The Law Society is the governing body of solicitors. Professional rules laid down by it require that clients of solicitors be informed of certain terms of business. Accordingly, this formal statement sets out the basis on which this firm carries out professional services on behalf of clients.
1 Places and Hours of Business
The offices of Holden & Co are located at 32-33 Robertson Street, Hastings, East Sussex and 3 Bank Street, Ashford, Kent. The normal hours of opening are between 9am and 5pm on weekdays. Appointments can be arranged outside those hours when essential to the interests of a client. In particular circumstances, such as disability of a client, home visits may be arranged. There are wheelchair access and toilet facilities at our Hastings office.
2 Responsibility for Work
2.1 You will be provided with details of the person and the secretary primarily responsible for the conduct of your matter. If we do have to change the person handling your matter, we will notify you in writing and if you require, we will discuss it with you.
2.2 Mr Jo Holden and Holden Law Limited, are partners in the firm, and have ultimate responsibility for work done on your behalf.
2.3 We aim to offer all clients a friendly and efficient service. If, however, any difficulties should arise, you should first write to the person dealing with the matter or, failing that, you should refer to Mr Jo Holden, who is the Complaints Officer, who will investigate your complaint thoroughly. A copy of our Complaints Procedure is available on request.
3 Professional Indemnity
In the interests of clients, Holden & Co maintain professional indemnity insurance to a maximum level of £3m.
4 Fees - Public Funding
4.1 All clients will be assessed on their first appointment as to their potential eligibility for Public Funding (formerly known as Legal Aid).
4.2 If the client is considered eligible for Public Funding the appropriate forms will be completed and signed at the first interview and then submitted to the Legal Aid Agency for their decision.
4.3 Legal Aid Agency brochures explaining Public Funding and the Statutory Charge are available on request.
5 Fees - Privately Paying Clients
5.1 Unless and until either: a) an alternative fee agreement has been agreed and confirmed in writing by us; or b) a client is entitled to have the fees of Holden & Co paid by the Legal Aid Agency, the basis for calculation of our fees is described below and is mainly by reference to the time spent by the solicitor and staff dealing with the transaction or case, the time charged being all the time necessarily spent on the clients' affairs. This will include attendances upon the client and perhaps others, any time spent travelling, waiting, considering, preparing and working on papers and correspondence, making and receiving telephone calls. Each fee earner's time is charged at an hourly rate which includes overhead costs. Letters sent out by the firm are charged at six minutes per page, telephone calls in six minute units and consideration of letters received at three minutes per page. This is a method of charging which is recommended and approved by The Law Society.The currently hourly rates are set out below. These rates do not include VAT, currently at 20%, which will be added when an invoice is prepared:
- Solicitors and Assistant solicitors with more than eight years post-qualification Experience £217
- Assistant Solicitors with more than four years post-qualification experience £192
- Assistant Solicitors and Legal Executives with up to four years post-qualification Experience £161
- Trainee Solicitors and Trainee Legal Executives / Caseworkers £118
When the instructions of the client necessarily require that interviews take place or other work is carried out outside normal office hours, Holden & Co reserve the right to increase the level of the hourly rate.
5.2 The hourly rates set out above are reviewed annually to take effect from 1st May and take account of changes in salary and other overhead costs. Details of any revision of rates occurring during continuance of a case or transaction will be supplied on request. These rates may not be appropriate in cases of exceptional complexity or urgency. Where it becomes apparent that such circumstances exist, Holden & Co reserve the right to cease acting for a client unless revised rates are agreed in substitution for future work.
5.3 In property transactions, in the administration of estates and in transactions involving a substantial financial consideration or benefit to the client, fees may be calculated both by reference to the time spent and also by reference to a value element based on, eg, the price of the property, the size of the estate, or the value of the financial benefit. The value element reflects the importance of the transaction and the consequent responsibility falling on the firm.Further information on the calculation of the value element and whether it will be applied in your case will be supplied on request.
5.4 Disbursements include payments made by Holden & Co on behalf of the client, eg, court fees, Counsel's fees, fees for medical reports, search fees, land or Probate Registry fees, etc. Holden & Co have no obligation to make such payments unless funds have been provided by the client for that purpose. VAT is payable on certain disbursements.
5.5 Fees are payable whether or not a case is successfully concluded or a transaction is successfully completed. If any case or transaction does not proceed to completion for any reason during the period in which Holden & Co are instructed, then Holden & Co shall be entitled to charge for work done on the basis set out above but, at its absolute discretion, the firm may waive part or all of such entitlement to fees.
6 Arrangement for Payment of Fees by Privately Paying Client
6.1 Except as detailed below, it is normal practice to ask clients to pay sums of money from time to time on account of the fees and disbursements which are anticipated in the following weeks or months. It is helpful if clients meet such requests with prompt payment to avoid any delay in the progress of their case.
6.2 In transactions or cases likely to continue for more than one month, interim accounts covering the work already carried out will normally be rendered. This procedure enables clients to budget for costs as the matter progresses. In the event of any account or request for payment on account not being paid within 30 days, Holden & Co reserve the right to decline to act further in the case. The full amount of work done up to that date will be the subject of a final account rendered and will be a debt due from the client.
6.3 Property Transactions. An account will normally be rendered following the exchange of contracts and payment is required prior to or upon completion. Where sufficient funds are payable to the client upon completion, amounts due to Holden & Co shall be deducted from such funds unless otherwise agreed.
6.4 Administration of Estates. It is our usual practice to deliver interim accounts at intervals during the administration. An interim bill will normally be submitted when the Grant has been obtained. If it then transpires that it will take some time to complete the administration, further interim accounts will be rendered periodically and the final account will be presented when the Estate accounts are delivered for approval.
6.5 Normally, a final invoice is rendered at the conclusion of the matter and payment is due within 30 days from the invoice date.
6.6 In cases or transactions continuing for some period of time, many clients find it convenient to arrange regular payments on account by way of standing order. Standing orders should be expressed in favour of Holden + Co Client Account, account number 83496252 at Barclays Bank PLC, Terminus Road, Eastbourne, BN21 3NE, sort code 20-27-91. Holden & Co accept payment for certain of their services by most credit cards. Clients who wish to make use of any of these facilities should discuss it with the person having conduct of their file.
6.7 Arrangements can also be made for clients to pay their accounts in instalments. Details will be provided by the person dealing with the matter.
6.8 Interest will be charged at 4% over Barclays Bank Plc's Base Rate from time to time from the delivery of an account in cases where payment is not made within 30 days of such delivery.
6.9 In the event that a client wishes to instruct another firm, Holden & Co reserve the right to retain the papers until all outstanding invoices are paid in full.
7 Costs Recovered
In some litigation cases, a successful client may be entitled to the payment of costs by some other party to the proceedings. However, it is rare for the system of 'taxation' of costs, as it is known, to result in the other party having to pay the full amount of the costs incurred by the successful client. If the other party is in receipt of Legal Aid, no costs are likely to be recovered. In the event that a client is successful and costs do fall to be paid by the other party, interest can be claimed on those costs against the other party as from the date on which the Order for costs was made. To the extent that any of the fees and disbursements of Holden & Co have been paid on account by the client, Holden & Co will account to the client for interest on such sums but will otherwise be entitled to retain it. Clients must note that the primary liability for costs incurred with Holden & Co is that of the client, even in a case where it is expected that an Order for costs will be obtained against another party. Further, the costs of seeking to enforce any such Order for costs against another party have to be met by the client.
8 Interest Payments
8.1 If Holden & Co holds money on a client's behalf, subject to the terms below, interest will be calculated and paid to you in accordance with the Solicitors' Accounts Rules 2011. Subject to certain minimum amounts and periods of time prescribed by the Rules, interest will be calculated and paid at the rate from time to time payable on Barclays Bank Plc Business Deposit Accounts. The period of which interest will be paid will normally run from the date on which funds are received by us until the date of issue of any cheque in discharge thereof.
8.2 These terms do not apply to an amount of interest of £20 or less, in which case Holden & Co would not account to the client.
8.3 Where clients obtain borrowing from a lender, Holden & Co will request the lender to arrange that the advance cheque is received by Holden & Co a minimum of six working days prior to the completion date to ensure that cleared funds are available in time for completion. Clients should note that the lender may charge interest from the date of issue of the cheque.
9 Conditional Fee Agreement
9.1 It is possible for the client to fund litigation by way of a Conditional Fee Agreement, often referred to as 'No Win No Fee'. By entering into such an agreement, the client will agree to pay to Holden & Co, on the successful completion of an action, the normal hourly fees as set out as above. In addition to this, there will be a 'mark-up' which is a percentage of the fees normally charged. These sums fall to be paid only if the client recovers monies as a result of the litigation. If the litigation is not successful, then the maxim 'No Win No Fee' applies. You should note that some expenses may be payable, eg, insurance premium or disbursements. Your adviser will discuss with you whether Holden & Co will be willing to sign a Conditional Fee Agreement in your case and, if so, upon what terms. You will be given a copy of the Agreement to consider before signing.
9.2 Insurance. It is possible that you may be able to insure against the costs of losing your case which may, in certain circumstances, include your liability in costs to Holden & Co, in addition to your liability in costs to your successful opponent. Certain insurance schemes will cover Contingency Fee Agreements. Your adviser will assess the suitability of your case for such a scheme and will submit the application on your behalf. There is normally a small fee to be paid by you when submitting your application for cover. The premium becomes payable by you once your application has been assessed and approved.
10 Contingency Fee Agreements for Tribunal Cases
Instead of agreeing to pay an hourly rate from monies you recover as a result of proceedings before a Tribunal in which you are represented by Holden & Co, eg. an Employment Tribunal, it is possible for Holden & Co to agree to accept a fixed percentage of the amount you recover. Such proportion would normally be in the region of 33%. The maxim 'No Win No Fee' applies. Your adviser will assess suitability for such an arrangement and a separate agreement will need to be signed by you.
11 Financial Services
This firm is 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 on insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the advising on selling and administration of insurance contracts. This part of our business, including arrangements for complaint or redress if something goes wrong, is regulated by The Law Society. The Register can be accessed via the Financial Services Authority website at: www.fsa.gov.uk/register.
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 is the independent regulatory body of the Law Society, and the Legal Complaints Service is the independent complaints-handling body of the Law Society.
12 Storage of Papers and Deeds
12.1 Following the conclusion of a transaction or case on behalf of a client, Holden & Co will retain the relevant file of papers for such a period as they shall deem appropriate in their absolute discretion. This normally means that probate and purchase of property files will be retained for twelve years, and all other files for six years. A client who requires such papers (including pre-registration deeds and documents where the Title to property has been registered at HM Land Registry) to be kept for any specific period shall give notice in writing to Holden & Co to the effect and, in the event of such notice being given, Holden & Co reserve the right to require the client to take personal custody of the papers. This provision does not apply to current Deeds, Wills and securities.
12.2 Holden & Co provide a safe custody service to clients in respect of Wills, Deeds and other securities and no charge will be made to the client for such storage unless prior notice in writing is given to the client of a change to be made from a future date to be specified in that notice.
12.3 Where stored papers Wills, Deeds or securities are retrieved from storage by Holden & Co in connection with continuing or new instructions to Holden & Co to act in connection with the client's affairs, normally no charge will be made for such retrieval. However, Holden & Co reserve the right to make an administration charge based on the time spent in retrieval and any perusal, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with the instructions given by or on behalf of a client or former client for whom papers, Wills, Deeds or securities are stored.
13 Future Instructions
Unless otherwise agreed in writing, these Terms and Conditions of Business apply only to the current instructions, and instructions received in relation to any other matter will be subject to the Terms and Conditions effective at the time the new instructions are confirmed. Although your continuing instructions in this matter will amount to an acceptance of these terms and conditions of business, it will be helpful if you will please sign and return one copy for us to retain on our file.
Holden + Co
Terms and Conditions of Business -June 2009
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