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When we provide you with legal services, certain terms will apply:
Together, the Engagement Letter, the COI and the Small Print are the legal agreement between us (Agreement).
Please read them, as your terms and conditions of business, if you have them, won’t apply.
Sometimes, there can be some inconsistencies between the terms set out in the Engagement Letter or COI, and in the Small Print. If this happens, the COI will take priority.
1 CHECKING WHO YOU ARE
Before we can do any work for you, we are legally required to verify your identity. Our Engagement Letter tells you what ID information we will need from you and signing our Engagement Letter will mean that you are agreeing to allow us to:
Any online verification we carry out will leave a footprint on your credit file; this may be seen by other organisations but will have no effect on your credit rating.
2 WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE WORK
EMW Law LLP will be providing legal services to you, and it is EMW Law LLP that is responsible to you. None of our Principals nor our employees have any personal responsibility to you, or to any third party, for the services provided.
3 YOUR INSTRUCTIONS TO US
If there is anyone within your business from whom we should not take instructions, you must tell us in writing. Otherwise, we will deal with anyone who appears to us to have permission to instruct us on your behalf.
4 CONTACTING YOU
We mainly correspond by email, but if you would prefer us to contact you another way, please let us know.
5 WHO WILL DO THE WORK
We will always allocate your work to the member of our team with the appropriate expertise and experience. You will have that person’s contact details, and those of the supervising Principal.
Advice that we give to you is only for your use and benefit, you must not give the advice to anyone else without speaking to us first.
It is impossible to guarantee the outcome of the work you instruct us on, but we commit to giving a professional opinion based on law at the time and the information that you have provided to us.
6 WHEN MORE THAN ONE PERSON INSTRUCTS US
When several people instruct us on the same piece of work, we act for them jointly. Each is responsible for paying all of the fees for that work, not just for their respective shares. If we stop acting for any one of you, the rest will still have to comply with the Agreement.
We cannot keep information received from you confidential from the others instructing us.
We can act for all of you (even if there may be potential conflicts of interest) on the basis that you all have a common interest in the transaction which outweighs the potential for conflict. If an actual conflict of interest arises, we will be unable to continue acting for all of you, at least on the issue where the conflict has arisen.
If we are acting for more than one person in a transaction, then we may take instructions from any of one of those people and those instructions will be treated as having been received from all.
7 YOUR INFORMATION
We will keep any information that we have about you in the strictest confidence. We will only provide this information to a third party if we have to by law; because of the work we are doing for you; to the extent we are allowed to do so in the Agreement; or if you told us that we can disclose it.
If we think that a transaction may involve money laundering or terrorist financing, we may have to make a disclosure to the National Crime Agency. If we make a disclosure, we may not be able to tell you. We may also have to stop working on your matter for a period of time and not be able to tell you why, nor will we be able to accept any responsibility to you for the consequences of having to do so.
8 PROTECTING YOUR DATA
Some of our secretarial work is carried out in South Africa. We have a confidentiality agreement with our provider to protect any information that we send them. By signing our Engagement Letter, you consent to us sending digital files which may include personal data to our provider in South Africa. If you do not want us to transfer personal data, please contact our compliance team on 0345 074 2451.
We may also send you information we think may be of interest to you. By signing our Engagement Letter, you agree to receiving this information. If you do not want to receive this information, please contact our Marketing Team. We will not pass your details to any other person for marketing purposes.
You may request details of any personal data that we hold about you at any time. If your personal information changes please let us know.
By signing our Engagement Letter you confirm we can use your company name and logo in our promotional or marketing material Please advise our Marketing Team in writing if we cannot do so.
We may record telephone calls for the training and monitoring purposes.
We are accredited with “Lexcel”, the Law Society's legal practice quality mark for excellence in legal practice management and client care. To maintain this accreditation, external organisations may have to carry out audits or quality checks on your file. These external organisations are required to keep your file confidential.
10 HOW WE CHARGE
There are a number of factors that we take into account when calculating our fees. These include:
Our hourly rates for the period beginning 1 April 2016 are:
The Engagement Letter or COI sets out when we can send invoices and when you have to pay them. If you don’t pay us on time we may stop work for you and, if we do, all of your outstanding invoices will become payable immediately.
We may ask you for advance payments for future fees and/or expenses. We will keep your advance payments in our client account and use it to pay your bills. Anything left at the completion of the work will be returned to you.
Invoices must be paid within 30 days of their date, unless we have agreed alternative payment dates with you in writing. If you fail to pay any invoice by the due date, all the invoices we have issued to you will become immediately payable.
Invoices cannot be paid for with cash.
All fees, hourly rates and, where applicable, expenses exclude VAT, which will be payable in addition.
We may charge interest if you pay our invoices late. This will be at the annual rate of 8% above the Bank of England base rate, from the date payment is due until payment is made.
In addition to our fees you will have to pay in advance, unless we agree otherwise, for any expenses that we’ll incur on your behalf, such as:
travel and subsistence costs;
For travel, our standard policy is first class rail and economy class air travel within the UK and business class or equivalent for overseas travel.
We charge fixed fees on the services listed below, these incorporate the time cost to us and the cost charged to us by our suppliers:
We will invoice you for expenses as soon as we have incurred them.
Where we have acted on non-contentious matters (broadly, matters that do not involve court proceedings) and you think your bill is too high, you have rights under section 70 of the Solicitors Act 1974 to have your bill assessed. The Legal Ombudsman can provide you with more information on this.
11 OUR FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY TO YOU
If we fail to comply with the Agreement, we are responsible for loss or damage you suffer that is a foreseeable result of our breach of the Small Print, but we are not responsible for any loss or damage that is not foreseeable. Loss or damage is foreseeable if either were an obvious consequence of our breach or if they could have been anticipated by you and us at the time we entered into the Agreement.
We have no financial responsibility to you for any loss of profit, loss of business, business interruption, or loss of business opportunity.
We do not exclude or limit in any way our financial responsibility to you for:
Our total financial responsibility to you for each claim or series of connected claims arising under or connected with the Agreement will not exceed £3 million.
If we have to accept a duty or obligation to any third party as a result of your instructions, or there is any suggestion that we owe such a duty or have such an obligation, you will compensate us and our members and employees for any loss or damage that we may suffer from any claims made against us by those third parties.
You will also compensate us for any loss or damage that we may suffer as a result of any claim brought by you or any third party connected to you, to the extent that liability for such claims would be excluded by or would exceed any limitation on our liability in the Agreement.
12 OUR EMPLOYEES
If you solicit or entice any of our employees away from our employment to work for you or any third party (a Leaver), then you will be liable to pay us an amount equal to the actual costs we incur in recruiting replacement staff at any time within 6 months after the date upon which the Leaver leaves our employment.
13 IF YOU NEED TO COMPLAIN
We have a procedure in place which sets out how we deal with complaints, a copy of which is available on our website or you can contact our complaints Principal, Mark Rondel.
If you are not happy with how we deal with your complaint under our complaints procedure, you can of course speak to the Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ; on 0300 555 0333 or via its website www.legalombudsman.org.uk
We often have to provide undertakings for clients. These are commitments that are binding on us to do things on your behalf (for example to send money or documents to a third party).
When we’ve given an undertaking on your matter, we may have to ignore any instructions that you give us which would result in us being in breach of the undertaking. You agree to do whatever we need you to do in order that we comply with the undertaking.
15 YOUR MONEY
Money that we hold on your behalf is held in a client account, and is kept separate from our own money. Your money is protected under the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 (SAR) and SRA Compensation Fund. It will earn interest at the rates set out in the SAR, subject to minimum amounts and time periods.
16 FINANCIAL CONDUCT AUTHORITY
We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
However, we are included on the register maintained by the FCA so that we can carry on insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the advising on, selling and administration of insurance contracts. The relevant register is called the EPF register. This part of our business, including arrangements for complaints or redress if something goes wrong, is regulated by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority (or Council for Licensed Conveyancers). The register can be accessed at Financial Services Register - Financial Conduct Authority.
The Law Society is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, but responsibility for regulation and complaints handling has been separated from the Law Society’s representative functions. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (or Council for Licensed Conveyancers) is the independent regulatory body and the Legal Ombudsman is the independent complaints handling body established under the Legal Services Act, 2007.
17 ENDING THE AGREEMENT
You may end the Agreement at any time for any reason.
We may end the Agreement at any time on reasonable notice so long as we have a good reason to do so. Examples include:
If the Agreement ends for any reason before we complete our work, we may charge for all work up to the date that the Agreement ends (unless we have agreed otherwise in writing) at the lower of our hourly rates or any agreed fee. We may also charge you at our hourly rates for any work done after the Agreement ends but arising from it, such as removing our name from a court record, complying with undertakings, dealing with client money, storing, retrieving or copying papers, replying to audit or tax enquiries, complying with legal or regulatory requirements, answering your questions or giving evidence in proceedings arising from your case.
If you choose to instruct alternative legal advisors at the end of the Agreement, you can request that we pass your files to them. We will do so if you make this request in writing and if all of our outstanding invoices payable by you or by third parties on your behalf have been settled in cleared funds and in full.
18 THIRD PARTY RIGHTS
You are the only person who can enforce the terms of the Agreement against us.
If any court or other competent body decide that any provision (or part of it) of the Agreement is unlawful, unenforceable or invalid, the remainder of the Agreement will continue in full force and effect.
20 LAW AND JURISDICTION
Our relationship with you in respect of all work undertaken on your behalf is governed by the laws of England and Wales. The courts of England shall have non-exclusive jurisdiction.
© EMW Law LLP June 2016