Terms and Conditions of Business
1. Distance Selling
1.1. If we have not met with you, the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 will apply to your matter. This means that you have the right to cancel your instructions with us within 14 calendar days of receiving these Terms and Conditions. Regulations require you to either complete a model cancellation form as attached or that you make a clear statement setting out the decision to cancel. You can send the form or your decision to cancel to us by post, fax or email.
1.2. In the event there is urgent work to be done in your matter it will be undertaken immediately in accordance with your instructions. You will still have 14 calendar days within which to cancel your instructions if you wish, however any work which has been undertaken up to that point, will be charged.
1.3. You will not have the right to cancel if you have expressly asked us to start the work before the end of the 14 calendar day cancellation period, and the work is fully performed.
1.4. By signing and returning these Terms and Conditions of Business, you are expressly requesting us to start your work before the end of the 14 calendar day cancellation period, and you acknowledge that if we fully complete the work, you do not have the right to cancel, and will be responsible for all our fees and disbursements.
2. Hours of Business
2.1. Our hours of business are Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.30pm.
3. Our Responsibilities
3.1. We will update you by telephone or in writing with progress of your matter regularly and/or following agreed events.
3.2. In order to protect the environment we send all written communication via e-mail. However, if you prefer to receive all written communication via post then please advise us about your preference.
3.3. We will communicate with you in plain language.
3.4. We will explain to you by telephone and/or in writing the legal work required as your matter progresses.
3.5. We will update you on whether the likely outcome still justifies the likely costs and risks associated with your matter whenever there is a material change in circumstance.
3.6. We will update you on the likely timescales for each stage of your matter and any important changes in the cost estimates set out in the Letter of Engagement. Please note that if your case requires immediate and urgent attention, which is in your best interests, we may undertake the work urgently and thereby exceed the cost estimate provided to deal with any urgency. We will promptly provide you with an up to date cost estimate, once the urgency has been dealt with.
3.7. We will continue to review whether there are alternative methods by which your matter can be funded and/or resolved.
3.8. We will advise you of any changes in the law.
3.9. We will advise you of any circumstances and risks of which we are aware or consider being reasonably foreseeable that could affect the outcome of your matter.
4. Your Responsibilities
4.1. You will provide us with clear, timely and accurate instructions.
4.2. You will provide all documentation required to complete the transaction in a timely manner.
4.3. You will safeguard any documents which are likely to be required for your case, including discovery in the courts.
4.4. You agree to make payment on account promptly and in any event within 3 days following any request we make to you for payment on account.
5. Our Charges
5.1. All work charged is on an Agreed Fee basis. This means that we will provide you with an Agreed Fee which you will be required to pay in advance of the work being completed. Please note that an Agreed Fee is a Fee that is fixed for the purposes of the piece of work that we have agreed. It is payment in advance and is payable whether or not the work is completed.
6. Money Laundering
6.1. The Government has implemented obligatory checks to be made by Solicitors on the identity of individuals instructing them. We are, therefore, obliged by Law to obtain the following from you:
• Evidence of identity – passport or driving licence
• Proof of address – utility bill in the last three months (this cannot be a phone bill)
• National Insurance number
Without the above information on the file, we are not able to undertake work in your matter.
6.2. If you produced the above evidence at the initial consultation there is nothing further for you to do.
6.3. If you did not produce the above information at the initial consultation, we request that you forward us a certified copy of the documents as a matter of urgency. We must stress that without such information on the file, we are unable to undertake work in your matter.
6.4. We are professionally and legally obliged to keep your affairs confidential. However, Solicitors may be required by statute to make disclosure to the National Crime Agency (NCA) where they know or suspect that a transaction may involve money laundering or terrorist financing.
6.5. Regulations require us to retain information collected as part of our money laundering obligations for no longer than 5 years. Our file retention policy is to destroy files after 6 years of your matter concluding. By signing this agreement you consent for us to retain the above information on file for a period of 6 years rather than 5 years.
7.1. We have explained to you that your case can be funded in one of two ways at this Firm:
• Legal Expenses Insurance
7.2. Please note that this Firm does not offer legal aid or Conditional Fee Agreements.
8. Legal Expenses Insurance
8.1. If you successfully obtain legal expenses insurance, on conclusion of your matter the file will be sent to the insurance company for consideration along with all bills rendered in your matter.
8.2. If there is any shortfall in the amount the insurance company pays and the amount we have billed, you are liable to settle the shortfall within 28 days of receiving notification.
9. Disbursements & Expenses
9.1. You will be responsible for all disbursements, expenses and other costs that are incurred in your matter. Disbursements and expenses include the following (this list is not exhaustive):
• Photocopying and printing over 100 pages;
• Any single postage item over £5.00;
• Couriers fees;
• Travel expenses;
• Barrister’s fees;
• Expert’s fees;
• Conference call charges.
9.2. This list is not exhaustive and if other disbursements/expenses are likely to be incurred you will be advised accordingly. All disbursements/expenses are subject to VAT and are incurred over and above the Agreed Fee.
9.3. Any Original documents will be returned to you once they have been scanned on to our system. We will notify you, by email, once this process has taken place. You will then have the option to either collect your original documents from our offices or we can post your documents to you by Special Delivery to ensure safe return. As above, you will be responsible for any Special Delivery postage cost above £5.00.
10. Barrister’s and Expert’s Fees
10.1. We may have advised you in the initial consultation that we may need to instruct a barrister (Counsel) and/or expert in your matter. You will be advised of this at the appropriate stage and we will seek your instructions before doing so.
10.2. When a barrister and/or expert is instructed, the Firm enters into a contract with them to meet their fees. Therefore by instructing the Firm to instruct a barrister and/or expert you are also confirming that you will be responsible for any fees that we incur on your behalf with the barrister and/or expert in your matter.
10.3. In the event you instruct a barrister and/or expert to attend a Hearing on your behalf and the Hearing does not proceed for whatever reason, the barrister and/or expert is entitled to charge a fee. This fee covers the work undertaken by the barrister and/or expert in preparing for the Hearing. The sum that the barrister and/or expert will charge in the event of an adjourned Hearing is negotiable and we will attempt to negotiate the lowest fee possible on your behalf, however this cannot be guaranteed.
10.4. In the unlikely event that you wish to complain about a barrister and/or expert, please note that the complaint should be made directly to the barrister and/or expert.
10.5. With regard to barrister complaints you will receive a letter from the barrister’s chambers, via us, that will set out details of your rights and how to make a complaint.
11. Court Cases
11.1. You are responsible for our fees and any disbursements incurred on your matter regardless of any costs that may be awarded to you by the Court, which are payable by the other side.
11.2. You should be aware that if you succeed in any Court case the general rule is that the costs will be awarded to you but there are certain circumstances when the Court will not award the full amount to you. You will be liable for any shortfall.
11.3. In some circumstances if an Order for Costs is made in your favour, the other party may not be able to pay those costs and you will remain liable to pay our fees. This is particularly so if the other party is Legally Aided.
11.4. If you lose the case, you will have to pay your own fees and may have to pay the costs of the other party as well.
12. Confidentiality & General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)
12.1. Any information held by us is used for updating and enhancing client records, analysis to help us manage our practice statutory regulations and legal/regulatory compliance. Our use of any information is subject to your instructions, the GDPR and our duty of confidentiality.
12.2. Please note that our work for you may require us to give information to third parties such as expert witnesses and other professional advisors. You have a right of access under data protection legislation to the personal data we hold about you.
12.3. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you wish to discuss this aspect of confidentiality or data protection any further. If you do not want your file to be inspected please advise us in writing. We will ensure that your file is kept confidential.
13. Outsourcing of Work
13.1. Sometimes we ask other companies or people to carry out typing, photocopying and other work on our files to ensure this is done promptly. For example, any complaints received by us may be referred to an independent complaints handler for the purpose of obtaining an objective view. We will always seek a confidentiality agreement with these outsourced providers. If you do not wish for your file to be outsourced, please tell us as soon as possible.
14. Termination of the Retainer
14.1. You may end your instructions to us at any time; however we are entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses.
14.2. We may decide to stop acting for you only with good reason, e.g. if you do not pay an interim bill, if you fail to make a payment on account when requested, or if there is a conflict of interest. We must give you reasonable notice that we intend to stop acting for you.
14.3. Following a request for payment on account, if that payment is not made within 3 days we will stop acting for you on the 4th day.
14.4. If you or we decide that we should stop acting for you, you will be liable to pay our charges up to that point. These are calculated on an hourly basis, plus disbursements, plus VAT as set out in these Terms and Conditions.
15. Conclusion of your matter
15.1. After completing the work, we will keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses.
15.2. Once all fees have been settled we will keep your file of papers for 6 years, except those papers you ask to be returned to you. We keep files on the understanding that we destroy them 6 years after the date of your closing letter. We will not contact you again after 6 years and prior to destroying the documents. Unless you tell us otherwise, we will assume that we have your consent to destroy your file after the expiry of the 6 year period. We will not destroy documents you ask us to deposit in safe custody.
15.3. If there are funds remaining on your SalimaMawji Law Client Account at the end of the case, we will require your bank account details to refund these monies to you. We are unable to hold these monies on account for an indefinite period of time therefore, if we do not hear from you within 3 months of our first email notifying you of a refund, your monies will be donated to charity. If there is £500.00 or more to be refunded to you and we do not receive a response from you, we shall seek authorisation from the Solicitors Regulation Authority to donate your monies to charity. Please note that we are unable to provide refunds by cheque.
15.4. If there is a refund owing to you and you provide us with an international bank account, a bank charge of £17.00 will be charged to your account and deducted from the monies we hold on account. These are bank charges which may vary from time to time. Any variation on the amount will be notified to you.
15.5. If we take papers out of storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act for you, we will not normally charge for such retrieval. However we may charge you for time spent perusing papers that are requested and reviewing correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions in relation to the retrieved papers.
16. Equality and Diversity
16.1. SalimaMawji Law 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 our equality and diversity policy.
17.1. SalimaMawji Law is not authorised by the Financial Conduct 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.
17.2. We may, however, 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.
17.3. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is the independent regulatory arm of the Law Society. Our SRA registration number is 662854, and our registered company number is 12071022.
17.4. The Legal Ombudsman is the independent complaints handling organisation which deals with complaints about lawyers. Their contact details are Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ, 0300 555 0333 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
18.1. If at any point you become unhappy with the service we provide to you or you have concerns about your bill then you should inform us immediately so that we can do our best to resolve the problem for you. We have a procedure in place which details how we handle complaints which is available upon written request to the Personal Assistant to the Director. We have eight weeks to consider your complaint.
18.2. There are time limits as to when you can make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman.
These are as follows:
a) Six years from the date of the act/omission, or
b) Three years from the date you should reasonably have known there were grounds for complaint (if the act/omission was more than six years ago)
c) Within six months of you receiving a final response from us.
18.3. These time limit rules should normally be satisfied for the Legal Ombudsman to accept the complaint. Please refer to the Legal Ombudsman’s scheme rules for further information: http://www.legalombudsman.org....
Alternative complaints bodies such a ProMediate (http://www.promediate.co.uk/professionals-complaints/consumer-guidance) exist, which are competent to deal with complaints about legal services should both you and our firm wish to use such a scheme. SalimaMawji Law do not agree to use ProMediate as we prefer the Legal Ombudsman’s clear adjudication process.
For the avoidance of any doubt, a complaint may include a complaint about our bill. Depending on the type of matter we are handling for you, you may also have the right to object to the bill by applying to the Court for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. Please note that if all or part of a bill remains unpaid, we are entitled to claim interest upon the proportion that is unpaid and are entitled to hold your documents as a lien until such time that our bill is paid.
19.1. Any dispute of legal issue arising from our Terms and Conditions of Business will be determined by the law of England and Wales, and considered exclusively by the English courts.
We would be grateful if you would confirm in reply that you have read, understood and accepted the contents and the terms on which we are acting for you. If you do not respond promptly we will continue to act for you on the basis that you have accepted the Terms and Conditions set out herein.
If there is anything you wish to discuss with us please do not hesitate to contact the relevant fee earner.