0800 253 629
1. CHARGES AND EXPENSES
Our charges will be calculated mainly by reference to the time spent by Solicitors and other Executive staff dealing with your matter. This may include advising, attending on you and others, dealing with papers, letters and emails, researching, correspondence, telephone calls, travelling and waiting time and attending Court or a Tribunal Hearing. In Probate and certain other matters, however, our charges may also contain an element based on the value of either the Estate or the claim which is known as “care and control”. This is because the value is a reflection of the importance of the matter and, consequently, the responsibility of the firm.
Where appropriate, our estimate of charges or relevant charging rate(s) are set out in a separate letter to you. The charging rate(s) quoted are reviewed annually on 31 December each year and if the matter has not been concluded before 31 December next, therefore, the rate(s) may well increase at that time (but we will then write and tell you what the new rate(s) will be). If the matter is family or litigation then our rates are set by the Ministry of Justice and will be adjusted when new rate charges are applied by the Ministry of Justice.
Unless otherwise specifically agreed with you in writing, if for any reason, the firm does not complete the work you have instructed us to do, then a charge will be made in respect of the work that has already been completed. VAT will normally be payable on that amount and you will also be billed for any "disbursements" (expenses and payments to third parties) incurred on your behalf.
Bills, whether interim or final must be settled within 28 days. If they are not then interest will accrue on all unpaid amounts.
It is normal practice amongst Solicitors to ask clients to make payments on account of anticipated fees and disbursements. Where appropriate, the person with responsibility for your matter will discuss this with you. It is helpful if you can meet requests promptly: if there is any difficulty, please let us know as soon as possible.
Unless otherwise agreed in writing, you will be personally responsible for payment of our fees and VAT and for reimbursing any expenses we incur on your behalf. In the event that we are obliged to satisfy the identification requirements referred to in the Money Laundering section at paragraph 23 below, we will charge a fee of £20 including VAT plus the enquiry fees payable to the enquiry agent.
Directors of a Company who instruct us will be personally responsible for the payment of our accounts by way of a personal guarantee and will sign these Terms & Conditions by way of a Director’s Confirmation so that we are then happy to advise at all stages of a Company’s transactions notwithstanding that we may know that the Company is in financial difficulties.
In the event of any fees, expenses or VAT (whether in respect of fees and expenses already incurred or in respect of fees and expenses to be incurred) not being paid we reserve the right to decline to act any further in relation to any or all matters we are dealing with until payment is made.
It we are asked to give a Solicitor’s undertaking on your behalf, we are entitled to require you to make a deposit of funds with us or give other security.
2. INTERIM BILLS
We shall deliver bills to you at regular intervals for the work carried out during the conduct of your matter. This assists our cash flow and enables you to budget for costs. We are sure that you will understand that in the event of a payment not being made, we must reserve the right to decline to act any further and that the full amount of the work done up to that stage will be charged to you.
We aim to offer to each of our clients an effective service and we are confident that we will do so in your case. We welcome your comments. However, should there be any aspect of our service with which you are unhappy, please do immediately raise the matter with the person who has immediate responsibility for your case (who you will probably already have met). If you then find that matters remain unresolved you should, please, write in the first instance to the Managing Director, Mr Martin Pate, at 20 west Borough, Wimborne, Dorset, BH21 1NF setting out details of the difficulty. If we have still not been able to satisfy your concerns, please detail your complaint to Mrs Lisa Lane, Director, of 4 Ringwood Road, Verwood BH31 7AQ. If the complaint is about Mr Pate himself and it has not been resolved with him then your complaint should be addressed to the Junior Vice-President, Bournemouth & District Law Society, Bournemouth Chambers, Fir Vale Road, Bournemouth BH1 2JJ tel: 01202 556151. We are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
4. INTEREST CHARGED
Unless otherwise agreed, payment of each of our bills, including interim bills, is due within 28 days of its date. If the bill is not paid in full within that time it is agreed that we the firm may charge you the client interest from the date of the bill on the amount unpaid at the rate of 4% over Barclays Bank plc base rate from time to time in force subject to a minimum of 8% per annum.
5. RETENTION OF DEEDS, DOCUMENTS ETC (LIEN)
It is agreed that the firm may retain any deeds, documents or other materials belonging to you the client until payment of outstanding bills have been made and that we may apply money held on your behalf towards payment of outstanding bills.
6. INTEREST RECOVERED
In the event that you are successful in your claim and the costs of the matter fall to be paid by the other party (either in whole or in part) then, where interest is also recovered on your costs as payable by the other party, it is agreed that we are entitled to retain the whole of that interest.
Any interest recovered on costs and disbursements after judgment is pronounced but before a Costs Assessment is made, which has not in fact been paid prior to the Assessment, shall as to the interest on costs belong to the firm and as to the interest on disbursements, be held by the firm for or on behalf of the person or persons to whom the disbursements are ultimately paid.
7. INTEREST EARNED
If we hold money in our bank account on your behalf, interest will be due to you in accordance with the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules 1991, which provide that, subject to certain minimum amounts and periods, notional interest is payable at the same rate as you would receive from a bank. We may apply interest towards settlement of any bill delivered to you or hold it on account of work in progress, and will retain it when it amounts, in total, to £20 or less.
8. ORDERS FOR COSTS (ALL LITIGATION CLIENTS)
WARNING: If you commence legal proceedings against another party and lose in whole or part, you must expect to be liable to pay their legal costs as well as your own.
At the conclusion of your matter you may be entitled to the payment of your costs by some other party. However, it is rare for the other party to have to pay the full amount of your costs and this means that you the client may have to be responsible for the balance. Furthermore, of course, the other party may be unable to reimburse you. You remain liable to pay the full amount even though another party may be ordered to reimburse you with the whole or part of it.
Costs Orders are a complex subject that we will be able to explain to you in greater detail if you wish.
In this Agreement the term “working day” excludes Saturdays, Sundays, Bank or other statutory holidays.
10. COMMISSIONS AND REFERRALS
It is possible that on occasions we may earn commission as a result of introducing you as a client to a third party. When such commission is earned, it is our policy to always disclose this fact to you but on the understanding that we may (at our discretion) credit the commission against any fees, VAT or disbursements due from you to us.
If we are obliged to pay a referral fee to a third party as a result of your having been introduced to us then full details of that payment will always be disclosed to you.
11. LITIGATION & PERSONAL INJURY CLIENTS
At the time of instruction we will discuss fees and the likely costs involved with you. We will either confirm our fees and any likely expenses for the matter or, where possible, give you our best estimate of these.
Where we give you an estimate this is based on the amount of time we anticipate we will spend on your matter/s and our hourly rates.
We will confirm the specific hourly rate or rates applicable to your matter, where appropriate, in the “Engagement Letter”.
Included in our time are any meetings with you, any barrister or expert that we use on your behalf and any other parties or witnesses; drafting letters and documents; perusing and analysing documents.
The other party may refuse to comply with the order to pay your costs. If they do not pay you will have to try to enforce the costs order through the Court. This will take time and incur more expense, not all of which is necessarily recovered from the other party. There is no guarantee that the money will be recovered from the other party.
The other party may simply become untraceable, an individual may become bankrupt or a company may become insolvent. If this happens, you will not be able to recover the money due to you. This is why it is important that you consider now, whether the other party involved in your case has enough money to pay you any compensation and also your legal fees.
The Court has a very wide discretion over the costs of the case. The Court may order you to pay the costs of some parts of the case, even if you are successful overall in the proceedings; If you lose the case the Court has power to make an order that you pay some or all of the other person's costs.
Increasingly, the Court will order costs to be paid if you lose any particular application during the course of the proceedings and should such orders be made we will advise you accordingly. Please note that if you are ordered to pay and you do not do so, the Court may not permit you to continue in the proceedings.
Even if you win you may not recover all our fees and expenses from the other party because the Court may not order full payment, or for some reason the other party is unable to pay, or the other party has a Public Funding Certificate (formerly Legal Aid). You will have to pay us if the other party does not. If your matter is covered by employment law you should note that Employment Tribunals seldom make any award for fees and expenses in favour of a successful party.
Interest can be claimed from the other party on fees and expenses which the Court orders to be paid from the date of the order until payment. We are entitled to set that interest against any money owed to us by you and we will then pay you any balance.
In some circumstances (for example, if you lose) the Court may order you to pay the other party’s legal fees and expenses.
If your instructions relate to a claim we advise you to check all your current insurance policies. You may have insurance to cover this claim and/or your legal fees. If you do have such insurance please inform us immediately and we will discuss the matter with you.
It is also possible to take out a special insurance policy to help with the fees and risks of litigation. This is called "After The Event Insurance". Contact us if you want to discuss this further.
We review our hourly rates annually on 31st December. If this results in changes to the fees indicated to date we will discuss this with you and confirm the position in writing.
You have the right under the Solicitors Act 1974 to challenge the amount of our bill whether for non-contentious or contentious work. Details of your rights in this respect will also be given to you on the bill.
You are entitled to challenge our bill within one month (unless we agree otherwise with you in writing) of delivery of our bill or notifying you of our costs by applying to the Court in accordance with the Solicitors’ (Non-Contentious Business) Remuneration Order 2009.
You may also have the right to challenge our bill by making a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman.
We are entitled to interest on the amount outstanding on any bill.
These provisions also apply where we deduct our costs (except expenses) from money we hold for you.
We will usually pay small items of expense, e.g. search fees, travel, on your behalf and include them on our next bill. However, where the expenses are more substantial, e.g. the fees of counsel, accountants, we will ask for money in advance to cover the expense.
Public Funding (Legal Aid) or legal expense insurance
We do not carry out work under the public funding scheme. If you wish, we will recommend a firm which could act for you under the scheme.
Legal fees in disputed cases
If you decide not to proceed with your case before Court proceedings are commenced, or if the case is settled before then, there is no rule of law requiring the other party in your case to make any payment towards your legal fees. You are unlikely to recover your fees unless a negotiated settlement specifically includes a provision about them.
The general rule is that the winner at trial is paid a part of their costs by their unsuccessful opponent (whether they are the claimant or the defendant). However, this is not automatic and the Court has discretion in deciding what costs order to make. Whatever the outcome, you will remain liable to pay our fees and expenses unless and until they are paid by the other party.
There are other points to consider:
At the beginning of a matter it is not always possible to give a realistic estimate of the overall costs. If we are unable to give you an estimate at the start we will do so as soon as we can.
Any estimate will not be fixed and will be based on the current information we have. Various factors may increase the estimate and/or our hourly rate such as: - particular urgency, greater complexity, more work required than expected, unsocial hours of working, the value and /or monetary importance of the subject matter involved.
In particular while we will suggest various points to be included within the documentation that we will prepare you may choose to deal with additional points. This will entail us carrying out additional work. Similarly the position taken by the other parties and advisers may significantly affect the number of issues which we need to deal with and in the event that the other parties cause the matter to become protracted, our fees may reflect this.
If you wish to agree limits on our fees and the expenses which are not to be exceeded without your agreement, please contact the person dealing with the matter.
We reserve the right to deduct, at any time, money you owe us from any money we receive for you and which is due to you;
12. CONVEYANCING CLIENTS
In conveyancing transactions a payment on account equivalent to our estimate at that date of the entirety of our fees for that transaction together with any VAT and any disbursements (whether incurred or to be incurred) will be required prior to completion of that transaction. We reserve the right to refuse to act for you in the completion of the transaction if such payment on account is not made prior to completion. We further reserve the right to deduct all and any monies due on completion to us from any funds in hand before accounting to you. Your matter can only be financed using funds cleared through our client account.
WARNING: If you are likely to be away on holiday or otherwise uncontactable at any time before the completion of the transaction, please let us know immediately so that we can make appropriate arrangements including preparation of a Power of Attorney if necessary for which an additional charge or charges may be made.
13. LIFE INSURANCE POLICIES
Our conveyancing estimate includes dealing with the assignment or re-assignment of a single life policy (or other security) but in the event of additional policies or securities we shall make a further charge of £25 plus VAT for each additional policy or security. These charges include the preparation and service of the required Notice. We do not advise on the suitability or otherwise of any insurance policy.
We recommend that there be a minimum of ten working days between exchange of contracts and completion. This period is regarded as the minimum to safely deal with all pre-completion searches and formalities (including clearing funds from the lender and from you) to enable you to be fully protected at completion. In particular, we need to hold cleared funds from you in respect of any Stamp Duty and Land Registry fees payable.
If you ask us to complete your matter in less time than in 14 above we may charge a reasonable expedition fee at current charging rates depending upon time spent. We will notify you in writing of the charge which will be added to our fees and be payable by you. We will not be liable for any direct or consequential losses for completion being delayed beyond your specified date, provided we have used reasonable professional skill in attempting to complete on the specified date.
Within seven days of completion we will send you by post a cheque in your favour (unless we have your written instructions to the contrary) for all sums held by us due to you to the address notified to us in writing at least five working days before completion.
15. SPECIALIST SERVICES
We are lawyers qualified to advise on conveyancing. You must consult other qualified professionals for advice on non-legal matters, such as the physical condition of a property, its connected services and its market value, or investment, financial or tax advice. Before exchange of contracts or leasing premises we strongly advise you to obtain a structural survey (of a type appropriate to the nature of the property) by a qualified surveyor and obtain any further information the report may state is required
16. EMAIL COMMUNICATIONS
We are able and willing to communicate with you regarding your matter/s via e-mail. However, it is important that you take into account the following and understand the basis on which we are prepared to do so.
Email communications with you are on the basis that you accept the risks involved, including that our messages to one another could be read, changed or deleted by third parties without either your or our knowledge; there may be delay in receiving e-mail and receipt is not guaranteed. Differences between our systems may cause text to be indecipherable or lost.
The timescale for each matter will be discussed with you at the time of instruction and where possible agreed with you. In certain cases, for example disputed cases or probate matters, it may be too early to give an accurate timescale for the matter. If Court/Tribunal proceedings are issued, the timescale will be governed by the Court/Tribunal timetable. We shall keep you informed as to progress.
If you need a mortgage it is your responsibility to comply with the lender’s terms and conditions as set out in the offer. It is your decision to accept the financial effect of any deduction, retention, redemption, penalty or early redemption penalty interest imposed by the offer. If asked by you in writing we will explain any terms of the offer. If not, then it is assumed you fully understand the offer and the financial and other implications.
All lenders require a lawyer to carry out specific legal work in granting or accepting repayment of a mortgage and you may not be aware that they require you to pay their lawyer’s legal fees for this. We are on the Panel of most lenders and they will usually instruct us to represent them as well as you in which event we confirm that, if applicable, we will provide you with an estimate of the lender’s legal fees. Your acceptance of these terms shall constitute your agreement for us to disclose instructions and information to any lender, which also instructs us.
If your lender appoints their lawyer to act, you will be responsible for their legal fees in addition to our own. We will advise you in writing of the fees at the appropriate time but will continue to represent you.
Most offers expire after a period of time. It is your responsibility to ensure that the offer is valid at the time of exchange of contracts. You must reapply to your lender if your offer has or is about to expire. It is also your responsibility to advise your lender and us of any change in the purchase price or any financial adjustment between you and the other party such as an allowance or cashback.
It is agreed and understood that when discharging your mortgage in the course of a sale, re-mortgage or transfer of your property, we have your authority to give our firm’s undertaking in standard terms to a third party to discharge the Charge and to send evidence of the discharge to that third party.
19. INSURANCE MEDIATION ACTIVITY
Insurance Mediation work includes advising upon and/or arranging an Insurance Policy such as a Defective Title Indemnity Insurance in conveyancing matters or After the Event Insurance in litigation.
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 out 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 accessed via the Financial Services Authority website at www.fsa.gov.uk/register .
If we have obtained an indemnity insurance policy on your behalf we have considered all the circumstances and on the information currently available to us believe that a contract of insurance will be appropriate to cover your requirements. We do not pay any fees to or receive any commissions from the company we appoint. A copy of the policy document will be provided to you.
20. RECEIPT OF MONIES/FINANCIAL
Your matter can only be financed using funds cleared through our Client Account.
We require eight full working days clearance for all cheques and bankers drafts received and we recommend that you make payment direct to our account by means of an electronic transfer. If receipt of monies are delayed because you provide funds after the specified time, or by an inappropriate means, then we will not be held liable for any direct or consequential losses for as long as the funds remain uncleared and we reserve the right to charge interest at the rate stated in paragraph 4.
It is agreed and understood that as your Solicitors we may receive monies directed to you and credit these to you in our Client Account
21. YOUR DEEDS/DOCUMENTS AND DATA
A reasonable charge, (currently £30 plus VAT) will be made for storage of your deeds and documents with us.
We are registered with the Information Commissioner's Office (No Z1155846).
Your file of working papers may be left with us following completion of your case or matter, on the following basis: -
1. Your file of working papers and notes, including Court Orders, may be retained by us as a "hardcopy" paper document, or at our sole option converted to and retained in an electronic format only. Save for Will preparation files, (which it is our current policy to retain indefinitely) we shall retain your papers, free of charge, for a minimum period of 6 years following completion of your case or matter.
2. That after the 6 year period your papers will be confidentially destroyed;
3. That we are released from all responsibility for any loss, damage or other injury suffered or claimed as a result of such destruction; and
4. That a reasonable charge based on time spent plus VAT will be made in the respect of retrieval, checking correspondence and delivery in the event that you request your file while stored with us.
We aim to give a high quality efficient service. We may need to demonstrate our maintenance of standards to professional bodies and authorities and to other organisations. It is agreed between us that we have your authority to produce your file and other documents and to give information as an exception to our obligations as to confidentiality. Moreover, the Terrorism Act 2000, Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and Money Laundering Regulations may require us to report matters to the appropriate authorities as an exception to the normal rules of client confidentiality, please see paragraph 23 re Money Laundering below.
23. MONEY LAUNDERING AND PROCEEDS OF CRIME
Since the beginning of 2002 there has been extensive new law designed to prevent money laundering. Under this law we have a duty to report any financial transactions which we regard as suspicious. It is important that you are aware of this.
If the matter you are instructing us on involves the movement of money or other property through this firm directly or through another party we have to be satisfied that the relevant transaction is legitimate. This is a legal requirement and it may be necessary for us to ask you a series of questions touching upon your own identity, place of residence and the source of any relevant funds.
We are sorry that we have to undertake this level of enquiry but we do not have a choice. We are obliged by law to follow certain procedures and we do hope you will understand this. We will need to see the original documents detailed in lists A and B below. We also use creditsafe business solutions which is an on-linecredit reporting company used for this purpose. There is a small fee of £1.00 for this service. If you are an existing client and we have already recently established your identity and address we may not require any further evidence.
The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (“The Act”) creates a number of offences relating to the proceeds of crime which you should be aware of when you instruct us. The proceeds of crime are any monies/property/assets which have arisen as a result of any crime. These include, for example, monies (however low in value), saved as a result of tax evasion or benefit fraud, whether that money has been saved or spent.
If we become aware or suspect the existence of the proceeds of crime in your case (whether from you or from any other person), we may have to report the irregularity to the National Crime Agency (NCA). NCA may withhold permission for us to continue with the case. NCA can pass the information received to any relevant body such as HM Revenue and Customs and an investigation may take place at any time in the future. If we are obliged to terminate your instructions in such circumstances you will nevertheless be liable for all fees and expenses up to the date of such termination.
It follows from the above that if you have any concerns about irregularities in your financial position you may wish to seek specialist accountancy or welfare benefits advice to correct those irregularities. We strongly recommend that you do this before proceeding further. Please note that accountants are also required to comply with the provisions of the Act.
It is important that you are aware that we may have a legal duty under the Act to report known or suspicious circumstances without telling you. This could have serious consequences for you. In rare situations you could find that you then become subject to a HM Revenue and Customs investigation or benefits investigation and/or criminal proceedings.
The obligations which we have under this Act can, in certain instances, override the duty of solicitor/client confidentiality.
Circumstances may arise where we have to approach you to seek your permission to report certain matters to SOCA. For instance we may take the view that by proceeding further with your case (without permission from SOCA) we may be assisting in the commission of a money laundering offence. In the event that you refuse such permission we reserve the right to terminate your instructions and if we do so in these circumstances you will be liable for all our fees and expenses incurred up to the date of such termination.
24. IMPORTANT - LIMITATION OF LIABILITY
IT IS HEREBY AGREED AND CONFIRMED that the liability hereunder (whether vicarious or direct) of the firm of MJP LAW LTD TRADING AS MJP LAW and/or their successors for any loss or damage howsoever such liability shall arise (including but not limited to liability arising by reason of negligence or breach of statutory duty) shall be: Limited to the sum of Three Million Pounds Sterling (£3,000,000). It is the Limited Company that is liable, not an individual Director or member of staff; you agree to make no claim against an individual except for fraud
The terms of this document are not intended to form the basis of either a “Contentious Business Agreement” or a “Non-Contentious Business Agreement” within the meaning of the Solicitors Act, 1974 or the Solicitors Remuneration Order; 1994 (if they did so, it would restrict your right to challenge the fees charged by us) - although we may separately reach such an agreement with you. Distance Selling Regulations 2000; We will only start acting for you when we receive a copy of this agreement signed by you. It is agreed that you give us your permission to start work on your behalf immediately and agree that by so doing you lose the right to cancel that would otherwise apply. It is agreed and understood that conveyancing and other work which we may be instructed to carry out on your behalf will not necessarily be completed within the 30 day period referred to in these regulations.
It is agreed that where we act for two or more clients we may (unless written instructions are given to the contrary) accept instructions from one of you on behalf of all of you.
This Agreement supersedes any previous agreement between the parties and is made between you the client(s) who have signed below and us MJP Law Ltd, Solicitors, and/or its Directors for the time being and/or their successor(s) and until otherwise agreed, shall apply to any future instructions given by you the client(s) to MJP Law Ltd.
MJP Law is the trading name of MJP Law Limited registered in England and Wales. Registered Number 07266539. Registered Office: 20 West Borough Wimborne Dorset BH21 1NF. Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority – Number 547689. A list of Directors is available upon request.