Terms of Business
- 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. We are regulated by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority (SRA) under numbers 44096 (London) and 521960 (Essex).
OUR COMMITMENT TO YOU
- REPRESENT your interests and keep your business confidential.
- EXPLAIN to you the legal work which may be required and the prospects of a successful outcome.
- MAKE SURE that you understand the likely degree of financial risk which you will be taking on.
- KEEP YOU regularly informed of progress or, if there is none, when you are next likely to hear from us.
- TRY to avoid using technical legal language when writing to you - tell us when we fail in this aim!
- DEAL with your queries promptly; for example, we will always try to return your telephone calls on the same day.
OUR HOURS OF BUSINESS
- The normal hours of opening at our offices are between 8.00am and 6.00pm on weekdays. Messages can be left on the answer phone outside those hours and appointments can be arranged at other times when this is essential.
PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR WORK
- The Partner responsible for dealing with your work will be . The assistant/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.
- The partner of this firm with final responsibility for work done in this department is Frances Coulson.
- In a purchase we expect to receive instructions to also act for your lender. We will have to advise them of any matter relevant to their decision whether to finance the purchase. If you tell us things you do not wish the lender to know we may have to stop acting for the lender and possibly also for you.
- If this is a litigation matter then please see the separate note on funding and costs.
- If this is an estate matter there are prescribed charges in addition to the hourly rate as explained below
CHARGES AND EXPENSES
- 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 incoming letters and emails at units of 3 minutes per page.
- The current hourly rates are as attached. We will add VAT to these at the rate that applies when the work is done. At present VAT is 20%.
- These hourly rates have to be reviewed periodically to reflect increases in overhead costs and inflation. Normally the rates are reviewed with effect from 1 January each year. If a review is carried out before this matter has been concluded, we will inform you of any variation in the rate before it takes effect.
- In addition to the time spent, we may take into account a number of factors including any need to carry out work outside our normal office hours, the complexity of the issues, the speed at which action has to be taken, any particularly specialist expertise and 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. The value element reflects the importance of the transaction and the consequent responsibility falling on the firm. Where a charge reflecting any value element is to be added we will explain this to you. In Probate matters the Law Society recommends that a fair way to measure the value of the matter is to add 1.5% of value of gross estate less residence and 0.75% of value of the residence where we are Executors and 1% and 0.5% respectively for the items where we are not.
- 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'. Photocopying of more than 50 pages per matter may be charged at a rate of 25p per sheet plus VAT. If we are travelling on your behalf, where appropriate, we will get taxis where this saves time and thus proves a saving to you. We charge £25 plus VAT for banking transfers of funds including but not exclusively TT's, BACS and IMT's.
- If, for any reason, this matter does not proceed to completion, or if another firm completes the work, we will be entitled to charge you for work done and expenses incurred at the applicable hourly rate.
- Property transactions. We will normally send you our bill following the exchange of contracts and payment is required on a purchase prior to completion; and at completion on a sale. If sufficient funds are available on completion, and we have sent you a bill, we will deduct our charges and expenses from the funds.
- 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. Generally we will bill monthly. 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.
- Full payment is due to us within 14 days of our sending you a bill. Interest will be charged on a daily basis at 4% over Barclays Bank Plc's base rate from time to time from 30 days after the date of the bill in cases where payment is not made within 14 days of delivery by us of the bill. Cash cannot be accepted in payment but we do accept payment by credit card including online payment.
- Where an account is overdue we are entitled to retain any files and documents belonging to you which are in our possession until our account is settled. We also reserve the right to cease working for you on this and any other matters on which we are acting for you.
- If an account remains unpaid and we commence legal proceedings against you in order to recover the sums you owe us then we will be entitled to recover from you the legal costs that we incur in connection with those proceedings at our standard hourly rates, together with all disbursements (including fees of counsel and any other lawyers engaged by us in our attempts to recover payment from you).
- In some cases, and particularly when litigation is involved or when we may need to incur expense on your behalf, we may require you to provide a payment on account of the future likely costs and disbursements.
- If instructions for a piece of work are given by more than one person or company, we may recover our fees, disbursements and Value Added Tax from any one or more of them. This includes situations where one person or company instructs us on behalf of another.
- If arrangements are made for a third party to pay any of our fees or disbursements, or a court orders a third party to pay any part of our fees or disbursements, you remain liable to pay them to the extent that the third party does not pay them when due.
OTHER PARTIES' CHARGES AND EXPENSES
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 SRA Accounts Rules 2011, interest will be calculated and paid to you at the rate from time to time payable in accordance with our interest policy which is published on our website at www.moonbeever.com and available on request. 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.
- Where a client obtains borrowing from a lender in a property transaction, we will ask the lender to arrange that the loan cheque is received by us a minimum of 4 working days prior to the completion date. If the money can be telegraphed, we will request that we receive it the day before completion. This will enable us to ensure that the necessary funds are available in time for completion. Such clients need to be aware that the lender may charge interest from the date of issue of their loan cheque or the telegraphing of the payment.
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. This may, at our discretion, take the form of scanning and electronically storing the file. Upon closure of the matter, paper file storage is on the clear understanding that we have the right to destroy it after such period as we consider reasonable or to make a charge for storage if we ask you to collect your papers and you fail to do so. We will not of course destroy any documents such as Wills, Deeds, and other securities, which you ask us to hold in safe custody. No charge will be made to you for such storage unless prior notice in writing is given to you of a charge to be made from a future date which may be specified in that notice.
- If we retrieve papers or documents from storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act in connection with your affairs, we will not normally charge for such retrieval. However, we may make a charge based on time spent for producing stored papers or documents to you or another at your request. We may also charge for reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions.
- Sometimes we ask other companies or people to do typing or photocopying 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.
- You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time but we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is money owing to us for our charges and expenses. If at any stage you do not wish us to continue doing work and/or incurring charges and expenses on your behalf, you must tell us this clearly in writing.
- We may decide to stop acting for you, only with good reason, for example if you do not pay an interim bill or comply with the request for a payment on account. If we do have to stop acting for you we will explain the reason and give you notice in writing. We will explain your options for pursuing the matter, and will work with you to minimise disruption to your matter.
- Our lawyer-client relationship will be considered terminated upon our completion of the specific services that you have retained us to perform, or if open-ended services are to be provided, when more than six months have elapsed from the last time you requested, and we furnished any billable services to you. The fact that we may inform you from time to time of developments in the law which may be of interest to you, by e-mail, newsletter or otherwise, should not be understood as a revival of a lawyer-client relationship. We have no obligation to inform you of such developments in the law unless we are specifically engaged to do so.
- 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.
COMMUNICATION BETWEEN YOU AND US AND ANY COMPLAINTS YOU MAY HAVE
- Legal Ombudsman
PO Box 6806
Telephone: 0300 555 0333
- We will aim to communicate with you by such a method as you may request. We may need to virus check discs or email. Unless you withdraw consent, we will communicate with others when appropriate by email or fax but we cannot be responsible for the security of correspondence and documents sent by email or fax.
- The Data Protection Act requires us to advise you that your particulars are held on our database. We may, from time to time, use these details to send you information which we think might be of interest to you.
THE CONSUMER CONTRACT REGULATIONS 2013
- Under the regulations, for some non-business instructions you may have the right to withdraw, without charge, within fourteen calendar days of the date on which you asked us to act for you. However in such a case if we start work with your consent within that period, you lose that right to withdraw. We will need your express written consent to commence work within the 14 day period. This provision informs you that the work involved is likely to take more than thirty days unless the contrary is specified in writing by the letter or memorandum enclosing these terms and conditions.
- In instructing the firm howsoever, you explicitly acknowledge that the instruction to supply the service implies an obligation to pay.
LIMITATIONS ON OUR LIABILITY
- We limit our liability to you for claims for breach of contract, breach of duty, negligence and for claims otherwise arising out of or in connection with our engagement or the services we provide, in the ways described below.
- Our liability to you shall be limited to £10million or such higher amount as is set out in the letter accompanying these Terms of Business.
- This liability cap will apply to our aggregate liability to you together with any associated party for whom you are acting as agent in relation to the relevant matter on any basis.
- Proportional liability
In addition to the other limitations in this document, where we and/or third parties are responsible for any loss suffered by you, our liability for that loss will be limited to a fair proportion of your total loss calculated by reference to the extent of our responsibility. If you have engaged others to represent or advise you on a matter in which we are involved and you agree with any of them that their liability to you will be limited, in order that our position is not adversely affected by any such limitation of their liability, you agree that our liability to you will not exceed the amount which would have applied in the absence of that limitation.
- Third party liability
If you start proceedings against us for loss or damage and there is another person (for example, another adviser) who is liable (or potentially liable) to you in respect of the same loss or damage, then you will (if we so request) join them into the proceedings. This is subject to any legal prohibition against your joining them in that way.
- No claim against individual employees/partners
We have an interest in limiting the personal liability of employees, consultants and partners. Accordingly you agree that you will not bring any claim against any individual employee, consultant or partner in respect of losses which you suffer or incur, arising out of or in connection with our engagement or the services we provide. The provisions of this paragraph will not limit or exclude the firm’s liability for the acts or omissions of our employees, consultants or partners.
The provisions of the above paragraph are intended for the benefit of our employees, consultants and partners but the terms of our engagement may be varied without the consent of all or any of those persons.
- Monies Held In Our Client Account
We will not be liable to repay any money that we hold for you in our client account at Barclays Bank Plc, or another clearing bank, which is lost as a result of a failure of the bank.
- Limitation on exclusions
The above exclusions and limitations will not operate to exclude or limit any liability which cannot lawfully be limited or excluded. In particular they do not limit liability for fraud, nor for causing death or personal injury by negligence, nor for negligence in contentious business, insofar as the Solicitors Act 1974 s 60(5) precludes the exclusion of such liability.
FINANCIAL AND INSURANCE ADVICE AND AUTHORISATION AND INVESTMENT ADVICE
- We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority for financial, investment, or insurance advice or mediation. We are, however, included on the register maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority so that we may carry on insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the advising on and selling and administration of insurance contracts. This part of our business, including arrangements for complaints or redress if something goes wrong, is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority website at www.fca.org.uk/register. We are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (“SRA”), which is the independent regulatory arm of the Law Society of England and Wales. If you are unhappy with any investment advice or insurance advice you receive from us you should raise your concerns with the SRA.
- The Law Society is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, but responsibility for regulation has been separated from the Law Society’s representative functions. The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory body of the Law Society. The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints against lawyers.
- Financial Services and Markets Act (“FSMA”)
If while we are acting for you, you need advice on investments, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised to provide the necessary advice. However we may provide some limited investment advice services where these are closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you. This is because we are regulated by the SRA, which is a designated professional body for the purposes of the FSMA.
Our role in any transaction is that of legal adviser and it is not part of our function to give advice on the merits of any transaction in investments. When providing our services we will assume that you have decided or will decide to negotiate or enter into any such transaction solely on the advice you may receive from a person authorised under the FSMA. No communication from us is intended or should be construed as an invitation or inducement to you or to anyone else to engage in investment activity.
Our advice is for your benefit only. Save as expressly set out, our agreement with you is not intended to confer rights on any third parties whether pursuant to the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 or otherwise.
If any provision in these terms of engagement or our accompanying letter is or becomes invalid, illegal or unenforceable then it shall, to the extent required, be severed and shall be ineffective and the validity of the remaining provisions shall not be affected in any way.
GOVERNING LAW AND JURISDICTION
This agreement and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with it or its subject matter or formation (including non-contractual disputes or claims) shall be governed by the law of England and Wales, and the Courts of England and Wales shall have exclusive jurisdiction over any such dispute or claim.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS
- Unless otherwise agreed, and subject to the application of the then current hourly rates, these Terms and Conditions of Business shall apply to any future instructions given by you to this firm.
Although your continuing instructions in this matter will amount to an acceptance of these Terms and Conditions of Business, it may not be possible for us to start work on your behalf until one copy of them (together with any requested identity information) has been returned to us for us to keep on our file.
OUR RATES ARE AVAILABLE ON APPLICATION