Reading Office: 0118 957 3425
Wokingham Office 0118 978 0099
Terms of Engagement
CLIFTON INGRAM LLP – GENERAL TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT
THESE ARE TO BE READ IN CONJUNCTION WITH OUR CLIENT CARE LETTER WHICH WILL BE MORE SPECIFIC TO YOUR PARTICULAR MATTER. THESE TERMS TOGETHER WITH THE CLIENT CARE LETTER SET OUT THE CONTRACTUAL BASIS ON WHICH WE ARE TO ACT FOR YOU IN CONNECTION WITH THE MATTER. IN THE EVENT OF ANY CONFLICT OR INCONSISTENCY BETWEEN THESE TERMS AND THE CLIENT CARE LETTER, THEN THE PROVISIONS OF THE LETTER SHALL PREVAIL.
1. Costs and how we charge
1.1 Please note that our standard hourly charging rates are subject to review – usually with effect from 1st May in each year. We will notify you of any increase in our hourly rates arising from such review.
1.2 Our costs are exclusive of VAT and disbursements (expenses that we incur on your behalf in the matter).
1.3 We will endeavour to keep you regularly advised of the amount of our costs as matters progress and in particular we will advise you if it becomes apparent that the level of our costs is likely to exceed the levels mentioned in the attached letter.
1.4 You may agree with us an upper limit in respect of our costs which we are not to exceed without your authority.
1.5 We reserve the right to submit periodic interim bills to you in respect of accumulated unbilled time and disbursements.
1.6 We must also reserve the right to call upon you at the start of the matter and from time to time thereafter to make payments on account of costs and disbursements to be incurred or to provide security.
1.7 Our invoices will relate to services that we have provided and as such, will be due for payment on presentation. If “you” are more than one person, firm or company then your liability to us is joint and several. We currently allow 14 days from the delivery of the invoice for payment and request that the invoice be discharged within that period. We reserve the right to cease further work until our costs, VAT and disbursements are paid and to claim interest at the rate of 4% p.a. over the base rate of Barclays Bank plc from time to time from the date of delivery of our invoice should it remain unpaid over a 14 day period.
1.8 In some matters it is sometimes agreed (or ordered, eg by a Court or Tribunal) that the other party is to pay our costs VAT and disbursements. In most cases this is most unlikely to cover all of our costs. The point we must make is that our services are given to you and, even if all or part of the costs are to be paid by another party, you will still be primarily responsible for payment. Therefore, in the (hopefully unlikely) event that the other party fails or is unable to pay the agreed (or ordered) costs by the due date, we may require you to pay them yourself. You may then be able to take action against the third party to recover the amount they should pay, although further costs and disbursements are then likely to be involved which you may not be able to recover from the other party.
2. Financial Services
2.1 We are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority. If, while we are acting for you, you need advice on investments, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised to provide the necessary advice.
2.2 However, we may provide certain limited investment advice services where these are closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you. This is because we are members of the Law Society of England and Wales, which is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.
2.3 The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory arm of the Law Society. The Legal Ombudsman is the independent body who deals with complaints against solicitors. If you are unhappy with any investment advice you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with either of those bodies.
3. Insurance Mediation
3.1 We are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority. However, we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Services Authority so that we may carry on insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the advising on selling and administration of insurance contracts. This part of our business, including arrangements for complaints or redress if something goes wrong, is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Services website at www.fsa.gov.uk/register.
3.2 The Law Society of England and Wales is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, but responsibility for regulation and complaints handling has been separated from the Law Society’s representative function. The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory body of the Law Society. The Legal Ombudsman is the independent body who deals with complaints against solicitors. If you are unhappy with any insurance advice you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with either of those bodies.
4. Data Protection
It is a necessity that we collect, hold and process your personal information, such as your name, address and date of birth. We process personal data in strict compliance with the Data Protection principles as set out in the Data Protection Act 1998 and the relevant subordinate legislation. We will not, without your consent, supply your name and address to any third party, except as required to do so by operation of law (including verification of your identity and address) and to facilitate this practice’s legal obligations. We may also show your file(s) to the Law Society, the Legal Ombudsman, the Legal Services Commission and to the Solicitors Regulation Authority to monitor compliance. We may however give your name and address to a mailing house, in confidence, for them to distribute material to you on our behalf such as our newsletters unless you have advised us to the contrary. We will use your personal information for the provision of our services, administration, statistical analysis, marketing and to keep you up to date with developments and news relating to this practice. To ensure that the information we hold about you is correct, please keep us informed of any changes to your personal details. We may nevertheless carry out a credit check against you.
5. Duty of Care and Contractual Responsibility
The performance of the duty of care owed and of our contractual responsibilities are only to you (and not to anyone else) and are the sole responsibility of Clifton Ingram LLP. We accept no responsibility to any third party.
Clifton Ingram LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales (registered number OC317784) and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (under number 440465). VAT Registration No. 198919684. A list of members of Clifton Ingram LLP and of the non-members, who are designated as partners, is open to inspection at the registered office 22-24 Broad Street, Wokingham, Berkshire, RG40 1BA. The term partner is used to refer to a member of Clifton Ingram LLP or an employee or consultant with equivalent standing and qualifications.
7. Retention of File
7.1 At the end of your matter we will keep our file of papers (except for any papers which you ask to be returned to you) for a reasonable period on the understanding that we then have the authority to destroy it. We will not destroy any documents you ask us to keep in safe custody.
7.2 If we retrieve papers or documents from storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act concerning your affairs, we will not normally charge for such retrieval. Otherwise, we may make a charge based on the time spent to produce stored papers or documents to you or another at your request.
8. If you have a concern about our service or our fees
8.1 If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can ask the Legal Ombudsman at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ (Tel: 0300 555 0333; website – www.legalombudsman.org.uk; email – firstname.lastname@example.org) to consider the complaint. Normally you will need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint.
8.2 There may be a right to object to any of our invoices by making a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman whose contact details are set out above and/or by applying to the Court for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitor’s Act 1974 but you should be aware that the Legal Ombudsman may not consider a complaint about our invoice if you have applied to the court for assessment of the invoice.
9. Termination of our Retainer – Lien
9.1 You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time.
9.2 We may decide to stop acting for you, but only with good reason, for example, if we believe that you are acting unreasonably, or if you fail to comply with your obligations to us, or if you unreasonably refuse to accept our advice, or if you do not pay an interim bill, or comply with our request for a payment on account, or the solicitor / client relationship breaks down. We must give you reasonable notice that we will stop acting for you.
9.3 If you or we decide that we will no longer act for you, all our costs, VAT, and disbursements up to that point will become payable by you following our submitting our account to you, and we will be entitled to keep all of your papers and documents while there is money owing to us for our costs VAT and disbursements.
10. Equality and Diversity
We are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of our dealings with clients, third parties and employees, and we have a written equality and diversity policy. Please contact us if you would like us to send you a copy of that equality and diversity policy.
11. Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Proceeds of Crime Legislation – Confidentiality
11.1 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 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, terrorist financing or proceeds of crime, the solicitor may be required to make a disclosure. If this happens, we may not be able to inform you that a disclosure has been made or of the reasons for it.
11.2 We may need to ask you for confirmation of the source or destination of any funds involved in a matter. It is our policy not to accept funds on account of your matter, other than from yourself (or from a UK branch, building society or other financial institution which is funding you).
12. Cash – Payments to You
12.1 Our firm’s policy is to accept cash only up to £500.00.
12.2 If cash is deposited direct with our bank or any other bank we reserve the right to charge for any additional checks we deem necessary regarding the source of funds.
12.3 Where we have to pay money to you, it will be paid by cheque or bank transfer at your risk, save for our negligence, and it will be remitted in £Sterling unless you advise us in writing to the contrary, in which case we will accept no liability for the rate of exchange to another currency or for fluctuation in that rate. It will not be paid in cash or to a third party.
13. Hours of Business
Our normal hours of business are Monday to Friday 9.00 am to 5.30 pm although our telephone switchboard is open from 8.45 am to 5.45 pm: we close on Bank Holidays and we may also be closed on additional days over the Christmas and New Year period.
14. Payment of Interest
We will account to you for fair and reasonable calculator interest accrued on any of your cleared funds held by us in our client account in accordance with our obligations under Rules 22 and 23 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 when it is fair and reasonable to do so in accordance with our policy from time to time in place and which can be seen at /interest/
15. Payment of Commissions
If we receive any commissions in connection with the matter that we are dealing with for you we will account to you for the same unless you have agreed with us that we may keep it.
16. Bribery Act 2010
We aim to comply fully with the provisions of the Act and have a zero tolerance policy to any breach.
17. Acceptance of these Terms
These terms, coupled with the accompanying letter to you, set out the terms of our engagement with you. Your continuing instructions will amount to acceptance of our terms of engagement.
If any provision of these Terms (or part of any provision) is found by any court or other authority of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, illegal or unenforceable, that provision or part-provision shall, to the extent required, be deemed not to form part of these Terms, and the validity and enforceability of the other provisions of these Terms shall not be affected.
19. Variations of Terms of Engagement
We reserve the right to vary the terms of our engagement for any reasonable reason subject to giving you prior written notice of any such variation.
20. Applicable Law
Our engagement will be governed by, and construed in accordance with, English Law. The Courts in England will have exclusive jurisdiction in relation to any claim, dispute or difference concerning the engagement and any matter arising from it.