Bolt Burdon Kemp – Terms of Business
1 April 2017
1……. Information relating to your matter.
2……. Your responsibilities.
3……. The people who will work for you.
4……. The work we will do for you.
5……. The cost and time scale.
6……. Payments on account and interim billing.
7……. Paying our bill – and when payment is late.
8……. Cash and financial matters.
9……. Notification of changes.
10….. Authority you give to us.
11….. Our service levels.
12….. Referral or fee sharing arrangements.
13….. Funding legal cases.
14….. Ending our relationship.
15….. Consumer Contracts Regulations.
16….. Interest on money held by us.
17….. Financial benefit – other than interest on client account.
18….. Professional indemnity insurance.
20….. Regulatory status.
21….. Data protection.
22….. Equality and diversity.
23….. The legal contract between us.
Bolt Burdon Kemp – Terms of Business
1 April 2017
1 Information relating to your matter
On each matter where you instruct us we will confirm to you in writing:
a) the party or parties for whom we are acting.
b) details of our lawyers who will deal with your matter.
c) the work we are going to do for you.
d) the basis upon which our fees are calculated and an estimate of the likely time scales.
e) details of any referral or fee sharing arrangements.
f) the LAA category supervisor for the work we are doing if it is publicly funded.
2 Your responsibilities
a) You will provide us with clear, timely, comprehensive and accurate instructions.
b) You will provide us with all relevant documentation in a timely manner.
c) You will let us know promptly of any changes to your name, address or other contact details and if any other information you have given us has changed.
d) You will supply us with your bank details on request so that we can send any monies owing to you and will advise us of any subsequent changes.
3 The people who will work for you
On each matter where you instruct us we will confirm to you in writing the name and qualification of the lawyers dealing with the matter.
We will endeavour to keep you informed of all people who undertake significant work on your matter, but if in doubt please ask. We are always happy to give you information regarding the name and qualification of any member of our staff.
The managing partner with overall responsibility for management of the firm is Jonathan Wheeler. You can contact Jonathan at any time by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
4 The work we will do for you
We will make sure that we have agreed with you the work we will do and any limitations on the scope of that work e.g. because of the funding arrangements.
Unless we have specifically agreed to advise you on tax matters tax advice is not included in our retainer and we will assume that you are obtaining separate advice from an accountant or tax specialist.
5 The cost and time scale
Our fee rates are calculated having regard to all the circumstances of the case including complexity, skill, time, urgency, importance and value.
The rates charged vary according to the experience and qualification of the person doing the work. We have 10 grades of staff ranging from Grade 1 (partner) to Grade 10 (clerk). We will inform you of the grade of the person with the conduct of your matter and any persons who will work on it regularly.
We will inform you of the hourly rate of each grade of person applicable to your matter.
We record our time in 6 minute units for all work done on your behalf. This includes but is not limited to time spent on all letters, phone calls (made or received), emails, documents, research, consideration, travel etc.
These rates are reviewed upwards on 1st January in each year. Unless we tell you otherwise, the charging rates will be increased by up to 10% per annum. Any increase in excess of 10% per annum will be notified to you as soon as is reasonably possible.
At the outset we will give you the best possible information about the likely costs associated with your matter including our fees and VAT, disbursements (ie sums we will pay on your behalf to third parties) and any other payments for which you may be responsible.
We will also give you guidance about the likely time scale to the conclusion of your matter or for the next stage.
We will always advise you if we consider that the likely outcomes do not justify the likely costs and risks associated with your matter.
Our fees are exclusive of VAT and disbursements. All disbursements will be shown separately on your invoice. Please note we do charge an additional fee for minor expenses including bank charges, photocopying, travel and couriers.
Our VAT registration number is GB440 4099 69.
6 Payments on account and interim billing
Unless otherwise agreed, it is our practice to ask you from time to time for a sum on account of our fees and/or disbursements that we may incur on your behalf. The amount paid on account may not reflect the cost of the work that we are about to undertake nor the cost of the work already undertaken. Sums of money paid to us on account can be appropriated by us entirely at our discretion.
We may render “on account bills” for such sums as we consider are appropriate – such bills do not necessarily reflect the work done by us up to the date of the bill.
We expressly reserve the right to render “interim statute bills” where appropriate. An interim statute bill is a final bill for the work done during the period which the bill is stated to cover.
7 Paying our bill – and when payment is late
Our bills are payable within 14 days.
If we agree a fixed fee with you that fee will not become payable until we have submitted our invoice to you.
We will only accept payment by cheque or bank transfer.
If a bill is not paid within one month we can charge you interest at 8% per annum on the balance outstanding (including the VAT). We may issue court proceedings against you to recover the outstanding debt, interest and our costs.
If a bill is not paid within 14 days, we may not continue dealing with your matter until the bill is paid in full and we may not accept further instructions from you on this or any other matter. We will also exercise a lien over any relevant papers or goods until the bill is paid in full.
Where a third party is paying some or all of your legal costs any interest recovered belongs to us unless agreed otherwise.
8 Cash and financial matters
We will not accept or make any cash payments.
Any money we need to send to you will be sent by BACS (three day payment) bank transfer to your UK bank account. We will not pay money to a third party account or to an account overseas. On payment of an additional fee, money can be sent by CHAPS (same day payment).
9 Notification of changes
We will notify you:
a) if any person responsible for your matter changes
b) if there are any relevant changes in the law.
c) If there are any new circumstances and/or risks of which we are aware or which we consider to be reasonably foreseeable that could affect the outcome of your matter.
d) whether the likely outcomes still justify the likely costs and risks associated with your matter whenever there is a material change in circumstances.
e) of any alternative ways of funding your matter (eg legal expenses insurance or legal aid) and keep this under review from time to time.
f) if it becomes apparent that the matter is or will become unusually complex or time consuming, or that the scope of your instructions has substantially altered or expanded, such that any fixed fee or fee estimate we have given you is no longer appropriate, and we will provide you with a revised fixed fee or fee estimate as soon as practicable.
10 Authority you give to us
You expressly give us authority:
a) to take all steps that we consider reasonable in the conduct of your matter and to incur disbursements (ie fees to third parties for the conduct of your matter, eg for, court fees, expert witness fees, fees to obtain relevant records etc).
b) if you were recommended to us by a referral agency, to keep that referral agency advised as to the progress of your case and of the result without prior reference to you.
c) to publicise your case at our discretion in any form of media provided that such publicity extends only to disclosure of material that would normally be in the public domain and not to matters which are regarded as confidential.
d) to receive all monies payable to you by third parties (by way of cheques drawn in our favour).
e) to engage other companies or people to work on our files (eg for typing or photocopying purposes and for functions that support the delivery of our legal activities).
f) to keep your documents in electronic format only
g) to deliver our bills to you using electronic communication.
11 Our service levels
We pride ourselves on our level of service. It is our aim to exceed your expectations at all times.
We will update you with progress on your matter regularly and communicate with you in plain language by phone, email or letter as appropriate. If you prefer a particular mode of communication please let us know.
From time to time, when we consider it appropriate, we will review your matter and the information we have given you and we will update the costs information and time estimate at that time.
If at any time you want an update please ask. Usually we will respond to an email or phone call from you within one working day. If the person dealing with your matter plans to be out of the office for longer than one working day, you will be told in advance who will be covering for the absence. If the absence is unexpected, an out of office message will tell you who to contact.
If at any time you are not happy with any aspect of our service please contact our managing partner Jonathan Wheeler at email@example.com.
From time to time we will email you a request for feedback on our service. We very much appreciate this feedback – it assists us in making continual improvements to our service.
12 Referral or fee sharing arrangements
If we have entered into any referral or fee sharing arrangement with any third party that is relevant to your matter we will give you information about that arrangement.
We will inform you of any financial or other interest that the introducer has in referring you to us. We will also inform you if we are sharing our fees with any other party.
13 Funding legal cases
Other than private fees, we will tell you about the other ways of funding that might be available. These may include:
a) Conditional fee agreements
Much litigation is now conducted on a conditional fee basis. If we are able to offer such a scheme to you its terms will be included in a separate agreement. These Terms of Business will apply in so far as they are not varied by the Conditional Fee Agreement.
b) Legal expenses insurance
You may have arranged your own legal expenses insurance cover. The terms of such cover vary depending on the identity of the insurer. Generally we are pleased to act for clients who enjoy the benefit of legal expenses cover. We make every effort to undertake work within the indemnity limits allowed by the insurers from time to time. If we are undertaking work for you that is covered by legal expenses insurance, it is important that you understand that you (not the legal expenses insurers) are and have been our client since we first accepted instructions. Therefore you remain primarily liable for our fees at the hourly rates advised to you regardless of whether or not your legal expenses insurer will indemnify us at those rates or if the indemnity limit is exceeded. If you wish to ensure the indemnity limit is not exceeded we shall be pleased to supply an up to date statement of our fees and if appropriate an estimate of your opponents fees upon request.
c) Legal Aid
Legal aid is sometimes available and if we think you may qualify we will advise you of this. Even though you may subsequently be granted a legal aid certificate, until such time as a certificate is granted you remain a private client and therefore responsible for our fees prior to the grant of legal aid. Legal aid is not retrospective
14 Ending our relationship
a) You may end your instructions to us at any time.
b) We may decide to stop acting for you only with good reason eg if you do not pay an invoice or any monies requested on account within a reasonable time, if we identify a possible conflict of interest or if the professional relationship between us has broken down. In any event we will give you reasonable notice that we will stop acting for you.
If you or we decide we should stop acting for you, you must pay our charges up to that point. If we agreed a fixed fee our charges will be a proportion of the agreed fixed fee according to how much of the work has been done.
If we decide to cease acting for you we will explain possible options available to you.
15 Consumer Contracts Regulations
If we have met with you away from our office and agreed to act for you or if we have agreed to act for you following a telephone conversation or by exchange of emails (or other electronic communication), and if we are acting for you for purposes which are outside your business, the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 apply to our agreement with you. That means that you have the right to cancel our agreement without charge at any time within fourteen days of your acceptance of these 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 14 day period.
16 Interest on money held by us
We are required by the Solicitors Regulation Authority to account to you for interest earned on client monies where it is fair and reasonable to do so in all the circumstances.
Generally we will pay interest at the rate payable by our bank on instant access deposits.
We will not pay interest to you:
a) Where the amount of interest due is £40 or less; or
b) Where money is held by us for less than one week.
17 Financial benefit – other than interest on client account
If we receive any financial benefit as a result of acting for you we will:
a) Pay it to you; or
b) Offset it against your fees; or
c) Retain it with your consent – having explained to you the amount or approximate amount involved.
18 Professional indemnity insurance
We are required to hold professional indemnity insurance cover for a minimum sum of £2,000,000. In fact we have cover of £10,000,000. It is an express term of our retainer that our liability to you is limited to £10,000,000. Details of our current cover can be obtained from our Compliance Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope that you will not have cause for complaint but if you do please contact our Compliance Manager at email@example.com, who will send you a copy of our complaints procedure and appoint an appropriate senior person to investigate your complaint.
If you are not satisfied with our handling of the complaint you may have the right to ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider the complaint. The Legal Ombudsman’s services are available to members of the public and very small businesses, charities, clubs and trusts. You can contact the Legal Ombudsman at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ. Telephone 0300 555 0333. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Normally you will need to refer a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final response from us. Full details regarding time limits are available from the Legal Ombudsman.
If you are not happy with the amount of our bill then you should notify us by way of our complaints procedure. You may also have the right to have the bill assessed by the court under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974
20 Regulatory status
Bolt Burdon Kemp is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Our SRA number is 62879. The detailed professional rules that apply to us can be found on the Solicitors Regulation Authority web site at www.sra.org.uk.
Bolt Burdon Kemp is not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to provide investment advice and, if while we are acting for you advice on investments is needed, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised to provide the necessary advice. However we may provide certain limited investment advice services where these are closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you.
We are included on the register maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority so that we can carry on insurance mediation activity which is broadly advising on, selling and administering insurance contracts. This part of our business, including arrangements for complaints or redress if something goes wrong is also regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed at http://www.fsa.gov.uk/register/home.do.
21 Data protection
Bolt Burdon Kemp is registered as a data controller with the Information Commissioner’s Office under the Data Protection Act 1998 registration number Z6139374. We will only collect and use your personal data as allowed by that Act.
We use the personal data you provide primarily for the provision of legal services to you and for related purposes including updating and enhancing client records, analysis to help us manage our practice, filing statutory returns and legal and regulatory compliance. We only collect sensitive personal data from you to the extent that it is necessary to assist you with your legal affairs.
We sometimes need to share your personal data with third parties. This will only be done:
a) as is necessary or desirable in the conduct of your legal affairs eg by providing such data to referrers, your opponent, statutory authorities and/or any contractors we engage to assist us with the conduct of your legal affairs.
b) as is necessary for the running of our business eg by providing such data to quality standards assessors, regulatory or professional bodies and/or our contractors.
c) in accordance with the exceptions in the Data Protection Act 1998 ie for crime prevention and detection, to government agencies, for the collection of taxes and to anyone else with a legal right to receive such personal data
We do not transfer personal data outside the European Economic Area except where it is necessary for the conduct of your legal affairs nor do we pass on personal data to other organisations for marketing purposes.
Sometimes we collect personal data for marketing purposes – when we do this we will let you know and give you the choice to opt out from receiving our marketing communications. 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 this information please notify our Compliance Manager by emailing email@example.com.
You may ask us for a copy of any of your personal data that we hold at any time.
Our electronic systems are designed to hold data indefinitely. We will always hold data at the end of a matter for at least 6 years but we believe that it is in the best interests of clients and the firm to hold data for longer periods and we reserve the right to retain data (including personal data) indefinitely.
22 Equality and diversity
Bolt Burdon Kemp is committed to promoting equality and diversity in all aspects of its practice. Please contact our Compliance Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like a copy of our equality and diversity policy.
23 The legal contract between us
Delivery of these Terms of Business to you, at any time during the period we are instructed by you, forms part of the contract between us from time to time. Subject to any prior agreement between us these Terms will apply to work undertaken both before and after these Terms have been delivered to you. Any dispute or claim arising from our Terms of Business or any other aspect of the contract between us will be determined by the law of England and Wales and considered exclusively by the English and Welsh courts.