- Engagement Letter Introduction
These terms and conditions together with the engagement letter provided to you at the commencement of a matter provide you with the basis upon which this firm accepts your instructions and charges for its services. If there is any conflict between these terms and conditions, and the engagement letter then the engagement letter will prevail.
2.1 The Company Registration Number is 05386876 and the Registered Office is at 7 Market Place, Wells, Somerset BA5 2RJ, VAT registration number 129 912 161.
2.2 Office hours are 9.00am until 1.00pm and then 2.00pm until 5.00pm., Monday to Friday although you may be able to contact us out of office hours. Outside of office hours, messages can be left on our answer phone on 01749 836100.
2.3.1 Our aim is to offer our clients quality legal advice with a personal service at a fair cost.
2.3.2 Our commitment to you is to represent your interests and keep your business confidential.
2.3.3 Explain to you the legal work that may be required and where appropriate, the prospects of a successful outcome.
2.3.4 Explain to you the likely degree of financial risk that you will be taking on.
2.3.5 Deal with your queries promptly.
2.3.6 Keep you regularly informed of progress or if there is none, when you are next likely to hear from us.
- People responsible for your work
The engagement letter, which accompanies these terms and conditions will set out the person or persons who will be carrying out the work for you. If you need to telephone and the person concerned is not available, please leave a message with that person’s secretary.
We attempt to avoid changing the person who is handling your work but if this cannot be avoided, we will notify you promptly who will be handling your work their charging rate and status and why that change was necessary.
- Charges and Expenses
The engagement letter will set out the basis upon which the firm will charge for its services. Our charges are generally based on the time spent dealing with the case. Time spent on your affairs will include meetings with you, considering, preparing and working on papers, correspondence and making and receiving telephone calls.
The engagement letter will provide you with details of the amount we will charge you per hour, for each hour worked by the person or persons concerned. We operate a computer time recording system under which our charges are calculated in units of one tenth of an hour.
Our engagement letter will set out:-
- a) An estimate for time we are likely to spend on your matter.
- b) Details of any expenses (e.g. search fees, Land Registry fees, bank charges, Court fees and experts fees) that we believe you are likely to have to pay for and our best estimate of the amount you are likely to pay for them and when payment is likely to be needed.
We will update you on the position as to your charges and expenses every six months if the transaction is not completed within that period and inform you if it appears that any estimate previously given may be exceeded.
If this firm does not complete the work, we will charge you for the work done and expenses involved.
If your instructions require us to work outside normal office hours, we reserve the right to increase the hourly rates.
On the 1st March in each year, the hourly rates are reviewed. We will notify you in writing of any increase to our rates. If there is any query about the revised rates, please contact the person carrying out your work immediately.
In property transactions, administration of estates and in transactions involving a large amount of money or benefit to the clients, we may base our charges on the time spent and by referring to a value element, such as the price of the property, the size of the estate or the value of the financial benefit. The value element reflects the importance of the transaction and the responsibility placed upon the Firm. Our letter of engagement will set out whether the value element will apply to your case.
We may, for a certain type of work, be able to agree with you an alternative charging arrangement such as a fixed fee or a conditional fee arrangement. If you wish, the person carrying out your work will discuss this with you. If our fees are not to be based on time spent, this will be set out in our letter of engagement.
We will inform you if any unforeseen work becomes necessary, for example, due to unexpected difficulties or if your requirements or circumstances change significantly during the matter. We will also inform you in writing of the estimated cost of the extra work before incurring those extra costs unless the urgency of the matter renders this impossible, in which case we will notify you at the earliest possible opportunity.
- Money Laundering
All solicitors are duty bound to comply with legislation and regulations framed to prevent money laundering.
At the outset we need to have evidence of your identity, such as sight of a passport or a driving licence that includes a photograph, and of your current address, such as a utility bill. As the transaction progresses, there may well be more information, which we have to request from you from time to time.
We may also carry out an electronic Anti-Money Laundering search against you at our own cost in order to demonstrate we have met our professional standards and the law.
If we know or suspect that you may have been involved in a criminal offence, we may be under a duty to report the matter without telling you that we have done so. Compliance with this law may delay the work we do for you. We might ourselves be committing a serious criminal offence if we fail to do so. Indeed, in those circumstances, we might well have to decline to act for you further. The work for which we bill you would include steps to be taken in connection with these obligations. As a result of the new legislation we now have a policy not to accept more than £1000 in cash from anyone.
In relation to property transactions, we will send you a bill for our charges and expenses, payment of which is due upon completion. If sufficient funds are available on completion, and we have sent you a bill, we will usually deduct our charges from the funds.
In relation to the administration of estates, we will usually send you a bill on account for our charges and expenses on a periodic basis, normally every three months during the administration of the estate. We will also send you a final bill for our charges and expenses when the administration of the estate is completed. If we hold sufficient funds on your behalf, then providing you have informed us of your approval of the bill, we will usually deduct our charges from these funds.
In relation to other matters, we will send you a bill for our charges and expenses when the work is completed. We will also render interim bills on a regular basis to help you budget. This avoids having one large bill at the very end. All bills should be paid within one month. By virtue of Article 5 of the Solicitors’ (Non-Contentious Business) Remuneration Order 2009 and under our terms and conditions in respect of Contentious matters we are entitled to charge interest on the amount owing at the rate of 8% per annum.
We may, at our discretion, accept payment by debit/credit card.
If you are not satisfied with the amount of our bill you are entitled to have our charges reviewed by the Court provided that you make your application within one month of the delivery of our bill. This procedure is called “Detailed Assessment” and the procedure for this is set out in Sections 70, 71 and 72 of the Solicitors’ Act 1974. If you have any query about the bill, you should contact us straightaway.
- Financial Services and Insurance
This firm does not offer investment or financial advice. The firm is not authorised by the Financial Services Authority and is regulated by the Law Society enabling very limited services to be supplied so that we can carry out insurance mediation activity such as advising on defective title indemnity policies and after the event insurance. Should the work involved require such a policy, you will be notified separately (sometimes in the engagement letter).
If there is a need to take out an insurance policy to cover an issue arising when we work for you. We are Ancillary Insurance Intermediaries and we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under the 2018 Insurance Distribution Directive.
We take no commissions for any insurance products you take up through us and we have no other connection with the insurance providers we use. We use a number of insurance providers who we have been content with over the years and who we consider to be reputable. Sometimes we will obtain more than one quote for a policy we suggest for you. Other times we may source a policy from just one provider but this will be on the basis of regular comparison with other providers for quality and cost, and the policy being suitable for your needs. You are free to seek your own insurance quotes if you wish.
Cheapest is not always best and part of our recommendation will be based on our experience of the performance of providers if a claim is made. We will have made our recommendation on the basis of a fair analysis of the products available within the market and the cover given, including the extent of cover, escalation clauses and any exclusions or conditions in the potential policy.
Files are occasionally audited by external auditors to ensure we are providing a good quality of service. The auditors are bound by the same duty of confidentiality as we are and therefore cannot reveal any information they see on a file to a third party. The files are selected randomly and your consent to such an audit taking place should your file be selected will be assumed unless you advise us in writing.
- Tax advice
The firm does not generally provide tax advice except in specific narrow areas such as Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax associated with Wills and estate planning and Stamp Duty Land Tax which will be identified in the engagement letter. 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 full tax implications of the 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 carry out the research necessary to resolve the issue, we will do so and advise accordingly. If we cannot, we may be able to identify a source of assistance to you, i.e. an accountant or other such specialist upon which you would rely upon his/her advice alone.
- Joint or Multiple instructions/other interests
When instructed by more than one person, the Firm may take instructions from any one of you. In the case of Companies, the instructions may come from an individual director of the Company unless otherwise instructed in writing. Unless agreed otherwise any one or more of those instructing jointly is jointly and severally liable for costs and disbursements. If we are acting for you on a disposal where there will be proceeds of sale, those net proceeds will be paid to you equally unless you tell us otherwise. Unless so notified, we shall take it that only you are interested in those proceeds, and there are no trusts or similar in favour of third parties.
Communications will be by telephone, by letter, by fax and/or by e-mail. E-mail is not always secure and data sent by us by email is not routinely encrypted and so if you do not want us to use email as a form of communication with you then please advise us. Important communications should be confirmed by fax or post as e-mails are not always received.
- File closure
12.2 Time limits imposed by documents – rent review dates, dates for service of a break notice under a lease etc are your responsibility to diarise. The firm does not take responsibility for diarising dates, which occur after a transaction is concluded for you by the firm. In certain circumstances, by express agreement with you, the firm will diarise dates.
12.3 We shall not be responsible for advising you of any future changes in the law which may impact upon you.
- Legal Documents
During the time we are working with you it is likely we shall send you legal documents and papers to read and perhaps sign. These may be complex and onerous and we strongly recommend you carefully read these documents and come back to us if there is anything in them of which you are unclear.
- Data Protection
Should you have any concerns regarding how your data is stored then please contact our Data Protection Officer, Laura Maden who is based in our Street office. You will also have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office if your complaint relates to the collection, storage or use of your personal data. www.ico.org.uk
- Termination of Instructions
15.1 You may terminate your instructions to the Firm at any time in writing. The Firm will be entitled to keep your papers and documents for as long as there is money owed to the Firm in respect of the charges and expenses, otherwise known as an “lien”.
15.2 If at any stage you do not wish the Firm to continue doing work or incurring charges and expenses on your behalf, you must inform this Firm of this clearly in writing.
15.3 We will decide to stop acting for you only with good reason and on giving you reasonable notice if for example you fail to pay an interim bill or to comply with a request for a payment on account.
15.4 If you or we decide we no longer act for you, you will pay our charges on an hourly basis and expenses as set out earlier.
- Distance Selling
Regulations provide that if you have not instructed us in a face to face meeting you have the right to cancel your instructions without costs within seven working days of instructing us. Cancellation can be by post, fax or email but you cannot cancel once we start work with your permission.
- Anti-Discrimination Policy
The firm is committed to promoting equality of diversity in all of its dealings with clients, third parties and employees.
We are confident we will provide a high quality service in all respects. If however you have any queries or concerns about our work for you, please raise this in the first instance with the person carrying out your work or the person with overall responsibility for it. If that does not resolve the problem to your satisfaction or you prefer not to speak to the person or persons concerned, then we operate a written complaints procedure and you should contact Richard Cussell at our Wells office, who will deal with your complaint and supply you with a copy of our written complaints procedure. Copies of our complaints procedure will in any event be supplied upon request.
All firms of solicitors are obliged to attempt to resolve problems that clients may have with the service provided. It is therefore important that you immediately raise any concerns you may have with us.
At the conclusion of your complaints process you also have the right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman and details are set out in our written complaints procedure.
- Important legal and regulatory information
We maintain professional indemnity insurance in accordance with the rules of the Solicitors Regulation Authority. In accordance with the disclosure requirements of the Provision of Services Regulations 2009 our professional indemnity insurer is Omnyy LLP of 9th Floor, John Stow House, 18 Bevis Marks, London, EC3A 7JB. The territorial coverage of our policy is worldwide.
- Your monies held by us
During your transaction it may be necessary for us to hold temporary sums of money on your behalf (this may be by way of a deposit on a property for example). All sums of money are currently held with Lloyds Bank plc in accordance with the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules 2011.
If this financial institution should collapse it is unlikely that Chubb Bulleid would be held liable for losses incurred.
The Financial Services Compensation Scheme would be available to a limit of £85,000. This limit applies to each Client and would include any monies they personally hold with this banking organisation. It should also be noted that the limit applies to each banking licence which may include several different brands.
At the end of each transaction all client monies must be accounted for. In some cases this may mean monies being returned to you. If this is the case you will be sent a cheque. If you fail to cash the cheque within a six month period the following will apply:
- A value below £50 will be donated to a registered charity
- If the value is above £50 all reasonable efforts will be made to contact you. If we cannot trace you at a reasonable cost, or if having traced you we fail to get instruction from you, then monies due to you will be given to a registered charity.
- Payment in lieu of interest
It is not normal to pay out a sum in lieu of interest on client monies held unless the sum earned is in excess of £20. The rate of interest is taken from the current rate available on an instant access account held with Lloyds Bank.
In certain instances it may be necessary to hold your funds in a separate account where interest earned is added to the balance. If this is the case with your transaction the person conducting your matter will discuss this with you.
- Making payments to us
Cyber crime is on the increase. In order to minimize the chance of criminals diverting funds, please note:-
- We will not change our bank details by way of an emailed notification to you. If you receive such an email it is likely to be fraud
- Funds we request from you must come from you and not from a third party
- Please do not reveal our banking details to any third party without our consent
- We will not send you our banking details by email. Please do not send yours to us by email
- We will always use two methods to check banking details including telephone, fax and letter
- If we are sending money to another lawyer not known to us, we will use an electronic search to check their identity and verify their banking details.
 New Director appointed as from 01.03.2016
 New Director appointed as from 06.02.2017
 Change of Registered Office (July 2010)
 The rate of VAT applies when the work is “invoiced” and not “done”
 VAT rate change applied (January 2011)
 Added to comply with new regulations and to help prevent cyber crime (April 2017)
 Amended due to the changes in the regulations concerning Remuneration Certificates (November 2009)
 Amended to refer to debit cards and to delete reference to a handling charge (July 2018)
 Amended to the Insurance Distribution Directive (IDD) (October 2018)
 Amended due to GDPR (May 2018)
 Amended due to GDPR (May 2018)
 Amended due to new Complaints Handler (November 2018)
 Amended due to the changes to the Solicitors’ Code of Conduct 2007 (October 2010)
 Amended due to change of insurer (April 2018)
 Amended due to the Provision of Services Regulations 2009 (October 2010)
 Amended due to the changes to the Solicitors Accounts Rules (January 2013)
 Amended to reflect change of limit (October 2017)
 Amended to reflect changes to the rules governing payout of compensation (January 2016)
 Included to reflect changes to the rules governing monies held on Client Account (January 2013)
 Included to reflect changes to the rules governing the payment of interest (October 2011)
 New clause included to help prevent cyber crime (May 2016)
 Amended to reflect changes in regulations and to help prevent cyber crime (April 2017)