It is our clear intention at all times to seek and adhere to your instructions; ascertain the relevant facts; afford thoughtful advice; anticipate future issues; make timely progress; relate developments promptly; and keep you informed as to costs.
Conduct of Your Affairs
We will indentify the fee earner having day to day conduct of each matter you place in our care and the solicitor in overall supervision. If you become unsure about these important matters, please do not hesitate to ask for written confirmation. It is sometimes necessary to transfer the conduct of a matter from one fee earner to another, either temporarily or permanently. You will be advised if this occurs. We appreciate it is desirable to minimise these occasions.
We aim to maintain fullest possible contact with our clients. It is a practice rule that all your calls should be returned without avoidable delay. Do please remember, though, that our resources are finite and that it is not always within our power to discuss your case immediately. We have a strict regime for message taking and you are encouraged to leave detailed messages if you cannot be put straight through to the person you require.
We are duty bound to keep your affairs confidential and ordinarily we do not reveal your name or any information relating to the matter in hand, save to the extent necessary to fulfil your instructions. However, unless specifically instructed to the contrary, we shall assume responsibility on your behalf for waiving confidentiality in circumstances where we judge it to be in your interest. Please also note paragraph 19 below.
This practice has developed almost exclusively by reputation. If you are satisfied with our level of performance and mention us to others, please tell us or ask that your name be given so that we may express our thanks.
To provide a service of the highest standards in a changing world, it will always be necessary to strive for improvements. We therefore welcome constructive ideas.
Please note that we surrendered our franchises for Legal Aid work some time ago, having found it uneconomic. We do not therefore now offer any services under Legal Aid.
It is of vital importance to our good relations with you that there is a clear understanding of the costs that may be involved in our work for you and how they are calculated. Whilst it is not always possible to be precise, our intention is to afford the best guidance we can in any given circumstance. For further guidance, please refer to Costing Terms below. Sometimes we can provide free or fixed fee interviews by arrangement, particularly at an introductory stage. On occasion, we also participate in nil or low cost advice schemes.
For certain non-contentious work, we intend to provide written estimates to which we always try to adhere. Nevertheless we have to allow for the possibility of unforeseen events rendering work unprofitable at an originally estimated figure and we therefore include with our estimates a list of parameters that might give rise to subsequent revision. We undertake to give advance warning of any change to an estimate, at which point instructions can be withdrawn if you choose.
In other kinds of work, particularly litigation, it may be impossible to provide a single clear estimate. In these circumstances our costs are calculated in accordance with a specific categorisation according to the fee earner(s) concerned. This will involve an hourly rate of charge which will be confirmed in writing at the outset. Please note that the hourly rate is subject to reasonable increase from time to time, to the extent justified by market forces.
The “proportionality” of costs is a vital consideration and will be constantly reviewed. You will wish to bear this in mind as well and should not hesitate to mention the subject whenever it seems appropriate to do so.
Security for Costs
We reserve the right to seek from you initially, or at any later stage in a matter or case, a reasonable payment on account of costs and disbursements to be incurred by you or on your behalf.
We also reserve the right to recover our costs from monies held or received on your behalf in our client account in appropriate circumstances.
We can arrange for payment of fees by instalments in some cases. However you should be aware that our invoices are generally payable on delivery. If payment becomes overdue, we reserve the right to charge interest at the court rate from the date of the invoice. We would not normally do so in the event of payment within a calendar month.
As a rule, litigation carries with it a risk of expense beyond your own solicitors' costs in the event of failure (or someone else's success). This is because of a usually discretionary power of the court or other forum to award all or part of the costs of one party against the other.
We would not generally encourage litigation unless we consider there to be, on the facts and evidence presented to us, an excellent prospect of success.
We will give timescales where appropriate and in any event upon request. It is often not possible to accurately predict the course of a matter but you may seek from us at any stage an updated indication.
Limitation of Liability
Our liability in contract and for negligence is covered by professional indemnity insurance to a limit of £2m. We accept instructions only upon the strict understanding that there is no acceptance of liability beyond the level of such insurance cover.
It is appropriate that you should retain your case or matter papers for so long as these are likely to be of any use. We have archiving facilities by arrangement for particular purposes. For the retention of deeds and wills, we make no charge. We reserve the right to impose a reasonable fee for chargeable work usually carried out by a fee earner, such as retrieving documents from a file at the request of a client.
You are cordially requested to raise any cause for dissatisfaction with the person responsible for the day-to-day conduct of your matter or case. Difficulties might arise from a relatively simple misunderstanding or a lapse in communication which can easily be remedied.
Ultimately, or in the event of serious concern, you should not hesitate to write or speak personally to the Principal.
Our problem solving procedures follow the professional rules of the Law Society, the Solicitors Regulation Authority and/or the Legal Complaints Service. They provide a way for us to address grievances. It is almost certainly in your own best interests to exhaust our procedures before taking other measures.
We will furnish you with a copy of our formal Complaints Handling Procedure, if you notify us of any grievance or otherwise wish to see it.
It is our duty to refer you to other solicitors upon recognising any conflict of interests.
Proceeds of Crime
We are duty bound to check your identity in certain circumstances. We also have a legal obligation to report suspicious circumstances to the National Crime Information Service. We would consider open to question the intended provision in cash of any sum in excess of £1,000.00.
If any unforeseen circumstance arises which in our reasonable opinion either prevents us from continuing to act in a satisfactory manner or requires that, in your own best interests, we cease to act, then we reserve the right to terminate your retainer with or without an introduction or recommendation to solicitors who might be able to represent you in our place. In such event costs incurred with us to the date of termination would be reduced by 25%, but VAT and disbursements would be payable in full.
Insurance Mediation Activity
We are included on a register maintained by the FSA so that we can carry on insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the advising on, selling and administration of insurance contracts. This part of our business, including arrangements for complaints or redress if something goes wrong, is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the FSA website at www.fsa.gov.uk/register.
We are not authorised under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, but we are able in certain circumstances to offer a limited range of investment services to clients because we are members of the Law Society. We can provide these investment services if they are an incidental part of the professional services we have been engaged to provide.
Investment Service Complaints
If you have any problem with an investment service provided by us for you, please let us know, so that we can try to resolve it quickly, if necessary through our formal Complaints Handling Procedure. If for any reason we are unable to resolve the problem between us, then we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority which provides a complaints and redress system.
Basis of Charging
Unless otherwise clearly indicated in writing, work performed by us on your behalf is costed according to the time spent by the fee earner and/or solicitor in charge of your case or matter at the rate of charge specified in your estimate and client guide.
Units of time are calculated in minimum increments of 3 minutes and the hourly rate is pro-rated.
Where an estimate of overall costs has been provided to you, any departure from the estimate will be in accordance with notes accompanying the estimate.
As a general rule, we would only exceptionally depart from estimated costs where fully justified by circumstances. Our intention is to provide prior written notification of any increase.
Care and Conduct Uplift
We no longer apply any percentage increase in fees for special circumstances or high value matters or cases, as a general rule.
We reserve the right to do so exceptionally, but only where this is expressly agreed with the client at or before the commencement of our retainer, or subsequently.
Sometimes known as "no win, no fee", the conditional fee arrangement is an option which we will only consider in certain limited circumstances.
Estimates are given on the understandings mentioned within them and are generally accompanied by written qualifications, which should be studied with care. Unless otherwise stated, any estimate given will be before VAT and disbursements, for which, therefore, allowance should also be made.
As a rule, our estimates set out VAT and disbursements clearly in addition to our own fees, although sometimes it is not possible to foresee or predict the need for, or the precise amount of, payments to others on your behalf.