Terms of business

1.        INTRODUCTION

1.1      These Terms of Business record the terms of a contract between A.M. Strachan & Co, solicitors and you.

1.2      These terms of Business, as supplemented or amended by any relevant Record of Instruction and, where applicable, the Consumer Information, apply to each new matter we work on for you.

1.3      We are bound by rules of professional conduct and aim to provide you with a high quality and reliable service.  This includes keeping you informed of progress and developments in relation to your matter.

1.4      Whenever we request instructions, information or documents from you, we ask that you provide the same with the minimum delay.  We also ask that you inform us as soon as reasonably practicable of developments that may affect any matter on which we are acting for you.

1.5      We seek to be cost effective and to charge reasonable and competitive fees.  We believe it is important for clients to appreciate how costs are calculated and for there to be clear guidance as to what is expected of A.M. Strachan & Co on the one hand and you, the client, on the other hand.

1.6      The Consumer Contracts (Information Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 apply to some types of Instruction.  A notice regarding these is contained in the Consumer Information attached to the Record of Instruction.

1.7      We are required by legislation to operate a money laundering reporting procedure.  In certain circumstances information will be revealed by us to the appropriate authorities in relation to any suspicion of money laundering.  We may not be able to tell you if we make such a report.  We may, from time to time, use an online verification service to verify your identity.

1.8      Unless you inform us to the contrary, we shall proceed on the basis that we are permitted to use email communication, both directly to you and to third parties in connection with your matter.  You therefore accept the security risks inherent with such communications.

2.        RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR WORK

The name of the solicitor responsible for your matter and any other person/s dealing with the matter are set out in the Record of Instruction sent to you at the outset of each new matter.  If we need to change personnel we shall notify you and explain the reason for the change.

3.   FEES

3.1     Unless we have agreed any variation with you, our fee arrangements are recorded in our Record of Instruction.  Our charges are based on time spent in dealing with a relevant matter in units of 6 minutes.  Each person is charged at an hourly rate which is reviewed periodically.  You will be notified in writing of any changes to our rates.  The rates which apply to any current matter will be set out in our Record of Instruction.  In assessing the time spent on a matter, we shall take account of the time involved in attendances, writing letters, telephone   attendances, and the consideration of documents and letters received.

3.2      We shall provide you with a guide as to the likely costs of your matter and give you revised estimates as appropriate as the matter progresses.  Any estimate is given as a guide only to the cost and is not binding.  You are of course free to discuss costs with us at any time.  Please note that all references to fees are exclusive of VAT.  Disbursements and charges will be added where applicable.

3.3      In the event of the circumstances of your matter changing materially and the hourly, fixed or capped rate which we have agreed with you therefore becoming inappropriate, wemay contact you to discuss an amended charge or an increase in the hourly rate.

4.        DISBURSEMENTS

4.1     Our professional fees do not include expenses which the firm incurs on your behalf, for example counsel’s fees, Court fees, witness expenses, fees of experts and overseas lawyers, search fees and certain delivery of documents and substantial photocopying charges.  We act on the basis that we are authorised to incur such expenditure on your behalf as is reasonably necessary for the matter in hand and select Counsel, experts and overseas lawyers as we consider appropriate.

4.2     Disbursements will be payable by you on or before completion of the transaction.  We reserve the right not to complete the matter or transaction if disbursements are not paid in a timely manner.

5.        PRINTING AND COPYING

The cost or providing CD-ROM copy documents, if required, will be separately itemised on our invoice.  Where it is necessary for us to use an outside supplier, their charges will be included in our invoice as a separate expense item.

6.        INVOICES AND PAYMENTS

6.1     Unless we have an agreement with you to the contrary, we shall deliver invoices for fees and disbursements together with VAT (where applicable) as the matter progresses.

6.2     On probate matters, a bill will be rendered on probate being granted and quarterly thereafter.  In trust administration cases, an invoice is normally rendered at 5 April each year and at 5 October (except in the case of smaller trusts).

6.3     Invoices are due for settlement on delivery of our account.

6.4     Where we are holding client monies which are not specifically designated for payment out to a third party, we reserve the right to apply them to any outstanding disbursements, whether billed or not.

6.5     We are obliged, by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority, to apply any monies, not specifically designated for payment out to a third party, against any outstanding invoice within fourteen days of rendering the invoice.

6.6     We reserve the right to charge interest on amounts outstanding from the date of the invoice at the statutory rate applicable to judgment debts from time to time.

6.7     If payments which have been requested are not made, we reserve the right to decline to act further.

6.8     If for any reason we do not complete the matter on which we have been instructed, a charge will be made in respect of the work which has been done.

6.9     By paying our invoice you agree to waive any rights you may have to seek a detailed assessment of that invoice.  This does not affect your statutory rights.

7.        PAYMENTS ON ACCOUNT

We usually request payments on account of anticipated fees and disbursements.  Any request for an initial or further payment on account is not a forecast of what the costs of the matter are, or might be,  and the absence of a request for payment on account is not to be taken as an indication that we hold sufficient sums on account.

8.        CONFLICTS/RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER CLIENTS

8.1     Under legal and professional rules, we may have to stop acting for you if there is a conflict between your interests and those of another client, or our duties to you and to other clients, or between our interests and your interests.  As it is difficult for us to anticipate all situations which you might perceive to involve such a conflict, please notify us promptly if you consider there may be a potential conflict.

8.2     Subject to our compliance with the professional rules which regulate our conduct as lawyers and tax advisers, we should not be prevented or restricted by virtue of our relationship with you from advising other clients , including clients whose interests may be adverse to your own and companies you might wish to acquire.

9.        DATA PROTECTION

9.1     We are regulated under the General Data Protection Regulations 2018 for the processing of Data both manually and electronically.  We will keep and use personal date about you for the purposes of providing you with legal services, in accordance with the provisions of the Regulations or other applicable date protection or privacy legislation.

9.2     During the course of providing legal services to you we may disclose your personal data to third parties (both inside and outside of the EEA).  These may include third parties engaged to perform services on your behalf (for example, Barristers, foreign Lawyers, Accountants, and expert witnesses), third parties who perform administrative functions on our behalf, third parties that conduct audit, regulatory or quality checks on our practice, third parties that provide identification verification services, and to our insurers.  If at any time you object to us disclosing any of your personal data to any of these third parties then please let us know.

9.3     We may also use your personal data for the purpose of marketing our services to you and to tell you about development in the law which may be of interest to you.  As a data subject, you have the right to object to direct mailing, and you may withhold or withdraw any consent given by you for this purpose, our website contains details of our Policy.

10.     LIMITATION OF LIABILITY

10.1  Our solicitors, employees and consultants do not personally assume any liability to you nor owe a duty of care to you.  Only A.M. Strachan & Co Solicitors is legally responsible for the services provided to you.

10.2  The firm holds Professional Indemnity Insurance.  Details can be obtained by writing to A.M. Strachan & Co Solicitors at the firm’s address.

10.3  Our total liability to you in respect of any claim, loss or damage of any nature, however caused, by you or a third party, in respect of our legal services, is set out in our Record of Instruction.

10.4  If you are also being advised by any other professional person and you have agreed a limitation of liability in relation to their service, our liability to you will not be increased by reason of that limitation of liability agreed by you with your other professionals.

10.5  The Contract (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 does not apply to the services provided by us or to these Terms of Business.

11.     LIMITS ON ADVICE/OUR ROLE

11.1  Like many other law firms, we have decided not to seek authorisation under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (“FSMA”). This because, as a professional services firm which is regulated and supervised by a designated professional body (namely the Solicitors Regulation Authority) and which does not conduct mainstream “regulated activities”, we benefit from a specific exemption under the FSMA which permits us to carry on regulated activities which are reasonably regarded  as a necessary part of our legal services.

11.2  Our role is to act as your legal advisor in relation to the matter on which we are instructed, and it is not part of our function to give financial or business advice on the merits of entering into a transaction.

12.     DOCUMENTATION COPYRIGHT
We will send all original signed documents generated in connection with our engagement to you unless agreed otherwise.  You will be entitled to use and copy for yourself all documentation created by us in the course of our engagement.  However, all copyright and other intellectual property rights in the documentation and all original ideas created by us and relating to, or in connection with, our engagement in any way, will remain our property.  We shall be free to use any of the documentation to form the basis of any other matter and to use the intellectual property and original ideas to give any advice to other clients, provided we do not breach our duty of confidentiality to you.

13.     RETENTION AND RETRIEVAL OF DOCUMENTS

13.1  We shall be entitled to keep all your papers and documents whilst any money is owing to us.  We reserve the right to keep all documents belonging to us.  We will keep our file of papers (except for all original signed documents and any other papers which you asked to be returned to you) for at least six years after sending you our final bill.  We cannot guarantee that we can erase all electronic documents belonging to you (including those on back up tape).  By agreeing to these Terms of Business, you agree that we have your authority to destroy the file at any time after the expiry of such period.  We will not destroy documents that you have asked us to deposit in safe custody.  We will advise you of safe custody charges.

13.2  We do not normally make a charge for retrieving stored papers or deeds in response to continuing or new instructions to act for you.  However, we reserve the right to make a charge based on the time we spend on reading papers, writing letters or other work necessary to comply with instructions you give us.

14.     RESOLVING PROBLEMS
Whilst we strive to meet your expectations occasionally a problem may arise with the service that we provide to you.  Please feel free to discuss any problem with the solicitor responsible, or if you are still dissatisfied then please contact the Firm’s Complaints Officer, identified in our Record of Instruction.  In accordance with our professional obligations we have a complaints handling procedure and full details of this will be provided on request.

15.     LEGALOMBUDSMAN
If we are unable to settle your complain using our internal complaints process, and you are an individual or small organisation, trust or charity that meets the criteria, you have a right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman, an independent complaints body, established under the Legal Services Act 2007, that deals with legal services complaints.

You will have six months from the date of our letter confirming settlement has not been possible, in which to complain to the Legal Ombudsman. His contact details are:

Legal Ombudsman
P.O. Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ
Telephone : 0300 555 0333
Email : Enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk
Website : www.legalombudsman.org.uk

Alternative complaints bodies such as CEDR at www.cedr.co.uk which are competent to deal with complaints about legal services should both we and you wish to use such a scheme.

16.     MOBILITY AND ACCESS
If you wish to visit our offices and are disabled, we recommend that you advise us of your needs and condition beforehand so that we are able to confirm the facilities which are available and, if necessary, suggest an alternative location to meet.

17.     FUNDS HELD BY US

17.1  We will pay you a sum of interest or a sum in lieu of interest on money held in our Client Account on your behalf, where it is fair and reasonable to do so.  Interest, or a sum in lieu of interest, will be paid at the rate negotiated with our bankers.  This may not match the highest rate available in the markets.

17.2  We will hold your money in a bank or building society in England or Wales as required by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority. We do not accept responsibility for the financial stability of any bank or building society in which your money is held and will not be liable to you for any costs or losses resulting from a banking failure.  However, your money may be covered by the EU Deposit Guarantee Scheme, subject to certain criteria being met.

18.     FRAUD PREVENTION
Please be aware of internet fraud and cyber-crime.  Always telephone the solicitor dealing with your case to check bank details before transferring any money, even if you have received an email purporting to be from them requesting you to do so.  We will not take responsibility if you transfer money to an incorrect bank account.

19.     TERMINATION

19.1  You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time.

19.2  We may terminate your retainer with us on reasonable notice

a)     You have failed when requested to have paid an invoice or made a payment on account of costs; or

b)     You are in breach of any terms of your retainer; or

c)     We consider that for any reason the working relationship has broken down between us.

19.3  If you decide or we decide that we should stop acting for you, you will :

a)     Pay our charges and expenses up until that point calculated on an hourly basis plus expenses as set out on these Terms and Conditions; and

b)     We can keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses.

20.     LAW OF JURISDICTION
These Terms of Business shall be governed by and construed in all respects in accordance with the laws of England and the exclusive jurisdiction of the English Courts.

21.     AGREEMENT
Your continuing instructions in this matter will amount to your acceptance of these Terms and Conditions.

ADDITIONAL TERMS FOR CONTENTIOUS MATTERS

22.     DUTY TO CO-OPERATE
Under the Civil Procedure Rules you are under an obligation to co-operate with the Court and with other parties, so that the Court can deal with the cases expeditiously and fairly.  Failure to do so may result in penalties and in costs.

23.     ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION
We are always happy to discuss with you alternative ways to resolve your dispute apart from litigation, using, for instance, mediation procedure.  To do so is not only good business practice, but under the Civil Procedure Rules you are obliged to take reasonable steps to try to settle the case.

24.     LEGAL AID
We do not undertake publicly funded work (often referred to as “legal aid”).

25.     INSURANCE

25.1  Insurance may be available to cover your legal costs and also the other side’s legal costs.  Please send us a copy of your household or other potentially relevant insurance policies, so that we can check whether you have cover for legal costs.

25.2  After the event insurance (“ATE”) may also be available for some types of dispute.  If you are interested in ATE please raise this with the lawyer dealing with your matter.

26.     CONDITIONAL FEE AGREEMENTS

In some circumstances a conditional fee agreement may be available. The rules governing conditional fee agreements are complex, and you should bear in mind that if you enter into a conditional fee agreement you will be liable for all your own legal costs together with the success fee. Some of your legal costs (but not the success fee) may be recoverable from your opponent.

27.     FEES
It is very difficult to estimate in advance the likely costs that will be incurred in this matter because litigation is notoriously unpredictable.  We shall provide you with a guide as to the likely costs of your matter and give you revised estimates as appropriate as the matter progresses,  Any estimate is given as a guide only to the cost and is not binding.  You are of course free to discuss costs with us at any time.  Please note that all references to fees are exclusive of VAT.  Disbursements and charges will be added where applicable.

28.     RECOVERY OF COSTS (FEES AND DISBURSEMENTS)

28.1  Recovery of costs in Court proceedings.

a)       If your case goes to Court and you are successful you may well be entitled to payment of your costs and disbursements by another party to the dispute.  Where that happens you will probably be awarded costs on the standard basis, which is less than a full indemnity, that is to say less than your total bill from us.  Costs may be assessed proportionately to the result of the hearing. On principles currently applied by the Court such recoveries may only represent between two thirds and three quarters of your bill.  It will sometimes be more and sometimes less.

b)       The examination of legal costs on the standard basis is complicated.  Where the parties cannot agree the amount payable and costs are assessed by the Court in a process called Detailed Assessment.  This is a slow procedure and the costs of the assessment itself sometimes outweigh the benefits.  Even if you are awarded costs, you are at all times liable for our charges in full.  If you are unsuccessful in a Court hearing, you are likely to be ordered to pay the other side’s costs.

c)      Additionally, if you decide to settle, the other side may require payment of their legal costs.  These may be substantial. This is something you should bear in mind at all times.

28.2  Recovery of costs in Employment Tribunal proceedings.

If you have a claim before an Employment Tribunal, either as a Claimant or Respondent, even if you are successful, you are likely to be awarded your costs.  However, there are some circumstances in which an Order for costs may be made against you by the Employment Tribunal or an Order for costs may be awarded to you.  In broad terms Orders for costs may be made where the claim is misconceived or where either party has acted unreasonably.  We shall advise you during the course of proceedings if we consider that your conduct puts you at risk of such an Order.  However, the lack of any such advice does not prevent an award of costs being made against you, which you will be liable to pay.  If we consider that your conduct may give rise to a reasonable risk of an Order for costs being made against you, the Firm reserves the right to terminate the retainer with you with immediate effect.

29.     SUMMARY ASSESSMENT IN COURT PROCEEDINGS
If there is a hearing before the full trial, the Court may make an immediate assessment of the costs of that hearing.  If it does, these costs will be payable within a time limit, usually fourteen days.  If you are ordered at a hearing to pay costs, but do not do so within the time limit, you may be prevented from continuing or defending the action.  A costs order can be enforced in the same way as any judgment e.g. by bankruptcy or winding up proceedings.

 

A.M. Strachan & Co, Solicitors
67 Falkirk Street, London, N1 6SD

Tel : 020 7729 0003
Fax : 020 7739 8416
email : office@amstrachan.co.uk