TMP SOLICITORS LLP - TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS
- Responsibility and Liability
- Our aim at all times is to supply you, the client, with legal services that are efficient and suitable to your requirements.
We shall exercise due skill and diligence in carrying out work on your behalf. Instructions should be given wherever possible in writing by letter or email. Nevertheless, where verbal instructions are accepted then such instructions shall form the basis of a contract and be subject to charges on the usual basis as set out below.
- We are completely independent and will only act in accordance with your best interests.
- We operate a system throughout our office of insisting that our staff meet certain standards with regard to client care.
We aim to achieve the following:-
- Clients should be informed of all substantive correspondence;
- Telephone calls from clients are to be returned during the course of the same day if at all possible;
- Correspondence is to be dealt with promptly and, wherever possible and appropriate, on the day it is received;
- Letters to clients are to be written in plain, succinct language;
- Appointments are to be given to clients without undue delay;
- Please remind us if you feel we are not keeping to these standards.
- Our responsibilities
- we must always act in your best interest in pursuing your claim for damages and obtaining for you the best possible results, subject to our duty to the court or tribunal;
- we will explain to you the risks and benefits of taking legal action and whether the likely outcome still justifies the likely costs and risks associated with your matter whenever there is a material change in circumstance;
- we will give you our best advice about whether to accept any offer of settlement.
- we will update you by telephone or in writing/email with progress of your matter regularly and/or following agreed events.
- we will communicate with you in plain language.
- we will update you on the likely timescales for each stage of your matter and any important changes in those estimates.
- we will continue to review whether there are alternative methods by which your matter can be funded and/or resolved.
- we will advise you of any changes in the law.
- we will advise you of any circumstances and risks of which we are aware or consider being reasonably foreseeable that could affect the outcome of your matter.
- Your responsibilities
- You must give us clear instructions which allow us to do our work properly;
- you must not ask us to work in an improper or unreasonable way;
- you must not deliberately mislead us;
- you must co-operate with us when asked;
- you must go to court hearings when asked;
- you must pay for costs and disbursements as the case goes on.
- you will safeguard any documents which are likely to be required for disclosure.
- you agree to make payment on account promptly and in any event within 3 days following any request we make to you for payment on account.
- Communication between you and us
- If you feel you want further information or have any concerns about the way in which your case is being handled the solicitor or executive responsible for your case we will be very willing to discuss the matter with you. It is hoped that in this way any concern you may have will be resolved to your satisfaction.
- If you are still dissatisfied you may raise your concerns with our Principal, Jacqueline McGuigan who will investigate the difficulty thoroughly and will report to you in writing. We have an internal complaints procedure and you are
entitled to request a copy of our written complaints procedure at any time. If you remain dissatisfied with our response to your complaint you may raise a complaint with the Legal Ombudsman (see below for details)
- Fees and charges
- Our fees are calculated by reference to the amount of time that we spend in dealing with the matter in question. The charging rates for time spent vary, depending on the seniority of the person involved and the nature of work undertaken. Time spent on your matter will include meetings with you and perhaps others; any time spent travelling; considering, preparing and working on papers; correspondence; and making and receiving telephone calls, sending and receiving emails and texts. Only in very limited circumstances will our charges be agreed in advance. All work is charged on the basis of units where each unit equates to 6 minutes. If a piece of work takes longer than 1 unit i.e. 6 minutes, it will be charged at the relevant proportion of the hourly rate. Routine communications include e-mails out, letters out, telephone calls received and made. Preparation and attendance is charged at the relevant proportion of the hourly rate. Emails in, letters in, faxes in travel and waiting are charged at 1 unit plus VAT.
- Normally due to the nature of the work we undertake it is not possible to provide a fixed quotation. Unless, exceptionally, fees are clearly agreed in writing as being a fixed sum, any indication of likely costs is an estimate only, exclusive of VAT and subject to change as matters progress and the full amount of work becomes apparent.
- The level of fees will be advised to clients on request as matters progress and we shall keep you advised of developments by telephone, email or letter. Figures estimated or quoted will not cover work outside our original instructions, and work that could not reasonably have been foreseen, for which an additional charge will be made. Disbursements such as court fees, medical fees, courier charges, barrister’s fees, travel expenses, photocopy charges will be added to the account.
- Each solicitor or executive will apply an hourly rate to the work. You will be notified of the method of charging at the inception of your case. Sometimes this may be subject to an increase to reflect the value, importance, complexity and/or urgency of particular work and in such cases this will be explained to you.
- Our hourly rates are reviewed annually. In protracted cases this may mean that our hourly rates may be varied as the matter progresses. If so, you will be notified in advance of any such change.
- We may render an additional charge if your instructions mean that we have to work outside normal office hours or on an urgent basis. You will be notified in writing of any increased rate.
- We will add VAT to our charge at the rate that applies when the work is done. At present, VAT is 20%.
- As mentioned above there may be certain other expenses including payments made on your behalf, which you will have to pay. These may include (depending upon the type of case) Court fees, fees for experts‟ reports, barristers‟ fees. VAT is payable on certain expenses.
- We will inform you if any unforeseen additional work becomes necessary (for example due to unexpected difficulties or if your requirements or the circumstances significantly change during the course of the matter).
- You may set a limit on the charges and expenses to be incurred. This means that you must pay those incurred up to the agreed limit without our needing to refer back to you. We will inform you as soon as it appears that the limit may be exceeded and will not exceed the limit without our first obtaining your consent.
- If for any reason your matter does not proceed to completion, we will charge you for work done and expenses incurred.
- It is this firm’s normal practice to ask clients to pay sums of money from time-to-time on account of costs and expenses to be incurred.
- By accepting your instructions to act on behalf of a limited company, if you are a Director and/or controlling shareholder then by signing this agreement you are giving a personal guarantee in respect of the charges and expenses of this firm. For whatever reason, if the company fails to pay costs then you agree to pay the costs personally. If such a request is refused, we will be entitled to stop acting and to require immediate payment of our charges on an hourly basis and expenses as set out earlier.
- You can ask us to apply a cap on costs. If we cap costs then we will need to get your authority to exceed the capped costs if the capped figure is reached.
- What is contentious and non-contentious business?
Non-contentious business is defined in s87 (1) Solicitors Act 1974 as "any business done as a solicitor which is not contentious business".
Work done preliminary to proceedings is non-contentious provided proceedings are not subsequently begun. The keyword is “begun‟. So, for example, if a solicitor takes instructions on a personal injury matter and the parties reach settlement before proceedings are issued, the work is regarded as non-contentious.
Examples of contentious and non-contentious business
- Proceedings actually begun in the County Court, High Court, Magistrates Court, Crown Court and the Court of Protection.
- Proceedings actually begun before the Lands Tribunal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal.
- Proceedings on appeal to the Court of Appeal, Privy Council, and the Supreme Court. Non Contentious:
- Proceedings before all tribunals other than the Lands Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal
- Work done preliminary to the proceedings in contentious matters (above)
Basis of charging in non-contentious business
When charging for non-contentious work, consideration must be given to the Solicitors' (Non-Contentious Business) Remuneration Order 2009 (SI 2009/1931) made on 16 July 2009, which came into force on 11 August 2009 which states;
“A solicitor’s costs must be fair and reasonable having regard to all the circumstances of the case and in particular to—
- the complexity of the matter or the difficulty or novelty of the questions raised;
- the skill, labour, specialised knowledge and responsibility involved;
- the time spent on the business;
- the number and importance of the documents prepared or considered, without regard to length;
- the place where and the circumstances in which the business or any part of the business is transacted;
- the amount or value of any money or property involved;
- whether any land involved is registered land within the meaning of the Land Registration Act 2002;
- the importance of the matter to the client; and
- the approval (express or implied) of the entitled person or the express approval of the testator to—
- the solicitor undertaking all or any part of the work giving rise to the costs; or
- the amount of the costs”
If you object to your bill you must first raise a complaint via our internal complaints procedure. A copy of our complaints procedure is available upon request. You have the right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman at the conclusion of your complaint process. You must make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six years of the date of act/omission or three years from when the complainant should have known about the complaint. Further details of the Legal Ombudsman services can be found here: http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/aboutus/publications.html ; Tel 0300 555 0333; Email:email@example.com
Court Assessment of Costs
In addition you have the right to have your bill assessed by the court under Part III sections 70, 71, and 72 of the Solicitors Act 1974. There are strict time limits for applying for an assessment of costs.
- Quotations and Estimates
- Because of the different types of work we do and because a case may develop in a number of different ways, depending on other people or events outside our control it is not usually possible for us to give a firm estimate of costs at the outset of any job. What we shall do is give you the best indication we can, based on what work we think will be involved and
how much time we expect to have to spend on your case and we will then up-date this information from time-to-time and at intervals of no more than six months.
- If you want to know more about the cost of your case, the lawyer in charge will be happy to discuss the subject with you at any time – you should not feel hesitant about raising the question with us.
- Where an indication of charges is given in advance it is an estimate and is approximate only. It is not intended to be fixed.
- In all cases indications of charges are always given on the assumption that the matter is not or does not become unusually urgent, difficult, protracted, complicated or time consuming.
- Funding of litigation matters
- In litigation matters the person dealing with your case should have discussed with you the following matters. If any have not been discussed with you or have not been considered to your satisfaction then please let us know immediately:-
- whether you are eligible for Legal Aid;
- whether your liability to pay this firm’s costs may be covered by insurance already purchased by you;
- whether your liability for another party’s costs will be covered by insurance already purchased by you;
- whether it is advisable for our costs or the other party’s costs to be covered by after the event insurance;
- whether liability for your costs should be met by some other person (for example your employer or trade union); and
- Whether it may be appropriate for the litigation to be funded by means of a “no win no fee” agreement.
- If you think that any of the above matters apply to you then please let us know.
- Litigation matters
- Although a successful litigant can usually expect to recover costs from the other party (normally about 60% of the costs paid), you should be aware of the following:-
- That you will be responsible for payment of our bills (including our costs and expenses incurred by us) in any event regardless of any Order for costs which may be made against an opponent;
- If you lose your case in a county court action it is probable that you will have to pay your opponent’s costs as well as your own;
- That even if you win your opponent may not be ordered to pay the full amount of your own legal costs and may not be capable of paying what has been ordered;
- Your opponent will not be liable to pay the VAT element of your costs if you can recover the VAT;
- If your opponent is Legally Aided you are unlikely to recover your costs even if you are successful;
- You will be responsible for paying the charges and expenses of seeking to recover any charges and expenses that the Court orders the other party to pay;
- If your case involves a money claim within the small claims limit (£5,000 at present) or any claim in the employment tribunal then even if you are successful you are very unlikely to recover any of the money which you have to pay to us although you may recover the Court fees;
- In employment tribunal claims, each party pays their own costs. An employment tribunal has power to award costs against a party or his representative in bringing or conducting the proceedings in a vexatious, abusive, disruptive or otherwise unreasonable way, or the bringing or conducting misconceived proceedings. The amount of a costs order shall be determined in any of the following ways:
- The tribunal may specify the sum which the paying party must pay provided that the sum does not exceed
- The parties may agree on a sum to be paid by the paying party.
- The tribunal may order the paying party to pay the receiving party the whole or a specified part of the costs with the amount to be paid by way of detailed assessment in a County Court in accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules 1998.
- The tribunal may have regard to the paying party’s ability to pay when considering making a costs order.
- Submission of bills
- We submit bills on a monthly basis. Payment on account of costs is a condition of accepting instructions. We record all time worked on your matter using a computerised accounts system. In long running or protracted cases we will submit interim statute bills pursuant to the requirements of s65 (2) of the Solicitors Act 1974 at different stages as the case progresses.
- We shall usually ask you to give us in advance any money that we have to pay out on your behalf.
- We shall expect all bills to be paid within seven days of invoice or sooner if we advise you that we require to be paid up- to-date in order to carry on working for you.
- If any sum is not paid within thirty days of demand we reserve the right to charge you interest at the rate applicable to Court debts.
- We may cease acting in the matter where the account is not paid (or you do not provide us with requested monies on account) and in any other matter for you or any associate of yours.
- Storage of Documents
- We will keep our file of papers (except any of your papers which you ask us to return to you) for a period in accordance with the firm’s policy on retaining papers. This will be for not less than six years after the date of the final bill although files on certain matters are retained for longer. We will store the file on the understanding that we are authorised to destroy it once this period has elapsed. We will not destroy documents you ask us to deposit in safe custody. By signing these terms you are authorising us to store your papers in accordance with our policy. Your papers will be safely and securely stored with a storage company.
- If you request us to take papers or documents out of storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act for you, we will make a charge, currently £50 per file (inclusive of VAT), for the production and accessing of any file that has been stored.
- We may also charge you for:-
- Time spent producing stored papers that are requested;
- Reading correspondence or other work necessary to comply with you instructions in relation to the retrieved papers. This will be charged at our standard hourly rate.
- Interest payments
- Any money received on your behalf will be held in our Client Account. Subject to certain minimum amounts and periods of time set out in the Solicitors‟ Account Rules 1998 interest will be calculated and paid to you at the rate from time to time payable on Lloyds TSB client account. The period for which interest will be paid will normally run from the date(s) on which funds are received by us until the date(s) of issue of any cheque(s) from our Client Account.
- Insurance mediation services
- This firm is 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 out insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the advising on, selling and administration of insurance contracts. The register can be accessed via the Financial Services Authority website at www.fsa.gov.uk/register.
- Further terms of business
- If we do not exercise our strict legal rights you should not take this as a waiver of those rights.
- You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time but without prejudice to any other rights or remedies we may have, we are entitled to hold any money or property/documents of yours held by us (otherwise known as a lien), for any unpaid account or other monies due to us, until such time as the unpaid account has been cleared. If we exercise
a lien we will try to ensure that your position is not prejudiced. We will also bear in mind your rights under the Data Protection Act 1998. As an alternative to exercising a lien we may accept undertakings from you to pay the outstanding costs.
- We may cease acting for you for good reason such as where a conflict of interest arises or if you fail to give us adequate instructions or your behavior is such that it fundamentally destroys trust and confidence.
- If you or we decide that we will no longer act for you, you will pay our charges on the basis agreed with you up to the date of termination.
- We are entitled to apply any amount standing to your credit with us in or towards payment of our charges and disbursements.
- Under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, for some non-business instructions you may have the right to withdraw, without charge, within 7 working days of the date on which you asked us to act for you. However, if we start work with your consent within that period, you lose that right to withdraw. Your acceptance of these terms and conditions of business will amount to such consent. If you seek to withdraw instructions, you should give notice by telephone, e-mail or letter to the person named as being responsible for your work. The Regulations require us to inform you that the work involved is likely to take more than 30 days.
- On occasions we are asked to provide work to clients on computer disk or by other electronic means. Whilst we take care to upgrade our anti-virus program from time-to-time no liability can be accepted for any consequential losses which you or a third party may suffer as a result of transferring data onto another computer system (or attempting to do so).
- Where you wish us to communicate with you by electronic mail you accept that we cannot be liable for losses resulting from our or your failure to send or receive any particular transmission and you further accept that confidentiality of the source cannot be guaranteed (i.e. transmissions may be intercepted by third parties). TMP Solicitors LLP do not use encryption of its electronic mail at the present time.
- Nothing in this agreement is intended to confer any benefit on a person other than you as a client of this firm.
- The Data Protection Act 1998 requires us to advise you that your particulars are held on our database. We may, from time to time use these details to send you information which we think might be of interest to you. We outsource some of our management support functions such as accounts, dictating, IT Support, file storage. We take all reasonable steps to make sure that data held by third parties is kept confidential and secure.
- This firm operates Anti Money Laundering procedures and accordingly has to comply with relevant legislation.
Accordingly you may be required to produce evidence of identity and residence even if you are an established client of the firm.
- TMP Solicitors LLP is committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of its dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our equality and diversity policy.
I confirm that I have read and understood these Terms and Conditions of Business and accept the terms as set out above: Signed ………………………………….
(Print FULL Name) ………………………........
TMP Solicitors LLP
29th Floor One Canada Square
London E14 5DY
April 2013 edition