General Terms of Business

McGlennons Solicitors -Terms of Business

These terms set out information that has to be given at the outset of a retainer and are in compliance with Rules 2.02 2.03 and 2.05 of the Solicitors’ Code of Conduct 2007. The terms have been revised in line with a Law Society Practice Note dated 16 September 2010.

 

  1. Introduction

 

These terms of business form a binding contract between you and McGlennons. In our accompanying letter or email we will set out:

  • The terms of the retainer and who will look after your matter.
  • What are the next steps we intend to take.
  • Our estimate of the costs for dealing with the matter as well as any disbursements (money we pay out on your behalf).
  • Any requirement for an advance payment on account of costs.
  • Any variation to these Terms of Business.

These terms will form part of your contract with us unless the fee earner agrees with you in writing any changes that will apply. Please also visit our website www.mcglennons.co.uk.

  1. Our people

 

The Principal of the firm is William Essex. His hourly rate is £240. William deals with probate and estate administration, Wills preparation, Lasting Powers of Attorney and conveyancing, lease extensions and freehold reversion purchase.

Barbara Morris is a consultant solicitor. Her hourly rate is £240 an hour. Barbara deals mainly with family law work, including divorce, civil partnerships, applications relating to children, ancillary financial applications and pre-nuptial agreements.

In addition, VAT is payable at 20%.

  1. Setting Ourselves Standards

Our aim is that our staff meet certain standards in relation to client care.  We promise:

  • To update you with progress on your matter regularly and advise you of any changes in the law. This will be by email, post or telephone as appropriate.
  • To explain the legal work required as your matter progresses.
  • To update you on the likely timescales for each stage of this matter and any important changes in those estimates.
  • To send you copies of all substantive correspondence within 3 days of receipt by us.
  • To respond to telephone calls or emails from you during the course of the same day wherever possible (by midday the following working day where these are received after 4 pm).
  • Correspondence to be dealt with within 3 days of receipt.
  • Appointments are to be offered to clients within 7 days of their telephone call.
  • All letters and legal documents (in particular Wills) are to be written in clear English.
  1. Responsibilities

Our responsibilities:

  • We will review your matter regularly.
  • We will advise you of any changes in the law.
  • 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.

Your responsibilities:

  • You will provide us with clear, timely and accurate instructions.
  • You will provide all documentation required to complete the transaction in a timely manner.
  • You will safeguard any documents which are likely to be required for disclosure.
  1. Hours of business

Our Office is opened from 9.00 am until 5.30 pm Monday to Friday inclusive except Bank Holidays. Visits can be fixed outside these times by arrangement with your fee earner.

Clients are requested always to make an appointment before visiting our office.  We will do our best to see you if you call without an appointment, but that may not always be possible.

  1. Professional Indemnity Insurance

McGlennons Solicitors has £2 million Professional Indemnity Cover per case – details of the extent of cover are available for inspection.

Our liability to you for a breach of our duty of care or instruction shall be limited to £2,000,000, unless we expressly state a higher amount in the letter accompanying these terms of business. 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.

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.

If any work, we do for you, involves tax implications or necessitated consideration of tax planning strategies then we can accept no liability unless we have specifically accepted liability for such advice in advance. We would be happy to work with your tax specialist or introduce you to an accountant or tax expert who may be qualified to help.

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

  1. Financial Transactions

 

McGlennons Solicitors will NOT change our bank details during the course of a transaction and will NOT email you with alternative banking details at any time.

 

You must treat any communications to you, purporting to change McGlennons’ bank details, as fraudulent.

 

If you have any doubt contact your initial solicitor/fee earner BY PHONE (not by an electronic method) to ensure you are satisfied that all information is accurate. If you are in any doubt you must check with us by telephone/in person to ensure all the financial/bank details are correct.

 

McGlennons will not take responsibility for any loss or other consequences if you fail to comply with these conditions. This will include if such a loss is caused by you transferring or causing to be transferred funds (money) to an incorrect/unintended beneficiary bank accounts.

  1. Equality and diversity policy

McGlennons has a firm commitment towards equal treatment of all clients, irrespective of their gender, race, ethnic origin, disability, age, nationality, national origin, sexuality, religion or belief, marital status and social class. We oppose all forms of unlawful and unfair discrimination.

  1. Data protection

We use the information you provide primarily for the provision of legal services to you and for related purposes including:

  • analysis to help us manage our practice
  • updating and enhancing client records
  • statutory returns
  • legal and regulatory compliance

Our use of that information is subject to your instructions, the Data Protection Act 1998, the GDPR and our duty of confidentiality.

As an individual, you have the following rights:

  • the right to be informed;
  • the right of access;
  • the right to rectification;
  • the right to erasure;
  • the right to restrict processing;
  • the right to data portability;
  • the right to object; and
  • the right not to be subject to automated decision-making including profiling.

Mr William Essex, the Principal of McGlennons Solicitors, is responsible for our data protection compliance.

McGlennons Solicitors will retain your data for six years from commencement of your matter.

Our work for you may require us to disclose your personal data to third parties such as expert witnesses and other professional advisers. Your consent must be freely and specifically given prior sharing your personal data with third parties and can be refused or withdrawn without detriment. In case that you would not like your personal details to be disclosed you should inform us as soon as possible.

You have the right to request access to the information we hold about you. You can do this by contacting us at mail@mcglennons.co.uk. We will make sure to provide you with a copy of the data we process about you.  In order to comply with your request, we may ask you to verify your identity.

We will fulfil your request by sending your copy electronically, unless the request expressly specifies a different method. For any subsequent access request, we may charge you with an administrative fee.

If you believe that the information we hold about you is incorrect, you are welcome to contact us so we can update it and keep your data accurate.

  1. Storage of documents

After completing the work, we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses.

We will keep our file of your papers for up to six years, except those papers that you ask to be returned to you. We keep files on the understanding that we can destroy them six years after the date of the final bill. We will not destroy documents you ask us to deposit in safe custody.

If we take papers or documents out of storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act for you, we will charge £30 an hour + VAT for such retrieval.

We will keep your Wills and Title Deeds free of charge for you at our main office.

  1. Vetting of files and confidentiality

External firms or organisations may conduct audit or quality checks on our practice. These external firms or organisations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files.

As a member of the Law Society Conveyancing Quality Scheme you may be approached to take part in a survey of customer satisfaction. Please let us know if you prefer not to be contacted for this reason.

  1. Financial Services

 

We are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority to give specific advice on investments. If, while we are acting for you, you need advice on investments, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised to provide the necessary advice.

However, as we are members of the Law Society of England and Wales, we may be able to provide certain limited investment advice services where these are closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you.

  1. Distance Selling

 

If we have not met with you, the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 apply here. This means that you have the right to cancel your instructions to us within seven working days of receiving these Terms or our client care letter. Adding on an extra day for the letter to reach you, you have eight working days from the date above, to cancel your instructions which you can do by fax or telephone.

Once we have started work on your file and you then cancel your instructions, you will be charged. If you would like us to commence work on your file within the next seven days, please sign and return to us or email your acceptance of these Terms.

  1. Complaints

Our aim is to provide a good professional service.  However, sometimes things go wrong and you need to tell us about it.  This will help us maintain and improve our standards and prevent complacency.

If you have a complaint please raise the matter in writing with the Principal, William Essex.

Please note that:

(a)    In the event of a problem you are entitled to complain;

(b)    A complaint should be referred to this firm initially and we will apply our usual   complaints handling process to it and send a response to you.  We normally have eight weeks in which to send a final response before the next stage is reached as         mentioned in (e) below;

(c)    A complaint can include a complaint about this firm’s bills;

(d)    The firm has a complaints procedure as mentioned in the paragraph above;

(e)    If you are dissatisfied with this firm’s final response to your complaint you may refer the matter to the Legal Ombudsman usually within six months of our response or the expiry of the eights week period above, whichever is the earlier. These periods are subject to long stop dates and the Legal Ombudsman may only accept complaints made within six years from the act or omission complained of or within three years from when the complainant should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint, but in neither case should the date be earlier than 6th October 2010. You may contact the Legal Ombudsman by writing to PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ; by phone 0300 555 0333 or the internet enquiries@legalombudsman.org.ukwww.legalombudsman.org.uk;

(f)     There may also be a right to object to our bill by applying to the court for an    assessment of the bill under Part 3 of The Solicitors Act 1974;

(g)    If all or part of the bill remains unpaid interest may be charged at the rate of 8%;

(h)    We will not charge you for the cost of handling a complaint;

(i)     The period of normally eight weeks and usually six months referred to above are subject to exceptions, and not all clients are eligible.  Further details can be found in the firm’s complaint procedure and also at enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk –         www.legalombudsman.org.uk.

  1. Money Laundering

Our firm is required by UK money laundering regulations to identify all clients and to keep copies of identification requested by us.  Therefore, please arrange for us to have a copy of your passport as well as utility bills or other evidence of your address.

In addition, we must be absolutely certain of the source of any funds for the transactions that we undertake on your behalf.  The law requires us to report to The National Criminal Intelligence Service details of any transaction in which the source of funds cannot be ascertained or where suspicion arises.  We are not allowed to disclose to you either when a report has been made or its contents.

  1. COSTS INFORMATION

 

16.1  General approach to costs

When we first take instructions from you, we will confirm our advice in relation to what the legal costs may be.

Most instructions are taken for a fixed fee, in particular house or flat conveyancing, Wills and Probate and straightforward divorce applications. However, sometimes work is undertaken which was not anticipated at the start, or problems arise that were not expected when we originally agreed the fee. Please note our charges are given as an estimate on the basis of details presently known and on the assumption that the transaction will not prove to be substantially more complex or time consuming than expected.

In such cases, the extra work may be charged on a time and work basis but we will advise you when an additional charge may be made.  Examples of where additional charges may arise would be:

  • In conveyancing where problems arise with the lease or in establishing information;
  • In Settlement Agreements where there is a need to negotiate with the employer;
  • In Probate cases where a Will is challenged by one of the beneficiaries;
  • In Will preparation where separate meetings are needed with family members or financial advisers or specialist tax advice is needed;
  • In Family matters, where one party decides to defend a divorce petition, or where negotiations over financial matters become protracted.

Unless a fixed fee is agreed (and there is no additional work element) our costs are based on a fair and reasonable sum for the work and responsibility undertaken.  Mainly this is by reference to the time spent working on the file and the seniority of the person working, the number of letters or emails written, or telephone calls made or received. Time may be spent in many ways, for instance in attending upon you, drafting any necessary documents or forms or considering the same, travel and considering what action may be needed from time to time during the conduct of the matter. In Probate cases a value element is added.  This is based on all of the estate and is in accordance with guidelines set out by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

The Fee Earner handling your case will give an idea of what the total fees may be, and if requested, may set a cap on these fees before carrying out further work.

16.2   The basis of calculation

Where no fixed costs are given (or in cases where there has been additional work) then fees are charged according to the hourly rate of each Fee Earner. Time may be spent in many ways, for instance in attending upon you, drafting any necessary documents or forms or considering the same, travel and considering what action may be needed from time to time during the conduct of the matter

  • Time spent travelling and waiting is charged at one half hourly rate;
  • Each page of letter out, email and routine telephone call (up to 6 minutes) is charged at 1/10th hourly unit;
  • Each letter/email/other document in charged at 1/20th hourly unit;
  • No charge made for ‘acknowledgment emails’ whether in or out;
  • Longer telephone calls are charged according to time spent.

Unless varied in the Client Care letter these rates will form the basis on which charges will be made. When a bill is presented you will have a right to object and seek an assessment under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974.

16.3  Interest

Interest will be charged on unpaid costs, VAT and disbursements at 8% per annum.  We may exercise right to retain papers where costs remain unpaid.

Monies coming in and out on the case will be held via this firm’s client account, which is guaranteed entirely against default by the Law Society.

We will usually place substantial sums in special deposit accounts so that interest accrues to the estate. The payment of interest is subject to certain minimum amounts and periods set out in the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules 1998.

16.4  Value Added Tax

For work carried out after 4th January 2011 the rate is 20% (before that date 17.5%).

16.5  Litigation Costs

Before instructing us to carry out work on your behalf, we assume that you have checked on the availability of public funding (or Legal Aid) and also considered whether the costs of dealing with your claim can be met under a legal expenses policy associated with buildings contents or car insurance, or assistance provided by any other third party, such as an employer or trade union. After the Event insurance may also be available.

We will also examine if assistance can be given under a Conditional Fee agreement.

We think it important that the costs of taking your claim to Court are carefully weighed up before you proceed.  When your case succeeds, you are still liable for your own costs and (unless specifically agreed otherwise) you will have to pay our costs even if your opponents are ordered to pay them.  Please note if your case is unsuccessful, you will have to pay your opponent’s costs as well as your own.

We strongly advise that the financial strength of your opponent is established before you embark on Court action.  We also recommend, pre-action meetings take place to explore settlement.

We aim to present bills at monthly intervals, or when a particular stage is reached in litigation.  Before continuing with an action, we will require existing bills to be paid within 30 days.  If the bill is not paid within that time, and you have not come to us with any proposals, then we will notify the Court and your opponent that you will now be acting in person.

16.6  Conveyancing costs

For residential conveyancing our fees are based on the time we will spend on the matter plus an element for the responsibility, complexity and value of the transaction, the latter mainly being the risk it represents to this firm’s professional indemnity insurance.

To reflect the extra investigation and time spent we add supplements as follows:

  • For leasehold transactions- £200
  • For acting for your mortgage lender in your purchase- £175
  • Unregistered land- £200
  • Preparing declaration of trust- £250
  • New build/shared ownership properties- £150
  • For purchasing/selling share in freehold (separate title number) -£150
  • Redeeming a mortgage- £125
  • For preparing SDLT form, photocopying and postage and other incidentals- no additional charge

16.7   Family Law costs

Fees in relation to family law matters are based on the time spent on the matter. In relation to disputes or applications which are likely to entail court hearings we will discuss the breakdown of likely costs with you. We will aim to present bills at monthly intervals, or when a particular stage is reached. In all family law matters we request a payment of costs on account of £300 and in the case of applications for a divorce or dissolution of civil partnership of £800.

17     Investments

Please note that although we are regulated by the Law Society to give investment advice, we cannot accept a duty of care in relation to that advice, and we firmly recommend that you contact an independent financial adviser.  We will be happy to introduce you to advisers (or other specialists) but we would accept no responsibility for the service given.

William Essex

Barbara Morris

@McGlennons

 

157 Arthur Road

Wimbledon Park

London SW19 8AD

 

Tel 020 8946 6015

Fax 020 8946 3120

 

Email: mail@mcglennons.co.uk

www.mcglennons.co.uk