Terms of Business
Eldwick Law – Terms and Conditions
The following terms of engagement apply to all work carried out by Eldwick Law except as otherwise agreed. The expression “we”, “us”, and “our” refer to Eldwick Law and “you” and “your” refer to our client.
These terms and conditions will apply to any services which we provide and will usually be supplemented by a letter dealing amongst other things with the specific services to be provided and the fees payable.
These terms and conditions may be revised from time to time and a copy will be sent to the client to replace these, and the revised terms and conditions will apply from the date they are received. Clients are free to terminate the arrangement if the revised terms and conditions are not accepted.
1. Our Services
Scope of our Services
1.1 The scope of the services we have agreed to provide in any matter will be agreed between Eldwick Law and the client, and confirmed in our Client Care Letter.
1.2 An update will be sent by telephone or in writing on the matter in particular, following key events or stages in the matter:-
1.2.1 We will update the client on the cost of the matter at six monthly intervals at least and/or at agreed events.
1.2.2 Whenever there is a material change in circumstances, we will update the client on whether the likely outcomes still justify the likely costs and risks associated with the matter.
1.2.3 We will continue to review whether there are alternative methods by which the client’s matter can be funded.
1.3 Where we are jointly instructed by the client and another client to act in a matter, we will assume that the client’s liability to us will be joint and several with both having authorisation to instruct us. Where the matter may progress, we may need to act on instructions of other people where we consider it reasonable to advance the matter within the timescales set.
1.4 To assist us in carrying out the work as efficiently, the client agrees that they will ensure all information provided is to the best of their knowledge, complete, accurate and up to date. The client will notify us of any changes to that information at any time and notify us of any new circumstances that might be relevant to the work we are undertaking.
2. Responsibility for Work
2.1 The persons who will carry out most of the work in this matter or the partner with overall responsibility will be confirmed in our Client Care Letter. The client will be notified in writing of any other member of our team and their status as it may be necessary for them on the matter.
3.1 We are committed to high quality legal advice and client care and aim to offer all our clients an efficient and effective service. If the client would like to discuss any concerns they may have such as how the service could be improved, the level of the bill, or should there be any aspect of our service with which they are not satisfied, they are able to contact Mr Mohammed Sarwar Khan by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by post: 15 Salem Street, Bradford, BD1 4QH. We have a procedure in place which details how we handle complaints and this will immediately be sent to the client.
3.2 We have eight weeks to resolve any complaints. If we are unable to resolve the problem internally within that timeframe, then the client may ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider the complaint. Any complaint made to the Legal Ombudsman should be made within six years of the act or omission about which they are complaining or within three years from when they should have known about or become aware that there were grounds for complaint. The Legal Ombudsman may be contacted on: PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ; 0300 555 0333 or visit www.legalombudsman.org.uk.
3.3 A copy of our complaints procedure can be sent to the client upon their request.
4.1 We are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). Our SRA number is 635527.
4.2 We operate in accordance with a code of conduct and other regulations contained with the SRA’s Handbook. For further information or to see a copy of the Handbook, please visit www.sra.org.uk.
4.3 We practice through Eldwick Law.
5. Contacting Us
5.1 Our Bradford office is located at 15 Salem Street. Our London office is located at Berkeley Square House, London, W1J 6BD. The normal hours of opening are between [09.00] and [18.00] on weekdays. Appointments can be arranged outside those hours when essential to the interests of a client.
5.2 Should a client require emergency assistance whether at the Police Station or otherwise outside these hours they may contact our emergency service by telephoning 07528 688999 and leaving a message, together with a contact telephone number.
6. Professional Indemnity
6.1 In the interests of our clients, we maintain compulsory professional indemnity insurance to a total level of £2,000,000.
6.2 Our insurer is AM Trust Limited, c/o Hera Indemnity Limited, 70 Gracechurch Street, London EC3V 0HR. The territorial coverage of our insurance is £2,000,000.
6.3 A full hard copy of our insurance certificate is available to view at our offices.
7. Our Charges
7.1 Unless we have agreed to act on a fixed fee, our usual approach to charging is to assess the cost of the work done by reference to the time engaged on the work and our standard hourly rates in place at the time that the work is done.
7.2 Please note that we record our time spent on preparing the letter of engagement, the preparation of narratives for our bills, providing a breakdown of our bills or our time, complying with the Money Laundering Rules, and other similar matters relating to a particular item of work.
7.3 Our fees are exclusive of VAT and disbursements. Disbursements may include payments made on the client’s behalf to third parties such as court fees, counsel’s fees and bank charges. Other miscellaneous charges also include photocopying, scanning, printing and faxing etc.
7.4 All routine letters, e-mails, faxes, telephone calls and messages and/or text messages which are made or received are charged at one tenth of the applicable hourly rate per item plus VAT if they take less than six minutes to deal with. If a letter, e-mail, fax, text message or telephone call, telephone message takes more than six minutes to deal with, it will be charged at the appropriate timed proportion of the standard hourly rate in units of six minutes.
7.5 In certain circumstances a higher rate may be agreed and applied when factors such as the nature of the transaction and its complexity will be taken into account.
7.6 The solicitor responsible for the work will provide the relevant hourly rates for the main fee-earners doing the work. By way of indication, the range of our current standard hourly rates are:
i) Grade A Fee Earner (more than 8 years PQE) – £500 plus VAT per hour;
ii) Grade B Fee Earner (more than 4 years PQE) – £350 plus VAT per hour;
iii) Grade C Fee Earner (less than 4 years PQE) – £250 plus VAT per hour;
iv) Grade D Fee Earner (paralegal, trainee solicitor) – £150 plus VAT per hour.
7.7 These rates will apply to the work we do, unless the client is notified of different rates.
Matter not concluded
7.8 Unless otherwise agreed in writing, our fees are payable whether or not a matter is successfully concluded. If any matter does not proceed to completion for any reason during the period in which we are instructed, then we will be entitled to charge for work done on an hourly basis plus expenses as set out above but, at its absolute discretion, we may waive part or all of such entitlement to fees.
7.9 Whilst it is often not possible to estimate charges in advance, it is open to the client to notify us of any limit which they wish to impose on our charges after which further reference will be made. We will advise when it appears that any costs estimates or limits are close to being exceeded. Notwithstanding any estimates or costs limits however, the final bill will be a product of the amount of time our fee earners spend on the matter and our agreed fee rates; any estimates provided are neither intended to be a cap nor a target billing figure. Therefore, if significant further work is required in addition to that currently envisaged or if the timetable is extended significantly, our fees will be greater than our indicative estimates. Should it become apparent at any time during the course of the matter that significant further work will be required, we will notify the client.
7.10 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 e.g. the price of the property; the amount of the mortgage advance; 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 us as a firm. We will tell you in advance if a value element will be included, how it will be calculated and the amount to be charged.
8. Billing arrangements
Timing of bills
8.1 We will deliver bills as work on the matter progresses in accordance with a schedule that we will agree with the client. This may be monthly, quarterly or such frequency as is appropriate in the circumstances. These bills may also include disbursements and expenses incurred on the client’s behalf. Bills may be delivered by the principal, fee earner or sent centrally from our accounts department.
Payments on account
8.2 It is normal practice to ask clients to pay interim bills and sums of money from time to time on account of the charges and expenses which are expected. Payments of interim bills will help us to spread our charges fairly between clients for whom we are working for over periods of time. If such requests are not met with prompt payments, then it may result in a delay; accordingly, if a request for payment or interim is not met, we reserve the right to stop acting for the client further. Total fees may be greater than any advance payments.
Settlement of bills
8.3 Accounts are to be paid when due, whether or not the amounts concerned may ultimately have to be paid by another party. Bills are to be settled in full within one month of receipt.
8.4 We reserve the right to charge interest on bills which are unpaid after one month. The rate of interest will be that prevailing in the Courts on unpaid judgments (currently 8%). If interest is charged, a daily rate of interest will be calculated. The interest element of any payments received will be deducted before reducing any principal due.
8.5 If any payment on account is not made or a bill is not settled in accordance with these terms, we reserve the right to decline to act further.
Concerns over your bill
8.6 If you are not satisfied with the amount of our fees please contact us. Objections about the amount of our fee will be handled by way of our complaints procedure.
8.7 If a client remains unhappy about the level of our fees they may be able to make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman (as more particularly set out above) or may be entitled to have the bill assessed by the Court in accordance with Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. The client’s rights are set out more fully in Sections 70, 71 and 72 of the Solicitors Act 1974.
Lien over papers and documents
8.8 Following the conclusion of the matter, we are entitled to retain the client’s file of papers and documents while there is money owing to us for fees.
8.9 We operate a client account facility which allows for money to be held or transferred in relation to a matter we are working on. However, the facility is operated at our discretion and any unauthorised receipts will be held pending further investigation or returned to the sender. Therefore, we ask that clients give us advance warning of any receipts.
8.10 It is our policy to only accept cash up to £500. 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 the funds. Where we have to pay money to a client, it will be paid by cheque or bank transfer. It will not be paid in cash or to a third party.
8.11 If we hold money on a client’s behalf, in accordance with the SRA Accounts Rules 2011, it is our policy that we will pay the client a sum of money in lieu of interest on a fair and reasonable basis.
8.12 Client monies will normally be held by us in a general client account with our primary banker, Royal Bank of Scotland.
8.13 A sum in lieu of interest will be payable on amounts held in our general client account on the following basis:-
i) Interest will be paid at the conclusion of the matter;
ii) The period for which interest will be paid normally runs from the date the funds are received by us cleared in our account until, where paid electronically, the date when the funds are sent or, where paid by cheque, the date(s) on the cheque(s) issued;
iii) The rate of interest paid to clients will be in line with Royal Bank of Scotland’s published interest rates on Client Deposit Accounts over the period when interest is due;
iv) All interest that is paid will be paid as a gross amount;
v) We will not account for any interest in the following situations:
(a) On money held for the payment of a professional disbursement if the person to whom the money is owed has requested a delay in settlement;
(b) On money held for the Legal Aid Agency;
(c) On money on an advance to us to fund a payment on the client’s behalf in excess of funds already held;
(d) Where the total amount of interest calculated over the course of the matter is £20 or less;
(e) Otherwise, where there is an agreement to contract out of the provisions of this policy.
8.14 If it is apparent that money held on the client’s behalf will need to be retained for some time then such money may need to be placed in a designated deposit account in which case all of the interest accruing while the funds are so invested will be paid to the client when the account is closed or on intermittent basis as agreed.
8.15 It is extremely unlikely that we could be held liable to a client if any money held in our client account is lost due to any failure in the banking system including bank collapse. However, a client may be entitled to make a claim against the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in the event of failure of the bank. The amount of compensation which the FSCS can pay out is limited to £85,000 (subject to some restrictions). We may be able to make a claim to FSCS on a client’s behalf. If we do so, we will, subject to our obtaining their consent, give certain client information to FSCS to help them identify the client and any amounts to which the client is entitled.
9. Other parties’ charges and expenses
9.1 Even if a client is successful, another party may not be ordered to pay any or all the charges and expenses or these may not be recovered from them in full; if this happens, the client will have to pay the balance of our charges and expenses. If the other party is legally aided, the client may not get back any of their charges and expenses, even if they win the case.
9.2 The Court decides who should pay the costs of any case by taking into account a number of factors including which party has won, how each party has conducted the proceedings i.e. complying with time limits, keeping to relevant issues, complying with Civil Procedure Rules, the merits of each party’s case etc. The general rule is that the party that wins the litigation should receive their or its costs, however, it is important that our clients understand that the above factors and others which we will discuss are relevant when the Court decides who should pay the costs of any case or any particular part of a case.
9.3 If a client is unsuccessful and the Court orders the other party to pay some or all of their charges and expenses, interest can be claimed on them from the other party from the date of the Court order. We will account to the client for such interest to the extent that they have paid our charges or expenses of seeking to recover any charges and expenses that the Court orders the other party to pay.
9.4 In some circumstances, the Court may order the client to pay the other party’s legal charges and expenses; for example, if a client lost the case, the money would be payable in addition to our charges and expenses.
10. Cybercrime and email Fraud
10.1 It is unfortunate that Cybercrime and email fraud targeted at law firms and their clients is on the increase. Fraudsters are using very sophisticated methods to manipulate IT and intercept communications.
Confirmation of our bank details
10.2 Our bank account details will be confirmed at the outset of the matter. We will not be changing our bank account details during the course of dealing with the matter so the account details we have confirmed in the body of these terms and conditions will stay the same throughout the lifetime of the matter.
10.3 It is very important to be aware that we will not notify of changes to our bank account details by email. We will only notify clients of changes to important business information, including bank account details, in official correspondence which will be sent by postal mail.
10.4 If receiving any other communication purporting to come from us and which purports to change our bank account details or to request that funds are sent to another account, please do not rely on this and immediately contact the person at this firm handling the matter by telephone. Even if the request appears to have come from us, funds must never be sent to another account unless it has been verified with us. We cannot take any responsibility for any losses where funds are transferred to other accounts that have not been verified by us.
Sending funds to our bank account(s)
10.5 Prior to transferring any funds to our account, we recommend contacting us to verify our account details. Wherever possible, the client should contact the contact the person at this firm handling your matter by telephone.
Our firm sending funds to you
10.6 We may not agree to send any funds unless it is to a pre-agreed bank account which we have verified. Clients must take care to protect their own data and bank account details. Confirming bank details by email should be avoided.
10.7 For all new matters, the person with conduct of your matter will be in contact by telephone to verify your bank account details, prior to our sending funds. We are sorry if this causes any delay to the processing of payments but we do consider that these steps are necessary to help protect your money from fraud.
10.8 If a client is long-standing with the firm and/or a client to whom we have previously transferred funds and the bank account details have not changed we will rely on our previous transactions rather than contacting the client via telephone for verification unless circumstances exist which increase the level of risk or we otherwise consider it appropriate to do so.
11. Limitation of Liability
Reliance by third parties
11.1 Advice rendered by us is provided for the purpose of the instructions to which it relates and for the client’s benefit. It may not be used or relied on for any other purpose or by any person other than the client without our prior agreement.
Liability in respect of other parties
11.2 We will use all reasonable endeavours to ensure that all information provided by us is accurate but we cannot account for the accuracy of information provided by or obtained from third parties. We shall not be liable for any decision made or action taken by the client or others based upon reliance on or use of information or advice provided by or obtained from third parties.
11.3 Where we are asked to recommend the services of another advisor or service provider, we will do so in good faith, but without liability and without warranting the ability or standing of that person or firm. We will not be responsible for the quality of the services provided by that person or firm.
Limitation of our liability
11.4 Our liability for a breach of instructions shall be limited to £2,000,000 unless we expressly state a higher amount in the letter accompanying these terms of business. We will not be liable for any consequential, special, indirect or exemplary damages, costs or losses or any damages, costs or losses attributable to lost profits or opportunities.
11.5 We can only limit our liability to the extent the law allows. In particular, we cannot limit our liability for death or personal injury caused by our negligence.
11.6 Please ask if you would like an explanation of any of the terms above.
12.1 We owe a duty of confidentiality in respect of information relating to the client, which we obtain during the course of our retainer. All such information will be regarded as, and kept confidential at all times unless the client instructs us to disclose information or except in the circumstances set out below.
12.2 Our duty of confidentiality is subject to any disclosures we are required to make in good faith to the police, governmental, regulatory or supervisory authorities in relation to any statutory or regulatory obligations. In particular, we are required, without the client’s knowledge or consent, to report any awareness or suspicion of money laundering in relation to the proceeds of any crime. We can also be ordered by the Government Agencies to disclose information and answer questions about a client’s private affairs, again without their knowledge and consent.
12.3 Sometimes we ask other companies or people to do typing/photocopying/other work on our files to ensure this is done promptly. We will always seek a confidentiality agreement with these outsourced providers. If a client does not want their file to be outsourced, we ask for them to make us aware of this as soon as possible.
12.4 Occasionally, our files may need to be examined by external auditors (for quality purposes) and/or our external advisers (who assist the firm in maintaining quality and risk). In particular, our files may need to be assessed for quality purposes by the SRA. These external firms or organisations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to client’s files and any examination will be strictly controlled. The acceptance of these terms and conditions is deemed to include consent to such disclosure.
12.5 Our duty of confidentiality does not apply to a disclosure we make to our insurers pursuant to the terms of our professional indemnity insurance policy. In the event of a claim, complaint or the notification of a circumstance, which may give rise to a loss or claim, we are obliged to make a notification to our insurers and this may necessarily result in the client’s file being disclosed to our brokers or insurers. By entering into this retainer agreement with us, the client is expressly consenting to such disclosure.
13.1 An actual or potential conflict between a client’s interests and the interests of another client of the firm may arise during the course of a matter. If this situation arises during our dealings with you, we will discuss the position with you and determine the appropriate course of action.
14. Equality & Diversity
14.1 We are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of our dealings with clients, third parties and employees. We are able to provide copies of our equality and diversity policy.
15. Data Protection
15.1 We are registered under the Data Protection Act 2018 (the “Act”) and will deal with data held in accordance with our obligations under the Act.
15.2 We use the information provided by clients primarily for the provision of legal services and for related purposes including:-
i) updating and enhancing client records;
ii) analysis to help us manage our practice;
iii) statutory returns;
iv) legal and regulatory compliance.
15.3 Our use of that information is subject to the client’s instructions, the Act and our duty of confidentiality. Please note that our work may require clients to give information to third parties such as expert witnesses and other professional advisers. Clients have a right of access under data protection legislation to the personal data that we hold.
15.4 We may from time to time send information which we think might be of interest to our clients. If clients do not wish to receive that information, we ask them to notify us in writing.
16. Money Laundering
16.1 Solicitors who deal with money and property on behalf of their client can be used by criminals wanting to launder money.
16.2 Under the provisions of our statutory obligations (in particular with regard to our obligations under the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 and other relevant legislation including the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Terrorism Act 2000), we are under a strict duty to report any circumstances where we know or suspect that a client or matter is involved in money laundering or terrorist financing, to the National Crime Agency. Under these circumstances, we may be precluded from informing the client of the disclosure or seeking the client’s consent. If we make a disclosure, we may also have to stop working on the matter for a period of time and may not be able to tell the client why.
16.3 In view of the above, the law requires solicitors to get satisfactory evidence of the identity of their clients and sometimes people related to them. We may also be required to carry out background checks on our clients and to make detailed enquiries as to the source of funds being used in relation to transactions on which we are instructed to advise.
16.4 Depending on the type of transaction and/or whether it falls into a regulated sector, we may ask clients to provide us with proof of identity and/or to make searches of appropriate databases. The fee for these searches is variable and will appear on the bill under expenses.
16.5 We are required to retain records of the identification obtained. We may delay, decline or cease to act if we have requested to see proof of identity, but there has been an unreasonable delay in providing it.
16.6 If as a result of meeting our statutory obligations, or executing our internal procedures put in place to meet those obligations in good faith, we cause loss, damage or delay, our liability to the client will not exceed the minimum level of Professional Indemnity insurance cover as specified by the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules.
17.1 If a matter has been referred to us by a third party and/or we have a financial arrangement with that third party then we shall disclose all relevant details in our Client Care Letter including the name of the referrer and the amount of any payment we make to that third party for the referral. Similarly, if we receive a financial benefit as a result of acting for the client, we will set this out in our Client Care Letter.
17.2 If the third party is paying us to provide services to a client, we will inform the client in our Client Care Letter of the amount the third party is paying us to provide services and, where applicable, the amount the client is obliged to pay the third party.
17.3 Despite any financial relationship with a third party, we will provide clients with independent advice and they are entitled to raise questions with us about any aspect of the matter.
17.4 Any information provided to us or any advice that we give during the matter will not be shared with the third party unless the client expressly agrees. However, please note that if we are acting both for the client and the third party in this matter, we may have to stop acting if there is a conflict of interest.
18. E-mail Communications
18.1 If the client has the necessary facilities, we will sometimes use e-mail for communication unless told otherwise.
18.2 There are some specific points of which clients should be aware: –
i) Communications over the Internet are not completely secure.
ii) Viruses or other harmful devices may be spread over the Internet. We take reasonable pre-cautions to prevent these problems by use of a firewall and virus checking software. If we are to communicate by e-mail, it is on the basis that the client will do likewise.
Termination by the client
19.1 A client may withdraw their instructions at any time by written notice to us.
19.2 Should the matter not be carried through to completion then a charge will be made in respect of the work that has already been completed based upon the fee structure that has been agreed. VAT or similar taxes will be payable on that amount and the client will also be billed for any disbursements incurred.
19.3 Under certain limited circumstances, the client may have a legal right under The Consumer Contracts (In-formation, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 to cancel their retainer with us with-in 14 days of entering into it, by informing us of the decision to cancel. We will let the client know if this applies to them in our client care letter, which will also include further details on the right to cancel pursuant to these Regulations and the effect of cancellation.
19.4 We will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents whilst there is money owing to us for our fees and expenses.
Termination by us
19.5 In some circumstances, we may consider that we ought to cease acting for the client. We will only decline to act further where we have reasonable grounds to do so (for example: failure by the client to settle invoices in full on the due date or to make payments in advance when so requested; failure by the client to give clear and proper instructions on how we are to proceed; if it is clear that the client has lost confidence in how we are carrying out their instructions; if by continuing to act we would be in breach of the law or rules of professional conduct). If we do cease to act then we will confirm in writing the reasons why and give the client reasonable notice.
20. Storage of files
20.1 At the end of the matter, we will be entitled to keep all client papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses.
20.2 We will keep our file of client papers for 6 years, except papers that have been asked to be returned. We keep files on the understanding that we can destroy them 6 years after the date of the final bill. We will not destroy documents clients ask us to deposit in safe custody.
20.3 If we retrieve papers or documents from storage in relation to continuing or renewing instructions to act, we will not normally charge for such retrieval. However, we may make a charge based on time spent producing stored papers or documents to you or another or making copies of any documents at the client’s request. We may also charge for reading correspondence or other work necessary to comply with the instructions given by the client, or on their behalf. Our charges would be based on our hourly rate applicable at the given time and we would always discuss this with the client beforehand.
21. Third Party Rights
21.1 The Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 does not apply to the terms of our retainer with the client or any subsequent amendment to it unless we expressly confirm in writing that it does apply.
22.1 In the event that any of these terms and conditions are held to be invalid, the remainder of the terms and conditions will remain in full force and effect.
23. Governing law
23.1 These terms and conditions shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the law of England & Wales.
23.2 The Courts of England & Wales shall have exclusive jurisdiction in relation to any claim, dispute or difference concerning this agreement and any matter arising from it.
24. Future instructions
24.1 Unless otherwise agreed, and subject to the application of then current hourly rates, these Terms and Conditions of Business shall apply to any future instructions given by the client to us.