Terms & Conditions
IMPORTANT: Please be aware that there has been a recent spate of fraudsters hacking solicitor/client emails, which may include notifying clients by email of a change in the solicitor’s bank account details. Rogers & Norton will not notify you of a change to the bank details supplied to you by email. Any changes of bank details will be discussed with you via telephone call in the first instance and a letter and/or an encrypted email (with the password sent separately). We take our responsibilities as to your money very seriously and hope that you will understand the need for this warning. Should you fail to heed this warning and your money is redirected by fraudsters this is at your risk.
(a) Our professional fees are either based on a fixed quotation or are a fair and reasonable fee reflecting the time spent working on the matter combined with certain other factors (see (c) below). Expenses we incur and payments which we make on your behalf (referred to as disbursements) are in addition to our fees. All estimates, quotations, fees and disbursements are subject to the addition of Value Added Tax (except any VAT-exempt disbursements).
(b) Hourly rates are set at a figure required to cover the overhead expenses of running the firm and include the firm’s profit. Our letter of engagement will set out the present rates appropriate to the particular matter and the staff involved. Our hourly rates are subject to periodic review, and we will notify you in advance of any increase coming into effect.
(c) Other factors taken into account in addition to the time factor in assessing fair and reasonable fees under the Solicitors (Non Contentious Business) Remuneration Order 2009 are, for instance:-
- Working outside normal business hours
- The importance of the matter to you
- The value of any money or property involved
- The number and complexity of documents involved.
(d) Where fees are to be based on time and the other factors set out in 1(c) above, we will not be able to work to a fixed quotation, but will endeavour to give you an estimate for guidance purposes only. Estimates are intended as a guide to assist in budgeting and should not be treated as a fixed quotation. If the work proves to be more complex and time consuming than anticipated then the estimate is likely to be exceeded. We will keep you informed as matters progress if this is likely to happen.
(e) Unless we agree otherwise we will notify you at least every 6 months of what fees and disbursements have been incurred, whether or not we submit a bill for payment.
(f) If you wish to object to our bill you have the right to do so under our complaints procedure referred to in our engagement letter and/ or by making a complaint to the Legal Complaints Service and/or in the case of contentious work applying to the Court for an assessment of the bill under Sections 70, 71 and 72 of the Solicitors Act 1974 as amended, re-enacted or modified.
Unless you expressly instruct us otherwise, we will incur such expenses and make other payments on your behalf as we consider necessary, which we will recharge to you at cost as disbursements. This could for example include search and registration fees, stamp duty, special bank charges, court fees and Counsels fees. We also reserve the right to charge travel expenses, and for accommodation and meals when travelling away from the office on your behalf. We will however consult you before incurring any significant items.
3. PAYMENTS ON ACCOUNT AND OTHER MONIES HELD BY US
In common with other solicitors we reserve the right to ask for a payment on account in advance of acting for a client, to go towards payment for professional time involved and fees and other disbursements to be paid out. The letter of engagement will specify the amount of the initial payment required. We further reserve the right to ask for further payments on account as a matter progresses, as a condition of proceeding further.
In the event of a requested payment on account not being made, we must reserve the right to decline to act any further and a bill for the work and any disbursements to date will be sent to you. If we were acting for you in Court proceedings we will if necessary notify the Court and the solicitors for the other parties that we are no longer acting for you.
Money held by us on your behalf, whether paid on account of fees or otherwise, may be used in payment or part payment of our bills, whether or not overdue.
4. INTEREST POLICY
(a) Client monies are currently held in our Lloyds Bank plc client account. This is necessarily an immediate access account and the interest rates we achieve are accordingly limited.
(b) We reserve the right to change our client account from time to time without reference to you.
(c) We will account to you for interest on monies held for you in our client account at the rate of 0.25% below the prevailing Bank of England Base Rate. This shall be compounded and credited to each matter on a quarterly basis. Actual payment of interest will be made to you at the conclusion of the matter. In the case of payments received and made by cheque the period for which any interest will be calculated will run from the date when an incoming cheque is banked by us until the date on the outgoing cheque issued to you. This is because the normal clearance periods will usually cancel themselves out.
(d) When depositing or leaving monies in our client account you should have regard to the interest rates that you might obtain had you held and invested the money elsewhere. Details of currently available rates are readily available online or from bank branches.
(e) Interest is payable to you gross.
(f) We will only pay you interest if the amount as calculated from the first receipt to the last payment is more than £50.
(g) Where you have instructed us on multiple matters involving a number of payments into our client account those deposits shall not be aggregated for interest purposes unless this has been agreed in writing between us for example in cases where there is a close link between those matters.
5. INCOMPLETE WORK
We provide a service rather than necessarily, an end product. If a matter does not proceed to completion we will be entitled to be paid for all disbursements incurred and all work actually carried out calculated by reference to hourly rates and to other factors referred to in 1(c).
6. INTERIM BILLING
In addition to billing at the conclusion of our work we reserve the right, particularly in Court proceedings or where we spend a great deal of professional time over a short period, to submit bills in the following manner:
(a) Bill for a sum of money on account generally of work done which will in due course be taken into account when a final bill is prepared.
(b) Bill relating to a specific period of time (which may not be to the conclusion of the matter) and for all work carried out during that period;
7. TERMS OF PAYMENT
We require settlement on delivery of the bill particularly as the work is normally spread over weeks or months. After one month interest will be added to outstanding accounts at the rate appropriate to judgement debts (currently 8%) on a daily basis until settlement.
If payment of a bill is overdue, we reserve the right to stop further work on the file, and to retain any of your documents or other materials held on that or any other of your files, until full payment has been made.
Except in the case of consumer clients (that is individual persons contracting with us outside their trade, business or profession) our bills are payable without any deduction by way of set-off or counterclaim or otherwise.
In conveyancing transactions we require costs and disbursements by the day fixed for completion, unless there will be a surplus of funds from a sale or mortgage sufficient to cover these.
8. JOINT INSTRUCTIONS
When we receive instructions on a matter from more than one person or company, each person or company is separately responsible for payment of the full amount of our bills.
9. PAYMENT METHODS
We will not accept payments in cash for any amount in excess of £500.00. If clients circumvent this policy by depositing cash with our bank we reserve the right to charge for any additional checks we deem necessary regarding the source of the funds.
We of course accept payments by cheque (subject to clearance in the usual way) or direct transfer into our bank account.
We also accept payment by most main debit or credit cards, excluding American Express, for monies on account of costs and/or disbursements and payment of our bills. (This does not include payment of funds for Stamp Duty Land Tax or monies to be paid out to others on completion of a property or other transaction). There is no additional charge for debit card payments. However, in the case of credit card payments where we are charged by our bank for processing the payment in this way, we will pass on that charge to you without any additional handling fee from us. The percentage is fixed by the bank, but as at 1st April 2017 was 0.89% for credit cards. The actual amount of the charge will be calculated at the time of making the card payment and will be added to the amount to be debited to your card without any further bill being raised by us.
Where we have to pay money to you, it will be by cheque or bank transfer. It will not be paid in cash or to a third party.
10. FINANCIAL SERVICES AND INSURANCE MEDIATION
We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. We are however on the register maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority so that we may carry on insurance mediation activity which is the selling of and administering of insurance contracts. The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority website at www.fca.org.uk/firms/systems-reporting/register.
This part of our business and the arrangements for complaints is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
If during your matter you need advice on investments we would need to refer you to a provider who is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, as we are not. As a consequence of our regulation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, we may be able to provide certain limited advice on investment products provided these are closely linked to the legal work we are undertaking for you.
If you are unhappy with any investment advice you receive from us, you should raise this with ourselves by our complaints procedure and if the matter remains unresolved you may raise this with the Solicitors Regulation Authority or the Legal Ombudsman.
11. LITIGATION COSTS AND COURT COSTS ORDERS
The Courts generally have a wide discretion to make orders in respect of costs at any stage of the proceedings, although that discretion is very limited in certain types of case, in particular including those involving less than £25,000.
Except in Family Law matters the Courts typically order an unsuccessful party to contribute towards the costs of the successful party, but it is very rare for all of the costs to be covered. There is no guarantee that a costs award can be promptly or successfully enforced. If your opponent is legally aided, it is unlikely that you would be able to recover any of your costs.
You are responsible for payment of our bills in accordance with these terms and conditions even if the Court orders another party to contribute towards them.
You should therefore assume that even if you are successful in litigation, you will have a liability to us for at least some costs which you will not recover from others.
If you are unsuccessful at any point in litigation, or you withdraw an action, the Court may order you to contribute towards your opponents’ costs. This would be in addition to your liability in respect of our bills.
If you have the benefit of legal fees insurance, insurers will usually delay payment until the conclusion of the case. Subject to express written agreement with us to the contrary, you will nevertheless remain liable for payment of our bills in accordance with these Terms and Conditions, even if you have not yet received payment from your insurers.
All information received from you or on your behalf concerning your business or affairs will be kept confidential at all times unless you instruct us to disclose it or we are obliged by law to disclose it, for example where money laundering is suspected or other fraud or crime is involved.
In some cases we ask outside companies to carry out photocopying work for us, especially large or urgent jobs. Although this work is always done on a confidential basis there is inevitably a greater risk in relation to confidentiality when material goes outside our office. If you do not want us to ever use outside photocopying services in connection with our work for you, please tell us as soon as possible.
13. 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 1998 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 which we think might be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive that information please notify our office in writing.
14. LEGAL AID
We do not undertake Legal Aid (Community Legal Service or Criminal Defence Service) work and as a consequence, we do not attempt to carry out assessments of income/means for Legal Aid purposes. If you wish to consult a Legal Aid practitioner, you are of course entirely free to do so.
15. APPLICABILITY OF TERMS
Unless notified to the contrary these terms and conditions will apply to current and future matters which we handle on your behalf.
16. TERMINATION OF RETAINER AND OUR RIGHT TO RETAIN PAPERS
We reserve the right to terminate our retainer with you should you cease to comply with any of these terms and conditions or for other good reason such as a serious breakdown in confidence between us, or if a conflict of interest arises. You may withdraw your instructions to us at any time by written notice to us. If you or we decide that we should stop acting for you, you will pay our charges up to that point, and we can keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses
17. FILE STORAGE AND DESTRUCTION
On the conclusion of a matter we will store your file for a period of 6.5 years, unless the subject matter of the file is Wills, continuing trusts, Powers of Attorney or Change of Name deeds, where the file will be held indefinitely. In relation to all files held for 6.5 years, these will be destroyed once this period has elapsed without reference to you. We make no charge for file storage, retrieval or destruction, but will make a reasonable charge for photocopying files or papers for you.
18. DEEDS AND WILLS
Originals of Title Deeds, Wills, Change of Name Deeds and Powers of Attorney and other documents which we agree to hold in safe custody will be separately and indefinitely held in secure conditions.
19. JURISDICTION AND GOVERNING LAW
Our agreement shall be construed in accordance with English law and the English courts shall have exclusive jurisdiction for all purposes in connection with it.
20. EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY
We are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all our dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our equal opportunities policy.
NOTICE IN RELATION TO PROCEEDS OF CRIME ACT 2002
Please note that pursuant to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (the Act), anyone knowing or suspecting that they are processing or assisting in the processing of proceeds of crime, are now subject to strict requirements.
If you are a client not previously known to us, we will be obliged to obtain proof of your identity.
VERY IMPORTANTLY, the terms of the Act also mean that we are required by law to report to the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) any situation where we are unsure of the source of monies coming into our hands, or where we have reason to believe that in some way those monies may be the proceeds of crime. The evasion of taxes is considered to be and could give rise to proceeds of crime.
We are specifically required by law not to advise or discuss the situation with you the client.
It is also a legal requirement that you advise us (if required) as to the source of any funds which pass through our hands on your behalf. In the event that we have cause to question that source or the information given, we must inform SOCA. However, we are prevented by law from advising you if we do so. This is of crucial importance as SOCA have 7 days to approve or place the transaction on hold. If nothing is heard after that period, the transaction can proceed but if SOCA refuses consent, then there is a 31 days moratorium period commencing on the date when consent was refused. During that time it will not be possible for your moniesto be used in any way and wewill not be in a position to advise you why this is the case because of the“tipping off” provisionsreferred to above.
THIS COULD MEAN THAT WE WILL BE UNABLE TO COMPLETE YOUR TRANSACTION ONTIMEFOR REASONS WHICH WE WILL BE PREVENTED FROM DISCUSSING WITH YOU.THIS IS THE LAWAND IS COMMON TO ALL FIRMS OF SOLICITORS AND IS A SITUATIONBEYOND OUR CONTROL.
For these reasons it will be preferable when possible for you to place monies in our hands in good time before they will be required and be prepared to prove if requested that the source of the funds is legitimate.
THIS WILL APPLY TO ALL FINANCIAL TRANSACTIONS FROM WHATEVER SOURCE.