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Terms and Conditions

  1. Introduction
  2. Interpretation
  3. About Us
  4. Our responsibilities
  5. Your responsibilities
  6. Our services
  7. Service levels and frequency of communication
  8. Business hours
  9. People responsible for your work
  10. Basis of our charges
  11. Quotations and estimates
  12. Payments on account
  13. Our bill
  14. Costs in relation to contentious matters
  15. Receiving and paying funds
  16. Client accounts and Interest payment
  17. Storage of papers and documents
  18. Financial services and insurance mediation
  19. Cybercrime warning
  20. Termination
  21. Tax advice
  22. Data protection
  23. Equality and diversity
  24. Communications
  25. Confidentiality and conflicts of interest
  26. Prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing
  27. External auditing and outsourcing
  28. Limit on our liability for professional negligence
  29. Complaints
  30. Publicity
  31. Intellectual property rights
  32. Applicable law
  33. Future instructions

1. Introduction

These Terms of Business and the accompanying letter of engagement set out our service standards and the terms of business on which we agree to act for you. If you have any questions about any of the information contained herein, please contact the person dealing with your case.

By continuing to instruct this firm we shall be entitled to assume you have agreed to the terms and conditions set out here.

2. Interpretation

These terms and conditions (as amended from time to time) apply to the particular matter in relation to which we are acting for you and to all further matters in relation to which we accept instructions to act for you. Each matter is referred to in these terms and conditions as a “retainer” or a “matter”.

A solicitor and client relationship will exist between us only if, at the relevant point in time, we have been instructed by you to act in relation to a matter, we have accepted those instructions and we are working on that matter.

References to “you” in these terms and conditions are to the person instructing Taylor Haldane Barlex LLP to act in relation to a particular matter. That person is the entity for whom our services are provided and, unless otherwise agreed in writing by one of our partners, no other person has any rights to enforce the terms of the relevant retainer or to reply on advice given by us during the course of that retainer.

For the purpose of these terms, “we” “our” “us” or “the firm” refers to Taylor Haldane Barlex LLP.

3. About us

Taylor Haldane Barlex LLP, also trading as THB Solicitors, is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales under registered number OC336000. A list of members and non-members designated as ‘partners’ is available for inspection at the firm’s principal place of business and registered office Copt House, 73 Springfield Road, Chelmsford, Essex CM2 6JG. We use the word ‘partner’ to refer to a member of the LLP or an employee or consultant with equivalent standing and qualifications.

We are authorised and regulated and by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) under number 490446. The SRA Code of Conduct sets out the regulatory framework imposed on service providers such as ours. The current edition of the Code of Conduct is available on the SRA Website at www.sra.org.uk. In accordance with the Provision of Service Regulations 2009 details of our Professional Indemnity Insurance are available at our principal place of business as set out above.

4. Our responsibilities

We will:

  • treat you fairly and with respect
  • communicate with you in plain language
  • review your matter regularly
  • advise you of any changes in the law that affect your matter
  • advise you of any reasonably foreseeable circumstances and risks that could affect the outcome of your matter

5. Your responsibilities

You will ensure, so far as you practicably can, to:

  • provide us with your timely instructions, information and materials necessary or desirable for us to perform our professional services for you;
  • notify us promptly of any changes or additions to instructions, information and materials previously provided by you or on your behalf; and
  • ensure that all information provided to us is complete in all material respects and not misleading.
  • safeguard any documents that may be required for your matter, including documents that you may have to disclose to another party.

6. Our services

We only advise on the law of England & Wales. If you require advice on the laws applicable in other jurisdictions, we will, with your agreement, instruct lawyers practicing those laws to give you such advice as may be necessary, on the same basis we engage other third parties on your behalf.

7. Service levels and frequency of communication

We will regularly update you by telephone or in writing or e mail with progress on your matter. We will explain to you by telephone or in writing or e mail the legal work required as your matter progresses.

We will update you on the likely timescales for each stage of the matter and any important changes in those estimates. Whenever there is a material change in circumstances associated with your matter, we will update you on whether the likely outcomes still justify the likely costs and risks.

We will update you on the cost of your matter at the intervals set out in our letter confirming your instructions. If appropriate, we will continue to review whether there are alternative methods by which your matter can be funded.

8. Business hours

We are normally open between 9.00 am and 5.30 pm from Monday to Thursday and between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm on Friday although arrangements can be made to see clients at other times convenient to them. We are closed on all bank holidays.

9. 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.

10. Basis of our charges

We will discuss with you, at the outset of a matter, usually at various intervals as it progresses and at completion, what you consider to be an appropriate charge for our services. Unless otherwise agreed in our engagement letter, our fees will be calculated mainly by reference to the time spent by us in providing the services at the standard hourly rates applicable to the relevant staff.

We may, in accordance with professional guidelines, also charge a premium, where reasonable to do so, to take account of the nature, complexity, value and urgency of the services we provide to you and other criteria specified in those guidelines.

The standard hourly rates of our partners, solicitors, trainee solicitors, paralegals and other staff are reviewed from time to time and we will notify you of any charges upon request and as rates change.

You will pay the expenses we incur in the course of providing our services to you (including travel and subsistence expenses, search and filing fees, court fees and barristers’, foreign lawyers’ and other third parties’ fees and expenses).

For the avoidance of doubt, any information on costs we give you is exclusive of value added tax at the prevailing rate and any expenses which we incur on your behalf.

Grades of fee earner:

The grades of fee earner have been agreed between representativeness of the Supreme Court Costs Office, the Association of District Judges and Law Society. The categories are as follows:

  1. Solicitors with over eight years post qualification experience.
  2. Solicitors and legal executives with over four years post qualification experience.
  3. Other solicitors and legal executives and fee earners of equivalent experience.
  4. Trainee solicitors, paralegals and other fee earners.

Payment may be made by VISA or MASTERCARD although an administration fee may be charged which will be notified to you before your payment is processed.

We may incur certain expenses on your behalf (such as search fees, stamp duty, stamp duty land tax, court fees, copying charges and couriers’ charges). We will not incur any material expenses (such as counsel’s fees or foreign lawyer’ fees) without your approval. We may also charge you for photocopying, telephone calls, video conferencing or other services provided by Taylor Haldane Barlex LLP at our standard rates from time to time.

11. Quotations and estimates

The provision of figures (orally or in writing) from time to time for the likely cost of a piece of work is an estimate only and does not constitute a contract to carry out the work at that cost. The provision of a written quotation for work constitutes an offer to carry out the work at that cost and does not become a contract until you accept the quotation.

Where we are required to carry out work which falls outside of an accepted quotation, we may charge fees at our standard hourly rates in addition to the quoted or estimated fee. We may also charge additional fees on the same basis for work within the scope of such a quotation or estimate which is made more time consuming, complicated or urgent as a result of;

  1. circumstances or information which we did not know or could not reasonably have anticipated at the time of the quotation or estimate being given, whether or not you were aware of such information;
  2. your, or your agents’ act or omission.

12. Payments on account

It is the firm’s policy always to obtain from you a payment on account of our fees and any expenses which we may incur on your behalf unless specifically agreed with you at the outset of your matter. However, the total fees and expenses actually incurred in relation to a matter may be more than your payment on account. We pay interest in accordance with the terms of our interest policy.

13. Our bill

You are liable to pay legal costs as set out in our letter confirming your instructions. We will also usually discuss this at our initial meeting with you. Our bills will be addressed to you and you will be liable to us for our fees and expenses. This will be the case even if our bill acknowledges that another person may pay it on your behalf.

In some circumstances you may have a right of recovery or indemnity against a third party in respect of all or part of our invoices, but we are not permitted to issue a VAT invoice to any person other than you in any circumstances, and you remain liable to us to pay our invoices notwithstanding such a right.

Bills should be paid within 14 days and in sterling (unless otherwise agreed). We may charge interest on overdue bills at 2% above the base rate of the Bank of England. We may cease acting for you if an interim bill remains unpaid after 14 days or if our reasonable request for a payment on account of costs is not met. You have the right to challenge or complain about our bill. Please see the Complaints section below for details of how to complain about our bill.

You have the right to challenge our bill by applying to the court to assess the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. The usual time limit for making such an application is one month from the date of delivery of the bill. If the application is made after one month but before twelve months from delivery of the bill, the court's permission is required for the bill to be assessed.

Unless there are special circumstances, the court will not usually order a bill to be assessed after:

  • twelve months from delivery of the bill
  • a judgment has been obtained for the recovery of the costs covered by the bill
  • the bill has been paid, even if this is within 12 months
  • We can keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses.

When we act on behalf of two or more persons jointly in one particular transaction they shall be jointly and severally liable to us for payment of our fees and disbursements in connection with that matter.

14. Costs in relation to contentious matters

The general rule, in relation to litigation conducted in England & Wales, is that after trial the losing party is (subject to the discretion of the court) ordered to pay the fees and expenses of the successful party. These costs are as assessed by the court and are unlikely to cover more than half to two thirds of the fees and expenses actually incurred by the successful party. This means that, if we are acting for you in relation to a contentious matter and you are successful, the unsuccessful party may be ordered to pay a sum towards your fees and expenses but this is unlikely to cover your total costs and you will always remain liable for these.

In addition, the court has power to order that the costs of any interim applications be paid immediately by the unsuccessful applicant to the successful applicant. Therefore, even if you are ultimately successful at trial, you may be liable for the costs of interim applications during the course of litigation.

If the other side is or becomes legally aided, it is highly unlikely that you will recover your costs even if you are successful.

Legal expenses insurance may be included in your contracts of insurance and you should check your policies to see if you are covered. Your policy may cover your costs and/or your liability to pay the other side’s costs. If you believe you are covered, please discuss this with us so that we can assist you in notifying your insurer. If you do not have legal expenses insurance, you may be able to purchase insurance to cover you in the event that you have to pay other side’s costs.

A Conditional Fee Agreement is an agreement whereby we would be entitled to charge you an increased fee if you were successful, and would charge you no fee or a reduced fee if you were not successful. You might not be able to take out an insurance policy to cover you in the event that you were ordered to pay the other side’s costs. Not all matters are suitable for funding of this type but we are happy to discuss this further with you at your request.

15. Receiving and paying funds

Our policy is to only accept cash up to £500. 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 the 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.

16. Client accounts and Interest payment

Any money received on your behalf will be held in our Client Account. The firm pays interest on client account balances in accordance with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Accounts Rules 2011. Interest will be calculated and paid to you at the rate from time to time payable. The period for which interest will be paid will normally run from the date(s) on which funds are received by us until the date(s) of issue of any payment(s) from our Client Account. It is the firm’s normal policy to retain the first £20.00 of each amount of interest as and when calculated to cover the administrative expenses of arranging these calculations and payments.

Please note that if we do hold any of your money at any point we will take good care of it. We are unlikely however to be liable to repay money lost through a banking failure. If we do hold any of your money it will be held with the firms bank Handelsbanken and that money will have protection of 100,000 Euros (approx. £70,000) under the Swedish Deposit Guarantee Scheme. If you hold other personal monies in that same bank you should note that the overall limit remains the same in total. You also need to be aware that some deposit taking institutions/banks have several brands, i.e. where the same institution is trading under different names. You should check either with your bank, the Financial Conduct Authority or a financial adviser for more information. If we do have to make a claim under the Deposit Guarantee Scheme in respect of your money we will, subject to your consent, need to give certain information to the scheme about you to help them identify you and any amount to which you would be entitled within our client account.

17. 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. At the conclusion of your matter the papers on your file will be stored for such period as is provided for in our client care material and/or closing letter. This will usually be six years from the date of the final bill unless otherwise stated. After this period the papers will be destroyed without further reference to you. We will not destroy documents you ask us to deposit in safe custody.

Should you wish the file to be retrieved from storage there could be a charge for this. However If we take papers or documents out of storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act for you, we will not normally charge for the retrieval. However we may charge you for:

  • time spent producing stored papers that are requested
  • reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions in relation to the retrieved papers

18. Financial services and insurance mediation

We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). However, we are included on the register maintained by the FCA so that we can carry on insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the advising on, selling and administration of insurance contracts. Insurance mediation activities and investment services, including arrangements for complaints or redress if something goes wrong, are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the FCA website at www.fca.org.uk.

19. Cybercrime warning

Cybercrime and email-related fraud is on the rise. You should be alive to the possibility that a fraudster might deliberately misrepresent himself or herself as a member of, or as someone acting on behalf, of or working with, Taylor Haldane Barlex LLP, for criminal purposes. Such scams normally originate by email. Often the email will suggest there has been a change in bank details or request personal or financial information in order that money can be paid to them (an identity theft type fraud).

Please note, we will not be changing our bank details during the course of acting for you. If you receive an email or any other communication asking you to pay money into an account other than our client bank account, the details of which will have already been notified to you, please contact the person dealing with your matter before you make any payment. Prior to transferring funds to our account, we recommend you contact us to verify our account details

If we receive any communication from you informing us of a change to your account details or instructions for payment, we will not make any payment until such time as we have been able to confirm those instructions directly with you. If you do change your bank details whilst we are acting for you please notify us in person or by telephone as soon as possible to ensure that this does not result in any delay as we will need to verify the change directly with you to ensure that they are not from a fraudulent source.

20. Termination

You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time 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 you or we decide that we should stop acting for you, you are liable to pay our charges up until that point. These are calculated on the basis set out in our letter confirming your instructions.

Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013, you have the right to cancel this contract within 14 days without giving any reason. This only applies where contracts are agreed away from our premises or where we are not both physically present. To exercise the right to cancel, you must inform us of your decision to cancel this contract by a clear statement (e.g. a letter sent by post, fax or e-mail). To meet the cancellation deadline, it is sufficient for you to send your communication concerning your exercise of the right to cancel before the cancellation period has expired. If you cancel this contract, we will reimburse to you any payments received from you. Please note that the Regulations do not apply to legally-aided work.

21. Tax advice

Any work that we do for you may involve tax implications or necessitate the consideration of tax planning strategies. We are not qualified to advise you on the tax implications of a transaction that you instruct us to carry out, or the likelihood of them arising. If you have any concerns in this respect, then you are advised to refer to a suitably-qualified adviser.

22. 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 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 that we think might be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive that information please notify our office, preferably in writing. 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.org.uk.

23. 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.

24. Communications

We shall communicate with you in the most effective way, as agreed between us. You should be aware that the use of e-mail is not secure for confidential matters. We take every precaution to ensure that e-mail is virus free but we cannot guarantee this. If you require correspondence to be addressed to a particular person or marked private and confidential then you must tell us.

25. Confidentiality and conflicts of interest

We will keep information about your business and affairs confidential and will not disclose it to any other person except (a) with your consent, (b) to your other professional advisors, (c) where disclosure is required or permitted by law, (d) to any body which regulates us (such as The Solicitors Regulation Authority) (e) to the extent that such information enters, or has entered, the public domain or (f) (in confidence only) to our professional indemnity insurers, brokers, auditors or professional advisers.

We shall be under no duty to disclose to you (or take into account during the course of providing our services to you) any information acquired by us in acting for any other client or any information in respect of which we owe a duty of confidentiality to a third party.

Our advice and other communications with you are confidential and may not, without our consent, be disclosed by you to any third party (other than to your employees and agents who require access and who do not disclose it further) or otherwise made public except as required by law or other regulatory authority to which you are subject.

If a result of our acting on your behalf, you acquire any information in respect of which we notify you that we owe a duty of confidentiality to a third party, you will keep it confidential and not use it without our consent.

We will not act in relation to a matter where there is a conflict of interest in relation to that matter, or a related matter, or there is a significant risk that there is a conflict of this kind unless we are permitted to do so by the professional rules from time to time of The Solicitors Regulation Authority and, where required by those rules, with your consents.

We cannot absolutely guarantee the security of information communicated by email or mobile phone. Unless we hear from you to the contrary, we will assume that you consent for us to use these methods of communication.

26. Prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing

We are required by law to get satisfactory evidence of the identity of our clients and sometimes people related to them. This is because solicitors who deal with money and property on behalf of their clients can be used by criminals wanting to launder money. To comply with the law, we need to get evidence of your identity as soon as possible. This is explained in our letter confirming your instructions.

We are professionally and legally obliged to keep your affairs confidential. However, solicitors may be required by statute to make a disclosure to the National Crime Agency (NCA) 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.

27. External auditing and outsourcing

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 barristers, 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 Solicitors Regulation Authority) 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.

28. Limit on our liability for professional negligence

Our liability to you for a breach of your instructions shall be limited to £3,000,000, 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. In particular, we cannot limit our liability for death or personal injury caused by our negligence.

29. Complaints

We are committed to providing high quality legal advice and client care. If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service you receive or about the bill, please contact our Complaints Partner, Matthew Taylor by email (mtaylor@thblegal.com) or by post to Mr Matthew Taylor, THB Sols LLP, Copt House,73 Springfield Road, Chelmsford, Essex CM2 6JG. We have a written procedure that sets out how we handle complaints. A copy can be made available to you on request.

We have eight weeks to consider your complaint. If we have not resolved it within this time you may complain to the Legal Ombudsman. If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider the complaint. The Legal Ombudsman's contact details are:

PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ
Tel: 0300 555 0333 (8.30am to 5.30pm)
Email: enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk
Website: www.legalombudsman.org.uk

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 or within six years of the act or omission about which you are complaining occurring (or if outside of this period, within three years of when you should reasonably have been aware of it). Generally, the Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints relating to acts or omissions that happened after 5 October 2010.

The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints by consumers and very small businesses. This means some clients may not have the right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman, e.g. charities or clubs with an annual income of more than £1 million, trustees of trusts with asset value of more than £1 million and most businesses (unless they are defined as micro-enterprises). This does not prevent you from making a complaint directly to us about the service you have received or about the bill.

30. Publicity

Unless you have directed us otherwise, we may disclose to others that you are a client. In addition, once a matter has been announced or comes into the public domain, we may disclose that we acted for you in relation to that matter and indicate the general nature or category of the work we have done. Disclosures of this kind will be made principally for the purposes of directory entries or newsworthy articles.

31. Intellectual property rights

Copyright: We retain copyright and all other intellectual property rights in all documents and other works we develop or generate for you in providing the services (including know-how, working materials, as well as drafts and final copies). We are granting to you non-exclusive, non-transferable licence to use such materials or other works solely for the matter to which the services of developing or generating them relate and not otherwise. If you do not pay us in full for our services in relation to the matter we may, on giving you notice revoke that licence and only re-grant it to you once full payment is made.

Opinions from Barristers and Third Parties: We may retain, for our subsequent use, a copy of the advice or opinion of any barrister or third party given in writing obtained in the course of providing services to you. If we retain a copy of any advice or opinion in this manner, we will take all reasonable steps to redact from such advice (such as names, addresses or descriptions) which might reasonably enable you to be identified.

32. Applicable law

Any dispute or legal issue arising from our Terms of Business will be determined by the law of England and Wales, and considered exclusively by the English and Welsh courts.

33. Future instructions

Unless otherwise agreed, these terms and conditions of business will apply to all future instructions you give us on this or any other matter.