Terms & Conditions
1. Our Aim
We aim to offer our clients quality legal advice with personal service at a fair cost. As a start, we hope it is helpful to you to set out the basis on which we will provide our professional services.
2. Our Commitment to You
2.1 In summary, we:-
2.1.1 Represent your interests and keep your matter confidential.
2.1.2 Explain to you the legal work, which may be required in the prospects of a successful outcome.
2.1.3 Make sure that you understand the likely degree of financial risk that you will be taking on.
2.1.4 Advise you if Legal Aid might be available to you.
2.1.5 Keep you regularly informed of progress or, if there is none, when you are next likely to hear from us.
2.1.6 Try to avoid using technical language when writing to you.
2.1.7 Deal with your queries promptly, for example, we will always try to return your telephone calls on the same day.
If you instruct us from a distance, for example by telephone, the internet, email, letter or fax, then you have a right to cancel your instructions to us within seven days without obligation but if you instruct us to proceed immediately that cooling off period is cancelled and you will be obliged to pay us for any work done or payments made on your behalf. We are obliged to tell you this under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000.
2.2 To help us can you, please:-
2.2.1 In all communications and with all payments quote the file reference number of your matter.
2.2.2 Leave clear and polite messages with our support staff, whether in person or over the telephone.
2.2.3 Notify us immediately of any change of your address, telephone number and other contact details and material information.
2.2.4 In order to avoid disappointment, make appointments for legal advice and notify us immediately if you are delayed or cannot attend.
2.2.5 Respond to our requests promptly.
2.2.6 Pay our bills and disbursements without delay.
2.2.7 Contact us immediately if you receive any communication from another party or their solicitors, and do not reply without first speaking to us.
2.2.8 Consider whether any legal dispute is cost effective.
2.2.9 Immediately check and tell us if you have, or may be able to obtain, legal expenses cover, for example through insurance, your employer, a union, trade association or professional body, as this may affect the funding of work we do on your behalf.
3. Our hours of business
The normal hours of opening at our offices are between 9am and 5pm on weekdays. Appointments can be arranged at other times when this is essential.
4. People Responsible for your Work
The Partner, Solicitor, Executive or Trainee Solicitor advising on this matter (your “advisor” or “fee earner”) will be described in your first letter. His or her assistant or secretary may be able to deal with your queries and will be pleased to take any message for you.
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, for example, whenever an area of law requires the attention of a specialist.
5. Charges and Expenses
5.1 In most property transactions our fees and disbursements are agreed with you in advance but in other circumstances, our charges will be calculated by reference to the time actually spent by your advisor 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 and any detailed costs, calculations and time spent travelling away from the office when this is necessary.
5.2 Routine letters and emails are charged as 6-minute units of time and we charge the time spent on making and taking telephone calls in 6-minute units and considering incoming mail and email as units of 3 minutes per page. The current hourly rates are set out below. We will add VAT to these at the rate that applies when the work is done. At present, VAT is 20%.
Partners & Senior Associates £230.00
Solicitors / Senior Executive £190.00
Executives / Trainee Solicitors £100.00
Support staff (where indicated in advance) £75.00
5.3 These hourly rates have to be reviewed periodically to reflect increases in overhead costs and inflation. Normally the rates are reviewed with effect from the 1st April 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.
5.4 In addition to the time spent, we may take into account a number of other factors including any need to carry out work outside our normal office hours, the complexity of the issues, the speed at which the action has to be taken, and any particular specialist expertise that the case may demand. In particular, in property transactions, in the administration of estates and the matters involving substantial financial value or benefit to our client, a charge reflecting, for example the price of a 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 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.
5.5 Solicitors may pay out various other expenses on behalf of clients including Land or Probate Registry fees, Investigation fees, Court fees, Experts fees and Barrister’s fees. We have no obligation to make such payments on your behalf unless you have provided us with funds for that purpose. VAT is payable on certain expenses, including mileage for which there is a charge of £0.50 per mile. We refer to such payments generally as “disbursements”.
5.6 If for any reason, any matter does not proceed to completion, we will be entitled to charge you for work done and expenses incurred.
5.7 In many cases we can give you an estimate of the overall cost. These estimates are guidelines and not firm quotations at a set price. Nevertheless, we usually charge within those estimates and, on rare occasions when we have to charge more than we estimated, you will be informed of this and an explanation will be given. If we take on extra work or meet unforeseen complications, we reserve our entitlement to charge more.
6. Payment Arrangements
6.1 A bill rendered and duly delivered by us for work done on your behalf is a debt due from you to this firm.
6.2 Property transactions. We will send you a financial statement following the exchange of contracts. If sufficient funds are available on completion, and we have sent you a bill, we will deduct our charges and expenses from the funds and provide a receipted invoice.
6.3 Administration of Estates and Probate matters. We will normally submit an interim bill at regular stages during the administration, starting with the obtaining of a Grant. The final invoice would be prepared when the Estate Accounts are ready for approval.
6.4 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 payments, delay in the progress of a case may result. We may cease to represent you if such requests are not met or you fail to pay any bill. If, in these circumstances a fee earner has to attend court to apply to cease to act on your behalf, you shall incur the costs and expenses of such an application, UNLESS you confirm in writing that you no longer want us to act for you before any work on such an application is carried out.
6.5 Payment is due to us within 28 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 the date of the bill, compounded quarterly, in cases where payment is not made within 28 days of delivery by us of the bill.
7. Other parties’ charges and expenses
7.1 In some litigation matters, including small claims proceedings in the county court for sums of £10,000 or less, most employment tribunal cases and where the other party is in receipt of Public Funding, you have to bear your own legal costs regardless of the outcome and no costs are likely to be recovered.
7.2 However, in certain other cases and transactions you 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, or indeed be able to pay all the charges and expenses, which you incur with us. Sometimes, any sums so recoverable are fixed and may not cover your legal costs and expenses. 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.
7.3 In court cases, if you are successful and if in its ultimate discretion the 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. Again, this is subject to the solvency, liquidity and means of the other party, which must be considered by you at the outset and periodically throughout your case. 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.
7.4 A client who is unsuccessful in a Court case may be ordered to pay the other parties legal charges and expenses. That money would be payable in addition to our charges and expenses.
8. Interest payment
Our Interest policy can be viewed on our website – www.borlase-co.co.uk but if you do not have access to this electronically please let us know as soon as possible and we will arrange to send a copy to you.
9. Financial & Tax Advice
If during your matter you need advice on investments, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised by the Financial Services 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 that we are doing for you.
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 Authority website at http://www.fsa.gov.uk/register.
10. Storage of papers and documents
We are entitled to keep all of 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 up to 10 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 charges 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.
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. 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 reasons and give you notice in writing.
12. Duty of Care
The only persons to whom we owe a duty of care are you, the clients named at the top of this letter and any mortgagee. We accept no duty or obligation to any other person who may be affected by, or rely on, the advice that we give. Please note that the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 do not apply to our contract with you.
13. Limitation of Liability
13.1 The liability of this firm (which expression shall include its partners and employees) in respect of breach of contract, breach of duty, fault or negligence or otherwise howsoever arising out of or in connection with our engagement in relation to any matter in respect of which we are instructed by you shall be limited in total, unless otherwise varied and agreed in writing between us, to £5,000,000. This limit applies to the aggregate amount in any one year in respect of all claims and losses including damages, legal costs, interest and expenses due to any civil liability, including breach of contract, negligence and breach of any duty.
13.2 It is important that you consider this carefully and agree at the outset that such a limit is fair and reasonable in the circumstances. If you do not raise this matter with us at the outset, you will be deemed to accept that this is so. We emphasise this responsibility is with you. In the event that you consider otherwise it needs to be drawn to our attention at the earliest possible stage in order that we can reconsider whether, and on what terms we are prepared to continue.
13.3 We shall have no liability to any third party to whom you have communicated or copied any advice or work provided by us, unless we have given prior written consent and the third party has agreed in writing to any conditions or limitations imposed by us.
13.4 You agree not to make any claim personally against any of our employees for legal liability which they have arising out of this agreement and the work and services provided by us. This does not affect our liability for any acts and omissions, subject to the above limit.
13.5 We shall not be liable for any loss of profit, business, contracts, revenues or anticipated savings or any indirect, special or consequential loss.
13.6 Nothing in this clause shall limit our liability for any matter for which we are unable to exclude or limit our liability by operation of the law.
13.7 If any part of this clause is held to be ineffective the remainder of the clause shall continue to apply.
14. Excluded Tax and Planning Advice
14.1 Any work we do for you may involve tax implications or considering tax planning strategies. We are not qualified to advise you on 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, as we may be able to identify a source of assistance for you.
14.2 For land transactions where you acquire an interest in land, it is necessary to have prepared for you for each transaction a “Land Transaction Return” to HM Revenue and Customs in respect of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT), which we can complete, from the details you give us. As for all tax returns it is your responsibility to ensure that the details are true and correct and you must report to HM Revenue and Customs any linked transactions if they form part of a single scheme arrangement or series of transactions or if they form part of a single scheme arrangement or series of transactions between the same seller and purchaser or with persons connected to them including your spouse/civil partner, a brother/sister/lineal descendant or spouse thereof. Whilst we assist you in completing the necessary return and indicate on the same that we are your agents for this purpose, we are not your general agents and are only assisting the completion of necessary forms from the information and details you provide. We have no ongoing responsibility to prepare complete or advise on any further or additional returns or subsequent returns that may be required on your matter after the initial return has been sent to the HM Revenue and Customs and shall not from that point be your agent.
14.3 For land transactions involving leases, SDLT is usually calculated on the amount of rent payable and is often aggregated to arrive at the tax payable. There may be instances for example where there are rent reviews where further or additional Land Transaction Returns and tax payments are required during the life or term of the lease. It is your responsibility to ensure that such returns or payments are made at the appropriate time and unless we have been specifically asked or instructed in writing to assist further, we shall be unable to do so and therefore we shall have no further liability or responsibility after the initial advice given to you and return made.
14.4For land purchases 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. This deals strictly with the property you are buying and not any other land or property in the vicinity, town or area of your proposed land purchase.
14.5 We give general or induction advice only on tax matters and you must ensure that you obtain specialist tax advice etc.
15. Conflict of interests
An actual or potential conflict between your interests and those of another client or of a fee earner may arise during the course of a matter. If this happens, we shall discuss the implications with you, but in order to uphold our professional duty to protect your interests we may not be able to continue to act for you.
16. Governing Law
These terms and conditions are governed by and shall be construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales. Disputes arising hereunder shall be subject to the jurisdiction of the Courts of England and Wales to which you submit.
17. Complaints and the Legal Ombudsman Service
17.1 If you have any problem with the service we have provided for you then please let me know. I will try to resolve any problem quickly. Borlase & Company is committed to high quality legal advice and client care. If you are still unhappy about any aspect of the service you receive, or about the bill, please contact John Wilkin on 01326 574988 or by post to our office at 45 Coinagehall Street, Helston, TR13 8EU.
17.2 We have a procedure in place which details how we handle complaints, available on request.
17.3 If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can ask the Legal Ombudsman 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.
17.4 The Legal Ombudsman can be contacted at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ; telephone: 0300 555 0333; website: www.legalombudsman.org.uk.
17.5 You also have the right to object to the bill and apply for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. The Legal Ombudsman may not deal with a complaint about the bill if you have applied to the court for an assessment of the bill.
18. Confidentiality and disclosure
18.1 Auditing and vetting of files
External firms or organisations may conduct audit or quality checks on our practice from time to time. They may wish to audit/quality check your file and related papers for this purpose. It is a specific requirement imposed by us that these external firms or organisations fully maintain confidentiality in relation to any files and papers which are audited/quality checked by them. Your files may also be reviewed in a due diligence exercise relating to the sale or transfer of all or part of our business, the acquisition of another business by us or the acquisition of new business. If you do not wish your file to be used in this way, please let us know as soon as possible.
18.2 Cloud computing
We use cloud storage for client files. Our cloud software provider is LEAP. LEAP’s cloud infrastructure is provided and maintained by industry leading cloud-platform provider Amazon Web Services. Amazon Web Services demonstrates a commitment to information security at every level of the organisation and complies with internationally recognised standards, the EU Data Protection Directive and regulations and the Data Protection Act 2018. If you object to your files/other details being stored in this way, please let us know.
19. Data protection
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 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Regulation (EU) 2016/679), 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 that we think might be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive that information, please notify our office in writing.
20. 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, we would like you to complete and return to us, for our file, a copy of the terms.
I confirm I have read and understood, and I accept, these terms and conditions of business.