Peter Brown & Co. Solicitors LLP

Our Terms of Business (October 2019)

 

Who may rely on our advice?

Our legal services are solely for the use of our client and only for the purposes requested.

E-mail

We may contact you by unencrypted email.  We cannot guarantee the security of information sent by email and it is possible that e-mails and attachments may be corrupted, intercepted or amended after they have been transmitted.  We exclude liability for any loss or damage caused if this happens.  We may monitor e‑mail communications.

If you would prefer all or some communication by encrypted email, then please notify us.

Quality control audits

Your files may be reviewed by a supervisor, a quality control organisation and/or our auditors.

Copyright

We retain the copyright and all other rights in all documents issued by us; your rights are limited to the use of the documents for the purpose provided.

Investment advice

We will act as your legal adviser and it is not part of our role to give advice on the merits of investment transactions.  Any investment decision is for you to make and no communication by us should be treated as an invitation or inducement to you to engage in investment activity.

General Data Protection Regulation

Privacy Policy

Peter Brown & Co. Solicitors LLP is registered under the Data Protection legislation and our Data Protection Officer is John Dresner.

Our detailed Privacy Policy is available on our website at  https://www.peterbrown-solicitors.com/site/privacy-policy/ and is attached to these Terms of Business.

Termination

You may terminate our instructions at any time but we can keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us.  We may decide that we ought to stop acting for you, but this would only be for good reason and we would be entitled to be paid for the work we had done.

Confidentiality

We are under a professional and legal obligation to keep the affairs of clients confidential.  This obligation, however, is subject to a statutory exception: recent legislation on money laundering and terrorist financing has placed us under a legal obligation in certain circumstance to disclose information to the National Crime Agency.  Where we know or suspect that a transaction on behalf of a client involves money laundering, we may be required to make a money laundering disclosure.  Should that position arise on your transaction, we may have to stop working on your file for a period of time and will not be able to tell you why.

Complaints procedure

We pride ourselves in providing an efficient service to our clients.  Unfortunately, there are occasions when matters do not proceed as we would wish, in which case it is important that any dissatisfaction is brought to our attention as soon as possible.

If you are not satisfied with the response from the partner who is responsible for your matters or you would prefer not to bring up the matter with that person, then you should contact Robin Church or Alan Magnus.  Your complaint will be dealt with promptly.  If you are still dissatisfied then you may seek further help from the Legal Ombudsman at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ or on 0300 555 0333.

Storage of papers and electronic documents

We will store paper and electronic files for the minimum period of 7 years, depending on the transaction type which may require us to store this for longer.  At the expiration of this period, we will securely destroy the paper file unless you have requested us in writing not to do so.  If you do request us not to destroy the file, we will write to you telling you that your file is available.  If it is not collected within 28 days we will destroy the file.  We may scan your papers and destroy the originals.

If we take papers or documents out of off-site storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act for you, we will not normally charge for such retrieval.

However we may charge you both for:

  • time spent producing stored papers that are requested, and/or
  • reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions in relation to the retrieved papers.

There will be a minimum fee of £55 plus VAT.

All electronic data and documents are retained by us for a minimum of 7 years.  This data is stored on our in-house servers, within our cloud mail archive or on our serviced cloud servers.

Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017

We are required to obtain information from clients as evidence of their identity and know our client’s business.  We have subscribed to an on-line identity verification service which, in many cases, will enable us to satisfy the obligatory identification procedures at the outset.  The on-line verification is carried out through a Credit Reference Agency.  They will keep records of the checks, whether or not your matter proceeds.  We may nevertheless require you to supply documentary evidence of identity and address.  We are obliged to keep this information on record.

We are also required to monitor our clients’ identity on an ongoing basis and may need you to supply further evidence from time to time.  If the identity of our client changes during a matter, we will have to suspend acting until the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 have been complied with by the new client.  If we suspect that any breach of the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 or other criminal law has occurred we will stop acting or suspend our services and the law prohibits us from telling you the reason.  It may be necessary for us to have detailed information about the ultimate ownership of any corporate client or the beneficiary of any trust we may not be able to continue to act until the information is received.  In any such case we exclude liability for any loss or damage suffered as a result.  We do not accept cash.

Limits on our liability

Our liability for the services we provide is subject to a cap.  Our liability is capped at £15 million.  If you consider that this limit is not sufficient for any of your matters, please contact us and we will consider whether the limit should be increased.  Any increase in the limit will only apply to that particular matter and will only be effective if it has been confirmed in writing and signed by a Partner.  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 will not advise on taxation or the taxation consequences of any matter unless specifically asked to do so and any tax advice we may give is given on the basis that you will obtain separate confirmatory advice from your usual tax advisers.  We exclude liability for taxation advice and the taxation consequences of any matter.

Our liability is limited to a just and equitable proportion of the total loss or damage after taking into account contributory negligence and the legal responsibility of any other person.

Our current compulsory professional indemnity insurance is with QBE Insurance (Europe) Limited whose registered office is at Plantation Place, 30 Fenchurch Street, London EC3M 3BD.

Peter Brown & Co. Solicitors LLP is a limited liability partnership and is solely responsible for all legal advice and legal services.  Any advice and services given by individual partners or consultants and by our staff is given for and on behalf of Peter Brown & Co. Solicitors LLP and their personal liability is excluded.

The term “partner” refers to a member of the LLP, or an employee or consultant with equivalent standing and qualifications.

Future dealings and individuals using corporate vehicles

These Terms of Business will apply to all matters which we undertake on your behalf and on behalf of any associated company and on behalf of any partnership or body corporate in which you have an interest.  We sometimes accept instructions from an individual acting in their personal capacity who later uses a company to enter into a transaction; the individual and the company will be jointly and individually liable for our fees.

Insurance

We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. However, we are included on the register maintained by the FCA so that we may carry on insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the advising on selling and administering insurance contracts. 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 their website at https://register.fca.org.uk/ . If we recommend any insurance contract we will not have carried out an analysis of the market; you are not obliged to accept the contract which we recommend and you are entitled to request details of all the insurance companies with which we have dealings.

Value added tax, disbursements and bank transfers

VAT and disbursements are payable in addition to all fee estimates, fixed fees and hourly rates.  A charge will be made for any bank transfers and is in addition to any estimate or fixed fee.

Where disbursements and expenses are liable to VAT this will be clearly identified on your invoice.

How are our fees calculated?

Our charges will be based on the time spent dealing with your affairs, unless we agree to a fixed fee arrangement.  A time charge will include time spent at meetings, travelling, working on papers, correspondence, telephone calls, preparing itemised bills for assessment and internal discussions.  Routine correspondence and telephone calls are charged at units of one tenth of an hour.  Hourly charge-out rates are normally reviewed with effect from 1 May every year and if the matter has not been completed before the next review, the rates may rise.

The hourly rate is calculated to reflect the complexity, skill, novelty, value and importance to you.  It also takes into account the seniority and experience of the people acting for you.  The hourly rate is designed to cover only the work that we have been instructed to undertake.  If we are instructed to do additional work or the nature of the work substantially changes or requires urgent attention we may need to increase the hourly charge out rate, but we will discuss this with you at the time.

Estimates and fixed fees

Any estimate is not intended to be fixed unless expressly stated to be so.  Any agreement to charge a fixed fee is only binding if it is confirmed in writing and signed by a Partner.   A fixed fee will cover only the work that we have been specifically instructed to undertake.  If we are instructed to do additional work or the nature of the work substantially changes or requires urgent attention we will make additional charges.

Payments on account and interim bills

We may request payment of a reasonable sum on account of the costs and disbursements that are likely to be incurred on your behalf.  We may deliver bills to you from time to time throughout the course of the matter.  Please let us know if you wish to set a limit on the costs which may be incurred after which we must refer back to you for further authority.

Payment of our bills

All bills should be settled promptly on receipt.  Our costs are payable without deduction or set‑off.  Interest backdated to the date of the bill may be charged at 4% above Base Rate of Barclays Bank Plc from time to time on bills that are not paid within 30 days.  In addition interest will be charged on a monthly basis at the rate payable on judgement additional costs we incur.  If you do not pay the bill and we take steps for recovery, you will have to pay the additional costs we incur.  It is our policy to sue for payment of unpaid invoices.

If any bill is not paid or if a request for payment on account is not complied with, we may stop acting for you at which point we will submit a bill for the full amount of work that has been done.

We are entitled to settle our bills from monies held on your behalf and to retain your papers and documents until all our bills have been settled.

If your matter does not proceed to completion, a reasonable fee for the work carried out will be payable. With Property transactions if we are subsequently reinstructed there would normally be a discount.

Instalment arrangements or agreements to defer payment are only effective if they are in writing and signed by a Partner; they will become ineffective if any instalment is not paid on the due date.  Even if we agree an instalment arrangement or deferred payment, interest will be charged on the balance outstanding at bank base rate prevailing at the time.

If our client is a limited liability company or a limited liability partnership you as director or a member or other authorised officer by signing and accepting these terms and conditions agree to be personally liable for any fees due for services provided to that company or limited liability partnership in the event that it is unable or does not pay us.   You guarantee to personally pay any such fees (including disbursements) that are not paid.  This clause will remain effective in the event of a receiver or liquidator being appointed to the company or the limited liability partnership or it becomes insolvent or is wound up or ceases to exist.

Cybercrime and Fraud

Please note that you will never be advised of a change in bank details by email from Peter Brown & Co. Solicitors LLP.  There is currently an industry wide problem of fraudulent attempts to pose as solicitors or clients in an attempt to intercept funds.  If you receive an email about our bank account details changing please contact us immediately. Do not send funds to the account. In order to further safeguard our clients we ask that you speak to Peter Brown & Co. Solicitors LLP (after ascertaining our number from our website or existing records) to verify the firm’s bank details before sending monies to us.

Interest on your money

We are required by the Solicitors Regulation Authority to account to you for interest earned on client monies where it is fair and reasonable to do so in all the circumstances.

Generally we will pay interest at the rate payable by our bank on instant access deposits. We will not pay interest to you:

  1. Where the amount of interest due is £40 or less; or
  2. Where money is held by us for less than one week.

Where we hold a deposit as stakeholder we do not account to the seller for the first 28 days interest and we make no other charge for acting as the stakeholder providing the matter completes as expected.

Holding your money

Any funds held on behalf of clients are deposited either in Barclays Bank plc or with Svenska Handelsbanken AB. In the unlikely event of that institution collapsing your funds could be affected and might be eligible for compensation. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) limit of £85,000 applies to an individual, so if you hold personal monies in the same institution, whether trading under the same or a different name, the limit will remain at £85,000 in total. In the event of a claim, we would seek consent to disclose client details to the FSCS to ameliorate the process.

Your Contact Details and out of pocket expenses

It is essential that you constantly update us where you change address or place of residence or otherwise your contact details change. For example, it may be that monies are due to you following completion of a transaction. If we cannot trace you, this creates additional burdens, expenses and delay in paying monies due to you. If cheques are sent to you and not deposited and we incur bank charges in cancelling that cheque, those bank charges will be debited on your account and you will be liable for such expenses. Where you change address and do not advise us of your new address and we incur expenses in tracing you those direct out of pocket expenses will be deducted from any monies held for you or will otherwise be a debt due from you. All contact details including telephone numbers and email addresses should be updated and supplied to us wherever possible.

Queries on our bills

If you have any query on your bill you should first contact the fee earner dealing with your matter or the Partner who is your usual contact.  Please notify us of your concern within 14 days of receiving the bill; if you do not, you will be deemed to have approved and accepted the bill.

Fee disputes in non-contentious matters

If you are dissatisfied with our bill you should make a complaint under the Complaints Procedure referred to above.  There may also be a right to object to the bill by applying to the court for an assessment of the bill.

Fee disputes in litigation

We generally don’t handle litigious matters. However if your matter is contentious and you want to dispute your fee the procedure will be set out on the reverse of the invoice.

Hours of Business

Peter Brown & Co. Solicitors LLP usual hours of business are 9.30am – 5.30pm Monday to Friday.

Equality and Diversity

Peter Brown & Co. Solicitors LLP is committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of its dealings with clients, third parties and employees.

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.

Distance Selling Regulations

As I have not met you, under the terms of the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, you have the right to cancel your instructions without any cost to you within 7 working days of receipt of this letter.  You can cancel your instructions by contacting us by post email or by fax to this office clearly quoting our file reference and marking the communication for my attention.  However, technically under the Regulations, you cannot cancel your instructions once you have agreed that I should start work on your behalf.  By signing and returning the enclosed questionnaire, you are agreeing that I can start work straight away before the end of the cancellation period and expend your funds paid on account for disbursements. The Regulations normally apply to the provision of services within 30 days, so I also need to draw your attention to the fact that it frequently takes longer to complete a conveyance, particularly where a chain is involved.