Our Terms and Conditions
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 the 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.
- Service Standards
We aim to offer our clients quality legal advice with a personal service at a fair and proportionate 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
In return, we request that our clients assume the following responsibilities:
- To provide clear, accurate, truthful 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
- 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.
- 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.
The fees may depend not only upon the time spent on your affairs but also on the level of skill and responsibility and the importance and value of the advice that is provided, as well as the level of risk.
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. If we provide you with an estimate of fees for any specific work, then the estimate will not be contractually binding unless it is explicitly stated that that will be the case.
We are not able to hold fees ourselves on account as this is a breach of the Bar Standard Board (BSB) Regulations. If there is a need for a fee to be paid in advance, then an Escrow account must be used whereby such facilities can be accommodated. We use Shield Pay for these purposes.
On matters funded on an hourly rate basis, our charges will be calculated mainly by reference to the time spent by the fee earners 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 on a time basis rounded to the next 6-minute unit. Routine letters, e-mails and texts received are on a time basis rounded to the next 6-minute unit. Other letters, e-mails and calls are charged on a time basis rounded to the next 6-minute unit. The current hourly rates applicable to your case are set out in the table below. We will add VAT to these at the rate that applies when the work is done. At present, VAT is 20%.
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.
A circumstance may arise when you may be required to pay various other expenses on behalf of clients ranging from court fees, experts’ fees, Counsel’s fees and so on. We refer to such payments generally as ‘disbursements’. We are unable to accept payment of third-party disbursements. The disbursements must be paid either directly to the third party or into the Escrow account if applicable. If you do send us disbursements albeit by mistake, we will return it to you at once. If it is necessary to hold such a cheque overnight, we will enter it into a register and keep it in a security safe.
- Payment arrangements
It is normal practice to ask clients to pay money in advance for an agreed schedule of work. 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 must reserve the right to stop acting for you further.
Payment is due to us upon receipt of the fee note. If payment is not made within 14 days of the invoice, we reserve the right to cease to act on your behalf, suspend work on that matter and any other matter and retain all documents, working papers and other documents in our possession relating to any matter until all outstanding bills are paid in full including interest and any costs incurred in pursuing the recovery. We will not be liable for any consequences to you in respect of non-compliance with court orders or limitation issues in these circumstances. If we are acting on the court record for you then on the day after the final payment date, we will write to the court informing them that we are no longer instructed. Interest on outstanding bills may be charged after a period of 28 days from the date of the bill at the rate of 8% per annum.
In the event, that we are constrained to enforce our bill, all letters will be charged at a rate of £75.00. Should the enforcement take place in the small claims track then we reserve the right to charge you a fixed fee of £3,500 under this contract notwithstanding any costs limitations in that track.
The common law entitles us to retain any money, papers or other property belonging to you which properly come 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.
We do not accept payments in cash. Payment of our bills may be made by cheque or bank transfer. Monies due to you from us will be paid by cheque or bank transfer and will not be made payable to a third party.
The fees quoted are exclusive of VAT, which will be added where it is chargeable.
If you do not accept that an invoiced fee is fair and reasonable you must notify us within 7 days of receipt, failing which you will be deemed to have accepted that the payment is due.
- 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.
All costs recovered will be made payable to us directly.
A client who is unsuccessful in a court case may be ordered to pay the other party’s legal charges and expenses. 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 discuss this with us if you are interested in this possibility.
- Interest payment
Any money received by way of damages will be held in the Escrow Account. Escrow is not an interest-bearing account. For the avoidance of doubt, no interest will be paid upon funds held in Escrow Account.
- 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 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. We will not of course destroy any documents such as wills, deeds, and other securities, which we agree to hold in safe custody.
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.
Either of us may terminate this agreement by giving not less than 7 days’ notice in writing to the other party, except where you fail to cooperate with us or we have reason to believe that you have provided us with misleading information, in which case we may terminate this agreement immediately. Termination will be without prejudice to any rights that may have accrued to either of us prior to termination, 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.
If, for any reason, this matter does not proceed to completion, we will be entitled to charge you for any work done and expenses incurred. If your case is funded under an hourly rates arrangement, then these costs will be calculated based on the time spent plus expenses incurred up to the date of termination. On fixed fee arrangements, we will break the transaction down into stages and apportion the estimated fee for each stage. You will also be responsible for reimbursing any expenses incurred by us that were not included within the fixed price agreed.
If any provision of this engagement letter or enclosed schedules is held to be void, then that provision will be deemed not to form part of this contract and the remainder of this agreement shall be interpreted as if such provision had never been inserted. In the event of any conflict between these terms of business and the engagement letter or appendices, the relevant provision in the engagement letter or schedules will take precedence.
- Intellectual Property Rights
We will retain all copyright in any document prepared by us during the course of carrying out the engagement save where the law specifically provides otherwise.
- 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, the Data Protection Act 1998, the General Data Protection Regulations and our duty of confidentiality. Please note that our work for you may require us to give information to third parties such as expert witnesses and other professional advisers. You have a right of access under data protection legislation to the personal data that we hold about you. 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.gov.uk.
- 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. With electronic communication there is a risk of non-receipt, delayed receipt, inadvertent misdirection or interception by third parties. We use virus-scanning software to reduce the risk of viruses and similar damaging items being transmitted through emails or electronic storage devices. We will use our electronic communication portal, which is secure. However, we cannot be held responsible for damage or loss caused by viruses nor for communications, which are corrupted or altered after dispatch. Nor can we accept any liability for problems or accidental errors relating to this means of communication especially in relation to commercially sensitive material. These are risks you must agree to bear in return for greater efficiency and lower costs. If you do not wish to accept these risks, please let us know and we will communicate by paper mail, other than where electronic submission is mandatory. Any communication by us with you sent through the post system is deemed to arrive at your postal address two working days after the day that the document was sent. However, we will alert you that we have sent you such communication. If it does not arrive, we will investigate. All mail that leaves here is franked and booked out in the postal register on the date it is sent.
- Conflicts of interest
We will inform you if we become aware of any conflict of interest in the relationship with you or in our relationship with you and another client. We have safeguards that can be implemented to protect the interests of different clients if a conflict arises. Where conflicts are identified which cannot be managed in a way that protects your interests then we regret that we will be unable to provide further services. If this arises, we will inform you promptly. If there is a conflict of interest that is capable of being addressed successfully by the adoption of suitable safeguards to protect your interests, then we will adopt those safeguards. Where possible this will be done on the basis of your informed consent. We reserve the right to act for other clients whose interests are not the same as or are averse to yours subject of course to the obligations of confidentiality referred to above.
- Identity, disclosure and confidentiality requirements
To comply with the law, we require evidence of your identity as soon as possible. This will be a certified copy passport or driving licence and a utility bill/bank statement valid in the previous 3 months. This does not include a mobile phone bill. 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.
Barristers 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 us under a legal duty in certain circumstances to disclose information to the National Crime Agency (NCA). Where we know or suspect that a transaction on behalf of a client involves money laundering, we 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 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 Bar Standards Board) 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.
- Limit on our liability
Our liability to you for a breach of your instructions shall be limited to £2.5 million per claim, 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.
We will not be liable if such losses, penalties, surcharges, interest or additional liabilities are caused by the acts or omissions of any other person or due to the provision to us of incomplete, misleading or false information or if they are caused by a failure to act on our advice or a failure to provide us with relevant information.
We will not be liable to you for any delay or failure to perform our obligations under this engagement letter if the delay or failure is caused by circumstances outside our reasonable control.
We will not be responsible or liable for any loss, damage or expense incurred or sustained if information material to the service we are providing is withheld or concealed from us or misrepresented to us. This applies equally to fraudulent acts, misrepresentation or wilful default on the part of any party to the transaction and their directors, officers, employees, agents or advisers.
This exclusion shall not apply where such misrepresentation, withholding or concealment is or should (in carrying out the procedures which we have agreed to perform with reasonable care and skill) have been evident to us without further enquiry beyond that which it would have been reasonable for us to have carried out in the circumstances.
You agree to indemnify us in respect of any claim (including any claim for negligence) arising out of any unauthorised disclosure by you or by any person for whom you are responsible of our advice and opinions, whether in writing or otherwise. This indemnity will extend to the cost of defending any such claim, including payment at the usual rates for the time that we spend in defending it.
Where the engagement Letter specifies an aggregate limit of liability, then that sum shall be the maximum aggregate liability to be held against us, to all persons to whom the engagement letter is addressed and also any other person that we have agreed with you may rely on our work. By signing the engagement letter, you agree that you have given proper consideration to this limit and accept that it is reasonable in all the circumstances. If you do not wish to accept it, you should contact us to discuss it before signing the engagement letter. You have agreed that you will not bring any claim of a kind that is included within the subject of the limit against any of our partners or employees, on a personal basis.
- Complaints Procedure
We are committed to providing you with a high-quality service that is both efficient and effective. If you have any complaints or concerns about our work for you, please raise these in the first instance with the Practice Manager. We will investigate your complaint promptly and carefully and do what we reasonably can to resolve the difficulties in accordance with our complaints policy and handling procedure. In any event you are entitled to refer any matter of complaint to the complaints and redress system operated by the Bar Standards Board and the Legal Ombudsman. For more information you should contact the Legal Ombudsman on 0300 555 0333 or refer to their website at www.legalombudsman.org.uk. Insofar as the Bar Standards Board is concerned, their details can be found by visiting their website at https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/
- 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 235499870. We are regulated and authorised by the Bar Standards Board (BSB). More information on the BSB can be found by visiting their website at the following address – https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/
Hourly Rates for Litigation
Name Position Hourly Rate
Richard Gray, Barrister £445
Ruby Keeler Williams, Chartered Legal Executive £240
David Brogelli, Paralegal £240
None-litigation must be discussed with Richard Gray, where a fixed fee can be agreed.