Client Care Commitment
We will tell you who will have the day to day responsibility for each matter, and his or her position within the Team handling it. That person will inform you of progress and of any problems or delays. You should direct routine enquiries to that person. We will also tell you who is to supervise that person.
We aim to satisfy all of our clients. If there is any aspect of our service which you wish to discuss, and upon which the person dealing with the matter has not been able to satisfy you, please raise your particular concern with the Head of the Team doing the work for you. The sooner you do this, the better. A copy of our complaints procedure is available on request.
The Head of the Team will look into your enquiry, and respond promptly to you, but our Senior Complaints Partner is also available, if the investigation of the Head of the Team has not, in your view, dealt adequately with the point you raised. This is the final stage of our internal complaints procedure. If you still remain dissatisfied then you may refer the matter to the Legal Ombudsman, within 6 months of our final response. Your complaint should also be brought to the Legal Ombudsman no later than six years from when the problem occurred or three years from when you should reasonably have known about the complaint. The Legal Ombudsman can be contacted by telephone on 0300 555 0333, by email at email@example.com or by post at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ. Please refer to the ‘scheme rules’ on the Legal Ombudsman website at www.legalombudsman.org.uk for information on your eligibility to take your complaint to the Ombudsman.
Calculation of our Charges
Our Engagement Letter sets out how we calculate our charges.
In some cases we may be able to agree a fixed or scale charge with you. In other cases, the amount of time spent in dealing with each matter is central to the amount of the charge. This is so even if a matter does not progress to a successful conclusion.
When we have given an estimate of our charges, it is always on the basis that we will encounter no difficulties or unexpected delays and there will be a reasonable level of contact between us. We may charge for extra work arising out of such complications, but we will inform you if our estimate may be significantly exceeded.
A careful record will be kept of the amount of time spent by everyone who deals with any aspect of a matter. Routine letters and phone calls are charged at a minimum of 6 minutes each unless a greater time is actually spent. Every person has a basic hourly charging rate, which will be reviewed in July of each year, and we will notify you of any increase. The more senior the person, the higher the rate will be.
If you wish, you may stipulate a limit to the amount of charges incurred, by writing to us to fix a sum. Once that limit is reached, we will advise you, and we will not take any further action, nor incur further charges, without your agreement.
In some cases the final charge will reflect only the value of time spent, at the hourly charging rates of those who have carried out the work. In others, factors such as value, speed, importance, difficulty, novelty, complexity, urgency, or any unusual feature, may also be relevant – if so, they may enhance the final charge.
We can supply more information about the hourly charging rates of anyone dealing with your matter, or about how a charge has been calculated, if you ask us. Basic details are in our Engagement Letter.
When we have incurred expense on your behalf, we are entitled to recover that cost from you, in the same ways that we can recover charges. Disbursements may include court or search fees, fees for experts or barristers, travelling expenses, preparation of detailed costs calculations etc. The term "fees” includes our charges and any disbursement.
Payment of our Fees
You will usually receive the final bill when we conclude the matter. Before that we may ask you to make payments on account, i.e. advance payments to cover fees. We may also submit interim bills when a matter is partly concluded, especially in long-running matters.
In the case of instructions received from a limited company, we may ask for a written guarantee for payment of our fees from one or more directors or shareholders, and may suspend work until these have been completed to our satisfaction.
Any bill submitted must be paid within four weeks. Unless you tell us otherwise in writing, we may apply any of your money we hold on our Client Account to payment of any bill due to us, 2 weeks after the bill has been delivered to you. On overdue accounts, we have the right to charge interest on a daily basis at 4% over Barclays Bank base rate from time to time from the date of the bill.
In very limited circumstances, a bill may require approval by you prior to it becoming payable. If this is the case, this will be specifically indicated on the bill sent to you.
Value Added Tax is chargeable on our fees, and (unless stated in writing) is not included in any estimate given.
We may immediately suspend all work on your behalf, if you do not make a payment on account when requested, or if payment of any bill is overdue. We reserve the right not to complete a property transaction if all sums due have not been paid in full. In either case, we will do our best to notify you immediately.
Recovery of Costs and Fees
In some matters, you may be able to recover some or all of our fees from a third party, e.g. an insurer. If you so instruct us, we will take reasonable steps to assist in recovering that money for you. However, you remain liable to pay our fees, until recovery.
It is important to draw to your attention that in many court cases: -
• if you succeed, you may be able to recover some fees from your opponent, though the amount will depend upon the circumstances. You will be responsible to us for all the fees in the first instance. Remember, there is no guarantee that your opponent will have the means to pay, even if ordered to do so.
• if you do not succeed, you may have to pay your opponent's legal costs. Funding from the Legal Services Commission will not cover these. We urge you to obtain insurance against such a risk, and may be able to arrange such cover for you, but we do not advise about the best policy in any particular case.
• if your opponent is, or becomes, entitled to funding from the Legal Services Commission, it is unlikely that you will recover your legal costs, even if you succeed
We will retain any interest on costs awarded in your favour.
If you are VAT registered and we recover fees from a third party, you may still have to pay the VAT element to us.
Legal Services Commission
If you qualify for funding from the Legal Services Commission, then our fees are paid under the terms of your certificate, which is dealt with in our leaflet "QualitySolicitors Wilson Browne and the Legal Services Commission". Work which we do before funding from the Commission starts or after it has finished, or which is outside its scope, is charged to you in accordance with these terms.
If you think you may qualify for funding from the Legal Services Commission, it is in your interests to ask us about it. We will tell you, if we think you may qualify for this funding.
Money Laundering Regulations
• Under these regulations we may need to ask you to provide details of identity and address, and it is a condition of accepting instructions that you will do so.
• Since the implementation of these rules, we have a duty to report certain matters to the relevant authorities. If we do so in your case, and have acted in good faith, we will not be liable to you for any loss you suffer as a result of that.
• We may refuse to accept payment of sums in cash.
• If we act on instructions from the Serious Organised Crime Agency or other relevant authority not to complete or progress a transaction then we will not be liable to you for any loss which occurs as a result of that instruction.
Limitation of Liability
We will maintain Professional Indemnity insurance for an amount of no less than £15,000,000.00. In the event that there is a claim of any sort against us by you, or by anyone else to whom we may owe obligations arising from our advice, our liability to you will in any case be limited to this amount, or a higher sum not exceeding the upper limit of our Professional Indemnity insurance for the time being. This is agreed as being a reasonable restriction on our liability, unless you have agreed a different arrangement with us.
File and Strongroom Storage
• We will retain your file for a minimum period of six years unless we agree a longer period with you. We may dispose of the file after that time. We presently make no charge for storing your file.
• Documents we hold in strongroom storage will be retained in safe-keeping. We make no charge for this service.
• We reserve the right to make a charge of £50.00 plus VAT for any withdrawal of documents or files from safe-keeping unless associated with instructions for a new matter on your behalf.
Other Points to Note
• Unless we have written to you accepting responsibility to advise on the tax implications of any transaction, we have no such liability or responsibility.
• We do not offer, or hold ourselves out as offering investment business advice. Sometimes our work involves investments. We are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority and so we may refer you to someone who is authorised to provide any necessary advice. However, we can provide certain limited services in relation to investments, provided they are closely linked with the legal services we are providing to you, as we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The Law Society – the representative organisation for solicitors - is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.
• Interest payable on funds held for you in our client account will be based on the principle that the rate of interest will reflect the amount of funds held and the duration held, having regard to the need for instant access to those funds. Interest will only be paid once any accrued amount has exceeded £20 or where it is considered fair and reasonable to do so in the circumstances. Interest payable will be calculated on a daily basis and usually credited to your account at the end of the instruction.
• Data Protection Act – this requires us to advise you that we hold your details on our database and that we may use this, from time to time, to send you information which we think will be of interest. This also applies to any third party providers we may use.
• The firm is has been accredited with the Lexcel quality standard of The Law Society. We may therefore become subject to periodic checks by outside assessors, which may mean their inspecting your file. All inspections are of course conducted in confidence. If you prefer to withhold your consent this will not affect work on your file. As most clients have no objection to their files being checked we will assume, unless you notify us otherwise, that we do have your consent. This consent will extend to all future matters unless you notify us otherwise.
• Unless the right of enforcement is expressly granted, it is not intended that a third party should have the right to enforce a provision of this agreement under the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999.
• If at any time you wish to terminate your instructions, please advise us in writing.