1.1. When you request me to advise you on a particular matter, I will also send you a letter (“the Engagement Letter”) confirming the scope of work and basis of my charges. In these terms and conditions of business “I” or “me” refers to Helen Taylor.
1.2. The Engagement Letter, together with these terms and conditions of business which appear below and the attached Privacy Notice and Complaints procedure, constitute the “Engagement Terms”, and form the contract between us under which I will provide services to you. You will be asked to sign and return a copy of the engagement terms to confirm your agreement to the terms of my retainer. In the event of you instructing me to take any action or give any advice having received my written engagement terms but not having signed and returned the copy, you will be deemed by instructing me to have accepted my engagement terms and will be bound by them.
1.3. My agreement to provide services may be varied by agreement during the matter. In the event of any inconsistency between my Engagement Letter and these terms and conditions of business, the Engagement Letter shall prevail.
2. In performing my services, I shall use reasonable care and skill to:
2.1. Comply with your instructions with reasonable skill, care and expedition appropriate to your needs.
2.2. Provide you with the best advice on matters relating to will writing and other private client services. In some cases, this may mean advice to draw up other documents, or take other action, which may incur further fees. In such cases full details of such charges will be given to you in advance and you are under no obligation to proceed with any ancillary services offered. However, in some circumstances you may be asked to sign a declaration stating that you are acting against the advice given.
2.3. Comply with your instructions using all due skill, care and expedition appropriate to your needs. I will: –
2.3.1. Dispatch draft documents after signed Engagement Terms, ID and instructions are received within 7-10 working days
2.3.2. Dispatch executable documents AFTER drafts are approved within 5 working days
2.3.3. Explain to you the legal work which may be required.
2.3.4. Any queries or questions will be answered, and a full explanation given on the contents and terminology used in the drafting of your documents
2.3.5. Explain the likely degree of any financial risk in relation to legal costs which you will be taking
2.3.6. Inform you regularly of progress or, if there is none, let you know when you are likely to hear from me
2.3.7. Deal promptly with your queries
3. Your responsibilities as a client
3.1. You are responsible for:
3.1.1. providing all documentation and information required in a timely manner.
3.1.2. providing me with all necessary information to enable me to comply with the Money Laundering Regulations.
3.1.3. disclosing all relevant facts and answers to all the questions asked to allow me to provide accurate advice and to produce an effective legal document. I shall not accept liability in respect of information which was not disclosed, and therefore not documented by me when taking your instructions, and which comes to light at a later date as being of relevance and which may affect the validity or content of your documents or advice given.
3.1.4. reading through the draft documents provided, to confirm that they correctly reflect your wishes as to the distribution of your estate and that the names and addresses of the persons mentioned in your documents are correct, adding any missing data not supplied at the time of taking your instructions.
3.1.5. returning the documents together with any amendments to me as soon as possible. If you fail to return the Documents to me, I shall accept no liability for the draft documents. I shall not be responsible for any delay due to your failure to comply with the above.
3.1.6. notifying me if you do not receive your draft documents within two weeks of signing the engagement terms, unless otherwise agreed.
3.1.7. paying the fee due for the provision of me services in full and in accordance with the terms of my invoice.
3.1.8. If you are having the attestation service, you should arrange for the witnesses to be present at the time of the execution of your Will.
3.2. You agree not to make my work available to third parties without my written permission.
4. Instructions and Scope of Engagement
4.1. I shall be entitled to act on the instructions of you, and if you expressly authorise me to do so, a family member or friend, and to rely on any information provided to me by such people.
4.2. I shall carry out my engagement as recorded in the Engagement Letter(s). I shall not be responsible for any failure to advise or comment on any matter which falls outside the scope and limitations of my engagement and will have no responsibility to you to update any advice for events or changes in law which take place after the advice has been given.
4.3. My role is to provide legal advice. I will not provide advice on the commercial or financial wisdom of any matter, or advice on tax matters, or the tax implications of, any instruction or course of action unless this is expressly agreed in writing at the outset, or during the course, of a matter. I do not accept any responsibility if I do not advise you to seek tax advice and will not be liable for losses which arise because of any failure to seek tax advice.
4.4. Advice rendered by me is provided for your benefit and solely for the purpose of the instruction to which it relates. It may not be used or relied on for any other purposes or any person other than you without my prior written agreement.
5. Fees and expenses
5.1. Most of the time, we will agree a fee for the work to be done and this will be set out in the Engagement Letter.
5.2. Otherwise, I will do my best at the outset to give you an estimate of the likely overall cost in relation to a matter. There are, of course, many variables which come into play and therefore I will provide you with an estimate based upon the information I have at any stage. Unless my Engagement Letter states otherwise, any estimate or quotation of costs I give you is only a guide to assist you in budgeting and should not be regarded as a firm quotation or a fixed or capped fee. I shall do my best to notify you if any estimate of my time and/or fees that I have given you needs to be changed because of a change in circumstances.
5.3. Joint Clients – if I am instructed by joint clients then all clients are jointly and severally liable for my fees, notwithstanding any agreement between you as to how you will share the costs. This means that I will be able to look to one client only or to each of my clients to pay the whole of or any balance of any unpaid fees.
5.4. My charges are primarily based upon the time I spend dealing with your matter including meetings with you and others; any time spent in travelling (for example, to and from Court or to meetings); considering, preparing, and working on papers; correspondence (whether written or electronic); and making and receiving telephone calls. The hourly charging rate which will apply will be confirmed in the Engagement Letter. If there is to be a change in the hourly rates applicable to your matter, you will be notified in writing and you will then be bound by them. If you do not accept the new rates after review, I reserve the right not to continue acting for you.
5.5. These rates take into account a number of factors which include the complexity of the issue, the speed at which action was to be taken; the expertise or specialist knowledge which the case requires and, if appropriate, the value of the property or subject matter involved. Accordingly, the rate may be increased if, for example, the matter becomes more complex than expected. If the scope of the work changes or my assumptions change, I will discuss a revised fee arrangement or estimate with you.
5.6. Routine letters and e-mails that I write and routine telephone calls that I make and receive will be charged as units of 1/10th of an hour. Other letters, e-mails and telephone calls will be charged on a time basis.
5.7. Please be alerted to the fact that regular e-mails which need attention tend to increase costs significantly. I therefore encourage all clients to use e-mail sparingly as cost estimates can be rapidly exceeded.
5.8. The charges quoted are exclusive of VAT which is not charged.
5.9. Expenses or disbursements (i.e. payments to third parties) including travel expenses, search fees, stamp duty and the fees of counsel and other experts will be charged in addition together with photocopying, faxes and petty incidentals as appropriate. VAT is also payable on certain disbursements. I will notify you in advance of any significant disbursement to be incurred on your behalf and for which payment is due in advance.
5.10. I review charges annually, usually from 1 January.
6. Monies on account
6.1. I may at any time ask for a payment on account of costs in certain cases and this will be dealt with in the Engagement Letter. Payment on account of disbursements or expenses will normally be requested before payment is made on your behalf. If you do not make a payment on account when asked to do so I will be entitled to stop working for you.
7. Billing arrangements
7.1. Invoices relating to fixed and agreed fees will be delivered when they are due for payment in accordance with the terms in the Engagement Letter. For other fees, I will send you a final bill at completion of the matter. However, I may also render interim bills to you at regular intervals until the matter is concluded.
7.2. Even if someone else has agreed to pay or be responsible for payment of all or part of your legal costs, I will normally address my bills to you and you will, in any event, be primarily liable to me for those costs.
7.3. My bills are due for payment on delivery, and I will be entitled to claim interest at the rate of 4% above the base rate of Barclays Bank PLC if any of them are not discharged within 30 days after the date the bill is sent to you.
7.4. If you have any queries about a bill, please contact me as soon as you receive it. Please note that you may have a right to object to the bill by making a complaint. I refer you to clause 10 below for further details.
8. Equality and Diversity
8.1. I am committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of my dealings with client, third parties and others. I will not discriminate in the way I provide my Services on the grounds of age, disability, gender re-assignment, marriage and civil partnerships, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality (including citizenship) ethnic or national origins), religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation.
9. Legal Aid
9.1. Legal aid provides assistance to people who are otherwise unable to afford to pay for legal representation in court and/or legal advice. I do not undertake Legal Aid. With civil cases, in order to obtain legal aid, you will need to be able to prove that you cannot afford to pay for legal costs and that your case is serious. The details of the legal aid agency are provided in this link- https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/legal-aid-agency.
10. Money Laundering Precautions
10.1. Like all firms of solicitors, I am required by law to apply procedures to guard against the risk of money laundering.
My obligations: –
10.2. By virtue of the legislation and regulations I am required to:
10.2.1. verify your identity on the basis of documents, data or information from a reliable and independent source.
10.2.2. identify any person who is classified by the regulations as a ‘beneficial owner’ and take reasonable measures to verify any beneficial owner’s identity, to include taking reasonable measures to understand the ownership and control structure of any individual, trust, company, foundation, charity or similar arrangement.
10.2.3. obtain information on the proposed and intended nature of the retainer and business relationship and so far as it is reasonable satisfy ourselves that the funds which relate to the matter we are instructed upon are legitimate;
10.2.4. continue to monitor the transaction and keep identity information up to date.
10.2.5. report to the relevant authority if we have any knowledge or suspicion that an offence under the above legislation or regulations may be or has been committed.
10.3. Failure by me to comply with these obligations may result in a criminal prosecution against me. To enable me to comply with my duties I may ask for evidence of identity or you or any “beneficial owner” and I may ask you detailed questions concerning the source of any relevant funds.
10.4. Identification checks – This may be necessary even though I have acted for you before, or even if you are known personally to me. I will tell you if such evidence is necessary, but it will help if you are able to produce the evidence prior to or at the first meeting. Normally, the evidence I request are passports or Driving Licences as photo ID, plus two or more documents to establish your address, such as recent utility bills, council tax statements, or bank statements not being more than three months old as proof of address. In certain circumstances I may carry out searches to verify your identity and proof of address.
10.5. Cash – I do not accept cash. If you circumvent this policy by depositing cash direct with my bank, I reserve the right to charge for any additional checks I deem necessary regarding the source of funds. This can be costly and will almost certainly delay your transaction.
10.6. Source of funds – at the start of any matter I will normally ask you to tell me the source of any funds you will be using. It is simplest if the source is an account, in your name, in a UK bank or building society. If the source is an unusual one, such as an account in another country, or in the name of someone other than yourself, please tell me as early as possible, including the reason. Failure to disclose the details of the source of funds may lead me to terminate your retainer.
I will always seek to keep my client’s affairs confidential subject to:
11.1. Any disclosure obligations which may be imposed on me by law, such as the money laundering legislation; Where a Solicitor knows or suspects that a transaction on behalf of a client involves money laundering, the Solicitor may be required to make a money laundering disclosure. If, whilst I am acting for you, it becomes necessary to make a money laundering disclosure, I may not be able to inform you that a disclosure has been made or of the reasons for it.
11.2. Regulatory requirements such as audit provisions under the Solicitors Accounts Rules.
11.3. Quality audits undertaken by independent inspectors.
11.4. Documents and information relevant to any claim or potential claim being supplied to my professional indemnity insurers in the event of me having to inform my insurers of any notifiable circumstances under the terms of my policy, and.
11.5. the review of your files in a due diligence exercise relating to the sale or transfer of all or part of my business, the acquisition of another business by me or the acquisition of new business.
11.6. By accepting these terms, you consent to disclosure of your files of papers in the above circumstances on the basis that the third parties involved will be required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files.
11.7. In common with many law firms, I may engage other companies or people to provide certain support functions and to provide secretarial, paralegal, clerical or administrative services on my files. I may also refer my files to counsel, an expert or a costs draftsman for specialist advice. I will always seek a confidentiality agreement with these outsourced providers. If you do not want your file to be outsourced, please tell me as soon as possible.
12. Indemnity Insurance and Limitations on my liability
12.1. As a Freelance Solicitor, I am not required to meet the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority’s minimum level of insurance. Depending on the type of firm, this would be either £3m or £2m.
12.2. I am however, required to take out and maintain Professional Indemnity Insurance that provides adequate and appropriate cover in respect of the services I provide or have provided.
12.3. I have taken out Professional Indemnity Insurance which provides cover to £2.5m and which I consider to be an adequate and appropriate level of cover for the services I provide.
12.4. My insurer is Hiscox Insurance Company Limited. My insurance policy number is HU PI68265067. The insurance covers my practice carried on from my offices in England and Wales.
12.5. I shall not be liable to you for any failure or delay or for the consequences of any failure or delay in performance of your instructions if it is due to any event beyond my reasonable control including, without limitation, acts of God, war, industrial disputes, protests, flood, storm, tempest, explosion, acts of terrorism and national emergencies.
12.6. Save as stated in the sub-paragraph 12.7 below, my total liability to you in respect of my engagement for any loss, liability or damage howsoever caused, whether in contract (by way of indemnity or otherwise), tort, (including negligence), misrepresentation, restitution or otherwise (in each case whether caused by negligence or not) and whether related to any act, omission, services provided to you or not provided to you or failure to act or delay in acting by me will be limited to an amount recorded in writing (the “Liability Cap”).
12.7. The Liability Cap: –
12.7.1. In respect of loss of damage to your tangible property arising due to my negligence is £5 million; and
12.7.2. In respect of all other loss or damage is as set out in the Engagement Letter.
12.7.3. If the Engagement Letter does not address the Liability Cap (and I have not agreed otherwise with you in writing), the Liability Cap in respect of all other loss or damage is £2.5 million.
12.8. The extent to which any loss or damage will be recoverable by you from me will also be limited so as to be in proportion to my contribution to the overall fault for such loss or damage, taking into account any contributory negligence by you, your other advisers and/or liable in respect of such loss.
12.9. Nothing in the Engagement Terms shall affect liability which I may have to you in respect of any personal injury or death resulting from my negligence, any loss caused by my fraud, fraudulent misrepresentation or reckless disregard of my professional obligations or any other situation where the law prohibits us from excluding or limiting my liability to you. The provisions of this paragraph 13 shall continue to apply, notwithstanding the termination of my engagement for any reason.
13.1. I will communicate with you by e-mail, unless you request me not to do so. Documents sent to you by e-mail (whether or not containing confidential information) will not be encrypted unless you request me, in writing, to encrypt outgoing e-mail and I am able to agree with you and implement mutually acceptable encryption standards and protocols.
13.2. I am constantly reviewing and upgrading my e-mail technology to ensure I can communicate with you as effectively as possible by e-mail with the minimum risk of virus infection. However, e-mail carries some inherent risks, namely potential lack of security and lack of authenticity. Further, where sender and recipient use different internet service providers, there can be no guarantee of prompt transmission and incompatibility may also create delivery problems. Notwithstanding these potential problems, the vast majority of e-mail communication is secure and prompt. I am nevertheless required to advise you of these potential risks. If you ask me to communicate by e-mail or send me an e-mail, you will be deemed to have accepted the inherent risks in e-mail communication and I shall have no liability for any losses arising from such risks.
13.3. It is your responsibility to protect your system from viruses and any other harmful code or device. I try to eliminate them from e-mails and attachments, but I accept no liability for any which remain. I may monitor or access any e-mails sent to me.
14.1. The Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013
14.2. Under the above regulations, for some matters, you may have the right to withdraw your instructions if my contract to provide you with legal services was concluded prior to meeting you or made “off premises”. This right to cancel without charge will subsist for 14 days after the contract was concluded. Notice of cancellation should be sent by email or post to me.
14.3. You may withdraw your instructions on any or all of your matters at any time by written notice to me. I may keep all of my papers and documents whilst there remains any unpaid charges or expenses due to me on any matter.
14.4. I will only stop acting for you if there is good reason, for example, if you do not pay an interim bill or money requested on account of my charges, if you fail to give me proper instructions, your instructions conflict with my rules of professional conduct or there is a breakdown of trust between us such that I cannot continue to act.
14.5. If you or I decide that I no longer act for you, you will be responsible to pay my outstanding fees, expenses, disbursements and VAT (including those not yet billed) to the date of termination.
15. Retention of deeds and documents
15.1. At the conclusion of a transaction, I do not store clients’ original deeds or documents. Such papers or files may be stored in an electronic form. Let me know if you would like me to send you a hard copy of my Privacy Notice.
15.2. The copyright in all documents prepared by me and my publications and practice notes is, and shall, remain my property.
16. Application of these terms
16.1. Your continuing instructions will amount to your acceptance of these terms of business. These terms supersede any earlier terms of business I may have agreed with you and, in the absence of express agreement to the contrary, will apply to the services referred to in the Engagement Letter accompanying these terms and all subsequent services I may provide to you. If it is necessary at any time to amend or supersede these terms with new terms, I will notify you of the changes. Unless I hear from you to the contrary within 14 days after such notification, the amendments or new terms will come into effect from the end of that period.
16.2. Each contract between us shall be subject to and governed by the Laws of England and Wales. Any dispute arising from or under my contact with you shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English Courts.
16.3. If all, or any part of, any individual provision of the retainer between me and you is or becomes illegal, invalid or unenforceable in any respect then the remainder of the terms of the retainer will remain valid and enforceable.