide that we will stop acting for you, you will pay our charges on an hourly basis and expenses or as stated in any separate correspondence.
Raising queries or concerns with us
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 our bill, please take them up first with your Case Handler. If that does not resolve the problem to your satisfaction or you would prefer not to speak to your Case Handler, then please take it up with our client care partner who is Brendan Dean.
All firms of solicitors are obliged to attempt to resolve problems that clients may have with the service provided. It is therefore important that you immediately raise your concerns with us. We value you and would not wish to think you have any reason to be unhappy with us. We are required to inform you however that we do operate a formal complaints procedure, a copy of which is available upon request.
If you are not satisfied about our own handling of your complaint you can ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider the complaint. Their address is PO Box 6806 Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ (Tel: 0300 555 0333). 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.
What we ask from you
Your responsibilities to us include:
- Providing us with clear, timely and accurate instructions;
- Providing us with all documentation required to complete your matter in a timely matter;
- Following our instructions regarding the execution of documents;
- Reading our reports on title and other advice and raising any issues with us before entering into a binding contractual obligation to proceed;
- Safeguarding any important documents that we send to you;
- Advising us of any changes in your circumstances.
Your continuing instructions will amount to your acceptance of these terms of business and there is no need to sign anything to say that you have received them.
We hope that by sending these terms to you we have addressed your immediate queries about the day-to-day handling of your work and our terms of business. However, if you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact your Case Handler.