Our responsibilities include advising you on the law, following your instructions, reviewing your matter regularly and discussing with you whether the potential outcomes justify the expense and risks involved with your matter.
You need to provide us with clear and timely instructions, the information and documents required for us to do our work and funds required.
We use the information you provide primarily for the provision of legal services to you and for related purposes including :
- updating and enhancing client records
- analysis for management purposes and statutory returns and
- legal and regulatory compliance
Our use of that information is subject to your instructions, the Data Protection Act 1998 and our duty of confidentiality. Please note that our work for you may require us to disclose information to third parties such as expert witnesses and other professional advisers. You have a right of access under data protection legislation to the personal data that we hold about you.
Sending you Information
We may from time to time send you information which we think might be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive that information, please notify our office in writing.
Hours of business
The normal hours of opening of our offices are between 9.00am and 5.00pm Monday to Friday. Messages can be left by email outside those hours and appointments can be arranged at other times when necessary.
We may correspond with you by letter sent by post or email.
If we correspond by email, we will communicate with you, including sending bills and other confidential information, by normal, unencrypted email, using the email address(es) you have given us from time to time. You should be aware that there is a risk that emails (in particular when unencrypted) may be intercepted, delayed or corrupted or may fail to be delivered. Please note that email correspondence is charged for at the same rate as letters sent and received, as per our Legal Fees Schedule.
For security reasons, we do not provide or accept Bank details by email. We will provide our Bank details in our Client Care letter. We can only provide or accept Bank details in person or by telephone after verifying your identification.
We make reasonable attempts to exclude from our emails any virus or other defect that might harm a computer or IT system. You undertake to act likewise with any electronic communications you send to us. Neither you nor we shall have any liability to each other in respect of any claim or loss arising in connection with such a virus or defect in an electronic communication other than where such claim or loss arises from bad faith or wilful default.
Distance Selling Regulations
If we have not yet met you and you are an individual acting for purposes which are outside your business, the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling)Regulations 2000 apply to our agreement with you. That means that you have the right to cancel our engagement, without charge, at any time within seven working days of your acceptance of our engagement terms. If you wish to do so, you must inform us of your decision to cancel in writing. Your right to cancel our engagement will not apply if you agree to us beginning work in relation to your instructions during the relevant cancellation period.
Unless we have agreed a fixed fee, our charges will be based on the time spent on your matter, applying our hourly charging rates as applicable from time to time.
We reserve the right to charge separately for photocopying, printing, telephone calls, faxes, electronic funds transfers and other support services, travel, courier and other incidental expenses.
Where applicable we will charge VAT on our charges and expenses.
Changes to charge-out rates
Our hourly charge-out rates are reviewed with effect from 1st April each year. We will notify you of the rates if they change and you will then be bound by them. If you do not accept the new rates after review, we reserve the right not to continue acting for you.
Costs Estimates and Arrangements
Any costs estimate we give at any time is a guide to assist you in budgeting. It is not intended to be fixed, unless that is specifically agreed in writing.
Any fixed fee, capped fee or other fee arrangement we agree with you, or any costs estimate we give you, is based on the scope of the work anticipated and our assumptions about the matter at the time it is agreed or given. If the scope of the work changes or the assumptions change it will no longer apply. In that case, we will discuss a revised fee arrangement or estimate with you.
Unless agreed to the contrary, we will normally bill monthly for the work performed to date, together with any disbursements we have incurred on your behalf, but please see the entry below in respect of Residential Conveyancing.
It is a condition of our retainer that all bills, interim and final, are paid promptly. If a bill is not paid in full within ONE MONTH of being submitted to you, we may charge you interest on any amount outstanding from the due date until the date the bill is paid at the rate of interest prescribed for judgments from time to time. In the case of commercial debts, we reserve the right to claim interest and recovery costs pursuant to the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998.
If an account remains unpaid and we commence legal proceedings against you in order to recover the sums you owe us, then we will be entitled to recover from you the legal costs that we incur in connection with those proceedings at our standard hourly rates, together with all disbursements (including fees of Counsel and any other lawyers engaged by us in our attempts to recover payment from you.
In some cases, and particularly when litigation is involved or when we may need to incur substantial expense on your behalf, we may require you to provide a payment on account of the future likely costs and disbursements.
If we receive a lump sum payment in settlement during or at the end of your case, it is our normal practice to deduct from that payment any outstanding costs and disbursements due to us.
In signing and returning the Letter of Acceptance, you are confirming your agreement to the Terms of Business and you are therefore authorising us to take costs and disbursements due prior to forwarding to you any balance of funds.
Bills in respect of Residential Conveyancing matters are required to be paid prior to exchange of contracts at which time it will also be necessary to pay the balance of the purchase monies due and all disbursements including Stamp Duty Land Tax. If we are acting for you in a sale transaction or a sale and purchase where there will be a balance available to pay your costs and disbursements on completion of the transaction(s), then we will be prepared to deduct the costs and disbursements on completion from the balance due to you and in signing the acceptance on the Client Instruction Form you are authorising us to make the necessary deductions. You are also authorising us to discharge your Estate Agents' bill on completion.
Where an account is overdue, we are entitled to retain any files and documents belonging to you which are in our possession until our account is settled. We also reserve the right to cease working on this and any other matters on which we are acting for you.
If instructions for a piece of work are given by more than one person or company, we may recover our fees, disbursements and Value Added Tax from any one or more of them. This includes situations where one person or company instructs us on behalf of another.
If arrangements are made for a third party to pay any of our fees or disbursements, or a Court orders a third party to pay any part of our fees or disbursements, you remain liable to pay them when due.
You will be responsible to us for our fees and disbursements regardless of any order obtained for payment of your costs by another party. Our costs are likely to exceed the sum which you could recover from any other party to the proceedings. You should also bear in mind that you may be ordered to pay the costs of the other party.
Payment - Legal Help/Legal Aid Funding
If you qualify for payment of your legal fees and disbursements under the Legal Help Scheme or by Legal Aid funding, please see our Brochure for full details of how the scheme works.
Payment - private paying
We accept payment by cheque, cash, Credit/Debit Card, Bank Transfer.
We are normally only able to accept cash up to a limit of £500 in any 28 day period. If clients 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.
Payments can be taken in person at the office or by telephoning our Accounts Department.
We can accept payment by this method. These payments will be taken by our Accounts Department. Our Bank details have been provided in our Client Care letter.
You should be aware that fraudsters occasionally target people involved in legal transactions. Please be wary of any messages you receive which suggest you should pay money to any other account than the one quoted in our Client Care letter. This applies even if the message is in an email, letter or phone call which purports to be from us.
For security reasons, we do not provide or accept Bank details by email. We can only provide or accept Bank details in person or by telephone after verifying your identification. This can be done only by the person dealing with your case and/or by providing your Personal Password which can be set up on your file. This is for your protection.
Interest on funds we hold for you
We will normally credit you with interest on any funds we hold in our Client Account on your behalf. Our policy on the payment of interest is as follows :
- Interest will accrue at the rate payable by our Bank on instant access deposits. This may be less than the rate at which you could have invested the money yourself.
- We will credit you with interest if the amount of interest involved is more than £20.
- If we hold sums of money for you in relation to different matters, we will normally treat the money relating to each of the different matters separately.
- We will not account for interest on money held for the payment of a professional disbursement, once the intended recipient has requested a delay in settlement. Nor will we account for interest on money held for the Legal Aid Agency.
Monies held in our Client Account
We will not be liable to repay any money that we hold for you in our Client account at Lloyds TSB Bank which is lost as a result of failure of the Bank.
Legislation requires Solicitors firms to take various steps to guard against money laundering. We may be obliged to report information about possible money laundering and terrorist financing to the authorities, notwithstanding our normal duty of confidentiality. If we have to make a report we may not be able to tell you that we have done so, because the law prohibits "tipping off". Where the law permits, we will tell you about any potential money laundering problem and explain what actions may be necessary.
The law requires solicitors to get satisfactory evidence of the identity of their clients and sometimes people associated with them. This is because solicitors who deal with money and property on behalf of their client can be used by criminals wanting to launder money.
So we need to get evidence of each client’s identity as soon as possible. Our practice is to obtain 2 separate forms of identification and/or carry out online searches to obtain suitable evidence. The fee for these searches is £5.00 plus VAT and will appear on your bill under disbursements.
If you cannot come in to see us so we can check your identity documents, we can accept copies but we will need those copies to be certified by a trusted third party such as another solicitor or chartered accountant or doctor. They should write on the copies “This copy is a true likeness of the original which was presented to us by the person named therein”. The copy should be signed and dated by them to include their name, occupation and contact details.
If we are also acting for your proposed lender in this transaction, we have a duty to fully reveal to your lender all relevant facts about the purchase and mortgage. That includes any differences between the mortgage application and information we receive during the transaction and any cash back payments or discount schemes that a seller is giving you. You agree to us doing so.
In the event of our notifying you of any such discrepancies and your refusing to allow us to notify the Mortgage Lender, we will have to immediately cease acting for you and for the Mortgage Lender and we will notify them that we are no longer acting for you in respect of the transaction because of a potential conflict of interest. In the event that we cease acting for you in such circumstances, we would expect to charge you for the work undertaken up to that time.
Review of files
From time to time, our practice may be audited or checked by our Accountants or our Regulator, or by other organisations. These organisations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files.
If we are instructed by joint clients then all clients are jointly and severally liable for our fees, notwithstanding any agreement between you as to how you will share the costs. This means that we will be able to look to one client only or to each of the joint clients to pay the whole of or any balance of unpaid fees.
Instructions are understood to be for the purpose of all of those instructing us. We will act on instructions from any one of those clients unless you instruct us otherwise. Liability to pay our costs is joint (all the clients together) and several (each may be liable for the whole amount).
If instructions are given on behalf of a client, we are entitled to assume that the person giving the instructions has lawful authority to instruct us. If not, then that person will be liable to us as if they were our client.
Our advice is for your benefit only. Save as expressly set out, our agreement with you is not intended to confer rights on any third parties whether pursuant to the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 or otherwise.
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 Financial Services Authority website at www.fca.gov.uk/register.
Equality and Diversity
Caswell Jones is committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of our dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our Equality and Diversity Policy.
Limitations on our liability
We limit our liability to you for claims for breach of contract, breach of duty, negligence and for claims otherwise arising out of or in connection with our engagement or the services we provide, in the ways described below.
Our liability to you shall be limited to £2 million. This liability cap will apply to our aggregate liability to you together with any associated party for whom you are acting in relation to the relevant matter on any basis.
In addition to the other limitations in this document, where we and/or third parties are responsible for any loss suffered by you, our liability for that loss will be limited to a fair proportion of your total loss calculated by reference to the extent of our responsibility. If you have engaged others to represent or advise you on a matter in which we are involved and you agree with any of them that their liability to you will be limited, in order that our position is not adversely affected by any such limitation of their liability, you agree that our liability to you will not exceed the amount which would have applied in the absence of that limitation.
Third party liability
If you start proceedings against us for loss or damage and there is another person (eg another adviser) who is liable (or potentially liable) to you in respect of the same loss or damage, then you will (if we so request) join them into the proceedings. This is subject to any legal prohibition against you joining them into the proceedings in that way.
No claim against individual employees/partners
We have an interest in limiting the personal liability of employees. consultants and partners. Accordingly, you agree that you will not bring any claim against any individual employee, consultant or partner in respect of losses which you suffer or incur, arising out of or in connection with our engagement or the services we provide. The provision of this paragraph will not limit or exclude the firm's liability for the acts or omissions of our employees, consultants or partners.
The provisions of the above paragraph are intended for the benefit of our employees, consultants and partners but the terms of our engagement may be varied without the consent of all or any of those persons.
Limitation on exclusions
The above exclusions and limitations will not operate to exclude or limit any liability which cannot lawfully be limited or excluded. In particular they do not limit liability for fraud, nor for causing death or personal injury by negligence, nor for negligence in contentious business, insofar as the Solicitors Act 1974 S60(5) precludes the exclusion of such liability.
Investment and Insurance advice
Caswell Jones is not authorised by the Financial Services Authority ("FSA"). We are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority ("SRA"), which is the independent regulatory arm of The Law Society of England and Wales. If you are unhappy with any investment advice or insurance advice you receive from us you should raise your concerns with the SRA.
Financial Services and Markets Act ("FSMA")
Our role in any transaction is that of a legal adviser and it is not part of our function to give advice on the merits of any transaction in investments. When providing our services we will assume that you have decided or will decide to negotiate or enter into any such transaction solely on the advice you may receive from a person authorised under the FSMA. No communication from us is intended or should be construed as an invitation or inducement to you or to anyone else to engage in investment activity.
Although we are not authorised by the FSA we are included on the register of exempt professional firms maintained by the FSA so that we can carry on insurance mediation activity, which is broadly advising on selling and administration of insurance contracts. The register can be accessed via the FSA website at www.fca.gov.uk/register.
Professional Indemnity Insurance
Under the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules we are required to take out and maintain qualifying insurance. Details of our insurance are available on request.
Ending our services
You may end your instructions to us at any time by letting us know in writing.
We may decide to stop acting for you only with good reason, eg if you do not provide us with funds on account of costs or there is a conflict of interest, or if you fail to provide instructions when requested or any information which we deem essential to deal with your case.
We will give you reasonable notice if we decide to stop acting for you. If we do have to stop acting for you we will explain your options for pursuing the matter and will work with you to minimise disruption to your matter.
However, if we stop acting for any reason you will be required to pay for the expenses we have incurred and for the work we have done, even if the original agreement or understanding had been that we would only bill you on completion of the matter.
After the end of the relevant matter, please let us know if you would like us to send your file of papers to you. Otherwise we will keep the file of your papers in storage. We will normally destroy it six years after the date of the final bill we send to you, without further reference to you, and by agreeing to those terms you authorise us so to do. We will not destroy documents you ask us to hold in safe custody, such as deeds, wills and other important original documents.
We will take care of your deeds, documents and other papers as long as they remain in our possession. However, should any of them be lost or damaged as a result of events beyond our reasonable control, we will not be liable for their replacement or for any resultant loss.
If we retrieve papers or documents from storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act for you we will not normally charge for such retrieval. However, we may charge you for time spent retrieving, reading, copying or working on such papers where that is to comply with your instructions in relation to the retrieved papers.
If you request retrieval of your file for your own personal reasons or to obtain information or documentation which we have previously sent to you, we will normally charge our administration fee.
Concerns about our service
As explained in our engagement letter, if you are not happy with our service or the bill, we hope to be able to resolve the matter to your satisfaction. However, if you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you may be able to ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider your complaint. Details of our complaints procedure is in our Complaints Procedure Information Sheet which can be found on our website www.caswelljones.com. Alternatively, we can forward this to you upon request.
As well as your right to complain about any of our bills under our complaints procedure, you can also apply for the bill to be assessed by the Court under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974 in which case the Legal Ombudsman may not consider your complaint.
(Note that the Legal Ombudsman service cannot be used by businesses or most other organisations, unless they are below certain size limits).
Concerns about Barristers or others
Any Barrister or other professional we instruct on your behalf should have their own complaints process. If you are not happy with their service, you can complain to them direct. We can tell you how to make your complaint, if they have not given you that information themselves.
Governing law and jurisdiction
This agreement and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with it, or its subject or formation (including non-contractual disputes or claims) shall be governed by the law of England and Wales and the Courts of England and Wales shall have exclusive jurisdiction over any such dispute or claim.
If any provision in these terms of engagement or our engagement letter is or becomes invalid, illegal or unenforceable then it shall, to the extent required, be severed and shall be ineffective and the validity of the remaining provisions shall not be affected in any way.
We shall not be liable to you if we are unable to perform our services as a result of any cause beyond our reasonable control.