1.1 This and the following pages set out the terms on which we, Mayflower Solicitors, will accept instructions to perform legal services on behalf of clients of this firm. They should be read in conjunction with the information which will, in accordance with professional rules, be provided by the firm to the client at the outset dealing specifically with the work undertaken, the individual within the firm who will have day to day responsibility for that work and, his or her status and the principal of the firm responsible for the supervision and control of the work in question. We will also provide an estimate of our charges and/or the basis on which they will be calculated.
1.2 We rely upon you for the completeness and accuracy of the information that you provide to us to do your work. This is especially so in litigation matters and our charges and fee estimates are given on the basis that the information that you give to us is complete and accurate.
1.3 We will endeavour to update you at regular intervals on the progress or lack of progress in the matter, including advising you of any changes to advice previously given; an agreed course of action/strategy and/or to costs. If you should have any queries at any time, we would prefer that you let us have them by e-mail as this will give us a clear and permanent record of your enquiry which will save us time in dealing with it. We aim to respond to all your queries by correspondence or by telephone calls, promptly and in any event within 24 hours, or if on a Friday before close of business on Monday of the following week.
1.4 It is our normal practice to invoice all work in progress at the end of each month by way of interim fee bill or upon completion if this occurs within the month, whichever is earlier in time. Where we do not invoice at the month end we reserve the right to raise interim invoices at various stages of progress during an assignment. Such invoices will be covered by our terms relating to payment of amounts invoiced which are strictly 7 days net.
2.1 Save as referred to in paragraph 2.2 all information and documents entrusted to us by our clients will be treated as confidential and save as may be necessary for the proper conduct of the client’s business or unless required by law will not be divulged by the firm to any other person without our client’s prior consent whether express or implied.
2.2 The client is deemed to have given its informed consent to an inspection by independent assessors of the client’s file in connection with the firm’s Lexcel Practice Management Standard. This process of independent assessment does not involve any client files being removed from the firm’s offices. The terms of appointment of the independent assessors requires them to keep confidential any information relating to a clients matter or transaction.
2.3 We will keep your matter confidential and will only make such disclosures as are necessary for your instructions to be carried out, for us to recover any fees that may be due to us, or as may otherwise be required by law.
Conflict of Interest
3 In accordance with the Solicitors Regulatory Authority’s codes of professional conduct we are unable to:
3.1 accept instructions from two or more clients where there is a conflict of interest or potential conflict between the interests of those clients; or
3.2 accept instructions to act against a former client where we have acquired relevant knowledge concerning the former client whilst acting as solicitors for him or her; or
3.3 continue to act for two or more clients where a conflict of interest arises between them
3.4 act where the interests of the firm conflict with those of the client.
4 We maintain professional indemnity insurance covering the firm in respect of liability for professional negligence risks for amounts which are considered adequate by the principal for the normal business of the firm.
Fees and Disbursement
5.1 We are entitled to charge for the time we spend on your matter which will include meeting with you and perhaps others; any time spent travelling, considering, preparing and working on papers, correspondence and making and receiving telephone calls.
5.2 Disbursements are expenses payable to a third party in connection with your instructions. Fees and disbursements are payable whether or not the matter is successfully concluded or a transaction completed. If the matter or transaction becomes abortive a charge will be made for the work done on the basis of the amount of time spent on the matter. VAT is payable in addition except where supplies are exempt or zero rated.
5.3 In cases which are likely to continue for some time we will agree with you intervals (usually every three months) when we will invoice you for all work undertaken to that date taking into account all work previously invoiced and paid.
5.4 In certain types of cases we may request from you a payment on account of our fees and disbursements on the basis that no work will be undertaken until the payment on account has been received and cleared.
5.5 Unless otherwise agreed, fees for all types of work are payable within 7 days of the date of invoice. Disbursements incurred or to be incurred may be separately billed during the course of the work and are payable on presentation of invoice.
5.6 We will not be obliged to undertake any further work for a client in respect of an ongoing matter if an invoice in respect of that matter (and no other matter) has not been paid within 14 days of the date of invoice.
5.7 We are entitled to charge interest on all overdue amounts at the rate payable in respect of judgments debts (both before and during judgment) until payment is made in full.
5.8 Further and alternatively, we may seek other means of collection of unpaid bills which may include instructing Debt Collection Agencies or sell or assign the debt to third parties such as factoring and/or invoice finance companies or any other method deemed expedient to the firm in recovering monies or unpaid bills. This will be done without providing you with prior notice of such action.
5.9 Estimates of fees and disbursements are given exclusive of VAT which will be payable in addition where appropriate.
5.10 Where fees are calculated by reference to hourly rates :-
5.9: 1 routine letters written are charged at the rate of 6 minutes per page.
5.9: 2 routine letters received are charged at the rate of 6 minutes per page.
5.9: 3 routine telephone calls made or received are charged in units of 6 minutes.
5.10 Hourly rates are reviewed annually in May. We reserve the right to increase these at that time and will notify you in writing of any increase in the rate which is to apply following the review.
5.11 Interest on costs which is recovered from a third party shall belong to:-
5.11: 1 The client in respect of costs which have been billed and pair; or
5.11: 2 The Legal Services Commission (where appropriate); or
5.11: 3 The firm in respect of costs which have not been billed or paid
5.12 In the event that your costs are not covered by an After the Event (ATE) or Legal Expenses Insurer (LEI) or any other form of third party funding e.g. CFA or Contingency Fee Arrangements, you will be liable for the payment of all our costs and any disbursements.
6. Commission in excess of £20.00 received by the firm during the conduct of a client’s matter will be accounted for to the client as required by the relevant professional rule unless the client has entered into a written agreement entitling us to retain either all or part of the commission the amount of which (or the basis of calculation of which) will have been fully disclosed to the client.
7. If during your instructions you need advice on investments, we may have to refer you to
someone who is authorised by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), as we are not.
However, as we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory 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.
8. Payment on account to cover our expenses and/or costs will be requested of you as and when is necessary.
9. We will pay all clients money due to the client as soon as possible.
10. We do not accept payments to us in cash in excess of £500.00 Monies due to you from the firm will be paid by cheque or bank transfer, but not in cash, and will not be made payable to a third party.
11. When it is necessary for us to hold client’s money in the firm’s clients account pending conclusion of the transaction or matter in question or during the course of the work interest (either gross or net as appropriate) will be paid by us on money so held in accordance with the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1998. If requested we will provide a statement showing the calculation of interest earned on the client’s funds.
12. All bills rendered are payable on receipt. Bills interest becomes payable on all balances outstanding 14 days from the date of the invoice on a daily basis at 12% over the Bank of England’s base rate from time to time from the date of the bill until full payment is received by the firm.
13.1 In order to reduce the heavy cost of providing storage space for closed files we will implement the procedure set out below on completion of a client’s matter or transaction.
13.2 On conclusion of the matter or transaction all original documents (but not copies made by the firm nor title deeds and documents to be stored by the firm or held by mortgagees of the client) and other items of property belonging to the client which have been provided by the client or have come into our possession during the course of the matter or transaction will normally be returned to the client after all outstanding fees, disbursements and VAT have been paid.
13.3 We will store documents without charge unless otherwise required by the client.
13.4 In certain circumstances we can if requested store original documents belonging to the client but if so then we will agree with the client for how long these documents are to be retained before being returned to the client or destroyed. We shall be entitled to make a reasonable charge plus VAT for providing this service.
13.5 If prior to conclusion of the matter the client informs us in writing not to destroy a file then we will notify the client when the file is ready for collection, provided all
outstanding fees disbursements and VAT in respect of the matter or transaction in question or otherwise owed by the client have been paid.
14. Clients should note that the firm has the right to retain client’s property in their possession until fees disbursements and VAT have been paid. This right extends to all deeds, papers and other property of the client which come into the firm’s possession with the client’s consent.
15. A period of seven days from the day that they are paid into the firm’s client account must be allowed for clearance of all personal cheques received by the firm.
16.1 The client may terminate his or her instructions to us in writing at any time by giving 2 months notice in writing but we will be entitled to keep all papers and documents while there is money owing to us for our fees, VAT and disbursements.
16.2 We are only entitled to stop acting for a client with good reason (for example if the circumstances of paragraph 5.6 apply) and we must give the client reasonable notice that we are no longer acting for the client.
16.3 Additionally we may terminate the engagement without prior notice to you in any of the following circumstances:
i) You fail to pay a bill by the due date;
ii) You fail to make a payment on account that has been requested of you;
iii) You fail to give instructions or you give instructions which are not permitted by law or which are in breach of any other term in this agreement;
iv) If it becomes apparent that you have given us misleading information;
v) You are, or any person acting on your behalf is, unacceptably rude.
vi) You are not cooperative in progressing your instructions.
vii) You fail to take ours or Counsels legal advice: in that event the engagement will be terminated and you will be liable to pay all of our costs up until the date of termination.
16.4 If we decide that we will no longer act for a client then the client will pay our fees on an hourly basis plus VAT and any disbursements that have been paid by the firm.
17.1 If you have any problem with the service we have provided for you then please let us know. We will try to resolve any problem quickly and operate an internal complaint handling system to help us resolve the problem between ourselves. Please refer to out Complaints Handling Procedure document which is attached for your information.
17.2 If for any reason we are unable to resolve the problem between us, then we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority which also provides a complaints and redress scheme. Alternatively, the Legal Ombudsman may be approached for resolution.
Change of Address
18. Any change of address or telephone number should be notified to us as soon as possible so that out records can be kept up to date.
Acceptance of terms
19. Your continuing instructions in this matter is an acceptance of these terms but to perfect our records, please sign the enclosed copy of this Terms of Business and return it to us as soon as possible.