“Boyd Carter Solicitors & Mediators” (SRA:00598480) is a trading name of “Albin & Co Ltd” (Co:8355111) whose Registered Office is at 46A West Street, Reading, Berkshire RG1 1TZ from where the Company also trades as Albin & Co Solicitors (SRA:00591646).
We set out below details of our Terms and Conditions of Business which apply to work that involves, or may involve, Court or Tribunal proceedings: If you are unclear about any part of the following please contact us for an explanation. These terms and conditions together with your client care letter contain the entire agreement between us.
1. OUR HOURS OF BUSINESS Our offices are normally open to the public and clients between 9.00am and 5.30pm Monday to Thursday and until 5.00pm on Fridays. Appointments can be made for other times by prior arrangement. Our telephone lines are open during office hours. Messages can be left on voicemail outside of those hours and when the telephone lines are busy.
2. PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR WORK
2.1. The people responsible for carrying out the work for you will be set out in our client care letter. Where it is appropriate to do so, elements of your work may be delegated to other staff in the firm so that your work can be carried out as economically as possible and from time to time we may arrange for some aspects of your work to be carried out by persons not directly employed by us.
2.2. 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 is necessary.
3. CHARGES AND EXPENSES
3.1. Details about our likely charges or, where possible, an estimate, are set out in our client care letter. Estimates are based on information available to us at the time they are given and are not binding. If it appears that the amount set out in any estimate is likely to be exceeded through reasons outside of our control, we will explain these reasons and discuss the situation with you as soon as is practicable and try to agree a revised figure with you. If this cannot be agreed, we reserve the right to stop acting for you further. Below is some general information about how our charges are calculated.
3.2. Unless we have agreed a “fixed fee” for the work to be done for you, our charges will be calculated mainly by reference to the time actually spent doing the work on your behalf (using 6 minute units). This will include meetings with you and perhaps others, reading and working on papers, researching the law, drafting and checking documents, correspondence we write and receive including emails and faxes, making and receiving telephone calls, preparation of any detailed costs calculations and time spent travelling away from the office when this is necessary and, where appropriate, time spent at Court.
3.3. Routine letters, faxes and emails are charged as 6 minute units of time, whilst letters taking longer to prepare will be charged according to the time spent (using 6 minute units). We charge for the time spent on making and taking telephone calls in 6 minute units and considering incoming letters as half-units of 3 minutes per page.
3.4. The current hourly rates are set out in your client care letter. We will add VAT to these at the rate that applies when the work is done. At present, VAT is 20%. If the VAT rate changes during the currency of your matter then it may be necessary to recalculate some or all of the VAT on some or all of the work done for you including any carried out in the period before such VAT rate change and in that event you will be responsible for payment to us of any additional VAT howsoever calculated. The hourly rates include incidental expenses such as routine photocopying and postage but extra charges will need to be made for large amounts of copying or collating, excess postage and courier services. We will inform you, wherever possible in advance, if the need for extra charges is likely to arise in your case.
3.5. Where work is carried out on our behalf by persons not directly employed by us, you will be charged at the hourly rates set out in your client care letter as if we had done the work even if the cost to us is greater. If you do not want any work on your file to be outsourced please let us know as soon as possible. This may affect the fees chargeable for our work for you and any estimates previously given.
3.6. The hourly rates have to be reviewed periodically to reflect increases in overhead costs and inflation. Normally the rates are reviewed with effect from 5th January in each year. If a review is carried out before your matter has been concluded, we will inform you of any variation in the rate before it takes effect. If you object to the revised rates we reserve the right to stop acting for you further.
3.7. Travelling expenses by car will be charged at the rate of £0.85 per mile plus any parking fees. If travel is by public transport then actual fees incurred will be charged. VAT is chargeable on some of these expenses.
3.8. In some cases involving particular complexity or requiring specialist expertise, an additional charge to that specified in your client care letter may be made. This is calculated on the basis of time spent. In addition to the time spent, we may take into account a number of factors including any need to carry out work outside our normal office hours, the complexity of the issues, the speed at which action has to be taken and any particularly specialist expertise that your case may demand. 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 that we have quoted. Where a charge reflecting any value element is to be added, we will usually explain this to you in advance of higher rates being applied to your case.
3.9. Solicitors have to pay out various other expenses on behalf of clients such as court fees, barristers’ fees, experts’ fees etc. We have no obligation to you to make such payments unless we have agreed in writing to do so or you have provided us with the funds for that purpose. VAT is payable on certain expenses. We refer to such payments generally as ‘disbursements’. Unless directed by a Court or tribunal to incur an expense, we will, where possible, first obtain your approval to these expenses. We will usually require a payment in advance from you in respect of any disbursements payable on your transactions. If you fail to provide on time cleared funds that we have requested from you, we reserve the right not to make any payments on your behalf and/or not to proceed further with your transaction until we have received such cleared funds from you.
3.10. It is normal practice to ask clients to pay sums of money from time to time on account of the charges and expenses that 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 that are being incurred. If such requests are not met with prompt payment, delay in the progress of a case may result. In the event of any bill or request for payment not being met, we reserve the right to stop acting for you further.
3.11. If, for any reason, this matter does not proceed to completion, we will be entitled to charge you expenses and for work done calculated in accordance with the charging basis for your case.
3.12. Where we act for you under a Conditional Fee Agreement (“CFA”) and you win the case (as set out in your CFA document) we will be entitled to a success fee in addition to our base costs.
3.13. Where we are acting for you under the Civil Legal Help and Advice Scheme or a Civil Legal Aid Certificate then our hourly charging rate will be that set by the Legal Aid Agency (“LAA”) from time to time. This will usually be set out in your client care letter. In some cases, the LAA will make payment to us of a fixed fee rather than make payment at an hourly rate. It is agreed in such cases that such payment will constitute our fee for your matter.
3.14. Where you instruct us jointly with one or more other persons you all specifically agree to us acting, at our discretion, on instructions provided by any one or more of you unless otherwise agreed by us in writing. In such cases you will each be jointly and severally responsible for the payment of all of our charges and expenses, irrespective of who we deal with on a day to day basis.
3.15. When we are instructed by or on behalf of a company we will usually seek a guarantee from one or more directors who will personally be responsible for our fees and expenses, jointly and severally with each other if more than one and with the Company. Please also see Section 10 below.
4. COURT ORDERS
4.1. If you are successful and a court or tribunal orders another party to pay some or all of your charges and expenses, interest on them can be claimed from the other party from the date of the court or tribunal order. You agree that we are entitled to all of that interest.
4.2. It is important that you understand that in some circumstances, the other party may not be required to pay any or all of the charges and expenses that you incur with us. You have to pay our charges and expenses in the first place and any amounts that are recovered from the other party will be a contribution towards them. The other party may not be liable to pay the VAT element of your costs if you are able to recover the VAT yourself.
4.3. You will also be responsible for paying our charges and expenses of seeking to recover any costs that the court or tribunal orders the other party to pay to you.
4.4. If you are involved in a Court or tribunal case, there are risks that you may need to make applications, you may lose the case or lose applications along the way and as a result you may be ordered to pay some or all of another party’s legal charges and expenses irrespective of the outcome of the case or application. Those charges would be payable by you in addition to our charges and expenses. This risk can often be insured against and we have discussed with you whether you already have insurance in place and where you have not, whether after the event insurance is available for your type of case.
4.5. In some cases where you may be required to pay the costs of another party you will not be able to claim back any VAT due on that party’s bill even if you are registered for VAT yourself.
5. PAYMENT ARRANGEMENTS
5.1. Payment is due to us within one month from delivery of our bill and if not paid within that time interest will be charged from the date payment fell due at 1.5% of the amount outstanding for each month or part of any month where payment remains overdue and an administration charge of £25.00 + VAT shall immediately become payable.
5.2. The law entitles us to retain any money, papers or other property belonging to you that properly come into our possession pending payment of our costs, whether or not the item is acquired in connection with the matter for which the 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 items, other than money, even if the value of it greatly exceeds the amount due to us in respect of costs.
5.3. If we are conducting litigation for you, we have additional rights in any property recovered or preserved for you whether it is in our possession or not and in respect of all costs incurred, whether billed or unbilled. We also have a right to ask the court to make a charging order in our favour for any assessed costs.
5.4. If during your matter we receive damages or other payments on your behalf you agree to these funds being immediately applied towards payment of any outstanding bill or paid disbursement in relation to your matter or to create a reserve for such costs and disbursements due within the following few weeks, unless otherwise agreed with you in writing.
5.5. Where your work is funded by the LAA our charges and expenses may be paid by the LAA on your behalf. However, should your Civil Legal Aid be revoked or discharged at any time, we reserve the right to cease acting for you further until an alternative funding arrangement has been agreed. In addition in those circumstances, you may become liable to us or to the LAA for some or all of the costs incurred in your case.
5.6. We can accept only a maximum of £500.00 in cash unless our fees and disbursements are being paid. If you try to avoid this policy by depositing cash directly with our bank, we may charge you for any additional checks we decide are necessary to prove the source of the funds and for the time such process takes at our usual rates for your matter in addition to an administration fee of £25.00 + VAT which shall become immediately payable by you.
5.7. We can accept payment of our charges and expenses by credit or debit card either in person at or by telephone to the Company’s Registered Office in Reading, Tel: 0118 957 4018. We can provide you with our bank details in the event that you wish to arrange for payment to be made to us electronically or via your internet or telephone banking service.
5.8. If money is paid or received by electronic transfer a fee for the service will be charged that will be subject to VAT at the rate applicable at the date of that transaction.
5.9. If any payment made to us by you is not honoured you will be liable for any and all charges that our bankers make to us in that regard, as well as an administration fee of £25.00 that will be subject to VAT at the rate applicable at the date of that transaction, and we will notify you of the total amount of those charges in writing. Any payment made to us by cheque will be subject to 5 working days’ clearance.
5.10. If you have any queries concerning your bill you must notify us in writing within one month of the bill being delivered to you. If no query or challenge is made within that time the bill will be treated as approved and you agree to not dispute the bill or the sums claimed in it thereafter.
5.11. We cannot pay money due to you in cash or to any third party. Money will be paid by cheque or, if you request it, by bank transfer in which case the additional fee described at 5.8 above will be payable by you and deducted from the sum being paid to you.
5.12. We will not be liable to repay or credit you with monies lost through any banking failure.
5.13. If you instruct us on a fixed fee basis the whole of the fixed fee becomes payable immediately upon instructing us subject only to your rights of cancellation as set out at section 9 below.
6. INTEREST PAYMENTS
6.1 Any money received on your behalf, other than money due to us for our fees and disbursements, will be held in our Client Account until utilised. Under Rule 22 of the SRA Accounts Rules, there is a requirement that where money is held on a client account, any interest accrued should be paid to that account, subject to certain minimum amounts and periods of time. However, under Rule 25, Albin & Co Ltd contract out of that requirement and therefore, no interest will be paid to any client where money is held on account. Should you wish to see our policy on this matter, then please do not hesitate to contact Chris Albin.
6.2 In any event, by this agreement you authorise us to set off any interest otherwise due to you in respect of money held in client account against monies otherwise due to us from you.
7. STORAGE OF PAPERS AND DOCUMENTS
7.1. 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. In addition, we will either keep our file of your papers, save for any papers that you ask us to return to you, in storage or arrange for the file to be scanned and held electronically, in either case for not less than 6 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 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. You should keep us informed of your current address in all cases where we hold Wills, Deeds or other securities for you in case we need to contact you. Our charge for storage in safe custody will be payable at the rate of £25 + VAT per 5 year period or part thereof and is payable in advance. Prior notice in writing will be given to you at your last known address of any change to those charges to be made from a future date that will be specified in that notice.
7.2. If we retrieve papers or documents from storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act in connection with your affairs, we may charge for such retrieval. We may also make an additional charge based on time spent for producing stored papers or documents to you or another at your request. We may also charge for reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions such charges to be calculated in accordance with our rates applicable at the time of carrying out such further work.
8. INSURANCE CONTRACTS & FINANCIAL ADVICE
8.1 We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”). However, we are included on the register maintained by the FSA 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 Legal Ombudsman (“LeO”) and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (“SRA”) respectively. The register can be accessed via the FCA website at: www.fca.org.uk/register.
8.2 We are not authorised by the FCA to provide financial advice. If while we are acting for you, you need advice on investments, we may refer you to someone who is authorised to provide the necessary advice or suggest that you take appropriate steps to identify such a provider and obtain appropriate advice direct. Eventhough we are permitted to provide certain limited investment advice services where these are closely related to the legal work we are doing for you because we are members of the Law Society of England and Wales which is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, it is our policy not to offer any financial advice to clients.
9.1. 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 and if you are involved in a Court or tribunal case you will also need to notify all of the other parties and the Court or tribunal in writing otherwise we will need to make an application to the Court or tribunal and charge you for doing so in accordance with our rates applicable at the time of carrying out such further work. If your case is Publicly Funded then this provision will be modified as set out in your Client Care letter.
9.2. If we are acting for you on a fixed fee basis and you terminate your instructions, you will be still be liable to pay us the whole of the agreed fixed fee and any expenses incurred.
9.3. If we decide to stop acting for you, for example if you do not pay an interim bill or comply with a request for a payment on account, we will, whenever possible, tell you the reason and give you notice in writing. We will then send you a bill for the work done and our expenses in accordance with the charging basis for your matter or as otherwise agreed in writing.
9.4. We will be released from our obligation to carry out your instructions in the event of a national or local emergency, war, act of terrorism or any other cause beyond our reasonable control that renders it impossible for us to perform our professional services. In such circumstances, all monies due from you to us and from us to you, to be set off as appropriate, will become payable immediately.
9.5. Under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, where you are a ‘consumer’ (that is you are not instructing us in the course of your business) and we have not met with you, you have the right to cancel your instructions, without charge, within 14 days of receipt of this document.
9.6. Under the Cancellation of Contracts made in a Consumer’s Home or Place of Work etc Regulations 2008, where you are a ‘consumer’ and the contract between us is made either during a visit to your home or place of work or during a visit to the home of another individual or during an excursion that we have organised and that took place away from our business premises or after an offer made by you during such a visit or excursion, you have the right to cancel your instructions, without charge, for 14 days from the day you receive notice of your cancellation rights.
9.7. Where 9.5 or 9.6 apply and you seek to withdraw instructions, the Consumer Contract Regulations 2013 apply.
9.8. Right to Cancel – You have the right to cancel this contract within 14 days without giving any reason. The cancellation period will expire after 14 days from the day of the conclusion of the contract.
9.9. To exercise the right to cancel, you must inform us: Boyd Carter Solicitors & Mediators, Twyford House, 6A Rayne Road, Braintree, Essex CM7 2QH Tel: 01376 555000 Fax: 01376 359207 Email: email@example.com of your decision to cancel this contract by a clear statement (e.g. a letter sent by post, fax or e-mail). You may use the model cancellation form set out at the end of this document, 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.
9.10. Request to carry out work in the cancellation period – Consequently, we are unable to carry out any work for you prior to the expiry of the cancellation period unless you provide your authority for us to do so. You may do this by completing the Request form at the end of this document or by sending us an email, letter or fax to the address set out at para 9.9 above. If para 9.5 above applies, then you can make this request by telephone.
9.11. If you would like us to start work on your matter within the next seven working days please sign these terms and conditions and tick the box marked “Commence work now” and return this document and the copy of your client care letter to this firm by post, fax or by hand but please note that we will be unable to commence work until this documentation has been received by us.
9.12. Effects of cancellation. If you cancel this contract, we will reimburse to you all payments received from you. We will make the reimbursement without undue delay, and not later than 14 days after the day on which we are informed about your decision to cancel this contract. We will make the reimbursement using the same means of payment as you used for the initial transaction, unless you have expressly agreed otherwise; in any event, you will not incur any fees as a result of the reimbursement.
9.13. If you requested that we begin the performance of services during the cancellation period, you shall pay to us an amount which is in proportion to what has been performed until you have communicated to us your cancellation from this contract, in comparison with the full coverage of the contract.
9.14. You lose your right to cancel the contract if the service has been fully performed at your request and you acknowledge that you will lose your right to cancel once the contract had been completed.
9.15. If we are acting for you under Legal Aid, you do not have this right of cancellation. However, you may terminate your instructions pursuant to paragraph 9.1 herein but you must be aware that re-applying for Legal Aid for the same issue might be difficult if you do terminate our instructions rather than seeking to transfer your instructions to another firm that is willing to act for you under a Legal Aid Contract with the Legal Aid Agency.
10. LIMITED COMPANIES When acting on behalf of a limited company, we may at any time require one or more Directors and/or controlling shareholders to sign our Terms and Conditions of Business and a form of personal guarantee in respect of the charges and expenses of this firm. If such a request is refused, we will be entitled to stop acting and to require immediate payment of our charges and expenses as set out earlier.
11. TAX ADVICE AND CONVEYANCING
11.1 Any work that we do for you may involve tax implications or necessitate the consideration of tax planning strategies. We are not and do not hold ourselves out in any way as being qualified to advise you on the tax implications of a course of action that you instruct us to carry out and we will not be responsible for tax advice unless we have agreed specifically in writing to provide it.
11.2 We do not conduct conveyancing work but can provide you with details of firms that do.
12. IDENTITY AND DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS & MONEY LAUNDERING
12.1. Money Laundering Regulations require us to obtain information about a client’s identity and to verify that information. We are entitled to refuse to act for you if you fail to supply to us, when requested to do so, appropriate proof of identity and address for yourself or for any principal whom you may represent.
12.2. Solicitors are under a professional and legal obligation to keep their clients’ affairs confidential. However, there is an important exception to this. Under legislation solicitors have a duty in certain circumstances to disclose information to the National Crime Agency. Where a solicitor knows or suspects that a transaction involves money laundering or terrorist financing, the solicitor may be required to disclose this to that Agency without telling the client either that a disclosure has been made or the reasons for it. We may have to stop working on your matter for a period of time and may not be able to tell you why.
12.3. 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 arising out of our compliance with any statutory or regulatory requirement in this or any other regard or for any delay occasioned by such compliance or mistaken compliance.
13. QUALITY CONTROL & PROFESSIONAL REQUIREMENTS
13.1 As part of our commitment to providing a quality service we may be required to produce your file to an external assessor as part of an audit or quality check. Similarly, we may need to produce your file to the LAA, the LeO, the SRA, or the successors of such organisations, or to our professional indemnity insurers. Those organisations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files. We will assume that you consent to this for this and all future matters which we conduct on your behalf unless you notify us to the contrary.
13.2 Albin & Co Ltd holds a policy of insurance with Axis SE that complies with the standards set by the SRA.
13.3 We are authorised and regulated by the SRA in the name “Albin & Co Ltd” and in Braintree the company trades as Boyd Carter Solicitors & Mediators” with the entity number: 00598480. You can access the SRA’s Code of Conduct at: www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/code-of-conduct.page
14 DATA Your data is protected by the rules and regulations under GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). We have prepared a detailed document called the Privacy Notice, which explains why we hold data, the justification for doing so and your rights concerning your data. A copy of the Privacy Notice will be included with your Client care letter. Alternatively it can be accessed on our website www.albinandco.co.uk
15.1 Our aim is to offer all our clients an efficient and effective service at all times. We hope that you will be pleased with the work we do for you. However, should there be any aspect of our service with which you are unhappy, please raise your concern with Boyd Carter.
15.2 We will aim to communicate with you by such a method as you may request. We may need to virus check discs or email. Unless you withdraw consent, we will communicate with you and others when appropriate by email or fax but we cannot be responsible for the security of correspondence and documents sent by email or fax.
15.3 In the event that you have any complaint about the work that we carry out for you we would request that you make such known to Chris Albin on 0118 957 4018 or write to him at Albin & Co Solicitors, 46a West Street, Reading, RG1 1TZ or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be aware that any complaint to the Ombudsman must usually be made within 6 months of your receipt from us of a final written response, or within 6 years from the date of act/omission about which you are complaining or 3 years from when the complainant should have known about the complaint. The Legal Ombudsman will not accept complaints where the act or date of awareness is prior to 6th October 2010. Full details can be found at: www.legalombudsman.org.uk.
16 COMPLAINTS We are confident that Albin & Co. will provide you with first class advice and representation. If however you feel that in any way dissatisfied with the service you have received, please initially contact the fee-earner with conduct of your case to see if it can be resolved. We are committed to providing the very best quality legal advice and client care. We strive to provide all of our clients with an efficient and effective service. If you wish to discuss how your service could have been improved please contact Chris Albin who is the partner responsible for complaints resolution on 0118 957 4018 or E-mail email@example.com or alternatively write to him at Albin & Co. 46a West Street, Reading, RG1 1TZ. We have a procedure in the event of a complaint being made and will provide you with all relevant information immediately. We are permitted eight weeks to consider your grievance. If we are unable to resolve the problem with you, you may ask the Legal Ombudsman to deal with the complaint. The Legal Ombudsman can be contacted at : PO BOX 6806 Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ www.legalombudsman.org.uk T. 0300 550300 The Ombudsman’s office will decide whether they are able to deal with the referral and will check that the referral is made within 6 months from our response to the complaint or that it is made within 6 years of the act or omission complained of or that it was made within 3 years from the date of you knowing of it or that exceptional circumstances exist.
17.1 Unless you notify us immediately in writing upon your receipt of this document or as otherwise agreed by us in writing, your continuing instructions in this matter will amount to an acceptance of all of our Terms and Conditions of Business.
17.2 These Terms and Conditions shall also apply to any instructions for a new or separate matter received from you in the future, unless we notify you to the contrary.
17.3 The failure by us to enforce at any time or for any period any one or more of these Terms of Business shall not be a waiver of them or any of them or of our right to enforce them or all of them at any subsequent time.
17.4 If any provision of these Terms of Business shall be unenforceable for whatever reason then the same shall be severed in so far as is required and the remainder shall continue to be effective without further modification in so far as is practicable.
17.5 The contract between us shall be governed by the laws of England and Wales irrespective of your place of residence and you agree to submit any dispute to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Courts of England and Wales and, in particular, any dispute not exceeding the value of £50,000, to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Chelmsford County Court.
18. YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES You agree to provide us with clear, timely, truthful and accurate instructions. You will provide all documentation needed to complete a matter in a timely manner. You will safeguard any documentation, including electronic documentation, which is likely to be required to be disclosed in dispute resolution or litigation. I confirm that I have read, understood and accept these Terms and Conditions of Business.