1. THE COMPANY
Marsden Rawsthorn Solicitors is the trading name of Marsden Rawsthorn Solicitors Limited (the Company), a limited liability company registered in England whose registered office is 3 & 4 Faraday Court, Faraday Drive, Fulwood, Preston PR2 9NB (No: 8282848). The Company is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority number 591294. A full list of shareholders and directors is available on request.
The words ‘we’, ‘us’, ‘our’ ‘Company’ ‘firm’ in these terms of business refer to Marsden Rawsthorn Solicitors Limited
Our services to you will be given by a ‘case-worker’, that is someone who has the appropriate skills in the area of law appropriate to your needs who may be a solicitor, a legal executive, a law clerk or paralegal. We shall confirm the status of the relevant case-worker at the outset.
The contract between you and us for the provision of any services by us shall comprise (1) the Engagement letter sent by us in relation to any specific matter together with any appendices or supplements or written variations and (2) these Terms and Conditions of business (together known as ‘the contract’). We pursue a plain English policy in this Company but if there is anything set out here which you do not fully understand, then please let us know and we shall clarify it for you. In the case of any conflict between these standard business terms and the terms of any letter or quotation from us, the terms of the letter or quotation shall prevail.
You are required to sign the covering letter confirming you have read, understand and accept these terms and conditions before we start working for you. We are unable to work for you until this has been done.
These terms shall constitute our agreement to act as your Solicitors with regard to any instructions received from you and shall continue until terminated.
We reserve the right to amend the terms of this agreement as may be required to comply with changes in the law or changes to the rules or requirements of our governing body, The Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Our normal office opening hours are from 9.00am to 5.00pm on Mondays to Fridays excepting Bank Holidays. However appointments can be arranged outside those hours if necessary and the telephones at our Preston Office are manned from 8.45am to 5.15pm. During our normal working hours, we can be contacted by telephone, e-mail or fax. The details for each will be at the top of each letter you receive from us. When your case-worker is away from the office, please direct your enquiries to the Secretary who will be able to refer your enquiry to someone else within the department.
We will review and update you by telephone or in writing in plain language with progress of your matter and any changes in law which may affect your matter regularly.
We will review and explain the legal work required as your matter progresses and whether the likely outcome still justifies the likely costs and risks associated with your matter.
We will update you on the costs and time scale of the matter at regular intervals.
We ask that you provide your instructions and any documentation required to progress the matter as soon as possible.
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.
3. JOINT INSTRUCTIONS
Where two or more people jointly instruct us to act on their behalf (for example, on purchase of a property), we are entitled to assume that instructions given by one of them are given with the authority of the other(s). Each of you will be responsible for meeting the full amount of our charges.
Should it become apparent there are substantive differences of views on the matter, we may have to cease acting for one or all of you.
Where we are instructed on behalf of a Company, we are entitled to assume that the person nominated by the Company to give instructions has the authorisation of the Company to provide those instructions.
Unless a fixed fee arrangement has been agreed and confirmed in writing by us, or a client is entitled to receive funding from the Legal Aid Agency, the basis for calculation of our fees is calculated by reference to the time spent and the seniority of the case-worker undertaking the work. Our covering letter gives the relevant case-workers hourly charging rate whose time spent will be based on our computer time recording system. Time charged includes (without limitation) attendances upon the client and others; any time spent travelling, reading, considering, preparing and working on papers and correspondence (including emails); making and receiving telephone calls and advocacy. The hourly rates of our staff which are based upon the experience and seniority of individual case-workers are normally reviewed annually and take account of overhead costs.
In exceptional cases, where a case-worker is expected to deal with urgent matters outside the usual office hours, or carry an exceptional responsibility, we reserve the right to increase our hourly charging rate. We will advise you of any such changes as they occur.
In some areas of work, such as the administration of estates, we may, in addition to the hourly charging rate, charge additional fees for the care and conduct element of the transaction, which reflects the complexity, value and risk of the matter. Should this case and conduct uplift apply, we will inform you at the outset and give further details.
If the charging arrangement is a fixed fee, the basis on which this is payable is detailed in our covering letter. There are circumstances where the fixed fee contract may be terminated with any further costs incurred by the Company charged on an hourly rate basis. Again, the circumstances under which situation may be triggered is detailed in the attached covering letter (if applicable).
The fixed fees quoted in the covering letter (if applicable) assume that the matter will be straightforward. If this proves not to be the case then we will contact you.
Disbursements include payments made by the Company on behalf of the client e.g. for such items as court fees, counsel’s fees, fees for medical reports, search fees, Land or Probate Registry fees etc. We have no obligation to effect such payments unless funds have been provided by the client for that purpose. VAT is payable on certain disbursements. We will indicate where possible the larger disbursements required at the outset of the transaction. Please note that you may set a limit to the charges and disbursements (excluding VAT) which we may incur without agreement with you which must be agreed in writing from you. If no written agreement is in place, no limit shall apply.
Fees are payable whether or not a case is successfully concluded or a transaction completed. If any case, if the transaction does not proceed to completion for any reason during the period in which this Company is instructed, then we shall be entitled to charge for work done on the basis set out above but, in its absolute discretion, the Company may waive part or all of such entitlement to fees.
We generally ask clients to deposit an advance payment on account of costs and this is detailed fully under ‘interim bills and payment on account’.
In certain cases your liability for legal charges may be covered by your membership to a Trade Union, your employer, an existing insurance policy, or you may be able to purchase insurance cover in respect of your potential liability for legal charges. If you think any of these possibilities applies and the matter has not already been discussed with you, then you should ask us about these possibilities at the earliest opportunity.
We will continue to monitor whether there are alternative methods by which your matter can be funded.
Invoices are due for payment immediately upon issue without any deduction by way of set off, counterclaim or other charge. Interest is chargeable at the rate allowed by statute from time to time on unpaid debts in the event of non-payment within one month of the date of the invoice. We reserve the right to take legal action in recovery of the debt if a bill remains unpaid after one month from the date of invoice. We shall be entitled to recover on a full indemnity basis any costs incurred by us in collecting overdue payments. We will not continue working on a matter when an invoice is overdue.
Payment of bills may be made by bank transfer (bank details can be made available on request), cheque, Visa/Mastercard debit card and credit cards (credit card payments subject to a 2% administration charge) and cash (up to £1,000). Where you pay monies to us by way of cheque, we require 10 working days to ensure clearance before we are able to pay any monies out of it.
We reserve the right to deduct any invoiced sums (whether overdue or not) from monies received by us on your behalf before forwarding any balance to you. We also reserve the right to set off any invoiced sums (whether overdue or not) from monies held by us on any other account in your name.
If a third party has agreed or been ordered to pay your charges, you will still be liable for those charges until the third party pays.
After completing the work, we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents whilst there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses.
Our VAT number is 154 1096 28.
5. INTERIM BILLS AND PAYMENTS ON ACCOUNT
We reserve the right to tender an invoice or request for disbursements (the payments we make on your behalf and on which we make no profit) either before or immediately after they are incurred.
We have a general policy (though we reserve the right to deviate from it) of rendering interim invoices for non-Legal Aid funded work each 3 months, or (if earlier) when charges incurred on your account reach a level of £500, for work done on your behalf, which also helps you to judge the level of expenditure being incurred.
We reserve the right to ask you for a payment on account of work undertaken or to be undertaken, either at the outset of the matter or during the course of it.
We will place any sum paid on account to your credit or use it in part payment of an outstanding invoice.
We reserve the right to discontinue work on your matter (and any other matters being conducted on your behalf) until payment where either an interim account has been rendered or a request for payment on account of charges or disbursements has been made.
Our Firm’s policy is to only accept cash up to £1,000 and this includes deposits directly into our bank account. We reserve the right to charge for any additional checks which we deem necessary regarding the source of funds if a greater amount is deposited directly into our bank account.
It is our policy, in the event of funds being received into our bank from a source other than our client and without prior agreement with us (or request by us to the paying party) to retain the funds unused until either the source of the funds has been established as legitimate or until we have sought and obtained approval from the National Crime Agency to part with the funds. Accordingly, you are requested not to give details of our bank account to third parties unless necessary for the purposes of your transaction, and to discourage any third party from paying funds into our account on your behalf or to your credit without our prior agreement.
6. PROOF OF IDENTITY AND USE OF CREDIT REFERENCE AGENCIES
Marsden Rawsthorn will generally use a facility known as Creditsafe to conduct the appropriate anti-money-laundering checks in respect of clients who are non-corporate individuals. Where there is a need to assess the risk of granting credit to clients for the provision of legal services, we may also search the records of one or more licensed credit reference agencies to obtain information on you. These agencies may add details of our search and your application to the records they hold on you, whether or not your instruction proceeds, We may also add details of how your agreement operates with us to these records, including any defaults or failure to keep to the terms of your agreement and/or any failure to advise us of a change of address where a payment is overdue. Credit searches and other information provided to the credit reference agencies and fraud prevention agencies about you, and those with whom you are linked financially, may be used and disclosed by such agencies to other companies unrelated to us for the purposes mentioned above. Credit reference agencies will also use the information for statistical analysis about credit, insurance, and fraud. It the policy of Marsden Rawsthorn to make a charge (on which VAT is payable) to its clients to complete this formality. By accepting these Terms & Conditions you agree to pay to Marsden Rawsthorn its standard fixed charge (£10 for each individual) for checking this information through the Creditsafe facility.
Marsden Rawsthorn may also use credit reference agencies for the following additional permitted purposes:
- Detecting fraud in relation to the granting of credit to clients.
- Assisting in the prevention of money laundering
- Collecting debts and tracing clients in default of bills outstanding
- ID and age verification
- Bank Account validation
- Services which can reasonably be described as derivatives of the above permitted purpose descriptions such as, but not limited to developments of legislation relating to data protection and identity verification.
In addition, as we are required by law to verify your identity, we need proof of identity in the form of a passport, or other suitable photographic identification as well as evidence of residence. The types of document suitable to comply with our procedures will be advised at the time we complete this formality.
The firm’s obligations under Money Laundering Regulations in respect of corporate clients (including limited liability partnerships) will require the firm to undertake anti-money-laundering checks through Creditsafe on a variety of individuals in the manner and at the costs referred to above together with the provision of additional paper identification information as detailed above. In addition, we make checks in respect of the corporate client itself, which may require payment of fees to Companies House and/or other entities operating services in relation to corporate bodies similar to those which Creditsafe provides in relation to individuals. In these cases, it is the policy of Marsden Rawsthorn to make a charge (on which VAT is payable) to its clients of a fixed sum per individual and per company for the making of the necessary checks. In these cases the costs involved are difficult to predict at the outset with certainty, though we will try to give a reasonable estimate before the costs are incurred.
Please note that if circumstances appear to require additional or alternative checks to be made for the verification of your identity then you may be required to produce additional documents yourself and/or to answer questions directed to the verification of identity.
Creditsafe is an arm of Creditsafe Business Solutions Ltd and in accordance with the law you are hereby notified that its address is Bryn House, Caerphilly CF83 3GG.
We are professionally and legally obliged to keep your affairs confidential. However, solicitors may be required by statute to make a disclosure to the National Crime Agency where they know or suspect that a transaction may involve money laundering or terrorist financing. If we make a disclosure in relation to your matter, we may not be able to tell you that a disclosure has been made. We may have to stop working on your matter for a period of time and may not be able to tell you why.
7. PAYMENT OF INTEREST
Our interest policy, in accordance with the Solicitors Accounts Rules 2011, sets out when interest will and will not be paid. If you wish to have a copy of this Policy, please let us know and one will be supplied or alternatively the policy can be viewed at www.sra.org.uk/accounts-rules.
In accordance with the Solicitors’ (Non-Contentious) Remuneration Order 2009, we will charge interest on unpaid bills at 8% per annum, the rate currently paid on Judgement Debts, from one month after delivery of our bill. Where you are a limited company, a partnership, LLP or sole trader, we reserve the right to charge interest pursuant to the Late Payment of Commercial debts (Interest) Act 1998.
8. COURT CASES
You are responsible for your fees and any disbursements incurred on your matter regardless of any costs that may be awarded to you by the Court, which are payable by the other side.
You should be aware that if you succeed in any court case, the general rule is that the costs may be awarded to you but there are circumstances where the Court will not award the full amount to you. This is particularly so if the other party is legally aided.
If you lose your case, you will have to pay your own fees and may have to pay the costs of the other party as well.
9. WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE DISSATISFIED GENERALLY
Marsden Rawsthorn is committed to high-quality legal advice and client care. If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service you have received please contact the Department Head and should the complaint still remain unresolved after this referral, please contact our Client Care Director Paul Ridehalgh by telephone on 01772 799603 or by post to Westmarch House, Matrix Park, 42 Eaton Avenue, Buckshaw Village, Chorley PR7 7NA. We have a procedure in place which details how we handle complaints which is available on request from Paul Ridehalgh.
If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can ask the Legal Ombudsman who can be contacted at the Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ, by phone on 0300 555 0333 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to consider the complaint. Normally you will need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within 6 months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint. Before a complaint can be investigated by this body, it requires the Company internal complaints procedure to have been fully exhausted.
The Legal Ombudsman will consider complaints from members of the public, certain charities and small businesses, clubs, associations, societies, trusts and personal representatives of the residuary beneficiaries of an estate where a person with a complaint died before referring it to the Legal Ombudsman.
In the event that you are unhappy with an invoice you have received from us, you should refer the matter to us in writing setting out the reasons for your complaint. If the dispute cannot be resolved then you have the right to have our charges reviewed by the Court (known as assessment). This procedure is set out in Sections 70, 71 and 72 of the Solicitors Act 1974. The court will say that our fee is fair and reasonable, or it will substitute a lower fee.
The right to ask for the charges to be assessed may be lost unless a request is made by you within one month of the date of delivery of the invoice in dispute. You may have fees and costs to pay in respect of an assessment application. Further details of your rights are printed on the reverse of our invoices.
10. STORAGE/RELEASE OF ORIGINAL FILE PAPERS
If at the conclusion of your matter you require the return of any file papers please let us know when arranging payment of your final account or as soon as possible after the matter is finished. If no request is made within one month of date of the final invoice your file will be sent to storage. We make a standard charge for storage. In the case of most files, storage is for a limited period only (usually six years), though some files, due to their nature, will be kept longer. When the relevant period for which a file is required to be stored expires, the file will be destroyed.
11. STORAGE/RELEASE OF DEEDS AND WILLS
We will store your will or title deeds or other important documents on request, but please note that in common with the usual practice of banks and building societies we make an administration charge on withdrawal or removal of such items from our storage system (even if withdrawal or removal is temporary). The charge is reviewed annually and details are available on request.
12. DATA PROTECTION / CONFIDENTIALITY
We will use information you provide primarily for the provision of legal services to you and for related purposes only including updating and enhancing client records, analysis to help us manage the Firm’s statutory returns and legal and regulatory compliance.
Our use of that information is subject to your instructions, the Data Protection Act 1998 and our duty of confidentiality. Please note that our work for you may require us to give information to third parties such as expert witnesses and other professional advisors. You have a right of access under data protection legalisation to the personal data that we hold about you.
We may from time to time send you information which we think may be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive that information please notify our office in writing.
External firms or organisations including (but not exclusively) the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Legal Aid Agency may conduct audits or quality checks on our practice as part of their regulatory duties. These external firms or organisations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files.
13. EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY
Marsden Rawsthorn is committed to promoting equality and diversity in all its dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our equality and diversity policy.
14. PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY
In the interests of clients, the Company maintain professional indemnity insurance arranged through Travellers Insurance Company Ltd who can be contacted at 61-63 London Road, Redhill, Surrey RH1 1NA for each separate or related claim.
15. LIMITING LIABILITY
Our liability to you in connection with any instructions shall be limited to any award made by the relevant court, tribunal or board in the absence of agreement and will take into account any contribution due from a third party. 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.
Please ask if you would like us to explain any of these provisions.
16. TERMINATING YOUR INSTRUCTIONS
You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time, but we can keep all your papers and documents whilst there is still money owed by you for fees and expenses. You will only be liable to pay for work already done (or which on your authority, we are irrevocably committed to do) and for expenses which we have already incurred or are committed to incurring. If we have agreed a fee other than on an hourly rate, we will charge you a fair proportion of the sum estimated or agreed for the completed matter based on the time actually spent compared with the time which the transaction should have taken.
We may decide to stop acting for you only with good reason such as if you do not pay an interim bill or there is a conflict of interest. We must give you reasonable notice that we will stop acting for you.
Please bear in mind that in matters involving court proceedings, we may require the permission of the court to cease acting and you will be charged for any court application in this regard.
17. CONSUMER CONTRACTS REGULATIONS (INFORMATION, CANCELLATION AND ADDITIONAL CHARGES) REGULATIONS 2013
If our instructions to act arose from a meeting (or other communication) that occurred with a representative of the practice who was not then at our office, it would be an ‘off-premises’ contract and as such you would have the right to cancel your instructions to the Company (by letter fax or email) within 14 days of the day after the date that you instructed the Company. If you cancel the contract within this 14 day period but in the meantime you instruct us to carry out an item of work, and we carry it out, you will be liable to pay our reasonable costs for this work.
If we have been instructed to act for you otherwise than as described above, this would be an ‘on-premises’ contract’ with no right of cancellation although you are entitled to terminate our retainer subject to the terms details in section 16 ‘Terminating your Instructions’ of this agreement.
If you return a signed copy of these terms and conditions of business then this would amount to your authority allowing us to proceed with this matter with any cancellation right having been waived. Once we have started work you would be entitled to terminate our retainer subject to the terms details in section 16 ‘Terminating your Instructions’ of this agreement.
18. FINANCIAL SERVICES
We are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority. If, whilst 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, we may provide certain limited investment advice services where these are closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you. This is because we are members of the Law Society of England and Wales, which is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory arm of the Law Society. The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints against case-workers. If you are unhappy with any investment advice you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with either of those bodies.
19. INSURANCE MEDIATION WORK
We are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority. However, we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Services Authority so that we can carry on insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the 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 Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be access via the Financial Services website at www.fsa.gov.uk/register.
The Law Society is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory arm of the Law Society. The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints against case-workers. If you are unhappy with any insurance advice you should raise your concerns with either of those bodies.
Unless you inform us in writing prior to us commencing our services for you, we are acting upon your assurance to us (in the case of an individual or individuals) that you are not bankrupt, or (in the case of companies) in receivership or administration and/or subject to any insolvency proceedings or arrangement with creditors and that you will let us know immediately if you hear of any application in that respect.
If you are subject to any court proceedings, we need to have full details advised to us. We are entitled to assume you do not have any court judgements or enforcements against you unless you inform us of this in writing.
If our identification enquiries identify adverse credit data, we are entitled to terminate our relationship before work commences or request payment for work to be completed upfront. If this circumstance is identified at a later date, any work completed is required to be paid for before any further work is completed and payment upfront is required to complete the matter.
21. LIMITED COMPANIES
When accepting instructions to act on behalf of a limited company, we may require a director and/or controlling shareholder to sign a form of personal guarantee in respect of the costs incurred by the Company. If such a request is refused, we will be entitled to stop acting and to require the immediate payment of our costs as detailed earlier in this agreement.
22. THIRD PARTIES
23. EMAIL DISCLAIMER & FRAUD PROTECTION
Confidentiality: This communication is intended solely for the person or organisation to whom it is addressed and may be confidential and/or legally privileged. If you are not the intended recipient, you must not show it to anyone, copy, distribute, or take any action in reliance on it. If you have received this message in error, please inform the sender immediately and delete this email from your system. Email transmission cannot be guaranteed to be secure or error-free as information could be intercepted, corrupted, lost, destroyed, late in arriving or incomplete as a result of the transmission process. Marsden Rawsthorn, therefore, does not accept liability for any errors or omissions in the contents of this message which arise as a result of email transmission. Although Marsden Rawsthorn endeavours to take every care by use of anti-virus software to ensure emails are sent without viruses it does not accept responsibility for any damage whatsoever that is caused by viruses being passed by this email.
Unless prior consent to such has been given by us in writing, no individual who is not a party to the subject matter of these terms and conditions will have the right to enforce them.