The purpose of this document is to confirm the arrangements between us. Although your continuing instructions in this matter will amount to your acceptance of these Terms of Engagement, we ask that you sign, date and return one copy for our file.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Business hours
- Our responsibilities
- Your responsibilities
- Service levels and frequency of communication
- Limit of liability
- Regulated services
- Non-regulated services
- Data protection
- Prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing
- Storage and retrieval of files
- External auditing
- Terminating your instructions
- Receiving and paying funds
- Our bill
- Payment of interest
- Investment advice services
- Insurance mediation activity
- Equality and diversity
- Applicable law
- Future instructions
We are normally open between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm from Monday to Friday. Our telephones are answered until 7.00pm on weekdays and between 9.00am and 1.00pm on Saturdays. We may be able to arrange appointments outside of these hours, please contact us if you need an appointment outside of these times. We are closed on all bank holidays.
- treat you fairly and with respect
- communicate with you in plain language
- review your matter regularly
- advise you of any changes in the law that affect your matter
- advise you of any reasonably foreseeable circumstances and risks that could affect the outcome of your matter
- provide us with clear, timely and accurate instructions
- provide all documentation and information that we reasonably request in a timely manner
- safeguard any documents that may be required for your matter, including documents that you may have to disclose to another party
SERVICE LEVELS AND FREQUENCY OF COMMUNICATION
We pride ourselves on our excellent levels of communication and will update you by telephone or in writing with progress on your matter regularly and will aim to respond to emails received before 3pm within two hours. If your email is received after 3pm it will be responded to by 11am on the next working day.
We will explain to you by telephone or in writing the legal work required as your matter progresses.
We will update you on the likely timescales for each stage of this matter and any important changes in those estimates. Whenever there is a material change in circumstances associated with your matter, we will update you on whether the likely outcomes still justify the likely costs and risks.
We will update you on the cost of your matter at the intervals set out in our letter confirming your instructions.
LIMIT OF LIABILITY
We have professional indemnity insurance giving cover for claims against the firm. Details of this insurance, including contact details of our insurer and the territorial coverage of the policy, can be inspected at our office or made available on request.
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 profit or opportunity.
Davis & Co Property Lawyers Ltd is a limited company. This means that the firm’s director is not personally liable for any acts or omissions by the firm, unless the law requires otherwise. This does not limit or exclude liability of the firm for the acts or omissions of its director.
We can only limit our liability to the extent the law allows. In particular, we cannot limit liability for death or personal injury caused by negligence.
Please ask if you would like us to explain any of the terms above.
Davis & Co Property Lawyers Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers, WeWork, 131 Finsbury Pavement London EC2A 1NT (the CLC). This means that we are governed by a Code of Conduct and other professional rules, which you can access on the CLC’s website http://www.conveyancer.org.uk/ or by calling 0207 250 8465 or emailing email@example.com.
PREVENTION OF MONEY LAUNDERING AND TERRORIST FINANCING
We must by law obtain satisfactory evidence of your identity and address. Please help us to do so by giving us the information and documentation we ask for. We are unable to proceed with your transaction and will not be able to exchange contracts until this has been provided.
As lawyers, we are under a general professional and legal obligation to keep your affairs private. However, we are required, by current legislation, to make a report to the National Crime Agency (NCA) where we know or suspect that a transaction involves Money Laundering or Terrorist Financing. By instructing us to act on your behalf in accordance with these Terms of Engagement you give us irrevocable authority to make a disclosure to NCA if we consider it appropriate.
You agree that this authority overrides any confidentiality or entitlement to legal professional privilege. We shall be unable to tell you if we have made a report.
You have a series of rights outlined under Data Protection legislation over how your personal data is used, including erasure in specific circumstances. However, we may not always be able to agree with the exercise of such rights, as often your personal data remains necessary in relation to the purpose for which it was originally collected and processed.
What personal information we process
The categories of personal data we process include general personal data (which includes normal personal data, personal identity, email addresses and personal financial data) and special categories of personal data if these have been voluntarily provided to us (which includes ethnicity, nationality and medical history).
How we use your personal information
When your file is open, your personal data is necessary and used only in relation to the purpose for which it was originally intended. We process your personal information to fulfil our contract with you, or where you or we have a legitimate interest in doing so, where otherwise permitted by law, or to comply with applicable law and regulation. We use your personal information for:
- Service provision and internal processing (i.e. to assess and/or provide and to service your matter).
- Management of relationship (e.g. to develop your relationship with us).
- Resolving queries.
- Training and service review (e.g. to help us enhance our services and the quality of those services).
- Statistical analysis (e.g. to help us enhance our products and services or delivery channels to keep costs down).
- Complying with legal obligations (e.g. to prevent, investigate and prosecute crime, including fraud and money laundering).
When your matter is completed and / or your file is closed, we may still process your personal information where we have a legitimate interest in doing so, where we are permitted by law, or to comply with applicable laws and regulation.
Examples of such instances will include:
- Complying with legal obligations for statutory and regulatory requirements including for example, HMRC Returns, complaint handling, anti-money laundering, reporting to our regulatory body – the Council for Licensed Conveyancers;
- Archiving and Storage of your file for the periods outlined in our Retention Policies – see sections 31-34 of these Terms of Business; and
- Our legitimate interests to conduct conflict of interest checks, statistical analysis and research to help us enhance our products and services.
How We Share Your Information
- We may share your personal data with a range of organisations which enable us to fulfil our contract with you, or where we have legitimate interests to do so, or otherwise are required by applicable law and regulation. We can provide more details specific to your personal data on request.
You have a right to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office (https://ww.ico.org.uk ), which regulates the processing of personal data. You may also seek a judicial remedy.
Further information on our data protection policy may be obtained from our website
STORAGE AND RETRIEVAL OF FILES
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 12 years, except those papers that you ask to be returned to you. We keep files on the understanding that we can destroy them 12 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 not normally charge for the retrieval. However, we may charge you for time spent producing stored papers that are requested, and reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions in relation to the retrieved papers.
Davis and Co Property Lawyers employs third party suppliers to provide services including utilising the services of a credit reference agency (https://www.transunion.co.uk/legal-information/bureau-privacy-notice).
We reserve the right to ask other companies or people to do typing on our files to ensure this is done promptly and in the most cost–effective manner. We will always seek a confidentiality agreement with these outsourced providers. If you do not want your file to be outsourced, please tell us as soon as possible.
External firms or organisations may conduct audit or quality checks on our practice, e.g. our regulator (the CLC), our accountants or assessment bodies for quality accreditations. These external firms or organisations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files. Please contact Rose Davis, Director Davis & Co Property Lawyers if you do not wish your files to be disclosed to external auditors.
TERMINATING YOUR INSTRUCTIONS
You may end your instructions at any time, by giving us notice in writing. We can keep all your papers and documents while our charges or disbursements are outstanding.
We can only decide to stop acting for you with good reason and we must give you reasonable notice. If you or we decide that we should stop acting for you, you are liable to pay our charges up until that point. These are calculated on the basis set out in our letter confirming your instructions.
The information and documentation you provide us is confidential and subject to legal professional privilege unless stated otherwise in this document or our letter confirming your instructions, such as in relation to prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing or we advise you otherwise during the course of your matter.
We cannot absolutely guarantee the security of information communicated by email or mobile phone. Unless we hear from you to the contrary, we will assume that you consent for us to use these methods of communication.
RECEIVING AND PAYING FUNDS
Our policy is that we do not accept cash payments. If you try 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. Where we have to pay money to you, it will be paid by cheque or bank transfer. It will not be paid in cash or to a third party.
PAYMENT ON ACCOUNT OF COSTS
I enclose an estimate of the costs and expenses that are likely to be incurred in your transaction. If we have asked in our initial letter for a payment on account of our initial costs and expenses, please arrange to send this to us. If you wish to transfer this sum by BACS please ask us for our bank details and quote, when making your payment, the matter reference given at the top of this letter to ensure that your payment is correctly allocated to your matter. Please note we cannot let you have the bank details until we have dealt with our initial compliance checks and therefore we will require to see evidence of your identification before we can release those details. However, you may send us a cheque made payable to Davis & Co Property Lawyers Ltd. Please note we will be unable to draw on funds paid by cheque for 10 days after receipt.
The work on your matter(s) will consist of the points below. Numbers 1-5 relate solely to a purchase and points 6-9 relate to a sale and or purchase;
- Investigating title to the property, raising searches and enquiries
- Advising you in respect of your mortgage offer
- Preparing a report on title
- Calculating stamp duty land tax (SDLT) on the purchase and preparing and submitting to HM Revenue and Customs the appropriate SDLT form
- Registering you as the new owner at the Land Registry
- Preparing a contract pack and submitting this to the buyer’s solicitors
- Dealing with any enquiries raised by the buyer’s solicitors
- Negotiating a contract and transfer
- Transferring funds electronically
Please note our fees have been calculated on the basis that:
- The property is currently held under a single title at the Land Registry with no title defects
- There will be only one contract
- The matter will be proceeding on the basis of an unconditional contract and the property will be bought or sold with vacant possession
- Completion takes place on the date agreed in the contract
If it becomes apparent that there are unforeseen circumstances in connection with the purchase we may have to increase our charges but, if that is the case, I shall inform you before we incur any additional costs.
If we find that any additional expenses need to be incurred after we have considered the contract, searches and title documents, I shall let you know the reason for the extra expense, the likely amount, and when I shall need payment.
If, for any reason, we have to abort the transaction, I will break the transaction down into stages and advise what percentage of the estimated fee will be charged at each stage.
We are committed to providing high quality legal advice and client care. If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service you receive or about the bill, please contact Rose Davis, Director Davis & Co Property Lawyers on 0115 855 7919 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to Davis & Co Property Lawyers Ltd 24a Gordon Road West Bridgford Nottingham NG2 5LN. We have a written procedure that sets out how we handle complaints. It is available by request from Rose Davis. Please note we will be obliged to deal with any complaint within 28 days of the receipt thereof however we would always aim to resolve any complaint as quickly as possible.
If after following the review process you remain dissatisfied with any aspect of our handling of your complaint, you may contact directly the Legal Ombudsman to ask them to consider the complaint further. The Legal Ombudsman’s contact details are:-
Telephone no: 0300 555 0333
Legal Ombudsman PO Box 6806
Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ
Unless it agrees there are good reasons not to do so, the Legal Ombudsman will expect you to allow us to consider and respond to your complaint in accordance with the procedure set out above in the first instance. You can refer your complaint up to six months after you have received our final written response to your complaint. You can also use the Ombudsman service if we have not resolved your complaint within eight weeks of us receiving it. A complaint can be referred to the Legal Ombudsman up to six years from the date of the act or omission or up to three years after discovering a problem. The ombudsman deals with service-related complaints; any conduct-related complaints will be referred to the Council for Licensed Conveyancers. Further information regarding the Legal Ombudsman can be found on its website http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/.
In addition to the above, if you make a valid claim against us for a loss arising out of work for which we are legally responsible, and we are unable to meet our liability in full, you may be entitled to claim from the Compensation Fund administered by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (from whom details can be obtained).
Disputes may also be referred to an Alternative Dispute Resolution entity which has been certified under the EU Consumer ADR Directive namely the Ombudsman Services, ProMediate and Small Claims Mediation. We agree to use any of these Schemes.
If you make a valid claim against us for a loss arising out of work for which we are legally responsible, and we are unable to meet our liability in full, you may be entitled to claim from the Compensation Fund administered by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers
You are liable to pay legal costs as set out in our letter confirming your instructions. We will also usually discuss this at our initial meeting with you.
When we are at the point of exchange we will send you a bill and completion statement and will require payment of all required funds prior to completion of your matter, which will include not only our fee but also all disbursements. Failure to pay a balance of funds on time may result in additional charges and your work may be suspended. Payment may be made by cheque or our preferred option of sending the funds direct to our Client Account by BACS or CHAPS (details of which are obtainable by contacting us). Please notify us if you intend making an online payment so we know when to expect your funds and please quote your file reference on any payment. If you do send a cheque then this will be required at least 10 days in advance of when the sums are required to ensure it has time to clear through our account.
You have the right to challenge or complain about our bill. Please see the Complaints section above for details of how to complain about our bill.
We can keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses.
PAYMENT OF INTEREST
Where we hold money in a separate designated deposit account (for example where large sums of money are held in respect of probate matters) we will account to you for all the interest earned on that account. Income tax is usually deducted at source and interest is therefore paid net of tax unless you have signed a declaration confirming your entitlement to receive gross interest. Under the European Savings Directive regulations 2003/48/EC we are required to inform HMRC of payments of interest to relevant payees and residual entities in prescribed territories.
Where money is held in a general client account (for example, where money is held routinely during the course of a property transaction), we can calculate whether we have held sufficient money for long enough to justify paying you interest on it. Client money must be held in an instant access account to facilitate transactions and is unlikely to earn as much interest as you might obtain if you held and invested the money yourself. In calculating an appropriate rate/amount of interest we will have regard to the factors set out in the CLC Accounts Rules, which can be accessed at https://www.clc-uk.org/handbook/the-handbook/#Accounts-Code.
However, interest will not be paid if the total amount calculated for the period that the money is held is less than £20. It is unusual for us to hold sufficient money on a client matter for long enough for interest to exceed £20. If you think that we may have done so in your case, please ask us for an interest calculation. Interest on money held on our general client account is paid gross, without deduction of income tax. It is your responsibility to declare such interest to HMRC or other relevant authorities.
Interest will normally be paid at the end of a transaction, but we may pay it periodically if it would be fair and reasonable to do so. Should any interest accrue on your client account which is in excess of £10 this will be paid to your client account.
INSURANCE MEDIATION ACTIVITY
This firm is not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. However, we are included in the register maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority so that we can carry on Insurance Mediation Activities, which is broadly 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 Council for Licensed Conveyancers. The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority website at http://www.fca.org.uk/register. The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints against lawyers. If you are unhappy with any insurance advice you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with the CLC or the Legal Ombudsman.
EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY
We are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all our dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our Equality and Diversity policy.
Any dispute or legal issue arising from our Terms of Engagement will be determined by the law of England and Wales, and considered exclusively by the English and Welsh courts.
Unless otherwise agreed, these Terms of Engagement will apply to all future instructions you give us on this or any other matter.
Please sign, date and return one copy of these Terms of Engagement.