TERMS OF BUSINESS
Please read the following Terms and Conditions which will apply to all work carried out for you on the file(s) referred to on the Authority to Act which accompanies this document.
Our normal office hours are 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. We may be able to arrange appointments outside these hours in cases of emergency. We are closed on all bank holidays.
- Treat you fairly and with respect
- Communicate with you in plain language
- Review your matter regularly
- Advise you of any changes in the law that affect your matter
- Advise you of any reasonably foreseeable circumstances and risks that could affect the outcome of your matter.
- Provide us with clear, timely and accurate instructions
- Provide all documentation and information that we reasonably request in a timely manner
- Safeguard any documents that may be required for your matter, including documents that you may have to disclose to another party.
- Update you by telephone or in writing with progress on your matter regularly or as agreed with the person in charge
- Explain to you by telephone or in writing the legal work required as your matter progresses.
- Update you on the likely timescales for each stage of this matter and any important changes in those estimates. Whenever there is a material change in circumstances associated with your matter, we will update you on whether the likely outcomes still justify the likely costs and risks.
- Update you on the cost of your matter at the intervals set out in our letter confirming your instructions. If appropriate, we will continue to review whether there are alternative methods by which your matter can be funded.
We will usually communicate with you by letter, telephone or email. If you wish to meet with the person in charge of your matter please telephone the office where they are based to make an appointment. You will find their telephone number, office and email address at the top of the letter accompanying these Terms and Conditions.
Whilst we take every reasonable precaution, email, as with other systems of communication, cannot be guaranteed to be secure. Although we maintain sophisticated virus detection systems, we cannot guarantee against viruses and so any attachment received by you from us should be scanned with up-to-date virus detection software of your own. We will not be responsible for any loss or damage caused to a client’s computer, other hardware or software, resulting from a transmission sent by us.
We cannot absolutely guarantee the security of information communicated by email or mobile phone. Unless we hear from you to the contrary, we will assume that you consent for us to use these methods of communication.
It remains your responsibility to ensure the security of any documentation that you send to us by post. Until we receive such documentation in our offices, we accept no responsibility for its loss or destruction. You may wish, when sending us confidential documents or ones which provide personal data, to send them via registered post or courier, at your expense.
We use a secure, private, third party UK cloud service provider to back up all data.
Solicitors are under a professional and legal obligation to keep client business confidential. We will not pass any personal data to a third party without your express written authority unless it is necessary for the conduct of your case (for example to instruct Counsel or a mortgage provider). However, the obligation to keep client business confidential is subject to statutory exceptions. We are also required by law in certain child protection cases to report any concerns we have to the authorities.
If you are purchasing a property or business with the aid of mortgage finance then it is usual that we will be instructed to act on behalf of the mortgage company as well as on your behalf. In such cases we are under a duty to report to the mortgage company any specific requirements that they may have together with anything which comes to our attention during the course of the transaction which may affect the mortgage company’s valuation or decision to lend. Accordingly, by signing and returning the Authority to Act you are confirming that we may report any such details to the mortgage company.
Recent legislation on money laundering and terrorist financing has placed solicitors under a legal duty in certain circumstances to disclose information to the National Crime Agency. Where a solicitor knows or suspects that a transaction on behalf of a client involves money laundering, the solicitor may be required to make a money laundering disclosure. If this happens, we will not be able to inform you that a disclosure has been made or of the reasons for it because the law prohibits “tipping-off”. Where the law permits us, we will tell you about any potential money laundering problem and explain what action we may need to take.
Sometimes we ask other companies or people to undertake work on our files, such as photocopying, typing or posting correspondence to ensure that it is carried out promptly and in the most cost efficient manner. We will always seek a confidentiality agreement with these outsourced providers. If you do not want your file to be outsourced please confirm this in writing to the person with conduct of your matter.
External firms or organisations such as the Law Society may conduct audit or quality checks on our practice from time to time. They may wish to audit or undertake quality checks on your file and related papers for this purpose. It is a specific requirement imposed by us that these external firms or organisations fully maintain confidentiality in relation to any files and papers which are audited or quality checked. Your files may also be reviewed in a due diligence exercise relating to the sale or transfer of all or part of our business, the acquisition of another business by us or the acquisition of new business.
If you do not wish your file to be disclosed to external auditors please confirm this in writing to the person with conduct of your matter.
Everys is registered as a data controller with the Information Commissioner’s Office, which is the regulator for data protection and we have nominated John Grace as the firm’s representative.
Using Your Personal Information
Personal Information which you supply to us may be used in a number of ways, for example:
- Advising and acting on your behalf
- Promotion of our services
- Maintaining our accounts and records
- Supporting, training and managing our staff.
- Complying with our professional, legal and regulatory obligations.
We may, if relevant to your instructions, share your information amongst others with barristers, medical experts, private investigators, healthcare professionals, social and welfare organisations, courts and tribunals, government departments and agencies, and financial advisors. Generally this information is shared in order to assist you with your instructions, although we may also share it with professional bodies that audit or regulate this firm or where it is necessary to do so by law.
We rely upon our legitimate interest as your legal advisors to process the data that we hold about you and in providing you with details of our other services which may be of benefit to you. We will not write to you with details of any third party services nor will we pass your details onto anyone outside of Everys solicitors or Everys Investment Management without your consent save for where we outsource work (see paragraph7).
For further information on how your information is used, how we keep your information and your rights to access the information we hold, please see our privacy notice at www.everys.co.uk
Updating Your Data
You are responsible for notifying us of any changes to your data, such as a change of your address or email details etc. You should notify the person dealing with your matter immediately should there be any change to the data listed in the above section headed Personal data we collect about you
We may, from time to time, send you information that we think might be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive that information, please notify John Grace in writing or by email email@example.com.
Everys is committed to providing legal services to all clients regardless of age, disability, gender, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race (including ethnic origin, colour, nationality and national origin) religion or belief (including philosophical belief), sex or sexual orientation. Similarly, when instructing Counsel or others who provide services for clients, Everys will not discriminate on any of the grounds referred to above. This means, for example, that if you instruct us to employ a particular barrister or service provider and we have reasonable grounds for believing that your choice is based solely on the grounds referred to above, we will ask you to modify your instructions in so far as they are given on discriminatory grounds. If you refuse to modify such instructions Everys will cease to act for you. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our Equality and Diversity Policy.
We are required by law to obtain satisfactory evidence of identity of all our clients and sometimes those related to them before we can undertake any work. Our leaflet “Proof of Identity” explains this requirement in more detail. A copy will be provided to you at the commencement of the matter. We reserve the right to refuse to act for you if we are not satisfied as to your identity.
Everys will undertake electronic identity and/or anti-money laundering verification checks on all individuals and companies that the firm represents, together with such other related parties to whom the firm is required to pay monies. We will not do this where the related party is represented by another recognised professional body subject to the Money Laundering Regulations. This service, for which there will be an administrative charge of £6.00 (£5.00 + VAT) per check, is utilised to verify the ID documentation provided, personal identification and address. This is not a credit check and will only leave a ‘soft-footprint’ on an individual or company’s credit file with a Credit Reference Agency.
The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) is US legislation designed to ensure that US citizens disclose their worldwide income to the US tax authority. The FATCA regime requires certain financial institutions to identify and report (to HMRC) payments made to a specified US person, or a non-US entity with one or more persons with control who are specified US persons.
In certain limited circumstances in order to comply with the law we may have to share some of your information, including your FATCA status and, if applicable, your Global Intermediary Identification Number (GIIN), with financial institutions. It may also be necessary in limited circumstances for us to report payments to HMRC which we will explain further should the need arise.
13. STORAGE OF DOCUMENTS
We will store deeds and documents on your behalf without charge unless we consider it unnecessary, inappropriate or excessive in quantity. We will give you reasonable notice if we require you to remove your deeds and/or documents or if we plan to introduce a charge for their storage.
We follow Law Society guidelines with regard to the period we keep files and working papers relating to completed matters (which, with the exception of most minor cases, are never less than six years from completion of the case). Please ask the person with conduct of your matter if you wish to know the relevant timescale applicable to your file. After expiry of the appropriate period we will usually destroy your file. In addition to retaining a paper file some or all of your papers and documents will also be stored electronically.
If we take your file out of storage, in relation to continuing or new instructions to act for you, we will not normally charge for the retrieval. However we may charge you for retrieving and copying papers that are requested, reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions in relation to the retrieved papers.
If you do not wish your file to be destroyed after the appropriate period please confirm this in writing to the person with conduct of your matter.
Should you require us to obtain the whole or part of a file that we have placed in storage and upon which we are not required to carry out further work we will, at our absolute discretion, charge £10.00 +VAT.
Everys Solicitors is committed to providing high quality legal advice and client care. If for any reason you are unhappy about any aspect of the service you have received or about the bill, you should first raise the problem with the person with conduct of your matter or their supervisor. You will find their contact details in our initial letter to you.
If you feel that the problem has not been resolved satisfactorily you should contact our Complaints and Client Services Manager, John Grace at 5, Heron Gate Office Park, Hankridge Way, Taunton, TA1 2LR, Tel 01823 362890. Your complaint will be investigated, at no cost to you, in accordance with Everys’ Complaints Procedure, a copy of which will be provided to you upon request.
If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider your complaint. The Legal Ombudsman can be contacted at PO Box 6806 Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ Tel – 0300 555 0333 E-mail – enquiries@ legalombudsman.org.uk. The web address is www.legalombudsman.org.uk. 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). Generally, the Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints relating to acts or omissions that happened after 5 October 2010. However, the Legal Ombudsman may not deal with a complaint about a bill if you have applied to the court for assessment of that bill.
Alternative complaints bodies such as ProMediate exist which are competent to deal with complaints about legal services should both you and this Firm wish to use such a scheme. At present we do not agree to use ProMediate or any other such body.
The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints by consumers and very small businesses. This means that some clients may not have the right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman and you should refer to them for clarification where appropriate. Even if you are not entitled to make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman it does not prevent you making a complaint directly to us about the service you have received or the bill.
Some of the financial aspects of the work we carry out for you will be incidental to the legal work of the firm and are not therefore mainstream regulated activities and will be conducted in accordance with the rules contained in the SRA Handbook. If you have a complaint about a non-mainstream regulated activity you should follow the procedure set out in the first two paragraphs of this section.
You may end your instructions to us in writing at any time, but we can keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses. We can only stop acting for you with good reason and we must give you reasonable notice of our intention to do so. If you, or we, decide that we should stop acting for you, you are liable for our charges up until that point. These are calculated by reference to our initial letter to you that accompanies these Terms and Conditions.
We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority in relation to either consumer credit or investment advice services. If, while acting for you, you need advice on investments, we may refer you to someone who is authorised to provide the necessary advice.
We may, however, provide certain limited consumer credit services where these are incidental to, or limited investment advice services where these are closely linked to, the professional services we provide. This is because 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 consumer credit services you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with the SRA or Legal Ombudsman.
18. INSURANCE MEDIATION ACTIVITY
We are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for regulated activity, including insurance mediation activity. Our Insurance mediation activity is, broadly, the advising on and arranging of insurance contracts. Our entry in the register of the Financial Conduct Authority can be accessed at https://register.fca.org.uk/.
Where insurance mediation activity is part of the legal work that we carry out for you, we are supervised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and this includes arrangements for complaints or redress if something goes wrong.
When calculating our costs in respect of the work we do for you the underlying principle is that the charges should be fair and reasonable, taking into account:
- The work done
- Its importance to you
- The value of the property or assets dealt with
- The urgency and/or complexity of the matter
- The time spent.
We will confirm by letter the method by which our costs will be calculated for your matter.
In most cases we will ask you to pay a sum of money at the outset of the matter on account of our costs and/or the expenses to be incurred. If we do not ask you to place us in funds to cover payments made on your behalf at the outset of the matter, we may ask you to reimburse us as the expense is incurred.
Should you decide to instruct another firm for whatever reason, they we reserve the right to invoice you for all outstanding work. If you have instructed us on a fixed fee basis, then we reserve the right to invoice you for a proportion of the work we have done on your behalf. This maybe up to and including the full fixed fee.
Where applicable, VAT will be added to the amount of our charges. Our VAT number is 141 098 876.
If we have not agreed a fixed fee with you at the outset we will give you an estimate or guide in advance. If it is not possible to tell what the overall cost will be at the outset, we will provide you with as much information as we can together with regular updates as the work progresses. You may ask us, at any time, to let you know the amount of costs and other expenses incurred to a given date, and also to give you the best forecast we can of the further costs that will be incurred. We will agree with you at the outset of the matter how often we will send you an account. We can also agree with you a ceiling figure and/or review dates.
Our policy is to only accept payment in cash up to £250.00. If you circumvent this policy by depositing cash direct with our bank we reserve the right to charge for any additional checks we deem necessary regarding the source of the funds. Where we have to pay money to you it will be paid by cheque or bank transfer. Payments by bank transfer or which involve a conversion into foreign exchange will incur a fee, details of which are available on request. We will only make payment to a third party if we have your express written authority to do so and we are satisfied as to their identity.
Please be aware that we do not notify changes to important business information, such as bank account details, by email and neither will we accept any bank account details received via email.
We hold all client money in HSBC Bank PLC which is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). We are not liable for any losses you suffer as a result of any such banking institution being unable to repay depositors in full. You may, however, be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
The FSCS is the UK’s statutory fund of last resort for customers of banking institutions. The FSCS can pay compensation up to £85,000 if a banking institution is unable, or likely to be unable, to pay claims against it.
The FSCS (including the temporary high balance scheme) will apply to qualifying balances held in our client account. In the unlikely event of a deposit-taking institution failure, we will presume (unless we hear from you in writing to the contrary) we have your consent to disclose necessary client details to the FSCS.
You are liable to pay the legal costs and expenses as set out in our letter confirming your instructions and all bills should be paid in full by you upon delivery unless we have agreed with you otherwise in writing. If all or any part of our bill remains unpaid after 30 days we may charge interest on the outstanding balance, including other expenses. Interest will be charged at the statutory rate applicable to judgement debts currently 8%) plus 2% unless otherwise agreed with you. This rate changes from time to time.
Our bill may be paid by cheque made payable to Everys or by bank transfer. You may also pay by debit or any credit card with the exception of American Express by telephoning our Accounts department on 01404 540990.
We may cease acting for you if an interim bill remains unpaid after 30 days or if our reasonable request for a payment on account of costs is not met.
You have the right to challenge or complain about our bill. Please see the ‘Complaints’ section above for details of how to complain about our bill.
You have the right to challenge our bill by applying to the court to assess the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. The usual time limit for making such an application is one month from the date of delivery of the bill. If the application is made after one month but before twelve months from delivery of the bill, the court’s permission is required for the bill to be assessed.
Unless there are special circumstances, the court will not usually order a bill to be assessed after 12 months from delivery of the bill, where a judgment has been obtained for the recovery of the costs covered by the bill or the bill has been paid, even if this is within 12 months.
We can keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses.
If there is any aspect of our bill with which you disagree, in the first instance please discuss your concerns with the person with conduct of your matter.
If your concerns cannot be resolved to your satisfaction you have the right to challenge our bill by applying to the court for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. The usual time for making such an application is one month from the date of delivery of the bill. If the application is made after one month but before twelve months from delivery of the bill, the court’s permission is required for the bill to be assessed.
Even if a third party has agreed, or been ordered to pay, the fees and other expenses incurred on your behalf you will remain personally liable should that third party not pay when the money is due.
25. PAYMENT OF INTEREST
Any money received on your behalf will be held in our client account. Where we consider it fair and reasonable to do so, we will pay you a sum in lieu of interest on money held in our client account. The rate of interest may change from time to time but is unlikely to be as high as interest obtainable had you held and invested the money yourself. To cover our administration costs no payment in lieu of interest will be made to you if the amount of interest received by us is £50 or less (except in some circumstances where, for example, substantial sums of money are held for lengthy periods of time).
26. PUBLIC FUNDING
If you consider that you may be entitled to legal aid to cover the costs of being advised or represented, you should let us know at the first interview and we will consider whether an application is possible. If we are working for you under public funding you will be separately advised as to the detailed assessment procedure and you will also be advised of the effect of the statutory charge.
27. ABORTIVE TRANSACTIONS
If the matter does not proceed (whether we are working on a fixed fee or not) we will submit a bill for the work done up to that point in the matter or transaction. The bill will be such sum as is reasonable having regard to the amount of work done, and will include other expenses we have paid or agreed to pay on your behalf, plus VAT where applicable. We do, however, offer an abortive transaction scheme to residential conveyancing clients only
28. DEDUCTION OF FEES AND EXPENSES AND LIEN
If we hold money on your behalf we will usually deduct any outstanding fees and other expenses from such sum before making payment to you. We are also entitled to retain all papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses, this is called a lien.
We have professional indemnity insurance giving cover for claims against the firm. Details of this insurance, including contact details of our insurer and the territorial coverage of the policy, can be inspected at our office or made available on request.
Our liability for any negligence or breach of contract arising from your matter or transaction, including interest, legal costs and expenses, is limited to the amount for which we are required to be insured (except where such limitation is excluded by law) by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority. The current limit which is so required is £3,000,000 per claim. If you are in any doubt as to whether such a limit is sufficient to cover your potential losses from any negligence or breach of contract on the part of Everys or its agents you should contact the person in charge of your matter immediately to discuss it with you. Agreeing a higher limit on our liability may result in us seeking an increase in our charges for handling your matter.
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 profit or opportunity. Neither will we be held liable for any costs or losses attributable to fraud perpetrated by any person whether a party to this transaction or otherwise. We can only limit our liability to the extent the law allows. In particular, we cannot and do not limit our liability for personal injury or death caused by negligence.
30. LEGAL RESPONSIBILITY
The partners of Everys collectively assume legal responsibility to you for all the work carried out on your behalf by partners and employees of Everys.
All solicitors have a professional duty to uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice. If your matter involves court proceedings we must comply with our duties to the court, even where this conflicts with our obligations to you.
This means that we must not:
- Attempt to deceive or knowingly or recklessly mislead the court
- Be complicit in another person deceiving or misleading the court
- Place ourselves in contempt of court
- Make or offer payments to witnesses who depend on their evidence or the outcome of the case
- We must also comply with court orders that put obligations on us and ensure that evidence relating to sensitive issues is not misused.
32. FUTURE INSTRUCTIONS
Everys Solicitors are converting to a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP). This will make no difference to the way in which your matter is dealt with by us and we will continue to be regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and all rights and benefits set out above will still apply. By signing this agreement you are agreeing to your matter or matters being transferred to the LLP at the time it commences trading along with all your liabilities, documentation, data or other items which are in the possession of the partnership at the time of the conversion.
34. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Everys Solicitors is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority (SRA), The Cube, 199, Wharfside Street, Birmingham, B1 1RN no. 49465. This means that we are governed by a Code of Conduct and other professional rules which can be accessed through the SRA’s website www.sra.org.uk or by contacting the SRA on 0870 606 2555. Services relating to insurance and financial services provided by our Investment Management Department are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) no. 120379. The rules applicable to these services are contained in the FCA Handbook which can be accessed through the FCA website www.fca.org.uk or by contacting the FCA on 0845 606 1234. The Law Society of England and Wales 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 SRA is the independent regulatory arm of the Law Society. The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints about lawyers.
Any dispute or legal issue arising from our terms and conditions will be determined by the law of England and Wales. This applies even if you or your business (or any part of it) are resident, domiciled or otherwise situated in a country other than England and Wales, or the case concerns persons, organisations or property situated outside the jurisdiction of England and Wales, or where we take any steps on your behalf, or incur any liability or expense, outside the jurisdiction of the Courts of England and Wales. Both parties agree to submit to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the Courts of England and Wales.