Terms of Business:
There is a general duty upon all solicitors to keep client affairs confidential, and this extends to all matters communicated to a solicitor by the client or on behalf of the client. There are however certain exceptions to the general rule which include the following:
- Where the client expressly authorises us to disclose information;
- Where we represent more than one client on a particular matter, no conflict of interest arises, and you have authorised us to disclose information;
- Where a client is funded by the Legal Services Commission, we are under a duty to allow access to the client’s file for the purposes of ensuring that we are complying with the costs and quality standards laid down by the Legal Services Commission. In such circumstances the Legal Services Commission is also under a general duty to keep all information of a confidential nature relating to a client strictly confidential unless they are specifically required by legislation to disclose information;
- Where a client is funded by the Legal Services Commission, a solicitor has a duty to report the fact that the client has abused legal aid or has intentionally failed to comply with any provision of the regulations, or has knowingly made a false statement or representation;
- Where a solicitor is otherwise expressly required to disclose information by Act of Parliament.
Should you have any queries in connection with the above, or regarding any other aspect of client confidentiality, we will be happy to provide more specific advice.
We are committed to providing a high-quality legal service to all our clients. The firm’s definition of a complaint is defined as “any expression of client dissatisfaction however it is expressed”. This follows the Legal Aid Agency definition of a complaint and also conforms to the Law Society Complaints Procedure.
We aim to offer our clients an efficient and effective service. During the course of your case if there are any matters upon which you are concerned or require clarification or you are dissatisfied with, including this firm’s bill, then you should contact a member of our team who will attempt to resolve the matter to your satisfaction. We would ask that you first try and resolve any issue with the fee earner having conduct of your case and thereafter with the allocated Supervisor.
Should you remain dissatisfied then you may refer the matter to our Complaints Partner, Oliver Gardner, with a view to the matter being resolved after it has been fully investigated. If your complaint is with regards to Mr Gardner you may direct your complaint to Nikki Mundy, our other directors. We would hope that we would have been able to resolve any outstanding concerns or queries that you might have, but should there be any remaining issues to be resolved, then our Director will be pleased to address any further difficulty.
If for any reason you continue to be dissatisfied then you have a right of further complaint to the Legal Ombudsman who would investigate the matter further on your behalf after first allowing us 8 weeks to deal with your complaint. If your complaint is solely in relation to this firm’s bill, you may also have a right to object to it by applying to the court for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. The Legal Ombudsman may not however deal with a complaint about a bill if you have applied to the court for assessment of that bill.
The Legal Ombudsman expects complaints to be made to them within one year of the date of the act or omission about which you are concerned, or within one year of you realising there was a concern. You must also refer your concerns to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of our final response to you.
Their contact details are: Legal Ombudsman PO Box 6806 Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ Tel: 0300 555 0333; or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find more information about how to make a complaint on the Legal Ombudsman website at: www.legalombudsman.org.uk.
If you do have a cause to complain then please use our internal complaints procedure initially as it is highly probable that the matter will be resolved to your satisfaction and at the earliest possible opportunity. A copy of our complaints procedure is available upon request.
What to do if you are unhappy with our behaviour
The Solicitors Regulation Authority can help if you are concerned about our behaviour. This could be for things like dishonesty, taking or losing your money or treating you unfairly because of your age, a disability or other characteristic.
Visit their website to see how you can raise your concerns with the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Your case will be handled by a named fee earner, solicitor or paralegal. In order to comply with Law Society requirements and to ensure high standards of legal service provision; all cases are supervised by a director or senior lawyer. We may delegate certain tasks to paralegals even if a solicitor is allocated to your case. This will only be done for routine work and will be supervised and will be done only to reduce costs to you.
The current list of our fee earners and their experience is set out below. All Grade A fee earners will hold a relevant professional qualification and have a minimum of 10 years post qualification experience. Grade B fee earners will have between 2 and 10 years post qualification experience or, if not qualified, then more than 5 years on the job experience. Grade C fee earners will be trainees, paralegals with less than 5 years on the job experience or solicitors/barristers with less than 2 years post qualification experience:
Oliver Gardner: Duty Solicitor, Director, Grade A;
Nikki Mundy: Duty Solicitor, Director, Grade A;
David Johnson: CILEX, Director, Grade A;
Kay Driver: Self Employed Higher Court Advocate and Duty solicitor, Grade A;
Milena Bennett: Employed, In-House Barrister, Duty Solicitor, Grade A;
David Thomson: Higher Court Advocate, Duty Solicitor, Grade A;
Peter Casson: Higher Court Advocate, Duty Solicitor, Grade A;
Steve Rollason: Duty Solicitor, Grade B;
Jo Gregory: CILEX, Duty Solicitor, Grade B;
Claire Aldridge: Duty Solicitor, Grade B;
Ravi Sethi: Barrister, Dutty Solicitor, Grade A;
Amy Hilton: Paralegal, Police Station accredited, Grade B;
For rates charged per fee earner type please see the pricing page.
Your Money Held in our Client Account
Should we be required to hold your money, we will do so in a separate client account so your money is not mixed with ours. From time to time the amount of money we hold and the time we hold it for may attract interest. We have a policy on the payment to clients of interest earned. As a general rule we will pay over interest when it is fair and reasonable to do so however when we hold small amounts of money or larger amounts for a short period of time we will not generally do so with the following exceptions:
- Where the calculation of interest payable is more than £100.00;
- Where we hold an amount equivalent to the amount shown in the left hand column below for a time equivalent to the period in the right hand column below:
£1.00 to £5,000.00 8 weeks
£5,000.00 to £10,000.00 6 weeks
£10,000 to £20,000.00 4 weeks
£20,000 and over 2 weeks
Where the sum exceeds £20,000.00 and is held for less than 7 days we will not generally pay over any interest. The amount of interest payable will be the amount payable on the account in which the money is held.
Provision Of Service Regulations 2009
We comply with the above regulation by displaying the required details of our professional indemnity insurance in each of our offices.
Keeping You Informed;
If we continue to deal with your case we will:
- Keep you regularly informed of progress in your case especially if we decide we need to do something which we have not yet discussed with you;
- Tell you of any delay and the reason for it;
- Explain the effect of any important and relevant papers;
- If a different person takes over your case we will tell you the name of that person and whether that person is a solicitor and the reason for the change;
- Explain if you need to go to a Barrister and, where appropriate, discuss the choice with you.
At The End of the Case;
When we finish dealing with your case we will:
- Tell you the outcome and anything else you need to do including whether you need to look at the matter again in the future;
- Return any property unless you ask us to store it;
- Account to you for any outstanding money;
- Archive your file of papers for a period of 3 years if it was a police station or Magistrates’ Court matter and 6 years if it was a Crown Court matter after which it will be destroyed.
- If you require any documentation from your file you should advise us no later than 14 days after the conclusion of your case. Some documents are destroyed during the archiving procedure and there will be a fee of in the region of £40.00 plus VAT (£48.00), which will be payable by you, should you subsequently require us to retrieve your file from storage.
Money Laundering and POCA:
Within the introduction of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Money Laundering Regulations 2003 we are now under a duty to report any suspicions brought to our attention in undertaking your case that may fall under these provisions and must make you aware that we are not allowed, in the event of us having to make a report, of advising you of the same.
As you will be aware money laundering and terrorist financing are serious threats to society. In order to combat this activity, Parliament has passed the Terrorism Act 2000, the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Money Laundering Regulations 2007.
In order to comply with these regulations all solicitors are required to implement stringent checks and procedures to ensure that our instructions are received from bona fide clients and for genuine transactions and that any fees paid are from legitimate sources.
Accordingly, we will require a clear legible copy or the original of the following identification from all clients (one piece of identification from list 1 and one item from list 2):
- Current passport;
- EEA member state identity card;
- Resident permit issued by the Home Office to EEA nationals on site of own country passport;
- Current UK or EEA photocard driving licence.
- A recent utility bill or a certificate from a utility supplier confirming an arrangement to pay for services. The bill must be addressed to you at your address;
- Local Council tax bill for the current year, again it must be addressed to you at your address;
- Bank or building society statement addressed to you at your address;
- Recent original mortgage statement from a recognised lender addressed to you at your address;
- Solicitor’s letter confirming recent house purchase or land registry confirmation of address.
We may also carry out further checks using a status checking agency if we consider this to be necessary.
Please do not take any offence by this requirement for information. We are in no way seeking to suggest that you are in any way involved in any legal activity however in order to combat those persons involved in such activity we, as all legal practises, are required to ensure that these regulations are complied with.
In order to ensure that we can commence work on your file immediately please provide the above information as soon as possible. No work can be undertaken without the above information first having been provided.
Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013
When we accept your request to advise you or act for you, as a Consumer, we effectively enter into a contract with you.
Normally if you attend our offices in person (we meet you face to face) and we agree to accept your instructions then the contract between us will be entered into “on our premises” (i.e. an “on-premises contract”). Then, provided we have given you sufficient information for you to make an informed decision, e.g. an indication of the likely overall costs and disbursements then no right to cancellation normally arises and you will be liable for the costs and disbursements incurred in fulfilling your requests and instructions.
If however, we meet you in person but away from our offices e.g. at your home, or in hospital, then if we agree to accept your instructions, you will have the right to cancel the contract (i.e. an off-premises contract) as set out below.
Also, if we have not met you in person and only communicated with you by phone, e-mail, letter or fax to accept your instructions (i.e. a distance contract) then similar rights of cancellation arise.
Rights of Cancellation;
You have the right to cancel this contract within 14 days without giving any reason. This is sometimes called a “cooling off” period and gives you the opportunity to change your mind.
The cancellation period will expire after 14 days from the day of the conclusion of the contract between us. This day is the date we accept your offer to act for you. This will be the date shown on our initial client care/terms of business letters which we will send to you. The client care and terms of business letters together set out the main characteristics and scope of the legal services we are providing to you. They will tell you what we will and will not do and explain your responsibilities. This information should enable you to make informed decisions about your matter. If you are unclear about any information we provide then please do not hesitate to contact us for clarification/further information.
To exercise the right to cancel, you must inform us, in writing, to:
Howards Solicitors, Suite 2, 1st Floor, East Wing, Westpoint, 501 Chester Road, Old Trafford, M16 9HU or
E-mail: email@example.com, or
Fax: 0161 872 9699
of your decision to cancel this contract by a clear statement.
To meet the cancellation deadline, it is sufficient for you to send your communication concerning your exercise of the right to cancel before the cancellation period has expired.
Effects of cancellation;
If you cancel this contract, we will reimburse to you all payments received from you. We will make the reimbursement without undue delay, and not later than 14 days from the day on which we are informed about your decision to cancel this contract.
We will normally make the reimbursement using the same means of payment as you used for the initial transaction, unless you have expressly agreed otherwise; in any event, you will not incur any fees as a result of the reimbursement.
Requests by you for us to start work during the 14 day cancellation period;
We will not carry out any work within the cooling off period unless you expressly instruct us to do so, in writing.
If you requested us to begin the performance of services during the cancellation period, (e.g. because you wanted the work done or advice given urgently) you will be liable to pay us an amount which is in proportion to what has been performed by us until you have communicated to us your notice of cancellation of this contract, in comparison with the full service which would have been carried out, under our contract with you, had you not cancelled.