Our Terms of Business
We (Solicitors Title LLP trading as Solicitors Title) agree to use our knowledge experience and skills to implement your instructions, protect your interests and maintain your confidentiality and that of the work you have asked us to carry out, in compliance with the law and professional rules by which we are bound. As solicitors we are qualified to advise on and transact English law. Your instructions to us imply that we may incur such costs and do such things as are necessary to carry out your instructions in accordance with this retainer.
We are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and abide by the Code of Conduct 2011 and our rules of professional conduct. The Code adopts an outcomes-focussed approach and ensures that we abide by certain principles in our dealings with you as our client, the courts and others.
Scope of Our Advice
We do not provide advice on taxation matters, except where these are directly linked to an underlying transaction, such as the payment of stamp duty or stamp duty land tax; if we complete and submit a taxation return for you, we will only be doing so acting solely as your agent; liability for the contents of any such return remains solely with you. We are not regulated to provide you with detailed financial, mortgage lending or insurance advice and you accept that these are outside of the scope of our retainer. We therefore strongly recommend that you seek your own independent advice on such matters where you consider these to be relevant to any transaction or work for which we are acting. You accept and acknowledge that we will not be responsible for recommending any particular kind of advice, or any particular professional advisors; these issues are solely a matter for you.
We are included on the register maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority so that we can carry on insurance mediation activity.
Our fees are based on a number of factors. Primarily, this will be the amount of time we spend on the matter at the hourly charging rate confirmed to you. However, other factors will also include the complexity of the matter, the specialist knowledge required and the responsibility we are accepting in advising you.
Where an hourly charging rate is quoted this will include meetings, reading and preparing documents, consideration of the relevant issues arising from your instructions, making and receiving telephone calls, letters, emails and faxes, representation in court, travelling time and all correspondence and administration involved in applying our skills and knowledge to your work. Occasionally we may arrange for some work to be carried out by third parties in which case such work will be charged to you at the hourly rate which we would have charged if we had done the work ourselves, unless these are classed as third party disbursements, in which case those charges will apply.
Our time charging is on the basis of real time with a minimum time recording of two minutes.
All fees quoted are exclusive of VAT and disbursements.
Where we reasonably believe that your case would be prejudiced if we were to stop acting until we had obtained your consent to the additional cost, these terms of business provide your authority to us to expend a maximum of £150 (exclusive of VAT) in progressing your case before obtaining your consent.
Our rates are reviewed annually and should your matter cross over a review date then our new charges will prevail for work done after the review date.
We may ask you for monies on account in respect of charges and expenses. If any bill or request for payment is not met we reserve the right to stop acting for you further; you accept and acknowledge that this may have significant consequences, such as where we are undertaking litigation on your behalf, but that you accept and waive any liability on our part, if any consequential loss arises from your failure to meet your own obligations to us, under these terms of business. We reserve the right to submit monthly interim bills.
Payment in full of all charges is required prior to or upon legal completion where we are acting in a transaction. In this case, you authorise us to immediately deduct our charges and expenses from any funds that we are holding on your behalf; we will of course account to you for these, providing a breakdown of how monies have been used, notwithstanding that our invoices may provide for payment in 14 days.
In all other cases, payment is due to us within 14 days of the date shown on your bill. Interest will be charged on a daily basis at the prevailing County Court judgement rate from the date of the bill, where our payment terms are not met.
We are entitled to retain any money, papers or other property belonging to you that come into, or remain within, our possession pending payment of our fees and disbursements.
It is your responsibility to ensure that we are in receipt of cleared funds on the day we have told you that funds are required. Cheques must be received by us at least seven working days before to allow for clearance. Otherwise you agree to send funds to us by electronic transfer at your expense and in one tranche. You will be liable for any additional costs for additional work resulting if these conditions are not met, given the additional administration required to process multiple receipts of funds.
We are unable to accept payments of cash in excess of £500. Monies due to you from us will be paid by cheque or bank transfer only, and will not be made payable to a third party, unless you provide written authorisation with the details of the third party, in advance.
You agree that if we are acting for a limited company or other limited liability entity, the individual person or persons instructing us, as a separate and primary agreement by each of them, unconditionally and irrevocably guarantee to settle our fees and expenses if these become overdue for payment and, in consideration of us agreeing to act on behalf of the limited company or other limited liability entity, shall indemnify and keep us indemnified, on demand by us giving notice to any of them, against all losses, unmet liabilities, charges, costs and expenses suffered or incurred by us arising from the retainer.
Acting for mortgage lenders
All mortgage lender costs must be paid by you. We reserve the right to charge a separate fee for acting for any lender at any time.
We will not provide you with mortgage advice regarding any mortgage product. We shall always request funds from the lender the day before completion and you will be responsible to the lender for the payment of interest from then.
When redeeming any charge we reserve the right to hold surplus funds until such time as we have received confirmation from the lender that your mortgage has been redeemed and any release document issued.
You may ask us to hold funds on your behalf; this must relate to an underlying transaction where we are acting for you. Except where these relate to payment of our fees or disbursements, where an invoice has already been rendered, all funds transferred to us will be held in a designated client account (“Client Money”). You may ask us to provide and may also request this to be refunded, unless you have agreed that we may hold those funds subject to a retention or other condition, that would naturally prevent us from meeting this request.
As you may be aware, banks and other financial institutions are not immune from difficulties. Although we only bank with reputable financial institutions, we draw your attention to the potential for loss and draw your attention to the applicable limit in those circumstances of £85,000 under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme; further details are available from fcsc.org.uk
We have a transparent policy in relation to the payment of interest on Client Money that we hold on your behalf. This is as follows:
- We are not obliged to hold Client Money in a higher rate deposit account unless you specifically request this in writing and agree to meet our reasonable charges in doing so.
- We will account to you for interest on Client Money, calculated daily and at the rate that we receive interest from our bankers, where the amount of interest due to you equals or exceeds £20. To pay sums below this threshold would incur a disproportionate administrative burden and therefore you accept this basis for holding funds on your behalf.
Storage of Papers and Documents
We are entitled to keep all your papers and documents if there is money owing to us for our charges and expenses. You agree that any such papers and documents may be destroyed after such period as we consider reasonable (usually between 6 and 12 years) and that we may store your file electronically in which instance original paperwork will be destroyed. We will not destroy any original documents such as wills, deeds and other securities, which you ask us to hold in safe custody. We reserve the right to charge for storing such documents. Retrieval of papers or documents from storage will incur a fee of £25.00 plus VAT payable in advance together with any charge incurred in complying with your instructions. We will retain all papers and files for a minimum of six years after which they will be destroyed without further notification to you.
If something is not to your liking please do tell the fee earner. If that does not resolve the issue then Janet Milton (our client care partner) will look into the matter and report to you as quickly as possible and in accordance with our complaints procedure, a copy of which is available upon request. If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can ask the Legal Ombudsman at PO Box 15870, Birmingham, B30 to investigate further.
Identity, disclosure and confidentiality requirements
We are obliged by law to check your identity and if we are unable to do so we may cease to act for you. You agree to co-operate with such requests and to pay all costs involved in this process which will include electronic verification checks. Our firm may be subject to audit checks by external organisations and we may outsource work to third parties. You agree to information from your file may therefore be made available in such circumstances.
You agree to provide us with written confirmation of any significant variation to your instructions, to respond promptly in writing to any request for instruction you may receive from us, generally to co-operate with us and not to give conflicting instructions nor to ask us to contradict information given to third parties.
You agree to us communicating with you and others when appropriate by e-mail or fax notwithstanding that these methods may not be entirely secure. Incoming faxes and emails will not in the ordinary course of events take precedence over letters delivered by post.
Where the “client” is more than one person or where there is more than one director of a company, for example, it is important that we have the authority to rely on instructions provided to us. Unless you confirm otherwise, in writing, which you may do at any time, we shall be entitled to take and act upon instructions from the person with whom we have day to day contact about your matter and those instructions will be given on the assumption that anyone else with an interest has authorised those instructions in the terms that they are communicated. Otherwise there might be delay whilst we seek to confirm instructions from everyone. This always remains subject to the possibility of a conflict of interest or where the interests of those involved materially differ, in which case we will either seek instructions from all, will confirm to you in writing the possibility of a conflict arising and may recommend independent legal advice or, in compliance with the Code of Conduct, may have to cease acting for one or more of you.
We collect and process certain types of data about you and individuals related to you (for example your personnel, where you are a company) in order to provide our services and do so in line with applicable Data Protection Laws, where this term means the General Data Protection Regulation 2016, laws implementing or supplementing that Regulation within the country in which you are located and the Data Protection Act 2018 or equivalent data protection legislation in force from time to time. Our Privacy Notice provides further information regarding the types of data processed and the reasons for the processing.
We take steps to ensure a level of security for your personal data, adopting appropriate organisational and technical measures and acknowledging the rights of the individuals whose data is held, under relevant Data Protection Laws. We do not transfer data outside of the EEA.
You may have a right of audit under relevant Data Protection Laws and to that end we will make available, upon request, such information or access concerning our processing of personal data, to include demonstrating our own compliance. In addition, you may be entitled to a complete copy of such personal data in a sufficiently readable form; any request should be made in writing, ideally in hard copy form and sent to one of our offices.
If we receive a request from an individual about their data which is part of your data that we hold (commonly known as a subject access request) or if we become aware of any personal data breach, we will notify you without undue delay, providing such information as necessary to allow you to provide a response or, in the case of a breach, to make a report to the ICO and the relevant individuals concerned.
Where you judge it to be necessary to undertake a Data Protection Impact Assessment, we will provide such reasonable assistance to you, in undertaking the assessment, to the extent that we are able to do so.
Consumer Protection; provision of information
If you are a consumer, which means that you are acting wholly or mainly outside of your trade, business, craft or profession, we are required to provide you with certain pre-determined information, under consumer law. If the nature of your instructions are at a distance, i,e. where we are not face-to-face, we take it that you are content to be provided with that information electronically, as opposed to on paper or on another durable medium; however, if you would like to receive that information in a durable form, or if you consider that we have not fully provided you with the necessary information, you should not proceed with your instructions further until you are satisfied that we have provided you with all relevant information.
Important: Cancellation Rights and Starting Work Immediately
You are entitled to exercise certain cancellation rights, in relation to our services. You have a general right to cancel your instructions within 14 days from the day upon which we agree to a retainer with you; effectively a ‘cooling-off period’. However, where you have asked us to commence work on your matter at any time before the expiry of that 14 day period, you acknowledge that such request constitutes your consent for us to start work but you recognise that this will limit your cancellation rights; at the time you cancel our retainer (should you do so), you will have to pay for work carried out and expenses incurred up to that date and will lose your right to cancel if we have completed the scope of our retainer in full by that date. If you do seek to withdraw instructions, you should give notice by telephone, e-mail or letter to the person responsible for you work. You acknowledge that much of the work that we carry out for client is likely to take more than 30 days.
If you do wish to cancel, you can do so by making a clear statement that you wish to cancel; to allow us to deal with this effectively, our preference is for this to be in writing; by letter or an e-mail. To meet the cancellation deadline, it is sufficient for you to send your communication concerning your exercise of the right to cancel before the cancellation period has expired. There is a standard form of notice that you can use, but you do not have to. We have set this out below, for your reference:
To: Solicitors Title LLP, 17A Gandy Street, Exeter, Devon EX4 3LS
Or: E-mail: [email protected]
You may terminate or ask us to postpone your instructions to us in writing at any time but you must then settle all of your account with us.
We may decide to stop acting for you. If we do then we will inform you of the reason and bill you as agreed for work carried out up to that date.
Limitation of Liability
We maintain compulsory professional indemnity insurance with a reputable insurer, covering all of our practice – details of such cover is available upon written request.
Our advice and any work carried out for you is for your sole confidential use. Our advice and work is not to be relied upon by any other person unless we have expressly agreed this in writing. You agree to make any third party with any interest in our work for you aware of this limitation. No liability is deemed to be owed or accepted by us to any other person, nor is any liability accepted for any loss, damage or costs of whatever nature suffered or incurred by reason of any reliance which we have not explicitly authorised.
Your retainer is with Solicitors title LLP, and not with any member, partner, employee or consultant of the firm.
The extent of Solicitors Title LLP’s liability, of any kind, to you or any other third party as above, arising out of or in connection with our retainer and/or our contractual or other relationship with you, shall not exceed £4,000,000 per event.
Terms of Business
Unless otherwise agreed, and subject to then current hourly rates, these Terms of Business shall apply to any future instructions given by you to this firm.
Your instructions in this matter will amount to an acceptance of these Terms of Business.
v.4 June 2018