Client Care - General Information for Clients
This document sets out general information about my legal practice which I hope will help you to get the best service from me and help me to work as effectively as possible for you. Please read it carefully and let me know straightaway if you have any doubts or queries, as it will form the contractual basis of our relationship as between solicitor and Client.
1. Aims and objects
My aim is to provide you with a good-quality service at a reasonable cost. I will do my best to represent your best interests and will maintain full confidentiality at all times. I will keep you regularly informed as to the progress of the matter and will deal with all queries as promptly as I can, and will always try to return telephone calls the same day.
2. Contact details and business hours
As a sole practitioner I will have the conduct of your matter personally and my address and telephone number and other contact details are set out above and are printed on my notepaper. If I am unavailable when you call please leave a message and I will contact you in response as soon as I can. My normal business hours are between 10 am and 4 pm each weekday but I have no objection to being contacted during the early evenings or at weekends if this is more convenient for you.
3. Professional indemnity
I am insured against professional liability, which means that you are fully covered for claims arising out of your matter or transaction. Detaiils of my insurance cover will be sent to you should you so wish.
4. Proof of identity
It is a legal requirement under Money Laundering Regulations that any new Client will be asked to provide proof of his/her identity and address. My usual practice is to ask for production of your passport or driving licence and a utility bill. These will be photocopied and returned to you.
5.1 I hope that you will never have any reason to complain about the standard of service you receive from my practice. However should you feel dissatisfied please let me know and I will do whatever I can to address any problem or difficulty. This includes any concerns you may have about any bill which I have sent to you.
5.2 Any complaint which cannot be resolved informally may be pursued under my written Complaints Handling Policy, a copy of which will be sent to you on request. This includes provision for your complaint to be referred to another local solicitor who will be asked to to investigate your complaint and report to both of us with his/her findings and recommendations.
5.3 In the last resort you have the right to pursue any complaint, including any complaint about a bill, with the Legal Ombudsman (tel. 0300 555033, website address www.legalombudsman.org.uk)
6. Storage of papers and deeds
Following the conclusion of your matter I will retain your file of papers for a period of at least six years, after which I have the right to destroy the file. This does not apply to title deeds or other important documents which I will store for as long as I continue to act for you, after which I will return them to you. All storage is normally free of charge although I reserve the right to make an administration charge for retrieval of old files which have been plaved in long-term storage.
7. Termination of instructions
You may terminate your instructions to me in writing at any time and for any reason. I reserve the right to cease acting for you if any fee invoice remains unpaid for more than three months. In any case where I cease to act, I am entitled to keep all the papers and documents on your file for so long as any money remains due and owing in respect of unpaid fees.
8. Costs and charges
8.1 My fees are calculated according to the time spent in dealing with the matter, charged at my usual charging rate which is currently £200 per hour. All attendances are time-recorded on the basis of six-minute units (one-tenth of an hour) including meetings, drafting and perusing documents, letters, emails and telephone calls. Travel is charged at the lesser rate of £100 per hour plus a mileage charge of 40p per mile.
8.2 These rates will be reviewed from time to time. I will give you at least one month's prior written notice of any change.
8.3 These conditions do not apply to any matter in respect of which a fixed fee is agreed at the outset or at any stage. In such cases only the agreed fixed fee will be charged.
9. Invoicing arrangements
Normally I invoice my clients at the end of the matter, although in litigation matters I will also in most cases submit interim bills for costs incurred at periodic intervals as the matter proceeds, either on a monthly or quarterly basis as we may agree between us. Such interim bills are regarded as final bills for work carried out during the period covered by the bill. Each invoice will be accompanied by a copy of my file timesheet in order to provide a breakdown of the time spent on the matter and to give you an opportunity of raising any queries.
10. Payment requirements
Payment of any invoice is required within one calendar month of the date on which the invoice is sent to you. The right is reserved to charge interest on any unpaid amount at the recommended Law Society rate (currently 8% per annum) on a daily basis if you do not pay within this time.
If any disbursement becomes necessary during the course of the matter (for example a Court fee or a fee payable to Counsel, a surveyor or other professional instructed on your behalf) you will normally be asked to provide a payment equivalent to the amount payable. Disbursements will only be incurred with your agreement and, if such payment is requiested, after it has been received unless we agree otherwise.
12. Instalments and Standing Orders
If you need time to pay any invoice I will usually agree to payment being made by monthly instalments, provided that we agree the monthly amount to be paid and that payment is made by bankerís standing order. In such cases I will provide you with the necessary bank mandate form for completion. If the payment period is likely to be more than three months the right is reserved to charge interest in addition at the rate referred to in paragraph 10 above.
13. Litigation costs and Court orders
13.1 It is important that you understand that in all cases, you will be responsible for paying your own legal costs, even if you are pursuing a claim for costs against your opponent in any litigation. This applies even if you become entitled, either by agreement or by Court Order, to recover your costs (or a contribution towards them) from the other party. In such cases you may recover some or even most of your expenditure but it is unlikely that you will recover all of it. I will advise further as to this as and when the need arises.
13.2 If you are unsuccessful in any Court proceedings you may be ordered to pay or contribute towards the other party's costs. The amount payable will normally be assessed by the Court and is likely to be reduced to some extent, but it would be payable by you in addition to your own costs and disbursements.
14. Legal expenses insurance cover
You may have insurance that will cover your legal and other professional costs and disbursements in relation to the matter. Alternatively it may be possible to obtain such insurance. You are strongly advised to check whether you have any property or other insurance policies which include or may include cover of this kind.
Crown Passage, 23 High Street,