Terms and Conditions of Business
This is an abstract of our current terms of business, and other relevant information. If you instruct us to represent you then we will send you a formal letter containing the details relevant to you in your case.
If you provide us with any personal data while using this website we may use it to provide you with any information or services you have requested.
We may also use it for any other purpose for which you give your consent. For example, we may send you additional information about the firm or its services, if you have provided such consent. Your consent will be obtained via the engagement letter, which will be sent to you at the outset of your matter.
These Terms and Conditions of Business along with the accompanying engagement letter govern the lawyer-client relationship which will exist between us. By continuing to instruct this firm we shall be entitled to assume you have agreed to the terms and conditions set out here. Unless otherwise agreed, and subject to the application of then current hourly rates, these Terms and Conditions of Business shall apply to any future instructions given by you to this firm. Nobody is authorised to alter these terms other than in writing.
2. Service Standards
We aim to offer our clients quality legal advice with a personal service at a fair cost. As a start, we hope it is helpful to you to set out in this statement the basis on which we will provide our professional services.
The firm sets the following standards:
- We will regularly update you with progress on your matter
- We will communicate with you in plain language
- We will explain to you the legal work required as your matter progresses
- We will update you on the cost of your matter, as appropriate
- We will update you on whether the likely outcomes still justify the likely costs and risks associated with your matter whenever there is a material change in circumstances
- We will update you on the likely timescales for each stage of this matter and any important changes in those estimates
- We will continue to review whether there are alternative methods by which your matter can be funded
In return, we request that our clients assume the following responsibilities:
- To provide clear instructions to us at all times
- To respond to communications from us promptly and to attend arranged appointments
- To notify contact details, change of address, telephone numbers etc. promptly
- To discharge payments requested from you promptly
3. Hours of business
The normal hours of opening at our offices are between 9.00am and 5.00pm on weekdays. Messages can be left via voicemail outside those hours and appointments can be arranged at other times when this is necessary.
4. People responsible for your work
The person responsible for dealing with your work and the person responsible for the overall supervision of the matter will be set out in the engagement letter. We will try to avoid changing the people who handle your work but if this cannot be avoided, we will tell you promptly of any change and why it may be necessary.
5. Privately-funded cases
a) Charges and expenses
The fee structure applied to our work is dependent on the nature of the matter and will be calculated on either an hourly rate basis or a fixed fee arrangement.
If we have agreed a fixed fee for work on your case, the arrangements will be set out in the engagement letter. Provided we are not requested to do any more work than when that fixed fee was agreed, we will not make any additional charge. However, we reserve the right to make an additional charge in the event that the matter becomes more complex or lengthier than originally estimated. This would entail either increasing our fee estimate or charging at an hourly rate for the additional work involved. In the latter case we would try and give you our best estimate of the likely additional cost or, where this is not possible, we would obtain your authority to carry out work to an agreed fee limit.
On matters funded on an hourly rate basis, our charges will be calculated mainly by reference to the time actually spent by the solicitors and other staff in respect of any work which they do on your behalf. This may include meetings with you and perhaps others; reading, preparing and working on papers; making and receiving telephone calls, e-mails, faxes and text messages; preparation of any detailed costs estimates, schedules and bills; attending at court; and time necessarily spent travelling away from the office. From time to time we may arrange for some of this work to be carried out by persons not directly employed by us; such work will be charged to you at the hourly rate which would be charged if we had done the work ourselves.
Routine letters, e-mails and texts that we send and routine telephone calls that we make and receive are charged at one-tenth of the hourly rate. Other letters, e-mails and calls are charged on a time spent basis. The current hourly rates applicable to your case will be set out in the accompanying letter. We will add VAT to these at the rate that applies when the work is done. At present, VAT is 20%.
These hourly rates have to be reviewed periodically to reflect increases in overhead costs and inflation If a review is carried out before this matter has been concluded, we will inform you of any variation in the rate before it takes effect.
In addition to the time spent, we may take into account a number of factors including any need to carry out work outside our normal office hours, the complexity of the issues, the speed at which action has to be taken, any particular specialist expertise which the case may demand. An increase in the rates may be applied to reflect such factors.
Solicitors have to pay out various other expenses on behalf of clients ranging from court fees, experts' fees, Counsel’s fees and so on. We have no obligation to make such payments unless you have provided us with the funds for that purpose. VAT is payable on certain expenses. We refer to such payments generally as 'disbursements'.
Please note that if you lose your case at Court you will in most cases also be expected to pay a contribution towards the prosecution costs. The amount of costs ordered will depend on a number of different factors.
b) Defendant’s Costs Orders
Defendant’s Costs Orders are a mechanism for a defendant/appellant to recover some or all of their legal costs. Legal costs are defined as fees, charges, disbursements and other amounts payable in respect of advocacy or litigation services including, in particular, expert witness costs. These costs, however, will be reimbursed at legal aid rates details of which can be provided upon request. These can also be obtained on the Ministry of Justice website http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/national-taxing-team. This means that there will be a shortfall between what we can recover on your behalf and what you owe to us. That difference would have to be paid by you.
Defendant’s Costs Orders are only available in the following circumstances:
Magistrates' Court Proceedings
In simple terms, the legislation provides that non-legally aided privately paying clients in the magistrates' court will be entitled to recover their legal costs under a Defendant's Costs Order if they are acquitted or the case is otherwise discontinued, but the amount payable will be limited to the amount that would be payable under specified legal aid rates.
Crown Court Proceedings
An acquitted (or otherwise successful) Crown Court defendant who has paid for legal services may recover their legal costs, limited to the amount that would be payable under specified legal aid rates provided that they applied for, and were determined ineligible for, legal aid.
6. Legally-aided cases
If your matter is financed via legal aid, the terms and conditions may differ according to the type of matter and legal aid cover which applies. This will be explained to you in the engagement letter. You agree that you will keep us and the Legal Aid Agency informed of any change in your financial circumstances once in receipt of legal aid.
Please note that although your own costs will be covered by legal aid, if you lose your case you will in most cases be expected to pay a contribution towards the prosecution costs. The amount of costs ordered will depend on a number of different factors.
7. Storage of papers and documents
After completing the work, we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses. We will keep your file of papers in storage for not less than 6 years except those papers that you ask to be returned to you. After that, storage is on the clear understanding that we have the right to destroy your file after such period as we consider reasonable without further reference to you, or to make a charge for storage if we ask you to collect your papers and you fail to do so. No charge will be made to you for such storage unless prior notice in writing is given to you of a charge to be made from a future date which may be specified in that notice.
If we retrieve papers or documents from storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act in connection with your affairs, we will not normally charge for such retrieval. However, we may make a charge based on time spent at our lowest charge out rate for producing stored papers or documents to you or another at your request. We may also charge for reading, correspondence, or other work necessary to comply with your instructions.
8. Financial services
We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to carry out financial services
You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time, but we will still be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is money owing to us for our charges and expenses. If at any stage you do not wish us to continue doing work and/or incurring charges and expenses on your behalf, you must tell us this clearly in writing. We may only decide to stop acting for you if we have good reason, for example, if you do not pay an interim bill, fail to provide us with instructions or if a conflict of interest arises. We will tell you the reason and give you notice in writing.
Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013, you have the right to cancel this contract within 14 days without giving any reason. This only applies where contracts are agreed away from our premises or where we are not both physically present. To exercise the right to cancel, you must inform us of your decision to cancel this contract by a clear statement (e.g. a letter sent by post, fax or 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. Please note that should you exercise your right to cancel, reapplying for legal aid for the same issue might be difficult if our retainer is terminated.
10. Data protection
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 to help us manage our practice, statutory returns and legal/regulatory compliance. Our use of that information is subject to your instructions, data protection law and our duty of confidentiality.
Please note that our work for you may require us to pass on such information to third parties such as expert witnesses and other professional advisers, including sometimes advisers appointed by another party to your matter. We may also give such information to others who perform services for us, such as typing or photocopying. Our practice may be audited or checked by our accountants or our regulator, or by other organisations.
You have a right of access under data protection law to the personal data that we hold about you. We seek to keep that personal data correct and up to date. You should let us know if you believe the information we hold about you needs to be corrected or updated. The person at the firm with overall responsibility for data protection compliance is Ben Hibbert. The firm is registered with the Information Commissioner. Further information regarding data protection and privacy is available from the Information Commissioner’s Office www.ico.org.uk.
We may receive personal data from you for the purposes of our money laundering checks, such as a copy of your passport. These will be processed only for the purposes of preventing money laundering and terrorist financing, or as otherwise permitted by law or with your express consent. You consent to us retaining such data for longer than the five year statutory period, unless you tell us otherwise.
If you send us personal data about anyone other than yourself you will ensure you have any appropriate consents and notices in place to enable you to transfer that personal data to us and so that we may use it for the purposes for which you provide it to us.
11. Equality and diversity
We are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all our dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our Equality and Diversity Policy.
We shall communicate with you in the most effective way, as agreed between us. You should be aware that the use of e-mail is not secure for confidential matters. We take every precaution to ensure that e-mail is virus free but we cannot guarantee this. If you require correspondence to be addressed to a particular person or marked private and confidential then you must tell us.
13. Identity, disclosure and confidentiality requirements
The law requires solicitors to get satisfactory evidence of the identity of their clients and sometimes people related to 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. To comply with the law, we need to get evidence of your identity as soon as possible. If you cannot provide us with the specific identification requested, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss other ways to verify your identity.
We are entitled to refuse to act for you if you fail to supply appropriate proof of identity for yourself or for any principal whom you may represent. We may arrange to carry out an electronic verification of your identity if we consider that a saving of time and cost will be achieved by doing so. The cost of any such search will be charged to you. If the amount is in excess of £10 including VAT, we will seek your prior agreement.
Solicitors are under a professional and legal obligation to keep the affairs of the client confidential. This obligation, however, is subject to a statutory exception: legislation on money laundering and terrorist financing has placed solicitors under a legal duty in certain circumstances to disclose information to the National Crime Agency. Where a solicitor knows or suspects that a transaction on behalf of a client involves money laundering, the solicitor may be required to make a disclosure. If, while we are acting for you, it becomes necessary to make such a disclosure, we may not be able to inform you that it has been made, or of the reasons for it, because the law prohibits ‘tipping-off’. Where the law permits us, we will tell you about any potential money laundering problem and explain what action we may need to take.
External firms or organisations may conduct audit or quality checks on our practice. These external firms or organisations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files. We may need to disclose your information to third parties (such as barristers, accountants or government agencies) to enable us to handle your affairs. We may also need to permit third parties (such as our auditors and the Solicitors Regulation Authority) to have access to your information for administrative or regulatory purposes. We may also outsource work. This might be for example costings, research and preparation to assist with your matter. Information from your file may therefore be made available in such circumstances. We will always aim to obtain a confidentiality agreement with the third party. We will not otherwise disclose your information to any third party unless permitted or required to do so by law. If you do not want your file to be outsourced please tell us as soon as possible.
14. Limit on our liability for professional negligence
Our liability to you for a breach of your instructions shall be limited to £2M, unless we expressly state a higher amount in the letter accompanying these terms of business. We will not be liable for any consequential, special, indirect or exemplary damages, costs or losses, or any damages, costs or losses attributable to lost profits or opportunities. We can only limit our liability to the extent the law allows. In particular, we cannot limit our liability for death or personal injury caused by our negligence.
15. Complaints Procedure
At John Robinson & Co we aim to provide the best possible service to our clients and, in order to do this, we need to know from you if you feel dissatisfied. Should you have any occasion to feel unhappy about our service, or about the bill, please let us know straight away and we will discuss this with you. Should you wish to make a complaint, Ben Hibbert is the person who deals with these matters and he will be prepared to meet with you to discuss your complaint. We have a procedure in place which details how we handle complaints which is available upon request.
We have eight weeks to consider your complaint. If we have not resolved it within this time, or if you are not happy with our handling of your complaint, you may complain to the Legal Ombudsman (PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ, telephone 0300 555 0333, website www.legalombudsman.org.uk). The Legal Ombudsman will expect you to have given your lawyer a chance to resolve your complaint before it will get involved. Normally, you will need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final written response from us and within six years from the date of the act or omission about which you are complaining, or three years from the date you should reasonably have known there were grounds for complaint.
You also have a right to complain about or challenge your bill by applying for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. The Legal Ombudsman may not consider a complaint about a bill, if you have applied to the court for assessment of that bill.
16. Provision of Service Regulations 2009
In accordance with the Provision of Service Regulations 2009 details of our Professional Indemnity Insurance can be obtained by contacting our offices. Our VAT number is 317056867. We are regulated and authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) under number 54397. The SRA Code of Conduct sets out the regulatory framework imposed on service providers such as ours. The current edition of the SRA Code is available on the SRA website at www.sra.org.uk.