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Our aim
1 We 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
2 This is set out in our Client Charter
Hours of business
3 Our normal office hours are between 9.00am and 5.30pm on weekdays. Messages can be left on the answerphone outside those hours and appointments can be arranged at other times when this is essential.
Charges and expenses
4 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.
5 Any routine letter we write will be charged as a 6 minute unit of time. We charge for the time spent on making and taking telephone calls and in writing longer, non-routine, letters in 6 minute units.
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The current hourly rates are set out in our Client Care Letter which will be sent to you along with these Terms and Conditions. If our services to you are within the s cope of VAT we will add VAT to these at the rate that applies when the work is done. At present, VAT is 17.5%.

7 Our hourly rates are 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.
8 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. 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.
9 Solicitors have to pay out various other expenses on behalf of clients which include court fees, experts’ fees, counsel’s 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’.
10 If, for any reason, this matter does not proceed to completion, we will be entitled to charge you for work done and expenses incurred.
11 You are entitled to set a limit on costs which cannot be exceeded without your authority. If you do choose to set such a limit we would ask you to confirm it in writing by email, fax or letter to us.
Payment arrangements
12 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.
13 Payment is due to us within one month of delivery of our bill. We may charge interest on unpaid bills and we will do so at the rate payable on judgement debts, from one month after delivery of our bill.
Your rights
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If the matter is non-contentious and our costs do not exceed £50,000 and you are not satisfied with the amount of our fee you have the right to ask us to obtain a remuneration certificate from the Law Society. The certificate will either say that our fee is fair and reasonable, or it will substitute a lower fee.

a If you ask us to obtain a remuneration certificate, then unless we already hold the money to cover these, you must pay (a) half our fee shown in the bill; (b) all the VAT shown in the bill; (c) all the expenses we have incurred shown in the bill - sometimes called "paid disbursements";
b However, you may ask the Law Society (at 8 Dormer Place, Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire CV32 5AE) to waive these requirements so that you do not have to pay anything for the time being. You would have to show that exceptional circumstances apply in your case.
15 Your rights are set out more fully in the Solicitors (Non-Contentious Business) Remuneration Order 1994.
16 Alternatively, whether the matter is contentious or non-contentious you have a right, subject to certain criteria, to apply to have out charges reviewed by the Court (this is called “assessment”). The procedure is different from the remuneration certificate and it is set out in ss 70, 71 and 72 of the Solicitors Act 1974.
Appointment of Counsel and Expert Witnesses
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It may be necessary to appoint Counsel who will represent you during the hearing and one or more Expert Witnesses who will provide expert evidence on your behalf at the hearing. You will be responsible for paying their fees.

18 If it is necessary to appoint Counsel and Expert Witnesses we will contact you in good time with details of suitable candidates, together with estimates of their fees, so that we can agree on a suitable appointment.
Other parties' charges and expenses
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In some cases and transactions a client may be entitled to payment of costs by some other person. It is important that you understand that in such circumstances, the other person may not be required to pay all the charges and expenses which you incur with us. You have to pay our charges and expenses in the first place and any amounts which can be recovered will be a contribution towards them. If the other party is in receipt of legal aid no costs are likely to be recovered.

20 If you are successful and a court orders another party to pay some or all of your charges and expenses, interest can be claimed on them from the other party from the date of the court order. We will account to you for such interest to the extent that you have paid our charges or expenses on account, but we are entitled to the rest of that interest.
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You will also be responsible for paying our charges and expenses of seeking to recover any costs that the court orders the other party to pay to you. This may include the appointment of a Costs Consultant who will assess the bill of costs on your behalf. The charging rate of a Costs Consultant will be set out in the Client Care Letter which will be sent to you with these Terms and Conditions.

22 A client who is unsuccessful in a court case may be ordered to pay the other party’s legal charges and expenses. That money would be payable in addition to our charges and expenses and may also include the time spent by a Costs Consultant in defending the claim for costs on your behalf. Arrangements can be made to take out insurance to cover liability for such legal expenses. Please discuss this with us if you are interested in this possibility.
Payment of interest
23 Any money received on your behalf will be held in our Client Account. Subject to certain minimum amounts and periods of time set out in the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules 1998, interest will be calculated and paid to you at the rate from time to time payable on National Westminster Bank Designated Client Accounts. The period for which interest will be paid will normally run from the date(s) on which funds are received by us until the date(s) of issue of any cheque(s) from our Client Account.
 
Storage of papers and documents
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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 no more than 6 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.

25 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 or other work necessary to comply with your instructions.
Termination
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You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time but we will be entitled to keep (i.e. exercise a lien on) 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.

27 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.
Limited companies
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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.

Tax advice
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Any work that we do for you may involve tax implications or necessitate the consideration of tax planning strategies. We may not be qualified to advise you on the tax implications of a transaction that you instruct us to carry out, or the likelihood of them arising. If you have any concerns in this respect, please raise them with us immediately. If we can undertake the research necessary to resolve the issue, we will do so and advise you accordingly. If we cannot, we may be able to identify a source of assistance for you.

Financial services
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Sometimes matters upon which we are instructed involve investments. We are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority and so may refer you to someone who is authorised to provide any necessary advice. However, we can provide certain limited services in relation to investments, provided they are closely linked with the legal services we are providing to you, as we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Identity and disclosure requirements and confidentiality
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The law now requires solicitors, as well as banks, building societies and others, to obtain satisfactory evidence of the identity of their client. This is because solicitors who deal with money and property on behalf of their client can be used by criminals wishing to launder money. In order to comply with the law on money laundering, we need to obtain evidence of your identity as soon as practicable. If we do not already have such evidence, we should be grateful if you would provide us with documents to verify your identity and address as set out on the attached sheet.

32 Solicitors are under a professional and legal obligation to keep the affairs of their clients confidential. This obligation, however, is subject to a stautory exception: recent leglslation on money laundering and terrorist financing has placed solicitors under a legal duty in certain circumstances to disclose information to the National Criminal Intelligence Service. Where a solicitor knows or suspects that a transaction on behalf of a client involves money laundering, the solicitor may be required to make a money laundering disclosure.
33 If, while we are acting for you, it bacomes necessary to make a money laundering disclosure, we may not be able to inform you that a disclosure has been made or of the reasons for it because the law prohibits “tipping off”. Where the law permits us to do, we will tall you about any potentail money laundering problem and explain what action we may need to take.
34 We are entitled to refuse to act for you if you fail to supply appropriate proof of identity for yourself or for any principal whom you may represent.
35 We will not be liable for any loss, damage or delay arising out of the firm’s compliance with any statutory or regulatory requirement.

Confidentiality in respect of file audit and outsourcing of photocopying

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It may be necessary for us from time-to-time to allow an independent professional assessor to review a sample of our correspondence files to ensure that we are following the case management practices as laid down by the Law Society. Th is is carried out in strictest confidence. Should you not wish us to make your files available to the assessor please let the person responsible for your work know.

37 It may also be necessary for us to outsource high volume photocopying to a photocopying bureau. Again, this is carried out in the strictest confidence, but should you not wish us to send your documents to the photocopying bureau please let the person responsible for your work know.
Complaints procedure
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Whilst we value your business and would not wish to think you have reason to be unhappy with us, all solicitors must attempt to resolve problems that may arise from their services. Brookes & Co. operates a complaints procedure and Marianne Brookes is the firm’s complaints handling partner, however, as a first step, it is important that you immediately raise any concerns with the person in this firm who is responsible for your work. We would be happy to provide you with full details of our complaints procedure on request.

Data protection
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Details of the individual to whom these Terms of Business are sent, together (where relevant) with details of other key individuals within your organisation supplied to us from time to time, will be entered onto our client database. All personal information will be dealt with in accordance with our legal obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998 and will be processed by us as a data processor under data protection legislation. We will use these details primarily to provide you with legal services.

40 In addition, we may use these details to contact you by post, telephone, e-mail or fax for marketing purposes or to make searches with credit reference agencies.
Law and jurisdiction
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The contract between us is on the basis of these terms and any other written terms supplied to you with these terms and is subject to English Law and the exclusive jurisdiction of the English Courts

Acceptance of these terms
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Your continuing instructions will amount to acceptance of these Terms and Conditions of Business and any other written terms supplied to you with these terms.

43 Unless we both agree otherwise and subject to our then hourly rates, these Terms and Conditions of Business will apply to any future instructions that you are kind enough to give us.
 
 

Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority Registration No. 76545