The purpose of this document is to make clear: -
- The service which we aim to offer
- The charges which will be made
The information given is in general terms. The specific details relevant to you and your matter are contained in the first letter sent to you. The two documents need to be read together.
The work that we have been instructed to undertake on your behalf is set out in the “Instructions” section of the first letter.
This is the work to which those Terms and the Damages-Based Agreement will apply.
If we are instructed to undertake further work, we would need to make additional charges. An estimate of what these are likely to be would be provided.
2.2 Day to Day Conduct
The person in the firm having day to day conduct of your matter is shown in the “Person Dealing” section of the accompanying letter.
Where a specific Secretary will be involved, her name is also shown. If she is unable to help you, she will be pleased to take a message.
Should it become necessary at any stage to transfer the day-to-day conduct or overall supervision of your matter to another person within the firm, we will notify you of the change together with the reason for it.
If in the event you are unhappy with the service that we are providing our complaints procedure is as follows:
- We would ask that you contact Tom Clements to discuss matters informally first, and if you are dissatisfied with this, Mr Clements will deal with the matter as a formal complaint in writing.
- Upon receipt of your formal complaint Mr. Clements shall register it on our complaints register and will send a letter of acknowledgement and your file will be reviewed.
- If the matter is straight forwards, we might make suggestions to put things right or offer some form of redress.
- For more complicated matters we may ask for further explanation.
- We shall endeavour to resolve it within 8 weeks from the date that your formal complaint is received by Mr. Clements.
- If you are still not satisfied you can refer to the Legal Ombudsman provided this is done within 1 year from the end of our process.
An estimate of the initial timescale in your matter is given in the “Timescale” section of the first letter. It will depend upon the nature of your matter as to how definite and accurate a timescale estimate can be given.
Where the matter is straightforward and control of the work lies entirely in our hands, then a clear timescale estimate can be given at the outset.
Where, however, the matter is complicated or lengthy OR progress is dependent upon the actions of others, then there are numerous circumstances which can make even the most careful timescale estimate turn out to be wrong.
We will do our best to keep you informed of the timescale involved throughout your matter. Do please bear in mind the difficulties mentioned above. In particular, do not make arrangements based upon a timescale estimate without first checking with us whether it is sensible and safe to do so.
3.2 Action to be Taken
We will discuss and agree with you the action to be taken by us in your matter at relevant points. There may also be action to be taken by you. We will explain any such action to you and indicate the time within which it should be taken.
3.3 Keeping Informed
We will communicate regularly with you about your matter. We will send copy correspondence to you for your information where we consider this necessary (unless you have instructed us not to do so). This may be done simply with a compliment slip in order to minimise our charges.
We will advise you of any significant delays and the reason or reasons for them.
We will indicate at each stage when and how we are next likely to be in touch with you. Section 7 of the accompanying letter includes an example of this information.
3.4 Checking Documentation
If your matter involves the preparation of any statements and/or documents on your behalf, we may check them with you before the final version is produced, if in our judgement this is required.
It is not uncommon for a draft document to be sent to you subject to its final proofread, once we are satisfied that the document is substantively correct. For this reason, it is not uncommon to find typographical errors during the drafting and approval stage of documentation. These are correct on the final proofread.
Hopefully, you will always know what is happening in your matter. However, if you do have queries about the up-to-date position or future progress, do please contact us and we will let you have an answer either immediately or within a reasonable time.
The one point which we would ask you to bear in mind is that our time is your money. Therefore, in your own financial interest, unnecessary or lengthy phone calls should be avoided. Please write or email rather than telephone where possible.
Like anyone else in business we must be paid for our work.
Payment will be by yourself.
The following sections deal with charges in privately paid matters.
4.2 Privately Paid
4.2.1 Public Funding
In certain cases, you may be eligible for ‘legal aid’ public funding. We will discuss this possibility with you whenever appropriate, but it is primarily your responsibility to check your public funding eligibility which can be done via the Legal Services Commission, if you do not want to pay privately. For example, if your work involves discrimination in employment, or domestic violence in family matters you may be entitled to public funding. This is not an exhaustive list of areas where public funding may be available. We do not deal with publicly funded work and, accordingly, you would have to instruct an alternative firm of Solicitors to act for you. Details of such firms will be supplied on request.
4.2.2 Basis of Charging
The charges that we will make in this matter cover the work that we have been instructed to undertake as shown in the “Instructions” section of the first letter.
If we are instructed to undertake further work, we would need to make additional charges. An estimate of what these are likely to be could be provided. Our charges will be calculated by reference to the time spent by legal and executive staff dealing with your matter.
4.2.3 Charge Rates
Our charge rate / fees are dealt with in the enclosed Damages-Based Agreement.
4.2.4 Annual Rates Review
The charge rates are reviewed annually in August every year and therefore if your matter has not been concluded before the next review, the rates applicable may increase. We will let you know the new rates as soon as they have been set.
4.2.5 The charge rates shown do not include V.A.T which will be added to the bill.
4.2.6 Fixed Charges
In a matter where the charges for the work instructed are fixed or on a no win, no fee basis (either a Damages-Based Agreement or a Conditional Fee Agreement), these are stated in the “Costs” section of the first letter.
There will be addition charges if we are instructed work has to be done which is additional to the work instructed, we would need to make additional charges.
4.2.7 Estimated Charges
In a matter where the charges for the work instructed are variable, an estimate or series of estimates of the anticipated total charges will need to be given.
You can at any time set a limit to the costs to be incurred. We would need to discuss with you the up-to-date position, review the further work required and obtain your authorisation to an extension of the costs limit before we could incur charges beyond the limit set.
An initial estimate of the time to be spend on your matter including letters and telephone calls and of the resulting costs plus V.A.T are stated in the “Costs” section of the first letter.
Please bear in mind that our time and charges estimates can be affected in numerous of ways beyond our knowledge or control. If this happens, a revised time and charges estimate will need to be supplied to you.
Disbursements are payable immediately upon request in addition to the costs plus V.A.T. We must be placed in clear funds at least two days before the proposed date for payment of any disbursement including Counsel’s fees.
An indication of the likely disbursements to be incurred will be given to you during your initial meeting.
If it becomes apparent that additional disbursements will be involved, we will let you know.
4.2.9 Payment Arrangements
We require costs to be paid in one of the following ways: -
A sum or sums on account;
Monthly instalments (preferably by Standing Order);
Upon delivery of a bill, whether interim or final.
The method of payment agreed with yourself is set out in the “Payment Arrangements” section of the first letter.
For the avoidance of doubt, payment for the work done on your behalf is not receivable until a bill is rendered.
We reserve the right to deduct our costs from monies or funds held by us on your behalf.
4.2.10 Debit/Credit Cards
We have facilities to accept payment of costs and disbursements by debit card and make no charge for this method of payment.
However, because we are charged by various credit card companies for process and receipt of monies from a credit card, we expressly reserve the right to seek reimbursement from you of these charges where a credit card is used for payment and a surcharge of 2% (inclusive of VAT) will be added to all such transactions.
4.2.11 Delivery of Bills
In matters conducted over several months or years, we will deliver interim bills. In shorter matters, the bill is usually delivered at the completion of the work.
4.2.12 Abortive Matters
If your matter does not proceed for whatever reason, including a fixed fee divorce, a bill is delivered in respect of the work that has already been completed which will be charged in respect of the work done at our standard hourly rates.
V.A.T is payable on that amount and you are also billed for any disbursements incurred. Depending upon the amount of work done, this may be a small proportion of the estimated charges or it may be almost the full amount.
4.2.13 Settlement Terms
Bills are to be settled within 28 days unless a monthly payment arrangement has been made at the beginning of the matter.
Interest is charged on bills that are not paid within 28 days at the statutory rate (currently 8%).
4.2.15 Non-Payment and Ceasing to Act
If a required payment on account is not made or a bill is not settled in accordance with these Terms or a monthly payment arrangement is not maintained, you will understand that we must reserve the right to decline to act any further for you. The full amount of work done up to that date will be charged to you.
4.2.16 Order for Costs
You are personally responsible for payment of our bill of costs regardless of any Order for costs made against your Opponent. It is important for you to understand this point, particularly in the situation where the Opponent is financially unable to pay the Order for costs OR can only pay over a period of time.
It is never possible to predict precisely the outcome of a case in relation to costs. This is because the award of costs is in the discretion of the Court.
If you lose your case, it could happen that you will have to pay your Opponent’s costs as well as your own.
In any Matrimonial Litigation matter careful consideration needs to be given both at the outset and throughout as to whether the likely outcome will justify the expense and/or risk involved.
You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time, but we will be entitled to keep your papers and documents while there is money owing to us for outstanding charges and expenses.
In some circumstances we may consider, that we ought to stop acting for you if, for example, you fail to give clear or proper instruction on how to proceed or if it is clear that you have lost confidence in us to act for you. The same would apply if there is an apparent conflict of interest or an error has been made which makes it inappropriate for us to continue to act and provide you with proper independent advice.
If we decide to stop acting for you, we will give you reasonable notice of such a decision.
Any alteration or variation of the Terms set out in this document and the first letter MUST BE: -
Made by the person having day to day conduct of your matter or the Partner responsible (no other member of staff has any permission or authority to do so).