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Terms and Conditions of Brown & Company Solicitors

 
 
 

Our Aim
We aim to offer our clients quality legal advice with a personal service at a fair 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.

Our Commitment to You

We will:-

  • REPRESENT your interests and keep your business confidential.
  • EXPLAIN to you the legal work which may be required and the prospects of a successful outcome.
  • MAKE SURE that you understand the likely degree of financial risk which you will be taking on.
  • KEEP YOU regularly informed of progress or, if there is none, when you are next likely to hear from us.
  • TRY to avoid using technical legal language when writing to you – tell us when we fail in this aim.
  • DEAL with your queries promptly, for example, we will always try to return your telephone calls on the same day.


Our Hours of Business

  • The normal hours of opening at our offices are between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm on weekdays. Please see our client care letter for details of any part time workers on your case. Appointments can be arranged at other times when this is essential.


People Responsible for your Work

  • You will be allocated a specific fee earner.
  • Sometimes, however, work will be delegated to another member of staff where we deem it appropriate to expedite matters or to minimise expense. All support staff are closely supervised and the practice takes complete responsibility for their work.

 
Charges and Expenses

  • Unless a formal quotation of charges has been given, our charges will be calculated mainly by reference to the time actually spent by the solicitors and other staff in respect of any work which they do on your behalf. This will include meetings with you and perhaps others, reading and working on papers, correspondence, including e-mails, preparation of any detailed costs calculations, and time spent travelling away from the office when this is necessary. From time to time we may arrange for some of this work to be carried out by persons not directly employed by this firm. You will be charged at rates not greater than those set out below.
  • Routine letters are charged as 6 minute units of time and we charge for the time spent on making and taking telephone calls in 6 minute units and considering incoming letters at units of 3 minutes per page.
  • The current hourly rates are set out below. We will add VAT to these at the rate that applies when the work is done. At present, 20%.
    Partners and Consultants £185.00
    Solicitors/Licensed Conveyancers £140.00
    Executives/Conveyancer £120.00
    Junior Executives/Paralegal £100.00
  • These hourly rates have to be reviewed periodically to reflect increases in overhead costs and inflation. Normally the rates are reviewed with effect from 1 January each year. If a review is carried out before this matter has been concluded, we will inform you of any variation in the rate before it takes effect.
  • 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, any particularly specialist expertise which the case may demand. In particular, in property transactions, in the administration of estates and in matters involving a substantial financial value or benefit to a client, a charge reflecting, for example, the price of the property, the size of the estate, or the value of the financial benefit may be considered. It is not always possible to indicate how these aspects may arise but on present information we would expect them to be sufficiently taken into account in the rates which we have quoted. Where a charge reflecting any value element is to be added we will explain this to you.
  • Solicitors have to pay out various other expenses on behalf of clients ranging from Land or Probate Registry fees, to Court fees, experts fees and so on. We have no obligation to make such payments unless you have provided us with the funds for that purpose. VAT is payable on certain expenses. We refer to such payments generally as “disbursements”. All CHAPS payments made on your behalf are charged at £12.50 plus VAT.
  • If, for any reason, this matter does not proceed to completion, we will be entitled to charge you for work done on a time basis and for expenses incurred. Property sales and purchases which fail to complete often involve as much work as those which reach completion. Any charge made, however, will not exceed the amount of our estimate even if the time spent would justify a higher fee.


Payment Arrangements

  • Property Transactions. We will normally send you our bill following the exchange of contracts and payment is required on a purchase prior to completion; and at completion on a sale. If sufficient funds are available on completion, and we have sent you a bill, we will deduct our charges and expenses from the funds
  • Otherwise, we will send you an account once it is prepared and a detailed costs analysis is undertaken
  • Administration of Estates. We will normally submit an interim bill at regular stages during the administration, starting with the obtaining of a Grant. The final account will be prepared when the Estate Accounts are ready for approval.
  • Other Cases or Transactions. It is normal practice to ask clients to pay sums of money from time to time on account of the charges and expenses which are expected in the following weeks or months. We find that this helps clients in budgeting for costs as well as keeping them informed of the legal expenses which are being incurred. 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.
  • If a bill is delivered in a concessionary figure (‘but say’) and remains unpaid after one month we reserve the right to credit the account with the amount of the ‘but say’ bill and to render a full account for all work done on the basis of a detailed costs analysis
  • We may charge interest on unpaid bills from one month after delivery of the bill on a daily basis at the rate specified in the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Rate of Interest) (No. 3) Order 2002 currently 8% over Lloyds TSB Bank Plc’s base rate
  • If the whole of the bill has not been paid we are entitled to charge interest on the outstanding amount of the bill in accordance with article 5 of the Solicitors’ (Non-Contentious Business) Remuneration Order 2009


Interest Payment

  • Any money received on your behalf will be held in our Client Account. We maintain an instant access account to facilitate a transaction and in consequence the amount of interest earned will usually be less than would be earned if the money were held in a deposit account. Interest will be calculated and paid to the client at the rate from time to time payable on HSBC Bank PLC’s instant access accounts. The period for which interest will be paid will normally run from the date(s) on which cleared funds are received by us until the date(s) of issue of any cheque(s) from our client account. We may retain the first £20 of each amount of interest as and when calculated to help us cover the administrative expenses of arranging these calculations and payments. By signing these terms and conditions you agree to this.
  • Where a client obtains borrowing from a lender in a property transaction, we will ask the lender to arrange that the loan cheque is received by us a minimum of four working days prior to the completion date. If the money can be sent by CHAPS or BACS, we will request that we receive it the day before completion. This will enable us to ensure that the necessary funds are available in time for completion. Such clients need to be aware that the lender may charge interest from the date of issue of their loan cheque or the telegraphing of the payment.


Money Held In Our Client Accounts

  • Please be advised that we may not be liable to repay money held in our Client Accounts which is lost through the failure of our bank.
  • Monies held on your behalf will be held in our Clients Premium Deposit account at HSBC Bank PLC.
  • The £85,000 Financial Services Compensation Scheme indemnity limit applies to each individual client so if you hold other monies in HSBC Bank PLC, then the limit will remain £85,000 in total.


Storage of Papers and Documents

  • After completing the work, we are entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is money owing to us for our charges and expenses. In addition, we will keep your file of papers for you in storage for not less than six years. After that, storage is on the clear understanding that we have the right to destroy it after such period as we consider reasonable 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 you ask us to hold in safe custody. No charge will be made to you for such storage unless prior notice in writing is given to you of a charge to be made from a future date which may be specified in that notice.
  • 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 for producing stored papers or documents to you or another at your request. We may also charge for reading, correspondence and other work necessary to comply with your instructions.


Termination

  • You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time but we will 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.
  • If we decide to stop acting for you, for example if you do not pay an interim bill or comply with the request for a payment on account, we will tell you the reason and give you notice in writing.
  • Under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, for some non-business transactions, you may have the right to withdraw, without charge, within seven working days of the date on which you asked us to act for you. However, if we start work with your consent within that period, you lose that right to withdraw. Your acceptance of these Terms and Conditions of Business will amount to such consent. If you seek to withdraw instructions, you should give notice by telephone, e-mail or letter to the person named in these Terms of Business as being responsible for your work. The Regulations require us to inform you that the work involved is likely to take more than 30 days.


Limited Companies

    When accepting instructions to act on behalf of a limited company, we may require a Director and/or controlling shareholder to sign a form of personal guarantee in respect of the charges and expenses of this firm. If such a request is refused, we will be entitled to stop acting and to require immediate payment of our charges on an hourly basis and expenses as set out earlier.


Financial Services and insurance contracts

  • We do not advise on Tax or investment matters, not being qualified to do so.
  • We are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority. We are, however, 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 and 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 at www.fsa.gov.uk/register


Identity, Disclosure and Confidentiality of Business

  • All advice given to clients is entirely confidential, but, money laundering regulations may require disclosure of confidential information by law. Please note that we accept no responsibility for any loss arising from compliance with the money laundering provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and any amending legislation howsoever caused. The Solicitors Regulation Authority and other supervisory bodies may call for a file which is the subject of a complaint.
  • As part of our continuing commitment to providing a high quality of service to all our clients, Brown and Company maintains accreditation with the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme. The audit procedure laid down by this scheme may require examination of clients’ confidential files from time to time under strictly controlled circumstances and only to duly appointed and qualified individuals. Acceptance of these terms and conditions by any client is deemed to include consent to such disclosure, which may be withdrawn by you in writing at any time
  • 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: recent legislation on money laundering and terrorist financing has places solicitors under a legal duty in certain circumstances to disclose information to the National Crime Agency. Where a solicitor knows of suspects that a transaction on behalf of a client involves money laundering, the solicitor may be required to make money laundering disclosure.
  • If while we are acting for you, it becomes necessary to make money laundering disclosure, we may not be able to inform you that a disclosure has been made or of the reasons for it.
  • We are entitled to refuse to act for you if you fail to supply appropriate proof of identity for yourself and for any principal whom you may represent.
  • We utilise electronic verification of identity in all cases.
  • Solicitors are not allowed to disclose information about a client’s affairs without the client’s authority. By signing this Terms and Conditions of Business and returning it to us you authorise us to disclose to the other parties in the transaction and, if applicable, to all other parties in the chain of transactions and their agents and advisers, all information which we have in relation to your involvement in the transaction including any related sale or mortgage or other financial arrangements and wishes as to dates for exchange and completion. You may withdraw this authority at any time but if you do so you should appreciate that we will inform the other party or parties and their agents or advisers that this authority has been withdrawn.
  • We will not be liable for any loss, damage or delay arising out of the firm’s compliance with any statutory or regulatory requirement.


Speaking to your Lender

We may also be acting for your proposed lender in this transaction. This means that we have a duty to make full disclosure to the mortgagee of all relevant facts relating to you, your purchase and mortgage. That will include disclosure of any discrepancies between the mortgage application and information provided to us during the transaction including any cashback payments or discount schemes which a seller is providing to you. If a conflict of interest arises, we must cease to act for you in this matter.


Communication Between You and Us

  • Our aim is to offer all our clients an efficient and effective service at all times. Our clients and staff are of first importance to us and we are committed to high quality legal advice and client care. We hope that you will be pleased with the work we do for you. However, if you are unhappy with any aspect of our service, or about the bill, please raise your concern in the first place with Charlotte Sheehan. If you still have queries or concerns, please contact Mrs E A Brown who is the client care partner. You can contact Mrs Brown directly by email on eb@brownsolicitors.co.uk, by telephone on (01858) 434204 or by post to 4a Church Street Market Harborough LE16 7AA. We have a client complaints procedure, a copy of which is available on request. If, at the conclusion of our complaints process, you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you have the right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman (Office of the Legal Service Ombudsman PO Box 6806 Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ; Telephone 0300 555 0333; E-Mail enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk) to consider your 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. You also have the right to object to the bill and to apply to the Court for an assessment of the bill under sections 70,71 and 72 of the Solicitors Act 1974. Any application to the court must be made within one month of your receipt of the bill. The Legal Ombudsman may not consider a complaint about the bill if you have applied to the court for assessment of the bill.
  • We will aim to communicate with you by such a method as you may request. We may need to virus check disks or e-mail. Unless you withdraw consent, we will communicate with you and others when appropriate by e-mail or fax but we cannot be responsible for the security of correspondence and documents sent by e-mail or fax.
  • The Data Protection Act requires us to advise you that your particulars are held on our database. We may, from time to time, use these details to send you information which we think might be of interest to you. We do not make such information available to any other provider of products or services.
  • We are regulated by the Solicitors’ Code of Conduct 2011 which can be accessed at www.sra.org.uk in the English language


Provision of Service Regulations 2009

  • We comply with the above regulations by displaying the required details of our Professional Indemnity Insurance in each of our offices.


Property Disclaimers

  • We will not carry out a physical inspection of the property.
  • We will not advise on planning criteria or requirements and if you are intending to carry out development at the property you should seek specialist advice from a planning expert.
  • We will not advise on the valuation of the property nor the suitability of your mortgage nor any other financial arrangements.
  • We will not advise on environmental liabilities where we shall assume, unless you tell us in writing to the contrary, that you are making your own arrangements for any appropriate environmental survey or investigations. We may, however, need to obtain on behalf of your lender at your expense an environmental search.

 

Terms and Conditions of Business

  • Unless otherwise agreed, and subject to the application of then current hourly rates, these Terms and Conditions of Business shall apply to any future instructions given by you to this firm.
  • Although your continuing instructions in this matter will amount to an acceptance of these Terms and Conditions of Business, it may not be possible for us to start work on your behalf until one copy of them has been returned to us for us to keep on our file.


Authorities

  • Where we are acting for more than one person we have an obligation to obtain instructions from each of them. This may be inconvenient for you and so to enable us to accept instructions from either of you on behalf of both, you are asked to sign the authority at the end of the enclosed copy of this form. We will then accept instructions from either of you on behalf of you both.