Standard Terms of Business
Stonehewer Moss Solicitors
Northwich. CW8 4DP
This practice is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority
Company Number : 5426583
1. Solicitor and Responsibility for Client Matters
A Solicitor will be appointed for every Stonehewer Moss, solicitors client. Your Solicitor is responsible for ensuring that every aspect of the service provided to you by us is of the highest possible quality and meets the standards of service and performance you are entitled to expect. Your Solicitor is the person named in your engagement letter.
With your agreement, the day to day conduct of your business will be assigned to the person believed to be most appropriate to handle it, subject wherever necessary, to the supervision of the Solicitor or a Senior Solicitor, taking into account factors such as the nature of that business and its value. We will notify you of the name and status of that person, and, if any different, the name of any senior solicitor.
All, or part, of the work may be delegated, or transferred entirely, if circumstances require it, to another person, in which case we will notify you as soon as practicable of the name and status of that person.
Charges for work carried out for you by us will be fair and reasonable.
Unless otherwise agreed, our charges are, in accordance with guidelines laid down by The Law Society, determined by reference to a number of factors, the most significant of which is the time spent on the matter. This includes, but is not limited to, time spent travelling, unless otherwise agreed with you, and time spent on routine correspondence, as well as making and receiving telephone calls.
In addition to our charges, we may incur expenses (which are called disbursements) from time to time covering (amongst other things) Counsels’ fees. experts’ fees. courier charges, copying charges, enquiry agents’ charges, property search and enquiry fees, Court fees, valuation fees, company law agents’ fees, company search fees and travel expenses. When we incur such disbursements, we will incorporate these in our next bill to you or send a separate “Disbursement Only” invoice to you.
We may also recover from you other miscellaneous expenses, not incorporated within our hourly rates, Representing;
- the cost of photocopying of papers relating to each matter
- the cost of bulk faxes
- car travel incurred on your behalf at our current rate per mile
- other travel costs (for example rail and air tickets) in the amounts invoiced to, or incurred by, us
- secretarial overtime in relation to urgent matters requiring our support staff to work after our normal business hours
- Professional Indemnity top up premiums should you require cover over and above the otherwise applicable limit of indemnity of our insurance referred to in clause 10 below.
Unless otherwise agreed, your liability for our charges and disbursements, calculated on the above basis, commences from the moment that we are instructed and covers the initial advice that we may give as well as any subsequent work that we carry out pursuant to that advice.
We operate a computerised time recording system. We will provide regular updates on the amount of our charges and disbursements at appropriate stages. The method of charging/charging rates applicable to your matter will be agreed with you in advance and confirmed in writing either by your Solicitor or the person having day to day responsibility for your work. All charges and some disbursements are subject to VAT (where applicable).
Any rates agreed with you will be subject to periodic reviews and any changes notified to you in advance. Any quotations given are given on the assumption that the matter is not unusually urgent. complicated, or time consuming except where the quotation may expressly cover such matters and is signed by a senior solicitor at Stonehewer Moss.
If we agree to act for you on a contingent basis then this will be the subject of a separate written agreement Where there is any difference or conflict between the terms of such written agreement and these standard terms of business then these terms shall prevail.
To the extent that there is no separate agreement between us with regard to such charges, we reserve the right to charge for costs incurred in complying with any statutory, professional or regulatory provisions in relation to the work we do for you, or incurred in connection with our acting for you, including, but not limited to, the Money Laundering Provisions (as defined in Clause 9 below).
In the event that we stop acting for you on whatever basis in accordance with the provisions of Clause 8 below, unless otherwise agreed, you will be liable, as set out in this Clause, for all charges and disbursements incurred up to the point that we stop acting for you, despite the fact that we may not have completed what we were instructed to do. You will also be liable for such further charges or disbursements which we may unavoidably be required to incur (for example, in litigation we may have to apply to the Court for a Court Order removing us from the Court’s record as acting on your behalf or we may have to take steps to seek to protect your position until you have been able to make other arrangements).
Bills rendered by us will clearly show the work being charged for. Where we are instructed by more than one person jointly, liability for our charges. disbursements and VAT is shared between those persons on a joint and several basis so that we may recover from anyone or more of those persons individually or together the full amount of our charges, disbursements and VAT notwithstanding any agreement which may be reached between those persons.
Unless otherwise agreed, we will submit interim bills from time to time, at intervals determined by ourselves, or agreed with you. All such bills will be regarded as final bills for the work done to the date referred to in the bill, unless otherwise specified at the time.
Unless specific terms of payment have been agreed, bills, whether interim or final, should be settled upon receipt. Interest may be charged on bills that are not paid on time at 4% above Bank of England base rate from the date of the bill until payment.
You may be required to make payments of anticipated charges and disbursements in certain circumstances. These are known as payments on account. In particular, we have the right to request payment for work before it is commenced and to suspend or terminate all or any part of your instructions to us and any work done for you, without further obligation to you, in the event that any such request for a payment on account or any bill remains unpaid. This right can be exercised by us in relation either to the matter on which the particular request or bill remains unpaid or any or all other matters. whether or not amounts remain unpaid in respect of such other matters.
We may apply any amount held on your behalf on any matter in our Client Account in or towards payment of any sum requested or due from you as regards any other matter whether on account or in respect of an interim, disbursement only. or final bill or interest, or any combination of these.
In addition to any right that we may have at law, we are also permitted to retain your files or any of your papers or property until all monies due from or payable by you to us (whether billed or unbilled) have been paid. This is known as a lien.
4. Costs Payable by and to Other Parties
It is important to remember that. notwithstanding any agreement reached with, or the liability of, someone else in relation to costs (for example pursuant to a Court Order), it is your primary responsibility to pay our charges and disbursements in respect of any matter which we handle for you.
The fact that a Court Order for costs may be made in your favour is no guarantee that such costs can be recovered from your opponent who may not be in a position to make payment whether in whole or in part. In Court proceedings where judgment is obtained in default, only nominal fixed costs can be recovered. These will only partly reimburse you for the costs which you have to pay us but the balance of our charges, disbursements and VAT will still be payable by you.
Unless only fixed costs are payable the amount of costs recoverable from other persons in Court proceedings is entirely at the discretion of the Court and tends to be recoverable at a lower rate than that charged by us to you. This will mean that, if any costs are recoverable at all, only a proportion will be recoverable and the balance will be payable by you.
Any payment made by, or recoverable from, another party in respect of our charges, disbursements or VAT does not release you from the obligation to make such payment in the event that the payment made by that person is dishonoured, not made as promised, or is repayable for whatever reason.
If costs are payable by someone else, then we may charge you for any steps which have to be taken to seek to recover those costs from that person, either on the basis set out in these standard terms of business or as otherwise agreed.
In litigation matters, if you are unsuccessful, either in relation to a specific application or upon final conclusion of the proceedings, you may be ordered to pay your opponent’s costs. In that event, we may have to request an immediate payment to cover any such costs.
5. Cash Payments, Use of Client Account and Source of Monies paid to us
We cannot accept cash in payment for any invoice, or any sum, due from you to us, or payable in relation to any matter.
We cannot allow our client account facilities to be used other than for handling payments in relation to a matter which we are dealing with on your behalf, and only in accordance with any current applicable Solicitors’ Accounts Rules, details of which are available on request.
We are required to satisfy ourselves of the source of any money which you pay us. We require a minimum of 14 days in which to do so unless, in our sole discretion we agree to accept shorter notice. We therefore require you at the outset of any transaction to identify the precise source of any funds which you will be paying to us to complete the transaction. We need to know the details of the account from which it is to be paid and may also require proof of the original source of the money. If we do not receive 14 days’ notice of the source of the funds, or if the money comes from a source other than that which you have previously identified, or in any event if we are unable to satisfy ourselves as to the original source of the money, we may decline to proceed within the expected timescales or at all and we shall not be liable for any losses caused by this.
If you wish to query a bill, please let us know as soon as possible. This does not, of course, affect your right to apply in non-contentious matters to Legal Complaints Service for a remuneration Certificate or in all matters to the Court for assessment of our bill. This means that our bill will be independently verified by the Court.
7. Interest and Commissions
If we hold money on your behalf, we will account to you for interest earned on it in accordance with the law, although we may be entitled to offset any such interest against monies due to us in accordance with clause 3(g) above. In the event that commission is received by us from a financial institution, brokers or others, details of the amount of commission will be declared. It is agreed that we are entitled to retain such commission.
You may terminate your instructions to us, i.e. request that we stop acting for you at any time but such termination is not effective until we have received written confirmation from you of such termination. In the event of termination, you are responsible for any charges or disbursements incurred up to the date upon which we receive written confirmation of your wish to terminate, together with such further charges or disbursements which we may unavoidably be required to incur (for example, in litigation we may have to apply to the Court for a Court Order removing us from the Court’s record as acting on your behalf or we may have to take steps to seek to protect your position until you have been able to make other arrangements).
As well as being entitled to stop acting for you for the reasons given in clause 3(~ above, we also have the right to do so upon reasonable notice in writing if we are unable to obtain proper instructions from you to enable us to carry out your work effectively, if you do not confirm acceptance of these terms or any agreed variation to them in writing, or if we believe that what you require us to do is unreasonable.
We also have the right to stop acting for you (whether on a permanent or temporary basis) if you do not provide satisfactory evidence of your identity under clause 9(b) below, or if we are otherwise required, or deem it appropriate, in our absolute discretion, to stop acting for you (whether permanently or temporarily) by virtue of compliance with our obligations referred to within clause 9 below (which, in certain circumstances, we are required and/or entitled to do so without giving you any written or other notice).
We also have the right to stop acting for you in the circumstances set out in clause 16(c) below.
9. Money Laundering
Under various UK and European enactments and regulations, we are under mandatory and sometimes complex obligations which require us to assist the relevant authorities in eradicating the laundering of the proceeds of crime and tax evasion, This process is known as “Money Laundering”. The various UK and European enactments and regulations are subject to periodic re-enactment, amendment and revision and we are required to comply with whatever provisions are in force from time to time (“the Money Laundering Provisions”), and are subject to potential criminal and/or civil sanctions and liabilities in the event of non-compliance.
In particular, to enable us to comply with our obligations under the Money Laundering Provisions, if you are a new client before we can accept instructions from you, we have to complete a client identification check for you. This may, for example, require you to supply us with satisfactory evidence of your identity, or if a company, other documents. for example, a copy of your latest accounts, a copy of your Certificate of Incorporation and evidence of the identity of your Directors or anyone who is believed to be involved in the management or control of the company.
In some instances this may also require us to ask you questions about yourself, about the source of any income, past or present, or how you acquired property or funds or how a particular business. trust, or company, which we are asked to advise, is operated or funded.
For the same reason, in addition to our express rights under clause 5(c) above, where. with reference to our obligations under the Money Laundering Provisions, we have any doubts about the funding of a transaction by any third party or the legitimacy of any matter or transaction, then we reserve the right to delay progress or completion until we have satisfied ourselves of the identity of that third party or the legitimacy of the matter or transaction, and, without prejudice to any other limitation of liability contained in these terms, we will not be liable for any loss caused by such delay.
Under the Money Laundering Provisions we are also, in some cases, required to report to the relevant authorities, suspicions which we may have that a matter in which we are or are asked to become involved in is related, or being used, to facilitate Money Laundering or if we suspect that you, or any party involved in the transaction or matter, is engaged in Money Laundering. By instructing us you thereby expressly authorise us to comply with the Money Laundering Provisions, including, but not limited to, notifying any relevant authorities of the matter in which we are or are asked to become involved, if we suspect that Money Laundering is, has, or may be taking place, or otherwise come under an obligation to so notify any relevant authorities, If, as a result of such suspicions, we make a report.
your attention is drawn to the provisions of Clause 10 (a)(i). In the event that we make a report to the relevant authorities, we shall be under no obligation to advise you that such a report has been made, because, in doing so, we may potentially incur criminal and/or civil sanctions and liabilities, and shall be entitled to stop acting for you in relation to the transaction or matter pending the provision of permission to us from the relevant authorities to continue acting for you if applicable}.
10. limitations on our Liability
We try not to make mistakes and to maintain the highest levels of service but in the event that we are found to be liable to you, we are insured, subject to policy terms and conditions. However, the amount for which we are insured is subject to financial limitations. In any event, by these terms of business, unless specifically agreed in writing to the contrary in relation to any particular matter by the principal of Stonehewer Moss, and as regards any liability which we would otherwise have to you, or any third party, in respect of all loss or damage claimed, or any costs incurred, on whatever basis claimed (whether in contract, tort or otherwise), we:-
exclude any liability of whatever nature arising as a direct or indirect consequence of our compliance in good faith with the Money Laundering Provisions referred to in clause 9 of these terms of business or any other statutory, professional or regulatory obligation (and, for the avoidance of doubt, this includes liability for delays caused by our having to seek consent from the relevant authorities pursuant to the Money Laundering Provisions); and without exclusion (i) in any way being affected, and unless otherwise agreed between us, in all cases limit our liability, or that of any of our directors and staff, in total to the maximum aggregate sum of Â£3,000,000 (including interest and costs) for any claim or claims arising out of: –
- the same act or omission;
- a series of related acts or omissions;
- the same act or omission in a series of related matters or transactions;
- similar acts or omissions in a series of related matters or transactions
If we are jointly or jointly and severally liable to you with any other party, whether or not you in fact claim against another party, we shall only be liable to pay you the proportion which is found to be fairly and reasonably due to our fault. We shall not be liable to pay you the proportion which is due to the fault of another party or for which another party would otherwise be liable.
Any sum due from us to you shall be reduced by the proportion for which another party would have been found liable if either;
- you had also brought proceedings or made a claim against them, or
- we had brought proceedings or made a claim against them under the Civil Liability (Contribution) Act 1978 or
- any similar enactment under any other relevant jurisdiction.
Without prejudice to any exclusion or limitation of liability contained in these terms, and subject to any legal or professional restriction on excluding or limiting liability, any claim made against us must be notified to us in writing within 2 years of completion of the matter, or in relation to a series of matters, the last in time of any such matters to which the claim relates, failing which all liability will be excluded.
Save where, by law, or regulatory provision affecting the Solicitors’ profession, such liability cannot be excluded, no employee will be individually liable to you either in contract or in tort. The expression “employee” means all persons currently, or previously, employed by Stonehewer Moss, and anyone who may become an employee during our conduct of this case or any other business on your behalf.
This clause is intended to benefit such employees who may enforce this clause pursuant to the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999. Notwithstanding any benefits or rights conferred by this agreement on any third party by virtue of that Act, the parties to this agreement may agree to vary or rescind this agreement without any third party’s consent.
Without prejudice to any other exclusion or limitation on liability (and subject to clause 10 h) below). we exclude all liability for any loss or damage, whether direct or indirect. caused by any communication whether by post, fax or email being misdirected or intercepted by third parties.
Any exclusion of, or limitation on, our liability contained in this agreement shall apply to work done under this agreement and any future work unless we agree different terms with you. Without prejudice to reliance on clause 10(e) above, and subject to clause 10(h) below, any such exclusions of, or limits on, liability contained in this agreement are intended, pursuant to the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999, to benefit any Directors and employees against whom you may seek to claim, on any ground whatsoever.
Nothing in these terms shall exclude, restrict or prevent action in respect of any liability arising from fraud, dishonesty, or reckless disregard of our professional obligations or for death or personal injury caused by our negligence, or other liabilities which cannot lawfully be limited or excluded.
The provisions of this Clause shall in any event be subject to the minimum restriction on limiting liability applying to damages and claimants’ costs which is prescribed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority at the date of this engagement.
If any part of these terms which seeks to limit or exclude liability (including provisions as to amount, or compliance or purported compliance with the Money Laundering Provisions) is found by a court to be void or ineffective on the grounds that it is unreasonable or does not accord with any professional obligation, or otherwise, the remaining ;provisions shall continue to be effective.
11. Advice on Investments and Insurance
If during this transaction you need advice on investments (which may include advice on insurance products), we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised by the Financial Services Authority, as we are not so authorised. However, we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Services Authority so that we can, where this is closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you, provide certain limited services in relation to investments and 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 complaints or redress if something goes wrong, is regulated by Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Services Authority website at www.fsa.gov.uk/register.
12. Communication, Data Protection and Client Confidentiality
We will communicate with you by the most appropriate means. This may be by letter, telephone, fax or e-mail. In relation to e mail, we would ask you to note that the internet is less secure than other communications media and is susceptible to both error as to destination and delay and e mails can sometimes fall into the hands of third parties. Your attention is drawn to the terms of clause 10(Q).
The firm is currently working towards registration under Lexcel quality standards. As a result of this and for other reasons we are or may become subject to periodic checks by outside assessors. This could mean that your file is selected for checking, in which case we would need your consent for inspection to occur. All inspections are, of course, conducted in confidence. If you prefer to withhold consent, work on your file will not be affected in any way. Since very few of our clients do object to this we propose to assume that, unless you indicate otherwise, by accepting these terms of business you consent to such inspection and also that consent on this occasion will extend to all future matters which we conduct on your behalf. Please let us know if you would like us to exclude your file from this process.
13. File Retention
Subject to these terms, and to some exceptions (details of which can be provided upon request), the file which relates to your transaction belongs to you. Unless requested by you, all files will be retained by us for a minimum of 6 years. Thereafter, at our discretion, they may be destroyed, unless you have requested in writing that we retain or forward the file to you.
Subject to these terms, and to some exceptions (details of which can be provided upon request), the file which relates to your transaction belongs to you. Unless requested by you, all files will be retained by us for a minimum of 6 years. Thereafter, at our discretion, they may be destroyed, unless you have requested in writing that we retain or forward the file to you. There is a flat Â£25 storage fee and a Â£15 retrieval fee if the file is left with us.
If you feel you have not received a proper service from us, you should initially contact the person having day to day conduct of the matter concerned, their supervising solicitor, or your Solicitor. If the problem cannot be resolved informally then your Solicitor will trigger our Complaints Procedure.
Details of our Complaints Procedure will be sent to you on request. In any event, we will investigate your complaint objectively and as quickly as practicable.
You undertake that for the period during which this firm acts or provides advice in relation to any matter and for a period of 6 months after the completion of the last matter upon which we have been instructed by you, you will not:-
- solicit or entice away (or assist anyone else in doing so) any member of our professional staff with whom you or any of your employees have had dealings in connection with any matter during the 12 months immediately prior to your approach; or
- employ any such person or engage them in any way to provide services to you whether independently or as a partner or employee of any other firm or company. This undertaking shall not apply in respect of any member of our staff who, without having been previously approached directly or indirectly by you, responds to an advertisement placed by you or on your behalf.
Unless we agree in writing to the contrary, the advice provided and the work carried out by us in relation to any matter is intended to be relied on only by you and by no other person. Save as provided in clauses 10(e) and 16(e), and in relation to directors and employees who may, by virtue of clause 10(m)above, rely on the limits and/or exclusions on/of liability contained in this agreement, a person who is not a party to the terms of our engagement by you shall have no right to enforce or rely on any of its terms under the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999. You agree not to make our work, including any advice given to you available to third parties without our written permission, and we accept no responsibility to third parties for any aspect of our professional services or work that is made available to them.
We can only advise on English jurisdiction, law and procedure (this covers England and Wales, but not Scotland, Northern or Southern Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands). If the matter involves Issues of non-English jurisdiction, law or procedure, subject to your agreement, we shall engage lawyers qualified in the relevant country to provide specific advice on those aspects.
Any matter upon which we act for you may give rise to tax and/or accountancy implications. Unless specifically agreed in writing, we do not provide any tax or accountancy advice and would expect your accountants/tax advisers to deal with all issues relating to tax and accounting arising in respect of or in connection with the particular matter and your tax and accounting matters generally. The responsibility for instructing your accountants/tax advisers will, unless otherwise agreed in writing, be yours.
Any advice provided by us will be based and dependent upon the instructions, information and documentation supplied by you and those people whom you have specified will instruct us on your behalf. We will not be responsible for any consequences which may arise from a delay or failure by you, or them. to give us the instructions, information and documentation which we require.
Whilst we may be obliged to advise you to consider whether the expected results of our involvement will justify the costs that will be incurred and, in appropriate cases, on the risks of not achieving those results, we cannot advise on the merits of any transaction that you may be entering into; for example, we cannot advise on whether a property or business you are buying is worth what you are paying. In particular, you will remain responsible for any commercial decisions you make.
Any failure by us to pursue our legal rights or any relaxation of any of them shall not be taken as a waiver or compromise of any such rights
Except where the context otherwise requires, each of these terms shall be regarded as independent of every other term so that if any such term or the application of any such term to any person or to any circumstance is found to be invalid or unenforceable, then such finding will not affect any other term or the application of such term to any other person or circumstance.
These terms of business shall be governed by and interpreted in accordance with English law and any claim arising out of any matter we handle for you shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English Courts (save in relation to the enforcement of any Judgment obtained by us against you). Each party irrevocably waives any right it may have to object to an action being brought in those Courts, to claim that the action has been brought in an inconvenient forum, or to claim that those Courts do not have jurisdiction.
At Stonehewer Moss we are totally committed to delivering outstanding client service. It is one of the four key pillars on which our brand has been built and will remain vital in our future. Our mission is to be recognised as the best legal services firm to work with in our chosen markets.
In order to do this, we start by recruiting only the very best people and then we give them the tools they need to understand, meet and wherever possible exceed your expectations. But on top of this we have built an infrastructure that is not just client facing, but is increasingly client driven. That means we don’t just listen to our clients, we change the way we do business to meet their ever evolving needs.
This document contains our Standard Terms of Business, but in addition you will have also received an Engagement Letter setting out key information relating to our work with you. It will address the scope of the work, who is going to carry it out and what we believe the costs will be for us to complete the project.
We believe it is vital that you fully understand these issues at the outset. We also recognise the need to keep in very close contact with you to ensure that you are always in possession of the latest information regarding your work with us. This includes regular reporting throughout a transaction or matter in line with your own business or personal needs.
We don’t like surprises and neither do our clients, so through good communications we avoid them. This is the responsibility of your Solicitor. This individual is responsible for ensuring that you receive the high levels of service you deserve from across our firm. They will be your principal contact at Stonehewer Moss and a point of reference for any queries you may have. Your Solicitor will be highlighted in your Engagement Letter.
We are passionate about getting this right and would be delighted to hear from you if you have suggestions or ideas on how we can improve our client service. These can be fed in via your Solicitor, or directly to me if you would prefer.
If you would like further details about the range of legal services we can provide, these are available on this website and at www.piplaw.co.uk. We hope you will enjoy working with us and look forward to a long and prosperous relationship.
Dominic James Stonehewer Moss
Managing Director and Principal Solicitor
Stonehewer Moss Solicitors is a trading style of the Stonehewer Moss Limited, Registered in England No. 542 6583 which is a firm of solicitors regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority No. 471159. VAT No. 811729341