Terms of Business
|Funds we hold for you||2|
|Terminating the Retainer||4|
|Limitation on Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance||6|
|Equality and Diversity||7|
|Insurance Mediation Activities||7|
|Storage of Documents and Vetting of file confidentiality||9|
|Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013||9|
|Law and Jurisdiction||10|
We organise our work within various Teams. Each of these Teams is supervised by a Head of Department and under his or her direction other fee earners will look after your work either individually or as part of the Team. You will note the name of the Head of Department and other details on the Form of Engagement which is enclosed.
We request you to sign and return the Form of Engagement to signify your agreement to our terms and conditions of business contained in this leaflet and summarised on the Form of Engagement and Client Care Letter, which also summarises the scope of the work that we will carry out for you. We shall then have entered into an agreement and your right to challenge those terms will be restricted. Please let us have your cheque for any monies requested at the same time.
As part of our commitment to excellence in the legal services we provide, we adopt the following standards of service:
- Our communications with you will be in clear language.
- You will be kept regularly updated with progress in this matter, and we will provide you with likely timescales. Even if no progress has been made (for example because no action has been taken by another party involved) the matter will be reviewed regularly and an update given to you by telephone or in writing at least every six weeks.
- We will explain to you by telephone or in writing the legal work required as your matter progresses, we will notify you of any changes in the law having a bearing on your matter, and whenever there is a change in circumstances or risk of which we are aware we will update you on whether the likely outcomes still justify the likely costs and risks.
- Where we have not agreed a fixed fee with you we will update you regularly (and in any event not less than every six months where a matter is protracted) on the cost of the matter.
- Where appropriate we will keep under review how your matter is funded and consider whether there are alternatives.
To enable us to deliver the required level of service, we depend on you to do the following:
- Provide us with clear, timely and accurate instructions.
- Provide in a timely manner all documentation we need to progress your matter.
- In litigation matters, to preserve any documents relating to the matter in dispute (including electronic documents such as emails and text messages) as these are likely to be disclosable during the course of proceedings.
FUNDS WE HOLD FOR YOU
In accordance with the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s Accounts Rules Parker Bullen LLP are required to account to its clients for interest on money it holds in our client account when it is fair and reasonable to do so.
The holding of client money is incidental to the carrying out of clients’ instructions. In addition, we are required to hold client money in an instant access account to facilitate transactions. As a result, the rates of interest paid under this policy are unlikely to be as high as those obtainable by a client.
Interest will be paid where the amount calculated on the balance held exceeds £20. Where money is held in relation to separate matters for the same client we will treat the matters separately, unless the matters are so closely related that they should be considered together.
Where client monies are held in our general client account we will pay interest without deducting tax at source. Our clients will be responsible for declaring any interest to HM Revenue & Customs. Where client monies are held in a designated deposit account, interest is usually paid net of basic rate income tax.
Interest will be calculated on a daily basis using the average rates of interest offered to business customers on instant access accounts across all banking institutions where Parker Bullen LLP holds general client funds. Where appropriate we will adjust these rates to take into account our overall banking arrangements so far as they affect the rates received.
Interest will be calculated on cleared client funds. In the case of cheques received, this will be 5 days after the cheque has been deposited with our bank, and for amounts received in cash, or via credit or debit card, standing orders, BACS and CHAPS, interest will accrue from the day of receipt into our client account. Where Parker Bullen LLP issues cheques from client account, interest will normally be paid 5 working days from the date of issue.
Parker Bullen LLP will normally account to the client for interest at the conclusion of the matter.
The interest policy, including the de minimis limit of £20, will be reviewed periodically, particularly if changes are made to the Bank of England’s Base Rate.
Complaints regarding the application of this interest policy and the amount of interest paid should be directed to the Managing Partner in the first instance. If this does not result in a satisfactory resolution then you may refer the matter to the Legal Ombudsman.
Accounts should be settled within fourteen days. Please note that charge rates do not include VAT which will be added to the bill at the rate then prevailing. Interest will be charged at 8% per annum on bills that are not paid within thirty days of delivery to you. This is a contractual rate of interest and will apply both pre- and post- any judgment we may obtain in respect of unpaid fees. Please note that where costs have been invoiced and remain unpaid we may in certain circumstances exercise a lien on files and deeds for unpaid costs (see also “Terminating the Retainer” below). If you are unhappy with a bill you have the right to object to it and to apply for an assessment of it under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. The Firm has the facility to take payment from clients using Debit Cards.
In circumstances where the Firm is instructed to act for a Company Client the Form of Engagement should be signed by a Director of the Company whose signature will signify his or her agreement that he or she personally guarantees that if the Company cannot meet the Firm’s bill of costs for whatever reason then that Director will personally discharge the account on the same terms as those under which the Company is liable.
Unless otherwise agreed, our charges will be calculated by reference to the time spent by the Fee Earner dealing with the matter. This includes where applicable advising, attending on you and others, dealing with papers, correspondence, telephone calls, travelling and waiting time. Details of the Team and their minimum hourly charge rates are shown on the Form of Engagement. You should note however that these rates may be increased, following their annual review every April. We will notify you if rates change.
In accordance with normal practice, we ask our Clients to put us in funds in advance for payments we incur on their behalf such as Counsel’s fees, Stamp Duty Land Tax, Land Registry fees, Search fees, Court fees, official copy document fees, Probate Court fees and the like. Those applicable in a particular case are listed on the Form of Engagement. Other payments which may not be certain at the outset will be advised to you and your approval sought before they are incurred.
We levy a charge when we are asked to send funds electronically. The scale of charges is as follows:
Disb Admin Fee VAT Total
- Telegraphic Transfer £6.50 £18.50 £5.00 £30.00
- BACS £0.20 £ 8.13 £1.67 £10.00
- FastPay £5.00 £15.83 £4.17 £25.00
A quoted fee assumes your transaction will proceed in a normal way. If, however, any unusual or particularly difficult problem arises which involves work we did not anticipate, you will be advised immediately as the quotation may have to be revised. In the event that a matter, once started, does not proceed for any reason you will be charged an amount based on the number of hours spent on the matter up to the point where our activity ceases plus any payments which have been made on your behalf.
We deliver bills at regular intervals and at least every six months in respect of lengthy matters enabling you to budget for costs. We are sure you will understand that in the event of a payment so requested not being made, we must reserve the right to decline to act for you further and the full amount of work carried out on your behalf to that date will be charged to you.
If you wish, you may set an upper limit on our fees in which case work will cease on your matter when the limit is reached and will not start again until payment is received and a new limit is agreed.
We are happy to agree a budget for our initial work. If we are instructed to undertake further work we would need to make additional charges and we will provide an estimate of what they would be.
We do not, as a rule, carry out any form of publicly-funded work. If however, your matter is to be publicly funded by Legal Aid, please note that should at any time the Legal Services Commission seek to revoke or discharge your certificate through material non-disclosure or inaccurate or misleading information then you will be liable to pay our costs and other disbursements in accordance with these Terms of Business.
TERMINATING THE RETAINER
You may end your instructions to us in writing at any time, and you are entitled to request that we hand over files to you which relate to your matters. Please note however that we reserve the right to keep your papers and documents until any outstanding costs and expenses have been fully paid.
You have a right to cancel the retainer without giving any reason within 14 days of entering into it. Please see the section headed ‘Consumer Contract Regulations 2013’ below.
We may terminate our retainer with you in the event that any of our invoices to you remain unpaid for a period of 30 days.
At the conclusion of the matter and in the event that you are successful, some other party may be ordered to reimburse you in respect of some of the legal costs that you have incurred. It is very rare for an assessment of costs by the court to result in the other party being ordered to pay all of your costs. This is a complex subject which we shall be happy to explain further if you wish. If you lose, you are likely to have to bear the successful party’s costs, which may be substantial, in addition to your own.
At all times Clients are primarily responsible to the Firm for payment of fees, regardless of any Costs Orders awarded against another party. Sometimes it will prove impossible or a very difficult and lengthy process to obtain those costs from the other party (e.g. if they have been made bankrupt). In any of those events we reserve the right to recover our costs from you in full and then to account to you at a later date for any costs recovered from the other party as soon as is reasonably practical after receipt.
We may decide to stop acting for you only with good reason, for example if you do not pay an interim bill or there is a conflict of interest or, acting reasonably we deem your instructions to be unreasonable, irrational or uncommercial. You will remain liable for all fees incurred up to the date of termination.
Probate – Probate Court fees and part of any Inheritance Tax payable are normally payable on the application for Probate. If Building Society accounts form part of the Estate these can sometimes be used to discharge such fees and Tax or, alternatively, a loan may have to be raised from the Deceased’s Bankers. In certain circumstances we have to ask the Executors to provide funds in respect of these disbursements if they cannot be readily obtained from the Estate prior to the Grant.
If for any reason you withdraw instructions before administration of the Estate is complete we will charge you only for the work done up to that point. Depending upon the stage that has been reached this could be a small proportion of the total cost or almost the full amount.
Wills and Powers of Attorney – Payment will be expected on completion of the Will or Power of Attorney or an interim payment eight weeks after draft wills are sent out to you. Certain wills made with Charity or Internet Schemes have a fixed charge quoted under the scheme.
Trust Administration and Income Tax Returns – Fees for such matters will be on an annual or six month basis as agreed with us.
Advice on Trust Matters – Fees will be charged at the hourly rate of the person dealing with the matter.
Fees are frequently agreed in advance in respect of conveyancing matters but we nevertheless ask you to note particularly the right to revise any quotation where unusual or difficult problems, which had not been anticipated, are encountered. In matters which prove abortive we reserve the right to charge you for abortive work based on the following percentages of the estimated fees, according to the stage reached in the transaction when it aborts:
- Searches carried out and pre-contract enquiries raised 50%
- Contract settled and report made to client 75%
- Immediately prior to completion 100%
Generally speaking, however, if you are successful in arranging an alternative sale or purchase within a relatively short period of time, we would not render a charge at the point at which the transaction fails but advise you of the costs to date, and collect such abortive costs when the alternative transaction proceeds.
In certain circumstances relating to commercial property matters of a prolonged nature we reserve the right to render an interim account at certain stages of the transaction, for instance upon exchange of Contracts.
Although we provide a high standard of service to our clients, you may have concerns about either the advice or the service that you receive. Should such a situation arise, you should in the first instance discuss your concerns with the person within the firm who is responsible for the day to day conduct of the matter.
If you prefer, or if you remain dissatisfied having discussed your concerns as suggested above, please write to Giles Bevan-Thomas, Partner, who is based at our Andover office. Mr Bevan-Thomas will investigate your complaint with an open mind and report to you quickly. We are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (“SRA”) (www.sra.org.uk). However any formal complaint about us should be addressed to the Legal Ombudsman either via their website (www.legalombudsman.org.uk) or by post to PO Box 6806 Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ (telephone 0300 555 0333, email: firstname.lastname@example.org). 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 or within six years of the act or omission about which you are complaining occurring (or if outside of this period, within three years of when you should reasonably have been aware of it). A full copy of the Firm’s complaints procedure is available on request.
LIMITATION ON LIABILITY AND PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE
Parker Bullen LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales under registration no. OC349755. The liability of its members, directors and employees is limited to the assets owned by it.
In accordance with our professional rules we maintain professional indemnity insurance against possible claims for negligence. The territorial limit is Worldwide provided that the work is undertaken from an office based in England and Wales. Our insurer is Endurance Worldwide Insurance Limited, 7th Floor, 2 Minster Court, Mincing Lane, London, EC3R 7BB.
EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY
We are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all our dealings with clients, third parties and employees, and we are required to produce a written equality and diversity policy. Please contact us if you would like us to send you a copy of that equality and diversity policy.
In pursuance of this commitment we will not take into account the gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or age of any third party, such as barristers, we instruct, and will cease to act forthwith if a client instructs us to discriminate in this way.
INSURANCE MEDIATION ACTIVITIES
We are neither authorised nor regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”). However, we are included in the register maintained by the FCA so that we can carry on insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the advising on, selling and administration of insurance contracts. The register can be accessed via the FCA website at www.fca.gov.uk.
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 Ombudsman is the independent complaints handling body of the Law Society. If you are unhappy with any insurance advice you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with either of those bodies.
We can provide investment services if they are an incidental part of the professional services we have been engaged to provide. If we consider you need investment advice but we are unable to provide it, we can refer you to an expert who is authorized by the FCA to provide you with that advice. You are, however, entirely free to obtain advice from any other party if you prefer not to consult the party to whom we refer you.
If you ask us to dispose of shares or other investments then we will act in accordance with those instructions but we are unable to provide any advice whatsoever as to whether or not you should dispose of any such investments and you must seek advice from an expert who is authorised by the FCA.
However remote, there is a risk that any of the UK banks with whom we lodge clients’ money (Lloyds Bank Plc, National Westminster Bank Plc and Royal Bank of Scotland Plc) could experience liquidity problems or fail.
- The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (“FSCS”) covers deposits belonging to clients who are individuals or small businesses up to £85,000 per client, per authorised deposit-taking institution. If besides moneys lodged through us, you have other funds deposited with such an institution, the limit of £85,000 will apply to the aggregate of the moneys lodged through us and your other funds. You should bear in mind that some deposit-taking institutions have several brands under which they trade. You should check with your bank, the Financial Services Authority or an Independent Financial Adviser for more information.
- We will not be liable to you in the event of your suffering loss through the failure of a UK Clearing Bank with which we have deposited funds on your behalf.
- In the event of the failure of a bank and a claim being made under the FSCS, then, subject to your prior written consent, we will provide certain client information to FSCS to help them identify you as a client and the amount in our client account to which you are entitled. If you do not authorise us to identify you to the FSCS as a client, you will not be able to receive compensation from FSCS.
- We may need to seek additional funds from you, according to the proportion of the total funds held in a failed bank, if we are to complete transactions for you before you receive compensation from FSCS.
We have become aware that clients of some firms have been tricked into sending funds to the wrong bank account. Parker Bullen LLP will never email you or contact you in any other way asking you to send money to any account other than the firm’s client account, details of which are as follows:
Lloyds Bank PLC 38 Blue Boar Row Salisbury
Account Number: 00551581
Parker Bullen LLP Client Call Account
Sort Code: 30-97-41
If you receive any email communication or telephone call, purportedly from Parker Bullen LLP, that contains a request that funds be sent to any other bank account, please do not comply with that request or engage in any way with the person making the request. Instead, please telephone your contact at Parker Bullen LLP immediately, using the number on our headed notepaper, to alert us to the request. Parker Bullen LLP cannot take responsibility if you transfer money to the wrong account.
DATA PROTECTION IN RESPECT OF MONEY LAUNDERING CHECKS
Any personal data we receive from you for the purposes of our money laundering checks 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 agree that 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.
STORAGE OF DOCUMENTS & VETTING OF FILES AND CONFIDENTIALITY
After completing the work, we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses.
We will keep our file of your papers for the period set out in the Form of Engagement, except those papers that you asked to be returned to you. We keep files on the understanding that we can destroy them upon the expiry of such period following the date of the final bill. We will not destroy documents you ask us to deposit in safe custody.
If we take papers or documents out of storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act for you we will not normally charge for such retrieval. However we may charge you both for:
- Time spent producing stored papers that are requested.
- Reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions in relation to the retrieved papers.
The volume of papers and files we hold necessitates our outsourcing the storage of older files. In order to minimise any possible risk to client confidentiality we use only reputable well established archiving companies with whom we have a confidentiality agreement. If you do not want your file archived in this way please tell us as soon as possible. All deeds are archived in the firm’s strong room on site.
External firms or organisations may conduct audit or quality checks on our practice. These external firms or organisations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files. However you have the right to opt out of having your files vetted by external firms or organisations and if you wish to exercise the right please let us know.
We occasionally have third parties carrying out work for us (such as our IT Consultants, Software Consultants and our contract temps). We will always seek a confidentiality agreement with these outsource providers.
CONSUMER CONTRACT REGULATIONS 2013
The information we are required to give you by the Consumer Contract (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 (“CCR”) is contained in these terms of business and in our letter confirming to you the scope of our instructions.
The CCR provide that where you agree to the service starting before the expiry of the cancellation period, your cancellation rights cease once performance of the service has begun. Our standard Form of Engagement includes a statement that you agree to the service starting at once.
Right to cancel
You have the right to cancel this contract within 14 days without giving any reason.
The cancellation period will expire after 14 days from the day of the conclusion of the contract.
To exercise the right to cancel, you must inform us of your decision to cancel this contract by a clear statement sent to Parker Bullen LLP, 45 Castle Street, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP1 3SS (fax 01722 411822) or to the individual fee earner’s email as notified to you.
To meet the cancellation deadline, it is sufficient for you to send your communication concerning your exercise of the right to cancel before the cancellation period has expired.
Effects of cancellation
If you cancel this contract, we will reimburse to you all payments received from you.
We will make the reimbursement without undue delay, and not later than 14 days after the day on which we are informed about your decision to cancel this contract.
We will make the reimbursement using the same means of payment as you used for the initial transaction, unless you have expressly agreed otherwise; in any event, you will not incur any fees as a result of the reimbursement.
If you requested to begin the performance of services during the cancellation period, you shall pay us an amount which is in proportion to what has been performed until you have communicated us your cancellation from this contract, in comparison with the full coverage of the contract.
LAW AND JURISDICTION
Any dispute or legal issue arising in connection with our retainer shall be determined according to the Law of England and Wales, and the Courts of England and Wales shall have exclusive jurisdiction.
|Parker Bullen LLP
45 Castle Street
Tel: 01722 412000
Fax: 01722 411822
|Parker Bullen LLP
8 Newbury Street
Tel: 01264 400500
Fax: 01264 355957