Term of Business

Term of Business

1. General

1.1. These Terms of Business together with any letter which we may send you confirming your appointment of us and outlining your matter ('Engagement Letter') are herein referred to as the ‘Terms’ and the Terms constitute the contract between you and Slater & Gordon Lawyers ('S&G'). In the event of any conflict between the Terms of Business and the Engagement Letter, the Engagement Letter shall prevail.

1.2. In these Terms ‘S&G’ or ‘we’ shall mean the law firm of Slater & Gordon (UK) LLP (OC371153) with registered address at 50- 52 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1HL, its associated companies and, in all relevant cases, any successor or assignee.

1.3. The expressions ‘you’ or ‘your’ refer to you, our client.

1.4. These Terms are subject to change from time to time and are updated on our website at www.slatergordon.co.uk

1.5. These Terms, and in particular, clauses 6, 9, 10, 12 are subject to any Conditional Fee Agreement terms and conditions applicable to your matter.

 

2. Provision of Advice

2.1. Our advice on any matter is confidential and is provided for your benefit alone and solely for the purpose of the matter set out by us in the Engagement Letter. Save with our prior written consent it may not be relied upon for any other purpose or by any other person. Our duty of care is to you as our client and does not extend to any third party.

2.2. We are not responsible for advising (or not advising) on matters outside the scope of the Engagement Letter, or for advising on changes in the law after we have delivered our advice, nor if you act or refrain from acting on the basis of any draft advice before it has been finalised.

2.3. You are responsible for providing us with all information that we require in order to advise you on your matter and to ensure that such information is, and remains, true and accurate in all material respects and is not misleading. Unless we agree otherwise, we will not check the accuracy or completeness of such information. You should not assume that information or documents which have previously been given to us on matters on which we have previously advised will be known to those instructed on a new matter.

2.4. You are responsible for ensuring that you have all necessary rights to supply us with the information you provide and that our use of that information will not infringe the rights of any third party or result in a breach of any law, rule or regulation.

2.5. To enable us to continue to advise you on your matter effectively you are obliged to inform us, within 7 days, of any changes to your name, address, e-mail address or telephone number.

 

3. Duty of Confidentiality

3.1. Unless otherwise authorised by you, we will keep confidential any information which we acquire about you, unless we are required to disclose any such information:

3.1.1. to our auditors, external assessors or other advisors or for the purposes of our professional indemnity insurance; or

3.1.2. by law or other regulatory authority to which we are subject;

3.1.3. to any third party under the terms of an arrangement, authorised by you, regarding the funding of our charges and disbursements. Any such disclosure shall of course be conducted in confidence.

3.2. We have attained the Lexcel quality standard of the Law Society, as a result of which we are subject to periodic checks by outside assessors. This could mean that your file is selected for checking. We assume that we have your consent but, if you prefer to withhold consent please notify us in writing. All inspections are conducted in confidence.

3.3. If you or we engage other professional advisers to assist with a matter we will assume, unless you notify us otherwise, that we may disclose information to such other advisers as necessary.

3.4. We may from time to time outsource some of our services, but only when it is cost effective to do so e.g. word processing/typing. We will assume, unless you notify us otherwise, that we may disclose information to such outsourcing agents as necessary. All of our outsourcing arrangements have express confidentiality agreements in place.

3.5. You acknowledge that we owe a duty of confidentiality to all our clients and, as a precondition to us acting for you, you agree that we shall have no duty to disclose to you information that we may learn or have learnt while acting on behalf of another client. Terms of Business Continue overleaf ›

3.6. Under the principle of legal professional privilege, solicitor/client communications may enjoy special protection from later disclosure in litigation or in other circumstances. Legal professional privilege can be lost, and our advice is that you, and anyone else involved in matters with us or where you may need our advice, should treat all information and communications relating to those matters as confidential and avoid circulating those communications more widely than is necessary. If you are in any doubt about this please ask us for advice.

 

4. Conflicts of Interest

4.1. We take conflict issues seriously. Our conflict procedures help us fulfill our professional obligation not to act for one client in a matter where there is an actual (or significant risk of a) conflict with the interests of another client for whom we are already acting. We have procedures in place to ensure that conflict checks are carried out on every matter as soon as practicable so that if an issue arises it can be discussed with you and dealt with as soon as possible. If at any time you become aware of an actual or potential conflict of interest, please raise it with us immediately.

4.2. Where our professional rules allow, you agree that after we cease to act for you, we may act or continue to act for another client in circumstances where we hold information which is confidential to you and material to the engagement with that other client. We will not, however, disclose your confidential information to that other client.

 

5. Anti-Money Laundering Rules

5.1. In order to comply with the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 and the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (and any subsequent amendments) we are required to satisfy ourselves that we are not unwittingly involved in money laundering. The legislation is intended to provide a comprehensive system of client identification procedures, record keeping and mandatory reporting. This means we must be satisfied as to your identity and the provenance of any funds which are received by us, or which will be dealt with through our actions.

5.2. We will conduct an electronic verification of your identity, and to ensure we satisfy our obligation to verify your identity, we may additionally request and require you to provide evidence of your identity and address. When acting for a company or other organisation we will require evidence that the person providing instructions has the necessary authority. It is important that you forward any requested evidence promptly, as we will not be able to act for you if we cannot comply with these obligations. We will retain copies of such identity documentation for at least five years.

5.3. From time to time we may require you to provide evidence of the identity of other connected parties so that we may comply with our statutory obligations.

5.4. If we have reason to suspect that there is an attempt to launder money, or that you or any other party connected with you is involved in activities prescribed by the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (and any subsequent amendments), then we have a positive obligation to notify the National Crime Agency of our suspicions. You acknowledge, as a condition of these Terms, that this obligation will in certain circumstances override our duty of confidentiality. We may not be permitted to advise you whether or not we have made or might intend to make such a report. If we were to do so we would ourselves be committing a criminal offence. In such circumstances we may cease acting for you, or be instructed to do so by the relevant authorities.

 

6. Client Money

6.1. It is a condition of these Terms that we are entitled to ask you to let us have money on account of costs to be incurred in the following weeks or months for both our fees and other disbursements. This does not apply if you accept our offer to work for you on the basis of a Conditional Fee Agreement, subject to anything further which is set out in your Engagement Letter.

6.2. Money held by us for you, whether on account or otherwise, will be held in a separate client bank account and administered according to the SRA Accounts Rules. You may be entitled to interest, details of which are available on request. In order to comply with our money laundering obligations, where a transaction does not complete we will repay monies held by us, for you, to you alone and not to any third party on your behalf.

6.3. As required by the SRA Accounts Rules, money held by us will be taken in payment or part payment of our bills within 14 days of the date of the bill, unless that money is held for any other purpose.

6.4. We do not accept any payment in cash. If you deposit cash direct with our bank we reserve the right to charge for any additional checks we deem necessary regarding the source of the funds.

6.5. Where we receive money from you by credit card, we will make an additional charge of up to 2.5% of the amount received.

6.6. Where we make payment of money to you or to another person on your behalf, it will usually be by cheque sent in the ordinary post or an electronic funds transfer e.g. via the clearing house automated payment system (CHAPS). Whichever payment method is used we do not accept any responsibility or liability for any losses arising in respect of any interception, appropriation, misuse or delay in receipt. You authorise us to send any cheque in the ordinary post and, on posting, property and risk in the cheque will pass to you. As a security measure and for their protection we ask that you tell us the payee’s bank account number in addition to the payee’s name for inclusion in any cheque.

 

7. Fees

7.1. Our fees are normally based on the time spent dealing with a matter. Time is recorded and charged on the basis of 6 Continue overleaf › minute units. Other factors may also be taken into account in accordance with SRA requirements, for example, complexity, value, importance to the client and urgency. We may increase our rates if, for example, the matter becomes more complex than expected, but will only do so with your agreement. We may use other fee earners to carry out work on your matter where appropriate and if it is cost effective to do so.

7.2. Our hourly rates are set out in your Engagement Letter and vary according to the level of seniority and expertise of each fee earner. VAT will be added where applicable. Our rates are reviewed annually and you will be notified of any increases. If you wish to cease instructing the firm as a result of any increase in rates, you are free to do so.

7.3. Where we have provided an estimate of our likely charges and expenses we will keep that estimate updated and will inform you if any unforeseen additional work becomes necessary and before any additional expenses are incurred (for example, due to unexpected difficulties or if your requirements or the circumstances significantly change). However, we cannot provide a guarantee that the final cost will not be greater than the estimate.

7.4 If we have offered you Conditional Fee Agreement terms your obligation to pay us only arises if you win or there is an order for costs in your favour (or agreement to pay your costs) before you win overall.

 

8. Charges and Expenses

8.1. By instructing us, you are authorising us to incur such charges as we consider reasonable and necessary.

8.2. Disbursements are charges paid to external providers on your behalf and may include (although not an exhaustive list) the fees of Counsel and other experts, including medical experts, travel, couriers, court fees, search fees and stamp duty land tax. These items are charged at cost with VAT added where applicable.

8.3. Routine photocopying, telephone and facsimile charges may, at our discretion, be charged for. We also reserve the right to charge for special bank transaction costs. VAT will be added where applicable.

8.4. Payments on account of charges may be required, particularly if they are likely to be large.

 9. A Costs Recoverability in Civil Litigation (where applicable)

9.1. At the conclusion of your matter, or during proceedings, you may be entitled to the payment of your costs by another party, for example, at the end of a successful court hearing. However, any order for costs obtained against another party will only be of value to the extent that your opponent is able to pay the costs awarded in your favour. Any costs recovered may be less than the total costs incurred on your matter. Also, if your opponent is in receipt of public funding you may not recover your costs even if you are successful.

9.2. The costs of preparing a bill of costs and of seeking to enforce an order for costs against another party will be payable by you.

9.3. You will remain responsible for the payment of our costs, in full, regardless of any costs order made against another party. We will be entitled to render a bill to you in respect of our costs, which will be payable by you in accordance with our normal payment terms, even though any costs order in your favour has not yet been paid. Any costs recovered from any other party will first be applied against any unpaid bills and charges and any balance will then be paid to you.

9.4. Disputes before tribunals or which are submitted to arbitration or other forms of dispute resolution may involve additional and/or irrecoverable costs.

9.5. In some circumstances, for example, if you lose a hearing or the case, the court may order you to pay the other party’s costs (possibly within a short time-frame such as 14 days). This would be payable by you in addition to our costs. We will discuss with you whether the potential outcomes of your matter justify the expense or risk involved including the risk of having to pay the costs of another party.

B Costs Recoverability in Criminal Litigation (where applicable)

9.6. Where applicable some of our services are supplied under the legal aid scheme. In the magistrates court legal aid is means tested and if you qualify you pay nothing towards your defence. If you are in receipt of state benefits or under 18 years of age you will qualify. In the crown court everyone is eligible for legal aid; however you may have to pay a contribution depending on your means which, in all but exceptional circumstances, will be refunded if you are found not guilty of all charges.

9.7. If the court refuse to grant legal aid, or if indeed you are not eligible for assistance under the legal aid scheme, we will be able to represent you on a privately paying basis. In the event that you are paying your own costs we will discuss our fees with you and provide you with a detailed estimate for each stage of the proceedings. If your case changes in any material respect then we will need to recalculate the costs estimate.

9.8. Legislation which came into force on 1 October 2012 made significant changes to the system through which, if successful, defendants and appellants in criminal proceedings may be awarded amounts from central funds in respect of costs incurred by them. Recovery of such costs is no longer available in the Crown Court and where available in the Magistrates Court it is capped at legal aid rates. Proceedings commenced prior to 1 October 2012 will continue to be governed by the previous system for awarding amounts from central funds to successful defendants and appellants in Continue overleaf › criminal proceedings in respect of costs incurred by them.

9.9. In the event that you plead guilty or are convicted of any matter, there may be compensation and/or prosecution costs to pay. Whether you will be ordered to pay prosecution costs depends on a number of factors and we will explain these more fully should the need arise.

 

10. Payment

10.1. We may issue interim bills during the course of your matter and a final bill will be sent to you at the conclusion of your matter. Our bills should be paid within 14 days of issue (unless otherwise stated) and if payment is not made we reserve the right to suspend acting for you until full payment is received or decline to act for you further. If we cease acting for you we will render a final bill for any work carried out to that point.

10.2. If a bill remains unpaid for one month after the date of the bill, we reserve the right to charge interest on a daily basis until payment is made.

10.2.1 If you are a business purchasing our services the daily interest rate will be charged at a rate equal to 8% above the Bank of England base.

10.2.2 If you are an individual purchasing our services then the daily interest rate will be charged at a rate equal to 4% above the Bank of England base.

10.3. We will also be entitled to retain property belonging to you, together with our own papers relating to the matter, until all sums outstanding to us are paid.

10.4. We may require payment of sums on account of anticipated fees or disbursements. When we put these payments towards your bill we will send you a receipted bill. We will offset any payments on account against your final bill, but your total charges and expenses may be greater than any advanced payments.

10.5. In order to comply with our money laundering obligations, other than the usual charges incurred in connection with a matter, we will not pay any sums to a third party on your behalf, whether from proceeds of sale or funds provided by you. You will be responsible for making any such payments yourself.

10.6. In accordance with your rights under the Solicitors’ (Non-Contentious Business) Remuneration Order 2009 (and any subsequent amendments) and Sections 70, 71 and 72 of the Solicitors Act 1974 (and any subsequent amendments) you have the right to apply to the court to have your bill formally assessed by the court. In the first instance we would suggest you use the S&G complaints process in order to try to resolve any areas of dispute.

10.7. We may send you interim bills with a statement of account detailing every bill which remains unpaid. You may also be contacted by our credit control team in relation to any unpaid bills which are older than 15 days.

10.8. We reserve the right to recover our costs incurred as a result of you not complying with our payment terms. These include charges for preparing and sending you reminder letters and the expense we incur in tracing you and enforcing our terms whether through the courts or not. These terms entitle us to recover from you any shortfall in costs arising following an assessment by the court.

 

11. Complaints

11.1 We endeavour to provide a high quality service in all respects. However, if you have any queries or concerns, including any queries on costs or bills, or are simply dissatisfied with any part of our service, please let us know. In the first instance please contact either the person dealing with your matter, who will immediately inform their supervisor, and/or their supervisor directly. If the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction then please contact our Complaints Officer, currently John Webber.

11.2 If for any reason we are unable to resolve a problem between us regarding the delivery of legal services or your bill, you have the right to access the complaints and redress mechanisms provided through the SRA and the Legal Ombudsman. The Legal Ombudsman acts independently and deals with complaints about lawyers registered in England and Wales enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk

11.3 S&G has a comprehensive complaints procedure which is provided at the outset of your matter and also available on request or on our website.

 

12. Termination and Notice of the Right to Cancel

12.1. You may terminate our instructions in writing at any time by writing to the person dealing with your matter but we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is money owing to us for our costs.

12.2. We may decide to stop acting for you only with good reason, for example, if you do not pay a bill, if you provide us with misleading information, or if you act in an abusive or offensive manner. We will give you reasonable notice in any situation where we will be ceasing to act for you.

12.3. If you, or we, decide that we will no longer act for you, we will charge you for the work we have done and, where appropriate, will charge fees and disbursements incurred in transferring the matter to another adviser if you so request. Please note that we will not (to the extent permitted by the applicable rules of professional conduct) release your papers or property to you or any third party until you have paid all outstanding charges.

12.4. Should you decide to cancel your instructions with us and your matter is funded by legal aid then we have a duty to make you aware that there would be potential difficulties in re-applying for legal aid for the same issue if the contract is terminated. Continue overleaf ›

12.5. Notice of the right to Cancel - If you have not attended our offices in person and have instead been visited in your home or place of work by a solicitor or agent on our behalf, and have entered into an agreement for our services, then you may cancel that agreement within 7 days from the date of first instructing us, without any charge being made by us. You must give us notice in writing, either by post or electronically, or alternatively by sending us the cancellation notice slip which is enclosed with the Engagement Letter (where applicable). The notice of cancellation will be deemed as having been served on us as soon as it has been posted, or sent electronically. Please note that if you agree in writing that we should undertake work on your behalf before the end of the cancellation period, then even if you cancel your agreement with us you may still be required to pay for services supplied before the cancellation date.

12.6. If you have instructed us using a form of ‘distance communication’ such as telephone or email then you may withdraw your instructions within 7 days from first instructing us without any charge being made by us. You must give us notice in writing, either by post or electronically. The notice of cancellation will be deemed as having been served on us as soon as it has been posted, or sent electronically. Please note that your right to cancel does not apply if we undertake work on your behalf, with your prior consent, within the 7 day period.

 

13. Limitation of Liability

All correspondence and other communications sent to you in the performance of our services shall for all purposes be assumed to have been sent on behalf of S&G. Any liability arising out of these Terms, or otherwise arising out of or related to the performance of our services, shall be a liability of S&G and not of an employee, member or consultant of S&G. Accordingly, you agree that by engaging us you will not bring any claim arising out of or in connection with our engagement personally against any individual employee, member or consultant of S&G. This restriction will not operate to limit or exclude the liability of S&G.

 

14. Intellectual Property Rights

14.1. We retain copyright and all other intellectual property rights in all documents and other works we develop or generate for you in providing our services (including knowhow and working materials as well as final documents). We grant you a non-exclusive, non-transferable, nonsublicensable license to use such documents or other works solely for the purpose of your matter. If you do not pay us in full in accordance with paragraph 10.1 we may, on giving you notice, revoke the license and only re-grant it to you once full payment has been made.

14.2. We may retain, for our subsequent use, a copy of the advice or opinion of any barrister or other third party obtained in the course of providing the services. If we retain a copy of any such advice or opinion we will take all reasonable steps to conceal information which might reasonably enable you to be identified.

 15. Storage of Papers and Documents

15.1. We normally keep our file of papers (except for any of your papers that you ask to be retuned to you) for no more than six years, but we reserve the right to destroy a file at any time. We keep the file on the understanding that we have the authority to destroy it six years after the date of the final bill we send you for the matter. We will not destroy documents you ask us to deposit in safe custody, but we may send them to you for your retention.

15.2. If you request the return of your file or its transfer to a third party at any time within five years of completion of your matter then, in order to ensure our compliance with the money laundering legislation, we will make and retain a copy of your file. Upon such a request we may charge for time spent retrieving or delivering papers and documents and for any reading, copying, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your request.

 

16. Data Protection and Electronic Communication

16.1. We comply with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998 (and any subsequent amendments). A copy of our data protection client statement is available on request. Please note that if we instruct an expert to work with us on your case, such as a barrister or other expert, we will need to send them details of your case and copies of your case papers, including personal records or reports. Please let us know if you do not consent to disclosure of your case details to an expert.

16.2. You have the right to access information we hold about you. In the first instance, please contact the person dealing with your case if you wish to make an access request, if you would like to update or amend the information we hold about you or if you have any other queries about our data protection policy.

16.3. We may conduct some or all of our communication by email. However, email is not fully secure, may be intercepted by third parties, and may not always reach its intended recipient. Where necessary, you should follow up all important communications with a phone call, fax or printed copy by post. If you do not wish us to use email please let us know.

16.4. We shall use reasonable endeavours to ensure that emails we send are free from viruses and any other materials that may cause harm to any computer system. You undertake to act likewise with any email you send to us. We may monitor emails to investigate unauthorised use of our email system, or for any other purpose permitted by law. As a result, we may collect personal information about the Slater & Gordon (UK) LLP a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales (OC371153). Slater & Gordon (UK) LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Slater & Gordon (UK) LLP is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for insurance mediation activity. These terms of business are correct at the time of issue in January 2014. senders and/or recipients of the email or which is contained in the email.

16.5. We may use the personal information that you provide us, or which we obtain through our dealings with you, for the provision of our services to you and for administration, billing and record keeping purposes.

16.6. If you are responsible for your fees, we may need to conduct a search with credit reference and fraud prevention agencies who may consult the electoral role. These agencies will provide us with personal data and may make a record of this search. By instructing us you consent to us undertaking this search and authorise such agencies to disclose such information to us. If you do not wish us to do this you must let us know in writing.

 

17. Tax Advice

17.1. Unless you specifically instruct us to advise on tax planning, the advice we give will not include any consideration of, or advice concerning, the taxation implications or consequences of any course, or alternative course, of action and we will not be liable for any loss or disadvantage that may arise from the tax consequences of any matter.

17.2. If you do specifically instruct us to advise on tax planning we will provide you with a separate estimate. We may be required by law to notify HM Revenue & Customs with details of any tax planning you receive, even though we have not ourselves provided you with the tax planning advice.

 

18. Regulation

18.1. Slater & Gordon (UK) LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority (‘SRA’). The SRA is the independent regulatory body of the Law Society of England and Wales, and operates within the regulatory framework of the Legal Services Act 2007 (and any subsequent amendments).

18.2. Slater & Gordon (UK) LLP is also authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (‘FCA’) for the purpose of insurance mediation activities (broadly, advising on, selling and the administration of insurance contracts), we are included on a register maintained by the FCA. This register can be accessed via the FCA website. The FCA is an independent body which operates under the Financial Services Act 2012 (and any subsequent amendments).

 19. Equal Treatment

We are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of our dealings with clients, third parties and employees. In accordance with the Equality Act 2010 (and any subsequent amendments) we will not discriminate in the way we provide our services on the grounds of sex (including gender reassignment), marital status, sexual orientation, disability, race, colour, religion, age, nationality or ethnic or national origins.

 

20. Rights of Third Parties

Nothing in these Terms confers any rights on any person pursuant to the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 (and any subsequent amendments) and we shall not be liable to any third party for any advice or service we provide to you unless otherwise agreed in writing by a member. We may vary these Terms without the consent of any third party.

 

21. Severability

If any part of these Terms is held to be illegal, invalid or otherwise unenforceable then that provision shall, to the extent necessary, be severed and shall be ineffective but the remaining terms will continue in force and effect.

 

22. Non-Waiver

Any failure by S&G to insist upon strict performance of any of the Terms, or any failure or delay by S&G to exercise any rights or remedies whether under the Terms and/or at law or otherwise, shall not be deemed a waiver of any right of S&G to insist upon the strict performance of the Terms or of any of its rights or remedies as to any default under the Terms.

 

23. Electronic Communications

You warrant that any electronic signature attached to these Terms is authentic to you and certifies your assent to these Terms of Business and confirms the authenticity of both your signature and these Terms of Business and any other terms and conditions incorporated into them. You will also agree that at our request you will co-operate with us by providing such certification as we will require to verify and evidence the authenticity of your electronic signature and your consent.

 

24. Governing Law and Jurisdiction

These Terms and any dispute between us shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of England and Wales and shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts. Slater & Gordon is one of the UK’s leading and largest legal practices with offices throughout England, Wales and Scotland. Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest Slater & Gordon office on: T: 0800 916 9015 E: enquiries@slatergordon.co.uk W: www.slatergordon.co.uk Contact us

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