Terms and Conditions

TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS

1.   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.

2.   Whiskers LLP

Whiskers LLP is a limited liability partnership, registered in England and Wales with registration number OC333341.  A list of the Members of Whiskers LLP is open to inspection at the registered office at 6 Mitre Buildings, Kitson Way, Harlow, Essex CM20 1DR.

In these Terms and Conditions of Business, any reference to “we”, “us”, “our” or  “the Firm” or any similar reference, is a reference to Whiskers LLP.

Any reference to “Partner” or “Partners” is a reference to a Member or Members of Whiskers LLP.

Whiskers LLP is authorized and regulated by the SRA under number(s) 486819 Harlow and Epping 486831. 

3.    Limitation of Liability to Whiskers LLP

You relationship will be solely with Whiskers LLP and Whiskers LLP will have sole legal liability for the work done for you and for any act or omission in the course of that work.  No Member, including any Member described as a Partner, employee, agent or consultant of Whiskers LLP will have any personal legal liability for that work, whether in contract, tort (including negligence) or otherwise. 

In particular, the fact that any individual Member, including a Member described as a Partner, employee, agent or consultant, may sign in his or her own name any letter, e:mail or other document in the course of carrying out that work, will not mean that he or she is assuming any personal legal liability to you separate to that of Whiskers LLP.

4.   Limitation of Liability to a Fixed Sum

The liability of Whiskers LLP to you shall not exceed £6,000,000.00.  This limit is considered to be fair and reasonable and reflects the level of professional indemnity insurance held by the Firm.  The limit shall apply to any and all causes of action against us in respect of or arising from or in any way connected with our engagement by you.

If you consider that you require a higher limit of liability in respect of any particular matter, please contact us to discuss this.  We may be able to make alternative arrangements, or we may be able to advise you of alternative Solicitors with higher limits.

Where in relation to any loss you may have a cause of action against Whiskers LLP and against any third party, we shall only be liable to you for our share of the responsibility, but nothing in this paragraph shall increase our liability beyond that mentioned above.

5.  Our Committment 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
  • Advise you on tax matters, but only if specifically requested to do so
  • 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.

The firm abides by the SRA Code of Conduct rules 2011 in particular the firm has systems and controls to identify conflicts of interest enabling the firm to ensure that it’s ability to give independent advice to clients is not fettered.  The firm seeks to achieve at all times indicative behaviors referred to in it’s code of conduct.

6.   Our Hours of Business

The normal hours of opening are between 9.00 and 5.00 on weekdays.  Messages can be left on Voice mail outside those hours and appointments can be arranged at other times when this is essential.

7.   People Responsible for your Work

The person responsible for dealing with your work will be [             ]  who is a [                 ].  The supervising partner is [             ].  The secretary who may be able to deal with your queries and who will be pleased to take any message for you is [                     ].  We will try to avoid changing the people who handle your work but if this cannot be avoided, we will tell you promptly of any change and why it may be necessary.

8.   Charges and Expenses

Unless we have agreed with you a fixed fee for this instruction, 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, preparation of any detailed costs calculations, and time spent travelling away from the office when this is necessary.

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 routine incoming letters at units of 3 minutes per page.

The current standard hourly rates will be advised.  We will add VAT to these at the rate that applies when the work is billed.  At present VAT is 20%.

The hourly rates have to be reviewed periodically to reflect increases in overhead costs and inflation.  Normally the rates are reviewed with effect from 1st September 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.  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, 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”.  We will require a payment in advance from you in respect of any disbursements payable on your transactions.

If, for any reason, your matter does not proceed, we will be entitled to charge you for work done and expenses incurred to the date of termination of our instructions.

9.   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 on a sale, at completion.  If sufficient funds are available on completion, and we have sent you a bill, we will deduct our charges and expenses from the funds.  Unless otherwise agreed, payment is due even though the matter may not proceed to completion.

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.  We will also submit interim bills on a regular basis, dependant upon the nature of the case. 

Payment is due to us within 28 days of our sending you a bill.  If payment of a bill or a request for a payment on account is not   met, then we reserve the right to cease to act for you in the matter. Interest will be charged on a daily basis at 4% over HSBC Bank base rate from time to time from the date of the bill in cases where payment is not made within 28 days of delivery by us of the bill.

10.   Other parties charges and expenses

In some cases and transactions, a Client may be entitled to payment of costs by sme 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 Public Funding, no costs are likely to be recovered.

The other person will not be liable for pay the VAT element of your costs if you are able to recover the VAT yourself.

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.

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.

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.  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.

11.    Interest on Client Funds, de minimus retention and Stakeholder Funds

Any money received on your behalf will be placed in a separately designated Solicitors Client Account, operated in accordance with the SRA Accounts Rules 2011.  Currently, our principal Client Account is held with HSBC Bank Plc. and is an interest bearing instant access account.  It is unlikely that interest earned on his account will be as high as you could obtain by depositing the funds privately.  Our policy on interest is to pay to you a fair and reasonable sum by way of interest, so as to achieve a fair outcome for both you and the Firm.  This will usually be the interest earned at the rate applicable to your funds but subject to the provisions below:-

IMPORTANT : PLEASE NOTE 

By signing these Terms and Conditions, you agree and contract with us that provided it is fair and reasonable to do so:-

We may retain the first £20.00 of interest earned in any one six month period during which funds are held on your behalf, to reflect the cost and administration expenses in maintaining and making these calculations and payments.

If we hold deposit or other monies as Stakeholder, we may off set against any interest earned a reasonable charge for the work and the risk involved in holding the stake.

In relation to mortgage monies or other advances, we may request the monies up to three working days prior to the date upon which the monies are required.  Lenders may charge interest on the monies from the date of issue of the monies.

12.   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 1 year.  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. 

 We will store Wills, Deeds and other securities free of charge whilst you remain a Client.  If you withdraw Wills, Deeds or other securities from storage other than in connection with a continuing or new instruction, we will make a charge for retrieval and delivery, the current rate for which is £65.00 plus VAT.

 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 will 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.

13.   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 that stage you do not wish us to continue doing work and/or incurring charges and expenses on your behalf, you must tell us 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.

14.   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 Fir.  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 our earlier.

15.    Tax Advice

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 accordingly.  If we cannot, we may be able to identify a source of assistance for you.

16.   Insurance Mediation

We are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority.  However, we are included on the Register maintained by the Financial Services 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 Services website; www.fsa.gov.uk/register.

The Law Society of England and Wales is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.  The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory arm of the Law Society.  The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints against lawyers.  If you are unhappy with any insurance advice you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with either of these bodies.

17.   Financial Services

We are not authorised by the Financial Services 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 you with the necessary advice.  However, we may 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. 

The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory arm of the Law Society.  The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints against lawyers.  If you are unhappy with any investment advice you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with either of those bodies. 

18.   Data Protection

We will use all personal information that is supplied to us by you or a third party on your behalf, as your data processor for the purpose of providing you with legal services.  We may also use the personal information for the purposes of complying with legal and regulatory requirements, to carry out credit checks, to detect, investigate and prevent fraud, and for internal analysis and research.

19.   Equality and Diversity

Whiskers LLP is committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of its dealings with Clients, third parties and employees.  Please contact us or visit our website if you would like a copy of our Equality and Diversity Policy.

20.   Complaints

Whiskers LLP is committed to high quality legal advice and Client care.  If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service you have received, or about the bill, please contact our Managing Partner, John Roberts, at our Harlow Office, Whiskers LLP, 6 Mitre Buildings, Kitson Way, Harlow, Essex CM20 1DR or by e-mail :john.roberts@whiskers.co.ukWe have a procedure in place which details how we handle complaints, which is available on request or may be viewed on our website.

If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint, you can ask the Legal Ombudsman whose details are, Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ (telephone number 0300 555 1777: e-mail: enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk website: www.legalombudsman.org.uk), to consider the 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.

 21.          Money Laundering Regulations

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.

 List A

 Current fully signed passport

 Current full UK Driving License or UK Photocard Driving License

 Council Tax bill (less than three months old)

 Disabled Person’s card with photograph

 Credit Card with lasered photograph

 Shotgun or Firearms Certificate

 National Insurance Card

 Pensioners Travel Pass

 Birth/Marriage Certificate

List B

A bill for the supply of electricity, gas, water or telephone services (less than three months old). Mobile phone bills are not acceptable

Television License renewal notice

 Military/Police ID

 Recent Tax Coding Notice

 Recent Mortgage Statement

Credit Card/Bank Statement (less than three months old) showing current address              

 22.         Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

The Act creates a number of new criminal offences.  Solicitors, in common with others including Financial Institutions and Advisers, will commit a criminal offence if they become involved in any arrangement which they know or ought reasonably to suspect facilitates (by whatever means) the acquisition, retention, conversion, use or control of criminal property.  Criminal property includes property legitimately obtained but subsequently illegitimately retained, for example, by evasion of tax.

Solicitors, Financial Institutions and Advisers are under an obligation (at the risk of 14 years imprisonment) to report to the Serious Organised Crime Agency any suspicion they may have that a Client or an associate of a Client either has committed or may intend to commit an office under the Money Laundering Regulations or the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.  This obligation overrides Solicitor and Client privilege.

 23.         Terms and Conditions of Business

Unless otherwise agreed, and subject to the application of the 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.

 Please arrange to return one copy of this Form, duly signed, where indicated between the pencil crosses at your soonest convenience.

 24.         Residual Balances

Following the conclusion of a transaction small client balances will sometimes arise on a file.  These balances usually reflect disbursements allowed for but not incurred or incurred at a lower cost.  To enable these balances to be returned please provide bank details.  If no details are provided we reserve the right to make a charge of up to £30.00 plus VAT as a tracing fee or for balances not exceeding £30.00 to pay the same direct to the registered charity of our choice.