H&R Hughes Solicitors LLP

Putting Your Interests First

Heathfield: 01435 890 101

27a High Street, Heathfield, TN21 8JR

TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS



1. Introduction

2. Our Aim

3. Hours of Business

4. People Responsible for Your Work

5. Costs and Expenses

6. Termination

7. Limited Companies and LLP

8. Tax Advice

9. Identity, Money Laundering, Disclosure, Confidentiality

10. Conduct of Your Case, Complaints and Communications Between Us

11. Equality

12. Limitation of Liability

13. Applicable Law

14. Terms and Conditions of Business for Future Matters and Acceptance by you of these Terms


  1. INTRODUCTION

In these Terms

We” means H & R Hughes Solicitors LLP.

Partners” means the members of our LLP.

You” means you, our client.


The Services we provide and your contract for those services is with our LLP and not with any individual partner, or employee of ours.


We are regulated and authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under SRA Number 508156. The SRA is the independent regulatory body of the Law Society operating in the UK.


2. OUR AIM

We are committed to providing all of our clients with quality legal advice at a fair price and to do our very best to look after your interests.


3. HOURS OF BUSINESS

Our normal opening hours are 8.30am – 5pm, Mondays – Fridays. (Evenings and weekends where necessary by prior appointment). Our reception is open from 8.45am.


Messages can be left on the answer phone outside those hours or via one of our email addresses.





4. PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR WORK

The person who will deal with your work will be the person you see and who writes to you with our letter of engagement. We will not hand you over to someone you do not know.


When we write to you with our letter of engagement this will detail the name of the secretary to the person you will be dealing with and they will be pleased to take any message for you.


Your work will be undertaken by one of our lawyers. The Department Partner will have final responsibility for all work that we do for you.


If someone else is involved this will be clear in the letter of engagement we send to you and we will explain what part of the work that person is to do and who he or she is answerable to within the firm.


Our Responsibilities

  • 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 review your matter regularly and update you by telephone or in writing with progress on your matter

  • We will update you during the course of your matter on any changes in the law relevant to your matter

  • We will update you on the likely timescales for each stage of your matter and any important changes in those estimates

  • We will update you on the costs of your matter at six monthly intervals or more often

  • We will advise you of any circumstances and risks of which we are aware or consider to be reasonably foreseeable that could affect the outcome of your matter

  • We will continue to review whether there are alternative methods by which your matter can be funded

Your Responsibilities

  • You will provide us with all necessary information promptly

  • You will provide us with clear, timely and accurate instructions.

  • You will make it clear what you want to do and if there are any time limits important to you

  • You will reply to any queries we raise as soon as reasonably practicable.

  • You will let us know if things change or you become aware of any new information.

  • You will provide all documentation required to complete the transaction in a timely manner.

  • You will safeguard any documents that are likely to be required for discovery.


5. COSTS AND EXPENSES

Costs

Our costs will usually be calculated by reference to the time we spend on your matter. (That includes meetings, reading and preparing and working on papers, research, emails, letters, phone and faxes).


If it looks as though the estimate we have given you will change materially then we will advise you as soon as possible so that you can be kept fully informed. If you wish you may set an ‘Upper Limit’ for the costs of your matter; if it looks as though we will exceed this limit we contact you to obtain your consent before doing so.


Routine letters, emails and phone calls (in and out) are charged at 1/10th of the hourly rate. More detailed letters, emails and calls are charged according to the actual time spent on them.


If we agree with you a different basis of charging this will be clearly set out in our letter of engagement or in a “conditional fee agreement”.


Our Hourly Rates

Our hourly rates are set annually at the beginning of May in each year and reflect the underlying costs we incur in running our business.


From 1 May 2017 our hourly rates are:

Exclusive of VAT Inclusive of 20% VAT

Partners, Senior Solicitors,

Senior Chartered Legal Executives £245 – 255 £294 - £306

and Consultant Solicitors

(depending on the complexity of the matter)

Solicitors (3+ years qualified) £220 £264

& Chartered Legal Executives


Junior Solicitors £180 £216

Legal Assistants/Paralegals £140 £168

If a review of our hourly rates is to be implemented in any year and if any matter that we are carrying out for you at the time will not have been completed by then we will let you know in advance.


Charges Based on Other Factors

In addition to the time we spend on your matter we may take into account other factors (such as the legal complexity of your matter, and in property matters or administrations of estates or transactions involving a substantial financial value or benefit to our client) we may make a fair charge referable to (for example) the value of the property or estate or financial benefit involved.


If this is to apply we will tell you at the outset.


If we are required to work outside normal office hours or at weekends we may apply a percentage increase to our standard charge for that work of up to 50%.


CHAPS Payments: Where we make a CHAPS or International Money Transfer on your matter we make a service charge of £36 per payment; we charge £12 per BACS payment.


VAT

VAT will be charged where applicable at the rate prevailing at the relevant time.


Our VAT number is 945 2381 16.



Payments to Others (disbursements)

We may have to pay out various other expenses on your behalf. These might include probate court fees, Land Registry fees, the costs of searches, barrister’s opinions and so on. In these cases we will ask you to provide the funds for these before we incur those costs or liabilities.


Sometimes we are asked to give a “solicitor’s undertaking” to cover a third party’s costs. In those cases we will discuss the terms of such undertaking with you and if you instruct us to give the undertaking then we will ask you to deposit with us the appropriate sum (out of which we can pay the undertaking moneys as appropriate). Once given we have to comply with any such undertaking.


What happens if?

Sadly it sometimes happens that a matter does not go through to completion. In property cases, for example, that may happen if your buyer or seller withdraws or someone cannot get a mortgage.


In other cases you may change your mind or circumstances may change.


In these cases we will still be entitled to be paid for the work that we have done and disbursements we have incurred up to that point.


Payment Arrangements


Property Transactions

We will normally ask for a payment on account at the outset of the transaction to cover all of the search fees we expect to incur and of our costs estimate.


We will normally send you a bill following exchange of contracts and payment will be due of that bill on a purchase prior to completion and on a sale at completion (taking into account any payments you have made at the outset). We reserve the right to invoice monthly and will generally do so when we are undertaking appreciable amounts of work for you at the time.


If sufficient funds are available at completion (and we have sent you a bill) we will deduct our charges and remaining expenses from those funds.


On a purchase: if you do not provide us (before completion) with any required Stamp Duty Land Tax and Land Registry fees and you have a mortgage your lender will not allow us to complete.


We reserve the right not to complete your sale and purchase if any of our costs and disbursements then remain outstanding – unless we have agreed in writing with you some other arrangement.


Administration of Estates

We will normally submit an interim bill at regular stages during the administration – starting with submission of the application for the Grant of Probate.


Other Cases and Transactions

It is our normal practice to send out bills monthly to reflect the work undertaken to that point. We find that this helps clients in budgeting for costs as well as keeping them informed of the legal expenses which are being incurred.





Internet ("cyber") fraud

You may have seen news reports of the growing problem of internet or cyber fraud, by which criminals detect, monitor and intercept e-mail traffic so as then to steal funds in transit through a number of methods. Our usual means of communication is by e-mail and we maintain appropriate safeguards to ensure the security and confidentiality of all such communications, but given the growing risks of this form of crime please note that:


  • we will never request additional money from you by email: in the event that this should become necessary we will speak to you by phone or in person first to explain the request;


  • in the unlikely circumstances of our changing our banking arrangements you would be formally notified by us in writing at the time: please take any email advising changed banking arrangements by us to be fraudulent and please also advise us if you receive any such communication; and


  • we will be unable to accept e-mail instructions from you to remit any of the funds which may be due to you to any bank account other than the account you have notified to us when we take your fuller instructions.



We do not accept responsibility for any loss if you suffer loss as a result of our banks (NatWest and Handelsbanken) temporarily suspending payments or failure by their system to enable us to manage our accounts, the insolvency of the banks or similar problem with the banks.


Payment

Payment is due on our bills within 14 days of us sending the bill to you. Interest may be charged on a daily basis at 4% over National Westminster Bank plc’s base rate from time to time from the date of the bill in cases where payment is not made within 14 days. If we are holding money for you we will use this towards payment of a bill and send you a receipt.


Delay in making payment of our invoices may lead to delay in progress of your matter and in the unlikely event of any of our bills or requests for payment not being met we reserve the right to stop acting for you further.


Common Law entitles us to retain money, papers and other property belonging to you which we hold pending payment of our costs. We are not entitled to sell that property but we are entitled to hold it pending such payment.


If we are conducting litigation for you we have additional rights in any property recovered or preserved for you in respect of the costs we have incurred (billed or not).


Payment in Cash

We do not accept payments in cash over £300. If you decide to avoid this policy by depositing cash directly with our bank we may decide to charge you for any additional checks we decide are necessary to prove the source of the funds.


Moneys due to you from us will be paid by cheque or bank transfer (but not in cash) and we regret that we cannot make payments of money due from us to you to a third party.


Other Party’s Charges and Expenses

In some cases a client may be entitled to payment of costs by some other person. It is important that you understand that in such circumstances that other person may not be required to pay all the charges and expenses which you incur with us. You will still have to pay our charges and expenses in the first place – any amounts which can be recovered will be a contribution towards them.


If the other party is receiving legal aid no costs are likely to be recovered. Even if the other party is ordered to pay the costs it may be easier said than done to actually recover them from him or her.

If you are successful and a court orders another party to pay some or all of your costs and expenses interest can be claimed on them in certain circumstances.

We will account to you for such interest (provided that you have pre-paid our charges and expenses on account).


A client who is unsuccessful in a court case may be ordered to pay the other party’s legal charges and expenses. That money will be payable in addition to our own costs and expenses.


Arrangements can be made to take out insurance to cover liability for such legal expenses in some cases. Please discuss this with us if you are interested in this possibility.


If you are not happy with your bill

If you are unhappy with the Bill that you receive you have a right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman Service. Please see the Complaints section at part 10 of these Terms and Conditions for details.


You may also have the right to apply for an assessment of a bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974.


Interest Payments

Any moneys received on your behalf will be held in our client account. Subject to certain minimum amounts (and periods of time) interest will be calculated and paid to you from time to time payable on such funds and we normally calculate that by reference to ¼% below the rate of interest given to us on our client account by National Westminster Bank PLC which includes our administration costs. No interest is paid if the interest calculated is below £25.


The period for which interest will be paid normally runs from the date on which cleared funds are received by us until the date on which we issue payment to you.


Where you are borrowing money from a mortgage company in a property transaction we will normally ask them to arrange for the loan cheque to be received by us 2-3 working days prior to the legal completion date. If the lender is sending the money by bank transfer we ask for it the day before completion. These arrangements enable us to ensure that the necessary funds are available in time for completion.


You need to be aware that your lender may charge interest from the date they actually issue the loan cheque or “CHAPS” for payment.


Storage of Papers and Documents

After payment of our final invoice, unless you ask us to do otherwise we will:


(1) return your papers


(2) place important documents (including deeds etc) in our secure deeds facility for safe keeping for as long as you require ( normally without charge)


(3) store our file either electronically or in paper form and hold it for no more than 6 years-on the understanding that at the end of such time we may destroy such papers (unless we advise you we will hold it for a longer period).


We may ask you in advance to agree a small charge for storage of bulky papers or deeds or belongings or if you want us to store your file for longer than normal.


We will not destroy current deeds, wills or other securities. We will hold these for you in safe custody without any storage charge.


If we retrieve papers or documents (e.g. your old file) from storage in relation to a continuing or new matter we will not normally charge you for that.


However, we may make a charge (based on the time spent) for producing stored papers or documents to you or someone else you authorise or for copying your file where you want a copy or the original or reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions in relation to the retrieved papers.


FCA and Investment Advice and Title Insurance

If you need advice on investments we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). We are not. 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, we may be able to provide certain limited investment services where these are closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you.


We are included in the register maintained by the FCA so that we can carry on ‘insurance mediation activity’ - broadly: advising on, selling and administering insurance contracts. The FCA’s register can be viewed on its website (www.fca.gov.uk/register).


In property transactions where you are buying a property (particularly with a mortgage) it may be necessary to obtain restrictive covenant indemnity insurance or defective title indemnity insurance or some other similar insurance policy.


In those cases we will generally ask for a quotation from one broker or intermediary only – unless the premium rate quoted by that party appears to us excessive (in which case we may obtain a second or third comparative quote). Obtaining comparative quotes involves additional time and expense.


6. TERMINATION

You may end your instructions to us in writing at any time but we can keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees 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.


We may decide to stop acting for you only with good reason (for example, if you do not pay an invoice or do not comply with requests for payment on account) or there is a conflict of interest. We must give you reasonable notice that we will stop acting for you.


Under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulation 2013, for some non-business instructions (normally where we have taken instructions during a home visit) you may have the right to withdraw without charge within 14 days of the date on which you asked us to act for you. If this applies to you, an Information Sheet will be given to you prior to or at the meeting with you.


However, if we start work with your consent within that period you and you then cancel you will have to pay a amount which is in proportion to what has been performed until you have communicated your cancellation to us in comparison with the full amount estimated. If you seek to withdraw you should give notice by phone, email or letter to the person named in the engagement letter we send to you as being responsible for your work.


7. LIMITED COMPANIES AND LLP’S

Our engagement and agreement to act as solicitors to a limited company or to a limited liability partnership is on the understanding that the directors of the company or the members of the LLP jointly and severally to meet our fees if the company or the LLP does not do so.


By signing and returning the duplicate of our letter of engagement the director of the company or the member of the LLP signing agrees this provision on his own behalf (in addition to on behalf of the company or LLP) and separately on behalf of his co-directors or co-members.


8 TAX ADVICE

Any work that we do for you may involve tax implications or necessitate consideration of tax planning strategies. We may not be qualified to advise you fully on the tax implications of a transaction or the likelihood of them arising.


If you have any concerns 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. This may be subject to an additional charge which we will agree with you beforehand.


If we cannot we may be able to identify a source of assistance for you (such as separate tax consultants).


In commercial property transactions in particular issues can arise with regard to Value Added Tax, Stamp Duty Land Tax and Capital Gains Tax where highly complex provision applies.


For private client matters particular care is needed in regard to the tax implications arising from Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Pre-Owned Assets Tax etc.


Income Tax and Corporation Tax are also frequently relevant.


9. IDENTITY, MONEY LAUNDERING, DISCLOSURE, CONFIDENTIALITY

Anti Money Laundering Regulations require us to:


  • Obtain information about a client’s identity and to verify that information,


  • Obtain identity information about people related to the client (beneficial owners) where relevant and at times to verify that information


  • Continue to monitor the transaction and keep identity information up to date


For this reason we may arrange to carry out electronic verification of your identity. The cost of this will be charged to you. It generally does not exceed £20 including VAT. We will ask to see the original of one or more of your passport, photo driving licence (or one of a number of other documents proving your identity) and to see the original of a recent rates demand, utility bill or similar confirming your address details.


We will need to take copies of what you show to us.


Solicitors are under a professional and legal obligation to keep the affairs of their clients confidential.


This obligation is subject to statutory exception. Legislation on money laundering and terrorist financing has placed solicitors under legal duties in certain circumstances to disclose information to the National Crime Agency (“NCA”). Where a solicitor knows or suspects that a transaction on behalf of a client may involve money laundering or terrorist financing the solicitor may be required to make a disclosure.


If, while we are acting for you, it becomes necessary to do that we may not be able to inform you that this has happened or the reasons for it (because the law prohibits ‘tipping off’). We may have to stop working on your matter for a period of time and may not be able to tell you why.


Where the law does permit us we will tell you about any potential money laundering problem and explain what action we may need to take.


In some circumstances we may also need to inform the authorities of any circumstances of which we become aware leading us to suppose that a client or other party has committed or is intending to commit any form of crime. For example: if we believe that the person selling a property to you has acted unlawfully or is party to some form of ‘mortgage fraud’ we are obliged to disclose that fact to NCA and this may have an impact on the progress of your purchase of the relevant property.


External firms or organisations conduct audit or quality checks on our practice. We may also outsource work. Outsourcing might include typing or photocopying, research or preparation to assist with your matter. We will always seek a confidentiality undertaking from any third party we engage in these circumstances. If you do not want your file to be outsourced, please tell us as soon as possible.


In order to comply with Court and Tribunal rules all documentation relevant to any issues in litigation (however potentially damaging to your case) have to preserved and may be required to be made available to the other side.


This aspect of proceedings is known as ‘disclosure’.


Subject to this we will not reveal confidential information about your case.


10. CONDUCT OF YOUR CASE, COMPLAINTS and COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN US

Our aim is to offer you an efficient and effective service at all times. You and our other clients are of first importance to us. We are regulated and authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The Solicitors Code of Conduct applies to us, details can be found at www.sra.org.uk


The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory arm of the Law Society. The Legal Ombudsman Service is an independent body which investigates complaints against lawyers. If you are unhappy with any investment advice you receive from us you should raise your concerns with either of these bodies.



Complaints:

We hope that you will never have cause to complain either about the work we are doing for you or our charges and we will do our utmost to ensure that that is the case. However, if you are not happy about anything that we do or any aspect of the service we provide please tell us in the first instance and give us an opportunity to look into things.


The partner responsible for handling complaints is Rod Hughes. Please phone or call in and see him on 01435 890102, or email him at rodhughes@hrhlaw.co.uk or write to him at 27A High Street, Heathfield TN21 8JR. (If the complaint concerns Rod Hughes please contact Clare Lane 01435 898125 or email her at clarelane@hrhlaw.co.uk) We promise to acknowledge your complaint within 2 working days and include a copy of our complaints resolution procedure and we will aim to deal with your complaint as fully as possible within 2 weeks.


We will write to you with our views and recommendations and, where appropriate, offer a full apology.


If you remain unhappy and are a private individual or micro-enterprise you can of course make a formal complaint to the Legal Ombudsman at www.legalombudsman.org.uk or on 0300 555 0333 or in writing to Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WF. Normally you will need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within twelve months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint. The Ombudsman can only deal with complaints (i) From ‘non corporate’ clients (ii) within 3 years of when you should have known of the problem (iii) within 6 years of the thing you are complaining about.

Alternative complaints bodies (such as Ombudsman Services, www.ombudsman-services.org) exist which are competent to deal with complaints about legal services should both you and our firm wish to use such a scheme. However, we do not propose to use them as we feel the Legal Ombudsman Service is the most appropriate body.

Emails, Faxes etc:

We will aim to communicate with you by such method as you agree. We may need to virus check discs or emails. When we write to you or anyone else on your matter by email we will not normally post a copy of the same letter.


Unless you withdraw consent we will communicate with others where appropriate by email or fax as well but we cannot be responsible to the security of correspondence and documents sent in this way.


The Data Protection Act

This Act requires us to advise you that your particulars are held on our database. We use the information 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.


Joint Instructions:

Where we act for two or more clients jointly it is on the clear understanding that we are authorised to act on instructions from either, both or any of them.


11. EQUALITY

We are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all our dealings with clients, third parties and employees. A copy of our Equality and Diversity Policy is available on request.


12. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY

We maintain Professional Indemnity Insurance in accordance with rules set by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Details of the insurers and the territorial coverage of the policy are available for inspection at our offices.


Our liability to you for breach of instructions is limited to a maximum of £3 million, unless we expressly state a different amount in the letter accompanying these terms and conditions of business. We will not be liable for any consequential, special, indirect or exemplary damages, costs or losses or and damages costs or losses attributable to lost profits or opportunities.


Further limitations apply in the case of any tax returns (including Stamp Duty Land Tax returns) which we complete for you and these limitations are set out in separate leaflets or explanatory notes and will normally also be posted on our website.


In larger property transactions we can sometimes agree to extend this limit where requested in writing – at modest cost (to reflect the additional professional indemnity premium costs to us).

The partners and staff of H & R Hughes Solicitors LLP work for the LLP and any claim you may have will be against the LLP only.


We can only limit our liability to the extent the law allows. In particular we cannot limit our liability for death or personal injury caused by our negligence.


Please ask if you would like us to explain any of the terms above.


13. APPLICABLE LAW

Any dispute or legal issue arising from our terms of business will be determined by the Law of England and Wales, and considered exclusively by the English and Welsh Courts.


14. TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS FOR FUTURE MATTERS AND ACCEPTANCE BY YOU OF THESE TERMS

Unless otherwise agreed and subject to the application of appropriate hourly rates these terms and conditions of business will apply to any future instructions given by you to us.


Although your continuing instructions in any matter will amount to an acceptance of these terms we may request you to give us written authority to act before we start working on any of your matters.


© Copyright: H & R Hughes Solicitors LLP 2017

Private Client

Property Services