Terms & Conditions

Our Aim

·     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.

 

Our hours of business

·     The normal hours of opening at our offices are between 9.00 am and 5.30 pm from Monday to Friday. An email can be sent to enquiries@robisonwilsonsolicitors.co.uk outside those hours and appointments can be arranged at other times when this is essential.

 

People responsible for your work

·     The Solicitor responsible for dealing with your work will be Mrs Coral Williams. 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.

·     The Principal of this firm with final responsibility for work done is Mrs Coral Williams.

 

Charges and expenses for private paying clients

·     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 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. Routine letters, e-mails and texts received are charged at one-twentieth of the hourly rate. Other letters, e-mails and calls are charged on a time-spent basis.

·     The current hourly rates are set out below. We will add VAT to these at the rate that applies when the work is done. At present, VAT is 20%.

 

£

Principal Solicitor/Sole Practitioner

250

Senior Solicitors

200

Paralegal

150

Legal Secretary

75

·     These hourly rates have to be reviewed periodically to reflect increases in overhead costs and inflation. Normally the rates are reviewed with effect from 1st April each year. 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, and any particular specialist expertise, which the case may demand. An increase in the rates may be applied to reflect such factors. In property transactions, in the administration of estates and in matters involving a substantial financial value or benefit to a client, a charge reflecting, for example, the price of the property, the size of the estate, or the value of the financial benefit may be considered. It is not always possible to indicate how these aspects may arise but on present information we would expect them to be sufficiently taken into account in the rates, which we have quoted. Where an increase in the rates or a charge reflecting any value element is to be added we will explain this to you.

·     Some straightforward matters are fixed fees and the rates are set out below. We will add VAT to these at the rate that applies when the work is done. At present, VAT is 20%. If the matter becomes complicated, the hourly rates set out above will apply.

 

£

Wills

550-800

Statutory Declaration/Change of Name

180

·     Solicitors have to pay out various other expenses on behalf of clients ranging from Land or Probate Registry fees, 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’.

·     If, for any reason, this matter does not proceed to completion, we will be entitled to charge you for work done and expenses incurred.

·     If a payment is due all work shall cease until payments have been made. Robinson Wilson Solicitors will not be held responsible if a deadline has been missed, deadline was not informed to us or the case is lost.

 

Payment arrangements

·     It is normal practice to ask clients to pay interim bills and sums of money from time to time on account of the charges and expenses, which are expected in the following weeks or months. We find that this helps clients in budgeting for costs as well as keeping them informed of the legal expenses, which are being incurred. If such requests are not met with prompt payment, delay in the progress of a case may result. In the unlikely event of any bill or request for payment not being met, this firm reserves the right to stop acting for you further.

·     Payment is due to us within 28 days of our sending you a bill. We may charge if payment remains outstanding. Interest will be charged on a daily basis at 3.25% over the bank’s base rate from time to time from the date of the bill in cases where payment is not made within 28 days of delivery by us of the bill.

·     The common law entitles us to retain any money, papers or other property belonging to you, which properly comes into our possession pending payment of our costs, whether or not the property is acquired in connection with the matter for which the costs were incurred. This is known as a ‘general lien’. We are not entitled to sell property held under a lien but we are entitled to hold property, other than money, even if the value of it greatly exceeds the amount due to us in respect of costs.

·     If we are conducting litigation for you, we have additional rights in any property recovered or preserved for you whether it is in our possession or not and in respect of all costs incurred, whether billed or unbilled. We also have a right to ask the court to make a charging order in our favour for any assessed costs.

·     We do not accept payments to us in cash in excess of £1,500. Monies due to you from us will be paid by cheque or bank transfer. You will only receive a cash refund if the amount is under £50 and the initial payment was originally a cash payment. Payments/Refunds will not be made payable to a third party.

 

Other parties’ charges and expenses

·     In some cases and transactions a client may be entitled to payment of costs by some other person. It is important that you understand that in such circumstances, the other person may not be required to pay all the charges and expenses, which you incur with us. You have to pay our charges and expenses in the first place and any amounts, which can be recovered, will be a contribution towards them. If the other party is in receipt of legal aid no costs are likely to be recovered unless the court orders it.

·     If you are successful and a court orders another party to pay some or all of your charges and expenses, interest can be claimed on them from the other party from the date of the court order. We will account to you for such interest to the extent that you have paid our charges or expenses on account, but we are entitled to the rest of that interest.

·     You will also be responsible for paying our charges and expenses of seeking to recover any costs that the court orders the other party to pay to you.

·     A client who is unsuccessful in a court case may be ordered to. That money would be payable in addition to our charges and expenses. Arrangements can be made to take out insurance to cover liability for such legal expenses.

·     Please note that you do not need to chase the fee earner/Office for updates on your case as we shall update you when we have relevant updates.  Should you contact our offices for unnecessary updates we shall charge you a fixed fee of £55.00 plus VAT, per call.

·     If you would like any further work or advice outside of this retainer there will be an additional fee, please contact me providing your new instructions.

 

Interest payment

·      If any bill is unpaid, we may be entitled to charge interest on the unpaid balance and or terminate this retainer.  Please note if you are paying your fee in instalments there will be an administration charge of £25 per instalment, e.g. if you have 3 instalment payments you shall have to pay a total of £75 administration charge in addition to our fee.

·     Any money received will be held in our Client Account. The period for which interest will be paid will normally run from the date(s) on which funds are received by us until the date(s) of issue of any cheque(s) from our Client Account.

·     The amount in interest is calculated over the whole period for which money is held if this sum is £50 or less, no interest will be paid.

 

Storage of papers and documents

·     After completing the work, we are entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is money owing to us for our charges and expenses. In addition, we will keep your file of papers for you in storage for a period of 6 years. After that, storage is on the clear understanding that we have the right to destroy your file after such period, as we consider reasonable or to make a charge for storage if we ask you to collect your papers and you fail to do so. We will not of course destroy any documents such as wills, deeds and other securities, which you ask us to hold in safe custody. 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 the hourly 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.

·     If you wish to retrieve papers or documents from your file in storage, we will charge you £35.00 inclusive of VAT.

 

Termination

·     You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time, but we will 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 and inform the Solicitor’s with conduct of your case and give good notice.

·     We can terminate the retainer only with good reason, for example (this list is not exhaustive):

         i.       Where there is a break down in trust and confidence.

        ii.       If you instruct another solicitor or advisor while we are still instructed.

       iii.       If you do not tell us the full facts of your case and as a result our advice is compromised.

       iv.       You or anyone acting on your behalf verbally or physically abuses members of staff.

        v.       Threatening behaviour, discourteous behaviour and dishonest instructions.

       vi.       Your invoice is unpaid and or disbursements are unpaid.

     vii.       We cannot obtain your instructions.

    viii.       We can not contact you. Please note we shall need an address to send mail to or an email address.

·     If we decide to stop acting for you, for example if you do not pay an interim bill or comply with the request for a payment on account, we will tell you the reason and give you notice in writing.

·     Under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, for some non-business instructions, you may have the right to withdraw, without charge, within seven working days of the date on which you asked us to act for you. However, if we start work with your consent within that period, you lose that right to withdraw. Your acceptance of these terms and conditions of business will amount to such a consent. If you seek to withdraw instructions, you should give notice by e-mail or letter to the person named in these terms of business as being responsible for your work. The Regulations require us to inform you that the work involved is likely to take more than 30 days.

·     Limitation of Liability for private paying clients

·     The Firm’s liability to you as a sole practitioner for a breach of your instructions shall be limited to £2,000.000.00. 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.

·     Limited companies

·     When accepting instructions to act on behalf of a limited company, we may require a Director and/or controlling shareholder to sign a form of personal guarantee in respect of the charges and expenses of this firm. If such a request is refused, we will be entitled to stop acting and to require immediate payment of our charges on an hourly basis and expenses as set out earlier.

 

Tax advice

·     Any work that we do for you may involve tax implications or necessitate the consideration of tax planning strategies. We may not be qualified to advise you on the tax implications of a transaction that you instruct us to carry out, or the likelihood of them arising. If you have any concerns in this respect, please raise them with us immediately. If we can undertake the research necessary to resolve the issue, we will do so and advise you accordingly. If we cannot, we may be able to identify a source of assistance for you.

 

Identity, disclosure and confidentiality requirements

·     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 Serious and Organised 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.

·     Our firm may be subject to audit or quality checks by external firms or organisations. We may also outsource work. This might be for example typing or photocopying or costings, or 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.

·     In order to comply with court and tribunal rules, all documentation relevant to any issues in litigation, however potentially damaging to your case, have to be preserved and may be required to be made available to the other side. This aspect of proceedings is known as ‘disclosure’. Subject to this, we will not reveal confidential information about your case except as provided by these terms of business and where, for example, your opponent is ordered to pay your costs, we have to meet obligations to reveal details of the case to them and to the court.

 

Communication between you and us

·     Our aim is to offer all our clients an efficient and effective service at all times. Our clients and our staff are of first importance to us. We hope that you will be pleased with the work we do for you. However, should there be any aspect of our service with which you are unhappy, please raise your concern in the first place with Mrs Coral Williams. If you still have queries or concerns, please contact our Legal Secretary, Ms Alisha Clarke to whom any final difficulty can be reported.

·     We will aim to communicate with you by such method as you may request. We may need to virus check discs or email. Unless you withdraw consent, we will communicate with others when appropriate by e-mail but we cannot be responsible for the security of correspondence and documents sent by e-mail.

·     The Data Protection Act requires us to advise you that your particulars are held on our database. We may, from time to time, use these details to send you information, which we think might be of interest to you.

·     Following the coming into force of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on the 25th May 2018 I am sending to you a copy of this Firm’s Privacy Notice with these terms and conditions.

·     Where we act for two or more clients jointly it is on the clear understanding that we are authorised to act on instructions from either, both or any of them.

 

Terms and conditions of business

·     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.

·     Although your continuing instructions in this matter will amount to an acceptance of these Terms and Conditions of Business, it may not be possible for us to start work on your behalf until one copy of them has been signed and returned to us for us to keep on our file.