ACTING FOR YOU.
This Terms of Business statement sets out the terms under which we will perform services for you.
This statement notice is legally binding, as it creates a legal relationship between us. If you are happy with what it says then we would love to begin working for you. If you are not happy with anything in it we cannot conduct any work for you until we have a formal client care agreement in place. By proceeding you are consenting that you agree to be bound by these conditions. A print version can be obtained from us upon request. We reserve the right to decline to take on any case in our absolute discretion.
1. Scope of Work
We have agreed to provide you with the legal services agreed with you and any additional services outlined in an individual attachment attached to an engagement letter. Our services will be provided according to what your objectives are, the issues involved and the options available to you, together with what we believe is the most appropriate action. Please tell us immediately if your engagement letter and its attachment does not give a complete and accurate idea of the services you expect us to provide for you.
2. About Us
We are a legal advisory paralegal law firm and court advocates. We are staffed and supported by a range of highly trained and qualified legal professionals, with over 30 years academic and practical experience, and we have consulting associates who are qualified and registered lawyers (Legal Executives and Solicitor). However, we are not, and you should not assume, that we are not a high-street solicitors who are regulated by the SRA. Our registered office address as is our main place of business, is located at Edward Street Chambers, 18 Edward Street, Blackpool, FY1 1AB, United Kingdom. Once we have taken on your case and we begin work, then the reference number for your matters will be sent to you. Please quote your name & reference no. in all correspondence and any phone calls. We have chosen to follow the guidance rules and regulations of The Institute of Paralegals, who are based in London. For more information please visit www.InstituteofParalegals.
3. Your Details
In order to do our work properly for you, We will have to record and use the following information about you. You hereby give us your full agreement and authority to use this data for those specific purposes. Please tell us immediately if any of the information we hold is incorrect, incomplete or changes;
The cost of doing the work listed in your engagement letter and attachment will be a fixed fee notified to you. Otherwise we will charge you at the hourly rate notified to you. We will always charge a fee which is fair and reasonable. For ease and simplicity, we charge in units of 5 minutes rounded up to the nearest unit of 5 minutes as appropriate. For example, if a telephone call lasts 15 minutes you will be charged for 15 minutes. If it were to last 17 minutes, you will be charged for 20 minutes. Fees are based on the amount of time taken to complete the work required. However we may charge an additional amount if, for example, members of staff have to work outside normal working hours, or if your matter involves a complex, difficult or unusual aspect, or you are using a PAYG or phased stages payment arrangements. Any fees charged shall include things like advising you, meeting you and others, dealing with papers, correspondence, all telephone calls, text messages, instant online chat, skype meetings, travelling and waiting time, etc.
FOR FOLLOW-ON, HOURLY OR FIXED FEE CLIENTS ONLY (Please disregard this clause number 4 if you are simply using the bronze, silver or gold service): Your matter will be handled by ______________ whose time is charged at £____ per hour. We estimate that this matter will take approximately ____ hours and so the cost will be around £________ if the situation does not change. The situation may change if new matters come to light or unexpected problems or delays are encountered, further advice, consultation or meetings are required. If this happens then we will discuss them with you and gain your permission to continue before incurring any large additional costs in respect of additional work. Fees will be taken from any retainer we have asked you to place with us (deposit against costs). We will not perform any work for you unless there is sufficient retainer/ deposit to cover the costs. You will be advised if you need to make a top-up of this retainer. It is difficult to estimate precisely how many hours of work will be necessary to complete the matter (unless affixed fee arrangement is in place). In this case, our provisional estimate of the overall cost is something in the region of between £______ and £______. We will of course notify you if this provisional estimate changes. Where we give an estimate of fees, you will appreciate that this is only an indication and is not intended to be a fixed quotation. We reserve the right to revise the estimate at any time if it becomes apparent that we will have to spend more time on the matter than was originally envisaged. This figure does not include any costs, court fees, charges or fees we may have to pay out on your behalf in doing the work (commonly referred to as disbursements). We estimate the likely disbursements to be an additional £_______ which you will also have to pay. Please let us know if you want a breakdown of what these are likely to be. If court or application fees have to be paid for your case, we cannot and will not progress your case until any such advised fees have been paid. We will not incur any significant costs beyond the above figure without your prior approval. We may require you to confirm that approval in writing to avoid confusion. We may ask you for a retainer (deposit or payment in advance to commence work) in the sum of £______ which is held on account from your final costs, in order to commence the work for you. You will be notified if this is the case. You may place a limit (ie a maximum ceiling) on the amount of fees to be incurred without your prior approval. If you wish to do so, please tell us in writing. Please note that we will charge you for all the work we do regardless of whether the matter/action or case is successful or not. We are not providing and do not offer a ‘no win no fee’ service. We shall also charge for the work we do whether or not the matter reaches completion. The quoted fixed fee may be reduced if the matter is not completed, but whether it is reduced or not will depend on the reason for non-completion and any reimbursement will be completely at our discretion. If you are using our Online Service, the fees and the service you can expect are shown on our website. All work is payable and there shall be no refunds. This work is classed as bespoke work directly attributable to you and your circumstances. Therefore such services are exempt from the Distance Selling Regulations. By proceeding with us you hereby agree that you will not attempt to circumvent any payments made or due or ask for any refund or chargeback from your payment provider (ie credit/debit card, paypal, Apple Pay etc).
5. Payment of Our Fees
It is normal practice to ask clients to make an advanced payment (commonly known as a payment on account) for costs and disbursements likely to be incurred in the near future. It will be very helpful if you can pay such requests promptly, but if there is any difficulty, please let us know as soon as possible. If we require any retainer (deposit against future costs), we will inform you. This sum will be credited to your account with us and used to pay for costs expended upon your behalf and work to be done by us. We shall deliver bills to you at regular intervals or on request, for the work we do. This should also help you to budget for our costs. We hope you understand that in the event of any payment not being made, we reserve the right to refuse to do any more work for you (either permanently or temporarily). We must also reserve the right to charge for unpaid work already done. Please feel free to discuss this point with us if you want to understand it in more detail. Our bills are normally due on demand. Should we give you extra time to pay this will usually be within 14 days of your receiving them. Interest can be charged on unpaid bills after 14 days. We charge interest at 8% above the interest base rate of Barclays Bank (taking into account that it varies from time to time). Please also note that after ending our contract with you, we are entitled to keep all papers and documents and any winnings we may hold for You, until all Your outstanding bills have been paid.
6. Contact Person
A dedicated link person shall have overall responsibility for the supervision of the services we provide to you. You will be given details of that person.
7. Working on Your Case
Once your case is underway we will keep in touch with you, usually by email or telephone as it progresses. We can give you regular updates without any charge for this service. Any important letters or documents that need to be sent can first be shown to you for approval should you ask. We will endeavour to answer/return your telephone calls and emails promptly. However because of work commitments, both in and out of the office, time with clients, spending time with clients, during the day, your call may not be returned or email answered immediately. The aim is to reply to all calls and messages within 24 hours, but that is just an aim and not a guarantee. Please do not visit our offices without arranging it first. We simply cannot see people without an appointment. We will endeavour to update you with regards to the progress of your case at least once every 28 days (or sooner as need be). Unless matters are urgent, usually not much happens within 14 days or longer. There will be occasions where this may not be appropriate, and we will try to contact you sooner. Please be aware, that sometimes we have no news or report back for you, especially if we are awaiting process from a third party. Also be aware that tempting as it may be to constantly phone or email us to ask about progress with your case, even if you have a fixed fee project, we are obliged to charge you for the extra time taken to handle your extra calls and answering your messages. As your case progresses, it may be helpful to get some assistance from other professionals outside of Direct Legal Services. For example, we might need to involve additional experts who can advise on, and help deal with, certain aspects of the case, or it may become appropriate to instruct a barrister to advise or to represent you in particular court proceedings. We will let you know if it seems appropriate to seek this further assistance and let you have details of who is to be involved. Usually, any advice from these sources will be given in writing, though a meeting between all of us may be arranged if appropriate. You will be responsible for their fees (in addition to our costs), although we will not incur these additional fees without your prior approval.
8. Communication, Suggestions and Complaints
We aim to offer an efficient and effective service to you, and we are confident that we will do so. However, if you are unhappy with any aspect of our service we cannot resolve it between ourselves, then you can always raise the matter as a complaint in writing within 21 days of any dissatisfaction. We have a formal complaints handling system which will be used if we cannot resolve matters to your satisfaction. An explanatory note about the complaints handling system is available upon request. You will not be charged for time spent handling any complaints. We aim to resolve such complaints as quickly and professionally as possible. In order to assist us with the smooth handling of your case, you will need to provide us with full instructions and respond to our requests for information, documents, etc as quickly as reasonably possible. We are able to communicate with you by e-mail as well as by post, fax, and telephone. Unless you tell us otherwise, we will assume that you are happy for us to communicate by e-mail, even though email communications are generally not considered as secure as letters sent through the post. You should take note that all correspondence is sent by the usual method of either first or second-class postage. We will not use registered or recorded mail unless we feel the special circumstance warrants this, or you specifically request recorded delivery and/or use of couriers. You will be responsible for the costs of such extra postage/ carriage costs. At no time will we ever be held responsible for any misdirected, delayed or lost mail.
9. Legal Documents and Case Papers
Until your case is resolved, it is extremely important that you keep safe all and any documents, photos, reports, computer/ data files and papers that could be in any way, possibly relevant to your case. It is equally important for the good handling of your case that we get to see those document, files and papers as soon as possible. If you have not already done so, kindly let us know what items, if any, you have as soon as soon as you can. Once your case has ended then an important question is what to do with any legal documents (court papers, contracts, property ownership documents and leases, etc.) and your case papers (copies of correspondence, file notes etc). You will own all the relevant legal documents and case papers relating to your file. The only case papers you will not own are those created by us for our own internal use in dealing with your matter. When your case ends you will need to consider whether or not you wish to take possession of your legal documents and case papers. We recommend that you do, because we cannot keep your file indefinitely. We will keep your file for five years at most. However please note that security/storage issues may at some point force us to copy all old files electronically, and dispose of the physical versions after copying. This agreement gives us the authority to destroy your legal documents and case papers automatically without discussing the matter with you further. So it is very important that when we finish your case, that you consider whether you want to take your documents and case papers (we may retain an electronic scanned version of them). If you choose to leave them with us you can still ask for them at any time, subject to the above five-year maximum retention policy and the possibility that we may only have retained scanned copies, not the originals. We reserve the right to keep and record copies of all documents and case papers returned. If it becomes necessary to retrieve papers or other items from storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act on your behalf, then we would not normally charge for getting them. However in other circumstances we may make a charge, based on the time spent and costs incurred in retrieving your stored documents and case papers and forwarding them to you. We might also charge for reading correspondence and any other work necessary to comply with your instructions on this issue. You will be required to pay for any postage or transportation costs in advance of our sending your files to you. Please note that can take up to 14 working days to retrieve your stored documents and/or case papers. Please also note that we do not offer a safe custody deposit service. Scanned documents are retained in file form relevant to your reference number, in either a securely locked away ‘hub’ or ‘cloud’ storage facility. If your documents and/or case papers contain important items then you are very strongly advised to take them once your matter is completed. We do not accept responsibility for loss arising to you from the loss of or damage to documents or other items held by us after the completion of your case.
We will always treat your affairs as strictly private and confidential. However please note that in certain limited circumstances, the law obliges us to notify the authorities if we have suspicions that serious criminal activity is taking place or about to take place. This obligation does not cover past criminal activities, in respect of which we can advise in complete confidence. The one exception to this is where we have reason to believe that money-laundering, historic or current child abuse, fraud, homicide or terrorism activities are taking place or have occurred. In such circumstances we would be legally obliged to notify the authorities about our suspicions. We will also release information if we are forced to do so by a relevant court order.
11. Data Protection
The Data Protection Act requires us to advise you that we hold your details on our database and that we may use these details, from time to time, to send you information which we think will be of interest and help to you. We are compliant with the GDPRs (General Data Protection Regulations) and will use your data in the way indicated earlier in these Client Care Terms of Business.
12. Liability Cap and Oher Indemnities
Please note that We always caps liability whether in contract, tort (including negligence), breach of statutory duty or otherwise in respect of any claim or a series of claims which are related, expenses, legal fees and any other costs howsoever arising at £50,000 (fifty thousand pounds).
By proceeding with us you agree that our cap on liability is fair and reasonable having regard to all of the circumstances which were, or ought reasonably to have been, known to you or in your contemplation at the time of any engagement or provision of services by us. It is of course open to you to seek to obtain legal services elsewhere without such limitation.
Our company alone will be responsible for the provision of the services under this agreement. You therefore agree that you will not bring any claim in respect of or in connection with any engagement for the services we provide whether in contract, tort (including negligence), breach of statutory duty or otherwise against any Director, member or employee or consultant or of any company which is connected with us. Any remedies available to you exclude liability for indirect losses flowing from a breach of duty by a member of Our staff. The types of losses excluded include (but are not limited to) loss of business or profits, loss of goodwill and loss of opportunity). In all cases, whether in contract or tort, you have one year from the date of awareness of a loss to bring a claim subject to a long-stop of two years from the cause of action accruing. This exclusion does not apply to any liability which cannot be excluded under the law of England and Wales.
14. Ending This Agreement
You may end (i.e. terminate) this agreement at any time, in writing. You do not need to have or give any reason or advanced warning, although we would like to know if it has been as a result of any obvious misunderstanding or if our service has fallen short of your expectations so we can improve things for the future. Upon receiving a termination notice from you we will automatically issue a bill to you in respect of any unbilled time costs, expenses and disbursements owing to us. Your termination of this agreement does not automatically cancel any unpaid bills or work done but not yet billed for. Any retainer or deposit with us, will be returned to you within 10 days of termination of our Agreement, less any fees or expenses you still owe us. Equally, we are also entitled to terminate this agreement at any time and for any reason without advance warning or giving any reason. If we do so then we will notify you in writing. The main reasons we normally stop acting for a client are when they do not pay our bills; if we can no longer assist them as they need; if we cannot get clear or proper instructions on how to proceed or where the client is abusive, unreasonable or too difficult to work with.
15. Governing Law and Jurisdiction
English law governs the terms of our Terms of Business, and you hereby agree that any dispute arising out of its terms will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.
These Terms of Business last updated February 2018.