- These terms and conditions set out the terms on which we will act for you and are provided to comply with the client care and quality standards recommended by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and as part of this firm’s commitment to clarity in respect of our fees and standards of service. These terms do not affect the statutory and common law rules governing solicitors’ business although if there is any conflict then these terms will take precedence in so far as this is permitted.
- In these terms “we” and “us” means the firm of Harpers, solicitors and advocates, located at 75
Gray’s Inn Road, Holborn, London WC1X 8TS.
- We are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The rules of the Solicitors Regulation Authority can be found at www.sra.org.uk
Instructions from clients
- You should give, or confirm, your initial instructions to us in writing. You should give us all information and documents relevant to your matter and you must tell us as soon as possible of any changes to your instructions or circumstances so that we can represent your interests as effectively as possible. If you instruct us to act for a company or organisation we will assume that you have authority to do this (unless we are informed to the contrary) though we would expect you to provide adequate evidence of this at the earliest time. If we receive instructions from you, we will deal directly with you. Our scope of acting for you and any advice rendered relates to the specific circumstances in which you are instructing us: thus, you must not rely on it in different circumstances.
Client due diligence
- The law requires solicitors to get satisfactory evidence of the identity of their clients and sometimes people related to them. This is because solicitors who deal with money and property on behalf of their client can be used by criminals wanting to launder money.
- To comply with the law, we need to get evidence of your identity as soon as possible. Our practice is to ask you to produce your passport so that we can make a certified copy of the relevant pages which contain the information on your identity. In addition, we will also require a copy of a recent utility bill or other official document which includes details of your address.
- If you cannot provide us with the specific identification requested, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss other ways to verify your identity.
People responsible for your work
- We will inform you who in the firm is responsible for co-ordinating the work that we do for you and for reviewing our service. If appropriate, he may delegate work to others in the firm. They will discuss major changes in staff beforehand. Delegating work effectively makes sure that people with the right level of expertise and experience do the work as economically as possible. We will keep your case under review and will update you regularly on its progress, as well as keeping in touch with fees that have been incurred or likely to be incurred.
- Unless you instruct us not to we may use emails to contact you or anyone involved in your matter. We cannot guarantee the security of emails or when they will arrive. We are not responsible for any loss or damage caused by emails arriving late, or loss or damage caused by email security being broken. Although we are careful to make sure that our computer systems are free from viruses, we are not responsible for any loss or damage to you or your computer systems which is caused by electronic communication with us.
Estimates and quotations
- When you instruct us, we will try and tell you the likely level of our fees. Unless we tell you otherwise, this will be an estimate only, not a fixed quotation. If you ask for a fixed quotation we will try to provide one, but it may not be possible to predict the amount of time we will need to deal with a matter. You may set an upper limit on costs. We will not do any work that will take our fees over this limit without your permission. If we provide a fixed quotation, this will only apply to the work that we agree in writing at the time. If you then ask us to do extra work, we will charge you for the extra work.
Fees and expenses
- We do not provide services funded by the Legal Aid Board.
- Unless we have informed you in writing that we are working on your matter on a fixed fee, our fees will depend upon how much time we spend dealing with your case.
We record time in units of six minutes: routine letters, emails and telephone attendances which take six minutes or less each are charged at 1/10th of our hourly charge out rate. Timed letters, emails and telephone attendances (i.e. those which take longer than 6 minutes each) are charged at our hourly charge out rate according to the time spent on them. You will also be charged other costs incurred by us on your behalf such as Counsel’s fees, Company Searches and Travel, as well as “out of pocket” costs such as photocopying, postage, long telephone calls and courier fees. VAT is payable and will be due on all professional fees and most other costs.
- The charge out rates of legal staff depends on their experience and seniority and will be reviewed from time to time. We will give you details of the rates of those working for you when you first instruct us. Our fees will take account of the
rates in force when we carry out the work. Our fees may also take into account the factors set out in the Solicitors Remuneration Order 1994 which include the importance and the complexity of the matter, the level of responsibility involved, the value of the transaction or the matter and the urgency with which the work needs to be undertaken.
- If we instruct other lawyers in the UK or elsewhere to act for you, we will choose them carefully and in accordance with your instructions, but we cannot be responsible for their work. We will charge the fees of correspondent lawyers as disbursement.
- If you purchase legal expenses insurance, you will still be responsible for paying our bills, whatever your arrangements with the insurer. You are advised to check as soon as possible to ascertain whether you have any insurance policies which may cover all or part of your legal costs. If so, you should notify the insurer immediately as they will need to confirm cover before accepting liability for your legal costs and any delay in notification may allow the insurer to refuse to accept the claim.
Billing and Payments on account
- If you instruct us on a matter, we will ask you for a payment on account of our costs and/or disbursements. This means that you make a payment to us to cover our interim costs and/or disbursements. We will not pay any interest on payments on account.
- It may be necessary for us to ask for additional monies on account of giving an undertaking, for example in respect of the costs incurred by another party in your matter. This is a promise to pay the amount covered by the undertaking (usually limited to a specific sum) at a given time e.g. on
- By giving us money for an undertaking you give us your irrevocable authority for us to give the undertaking and pay all monies secured by the undertaking. This means that once the other party has incurred costs in reliance on the undertaking, you will not receive this money back.
- We are entitled to refuse to complete any transaction until payment of all monies due has been made to us.
- Any money received on your behalf will be held in our client account. Interest will be calculated and paid to you at the rate set by National Westminster Bank Plc. The period for which interest will be paid normally runs from the date when cleared funds are received by us until the date of payment to you or any third party. The payment of interest to you is subject to an administration charge of £250 plus VAT thereon.
- Our policy is not to accept cash from clients. If notwithstanding this policy you deposit cash directly with our bank, we may decide to charge you for any additional checks we consider are necessary to prove the source of the funds. Where we pay money to you, it will be paid by cheque or bank transfer. It will not be paid in cash or to any third party.
- If you lose your case in a litigation matter the court is likely to order you to pay your opponent’s costs. Even if you win and the court orders the other side to pay your costs, you are unlikely to receive the full amount. You are more likely to receive around 60% to 70% of your costs. Whatever the court orders, you are responsible for paying our bills.
- We will keep confidential information about you confidential. However, the following conditions apply:
- There is no confidentiality between joint clients
- Unless you have told us otherwise, we will assume that we are authorised to reveal information about you to other advisers whom you have instructed on related matters.
- We have a statutory duty, which overrides our duty of client confidentiality, to check and confirm the identity of new clients and to report to the relevant authorities any knowledge or suspicion of money laundering relating to drugs offences or terrorism, and if we make such a disclosure we may not be able to tell you that a disclosure has been made. Also, we may have to stop working on your matters for a period of time and may not be able to tell you why.
- Under the Criminal Justice Act 1933, we may report you to the relevant authorities if we know or suspect you of money laundering or being connected to other serious crime.
Ending your instructions and paying for work
- If you instruct us on a matter we will assume that you want us to complete it. You may, however, end your instructions at any time. We may stop acting for you at any time but will normally do this only if there is a conflict of interest or if you do not pay our fees. If we stop acting for you, or if we cannot complete the matter, we will charge you for all of the work we have done. We will charge extra fees and disbursements for transferring the matter to another advisor if appropriate. We will retain your papers until you have paid all fees and disbursements.
- When we have completed a matter, if you do not want us to return certain papers to you, we will keep them for at least six years. After this we may destroy them at our discretion. If we keep important original documents such as title deeds and wills we will store them in our storage room. Unless we tell you otherwise, there is no charge for this service. We will not destroy important original documents such as title deeds and wills that you ask us to retain for specific purposes; however, you must confirm these
instructions in writing in a timely manner and we may charge for such storage depending upon the volume of the documents, the nature of the matter and the length of time taken.