standard terms of business.
These Terms and Conditions of Business apply to all work undertaken by Archers Law LLP in respect of the above Matter unless otherwise advised in writing.
2. Confidentiality and Data Protection
As your solicitors we owe you a duty of confidentiality. This means that, except to the extent that you authorise us to disclose information about your affairs or to the extent we are required by law or regulatory authority of competent jurisdiction, we shall not do so. There may however also be circumstances in your Matter, whereby we have a legitimate interest and are therefore required to process and disclose certain personal information about you to a third party.
Archers Law LLP is registered as a data controller with the Information Commissioner’s Office, which is the UK's independent body set up to uphold information rights – ref Z6593806. As a data controller we are responsible for ensuring that when we process Personal Information we comply with EU and UK data protection law and use it in accordance with our client's instructions and our professional duty of confidentiality.
From time to time we may wish to communicate with you for a purpose that is beyond what is absolutely necessary to enable us to fulfil our obligations to you under this retainer. For example, we may wish to send you a newsletter, notify you of changes in the law that may affect you, or invite you to an event. There may be a legitimate interest in processing your information for marketing purposes and under GDPR this means we do not need your consent to send you such updates or information. However, as consent is needed to send electronic communications and in light of our marketing information generally being sent by email, the firm has a policy that it will ask for you to opt in to receiving such communications. At the outset of a matter you will receive a marketing opt in notification for this purpose. If you do not return that notification the firm will assume that you do not wish to opt in to receive marketing communications.
You can opt out of receiving marketing communications at any time by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that it is a requirement of our quality assurance standards that we submit to an annual external audit. This means that a number of files will be selected at random and examined by a third party as part of the quality control process. We undertake this practice to ensure we have the correct policies and working practices in place, in order to offer the best service we can. The firm has identified this as a legitimate interest, which is of benefit to the client rather than to detriment and does not override the rights and freedoms of an individual. As a legitimate interest we do not ask for consent to use client files for this purpose.
However, at any time, both during and after your matter, you can ask for your file not to be used for this purpose.
At initial instruction we provide you with the option to opt out of this external quality control audit using our acknowledgement slip.
Please note that our duty of confidentiality and our obligations under the GDPR can be overridden in certain circumstances to the extent that we are required by law or regulatory authority of competent jurisdiction and this therefore may oblige us to disclose personal or other confidential details to other third parties. In particular the terms of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 require us by law to report to the National Crime Agency if we have reason to suspect that anyone (including our clients) is engaging in laundering the proceeds of any criminal activity and to provide them with all relevant details.
Some Banks and other lending instructions may require us (as part of their instructions to us to act on their behalf on your transaction or as a result of their own requirements when we deposit money with them) to pass onto to them the results of our Money Laundering Regulations checks and other personal and confidential information; you are deemed to have given us consent to do so by the return of enclosed acknowledgement slip.
Where, with your authority, we deposit any monies with third parties you are deemed to have given us consent to pass any personal and/or business details to the third party for this purpose.
Unless we have quoted a fixed fee to you, our charges are based principally upon the time we spend dealing with a case. This includes not only time meeting with you, but also for example time spent considering what course of action to take, preparing or working on papers, reading or writing letters and on phone calls etc.
The enclosures accompanying these Terms of Business identify the people who will deal with this matter and any estimated cost. It may be that others will give assistance as the case progresses. A summary of our standard hourly rates is set out in the Terms and Conditions you will receive on instruction.
These rates may be reviewed from time to time to take account of our overhead costs and you will be advised of any changes.
Routine work is recorded and charged in units of 1/10th of an hour i.e. 6 minutes. If your instructions mean that we have to work outside normal office hours i.e. 9.00am – 5.00pm we reserve the right to charge a premium hourly rate, which will usually be between 130% and 150% of the standard hourly rate. You will be notified in writing if any increase is more than this level.
Other factors, which may be taken into account in our fees in addition to time spent, include complexity of issues, expertise or specialist knowledge, value and the speed at which action must be taken.
VAT will be added to our fees at the rate that applies when the bill is delivered.
VAT number 257 5877 09.
In addition to our fees there may be certain other expenses (called disbursements) that we need to incur or payments that we are required to make on your behalf such as search fees or registration fees. We may require you to lodge money with us on account before we incur these or if not we will deliver a bill in respect of them following our making payment on your behalf.
VAT is payable on certain of these expenses.
5. Payments on Account
We may require you to lodge money with us on account of fees or expenses at the outset of a case. The amount will be based upon an estimate of fees. We will offset any such payments against bills as the case progresses. We may require further payments on account from time to time in such circumstances. You should understand that our total fees and expenses might be greater than these advance payments.
6. Limits on Fees
You may set a limit on our fees and expenses. This means we will not exceed the limit without referring back to you for authority, but you must pay our fees or expenses up to that limit. We ask that such a request is made in writing to avoid any misunderstanding. We will seek to inform you if it appears to us that the limit may be exceeded.
7. Billing and Payment Arrangements
Our IT systems enable us to send interim bills to you for both fees and expenses as a matter progresses. This will help you to budget. We will therefore send interim invoices to you.
Payment is due to us within 14 days of the date upon which the bill is sent out to you. Interest will be charged on any bills not paid in that timescale at a rate of 4% above the standard Barclays Bank PLC interest rate.
The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 has caused us to reconsider our position regarding the receipt of cash. We will therefore not accept any cash sums over £500 for any purpose. To assist you in making payments to us, in addition to accepting cheques and bank transfers, we have Credit and Debit card facilities so that you can pay by Barclaycard, Access, Switch, Delta and American Express. You may do this either at our offices in person or over the phone. Unless you indicate otherwise, you authorise us to take payment by such means either in person or by phone by signing and returning the copy of these Terms.
Please note that in requesting us to accept such payment you permit us to inform Barclays Merchant Services that we act as your solicitors. You also authorise that we may release information (such as your current address) to your card provider to assist them in securing payment of your card account if you do not make payment and we are requested by Barclays Merchant Services to provide this. Information will only be released in response to a written request and then only to assist in securing payment of your card account.
If we hold any money on your behalf we reserve the right to offset it against any unpaid bill that we have sent to you, even though the bill may be less than 14 days old and it may be on a different matter than this one.
If you have any query about a bill you should contact our Accounts Department straight away. If they are unable to resolve your query you should contact Daniel Flounders, the Supervisor assigned to this matter. There may also be a right to object to the bill by applying to the court for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974.
8. Other Parties and Fees
It is important that you understand that you are responsible for paying our bills, whether or not you are entitled to recover reimbursement from another person. This may for example be from a prospective tenant or the other party in court proceedings.
In particular you should understand that even if you are successful in court proceedings, the other party might not be ordered to reimburse all of your costs, which will leave you with a balance to pay. Even more importantly you may recover none of your costs if the other party has the benefit of public funding.
If you are successful and a court orders the other party to reimburse you all or some of your costs interest can be claimed on them from the date of the court order. This interest will be yours so far as you have paid interim fees and ours where you have not done so. You may also be responsible for fees and expenses incurred in recovering costs that the court orders the other party to pay.
We take the opportunity to remind you that you may be responsible for the other party’s costs if you are not successful in court proceedings and the court makes a costs order against you. It may be that it would be advisable for this potential liability to be covered by insurance. We will be happy to discuss this with you further should you wish.
Finally you should be aware that there are circumstances where we may be entitled to exercise a lien over your file of papers for unpaid costs.
9. Financial Services Status
This firm is 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 regulated activities as incidental services in addition to our normal professional services. 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/epfSearchForm.do.
Financial services to a client
If during a transaction you need advice on investments, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, as we are not. However, as we are regulated by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority, we may be able to provide certain limited investment services where these are closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you
If you have any problem with the service we have provided for you then please let us know. We will try to resolve any problem quickly and operate an internal complaints handling system as outlined in Schedule 3 Contact and Care. If for any reason we are unable to resolve the problem between us, then the Legal Ombudsman also provide complaints and redress mechanisms.
Alternative complaints bodies for alternative dispute resolution 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.
The Law Society is a designated exempt professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 but responsibility for regulation and complaints handling has been separated from the Law Society’s representative functions. The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory body of the Law Society and the Legal Ombudsman is the independent complaints handling body of the Law Society.
10. Identity Verification
Whether you are already an existing client or new to Archers Law, due to Money Laundering Regulations we are required to check our clients’ identification when taking on a new client or when opening a new matter for an existing client. We do this by completing an ID and credit data check with an electronic verification system.
If you are an existing client and we already hold an electronic ID verification that has been completed within three years of the date of incepting the new matter then we will not be required to undertake an ID verification check. The exception to this would be if your personal or business circumstances have changed (such as change of residential address) or the risk profile on the matter has increased. If we do not hold a satisfactory ID Verification check, then we will contact you further in order to obtain the same.
If you are a new client an ID verification check will be undertaken and appropriate details will be sent to you under a separate cover.
We can also accept ID documents that have been verified or relied upon by a regulated third party.
A charge of £18.50 plus VAT per search is made for the administration involved in obtaining proof of your identity, through the online service.
Identity verification services are provided to us by:
TransUnion International UK Limited (registered in England and Wales with company number 3961870). Their registered office is One Park Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS3 1EP http://www.transunion.co.uk/; or
The Justice Platform Limited (registered in England and Wales with company number 09534141) of Office 7, 35 - 37 Ludgate Hill, London, EC4M 7JN https://legl.com/
Some Banks and other lending instructions may require us (as part of their instructions to us to act on their behalf on your transaction or as a result of their own requirements when we deposit money with them) to pass onto to them the results of our Money Laundering Regulations checks. You are deemed to have given us consent to do so by the return of the enclosed acknowledgement slip.
11. Anti-Facilitation of Tax Evasion Policy
In the light of Criminal Finances Act 2017, Archers Law LLP has adopted a statement of our corporate value on anti-facilitation of tax evasion. It is our policy to conduct all of our business dealings in an honest and ethical manner. The value statement governs all our business dealings and the conduct of all persons or organisations who are appointed to act on our behalf.
We request all our employees and all who have, or seek to have, a business relationship with Archers Law LLP and/or any member of our firm, to familiarise themselves with our anti-tax evasion value statement and to act at all times in a way which is consistent with our anti-tax evasion value statement.
This policy is published on our website at https://www.archerslaw.co.uk/about_us/anti-tax-evasion-policy/.
12. Limitation of Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance
Archers Law LLP is a limited liability partnership and maintains professional indemnity insurance cover for a sum of at least £10,000,000 per event. In the event of any claim arising in respect of our professional services, you agree that the sum of £10,000,000 represents the maximum total liability to you of Archers Law LLP its Members and staff. This maximum total liability includes all and any claims in respect of breaches of contract, tort or otherwise in respect of professional services and also shall include any interest.
Whilst we believe that this cover is considerably higher than many comparable firms carry, it may be lower than the total value of the transaction that you have instructed us to carry out. If you think this is the case and you wish for us to obtain a higher level of insurance cover please tell us and we will instruct our brokers to seek an increased level of cover in a sum acceptable to you. We would seek this on a one off transaction basis, but understand that such cover may not be available and we may need to increase our overall level. In either case we will require that you pay the premium for the increased cost of cover as a disbursement in connection with the transaction.
We acknowledge that the limit in respect of our total aggregate liability will not apply to any acts, omissions, or representations that are in any way criminal, dishonest or fraudulent on the part of Archers Law LLP its members or employees. You agree that you will not bring any claim of the kind that is included in the aggregate limit against any Member or employee of this firm on a personal basis.
All aspects of our professional services are for your sole use and should not be made available to any third party without our written permission. We accept no responsibility to third parties for any aspect of our professional services or work that is made available to them.
You can find a copy of our compulsory layer of PII, including contact details and territorial coverage, on the following link https://www.archerslaw.co.uk/about_us/standard-terms-business/
13. Interest on Client Money
We aim to deal with the holding of client money in a transparent way and will pay interest when it is fair and reasonable to do so in all the circumstances.
We will therefore generally not pay interest on money held on our general client account, as it is usually only intended to be there for a short period before being used for the purpose for which it was paid to us. If however the sum held is substantial and/or held for longer than anticipated, which results in interest of more than £25 accruing on the sum in question we will pay reasonable interest to you.
Where we anticipate that funds will be held for any length of time we will place them on a designated client account and any interest earned will be paid to you.
14. Termination of Retainer
You may terminate your instructions to us at any time, but we are entitled to retain all papers and documents belonging to you whilst there are fees or expenses owing to us.
We may decide we should stop acting for you, but will only do this where we believe there is a good reason. This may be because you do not pay an interim bill or refuse a request for a payment on account. Alternatively it may be where we have concerns about our ability to comply with the terms of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 or where we believe that our relationship with you has broken down for other reasons. In any circumstances where we decide to stop acting we may decline to give a reason to you should we so choose.
In either case you must pay our charges for work already done on the basis set out above.
15. Method of Communication
In relation to this matter we may communicate with you a number of ways including face to face, telephone and electronic communication such as email, mobile phone and online client portal.
Unless informed otherwise our primary form of communication will be via electronic means.
We shall normally seek to send to you a separate set of our Standard Terms and Conditions in respect of each new matter where you instruct us to act for you, unless you request otherwise. In the event that this does not happen for any reason these Standard Terms and Conditions will apply to any future instructions unless we agree differently in writing.
If you wish for us not to send a separate set of our Standard Terms and Conditions in respect of each new matter please contact Catherine Prosser and request that arrangements are made for you to be classed as a regular purchaser of legal services on “Multiple Terms”.
Even though we have asked you to sign, date and return the Acknowledgement of these Standard Terms and Conditions so that we can be happy that you understand the basis upon which we will act for you, your continuing instructions in this matter will amount to acceptance of our terms of business and authority for debit and credit card use. By continuing business relations with us, you are accepting our terms of business.