THE FOLLOWING IS A SUMMARY OF OUR STANDARD TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF
BUSINESS FOR CIVIL LAW WORK.
FIXED FEES, WEEKLY/FORTNIGHTLY/QUARTERLY PAYMENT ARRANGEMENTS OR ALTERNATIVE HOURLY RATES MAY BE AVAILABLE.
PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO ASK US ABOUT THESE ALTERNATIVE PAYMENT ARRANGEMENTS.
OUR CLIENTS WILL BE PROVIDED WITH A COPY OF THESE TERMS AND
CONDITIONS BEFORE OR AFTER ANY INITIAL MEETING.
1. Thank you for instructing John Mair Solicitors Ltd trading as Campbell Mair– (hereinafter “Campbell Mair”) – to advise you in relation to [insert short description of the matter].
2. As we are beginning work for you in relation to a new matter we are providing you with these terms and conditions to explain the manner in which you will be charged for our work, and to provide some further relevant information. The Law Society of Scotland requires us to do this, and we also feel that it is useful to write to you at this stage in order that everyone is clear about the basis upon which we will be undertaking work on your behalf.
3. Either Martin Campbell or John Mair will be the solicitor who works on your file on a day-to-day basis. This will be confirmed to you at the outset. We will take instructions from you either in person, by letter, by email, by fax, or by telephone. We will also take instructions from a third party named by you if you authorise us to do so in advance. In the event that you send us a letter, email or fax, or leave a voicemail and we do not let you know that we have received this, you should telephone us to check that we have. This helps to guard against the possibility that your instructions have not reached us. If you ever have reason to believe that we have misconstrued your instructions you should let us know immediately.
4. We will of course do all that we can to move your file forward competently, professionally, and within a reasonable timescale. Having said that, we do ask you to appreciate that we have a very busy office, and we do have to prioritise our work to ensure that crucial deadlines such as Court or Tribunal time limits are met. We are also at times constrained by the fact that we can be prevented from dealing with our clients’ files as quickly as we would wish by the fact that other solicitors and third parties have not responded to issues which we have raised. We believe that you will be pleased with the manner in which we move your file forward, but if at any time you have any concerns please simply telephone us to discuss.
Money Laundering Rules and Client Identification
5. As a company of solicitors we are required to carry out a “money laundering check” on all new clients, or clients for whom we have not carried out work for some time, regardless of the nature of the work which we are to undertake on the client’s behalf. Essentially we need to obtain from you copies of documentation
which adequately vouches your identity! To satisfy the regulations we need to see two of the following items, one of which must contain your photograph and one of which must detail your current address:
• Your passport;
• Your driving licence
• A recent bank statement showing your name and current address;
• A recent utility bill showing your name and current address;
• Your most recent Council Tax bill; or
• Another form of identification similar to the above.
6. Should you not have already done so, we would be grateful if you would bring two of these items, one of which should show your current address, to our office at your earliest convenience in order that we can take photocopies for our file.
7. In the event that you are instructing us through a partnership, club or association, charity, LLP, or limited company, we may require additional identification from you, but we will inform you if that is the case.
8. Due to the nature of the work which we are undertaking on your behalf, it is not normally possible to provide you with a quotation for the total fee which the company will charge you for work done on your file. This is normally the case with civil law work, as it is impossible to predict absolutely everything that is going to happen on a file following the initial stages. Generally speaking, we charge for all legal work carried out by our Solicitors at a rate of £150 per hour. This hourly rate is applied to time spent on all work which we carry out, such as dealing with meetings and telephone calls, writing letters, faxes and emails, looking through documents, drafting Court or Tribunal documentation, preparing for Court or Tribunal hearings, travelling to and from Court or Tribunals and other events away from our offices, and providing representation at Court or Tribunal hearings. A breakdown of fees charged under the hourly rate can be provided to you on request and will be given on the basis that each chargeable hour is divided into ten units of six minutes, giving a charge of £15.00 per unit. For the avoidance of doubt, wherever the time spent amounts to part of a unit, the relevant time spent will be rounded up to the nearest unit.
9. The company does not require to be registered for VAT at the present time. Therefore no VAT is currently payable on the hourly rate. However, during the course of us acting for you the company may require to become VAT registered to comply with applicable laws. If that happens the hourly rate will incur an additional charge of 20 per cent per hour (or such other rate of VAT which is in force at the relevant time). However, the charge for VAT will only be applied to the hourly rate from the date when the company becomes liable to be registered for VAT. In the event that the company intends to become registered for VAT, you will be notified of this as far as possible in advance.
10. In relation to Employment Law proceedings, in some cases it may be proposed by an employer that a Compromise Agreement be entered into in order to regulate the termination of your employment and to specify any payments made to you. In these circumstances it is common that the employer will make a payment to us to cover an element of our fees, typically in the region of £300. It may be that this will cover all of our fees in respect of this matter, and our policy is where reasonable to cap our fees in favour of the employee. However, our total fee will depend on factors such as the length and difficulty of any negotiations, which we do not have full control over. It may be, therefore, that the contribution made by your employer to our fees will still leave you with a balance to pay, and you do need to appreciate that overall responsibility for paying our fee remains yours. If for some reason the employer proves unable or unwilling to pay their contribution, we will require you to pay our fees in full, and we can then assist you with any formal recovery proceedings against the employer if we agree that this is worthwhile and appropriate. We will charge you at our normal rate of £150 per hour (with no VAT subject to paragraph 9 above) for all time spent by us attempting to arrange settlement of any contribution which may be due from an employer.
11. In more complicated or time consuming cases you may be given the option to make use of our discounted Civil Law Packages, under which you are able to purchase in advance blocks of five, ten or twenty hours worth of civil law advice and representation at a discounted rate. We will discuss and agree this with you as appropriate, but please let us know at any time if you wish any more information on this.
12. For the avoidance of doubt, while we are happy to speak to potential clients by telephone in the first instance in order to determine whether or not we may be able to assist them, we do not offer a free initial meeting or consultation. Nor do we offer “no win no fee” or any other arrangements under which the fees charged by the us are dependent upon any particular result or outcome on the file.
13. We should also make clear that unless and until you have arranged this with us in writing and completed the relevant Legal Aid or Insurance documentation, we do not undertake work under Legal Aid, Advice and Assistance, or Insurance schemes. If you wish to ascertain whether or not you would qualify for financial assistance under those Schemes you should state this in writing to us in order that we can explore this, and you should speak to your Insurer (some clients find that they have cover for legal fees as part of their household or other insurance policies), otherwise we will assume that you are content to meet our fees as explained above on a private fee-paying basis.
14. We will normally issue you with an invoice in respect of work done to date on an ongoing basis depending on the amount of work done and the likely length of the file. For your own planning purposes you should work on the basis that you may receive an invoice from us every month, although this will not necessarily always be the case. Our system of invoicing allows you to spread your costs, and ensures that we are paid on an ongoing basis for work which we have undertaken. We require settlement of invoices within 14 days of the date on which they are posted / e-mailed from the company. This will be the same date as the date on the invoice itself. Where our invoices are not settled timeously we reserve the right to charge interest on the amount outstanding at a rate of 2% per month from the date on which the amount outstanding fell due. We will also charge you at our normal rate of £150 per hour (with no VAT subject to paragraph 9 above) for all time spent by us attempting to arrange settlement of invoices which have not been settled timeously.
15. On occasions we may require to incur outlays on your behalf. For example, outlays may be payable to cover the cost of lodging court documentation, instructing expert reports / witnesses, instructing Counsel and / or instructing Sheriff Officers. These examples are not exhaustive and the likely outlays for a particular piece of work will depend on the subject matter of the case. We will always discuss outlays with you before incurring the outlay, unless the matter is so urgent that it is not practical to discuss it in advance. With the exception of exceptionally urgent matters, all outlays must be paid for in advance. You will receive details of the outlays in the form of an Outlays Only Invoice. We require settlement of Outlays Only Invoices within 7 days of the date on which they are posted / e-mailed from the company. This will be the same date as the date on the invoice itself. Once the company has received the appropriate outlays from you, it will make payment of the relevant outlays on your behalf thereafter.
16. Generally speaking, in relation to civil court work, clients should always work on the basis that if they are successful in a case, they are unlikely to recover all of their legal fees from the unsuccessful party or parties, although they may recover a significant proportion of them. In these circumstances it is common for the unsuccessful party or parties to seek to negotiate their expenses liability with the successful party. It is often the case that clients who are the successful party are willing to accept a lesser proportion of their legal expenses from the unsuccessful or parties, in order to avoid the delay and uncertainty which might arise if the expenses issue required to be referred to the Auditor of Court. Our policy is always to seek to maximise the potential recovery of legal expenses in favour of our clients where they are the successful party. If for some reason the unsuccessful party or parties prove unable or unwilling to pay their expenses liability, we can then assist you with any formal recovery proceedings against them if we agree that this is worthwhile and appropriate. We will also charge you at our normal rate of £150 per hour with no VAT (subject to paragraph 9 above) for all time spent by us attempting to arrange settlement of the relevant legal expenses from the unsuccessful party or parties.
17. If clients are unsuccessful in a particular case, they should work on the basis they will have to meet all of their opponent(s) legal fees in addition to the legal fees due by clients to us. However, in these circumstances, our policy is always to seek to negotiate with our clients’ opponent(s) in order to minimise the potential expenses liability in favour of our clients.
18. For the avoidance of doubt, regardless of whether clients are successful or unsuccessful in relation to a particular case, you do need to appreciate that overall responsibility for paying our fee remains yours. We will always keep you advised of any potential expenses liability throughout your case.
19. In relation to Employment Law matters clients should, generally speaking, always work on the basis that they are likely to have to meet their own legal costs, as it is particularly difficult to persuade Employment Tribunals to make legal costs awards against the unsuccessful party or parties in a case other than in exceptional circumstances.
20. If we receive money on your behalf we will pay it into our general Client Account. Interest is paid only on sums placed on deposit specifically in the name of the client and not on money held in the general current account. Normally, only sums of £500 or more being held for a period of time will be placed on deposit. Further information on deposits and details of interest rates are available on application.
21. If your business involves us holding money on your behalf you should be aware that we currently have arrangements with the Royal Bank of Scotland but may from time to time select other financial institutions. In the event of insolvency of banks or other financial institutions there are limits on the amounts which are guaranteed under the Government backed compensation scheme. At present it covers individuals for certain amounts up to £85,000. Further information on this will be made available on application. If you wish other arrangements to be made you must let us know.
Client Relations and Quality of Work
22. We seek to provide our clients with the fullest possible range of skills, experience and expertise in the field of Civil Law. We hope to receive excellent feedback from our clients in relation to the services which we provide, and we hope that you will be pleased to have instructed us. However, in the event that you are unhappy about any aspect of our work, or if you have any particular concerns, please feel free to contact us at any time.
23. If you feel that you would rather speak to someone other than the Solicitor dealing with your file about any issue which has arisen, you should contact John Mair. Mr Mair has overall responsibility for client relations, and he would be pleased to discuss any concerns which you hold.
24. We may hold and process personal data concerning you and your affairs for the purposes of providing other professional services to you and giving you information on our services.
Civil Law Bulletins
25. We intend to produce occasional civil law bulletins which we intend to circulate to clients to keep them appraised of developments in civil law which may be of interest to them. If you have provided us with your e-mail address we will include you on our e-mailing list for these bulletins. The bulletins aim to be relatively brief and easy to read, rather than being long formal legal documents. We hope that these will be of interest to you, but if you do not wish to receive these please let us know and we will remove you from the e-mailing list.
Storage of Papers and Documents
26. We will normally keep our file of papers for 5 years (or another period stated in the Letter of Engagement) but it will be understood that we may thereafter destroy the papers. We will not destroy documents (such as Wills, Titles and Securities) which you ask us to keep in our custody.
Changes to these Terms and Conditions of Business
27. Any changes to these Terms and Conditions of Business must be agreed between you and us, failing which the foregoing Terms and Conditions of Business will apply.
28. Scots Law governs the provision of all services to you and all actings on your behalf, whether or not you are based in Scotland or the services or actings take place in Scotland. You accept that the Scottish Courts shall have exclusive jurisdiction to deal with any dispute or matter arising from such services or actings.
24. Thank-you for taking the time to read through this document. We hope that everything makes sense, but please contact us at this stage if you have any queries.
REVISED December 2012