Terms of Business – 1 May 2015
All instructions which we accept incorporate these Terms of Business.
“We” “Our” “Us” means BEVIRS Solicitors.
“You” means the Client who has received these Terms of Business
1. How we calculate fees.
Our fees are calculated mainly by reference to the time spent working for you. Different hourly rates may be charged for different types of work, and according to the seniority of the person who handles it for you. You will have received details of the hourly rate applicable. All time spent progressing your files is recorded on our computer system. This may include:
- Meetings with you and perhaps others, telephone calls, e-mails, faxes.
- Instructing third parties on your behalf.
- Legal and factual research.
The charge for our time usually includes the cost of using other resources such as telephones, photocopiers, facsimiles, etc. There may, however, be other factors which will increase our charges such as exceptional urgency, value, complexity or the need to work unsocial hours. VAT is payable on all fees. Our VAT Number is 139247358.
Sometimes we will agree a fixed fee with you.
In addition to our fees, your total bill may include other payments made to third parties on your behalf as work progresses, e.g. Search Fees, Probate Registry Fees, Land Registry Fees known as Disbursements. We normally request payment in advance for expected Disbursements so that we can pay them promptly. Please respond quickly as delay in providing funds may result in delay in dealing with the matter for you. Where Disbursements are relatively small, we may exercise a discretion and make payments without your specific instructions.
For each matter we will give you an estimate of what our fees and disbursements may amount to. If a special charging arrangement has been made we will have written to you to confirm. If you subsequently ask us to undertake additional work, or change your mind and alter earlier instructions, this will almost certainly increase the fees. As the work progresses, we will let you know if it becomes apparent that an estimate will be exceeded for any reason, or if our advice as to the basis of our fees will be affected by any review of our charging rates (which are reviewed annually). If at any stage you are concerned about fees or costs please consult us. An upper limit can be set, at your request or ours, on the amount of fees which may be incurred without further reference to you. We will update you regularly as to fees and Disbursements incurred and estimated fees and Disbursements. Estimates do not include VAT which will be charged on all fees and most Disbursements.
4. Payment Arrangements.
4.1 Property transactions.
We will normally send you our bill just prior to or following the exchange of contracts and payment is required on a purchase prior to completion; and at completion on a sale. If sufficient funds are available on completion, and we have sent you a bill, we will deduct monies due including Disbursements. Interim bills may be raised in some transactions.
4.2 Administration of Estates.
We will normally submit an interim bill at regular stages during the administration, starting with the obtaining of a Grant. The final bill will be prepared when the Estate Accounts are ready for approval.
4.3 Other Work.
If work is completed within a short period of time it will be billed in full upon completion.
4.4 Interim bills.
In some transactions interim bills will be raised at regular intervals as work progresses. They will not necessarily cover all work done, but this will be made clear to you. When sending an interim bill all payments made on account will be shown and we may ask for further funds on account so that we can continue to work on the file.
Payment is due to us on delivery of our bill to you .Interest will be charged on a daily basis at 8% from the date of the bill in cases where payment is not made within 14 days of delivery of the bill .Bills are deemed to be delivered to you on the first working day after the date on the bill.
4.6 Payments on account of fees and disbursements may be requested by us.
4.7 Cheque payments from you will take 4 working days to clear.
4.8 We accept most major Debit and Credit Cards.
All payments by Debit Card and payment of our legal costs and VAT on them by Credit Cards are not subject to a fee. Payments of disbursements by Credit Card attract a fee of 3% of the amount paid plus VAT. If payment of disbursements is made by a card which you tell us is a debit card but is in fact a credit card we will treat the fact that you have made payment by card as your authority to deduct the fee of 3% of the amount paid plus VAT form that card. We will send you a receipted invoice after the payment has been taken.
4.9 Any payments from us to you will be made by cheque or bank transfer. Payments will not be made in cash or to a third party.
5. Payment of our fees by another.
If someone else has agreed to pay or contribute to your legal costs, our bill is nevertheless addressed to and payable by you if the third party does not pay, although normally we will request payment for you. Please note, the third party may not be liable to pay the VAT element if you are VAT registered and able to recover the VAT yourself.
6. Termination of Instructions and Abortive or unpaid work or unpaid bills.
You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time. If we decide to stop acting for you e.g. if you do not pay an interim bill or comply with a request for payment on account we will give you notice in writing and where possible tell you the reason. If work which we have undertaken for you including fixed fee work does not proceed to a conclusion, we will charge only for work done up to the point where the matter proves abortive and for any Disbursements paid on your behalf. Where instructions are terminated before a matter is concluded, again we charge only for work done up to the point of termination. If required, your files and other papers will be released once payment of our bill and any other outstanding bills has been made. In all circumstances where instructions are terminated or we stop acting for you we will be entitled to keep all your files, papers, documents and other property (even if their value exceeds the amount due to us) whilst there is money owing to us for our fees and Disbursements. Your files, documents, property and other papers will be released once payment of our bill and any other outstanding amounts has been made.
7. Your Responsibilities.
You will provide clear, timely and accurate instructions. You will provide all documentation required to complete the transaction in a timely manner.
8. Our Responsibilities.
- We will review your matter regularly.
- We will advise you of any changes in the law which will affect your matter.
- We will advise you of any circumstances/risks of which we are aware or consider to be reasonably foreseeable that could affect the outcome of your matter.
- We will update you by telephone or in writing with progress on your matter regularly.
- We will communicate with you in plain language.
- We will explain to you by telephone or in writing the legal work required as your matter progresses.
- We will regularly update you on the cost of your matter.
- We will update you on whether the likely outcomes still justify the likely costs and risks associated with your matter whenever there is a material change in circumstances.
- We will update you on the likely timescales for each stage of this matter and any important changes in those estimates.
- We will comply with the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority Code of Conduct in force from time to time (you can access this at www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/code-of-conduct)
9.1 How to Complain.
Sometimes Conveyancing / Family / Probate / Company work involves investment. We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority and so may have to refer you to someone who is authorised to provide any necessary advice. However, we can provide certain limited services in relation to investments, provided they are closely linked with the legal services we are providing to you, as we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Any commissions that we receive (from Brokers, Insurance Companies) etc as a result of acting for you will be used to your benefit by being applied towards any outstanding fees. Should commission received exceed fees incurred, we will pay you any balance.
11. Insurance Contracts.
We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. However, we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority 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 Solicitors’ Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority Website at: www.fsa.gov.uk/register. The Law Society of England and Wales is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. The Solicitors’ Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory arm of the Law Society.
12. Interest Policy
Rule 22 of the Solicitors Regulation Authority Accounts Rules 2011 require all Solicitors’ Firms to have a
policy as to payment of interest.
Bevirs’ policy as to payment of interest is :
12.1 We will account to the client for interest earned by Bevirs on monies held for any client if the interest earned exceeds £30 and only to the extent that it exceeds £30.
12.2 The threshold of £30 will be applied on each occasion that we account to the client for interest
12.3 We consider that the £30 threshold represents a fair charge to offset the cost to us in calculating and accounting to our client for interest.
12.4 The rate of interest that we will use to calculate the interest payment will be the rate at which the funds held for that client would have accrued interest if those funds alone had been deposited in the firm’s clients account.
12.5 Clients are reminded that funds invested in the firm’s clients account need to be available for instant access and the rates applicable may well be lower than those available to the clients if those funds had been invested in term accounts or accounts without instant access.
12.6 Where funds are held in a Designated Account we will account to the client for all interest earned on that account.
13. Storage of Deeds and Documents.
We store most completed files for a minimum period of six years after payment of the final bill. After that they will be destroyed without further notice. Wills, Deeds and other Securities which we have agreed to hold in safe-custody will not be destroyed but will be kept in safe-storage.
14. Personal Details.
Please notify us promptly of any change of address or other contact details so as to enable us to stay in touch with you. Some information which you give is recorded on our computer to assist us in running our business efficiently. We may from time to time use the details stored to send information which we think may be of interest to you. Please tell us if you do not want us to do so. Our firm may be subject to audit or quality checks by external firms or organisations. We may also outsource work. This might be for example typing or photocopying or costings, or research and preparation to assist with your matter. Information from your file may therefore be made available in such circumstances. We will always aim to obtain a confidentiality agreement with the third party. We will not be liable for any loss, damage or delay arising out of the firm’s compliance with any statutory or regulatory requirement.
15. Opening Hours.
All of our offices are open from 8.45am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday excluding Public Holidays.
16. Communication between you and us.
We will aim to communicate with you by such method as you may request. We may need to virus check disks or e-mail. Unless you withdraw consent we will communicate with you and others when appropriate by e-mail or fax but cannot be responsible for the security of correspondence and documents sent by e-mail or fax. If two or more Clients instruct us jointly it is on the basis that we are authorised to accept instructions from either, both or any of them.
17. Limited Companies.
When accepting instructions on behalf of a Limited Company we may require a Director and / or Controlling Shareholder to sign a form of Personal Guarantee in respect of the fees and Disbursements. If such a request is refused we will be entitled to stop acting and to require immediate payment of our fees on an hourly basis and Disbursements as set out earlier.
18. Tax Advice.
Any work we do for you may involve tax implications or necessitate the consideration of tax planning strategies. We may not be qualified to advise you on the tax implications of the transaction that you instruct us to carry out or the likelihood of them arising. If you have any concerns in this respect please raise them with us immediately. If we can undertake the research necessary to resolve the issue we will do so and advise you accordingly. If we cannot we may be able to identify a source of assistance for you or it may be appropriate for you to refer the matter to your own Accountant.
19. Identity and disclosure requirements and Credit Checks
19.1 We are entitled to refuse to act for you if you fail to provide appropriate proof of identity for yourself or any principal for who you may represent. Solicitors are under a professional and legal obligation to keep the affairs of the Client confidential. This obligation, however, is subject to a statutory exception: legislation on money laundering and terrorist financing has placed solicitors under a legal duty in certain circumstances to disclose information to the National Crime Agency. Where a solicitor knows or suspects that a transaction on behalf of a Client involves money laundering, the solicitor may be required to make a disclosure. If, while we are acting for you, it becomes necessary to make such a disclosure, we may not be able to inform you that it has been made, or of the reasons for it, because the law prohibits “tipping-off”. Where the law permits us, we will tell you about any potential money laundering problem and explain what action we may need to take.
19.2 Credit Checks – By continuing to instruct us and thereby accepting these Terms you agree to us carrying out electronic verification of identity and credit checks if we deem it appropriate.
20. Equality and Diversity.
BEVIRS is committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of its dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our equality and diversity policy. Bevir’s data is registered with the Solicitors Regulation Authority and is published on our website.
21. Data Protection.
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 and legal and regulatory compliance. Our use of that information is subject to your instructions, the Data Protection Act 1998 and our duty of confidentiality. Please note that our work for you may require us to give information to third parties such as expert witnesses and other professional advisers. You have a right of access under data protection legislation to the personal data that we hold about you. We may from time to time send you information which we think might be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive that information please notify our office in writing.
22. Quality Standards.
The firm has been awarded several quality standards and will be working towards more .As part of this we are subject to periodic checks by outside assessors .This could mean that your file is selected for checking. The Auditor is required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your file. If you prefer to withhold consent work on your file will not be affected in any way. We will assume unless you indicate otherwise that you consent to your file being available for audit in this way. This will apply to all matter we carry out for you in the future. If at any time you wish to withdraw consent on a particular matter please let us know and we will mark the file as “not to be inspected”.
23. CANCELLATION RIGHTS FOR CLIENTS WHO ARE NOT A BUSINESS AND DO NOT INSTRUCT US AT OUR OFFICES
Right to cancel
If you are not a business and have instructed us over the telephone or at a place which is not one of our offices then you have the right to cancel this contract within 14 days without giving any reason.
As you have the right to cancel if you want us to start work in the cancellation period you must write to us to say so.
If you ask us to start work in the cancellation period and then still cancel the contract we will be entitled to be paid for the work we have done up to the date of cancellation
The cancellation period will expire after 14 days from the day you receive our Engagement Letter and these Terms of Business (together they are our contract with you).
To exercise the right to cancel, you must inform us Bevirs Solicitors in writing (This can be sent to any of our offices: Bevirs Solicitors 36 Regent Circus Swindon Wiltshire SN1 1UQ or Bevirs Solicitors 141 High Street Royal Wootton Bassett Swindon Wiltshire SN4 7AX or Bevirs Solicitors 3 Market Hill Calne Wiltshire SN11 0EG) of your decision to cancel this contract by a clear statement. You can send it by post to any office or by fax or e mail to the person who sent the engagement letter to you. Their fax and e mail details will be on the Engagement letter sent to you. (e.g. a letter sent by post, fax or e-mail). You may use the attached model cancellation form, 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 contract, we will reimburse to you all payments received from you, including the costs of delivery (except for the supplementary costs arising if you chose a type of delivery other than the least expensive type of standard delivery offered by us).
We will make the reimbursement without undue delay, and not later than –
(a) 14 days after the day we receive back from you any goods supplied, or
(b) (if earlier) 14 days after the day you provide evidence that you have returned the goods, or
(c) if there were no goods supplied, 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.
If you requested to begin the performance of services during the cancellation period, you shall pay us an amount which is in proportion to what has been performed until you have communicated us your cancellation from this contract, in comparison with the full coverage of the contract.
Continuing to instruct us after delivery of these Terms is your acceptance of these Terms
Authorised and Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority
SRA Numbers: Swindon 00063410,Royal Wootton Bassett 00063411, Calne 00063413