For transparency and ease of reference, here are our standard Terms of Business.
1.1 These terms of business and any engagement letter we give you at the beginning of the matter state the terms on which we Royds Withy King accept instructions and charge for our services.
1.2 Any reference in these terms of business to “the firm”, “we”, “our” or “us” means Royds Withy King.
1.3 The term “partner” is used to denote members of the LLP and staff of equivalent qualification and experience. There is no partnership between the members or between the members and the firm.
1.4 There is no contract between you and any member, employee or consultant of the firm.
1.5 These terms of business shall be deemed to have been accepted by you upon subsequent receipt from you or your agent of any instructions, verbal or written, in any matter.
2 Standards of service
2.1 We will represent your interests and keep your business confidential (except where required by law).
2.2 We will explain the legal work that may be required.
2.3 We will keep you regularly informed of progress.
2.4 We will aim to communicate in plain language – please tell us if this is not happening.
2.5 We will advise you of the costs and risks/benefits of pursuing a matter.
2.6 We will advise you of the likely timescale involved.
3 Confidentiality and Data Protection
3.1 We will keep all information which you pass to us confidential and will not disclose it to third parties except as authorised by you or required by law.
3.2 Your details will be stored on our database and computer systems to help us provide our services and we will notify you of other relevant services that might be of interest to you. Unless you tell us in writing we will assume that you agree to us using your information in this way.
3.3 We are registered under the Data Protection Act 1998.
3.4 If you require or permit us to obtain medical records and/or information on your behalf, you agree we can pass these records or this information to other professionals and parties concerned with your case but only for the purpose of progressing your case and/or fulfilling our obligations to the Court.
3.5 We are committed to providing a quality service. This commitment requires this practice to be subjected to external assessors in order that the appropriate quality mark can be maintained. The Solicitors Regulation Authority may also audit our work. This process may from time to time include the requirement for the assessor to have access to a sample of case files to gather evidence that the standards are being met. We will assume that you consent to such review unless you notify us to the contrary in writing.
3.6 Sometimes we ask other Companies or people to undertake typing, photocopying or other work on our files to ensure this is done promptly. We will always seek a Confidentiality Agreement with these outsourced providers. If you do not want your file to be outsourced, please tell us as soon as possible.
3.7 Where you provide us with fax or computer network addresses for sending material to, we will assume, unless you tell us otherwise, that your arrangements are sufficiently secure and confidential to protect your interests.
3.8 We use filtering and firewall software for incoming email and internet connections. As a consequence you should not assume that emails sent by you are received.
3.9 The internet is not secure and there are risks if you send sensitive information in this way or you ask us to do so. Data we send by email is not routinely encrypted, so please tell us if you do not want us to use email as a form of communication with you or if you require data to be encrypted.
3.10 If we become aware of evidence of actual or threatened interception or interference with such messages, we will of course notify you and take all practical steps to cease communication by the means concerned.
4 Limitation of Liability
4.1 All advice given and work done for you is given or done on behalf of Royds Withy King and only Royds Withy King can be liable for the consequences of that advice or work done. You agree that you will not bring any claims or proceedings against any member, employee or consultant.
4.2 We will carry out the work instructed with reasonable skill and care.
4.3 Save as otherwise agreed in writing, and subject as set out below, our total aggregate liability for the advice given or the work done in relation to each matter instructed shall not exceed £5 million.
4.4 We shall not be liable for:
4.4.1 indirect and consequential losses, whether or not those losses might have been foreseeable at the start of the matter;
4.4.2 the loss of client monies caused by the failure of any bank in which they are deposited;
4.4.3 any loss suffered by someone who is not a party to this agreement.
4.5 The limitations and exclusions on liability in this section shall have no application to any liability for death or personal injury caused by our negligence or for any other liability which cannot lawfully be excluded or limited.
4.6 If we are acting for more than one person then the limit of liability will have to be allocated between you. If the engagement letter does not specify how the limit of liability is to be allocated then the allocation will be a matter entirely for you. You agree not to dispute the limit of liability on grounds that no such allocation was agreed.
4.7 Our liability to you will also be limited to that proportion of the loss or damage (including interest and costs) suffered by you, as awarded by a court, after taking account of the extent to which any other person is also liable for and/or has contributed to the same loss or damage.
4.8 This clause is intended to benefit such members, employees and consultants who may enforce this clause pursuant to the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 (the “Act”).
5 Fees, Estimates and Expenses
5.1 At the outset we will agree the basis on which we will charge you and our engagement arrangements in respect of fees and expenses.
5.2 In some cases, our fees will be based on time spent or expected to be spent. For other services we are able to provide fixed or capped fees.
5.3 Standard hourly rates where appropriate are charged for different types of work and according to the seniority of any person who handles any part of your matter for you.
5.4 Whilst we are very happy to “drop everything” to assist you, we may be required to carry out work outside of our normal office hours, postpone other work commitments and take other fee earners off other tasks and generally commit more resources to achieve your desired outcome in the limited time available. In order to meet your objectives as to timing if you have indicated the work is urgent, we reserve the right to apply a premium to the fee you have been provided with in order to adequately resource this work for you.
5.5 Time spent on your matter is recorded daily on our computer system and includes but is not limited to:
• advising/attending you in meetings (which may involve more than one Royds Withy King representative) and communicating with you by letter, e-mail and on the telephone;
• dealing/negotiating with others in meetings, by letter, e-mail and by telephone;
• dealing with letters, reports and documents from others;
• considering, drafting and completing documents, deeds etc;
• preparing for court or tribunal hearings;
• instructing third parties on your behalf;
• legal and factual research;
• travelling and waiting time.
5.6 Routine letters and e-mails are charged as six minute units of time ; we charge for the time spent on making and taking routine telephone calls in six minute units and considering incoming letters and e-mails at units of six minutes or less per letter or e-mail. In addition, we shall charge you for the expenses of postage, photocopying, faxes, courier services and travelling where these are not insubstantial. There is also a charge payable on any telegraphic transfers sent (per transfer).
5.7 Our rates are reviewed with effect from 1st May each year and we will advise you of any increase. Our rates may occasionally be revised at other times and we will notify you of any increase before it takes effect.
5.8 In addition to our fees, it may be necessary to make payments to third parties on your behalf as work progresses, for example: court fees, search fees, barrister’s fees, registry fees, stamp duties etc, (known as disbursements). We will assume we have your authority to do so unless you tell us otherwise at the outset. We normally request payment in advance for disbursements so that we can pay them promptly. Please respond quickly to avoid delay and in some cases the payment of interest and penalties.
5.9 The person responsible for the day to day handling of your work will normally give estimates as to the likely costs of your matter and will discuss any other factors known or anticipated that may affect our final charges. Estimates can only be based on information available to us at that time. There may be circumstances in which such estimates are exceeded. We seek to avoid this but if it happens we shall restrict our charges to whatever excess is reasonable in all the circumstances.
5.10 At your request, or our instigation, an upper limit can be set on the amount of our fees and disbursements which will not be exceeded without further reference to you.
5.11 If you use any scheme to fund the payment of legal costs, you should first seek independent advice regarding the suitability of the credit arrangement. Such facilities are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. For any credit arrangement Royds Withy King is an introducer only and is not authorised or under any obligation to provide credit advice.
5.12 Where you are involved in a dispute you should consider whether you have an alternative way of paying our costs, such as legal expenses insurance or through a trade union. This is important because if you do have such an alternative, it may affect the recovery of costs from your opponent. You should tell the lawyer supervising the matter if you think you may have such an alternative means and, where appropriate give your consent for that body to be contacted in connection with your dispute.
5.13 For certain types of work only, public funding may be available. We will advise you when an application is appropriate.
6 Day to day communication
You should always ask, in the first instance, to speak with the individual who has day-to-day responsibility for the conduct of your matter. If you are unable to contact this individual directly, please ask to speak with their secretary, who will be pleased to take a message for you. It may be helpful to have your matter reference available when calling.
7 Invoicing and Payment
7.1 We shall submit regular interim invoices to you. In some cases we will ask you to pay sums of money on account to cover the cost of the firm’s work or expenses.
7.2 Our invoices do not usually include a formal narrative of the work that we have done. However we shall be happy to provide you with this if required.
7.3 Estimates of fees do not include VAT, which will be charged additionally. Some disbursements also attract VAT.
7.4 All invoices are payable in full within 30 days, without any deduction by way of set off, abatement, counterclaim or otherwise.
7.5 Where we are holding money due to you, for example on completion of the sale of a property or other asset or on recovery of monies from a third party for you, our charges and disbursements will be deducted from the balance due.
7.6 We do not accept direct credits to our account other than by way of BACS, CHAPS payment or internet banking. Specifically you must not pay cheques or cash directly into our account. You must also notify us in advance of any payments you are intending to make to our account. If you circumvent this policy by depositing cash direct with our bank, we reserve the right to charge for any additional checks we deem necessary regarding the source of funds. We are able to accept funds only from individuals or organisations whose identity we have verified. We may make a charge for carrying out this verification.
7.7 At our discretion, we may accept payment by credit card. If we do then this will be on the basis that we will charge you a handling fee of 1.9% of the value of the invoice.
7.8 If an invoice is not paid within 30 days, we reserve the right to charge interest.
7.9 We may retain all documents and any items in our possession relating to any matter until our invoices have all been paid in full.
7.10 We reserve the right to stop work in the event of an invoice being overdue for payment or a request for money on account not being satisfied. We shall not take this action without first informing you having satisfied ourselves that we have reasonable grounds for so doing. In that event, the total amount of work done to that date will be charged to you and will be payable forthwith, and we shall be discharged from all further duties to you in respect of carrying out your work. Where appropriate we shall also be entitled to apply to the Court for an Order removing us as solicitors appearing on the Court record as acting for you.
7.11 Where money is to be paid to a third party, at least five working days must be allowed for clearance of any cheques or drafts sent or given to us by you or anyone on your behalf for the purpose of making such payments. BACS payment will take at least three working days to get to us. In many cases, it may be both cheaper and more convenient for you to arrange for funds to be sent to us by telegraphic transfer (CHAPS) and we will advise you when this is appropriate. A charge is made for sending telegraphic transfers.
Any third party commissions received by us as a result of work undertaken on your behalf (from insurance and stockbrokers etc) will either be paid directly to you or be credited against our professional fees. In some matters, the commission we receive may cover our fees entirely, although other expenses will still be payable by you. If for any reason we subsequently have to refund any part of such commission(s), you will remain liable to pay any fees then outstanding.
9 Client Account
9.1 Client money will be held in a general client account to facilitate your transaction. We are unable to provide interest rates to those similar if the client had invested the money themselves. Amounts of interest under £20 will be paid at our discretion.
9.2 The money we hold for you will be held at one of a number of financial institutions where we deposit money. We will endeavour to deposit client monies with recognised domestic banks but because we have no control over the financial stability of these institutions we cannot be responsible for their failure or for any monies lost as a consequence of their failure. In such circumstances you may be entitled to compensation under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). You should check with the Financial Conduct Authority to find out whether or not you would be entitled to compensation.
10.1 You may end your instructions to us in writing at any time.
10.2 We may decide to stop acting for you only with good reason. Examples where this might occur include, but are not limited to, the following: a conflict of interest; a breakdown of confidence between us or where we are unable to obtain proper instructions or non-payment of our invoices. We must give you reasonable notice in writing that we will stop acting for you. If you or we decide that we should stop acting for you, we will invoice you for any work done. We will be entitled to retain your files and other papers until we receive payment in full.
11 Financial Services and Insurance Mediation Activities
11.1 We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. If, while we are acting for you, you need advice on investments then we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised to provide the necessary advice.
11.2 We are included on the register maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority so that we can carry on insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the advising on, selling and administration of insurance contracts including policies of after the event insurance. 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 Conduct Authority Website at www.fca.gov.uk/register and selecting the link to EPF Register (Exempt Professional Firms).
11.3 We provide these services only if they are an incidental part of the professional services we have been engaged to provide.
11.4 The Law Society of England and Wales 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 investigates complaints about solicitors. If you are unhappy with any financial or insurance advice you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with either of those bodies.
All copyright and other intellectual property rights in all documents and other materials produced by us in the course of our work for you are owned by us, although you have our licence to use these documents and materials for the purposes for which they were created.
13 Storage of Deeds and Documents
13.1 We will retain all files and papers in relation to your matter for a minimum of six years, on the understanding that we have your authority to destroy them after this time. Your consent to such destruction of files is deemed to have been given upon your acceptance of these terms. If you wish your files and papers to be retained for longer, please let us know before the end of your matter.
13.2 We have facilities for storing deeds and wills and are pleased to provide these services free of charge. However, we cannot accept responsibility for any loss or damage unless such loss or damage is as a result of our negligence.
13.3 If you require us to retrieve papers/documents from storage, we reserve the right to charge a minimum retrieval fee of £25 plus VAT for retrieving papers/documents upon a request from yourself or a third party, as well as the right to charge for work necessary to comply with your instructions or those of the third party.
In addition, we may charge you both for:
(i) time spent producing stored papers that are requested; and/or
(ii) reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions in relation to the retrieved papers.
13.4 We will not destroy papers/documents that you specifically ask us to keep in safe custody. Separate insurance, if required, should be arranged by you for particularly valuable items deposited with us.
14 Your Rights
14.1 You have the right to have your costs assessed by the Court under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974.
14.2 The Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 will apply to your contract. This means you have the right to cancel your instructions to us within fourteen working days of receiving this document if your contract was made or agreed via distance selling or off premises . You can cancel your instructions by contacting us by post or by fax to this office.
15.1 We are committed to high quality legal advice and client care. If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service you have received, or about the invoice, please tell us immediately. We have a procedure in place which details how we handle complaints which is available on request.
15.2 If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can ask the Legal Ombudsman at P O Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ to consider your complaint (telephone number 0300 555 0333). Normally, you will need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint. There are specific timeframes within which the Legal Ombudsman can accept a complaint. These are:
(i) six years from the date of the event/omission, or
(ii) three years from when you should have known about the complaint.
15.3 The Legal Ombudsman will not accept complaints where the act or date of awareness was before the 6 October 2010.
15.4 You may also have the right to apply to the Court for an assessment of the invoice under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. Please note that if all or part of an invoice remains unpaid we may be entitled to charge interest.
16 Money Laundering Activity and Proceeds of Crime
16.1 You accept that we must comply with the law and professional rules about money laundering and proceeds of crime. We have to check the identity of all clients. We subscribe to an on-line identity verification service and we may use this to satisfy ourselves as to your identity. In most cases this service will enable us to confirm your identity without requiring documentary evidence such as passports. We will notify you in advance if we intend to use this service. A small administration charge will be payable. We will not be able to receive any money from you or pay it on until we have confirmed your identity.
16.2 We also have to report, without telling you, any activity that we suspect may involve the proceeds of crime. We may in some circumstances have to stop acting for you as a result of the money laundering legislation.
16.3 The proceeds of crime are defined very widely and include, for example, money gained as a result of unlawful tax avoidance or through the evasion of payment of any similar charges or duties. Our duty to report may override any duty of confidentiality that we owe to you and legal professional privilege (your right to refuse disclosure of documents relating to advice given to you) may not apply in these circumstances.
17 Rights of Third Parties
Save as expressly provided, the provisions of the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 shall not apply.
18 Applicable Law
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.
19 Provision of Services Regulations 2009
19.1 Royds Withy King is the trading name of Withy King LLP.
19.2 Withy King LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales No OC361361. It is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority whose address is The Cube, 199 Wharfside Street, Birmingham B1 1RN. Web address www.sra.org.uk.
19.3 Our Registered Office is at 5-6 Northumberland Buildings, Queen Square, Bath, BA1 2JE. Our Registered Office Telephone Number is 01225 730100 and Fax Number is 01225 730101. Full details of all our offices and contact details for individual Partners and Fee Earners can be found on our website at www.roydswithyking.com.
19.4 Our main Registered Office Solicitors Regulation Authority Registration Number is OC361361. Details of our registration can be found at www.lawsociety.org.uk.
19.5 Our VAT number is 108 2357 32.
19.6 Our Professional Indemnity Insurer is Aviva Insurance Limited who can be contacted via Marsh Limited of Tower Place, London EC3R 5BU. Territorial coverage is worldwide.
© Royds Withy King