Terms of Business
This document contains important information please read it carefully.
- We are pleased to accept your instructions to act on your behalf. These terms of business govern the relationship between us and the basis upon which we, Atkins Dellow LLP, provide legal services to you. The Costs Schedule (“Schedule”) sets out the basis on which our fees will be calculated and charged.
- These terms apply to any future instructions you give us should you engage us on further matters and your new or continuing instructions will amount to your renewed or continuing acceptance of these terms. Our relationship, as set out in these terms is governed by English Law. Our agreement with you is personal, it may not be enforced by a third party and confers no benefit on a third party.
3. Atkins Dellow LLP is regulated by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority. The Suffolk Office No. is 667838. Details of the Solicitors Code of Conduct may be found at: https://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/standards-regulations/code-conduct-solicitors/
Hours of Business
- Our normal opening hours are 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday to Friday. Messages can be left on voicemail outside those hours and appointments can be arranged at other times if essential.
- Please note we run an appointment system for seeing clients which we find works for the benefit of all clients. For the benefit of all clients we are often unable to see clients without an appointment. Please do not hesitate to telephone for an appointment if you wish to arrange a meeting to discuss your matter. If the person you wish to speak with when you telephone is unavailable someone else will try to assist but otherwise please leave a message and we will do our best to respond to your query the same day.
People Responsible for Your Work
- The director designated in the Schedule will oversee the work in this matter supported by the named assistant solicitor (s) and other support staff as appropriate.
- If you need to telephone, please ask to speak to the designated director, assistant solicitor or support staff who will be happy to take any message for you.
- We try hard to avoid changing the people who are handling your work but if this cannot be avoided, we will notify you promptly who will be handling your work and why the change was necessary.
- We will explain to you the issues raised in the matters upon which you instruct us and will keep you informed of progress. We will also advise you whether the likely outcome of any steps that we take will justify the likely charges and expenses and risk involved, from time to time as necessary.
- Please note that Atkins Dellow LLP may use the word “Partner” to describe a Member or a Senior Solicitor, Employee or Consultant with relevant experience, expertise and qualifications to merit the title.
Scope of Work
11. We shall only provide you with the legal services set out in the Schedule. There may be other legal, tax or state benefit issues which should be considered at the same time which could have an effect on the services we provide. Please note that unless we state in writing to the contrary, we do not advise on matters of tax. If you want advice on anything other than as set out in our Schedule or covering letter then you must let us know. We shall not be advising you on any other legal issues unless we specifically agree to do so in writing.
Charges and Expenses
- Our charges are based on the time we spend dealing with your matters. Time spent on your affairs will include: meetings with you and perhaps others, such as barristers; any time spent travelling; considering, preparing and working on papers; correspondence; making and receiving telephone calls.
- If we have agreed a fixed fee for the work specified our charges will be set at that fixed fee for the scope of work stated. For any work you instruct us to carry out for which no fixed fee is agreed we will charge at the rates per hour set out on the Schedule for each hour engaged on your matter by the relevant member of the team from now until the review date on 1 April. All work is charged in 6-minute units.
- If your instructions mean we have to work outside normal office hours, we reserve the right to increase the level of hourly rate/s. You will be notified in writing of any increased rate.
- On 1 April of each year we review the hourly rate/s and will notify you in writing of any increased rates in our work at that time.
- In addition to the time spent, we may take into account a number of factors which include the complexity of the issues, the speed at which action must be taken, the expertise or specialist knowledge that the case requires and, if appropriate, the value of the property or subject matter involved. On the basis of the information currently available, we expect these factors to be adequately covered by the hourly rates set out above. The rates may be higher if, for example, the matter becomes more complex than expected; we will notify you of this.
- If you have any query about the level of any revised rates notified to you, please contact us straight away.
- If a matter involves court proceedings the amount of our costs which you will have to pay may be greater than the amount to be contributed by or that you can recover from another party to the case.
- We will add VAT to our charge at the rate that applies when the work is done. At present VAT is 20%.
- Details of other expenses which you are likely to have to pay (disbursements) are set out or estimated in the Schedule as far as we can anticipate them at this stage including, when they are likely to become due.
- During the course of the matter expenses (often called “disbursements”) may be incurred. These may include search fees, Land or Probate Registry fees, court fees, Stamp Duty Land Tax, Barrister’s and Expert’s fees etc.. We have no obligation to make such payments unless you have provided us with the funds for that purpose unless otherwise agreed but (with the exception of normal conveyancing disbursements) we will obtain your approval before incurring any significant expenses.
- Travelling is charged at £0.45 per mile, and additional photocopies at £0.25 per sheet.
- If, for any reason, the matter does not proceed to completion, we will be entitled to charge you forwork done and expenses incurred.
- VAT is payable on certain expenses.
- Our VAT No is 343603716.
Estimates and Fixed Fees
- An estimate of our charges or an agreed fixed fee and expenses for dealing with this work in your matter are set out on the Schedule plus VAT and disbursements. An estimate is on the basis of the time it is likely to complete this matter. This estimate is not intended to be fixed.
- If it appears that an estimate will be inaccurate or if it appears that the scope of work required / instructions have varied requiring a revision of an agreed fixed fee, we will inform you as quickly as possible. If any unforeseen additional work becomes necessary (for example, due to unexpected difficulties or if your requirements or the circumstances significantly change during the course of the matter), we will inform you as quickly as possible. We will also inform you of further estimated costs or a revised fixed fee in writing before any extra charges and expenses are incurred.
- Where instructions are received from or on behalf of a limited company or plc, we reserve the right to charge on a time basis as set out in paragraph 12 for dealing with any auditor’s enquiries. If appropriate a premium may be charged and you will be notified if this is the case. In any event, the Law Society requires that we only respond to specific enquiries.
- If, for any reason, this matter does not proceed to completion, we will charge you for work done and expenses incurred.
- You may set a limit on the charges and expenses to be incurred. This means that you must pay those incurred up to the agreed limit without our needing to refer back to you. We will inform you as soon as it appears that the limit may be exceeded and will not exceed the limit without first obtaining your consent. However, this does of course mean we may have to stop work at an inconvenient point if we cannot contact you. Please let us know if you want to take advantage of this option.
- 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 progress of a case. 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; similarly, where reasonable e.g. when the outstanding amount is large relative to the importance of the matter, we might exercise a lien or withholding of assets. Any initial payment on account required is set out in the Schedule. We may request further payments on account for charges and expenses to be incurred as the matter progresses. When we put these payments against your bills, we will send you a receipted bill. We will offset any such payments against your final bill, but it is important that you understand that your total charges and expenses may be greater than any advance payments.
- If we expect you to sustain a float in your client account with us throughout the period of our retainer this is stated in the Schedule and you will be expected to maintain the float to the level upon payment of every bill except our last.
- We will send you interim bills as we deem appropriate. This is usually monthly. However, to help you budget, we may be willing to agree alternate periods for interim bills. Please call us to discuss this. We will send you a final bill after completion of the work.
- Please clearly indicate when returning this letter to us the name and details of any other party who will be responsible for paying our invoices, even if it is another company within your group.
- Payment is due to us upon delivery of our bill. If we hold money on your behalf in our client account, which money is not held for a specific purpose, we reserve the right to apply such monies to payment of our invoice and will notify you in writing that we are doing so. We will charge you interest on the bill at 8% above Bank of England Base Rate per year, from the date of the bill if you do not pay it within 28 days. Interest will be charged on a daily basis.
- If you have any query about a bill, you should contact us straight away.
- Deductions from client accounts – Where funds are available (for example in a probate or property transaction) we will normally deduct our charges from those funds on completion of the matter which these terms irrevocably authorise us to do so. In all other cases settlement is due upon delivery of our account.
- Lien – The common law entitles us to retain any money, papers or other property belonging to you which properly comes into our possession pending payment of our costs, whether or not the property is acquired in connection with the matter for which costs were incurred. This is known as a “general lien”. We are not entitled to sell property held under a lien but we are entitled to hold property, other than money, even if the value of it greatly exceeds the amount due to us in respect of costs.
Papers and Documents – Confidentiality and Storage
- While we will, of course, keep matters relating to our work for you confidential wherever possible, there are circumstances in which a legal requirement arises on us and/or your advisers to disclose matters and/or documents relating to those matters. In particular, there are requirements which may result in us needing to disclose matters relating to the work we are doing for you to tax authorities. We will at our absolute discretion make such disclosures where we are of the view that we are under a legal obligation to do so. If such circumstances arise, and we are permitted to do so, we will discuss the matter and documents to be disclosed and the potential consequences of such disclosures with you.
- Files and documents which we are holding on your behalf are kept in safe storage, either in our offices or externally with a specialist storage company. Should these need to be accessed we will retrieve them from storage. However, should you require them urgently, we may charge for such retrieval.
- 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. We will keep our file of papers or an electronic version of your file (except for any of your papers which you ask to be returned to you) for no more than 7 years. We keep the file on the understanding that we have the authority to destroy it 7 years after the date of the final bill we send you. We may not keep paper copies of electronically stored papers other than the original documents which we deem relevant. We will not destroy documents you ask us to deposit in safe custody.
- 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 producing stored papers or documents to you or another person at your request. We may also charge for reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with the instructions given by you or on your behalf.
43. You agree that any documents delivered to us are supplied at your own risk and we will not be held liable for the loss or damage of such documents. We strongly suggest you take copies of all important documents before sending them to us.
44. We are professionally and legally obliged to keep your affairs confidential. However solicitors may be required by statute to make a disclosure to the Serious Organised Crime Agency where they know or suspect that a transaction may involve money laundering or terrorist financing. If we make a disclosure in relation to your matter, we may not be able to tell you that a disclosure has been made. We may have to stop working on your matter for a period of time.
Personal Liability for Payment of Invoices and Monies on Account
- As our client, you have primary responsibility for payment of our bills.
- If we receive instructions from you to invoice a separate entity such as a company subsidiary or a special purpose vehicle, you and such entity will be jointly and severally liable for the payment of our invoices and your acceptance of these terms and conditions shall in such circumstances also be on behalf of each such entity. If you are instructing us on behalf of a company or other entity, you also accept and agree that as proprietor/officer of such entity you will be jointly and severally liable for payment of our invoices. We shall therefore look to you for payment of all and any sums due, together with any interest accrued thereon (calculated from the date the bill was delivered to the third party) if, for any reason, these are not paid in full by the third party.
Interest on Client’s Money
- If we are holding money on your behalf then, subject to the terms of this paragraph, interest will be calculated and paid to you in accordance with the SRA Accounts Rules.
- A copy of the SRA Accounts Rules can be accessed at http://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/handbook/accountsrules/content.page
49. In order to secure accreditation to, and to maintain our quality standards such as Lexcel, Investors in People, Conveyancing Quality Scheme and Legal Services Franchise, we need to allow External Auditors to inspect certain files, which may include yours. The inspection will only be for the purpose of assessing that we are handling your work in accordance with the relevant Quality System. The External Auditors have given an undertaking of confidentiality. If you do not consent to such an inspection will you please confirm this in writing so your file can be marked accordingly.
- The personal data provided by you will be processed in accordance with the principles of the Data Protection Act 1998 and all other applicable data protection and privacy legislation in force from timetotimeintheUK. Youhavetherighttomakeaformalrequestinwritingforaccesstopersonal data held about you to inspect it and have it corrected if it is wrong.
- 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
52. By instructing us, you agree that we are irrevocably authorised to provide such information as is required by any Bank or regulatory authority relating to your identity or that of the beneficial owner of funds held in any client account for a period of up to 6 years following the end of the retainer relating to the holding of funds in our client account for you or the beneficial owner. Furthermore you agree to cooperate with the provision of such identification and verification of the individual client (you) and the beneficial owners of those funds as are required by us, the Bank and or the regulatory authorities to which we are subject.
53. We retain the entire copyright and all other rights in all documents issued by us to you, your rights being limited to the use of the documents for the purpose provided.
- Sometimes we ask other companies or people to do typing/photocopying/auditing/other work on our files to ensure that 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 let us know as soon as possible.
Communications via the Internet
56. We use the internet for email communications both of correspondence and documents. We take reasonable precautions but we are obviously unable to guarantee the security and confidentiality of material sent over the internet. Please let us know if you do not want us to communicate with you or others regarding you via the internet.
Equality and Diversity
57. We are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of our dealings with clients, third parties and employees.
Money Laundering Regulations
- We, like most other providers of professional services, have stringent compliance obligations concerning money laundering. As a consequence, before acting, we must obtain evidence of the identity of all clients both individuals and companies. In some lengthy matters, we need to update this evidence as the case goes along. We reserve the right not to act, or to cease acting for you, if that information is not forthcoming at any time during our retainer or if we have any reasonable concerns generally in the context of money laundering.
- Although we are professionally and legally obliged to keep your affairs confidential, under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, we must report any suspicions that we have regarding money laundering to the authorities. These regulations used to be restricted to the proceeds of drug trafficking and terrorist activity, but now relate to the proceeds of any crime whatsoever. There are severe penalties if we do not comply and it is highly unlikely that the need to make a report would ever apply to you, but you should be aware of our obligations.
- If we make a report, the Act stops us from carrying out any further work for you unless we obtain authority to do so. The Act also stops us from telling you that a report has been made or explaining to you why we have stopped work for you. These duties override our duty to you and as such you accept that we will not be liable for any loss you may suffer because of our actions in complying with these duties.
- To satisfy our money laundering protocol we ask you to bear in mind that we cannot accept cash from you at any time and before accepting instructions from you we need to be satisfied as to the identity of our client. To do this we need you to provide us with the following:
a) A copy of the Memorandum and Articles of Associated and the Certificate of Incorporation of the company together with the full names and addresses of the directors of the company and any individual holding 25% or more of the shares of the company; and
b) For the directors and any individual shareholder of 25% or more, two items from the following list of original documentation one of which to be from item 1:
- Passport / Photo Driving Licence
- Utility Bill (gas or electricity)
- Council Tax Bill
- Mortgage or Bank Statement
- Landline Telephone Bill
a) For any individual, two items from the following list of original documentation one of which to be from item 1:
- Passport / Photo Driving Licence
- Utility Bill (gas or electricity)
- Council Tax Bill
- Mortgage or Bank Statement
- Landline Telephone Bill
All of the above documents must be no more than three months old and show your name and current address.
We will take copies of these documents and return originals to you. Alternatively you can provide us with original certified copies certified by a professional body i.e solicitor, doctor, local bank, building society. The copies will be kept for a period of at least 5 years.
62. On occasion, our work for our clients might give rise to the perceived need for financial advice. Atkins Dellow LLP is not in the business of providing financial advice and is not itself authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority to provide such advice.
We are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority. However, we are included on the Exempt Professional Firms 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 is part of our business, including arrangements for complaints or redress if something goes wrong and 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/
When we recommend that a client enters into an insurance contract, we will provide a written ‘demands and needs’ statement so as to comply with Appendix 1 of the Solicitors’ Financial Services (Conduct of Business) Rules 2001. This statement will vary according to the situation, but may address the following.
a. Why the client needs the particular type of insurance recommended.
b. Whether the client already has an existing policy that may be of use to cover therisk being addressed, such as home contents or legal expenses insurance.
c. An explanation about what the client needs to disclose to the insurance provider.
d. A statement as to the sufficiency of the cover proposed for the risks the clientwishes to cover.
e. An assessment of the relevance of any exclusions, excesses, limitation or conditionsof the cover.
f. Why we have recommended the particular insurance contract.
Where such insurance is recommended, we generally deal with products from Countrywide Legal Indemnities or Stewart Title Limited, but we are not contractually obliged to conduct business this way.
The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013
- The Schedule once signed and posted or delivered to us constitutes a legally binding agreement between us.
- The Schedule is for the provisions of legal services as a solicitor as set out in the Schedule and covering letter. The provision of such services shall be regarded as the due performance of this contract. Should the matter fail to proceed to completion, then our charges will be such sum as is reasonable, having regard to the time spent and or the work carried out by that stage in the transaction together with VAT and any expenditure to third parties incurred.
- The progress of the transaction may be dependent on the acts and deeds of third parties. The time for the performance of this contract may therefore exceed 30 days.
- If the contract for us to provide you with legal services is made anywhere other than at our offices then you have the right to cancel this contract at any time prior to the expiration of the 14th working day after the day you sign and post or deliver the Schedule to us. A working day is any day other than a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday.
Right to Cancel this Agreement
- You have the right to cancel this agreement within 14 days without giving any reason. The Cancellation Period will expire after 14 days from the date of this agreement.
- To exercise the right to cancel, you must inform us (using the contact details set out below) of your decision to cancel this agreement by a clear statement (e.g. a letter sent by post, fax or email). You may use the Model Cancellation Form which is attached to this agreement, but it is not obligatory.
- To meet the cancellation deadline, it is sufficient for you to send your communication concerning your exercise of the right to cancel before the Cancellation Period has expired.Effects of Cancellation
- If you cancel this agreement within the Cancellation Period, we will reimburse all payments received from you.
- We will make the reimbursement without delay, and no later than 14 days after the day on which we are informed about your decision to cancel this agreement. We will make the reimbursement using the same means of payment as you used for the initial transaction, unless you have expressly agreed otherwise.
Work Undertaken in the Cancellation Period
- We will not begin work before the end of the Cancellation Period unless you make an express request for us to do so. Such a request must be in writing and should be sent to us by post, fax or email. Upon such a request, we will begin work as soon as possible.
- If, having made such a request, you then decide to cancel this agreement within the Cancellation Period, you will be liable to pay our reasonable costs for the work undertaken up to the point at which we are informed about your decision to cancel this agreement.
- Please confirm in writing if you wish us to perform any services before the expiration of the 14 working day period set out in paragraph 65. Please note in doing so you lose the right to cancel this agreement.
- Subject to any agreement we may make to the contrary we will provide our services to you from the office address set out in our Schedule or cover letter.
- Subject to conditions set out in these terms of business and any charges which may arise due to abortive work, our fees will not change during the course of this transaction.
- Further details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cancelling-goods-or-services-guide-for-consumers
78. Our liability to you for a breach of your instructions shall be limited to £3,000,000.00 unless we expressly state a higher amount. We will not be liable for any consequential, special, indirect or exemplary damages, costs or losses or any damages, costs or losses attributable to lost profits or opportunities. We can only limit our liability to the extent the law allows. In particular, we cannot limit our liability for death or personal injury caused by our negligence.
79. You may terminate your instructions to us for any reason 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.
- We may also decide to stop acting for you, for example, if you do not pay an interim bill or comply with our request for payment on account; also if we disagree about basic matters. We must give you reasonable notice that we will stop acting for you.
- If you or we decide that we will no longer act for you, you will pay our charges on an hourly basis and expenses as set out earlier up to the date of the termination of our retainer.
Communication Between You and Us
- All solicitors must attempt to resolve problems that may arise with their services. It is therefore important that you immediately raise any concerns you have with us. This is crucial for us to have an ongoing and successful relationship.
- It is very unusual for us to have a problem receiving personal emails but any that is identified as SPAM by our internet services provider, may be blocked. If there is a risk that your email will be seen as SPAM, you will need to inform us so that we can take any steps necessary to receive it. Further, email which is incorrectly addressed will not be accepted and there is no internal notification of such email.
- Your agreement to these terms of business means that your name and address will be added to our database. Your information is held confidentially and is not released to any third party without your prior consent being obtained. Occasionally we may think it would be helpful to you if we were to send you publications or information. If you do not wish us to do this, please tick the box underneath your signature on the Schedule.
- We are committed to providing the highest standards of legal advice and client care to all of our clients. If something goes wrong, we need you to tell us about it in order for us to improve our standards.
- If you have a complaint, please contact us with the details. We have a procedure in place which details how we handle complaints, and this is available upon request. We do not charge for time spent handling complaints and we have eight weeks to consider your complaint. If we have not resolved it within this time you may complain to the Legal Ombudsman.
- If you have a complaint about a member of staff, your complaint will be dealt with by Nicola Clayton. Any complaint against Mrs Clayton personally will be dealt with by Miss Emily Isted. You can expect to receive our letter within two days of us receiving your complaint.
- If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider the complaint. The Legal Ombudsman can be contacted at PO BOX 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ, or by email to email@example.com or by telephone 0300 555 0333. 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, or within 12 months of having first encountered the problem that is the subject of your complaint. Please note that some clients may not have the right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman, for example, most businesses. Any such clients still have a right to complain to us and for assessment of their bill.
- If you are dissatisfied with the level of our fees, you may also have a right to object to the bill in question by applying to the Court for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974 (“the Solicitors Act”). Please note that under the Solicitors Act strict time limits apply so we would recommend that you consider the relevant provisions at the time your complaint arises. The Legal Ombudsman may not deal with a complaint about a bill if you have applied to Court for an assessment of that bill.
- You also have the right to complain about the service provided to you by a barrister. If during the course of your matter you instruct a barrister and you are dissatisfied by the level of service he or she has provided, please let us know and we will advise you on how you can make a complaint.
We value you as a client and hope you would not have any reason to be unhappy with us.
- Unless otherwise agreed, these terms of business apply to all instructions you give us to handle business. On all matters we will require you to sign a Schedule incorporating these terms of business confirming that instruction and who will be acting for you and their rates. All terms and conditions contained herein will apply unless expressly altered so it is important you keep your copy of this document safe.
- Your continuing instructions will amount to your acceptance of these terms of business.
We hope that we have addressed your immediate queries about the day-today handling of your work and our terms of business. If you still have queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.
For your information, our contact details are:
Atkins Dellow LLP
Low Green Barn
Bury St Edmunds Suffolk
Tel: 01284 767766
Fax: 01284 767800