Terms & Conditions
These Terms and Conditions of Engagement (“Terms”), together with our engagement letter, set out the basis on which we will provide our services, and they should be read together. In the event of any inconsistency between the letter and these Terms, the former shall prevail. With effect from the 1st of January 2010, these Terms will apply to all services rendered by us to you from time to time unless we have entered into a specific written agreement which expressly excludes or modifies them in whole or in part.
Our professional fee will be assessed on a scale fee or hourly rate at the outset of instructions. This does not include outlay, Counsel’s fees or other expert fees or V.A.T. Please remember that V.A.T. will be charged in addition to the total amount of the professional fees at the rates applicable on the date our bill[s] are delivered to you.
You may be entitled to Legal Aid if you are in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance or Income Support or otherwise come within the financial limits applicable.
If you wish to avail of Legal Aid you must bring to your first appointment or at the earliest available opportunity, current documentation confirming your benefit details and/or those of your spouse/partner if they are in receipt of the relevant benefits. If you are on low income or other benefit you may qualify to some extent for Legal Aid. Again current payslips and benefit details must be brought to your first appointment or provided at the earliest available opportunity.
The Legal Aid rules provide for a contribution from you if your income exceeds the maximum level for free Legal Aid or assistance. If you are being assisted under the Green Form Scheme then the money is paid to this firm. If you are granted Legal Aid, any contribution will be payable to the Legal Services Commission. Failure to make the payments assessed will result in assistance/legal aid being withdrawn and you will be responsible for all of our costs.
Instructions will be accepted or declined in accordance with the Solicitors’ Practice Regulations 1987 (as amended), and the Solicitors (Client Communication) Practice Regulations 2008.
As your solicitors it is our duty to use our professional skills and expertise to advance your case. We will use our professional judgement to take steps to protect your interests. This means that we will receive letters, e-mails and telephone calls which we will be obliged to consider and respond to if it is in your interests.
We will also have to write and make telephone calls to try to advance your case. We cannot contact you for instructions every time we receive a communication or we need to make an inquiry as this will unnecessarily increase the costs of your case. We assure you that every effort will be made to keep you informed about the main developments in your case and we will contact you immediately for your instructions if anything significant or unusual occurs. We will also contact you if we receive information that affects our current views. We will seek your information and give you a written review on the issues at that point. You should bear in mind that as the case develops the length of time it takes to resolve and the way in which it is progressed is influenced not just by what we decide to do together but also how others decide to deal with your case.
If there is any new information that might affect your instructions it is important that you tell us about it as soon as possible. It is useful to receive written confirmation about that information either by letter or electronic means.
Money Laundering Government Rule
We are required by the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 to verify your identity before we can act or continue to act on your behalf in connection with this matter.
You will have to produce your original passport/driver’s licence/other photographic identity documents and either a recent utility bill or bank statement issued within the past six months to confirm your address, as we require a copy of each for our file. You need to do this as soon as possible otherwise we will not be able to continue to act for you.
We may have to ask you questions about the proposed source and flow of funds for your case and make such further inquiries as may be relevant to the transaction. There also are circumstances under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 in which we are required to make a confidential report to the Serious Organised Crime Agency where we know or suspect that a criminal offence has been committed we may be prevented from informing you of this under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007.
Because of the provisions in the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 our policy is that we do not accept payments in cash exceeding £750.00.
Our Charging Arrangements and Time for Payment
Our charging methods have been referred to above. Fees and expenses payable in respect of interim invoices are payable within fourteen days after the date of the invoice. Any outstanding fees and expenses will be payable on completion of the matter. If you do not pay within twenty eight days from the date of invoice, we will charge interest on the amount outstanding on the due date at the rate of 5% above the Bank of England base rate. We will not carry out any further work until any outstanding bill is paid. If you have difficulty paying your fees then you should contact us as soon as possible.
Where our services are supplied to two or more persons then your liability for our costs is joint and several; you will each be liable for any amounts due to us. If a third party or other source is to be responsible, this must be agreed with us before work is undertaken.
When your case is concluded and we are holding money on your behalf we will deduct our fees and expenses from the monies due to you and pay you the balance.
Our VAT registration number is: 286 3658 16.
Each client matter will be accounted for separately. If we are dealing with more than one matter for a client there may be times when we have to transfer funds between matters. By accepting these terms of business you confirm that we have your permission to do this.
Social Media, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Social media presents an ever increasing challenge to both lawyers and the courts in Northern Ireland. We strongly advise you to enter into no discussion whatsoever or make any posts on your social media accounts about your case. Despite what you may perceive as privacy settings we have encountered several unique and ingenious methods of finding people’s data by interested parties. A seemingly innocent post about being at the gym for example could affect a personal injury claim. Your account may not be as private as you think. Please also be advised that your friends or associates on social media can be viewed easily and scrutinised. Please exercise care.
How we handle Data and Records
It may be necessary for us to retain personal data about you on our file and/or computer records. Examples can include financial information, bank details, sensitive personal data and medical records/reports. In accepting these terms of business, you confirm that we may receive and hold confidential and/or sensitive personal data in relation to you and that, where appropriate, this may need to be disclosed to others such as Counsel, solicitors, advocates, experts and other parties. If you have a concern about disclosure of any particular sensitive or commercial data, please raise this with us at an early stage.
We will communicate with you by the most effective means. We cannot be responsible for the security of correspondence and documents sent by fax, e-mail or other electronic means. If you have concerns about the confidentiality of any information sent by such electronic means, please let us know so that we can arrange for secure transmission.
When a matter has completed we normally retain our correspondence file for a period of six years after completion. Thereafter the file will be destroyed without reference to you unless, before then, you notify us that you wish to retain some part of the file. Original documents will usually be returned to you or the apparent owner.
The firm is ISO 9001 compliant. As a consequence, outside assessors may inspect our files in confidence. We will assume that in signing this agreement you are consenting to your file being selected for a check by outside assessors unless you indicate to us otherwise.
Termination Ending the Solicitor Client Relationship
You may terminate our engagement on this matter in writing at any time. You will have to pay all outstanding fees and expenses up to the date of termination. We may retain all documents, deeds and other papers until payment of all monies due to us.
We may at some time consider that we ought to stop acting for you e.g. if you do not respond to any requests for information or do not abide by or accept any advice given.
You will be responsible for all the fees and expenses incurred to the date we cease to act and we may retain all documents, deeds and other papers until payment of all monies due.
On the termination of the retainer we will notify all relevant parties accordingly and if appropriate, apply to the court to come off record on your behalf.
Conflict of Interest
On occasions, we may be asked to advise a client in a similar line of business. In accepting these terms of business you agree that we will not be precluded from acting on behalf of other clients, whether current or future, who are in a similar line of business to you either during the conduct of this matter or after our retainer has been completed unless there is a clear conflict of interest arising from the specific work that we do for you.
Limitation of Liability
In no circumstances will we be liable to you for any loss arising out of or in connection with this engagement in contract, tort, by Statute or otherwise, unless the loss is caused directly as a result of our negligence or default.
In the circumstances, the potential total aggregate liability of our firm whether for breach of contract, tort, including negligence and/or misrepresentation, breach of statutory duty [or otherwise] arising out of or in connection with our engagement will be limited to an amount not exceeding £3,000,000.
The potential total aggregate liability of our firm to you arising out of or in connection with our engagement will in addition be limited to the amount that could be met without recourse to the personal assets of any partner. We shall not be liable for any indirect consequential loss or for loss arising out of any action necessary for us to take to comply with any Money Laundering Regulations 2007.
When the loss is suffered by you for which we and any other person are jointly and severally liable the loss recoverable by you from us shall be limited so as to be in proportion to our relative contribution to the overall fault taking into account that other party’s liability. That other party may include you e.g. in the situation of contributory negligence.
If, as a result of any exclusion or limitation of liability agreed by you with any other person the amount, which you are able to recover is reduced, then our liability to you will be reduced to you by an equivalent amount.
We shall not be liable to any third party for any services or advice we provide to you nor shall we have any liability to you for any services or advice to you for any services or advice given by any third party whom we instruct on your behalf, e.g. in relation to legal, financial or other professional advice.
We have compulsory Professional Indemnity Insurance cover under the Law Society of Northern Ireland’s Master Policy, which is underwritten by a “Slip” of Insurers in any one insurance year. A copy of our Professional Indemnity Insurance Schedule and related Evidence of Insurance issued to us by our brokers together with copies of each solicitor’s individual Professional Indemnity Insurance Certificate is available for inspection and copies of these documents will be provided to you on request.
The Territorial limits of the Master policy are worldwide but there is a restriction of the Jurisdiction Limits in respect of USA and Canada for which are excluded.
- Damages or other monetary awards, judgements or negotiated settlements claimant’s costs and expenses and defence costs connected with or arising out of any claim made or suit brought against the Insured before any arbitrator tribunal or court in the United States of America, its territories and possessions, or Canada.
- The enforcement upholding or court outside the United States of America, its territories and possessions, or Canada, of any damages or other monetary awards, judgements or negotiated settlements claimant’s costs and expenses and defence costs connected with or arising out of any claim made or suit brought against the Insured before any arbitrator tribunal or court of the United States of America, its territories and possessions, or Canada.
These terms of business are governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of Northern Ireland. We would ask you to return one signed copy of this letter agreement as an acknowledgement that you accept these terms. We have separate terms of business for work carried out in the Republic of Ireland jurisdiction.
In the meantime, insofar as we carry out work for you prior to receipt by us of the signed copy of this letter/agreement or you raising particular concerns or issues about content the work will be deemed to be done on the basis of the terms set out above.
Concerns and Complaints
At all times we try to deliver a high quality, client focused service. If at any time you are worried about how your case is being processed, please contact the solicitor primarily responsible for dealing with you. If you do not get a satisfactory explanation then you may invoke our formal complaints procedure. A leaflet or written details explaining the complaints procedures is available on request but in the event that you need to complain, please write to the solicitor dealing with your case, setting out your concerns and they will reply as soon as practicable. We anticipate that we will be able to resolve your concerns through our internal procedures. However, if we do not, our leaflet/written details explain what else you may do.
You may also wish to refer to the Law Society of Northern Ireland for further information on the conduct of solicitors. The Law Society details are as follows:
Law Society of Northern Ireland
96 Victoria Street, Belfast, BT1 3GN
Telephone: 028 9023 1614
Who to Contact
At the outset you will be advised who is handling your case. From time to time, other members of staff may deal with some aspects of the work as appropriate although the initial Solicitor will have overall responsibility for the work. If it is necessary to relocate your work to another member of staff you will be advised accordingly. Contact details for the solicitor primarily responsible for dealing with your case are:
Tel: 028 9032 2998
Please therefore notify us of changes to telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and postal addresses. Again we think it a precaution you should follow up any telephone calls about these changes in writing.
In the event that any of these terms of business should become invalid, illegal or unenforceable then any remaining terms and conditions shall survive unaffected.
I agree the terms and conditions set out above.