Terms & Conditions
Table of Contents
DEFINED TERMS 3
Our Authority and Services 4
Your Responsibilities 4
Client Care Code 4
Complaints Procedure 5
HOURS OF BUSINESS 5
Fees and Expenses 5
Our Invoices 6
Conflict of Interest 8
Information and Confidentiality 8
Custody, Retention and Transfer of Documents 9
Intellectual Property Rights 9
Joint Instructions 10
proportionate Liability 11
Loss of Profit 11
Dispute Resolution 13
Law and Jurisdiction 13
Quality standards 14
data protectIon 14
Provisions relating to Litigation and other work in relation to disputes 14
REGULATIONS AFFECTING YOUR CANCELLATION RIGHTS 16
REGULATORY INFORMATION 17
These Terms of Business issued by Axiom Stone Solicitors trading as Axiom Stone (“the Firm”), as supplemented and/or amended by any relevant Client Care Letter; apply to each Matter we work on for you.
No variation of these Terms shall be effective, unless it is in writing and is signed by one of our Partners.
In these Terms of Business:-
Our Authority and Services
You give us full authority to act for you to the fullest extent necessary or desirable to provide the Services. In particular, we may engage barristers and other third parties and otherwise incur on your behalf reasonable expenses of a type which is necessary or desirable to incur in relation to the Services in question.
If we so require, you will contract directly with any third party so engaged by us and assume direct responsibility to them for the payment of their fees and expenses, otherwise you will fully indemnify us if it is necessary for us to engage the third party on your behalf.
The Partner at the Firm named in any Client Care Letter as the “Supervising Partner” will be the Partner primarily responsible for the provision of our Services. That Partner has complete discretion to deploy such of our lawyers, trainee lawyers, paralegals or other staff as she/he deems necessary or desirable to ensure appropriate delivery of the Services.
We only advise on the Laws of England and Wales. If you require advice on the laws of other jurisdictions, we will, with your agreement, instruct lawyers practising those laws to give such advice, on the same basis as we engage other third parties on your behalf.
You will (so far as you are practicably able to do so):-
provide us with timely instructions, information and materials necessary or desirable for us to perform the 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.
Client Care Code
We set out below our complaints handling procedure. Thankfully, this has rarely been of interest to our clients, but we take this opportunity to ensure that you are fully acquainted with it.
We want you to be happy with every aspect of our Service. We therefore operate a Client Care Code, the principles of which are as set out below:-
We are committed wholeheartedly to the professional standards laid down by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
You will be told clearly at the outset the issues and how we advise they be dealt with, and the immediate steps we will take on your behalf.
The Client Care letter referring to these Terms of Business notifies you of the following details:-
the name of the person or persons who is/are dealing on a day to day basis with your matter; and
the name of the Supervising Partner;
You will be told the name of the new fee earner if the matter is transferred from one fee earner to another.
We cannot guarantee that the fee earner or Supervising Partner will be available on demand, but we will do our best to get back to you promptly and efficiently.
You will be informed of the progress of your matter and the reason for any serious delay.
We will update you by telephone or in writing with the progress of your matter regularly.
We will explain to you the legal work required as your matter progresses.
We will update you on the likely cost of your matter and update you on any increase in estimates provided before the work is carried out. Please refer to paragraph 8.4 below.
We will update you on the likely timescales for each stage of your matter and any important changes in those time estimates.
If you do not understand anything it is important that you raise this with us so that we can explain matters further for you. You may wish to prepare a list of any questions you wish to raise to ensure that nothing is missed.
There may be certain preparatory tasks that you ought to consider carrying out yourself, such as putting the papers in order and flagging material items to avoid the costs of us doing this on your behalf.
At the end of your case we will provide you with your final bill together with details of any continuing requirements, as appropriate.
The Firm’s policy is to only accept up to £500 in cash payments from clients. Please discuss directly with Pragnesh Modhwadia, the Managing Partner of the Firm, if you are not able to pay the balance of the fees / disbursements via your bank account / cheque. 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 once we are satisfied as to the source of the funds. It will not be paid in cash or to a third party.
We hope that you will not have any reason to make a complaint about our Services. To underline how seriously we take complaints, we have a set Complaints Procedure. Please refer to Paragraph 23 entitled “Dispute Resolution”.
HOURS OF BUSINESS
The normal hours of opening at our offices are between 9.00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on weekdays and 9.30am to 1.30pm on Saturday. Messages can be left on the answerphone outside those hours and appointments can be arranged at other times when this is essential.
Please note that our firm runs an appointment system for seeing clients, which works for the benefit of all our clients. Please contact us should you wish to arrange an appointment. We are unable to see clients without an appointment.
Fees and Expenses
Unless otherwise agreed in the Client Care Letter, our fees will be calculated principally by reference to the time spent by us in providing the Services at the fixed 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, responsibility, complexity, value and urgency of the Services and other criteria specified in those guidelines.
The fixed hourly rates of each of our Partners, Solicitors, Trainee Solicitors, Case Handlers, paralegals and other staff are reviewed from time to time and we will inform you of any variation in these rates and the date upon which they take effect.
You will be responsible for paying the expenses we incur in the course of providing the Services (including travel and subsistence expenses, search and filing fees, court fees and barristers’, foreign lawyers’ and other third parties’ fees and expenses). We have no obligation to pay for or incur such expenses unless you have provided us with the funds for that purpose.
VAT will be charged at the appropriate rate on all fees and expenses. Our VAT number is contained within the Regulatory section of these Terms.
When accepting 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 our fees and expenses. If such request is refused, we will be entitled to stop acting and require immediate payment of our fees on a time spent basis and expenses as set out above.
Payments on Account
We may require you to make a payment to us on account of our fees and expenses at any time and on more than one occasion. Money paid on account which is not subsequently required for fees and expenses will be returned promptly.
It may not be possible for us to make further progress in relation to your matter until such time as we receive your payment on account. We are not obliged to credit payments on account against interim invoices but may do so at our sole discretion.
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 or a defined part of it.
Unless stated in writing to the contrary, any quotation or estimate does not include any expenses or VAT.
Where we carry out work which falls outside the scope of an accepted quotation (or of an estimate which is subsequently incorporated into a contract between us) we may charge fees at our fixed 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, onerous or urgent as a result of:-
circumstances or information which we did not know or could not reasonably have anticipated at the time of the quotation or estimate (whether or not you were aware of them/it); or
your, or your agents’, act or omission.
In addition to the time spent, we may take into account a number of other factors. This will include the complexity of the issues, the speed at which action must be taken, and the expertise or specialist knowledge that the case requires and if appropriate, the value of the transaction or subject matter involved. You may instruct us to act on your Matter urgently and/or during outside normal business hours, for example, on evenings or weekends. It may also be that we have no option but to work on your Matter outside of our normal business hours, Monday to Friday. In these circumstances, we can at our discretion, increase our hourly rate by 50%. If required to work on your matter during weekends and Bank Holidays, we will increase our hourly rate by 100%.
If we receive a commission from a third party arising from work we are doing for you, we will credit you with the commission unless you have agreed otherwise or the amount is less than twenty pounds (£20) (excluding VAT).
Frequency of Invoices
Unless otherwise agreed in the Client Care Letter, we will be entitled to invoice you in respect of our fees and expenses monthly and on completion of each Matter. At the end of our financial year we shall be entitled to bring up to date our invoicing in respect of all your then unbilled work.
Unless otherwise stated, monthly or other interim invoices are a final account of our fees for all work done during the period to which they relate. You agree that we may bring proceedings on interim invoices which are not final bills where we have provided Services and the amount of the invoice does not exceed the cost of the Services provided at the applicable fixed hourly rates.
There may be a delay in invoicing expenses incurred on your behalf pending our receipt of the relevant invoices from suppliers. Unless otherwise stated, such invoices are not a final invoice in relation to such expenses.
You may pay by cheque or directly into our client account as follows:
Axiom Stone Clients Bus A/c
National Westminster Bank PLC
Account No: 28598393
Sort Code: 60-12-17
Interest will accrue on all debts over 7 days until the time they are paid at the rate of 15%. Any debts that have to be chased will incur an initial additional charge of £100 plus VAT. Any further legal costs or the recovery of any outstanding balances will be charged at our hourly charging rate.
If you do not pay any invoice by the end of the Credit Period, or the sum we have requested on account within seven (7) days (or such longer period as we may specify) of our demand, we may suspend or terminate the provision of all or any Services (and instruct any third parties engaged by us to suspend the provision of their services) and may invoice you for all accrued fees and expenses.
If you have any query or dispute our Invoice please contact the fee earner for your Matter.
If you dispute our Invoice, you are entitled to make a complaint to us. Please see paragraph 23 on Dispute Resolution for further information.
Third Party Payments
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.
Right to Retain Money, Documents and Property
As a contractual right, in addition to any right to retain money, Documents and property available to us under the general law (lien), we have the right to retain your money, Documents and property (whether held in relation to the Services for which payment has not been made or any other Services) until you have paid us in full.
10. INTEREST POLICY
10.1 As part of carrying out your instructions to us, we may need to hold your money in our client account. In holding clients’ money, we have an obligation to pay interest on that money at a fair and reasonable rate and are required to put in place an interest policy; this policy sets out the guidelines for when interest will be paid and is summarised below.
10.2 We aim to account to you for interest at a reasonable rate of interest, however as the holding of your funds is incidental to the carrying out of your legal instructions, the rate is unlikely to be as high as the rate you may be able to obtain when depositing the money with your bank.
10.3 Where amounts are held outside of a general client account or separate designated deposit account, the rate of interest and date that interest is credited will depend on the relevant institution where the funds are held, and as such fall outside of the requirements of this policy. The relevant interest information can be obtained at your request.
10.4 Where your money is held in our general client account, any interest paid to you is paid without deduction for income tax (unless you are resident overseas – see below). As such it is your responsibility to inform HMRC of interest amounts received from us and the implications of this will depend upon your own financial circumstances. Where interest is held on a separate designated deposit account, interest is usually paid net of tax (unless you have signed a declaration confirming your entitlement to receive bank interest gross). The same rate of interest will be paid on money held in general client account as will be paid on money held in a separate designated deposit account (assuming that this will offer a fair and reasonable outcome for the client and the firm).
10.5 Under the European Savings Directive regulations 2003/48/EC we are required to inform HRMC of payments of interest to relevant payees and residual entities in prescribed territories. Where you reside outside of the UK and EC, we are required to deduct income tax at the current basic rate and account for this interest to HRMC directly and pay you the net amount.
10.6 Interest will be calculated from the time the funds become cleared for interest purposes, on cheques or banker’s drafts this will be 7 days after the cheque or draft has been deposited with our bank. For amounts received by debit or credit card, interest will start to accrue from the date of the actual receipt, usually 3 days after the transaction has been authorised. For direct transfers or same day payments the funds become cleared on the day after receipt. Interest will be calculated on a daily basis and calculated on amounts held overnight from the day the funds become cleared for interest purposes.
10.7 Interest is added to each client account quarterly and/or at the end of each case if sooner. Interest will not be paid if the sum of money held is not exceeding the amount shown in the left column below for a time not exceeding the period indicated in the right column. Interest will only be paid if the amount is £20 or more.
£1000 8 weeks
£2000 4 weeks
£10 000 2 weeks
£20 000 1 week
10.8 The rate of interest is based on our current bank rate which is currently 0.1% and is monitored regularly.
10.9 As the rates change the interest is applied which duly calculates the various rates applicable as per length held.
Conflict of Interest
“Conflict of Interest” means any situation where:-
we owe (or, if we accepted your instructions, would owe) separate duties to act in the best interests of two or more clients in relation to the same or a related matter and those duties conflict, or there is a significant risk that those duties may conflict; or
our duty to act in your best interests in relation to a matter conflicts, or there is a significant risk that it may conflict, with our own interests in relation to that or a related matter; or
we have confidential information in relation to a client or former client, and you wish to instruct us on a matter where:-
that information might reasonably be expected to be material; and
you have an interest adverse to our other client or former client, and for the purposes of this paragraph “you” does not include Associated Entities.
We may act for parties engaged in activities similar to or competitive with yours.
Once we have agreed to act for you in relation to a Matter, we will not act for a third party in relation to the same Matter if there is a Conflict of Interest between that third party’s interests and your interests.
Instructions Creating a Conflict of Interest
We may decline to act for you where accepting your instructions would create a Conflict of Interest or cause us to break an existing agreement with a third party.
Where our professional rules allow, and subject to satisfying the requirements of those rules (for example by implementing an information barrier), we may act for you and another client where a Conflict of Interest would otherwise exist, provided that we have the consent of both parties. We do not require your consent to act against an Associated Entity.
Cessation of Services
If, whether through a change in circumstances or otherwise, we find that we have agreed to provide Services to you in circumstances which give, or could give, rise to a conflict of interest we will discuss with you how to deal with the conflict and may, be obliged to stop providing Services to you and/or to all other clients affected by the Conflict of Interest.
Information and Confidentiality
Information About You
We may use the information which you provide, or which we obtain through our dealings with you, for the provision of Services and may give it on a confidential basis to our Partners, employees and agents. We may use it to administer your account with us, including tracing and collecting any debts.
We may also use it to ensure the safety and security of our premises (where we may also use CCTV); for fraud prevention purposes (including verification checks for our money laundering obligations); to assess client satisfaction (such as by asking you to participate in surveys); and to help improve our services generally.
We may also use it to contact you by letter, telephone, e-mail or otherwise about our services and about events such as seminars and conferences and to send you briefings and similar material. By signing and returning a copy of the Instruction Sheet in a conveyancing matter or the client care letter in any other matter you are agreeing that we may use your contact details and information in this way. If you do not wish to be contacted, please confirm so in writing when returning the copy of the Client Care Letter.
Sometimes we ask other companies or people to do typing/photocopying/other administration duties on our files to ensure this is done promptly. We will always seek a confidentiality agreement with these outsourced providers. If you do not want your file to be outsourced, please tell us as soon as possible.
Our Duty of Confidentiality
We will treat any information which is confidential to you and which we obtain as a result of acting for you as strictly confidential, save:-
for the purpose of acting for you; or
for disclosures to our auditors or other advisers or for the purposes of our professional indemnity insurance; or
as otherwise required by law or other regulatory authority to which we are subject.
We may refer publicly to your name as a client of ours, provided we do not disclose any information which is confidential to you.
We shall be under no duty to disclose to you (or take into account in the course of providing the Services) 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.
Your Duty of Confidentiality
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, as a result of our acting for you, 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.
Custody, Retention and Transfer of Documents
We will, at your request, either during the provision or after completion of any Services, release to you or to your order Your Documents and Documents Held For You, provided that we are not at the time exercising our right to retain documents pending payment of outstanding fees and expenses or are prevented by any court order, undertaking or other legal constraint from doing so. We may copy all of Your Documents and Documents Held for You before releasing them.
We may at any time scan, microfilm, or otherwise make electronic copies or images of any Documents (other than Documents held in safe custody), destroy the originals and thereafter hold the Documents only in such copy or image form. Unless expressly agreed otherwise in writing we will keep all Documents whether in original, copy or imaged Form for a minimum of six (6) years, after which we may destroy them and any copies or images of them.
We may agree to store title deeds, wills and other especially valuable documents in safe custody for you if you require and, if we do, we will not, without your consent, destroy any such documents.
We do not accept responsibility for the loss or damage of any item which we hold on your behalf unless we expressly agree in writing to the contrary.
After completing the work, we will be entitled to keep all your papers and document whilst there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses. We will keep our file of your papers for up to six (6) years, except those that you ask to be returned to you. We keep files on the understanding that we can destroy them six (6) years after the date of the final bill. We will not destroy documents you ask us to deposit in safe custody. If we take papers or documents out of storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to ask for you, we will not normally charge for such retrieval. However we will charge you £100 plus VAT both for time spent producing stored papers that are requested as well as reading correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions in relation to the retrieved papers.
Intellectual Property Rights
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 and working materials as well as final documents). We now grant you a non-exclusive, non-transferable, non-sub-licensable licence to use such documents 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 that Matter we may, on giving you notice, revoke that licence and only re-grant it to you once full payment has been made.
Opinions from Barristers and other Third Parties
We may retain, for our subsequent use, a copy of the advice or opinion of any barrister or other third party given in written form (or any note of any advice or opinion) obtained in the course of providing the Services. Any barrister or other third party will be instructed on the basis that any such advice or opinion will be so retained.
If we retain a copy of any advice or opinion in this manner we will take all reasonable steps to conceal information (such as names, addresses or descriptions) which might reasonably enable you to be identified.
Where we agree to work on a Matter for more than one client jointly, the rights and obligations of the joint clients to us in relation to the Services will be several (save for obligations to pay money to us, which will be joint and several).
Each joint client irrevocably permits us to disclose to any other of the joint clients at any time any information which we would otherwise be prohibited from so disclosing by virtue of our duty of confidentiality. If any joint client ends this permission during the provision of the relevant Services, or if a conflict of interest otherwise arises between joint clients, we may suspend or terminate the provision of Services related to that Matter to one or more of the joint clients.
If any joint client asks us to transfer documents we will deliver Your Documents to, or to the order of, the joint client who delivered them to us. We will retain any Documents Held For You and will supply copies to each joint client, making the originals available at one of our offices for inspection by any joint client on reasonable prior written notice.
Duty of Care
We will use reasonable skill and care in the provision of the Services. Where we make an assessment for you, either expressly or by implication, of the likely level of risk associated with different potential courses of action, you accept that such assessment is made relying only upon the information and documents then available to us and cannot, therefore, be definitive.
Accordingly, such an assessment should only be used as one element in the making of any practical or commercial decision. You accept that the magnitude or acceptability of a risk is a matter for you.
The aggregate liability of the Firm (or of any service company owned or controlled by or on behalf of any of the Partners) and of all Partners, consultants to and employees and agents of the Firm and any service company owned or controlled by or on behalf of any of the Firm or the Partners in any circumstances whatsoever, whether in contract, tort, under statute or otherwise, and howsoever caused (including but not limited to our negligence or non-performance), for loss or damage arising from or in connection with the Services provided shall, in relation to each Matter, be limited to the sum, unless otherwise agreed, of three million pounds (£3 000 000.00).
The Services are provided to and for the benefit of you as our client and you alone. No other person may use or rely upon the Services nor derive any rights or benefits from them. The provisions of the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 are to that extent excluded.
The Firm alone will provide the Services and you agree that you will nor bring any claim whether in contract, tort, under statute or otherwise against any Partner, or any consultant to, or employee or agent of the Firm or any service company owned or controlled by or on behalf of any of the Partners and those Partners, consultants, employees and agents shall be entitled to rely on the terms of this agreement insofar as they limit their liability.
Where we provide draft or provisional advice or other materials, that advice or those materials are not to be relied upon as constituting our final view.
The Services are provided in accordance with professional practice requirements and the proper interpretation of the law, as each exists on the date on which the relevant Service is provided. If there is any change in such requirements or the law, or their interpretation, after the relevant Matter has been concluded (or before that time but which could not reasonably be known by us at that time), we have no responsibility to notify you of, or of the consequences of, the change.
We shall communicate with you at the postal and email addresses and the telephone and fax numbers which you publish unless you ask us to use other addresses and numbers. You will notify us if you regard any communications from us as particularly confidential, and the means by which you require us to make such communications. We shall have no liability to you arising out of your failure so to notify us.
Subject to any notification you may make to us under the previous paragraph, we shall not be required to encrypt, password-protect or digitally sign any email, or attachment, sent by us. We shall not be responsible for any loss or damage arising from the unauthorised interception, re-direction, copying or reading of e-mails, including any attachments. We shall not be responsible for the effect on any hardware or software (or any loss or damage arising from any such effect) of any e-mails or attachment, which may be transmitted by us (save to the extent caused by our negligence or wilful default).
We will try to meet any deadline we agree with you for the performance of any Services but, unless we agree otherwise in writing in relation to any time, date or period for delivery or performance by us, time shall not be of the essence
If you accept or have accepted any express exclusion and/or limitation of liability from any of your other professional advisers, our total liability to you arising out of the Services will not exceed the net aggregate of the amount for which we would otherwise have been liable after deducting any amount which we would have been entitled to recover from such adviser as a matter of law whether pursuant to statute or otherwise, but are prevented from doing so as a result of any such exclusion and/or limitation of liability.
We shall not be liable for:-
any loss, damage, cost or expense arising from any breach by you of your agreement with us or any act or omission of any other person; or
any advice or document subject to the laws of a jurisdiction outside England and Wales; or
any advice or opinion given to you by any third party (whether or not nominated or recommended by us).
Loss of Profit
We shall not be liable for any indirect loss or damage or any loss of profit, income, production or accruals arising in any circumstances whatsoever, whether in contract, tort, under statute or otherwise, and howsoever caused (including but not limited to our negligence or non-performance).
Nothing in this agreement exempts us from liability arising from our fraud or reckless disregard of our professional obligations; or from our negligence resulting in death or personal injury; or where, in the case of a contentious business agreement, law or regulation prohibits the exclusion of such liability.
Completion of Services
An agreement between you and us for the provision of defined Services ends on the completion of the provision of those Services. An open-ended agreement for the provision of Services ends three (3) months after the last date on which we provided Services to you. Unless new or different terms are agreed, our acceptance of instructions to perform Services for you subsequent to the ending of any agreement gives rise, from the time of acceptance of the instructions, to a new agreement on these terms. If we provide you free of charge with any seminar, information, or other document after the ending of an agreement, such provision does not give rise to a new agreement.
Either you or we may terminate the provision of all or any of the relevant Services at any time by giving written notice to the other. We will not do this without good and substantial reason, such as:-
the threat or risk of violence, injury or other danger to the physical, psychological or moral well-being of any of our personnel; or
the discovery or creation of a Conflict of Interest; or
your requesting us to break the law or any professional requirement; or
the relationship of trust and confidence necessary between solicitor and client ceasing to exist between us; or
your failure to pay to us any amount due, or money on account requested; or
your insolvency; or
your failure to give us adequate instructions; or
our being forbidden to act by the National Agency; or
our reasonable belief that our continuing to represent you may cause damage to the professional or personal reputation of our firm or any of its personnel; or
any other breach by you of these terms.
Rights on Early Termination
On early termination, by either you or us, you will remain liable to pay all fees and expenses incurred before termination and due under our contract or due on the basis of the time spent at our usual hourly rates, whichever is the less, together with any further fees and expenses for work necessary to transfer our files to another adviser of your choice. All our rights set out in these terms shall continue to apply even if we terminate the agreement.
Money Laundering Regulations / The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002
We are required to comply with the Money Laundering regulations and in particular to verify the identity and permanent address of all new Clients. This is to ensure that the policy adopted worldwide by Financial and Government Authorities to prevent the use of laundering systems to disguise the proceeds of crime is achieved.
If you are a new client or an existing client who has not previously supplied information, you are requested to supply both of the following; one item from List A and one item from List B (please note we require certified copies if you are sending these by post or if you are bringing in the original documents to our offices – we will make certified copies here)
You must provide the appropriate documents within 5 working days of Us requesting them for you. If you fail to provide the same, we will instruct a third party to carry out such relevant Money Laundering searches and reports. Any costs associated with carrying out these searches will be charged to you as a fee.
Under the provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (“POCA”), we may be required to make a report to the relevant authorities if at any time we become aware of or suspect (whether from you or any other person) the existence of the proceeds of crime in relation to any Services on which we are engaged. Our obligation to make such a report will, in certain circumstances, override our duty of solicitor/client confidentiality and we may not be permitted to inform you whether or not we have made, or might intend to make, such a report.
We may terminate the provision of any Services to you, or be instructed to do so by the relevant authorities, if you fail to comply with your obligation to provide evidence of identity or we suspect that you or any other party connected with you or with the Matter is involved in activities proscribed by POCA.
Each of these terms shall be severable and distinct from the others and if any term is held to be illegal, invalid or unenforceable, in whole or in part, the remaining terms shall not be affected.
Equal Treatment / Equality and Diversity
Consistent with our internal policies and procedures, we will not discriminate in the way we provide our Services on the grounds of age, disability, gender re-assignment, marriage and civil partnerships, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality (including citizenship) ethnic or national origins), religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation.
22.4 Financial Services
If during the course of the matter upon which we are advising you, you need advice on investments, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorized by the Financial Conduct 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.
If you have any problem with the services we have provided for you, then please let us know. We will try to resolve any problem between ourselves. If for any reason we are unable to resolve the problem between us, then we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and complaints and redress mechanisms are provided through the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Legal Ombudsman.
The Law Society 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 functions. The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory body of the Law Society and the Legal Ombudsman is the independent complaints handling body of the Law Society.
22.5 Insurance Mediation
As we have said, we are not authorized by the Financial Conduct Authority. However, we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Conduct 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 Conduct Authority website at www.fca.org.uk
The Law Society 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 functions. The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory body of the Law Society and the Legal Ombudsman is the independent complaints handling body of the Law Society.
All claims, complaints and disputes arising out of or in connection with the Services (“Disputes”) will be resolved pursuant to this paragraph.
We hope you will have no complaint. To underline how seriously we take complaints, we have a set Complaints Procedure which can be summarised as follows: (a copy of our full complaints procedure is available on request)-
If you have any complaint or observation (good or bad) about our service, please communicate this to us.
Raise any complaint first with the Fee Earner assigned to your matter, including any complaint about your bill.
If this does not resolve it satisfactorily, tell the Supervising Partner responsible for your case.
If this does not resolve it satisfactorily, contact Pragnesh Modhwadia the Partner nominated by the practice to ensure prompt and thorough investigation of any complaint.
If still unresolved at this stage, you may take your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman. Normally, you will have to bring your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within 6 months of receiving a final response from us about your complaint and 6 years from the date of the act or omission giving rise to the complaint or alternatively 3 years from the date you should reasonably have known there are grounds for complaint (if the act/omission took place before 6 October 2010 or was more than 6 years ago).
The address of the Legal Ombudsman is: PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ; telephone, 0300 555 0333; or view their website at www.legalombudsman.org.uk, email enquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kindly note that you have the right to object to your bill by making a complaint to the appropriate body referred to above and/or by applying to the Court for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors’ Act 1974 and, if all or part of our bill remains unpaid, we may be entitled to charge interest.
We shall not be obliged to comply with paragraph 23 above in relation to any Dispute in which we seek:-
an order or award (whether interim or final) restraining you from doing any act or compelling you to do any act; or
a judgment or award for a liquidated sum to which here is no arguable defence (provided that the exception shall cease to apply and the Dispute may be referred to arbitration on the application of either party if the court decides that you should have permission to defend the claim); or
the enforcement of any agreement reached or any binding order, award, determination or decision made pursuant to paragraph 23 above,
nor shall anything in this paragraph inhibit us at any time from serving any form of demand or notice or from commencing or continuing with any bankruptcy, winding up or other insolvency proceedings.
Nothing in this Terms of Business shall prevent you at any time from referring any Matter to the body or bodies for the time being charged with the regulation of solicitors.
Law and Jurisdiction
The terms on which we provide Services to you are governed by, and shall be construed in accordance with, English law. You and we each agree to submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts, provided that we may in our sole and unfettered discretion commence proceedings against you in any other Court.
Due to our own internal quality standards and us achieving CQS, we are subject to periodic checks by outside assessors. This could mean that your file may be selected for checking, in which case we would need your consent for inspection to occur. All inspections are, of course, conducted in confidence. If you prefer to withhold consent, work on your file will not be affected in any way. Since very few of our clients do object to this we propose to assume that we do have your consent unless you notify us to the contrary. We will also assume, unless you indicate otherwise, that consent on this occasion will extend to all future matters which we conduct on your behalf. Please contact us if we can explain this further or to advise us if you do not want your file to be reviewed.
We are not qualified to advise you on the tax implications of transactions you instruct us to carry out, or the likelihood of them arising.
Planning in property transactions
We will not advise you on the planning implications of your proposed purchase, unless specifically requested to do so by you, otherwise than by reporting to you on any relevant information provided by the results of the “local search”.
Other property disclaimers / Environmental
It is not our responsibility to carry out a physical inspection of the property nor advise on the valuation of the property nor the suitability of the property nor of your mortgage nor any other financial arrangements. We shall not advise generally on environmental liabilities where we shall assume, unless you tell us 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. However, we will not advise you about any issues relating to the possible contamination of any land which may be relevant to your purchase. We have to tell you that we are not qualified to advise on the results of any search made in that respect and would only be able to report to you the actual results of such a search.
If we are instructed on purchase and we are also acting for your proposed lender, we have a duty to fully reveal to your lender all relevant facts about the purchase and the mortgage. This includes any differences between your mortgage application and information we receive during the transaction and any cash back payments or discount schemes that a seller is giving to you
If you have any queries or concerns regarding the property after we have reported to you on title, contract, searches, lease (if appropriate) and mortgage you must raise these with us in writing prior to exchange of contracts. Following exchange of contracts you will be legally committed to purchasing the property.
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, 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.
Provisions relating to Litigation and other work in relation to disputes
This paragraph contains further contractual provisions and important information which we are professionally obliged to give you where the Matter relates to litigation or the resolution of disputes by other means (including a non-contentious Matter which becomes contentious, or gives rise to further instructions on a contentious Matter).
In litigation matters, the Court may decide to order one party to pay the costs of the other. The Court usually orders the unsuccessful party to pay all or a part of the successful party’s costs, although there is no certainty about this. The successful party usually recovers a proportion of its costs from the unsuccessful party, although there is no certainty about this. You should be aware that:-
If you make an interim application to Court which does not succeed, you may have to pay the other side’s costs, usually within two (2) weeks.
If you lose the case, you may have to pay the other side’s costs and it is not usually possible for you to withdraw from the case without dealing with the issue of those costs.
Costs awarded have to be proportionate to the value of the dispute and, in the ordinary course, recovered costs from the other side rarely exceeds sixty to seventy per cent (60-70%) of actual expenditure.
You will still be liable to pay our costs in full, even if the other party fails to pay the costs awarded to you by the Court.
Issues which the Court may take into account in assessing the costs payable or recoverable include:
efforts made before and during the proceedings to try to resolve the dispute, including the appropriate use of mediation and other alternative dispute resolution procedures;
the effects of payments into court and offers of settlement;
the complexity and size of the Matter and the difficulty or novelty of the questions raised;
the skill, effort, specialised knowledge and responsibility involved;
the time spent;
the place and Circumstances in which the work was done.
if the other side is or becomes legally aided, it is highly unlikely that you will recover your costs, even if you are successful.
If you are unsuccessful, or the Court so orders for some other reason, you may be ordered to pay the other side’s costs. We will discuss with you whether the likely outcome will justify the expense/risk.
Where you are funding your Matter privately we will provide you with an estimate of the likely costs involved in your case. We will ensure that you are provided with interim bills, as noted above, during the conduct of your case, which will enable you to budget effectively.
In certain routine matters we may be prepared to act on your behalf on a fixed fee basis. We will discuss the work you need us to do and agree a fee to complete the work. For example litigation where the work is capable of being broken down into separate stages and can agree a fixed fee for each stage of the work.
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 the other side’s costs.
If you do not have the benefit of legal expense insurance with an existing policy you can now take out an after the event insurance policy to assist in funding your case. The premiums for these policies are high. It is unlikely that you will be able to recover the cost of the premium from your opponent if you are successful. We can help you to obtain quotations for such insurance from companies providing such cover, some of whom offer deferred premium and disbursement payment schemes. The deferred premium means that you do not have to fund from the outset high premiums.
You may be a member of a Trade Union that offers to fund it’s members legal costs in cases arising out of a member’s employment. If you think this is likely to be the case, we can find out for you and secure agreement for your fees.
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 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. You would usually be able to recover this insurance premium and any sums you paid to us from the other side if you were successful. Not all Matters are suitable for this type of conditional fee arrangement but we are happy to discuss this further with you at your request.
Statements of Truth
Under the Civil Procedure Rules, all statements of case (the term for pleadings which includes documents such as claim forms, defences and witness statements) and certain other documents, must be verified by a statement of truth, to the effect that the party putting forward the document believes the facts stated in it are true. Making a false statement of truth is potentially a contempt of Court.
Whilst a statement of truth can be signed by you or your legal representative, it is our policy that you should sign your own Statement of Truth.
Attendance at Hearings
Please be aware that, under the Civil Procedures Rules, the Court can Order you to attend hearings. We will discuss this with you further as your case progresses.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
As part of the active management of a case under the Civil Procedure Rules, both the Courts and the parties in a dispute are required to consider the use of alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) if it is considered appropriate to help to resolve the dispute. ADR includes methods of dispute resolution such as mediation, adjudication and expert determination.
There have been occasions when the Courts have imposed costs penalties on parties who unreasonably refuse to consider ADR. I will discuss both the methods of ADR and any possible costs implication further with you if and when it becomes appropriate.
REGULATIONS AFFECTING YOUR CANCELLATION RIGHTS
The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013
If we have not met you either in person (because, for example, instructions and signing of the contract documentation is taking place by telephone/mail, e mail or on-line – ie: by way of a “distance” contract) or we have taken instructions and a contract has been concluded away from our business premises (because, for example, we have met with you at home – ie: by way of an “off-premises” contract) and the contract was entered into on or after 14 June 2014, you have the right to cancel this contract within 14 calendar days of entering into the contract without giving any reason.
The cancellation period will expire after 14 calendar days from the day of the conclusion of the contract.
To exercise your right to cancel, you must inform us by post to Axiom Stone, DVS House, Spring Villa Road, Edgware, HA8 7EB, telephone, 0208 951 6989, email email@example.com or fax: 020 8951 0999 of your decision to cancel this contract by a clear statement (eg: a letter sent by post, fax or e mail). You may use the model cancellation form attached to your Client Care Letter, but it is not obligatory. You can also electronically obtain a model cancellation form on our websitewww.qualitysolicitors.com/Axiomstone If you use this option, we will communicate to you an acknowledgement of receipt of such a cancellation on a durable medium (eg: by e mail) without delay. To meet the cancellation deadline, you must send your communication concerning your exercise of the right to cancel before the cancellation period has expired.
Should you require the work to be commenced within the 14 calendar day cancellation period, you must provide your agreement to that in writing, by e mail, post or fax to enable us to do so. By signing and returning a copy of the Client Care letter, Conditional Fee Agreement, or the Instruction Sheet sent to you with your Client Care letter, you are providing your agreement in writing to enable us to commence work within the 14 calendar day cancellation period. Where you have provided your consent for work to commence within the 14 calendar day cancellation period and you later exercise your right to cancel, you will be liable for any costs, VAT and disbursements incurred up to the point of cancellation. Unless you make an express request for us to commence work within the 14 day period (i.e. by signing and returning a copy of the Client Care Letter, Conditional Fee Agreement or signed Instruction Sheet, we will not be able to undertake any work during that period.
We have a legal duty to tell you about our professional indemnity insurance. We have an obligation to carry such insurance and our qualifying insurers are:-
Alpha Insurance A/S whose address is Harbour House, Sundkrogsgade 21, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark. Our insurance policy number is 13SOL3557-52377-13044A13. The insurance covers our practice carried on from our offices in England and Wales and will extend to acts or omissions wherever in the world they occur.
31. FINANCIAL SERVICES COMPENSATION SCHEME
In the event of a banking failure it is unlikely that the firm would be held liable for any losses of client account money. If a corporate body client is not considered a small company by FSCS, then they will not be eligible for compensation.
We currently hold our client account funds in National Westminster Bank Plc. The £85,000 Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) limit will apply to each individual client so if you hold other personal monies yourself in the same bank as our client account, the limit remains £85,000 in total, so it may be advisable to check with your own bank as some banks now trade under different trading names. In the event of a bank failure you agree to us disclosing details to the FSCS.
32. LEGAL AID
We do not undertake legal aid work and it is important that you are aware of Legal Aid. Legal Aid is useful to a litigant because if he loses, his liability is limited to his means-tested contribution, and it is unlikely the Court will allow the successful party to recover any costs against him. Legal Aid is not free. In most cases it is only a loan repaid from the awards made from the action. If the assisted party succeeds and recovers or preserves any asset (except for some exemptions for maintenance and family proceedings), it is subject to the statutory charge. The statutory charge operates to put the recovery or the preserved asset first towards payment of the assisted party’s legal costs, and the assisted party only gets the net balance (if any) – often much later because of the time taken in quantifying the final costs. If money is recovered, it has to be paid to the assisted party’s solicitor who has to pay it into the Legal Aid Fund who carry out the accounting and pay out the balance. The Legal Aid Agency has no power to reduce or waive the effect of the statutory charge. If a home is involved, it is sometimes possible to delay payment, but the statutory charge then operates like a mortgage and attracts interest until everything is repaid on sale. For more information please discuss this with the person attending to your case (they will be able to confirm if Legal Aid will be relevant to your type of case and if you may qualify) / alternatively go to the LAA website www.gov.uk/legal-aid or telephone them directly on 0300 20 2020.
Axiom Stone is the trading name for Axiom Stone Solicitors. Authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (the “SRA”). A list of Directors can be inspected at our offices. References to “Partner” shall mean a current Director of Axiom Stone Solicitors.
The SRA Rules can be found by visiting the SRA website: www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/codeofconduct.page.
Our Registered Office is: DVS House, 4 Spring Villa Road, Edgware, Middlesex, HA8 7EB Company Registration number, 06325830
Our VAT Number is: 934100758.