Our Terms & Conditions
Standard Terms of Business and Engagement
As a matter of good practice and in accordance with the rules and guidelines published by the Law Society and Solicitors Regulation Authority, we wish to record the standard terms of engagement on which work is undertaken by us for you.
Scope of Instruction & Termination
On receiving instructions we will, where practicable, write to you to record your instructions, and of any substantial variations, which may be made from time to time. Under the Consumer (distance selling) Protection Act 2000 you are able to cancel these instructions within seven working days. Once the seven days has passed you may end your instructions to us in writing at any time, but we can keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses.
If you would like us to commence work on your file within the next seven days please sign the letter of instruction and return it to our offices. We may decide to stop acting for you only with good reasons, e.g. if you do not pay an interim bill or there is a conflict of interest. We must give you reasonable notice that we will stop acting for you. If you or we decide that we should stop acting for you, you will pay our charges up until that point. These are calculated on either an hourly basis plus expenses or by proportion of an agreed fixed fee as set out in these terms and conditions.
Responsibilities / Our responsibilities
We will update you regularly and at least every six weeks, unless agreed to the contrary. We will communicate with you in plain language. We will explain to you by telephone or in writing the legal work required as your matter progresses. We will update you on the cost of your matter either three monthly, or at agreed events.
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. We will continue to review whether there are alternative methods by which your matter can be funded.
You must provide us with clear and accurate instructions so that we can act for you in accordance with your requirements. You will provide all documentation required to complete the matter and safeguard any such documents which are likely to be required for discovery.
Standards & Complaints
We aim to provide a high standard of professional service at all times and will update you by telephone/or in writing with progress on your matter every 6 weeks unless agreed to the contrary. If at any time you feel that this is not being maintained or you feel you have any other ground for complaint including a complaint about our bill or invoice, please ask for a copy of our written formal Complaints Procedure.
Our procedure includes a number of steps both you and we must take in order to attempt to resolve the complaint. If attempts to resolve the complaint fail after all these step have been exhausted you are entitled to take your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within 6 months of contact. Full details including timeframes, contact details and steps to be taken are detailed within our Complaints Procedure.
You are entitled to make a complaint about our bill and you may also have a right to object to the bill by making a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman and/or by applying to the court for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. It must be borne in mind however, that if all or part of the bill remains unpaid we may be entitled to charge interest.
We currently hold professional indemnity insurance and employer’s liability insurance. Copies of the insurance certificates are easily accessible and displayed within our Reception. If you require further details then please ask
Equality and Diversity
Solicitor Direct is committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of its dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us if you would like a copy of equality and diversity policy.
Personnel with Conduct of the Matter
The Senior Partner Derek Forrest will be ultimately responsible for the matter instructed, but will not necessarily, have day to day conduct of the file. The file handler will be allocated at the beginning of your transaction and their position and contact details will be found upon your correspondence.
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 and regulatory compliance. Our use of that information is subject to your instructions, the Data Protection Act 1998 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. We may from time to time send you information which we think might be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive that information please notify our office in writing. 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.
Evidence of Identity- If Requested
The Law requires Solicitors to get satisfactory evidence of the identity of their clients and sometimes people related to them. This is because Solicitors who deal with money and property on behalf of their client can be used by criminals wanting to launder money.
To comply with the law we must get evidence of your identity as soon as possible and below are our requirements. If you cannot comply you must let us know why as soon as possible. We normally cannot waive these requirements under any circumstances. (These procedures are for your protection as well as ours).
We require two Forms of Identification, 1 from List A and two from List B:
Original Picture I.D – Such as Passport, picture Drivers Licence. You can come into the office at any time and we will take a copy of this for you.
Certified Copy of Picture I.D. – We would ask that you provide a copy of your picture I.D that has been certified by a PROFESSIONAL PERSON e.g. Doctor, Minister etc.
Confirmation from an electoral register search
A recent utility bill or statement, (NOT mobile phone) or a certificate from a utilities supplier confirming an arrangement to pay for services on pre-payment terms.
Local council tax bill for the current year.
Current full UK driving licence.
Bank/Building Society or Credit Union statement/passbook
A recent original mortgage statement from a recognised lender.
Solicitors letter confirming recent house purchase or similar
Local council or housing association rent card or tenancy agreement.
Benefit book or original notification letter from the Benefits Agency
EEA member state identity card.
Inland Revenue self-assessment statement or tax demand.
House or motor insurance certificate.
If for any reason you have difficulty providing the information above please contact us to discuss other ways in which we can verify your identity.
We are professionally and legally obliged to keep your affairs confidential however solicitors maybe required by statute to make a disclosure to the serious organized crime agency where they know or suspect that a transaction may involve money laundering or terrorist financing If we make a disclosure in relation to your matter we may not be able to tell you that a disclosure has been made. We may have to stop working on your matter for a period of time and may not be able to tell you why.
Retention of Papers
After completion of any matter we may destroy the file of papers six years or longer if so required after the matter has been completed. If you require retrieval of your file after one year, a reasonable charge may be made.
Financial Arrangements and Services
Our practice’s policy is to only accept cash up to £1000.00. If you try to avoid this policy by depositing cash directly with our bank, we may decide to charge you for any additional checks we decide are necessary to prove the source of funds. Where we have to pay money to you, it will be paid by cheque or bank transfer. It will not be paid in cash or to a third party.
If during the transaction you need advice regarding investments we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised by the Financial Services Authority as we are not. However, as we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, we may be able to provide certain limited investment services where these are closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you.
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 can 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 Authority website (www.fsa.gov.uk /register)
The SRA is the independent regulatory arm of the Law Society. The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints against lawyers. If you are unhappy with any investment advice from us you should raise your concern with either of those bodies.
In any given transaction there are from time to time reasons that mean that you may need to arrange indemnity insurance (examples of such instances would be a missing Deed, an absent Landlord or uncollected Ground Rent). At the outset it is impossible to tell whether you will have to get such a policy however because we may be involved in obtaining this on your behalf we must draw your attention to the paragraph towards the end of our terms and conditions which are attached.
We will of course be in contact with you about this at the appropriate time. You are of course free to obtain your own indemnity insurance policy should you need to. However if we are asked to do this on your behalf we will charge an administrative fee of £35.00 on top of the cost of the policy.
Payment of Bills
We will submit our bill at the conclusion matter unless we have agreed an arrangement or the matter continues for a period longer than three months. In that event we are required by the Inland Revenue to submit our interim account on a quarterly basis. We may ask you to make a payment on account of costs and disbursements generally and to keep us covered for costs from time to time as the matter proceeds.
We reserve the right to stop work on any matter for which we have not received the payment on account of costs requested. Money held on your behalf may be applied to such bills. Bills are payable on presentation and interest is payable at 4% above Bank base rate if any part of the bill remains unpaid for more than the time specified upon your bill. VAT will also be payable on our charges and on taxable disbursements incurred on your behalf, except where charges and / or disbursements are VAT exempt or zero-rated.
Payment of Costs by Others Even if some other person agrees to pay your costs, you remain personally liable for all our costs and disbursements as they become due. Payment of our bills cannot ordinarily be postponed on the basis that they are likely to be, or should, be, paid by some other person. However, at your request and expense, we will assist you in recovering the amount payable from the other persons.
Payment of Interest
Any money received on your behalf will be held in our client account. Interest will be calculated and paid to you at the rate set by Natwest Bank. That of course may change from time to time. The period for which interest will be paid normally runs from the dates (s) when funds are received by us until the date(s) on the cheque(s) issued to you. The payment of interest is subject to certain minimum amounts and periods of time set out in the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1998.
Should at anytime you wish to dis-instruct us to act for you, you will have an obligation to pay us for the work we have carried out. Should the bill remain unpaid, in some circumstance we have the right to retain custody of (and exercise a lien over) any of your deeds, documents or files until all unpaid bills and such amount (plus interest charged by us) are paid in full.
Limitation of Liability
Our liability to you for a breach of your instructions shall be limited to £2,000,000 unless we expressly state a higher amount in the letter accompanying these terms of business. We will not be liable for an consequential, special, indirect of 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 and cannot limit our liability for death or personal injury caused by our negligence.
Any dispute or legal issue arising from our terms of business will be determined by the Law of England and Wales and Considered exclusively to English and Welsh Courts.
Business Hours and Appointments
We operate a telephone appointment system and all appointments must be made in advance. We are open Monday to Friday 9:30am to 7:00p.m (Closed for Lunch 1:00-1:30pm) and Saturdays 10:00 – 12:00p.m.
Payment of Commissions
If we receive commissions from 3rd party businesses we must obtain your consent to keep these where they exceed £20.00. We will write to your separately.
£250 payment for acceptance of Personal Injury cases
We will pay you £250 within 7 days of us formally agreeing to act for you on a “no win no fee” basis by the firm signing a conditional fee agreement “CFA” (PLEASE NOTE although we may have sent you a CFA for signature this is for administrative purposes only and we may not sign this until we are satisified that you have a winnable case – see further below)
Our agreement to act for you on a conditional fee or “no win no fee” basis is subject to an assessment that you have a personal injury claim for compensation that in our opinion is likely to succeed. This offer is not available for medical negligence cases.
Once you have asked us to act for you we will, as quickly as possible, make an assessment of the personal injury claim. This will be likely to include some research into the case as a whole for example:
a) Whether the defendants have legal services cover as part of an insurance policy, enabling them to pay compensation to you
b) obtaining evidence from any witnesses to see whether they support the account of the accident
c) It may be, in some cases, necessary to wait until the Defendant has replied to us with their version of events or their Defense for us to assess the case properly. (i. e if there is some issue relating to who has the right of way on a roundabout, or the identity of a property owner is difficult to assess)
Once we are satisfied that your case is sound will will agree to the the £250 payout. We will of course keep you updated with our research throughout.It is difficult to say exactly how long this process will take, but we will try to do so as quickly as possible. It would normally take about 6 – 10 weeks to carry out this investigation. Sometimes it might take less time, sometimes it might take a little longer depending on the replies given by other parties.
In return for the £250 bonus payment you agree to instruct Solicitor Direct and abide by the terms of the agreement. The most important aspects of the agreement are that you provide us with accurate instructions in relation to your accident claim and provide us with further information that we may need to pursue your personal injury claim. The payment to you may become repayable if you provide misleading information or do not co-operate with your claim.
This scheme is not available to:-
- anyone who already has the benefit of a legal expenses insurance policy or similar legal expenses provisions
- you have already received a discount in services from Solicitor Direct
- medical negligence claims