Terms of Engagement
COX MINHAS AND CO LIMITED
A company registered in England and Wales under number 10570846. A full list of members is available for inspection at our office. Authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, SRA number 636407
Catherine House, Suite B, Harborough Road, Brixworth, Northamptonshire, NN6 9BX, UK.
T. +44 (0)1604 973977 F. +44 (0)1604 880173
This document sets out the terms on which we Cox Minhas and Co Limited Solicitors and Commercial Mediators undertake work for our clients and should be read in conjunction with the accompanying Letter of Engagement. Together these documents (along with any subsequent communications from us confirming your further instructions) contain the terms (‘Terms’) we have agreed with you in relation to our engagement and supersede any earlier Terms we may have agreed with you.
1) We will assume that whoever gives us the instructions has authority to do so and we will be entitled to rely on any information provided to us by that person. Where instructions are given on behalf of a company, LLP or other organisation, we will assume that the terms have been brought to the attention of and approved by the directors of the company, members of the LLP, or in the case of any other organisation, the appropriate Officers of that organisation.
To enable us to represent your interests and carry out the work as efficiently as possible, it is vital that you provide us with all relevant information and that all information provided is, to the best of your knowledge, complete accurate and up-to-date, and is supplied as quickly as possible. Please notify us of any changes to that information after it has been provided as well as any new information that might be relevant.
We are committed to promoting equality and diversity with clients, third parties and employees, and are required to have a written equality and diversity policy. Please contact us if you would like us to send you a copy.
2) We will at all time respect the confidential nature of any information that we receive from you subject only to our duty to disclose information to comply with our legislative and regulatory obligations. However, if, as the matter proceeds, other professional advisers become involved we will assume, unless you notify us otherwise, that we may disclose any such information to, and discuss it with, such other advisers as necessary.
If, in the course of acting for you, or after the matter has been concluded, a third party requests access to documents held by us or asks to interview any of our partners or employees in connection with the work we have carried out, we may be required as a matter of law to comply with this request. You will be responsible for our fees, disbursements and expenses in dealing with any such requests, including the fees disbursements and expenses involved in identifying relevant documents, attending interviews or making or defending any application in connection with the validity of the requests. Disbursements and expenses may include the fees of Counsel or of third parties instructed by us in order to advise and issues connected with the request.
Conflicts of Interest
3) We act at any one time for many clients and mediate disputes between many parties who are not our clients. It is likely that some of those clients or parties will operate in the same industry or sector as you and some may have, or develop, adverse commercial interest to you. By agreeing to instruct us you accept that this will not prevent us from acting for current or future clients or mediating disputes between parties who are, or may in the future be, in this position. We have procedures designed to prevent us acting as solicitor or mediator for one client in a matter where there is, or could be, a conflict with the interests of another client for whom we are acting. If a conflict does arise, then it will be up to us, taking account of legal constraints, Law Society Rules, Solicitors Regulation Authority Rules, and other clients interests and wishes, to decide whether we can continue to act for both parties, for one or for neither as either solicitors or mediators.
Duty of Care and Other Professional Advisers
4) As solicitors any advice provided by us is for your benefit alone and solely for the purpose of the instructions to which it relates. It may not be used or relied upon for any other purpose or by third parties. Our duty of care is to you as our client and does not extend to any third party. It is not intended that any of the terms shall be enforceable by a third party whether under the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 or otherwise. As mediators, we do not give legal advice but act to facilitate agreement between parties where possible. When you ask, or if it is otherwise required, we will, on your behalf instruct, liaise with co-ordinated advice from other professional advisers. That will not make us responsible for the accuracy or appropriateness of the advice given or the work undertaken by those other advisers.
We do not provide advice on matters of foreign law, where foreign lawyers are instructed we do not act as their agent and we are not responsible for their fees or the accuracy or appropriateness of the advice given or work undertaken by them. It will be your responsible to pay promptly fees and expenses reasonably incurred by third parties who are instructed by us on your behalf.
Exclusions and Limitations of Liability
5) If we are affected by any circumstances beyond our reasonable control that prevents us from carrying out the work we have undertaken to perform for you, we will immediately notify you of the nature and extent of such circumstances. If as a result of those circumstances we are unable to meet any deadline or complete the work we have agreed to do for you by any estimated date of completion or at all:
Any such failure on our part will not constitute a breach of the agreement between us;
We will not be otherwise liable to you for any such failure to the extent that it is attributable to any such circumstances notified to you;
Any estimated date for completion of the work will be extended accordingly.
We shall not be responsible for any failure to advise on any matter that falls outside the scope of our engagement and shall have no responsibility to you to up-date any advice to take account of events or changes in the law that take place after it is issued.
Our liability to you in relation to each matter on which we are instructed, in any claim in respect of a civil liability arising from legal practice, shall not exceed the amount of our professional indemnity cover at the time a claim is made or notified to our insurers (see Section 14 below).
Where you suffer any loss for which we are jointly and severally or otherwise liable with any other person, the loss recoverable by you from us shall be limited so as to be in proportion to other relative contributions to our overall fault, you and such other person in respect of the loss in question as agreed between all the relevant parties or, in the absence of agreement, as determined by a Court of competent jurisdiction. For the purposes of assessing the relative contribution of any other person to the loss in question, full account shall be taken of any limit on the liability of such other person imposed or agreed by the terms of any agreement (including any settlement agreement) made between you and such other person whether before or after such loss occurred or was otherwise incurred.
6) In calculating our fees, the objective in all cases is to arrive at a fee that is fair and reasonable and represents good value to our clients given current market conditions.
Our fees are normally based on the time spent dealing with a matter. However, other factors may also be relevant, for example, complexity, value, importance to the clients, time and place the work is transacted and urgency. We reserve the right to make a charge for the use of our own precedents. We are very willing to carry out work on an urgent basis and will endeavour to do so outside normal hours if necessary. If urgent work is undertaken outside normal hours, we reserve the right to add an up-lift of up to 100% to our normal charges.
Time spent will include meeting with you (and others as instructed); any time spent travelling; considering and effecting on your instructions, preparing and working on papers, reviewing your papers; attending Tribunals and Courts, legal research, correspondence (including emails); preparing attendance notes and making and receiving telephone calls, reviewing your files, producing and reviewing costs estimates.
Our hourly rates are set out in your Letter of Engagement. VAT will be added where applicable. The rates are reviewed annually and you will be notified of any proposal to change either the rates or the time or the frequently of review and ask to confirm your agreement to the change. If you wish to cease instructing us as a result of any increase in rates, you are free to do so.
Although hourly rates are the norm, we aim to be flexible in our approach to charging and may agree with you an alternative charging method in your Letter of Engagement or based on any funding requirements we subsequently agree.
Where either before or after rendering a fee note to you we offer to reduce the amount of our charges to you for any reason, whether gratuitously at our discretion or pursuant to any arrangement we come to with you, the reduction will be deemed (i) to be made on the condition that the fees then unpaid by you are paid in the time then specified by us (or if no time is so specified, within our normal trading terms) and (ii) of no effect if any portion of those fees are not paid in that time.
Disbursement and Expenses
7) By instructing us you are authorising us, unless you instruct us to the contrary, to incur such disbursements as we consider necessary. However, we will consult you before incurring any significant disbursements. By significant, we mean any sums for one item over £400 excluding VAT.
Disbursements that we may have to incur on your behalf include the fees of Counsel and other experts, Court fees, travelling expenses, hotel expenses, photocopying and incoming and outgoing faxes, search fees, stamp duty, land tax and special bank transaction costs. These items are charged at cost. Payments on account of disbursements may be required, particularly if they are likely to be large. Any such payments will be taken into account when bills are submitted. VAT will be added where applicable.
8) We will process your personal data for our records and marketing activities fairly and lawfully in accordance with the professional standards and the Data Protection Act 1998. If you do not wish to receive marketing literature from us, please let us know.
Duration of Instructions
9) We expect to continue to act in any matter on which we have accepted instructions from you until the matter is completed. You may bring instructions to an end at any time. We may also bring instructions to an end for a good reason and on reasonable notice. If instructions are terminated, you will be liable only for fees arising and payments made or permitted up to the date of termination of the instructions, together with any fees or payments for work necessary in connection with the transfer of the matter to another adviser of your choice. In this event we shall charge for work done in accordance with the hourly rates prevailing at the relevant time. VAT will be payable on such fees and payments where applicable. In proceedings before Tribunals you agree that we are able to come off the record and no longer represent you if and account due to us remains due and outstanding 14 days after it is delivered to you.
Papers and Documents
10) We do not store deeds and papers for clients without making a charge. We do make a charge for retrieving stored papers or deeds in response to continuing or new instructions to act for you. We reserve the right to make a charge based on the time we spend on reading papers, writing letters or other work necessary to comply with the instructions. On completion of a matter and payment of any outstanding bills, we shall return to you if you so request any documents lent to us by you for the purpose of the matter. We do not undertake to retain files for any particular period of time but generally keep all files for a minimum period of 6 years. We reserve the right to destroy files without further reference to you 6 years after completion of the matter.
11) Our bills are due for payment on receipt and we reserve the right to suspend further work until payment is received. If a bill remains unpaid for 14 days after the date of the invoice we reserve the right to charge interest at a rate equivalent to that charged under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 until payment is made. We will also be entitled to retain documents and papers belonging to you, together with our own papers relating to the matter, until all sums outstanding to us including interest are paid. We will send you a monthly statement of account detailing every bill that remains unpaid. You will also be sent a reminder letter for all unpaid bills that are older than 7 days.
Progress Reports and Response Times
12) All reasonable efforts will be made to keep you informed of progress or of any unexpected delays or changes in the character of the work being done. Where appropriate, we will also advise you if we consider that the probable outcome of the matter does not justify the likely fees, disbursements and expenses and the risk involved. Please feel free to request a progress report at any time if you are in doubt as to the current position. We commit to responding to written communications from client within 5 working days and telephone calls at the latest within the working day or, the following day morning where the call is received at the end of the day.
Communication by Email
13) All email messages sent to us will, if properly addressed, arrive on the terminal of the desk of the fee earner concerned. Please be aware of the following points:
Although we are connected to the Internet, the exchange email messages may be subject to delays outside of our control;
The safe delivery of email via the Internet cannot be guaranteed and should not be assumed, we therefore ask you to telephone us to ensure it has been received;
The confidentiality of the email sent via the Internet cannot be guaranteed.
For the purpose of exchanging documents via the Internet, our Word Processing System is Microsoft Word.
Professional Indemnity Cover
14) For the protection of our clients, we maintain professional indemnity cover for claims from any transaction where we are acting or where advice is given.
Our current level of professional indemnity insurance cover is £3,000,000 for any one claim. The amount of cover in place at the time a claim is made or notified to our insurers may be higher or lower than that figure. The amount of cover is reviewed on an annual basis. We anticipate that the level of cover will be increased from time to time and we have no wish to decrease it. We are not, however, in a position to control the level of cover reasonably available in the market.
No separate charge is made on account of the cost of that cover unless specific arrangements need to be made to meet your specific needs, in which case we will discuss all arrangements with you before incurring any additional cover and committing you to any insurance premium. For details of the policy please contact Saranjit Minhas the whose email address is email@example.com
Complaints and Complaints Procedure
15) The following is our Complaints Procedure which we have developed in accordance with the Solicitors’ code of conduct. If at any time you require a separate copy of this Procedure, please let us know.
It would be helpful to us if you could provide details of your concerns about us or our service in writing (if you have not already done so). Under the Solicitors Code of Conduct produced by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority, you are entitled to make a complaint in the event of a problem.
Your complaint should be addressed to the Firm’s Client Care Partner who is Saranjit Minhas who can be contacted by email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Actions we will take
Within 2 working days of receiving your complaint:
We will acknowledge receipt of your complaint and will:
Set out our understanding of it.
Seek any further information required.
Advise you of the name and contact details of the Partner in charge who will handle your complaint.
Within 2 working days thereafter:
The Partner in charge will write to explain what action will be taken next and provide you with a timescale in which to deal with your concerns.
Within 3 working days of completing the investigation:
We will then respond to your complaint and suggest ways of resolving the matter to our mutual satisfaction.
Within 7 working days of receiving our response:
If you remain dissatisfied you can ask that the matter be reviewed by our Client Care Partner or if he dealt with the complaint, another partner or someone unconnected with the matter at the firm.
Within 5 working days of concluding the review:
After the review has taken place you will be informed of the outcome.
The complaint will be recorded in our Central Register for monitoring and management purposes.
Usually within 6 months of the date of our final decision:
If you still remain dissatisfied, you can contact the Legal Ombudsman. For further information, please contact him/her
(i) by post to PO Box 15870, Birmingham, B30 9EB;
(ii) by telephone on 0300 555 0333
(iii) by email at email@example.com; or
(iv) refer to the website www.legalombudsman.org.uk
Any complaint about a bill we issue to you can be dealt with under this Procedure. There may also be a right for you to object to the bill by making a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman and/or by applying to the court for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. The Legal Ombudsman may not deal with a complaint about a bill if you have already applied to the court.
Please note that if all or part of a bill remains unpaid we may be entitled to charge interest (see Section 11 above).
REGULATIONS AFFECTING YOUR CANCELLATION RIGHTS
The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013:
If we have not met you either in person (because, for example, instructions and signing of the contract documentation is taking place by telephone/mail, e-mail or on-line - ie: by way of a "distance" contract) or we have taken instructions and a contract has been concluded away from our business premises (because, for example, we have met with you at home, ie: by way of an "off-premises" contract) and the contract was entered into on or after 14th June 2014, you have the right to cancel this contract within 14 calendar days of entering into the contract without giving any reason.
The cancellation period will expire after 14 calendar days from the day of the conclusion of the contract.
To exercise your right to cancel, you must inform us at Cox Minhas and Co Limited,
Catherine House, Suite B,
of your decision to cancel this contract by a clear statement (eg: a letter sent by post, fax or email). You may use the model cancellation form attached to your Client Care Letter, but it is not obligatory.
If you use this option we will communicate to you an acknowledgement of receipt of such a cancellation on a durable medium (eg: by email) without delay. To meet the cancellation deadline, you must send your communication concerning your exercise of the right to cancel before the cancellation period has expired.
Should you require the work to be commenced within the 14 calendar day cancellation period, you must provide your agreement to that in writing, by email, post or fax to enable us to do so. By signing and returning the client care letter, you are providing your agreement in writing to enable us to commence work within the 14 calendar day cancellation period. Where you have provided your consent for work to commence within the 14 calendar day cancellation period and you later exercise your right to cancel, you will be liable for any costs, VAT and disbursements incurred up to the point of cancellation. Unless you make an express request for us to commence work within the 14 day period (ie by signing and returning the client care letter) we will not be able to undertake any work during that period.
Unless otherwise agreed, these Terms and Conditions will apply to all future instructions you give us on this or any other matter.
TO BE COMPLETED BY THE CLIENT
Solicitor's reference: .........................................................................
(IF THERE IS MORE THAN ONE CLIENT, ALL MUST COMPLETE BELOW)
DECLARATION AND AGREEMENT:
I/We...........................................................................confirm that I/We have read and understood, and accept the above terms and Conditions and accompanying Client Care Letter.
I/We have received/obtained two prints of this form and have retained one.
FULL NAME (S) OF CLIENT (S)
SIGNATURE (S) OF CLIENT (S)
Authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (number 636407)