Terms of Business
These Terms of Business define important aspects of the relationship between Amelius Solicitors and you as our client. Unless agreed in writing by the Practice Manager or a Senior Partner of the firm, all professional work carried out by us will be in accordance with these terms.
1.0 Who we are
1.1 Amelius Solicitors specialise in all areas of civil, such as Housing, Employment, Landlord and Tenant issues, community care and Judicial review work which is dealt with on a private fee paying basis. Any person acting on our behalf does so in their capacity as a solicitor, partner, advisor, employee, trainee or an associate at the firm, and not in any personal capacity. Any action, communication or any advice from them, is taken, sent or given on our behalf.
1.2 All the work undertaken by Amelius Solicitors will normally be carried out by a qualified solicitor and/or litigators. Any work carried out by a volunteer, advisor, caseworker, trainee, paralegal or a fee earner will be done under the instructions or supervision of a qualified solicitor. Should the case-handler not be available when you contact the office, then please leave a message and we will return your call as soon as possible. Your case will have an allocated reference number, which is confirmed in any written communication sent to you (usually in our initial letter to you called the Client Care Letter); Please quote this reference when you telephone the office or in any written correspondence to us.
1.4 Amelius Solicitors is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in the United Kingdom.
2.0 What we will do
2.1 We will handle your affairs on a confidential basis, with due skill, care and diligence and in a timely manner.
2.2 Our Solicitors, employees and associates will only undertake work within their competence. We will work with you to obtain a favourable outcome in any matters that we handle for you but success cannot be guaranteed.
2.3 Amelius Solicitors aim to offer all our clients an efficient and effective service, however should there be any aspect of our service with which you are unhappy and you wish to make a formal complaint then please ask for a copy of our complain procedure.
3.0 Agreed Fee or Hourly Rate
3.1 In certain cases, we may be able to agree a set price quote for a matter. If we agree an agree fee, we will agree this with you and confirm it to you in the Client Care Letter. Where an Agreed Fee quote has been given we reserve the right to vary such quote in the event of a material change in circumstances or your instructions to us. In such circumstances we will seek your consent in advance before any additional costs are incurred exceeding the Agreed Fee quote. We may also request a payment on account which will be set out in the Client Care Letter.
3.2 We take this opportunity to confirm the charges we have agreed for the work we will carry out on your behalf.
3.3 Any disbursement fees (e.g. UKBA fees, Entry Clearance fees, translation fees, interpreting fees) are excluded from our agreed fees. Any postage costs incurred to send the application abroad as well as a UK courier fee or exceptionally heavy items will also attract an additional fee.
3.4 Please note that if disbursements increase for any reason between the date of advice and the date of submission, you will be responsible for the increase of costs.
3.5 If for any reason you wish to terminate instructions before the case is concluded as described as agreed under an Agreed Fee agreement, we will charge you at an hourly rate of £120.00 to £250.00 per hour for the work incurred up to that date (£25.00 per letter and telephone call) and reimburse any monies owed to you, commencing from the date of your initial instructions to us on the matter. Please check the Client Care Letter for the rate applicable in your case. Any disbursements incurred will also be deducted from the payment on account. For the sake of clarification, termination of instruction for this purpose does not include a situation where the case is settled earlier than expected or a favourable result is achieved without having to continue with the proceedings or anticipated procedure in full. In such a scenario, fees will be payable in full.
3.6 If the fees for our services have not been agreed, we will charge our work on an hourly basis. The hourly rates for a particular matter should be discussed with the person dealing with your matter. The agreed Hourly Rate in your case is charged at £161 plus VAT per hour which will include time involved in the preparation of letters written or the perusal of letters received as well as telephone, personal or other attendances together with drafting, perusal and research as may be required. It has also been agreed that the initial meeting will be charged at £0.00.
3.7 Please note that the agreed Hourly Rate fees do not include further work that may need to be carried out once a decision is received. If any further work or disbursements are to be incurred, these will have to be paid separately and are not included in the payment on account. We shall require an initial payment on account to commence your case then send an interim bill of costs once fees reach a limit of £600.00 (and thereafter every £500.00) or every month, whichever is the sooner.
3.8 We may request further monies on account as the case progresses, should further work be necessary. However we will advise you of this before any such work is undertaken.
3.9 Where applicable, we will add VAT to our fees and disbursements. All fees and disbursements are payable in pounds sterling.
4.1 There may be circumstances where it is difficult to know exactly how much professional time will be required to complete a matter, in such a case we will provide you with an estimate of the likely cost of the matter and we will advise you as the matter progresses if the original estimate is likely to be exceeded. We will base our estimate on our appraisal of the matter and our experience of other matters of a similar type but we cannot guarantee that the work will be completed within any estimate given.
4.2 Any estimate is not an agreed fixed fee, is given only as a guide, and should not be regarded as a firm quote.
4.3 Any expenses incurred by us on your behalf will be charged in addition to our fees. If we have provided an estimate or a fixed price quote, this will exclude any expected disbursements but these may vary for reasons beyond our control.
4.3 Unless stated to the contrary, any estimate or fixed price quote is in pounds sterling and is exclusive of VAT.
5.0 Money laundering
5.1 In some cases a matter that we are handling for a client is of such a nature that we must comply with the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, the Terrorism Act 2000, the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 and subsequent or other applicable legislation.
5.2 In such cases we may need to carry out checks on the identity of individuals, companies or the owners of companies, even if we have acted for the client before or the client is known to us personally. If funds are to be transferred we may need to investigate the source or destination of those funds. Where it is appropriate to return funds that we have previously received, either from you or from another source on your behalf, we may refuse to return these to a destination that is different from the source from which they were received. Any costs incurred by us in making such investigations may be charged to you.
5.3 If we need to make a report to a relevant authority to comply with our statutory obligations, we may be required to do this without notifying you. We will not be liable for any loss or damage you may suffer as a result of our compliance with any statutory obligation.
6.0 Payment of our invoices
6.1 Unless otherwise agreed in writing, our invoices are payable in pounds sterling within thirty days of invoice date. Failure by you to pay one or more invoices by the due date in cleared funds may result in us suspending further work on any matter that we are handling on your behalf. That may lead to additional costs being incurred or rights being lost.
6.2 Please ensure that all payments made to us are accompanied by an identification of the invoice and matter concerned i.e. the file reference number. You should ensure that we are notified if funds are being transferred to our bank account, and that the purpose of the payment is clearly identified. If we have asked for a payment prior to taking action, we will require confirmation from our bank that the payment has been credited to our account in cleared funds. If funds are transferred to our bank account in such circumstances but we do not receive advice of payment from our bank, there is a risk that additional charges will be incurred or rights lost.
6.3 We reserve the right to refuse payment in cash of sums exceeding £2,000.
6.4 We may accept payment by credit card. If we accept payment by credit card, a surcharge will be added to the sum payable to cover our costs in providing the credit card facility. You will be notified in advance of this surcharge, and typically it would be 2.5% of the total invoice value or amount paid inclusive of VAT.
6.5 We reserve the right to charge interest on any amount that is overdue for payment as well as any costs or expenses incurred in recovering such amount. The rate of interest shall be 2% per annum above Barclays Bank PLC’s base lending rate from time to time. Such interest shall accrue on a daily basis from the due date until the date of actual payment of the overdue amount, whether or not we start proceedings for recovery of the amount due and before or after judgment in the event of such proceedings. You shall pay the interest immediately on demand by us.
6.6 Notwithstanding clause 6.5, we may in the alternative claim interest at our discretion under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 (as amended). We are entitled to use the statutory rate of interest that applies for the time being. As of 1 January 2010 the statutory rate of interest payable is 8% above the statutory reference rate, which is set twice a year as the Bank of England Base Rate on 31 December and 30 June. In the event that these provisions do not apply by statute to our dealings with you, they shall be deemed to apply and to be incorporated into these Terms of Business.
8.0 Scope of our advice
8.1 Please note that our advice and the action agreed is limited to the matters on which you have specifically instructed us as recorded in the Client Care Letter. Any other issues, whether or not directly related to the subject matter of your instructions are not covered. If there is anything else on which you would like our advice you must let us know.
9.0 What the work Includes
9.1 All agreed standard steps as set out in the Client Care Letter.
10 What the work does not include
10.1 Any non-standard steps including unexpected issues or complexities, further representations, further application, appeal or challenge of the application if refused for any reason.
10.2 Changes in your instructions.
10.2 Delays resulting in unforeseen work.
10.3 If anything like this happens we will speak to you and agree how we move forward
11.0 Identification documents
11.1 We may also require proof of your identification. This should be in the form of a certified copy of your current passport and/or a recent utility bill with proof of address.
12.0 Your obligations
12.1 As our client, you are responsible for payment of all costs in respect of work carried out on your instructions, including our fees and any disbursements incurred by us. Your responsibility extends to ensuring that we are paid on time in cleared funds. If there is any error, theft or fraud that results in the means of payment not coming into our possession, you remain liable even if, as a result, you incur loss.
12.2 Your responsibility for payment of all costs applies even if you, in turn, have a client or third party who does not provide you with funds to pay these costs. If we agree to invoice a third party in respect of work done on your instructions, you will remain liable for all costs in the event of default by the third party.
12.3 You are responsible for any instructions that are sent to us by an employee, partner or officer of yours, or by any consultant, agent or other person from whom we have previously been authorised by you to accept instructions, unless we have received prior written notice not to accept such instructions. If costs are incurred as a result of us acting in good faith on unauthorised instructions, you will remain liable for such costs. We shall not be liable for any loss you may suffer as a result.
12.4 If you wish to abandon a case or to transfer responsibility from us to yourself or to another representative, you must inform us in writing as soon as possible. This is particularly important if we have been requested to keep a case open and we carry out continued or repeat work such as the payment of renewal fees in the absence of instructions from you. You will remain liable for all costs and disbursements until we have received instructions in writing that you wish to abandon or transfer the matter and we have had a reasonable period to implement them.
12.5 You cannot transfer responsibility for payment of our charges to another party, and you will remain liable for our charges regardless of what you may decide to do with any rights we have acquired for you.
12.6 If we agree a fixed fee or an hourly rate fee then the conditional fee arrangements may not apply to you. In such cases your responsibility for payment of all costs applies even if the outcome of a particular manner is unfavourable to you.
13.0 Precautions you should take
13.1 It is your responsibility to check that instructions or other material sent to us by any means, including fax, e-mail, courier and post, has been received and are being acted upon, particularly where deadlines are imminent. You should bear in mind that public holidays may result in disruption to delivery of items by post or by courier or us being able to act on your behalf. We endeavour to divert incoming business e-mails where the person dealing with your matter is absent, but you should request an acknowledgement and monitor the receipt of any communication sent to check that your instructions are being carried out. You should confirm all oral instructions in writing to avoid any misunderstandings. If we communicate by e-mail you accept that e-mail is not a secure form of communication and the contents of an e- mail could be intercepted and read by a third party.
13.2 For so long as we continue to be instructed by you, we will advise you of any due dates for action to be taken. We will endeavour to remind you of these dates but you should keep a record of them yourself. If we have asked you for instructions, information, documents or other material required for action to be taken by a due date, we rely upon you to provide this in a timely manner. If you do not provide the full and correct material in reasonable time for us to comply with a due date, then you will be liable for any additional costs incurred by us for urgent handling of the matter or for obtaining an extension of time if that is possible. We accept no responsibility for the consequences if material is not received or is received so late or is incorrect or insufficient so that we are unable to take the appropriate action before a due date, which may lead to a loss of rights or to surcharges or other fees being levied for late compliance.
13.3 Please notify us promptly if there is any change of name, address, telephone number, fax number, e-mail address or similar information, or if there is a change in the person from whom we should seek instructions. If communications from us do not reach you, rights may be lost and we cannot accept responsibility for any such loss. Please also advise us promptly of any change of ownership of rights. It may be important to record a change of ownership by a due date to ensure that rights can be enforced properly.
14.0 Our files
14.1 Our files in respect of cases that we handle on your behalf are our property. However, we are willing at your expense and on your written instruction to provide you, or somebody acting on your behalf, with access to the files and/or copies of papers from the files, subject to removal of any information that may be confidential, covered by professional privilege, or contains personal data that cannot be disclosed. If it is necessary for original documents to be taken from our files, we reserve the right to take copies at your expense for retention in our files.
14.2 Access to the contents of our files in the above ways is conditional on your account with us being up to date. We are entitled to keep all your papers and documents whilst there is money owed to us on any account. We shall have a lien over all papers as a matter of law, documents, money or other property held on your behalf until all sums due to us are paid in cleared funds.
14.3 We have a file destruction policy which is available to you on request. Unless specific terms are agreed with you regarding the retention of files when cases are no longer current, your files in our possession may be destroyed, in accordance with our policy, without reference to you.
15.0 Transfer of representation
15.1 You are at liberty at any time to transfer responsibility for a matter to yourself or to another professional representative. Additionally, circumstances may arise in which we find ourselves unable or unwilling to act for you, and we will then ask you to take on responsibility for the matter yourself or to nominate another representative. In either case we shall cooperate with you and any replacement representative in order to preserve your interests.
15.2 We reserve the right to charge you for any work we are asked to carry out in connection with transferring responsibility, such as providing schedules and status information and bringing attention to due dates. We also reserve the right to charge you for any work we need to do after the transfer of responsibility, such as forwarding correspondence received by us after the transfer.
15.3 In the event of a transfer of responsibility the provision of files or copies of papers shall be in accordance with Section 14, “Our Files”. In the event that your account is outstanding at the time of the transfer, if we are asked to carry out work in accordance with Clause 14.2 we shall nevertheless endeavour to advise you or your chosen representative about any critical due dates or other critical information that is not available readily from other sources. However, we do not accept responsibility if you are unable to meet any critical due date as a result.
15.4 If you instruct us to copy and give or send your file to you, your representative or any third party then we will require an admin fee of £25.00 plus VAT in advance to cover our administration charges. This charge will apply whether you, your representative, nominated person collect the file or it is sent by post. Where the file is sent by post it will be sent by recorded delivery and a confirmation of receipt will be required. The abovementioned charge is for one copy of file any additional copies will incur extra cost as above. If the file is lost in transit we will require additional admin fees as stated above.
16.1 If you have any concerns regarding our charges this can be raised directly with the fee earner. In the event that you are still dissatisfied you can raise the matter with the practice manager. In the event that we cannot resolve the matter, you may have the right to have our charges reviewed by a Court which is called taxation. The procedure is set out in Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. You may choose to raise this matter with the Legal Ombudsman either in addition to or instead of taxation. If you wish to make a formal complain about our service then please ask for our complain procedure.
17.0 Data protection
17.1 We are registered under the Data Protection Act 1998.
17.2 In order to deal with your affairs, we may store and process information comprising personal data. This personal data will concern you as our client, if you are an individual. The personal data will be entered into our database and /or written records. By accepting these Terms of Business you are giving consent for us to obtain, store and process information about you as our client and are agreeing that we may use the information we hold about you to contact you from time to time to bring to your attention services which may be of benefit to you or to advise you of information such as developments in the law or other news. You have the right to object to direct mailing and you may withhold (or at any future time withdraw) any consent given by you for this purpose by contacting us in writing. We will inform you and seek your prior consent if it becomes necessary for us to supply such personal data to any third parties in connection with our service.
18.1 Advice that we provide to you is for your use only and should not be disclosed to or relied upon by a third party without our prior written approval. We accept no liability to third parties who rely upon advice that we have given to you.
18.2 No employee, associate or consultant of UK Amelius Solicitors will have any personal liability for work undertaken for you.
19.0 Conflicts of interest
19.1 At present there is no evidence that there is any conflict in us acting for you.
19.2 Except with the approval of the parties concerned, we shall not act for a client on a particular matter if, having acted for another client on a conflicting matter, our professional duty to either client may be compromised.
19.3 We do not undertake to work for another client whose general interests may conflict with yours.
19.4 If in the course of acting for you, or in the course of discussions in the context of prospectively acting for you on a matter, we acquire knowledge of you, your affairs or your technology which is confidential or at least has not been widely disseminated to the public, we shall not disclose that knowledge to any other client and we shall not rely upon that knowledge in acting for any other client.
20.0 Acceptance of these terms
20.1 Your continuing instructions amount to your acceptance of these Terms of Business.
20.2 These terms, any other documents referred herein and any correspondence we send to you confirming the services we will provide contain the entire agreement between the parties with respect to its subject matter, supersede all previous agreements and understandings between the parties, exclude any other terms and conditions inconsistent therewith which you might seek to impose even though such other terms and conditions may be submitted in a later document and/or purport to exclude or supersede any terms or conditions inconsistent with them or may be contained in any offer acceptance or counter offer made by you, and may not be modified except by an instrument in writing signed by the duly authorised representatives of the parties.
20.3 Finally, we would draw your attention to the fact that if all or part of the bill remains unpaid, we may be entitled to charge interest. We do not provide a legal aid service which you may or may not be eligible for.
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