INFORMATION FOR CLIENTS
The following is intended as a guide. If you have any queries or concerns as to this or any matter, please do not hesitate to raise them:-
1. Money Laundering and Confidentiality
1.1 The law requires us to report to the authorities, any person, firm or company we know or suspect or have reasonable grounds for knowing or suspecting to be engaged in money laundering. This includes a client and therefore such information is not protected by legal professional privilege.
1.2 Money Laundering Regulations apply to the proceeds of any crime however small including tax evasion.
1.3 The regulations require us to ask new clients to provide evidence of identity and residence.
2. Our Charges
2.1 Unless we have agreed a fixed fee with you, our charges are based on all the time spent dealing with your case calculated in 6 minute units. The hourly rate is £225 per hour for the Principal solicitor and between £80 and £100 per hour for a paralegal employed by this practice. Undefended debt recovery work is carried out by the paralegal, supervised by the Principal solicitor. All other work is carried out by the Principal solicitor. From time to time we may use a precedent document. The use of such precedents will be charged at a value rate rather than a time rate in addition to any time spent on the matter.
2.2 Unless the charges are very low, we will invoice you towards the end of each month for work done in that period. These invoices are final invoices for each period of work and will not be amended save in respect of any error made in the calculation of the invoice. Fees are payable 30 days later. If we have to pay out monies on your behalf, for example, Counsel’s fees, court fees, affidavit fees, then we will ask you to pay those as and when they are incurred.
2.3 You agree that we may submit invoices by e-mail and that they may contain an electronic signature.
2.4 If any invoice is not paid by the due date (or you do not give us instructions as and when they are required), we reserve the right to stop work on that matter and any other matter on which we are instructed by you.
2.5 Hourly rates are reviewed annually generally in January each year and will be applied from the month of review onwards.
2.6 All fees quoted and some monies which we have to pay out on your behalf are subject to VAT where applicable.
2.7 Sometimes it may be necessary to ask persons not directly employed by us to carry out work on your case. If this arises then where that is work that otherwise would have been carried out by a member of the practice, we will not charge you any more for that work than the hourly rates set out above. Where the work is not work that we would normally undertake for example the use of a process server, couriers, outside bulk copying, we will charge you at the rates charged to us.
2.8 You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time but we may be entitled to keep all your papers and documents if there is money owing to the practice for our charges and expenses.
3.1 In the High Court and County Court, if you win your case you can expect an order for costs in your favour, provided the claim exceeds £10,000. If you lose your case then you can be ordered to pay the other side’s costs. In either event, it is unlikely to be the full amount of the costs. You should anticipate having to pay or recover approximately 60% - 75% of the costs incurred. Even if you have an order for costs in your favour, you will remain responsible to our firm for the payment of its fees in the first instance. The court has a very wide power to deal with costs in any way it sees fit and appropriate for the circumstances of the case. In particular, if a court believes that a party has behaved unreasonably, notwithstanding that it may have been successful in part, it can deprive that party of any costs. One of the factors that you should always consider is whether your opponent has the means to meet any award made to you of costs, damages or compensation.
3.2 Further, sometimes courts find that one party has won on certain aspects of its case and another party has won on other aspects of their case. In such circumstances, split orders for costs are not unknown. We will endeavour to evaluate the costs implications of cases for you as they proceed. Much is dependent upon the strength of the evidence as it evolves as to the likely success or otherwise of a particular claim.
3.3 Employment Tribunal cases do not usually attract an award of costs and each party pays its own. However, where a party has in conducting the proceedings acted vexatiously, abusively, disruptively or otherwise unreasonably or the bringing or conducting of the proceedings by a party has been misconceived, the Tribunal does have power to make an award of costs against that party. Where a party has been required to pay a fee to the Tribunal, the Tribunal has the power to order the unsuccessful party to pay any fee incurred by the successful party.
3.4 If, after proceedings have been issued, you wish to withdraw the case you may have to pay the other side’s costs.
3.5 You should consider with us whether any assistance can be obtained towards the cost of your case, for example from solicitors offering no win no fee type work, Legal Expenses Insurance, Legal Aid (although this firm does not undertake Legal Aid work), Trade Association or Trade Union Membership, if not discussed with you at your initial interview.
3.6 There are also available a number of insurance policies that can cover the risk of a costs order against you.
3.7 The costs of litigation are often unpredictable, but where possible we will give you an estimate of the likely overall cost of the case or cost to a certain stage of the case. Costs inevitably increase where either side does not take the steps that it should at the right time. Any estimate given is for guidance only and is not fixed.
3.8 You must give us information about your case if we ask for it as soon as is possible. The courts have strict timetables and sanctions can be imposed if the timetable is not followed. Your case can be struck out and you would not be able to pursue it and you may well be ordered to pay any wasted costs.
3.9 If you wish to impose a limit as to the costs to be incurred with our firm at any stage then please agree this with us and we will not exceed it without your consent.
3.10 Further information about our charges:-
3.10.1 Employment Documentation
In the overwhelming majority of cases, we will ascertain from you what your requirements are and then provide you with a fixed price for carrying out the work. It is then your choice whether to proceed with the quotation or not. Depending on the amount of work required, documentation work can be from £250 + VAT to several thousand pounds plus VAT.
3.10.2 Employment Tribunal Cases
In these sorts of matters, we generally invite you to have a preliminary interview with us which in most cases does not take less than an hour but not more than two hours charged at the above hourly rates. At the end of that interview, we would be in a position to tell you about the merits of your case and to provide you with an estimate of the costs to take the case to the Employment Tribunal. Cases range from very simple cases for one day to over many days and accordingly the cost is widespread and has to be based upon the work that is required to be done.
3.10.3 Undefended Debt Recovery under £10,000 which becomes Defended
Where this arises, we will generally undertake a review of the file and provide you with information regarding the likely prospects of the defence and a fixed cost for dealing with the defended action. This will apply in most cases but occasionally there are those cases which are much more complex in which case you will be given an overall estimate for the likely costs in order that you can make an informed decision as to whether you wish to proceed.
3.10.4 Other Matters undertaken by the Practice – General Litigation
We would invite you to meet with us for probably not less than one hour but not more than two hours at the firm’s normal hourly rate and during the course of that meeting, we would give you an indication of the prospects of your case together with an estimate of the likely costs of pursuing it so that you can take an informed decision as to whether you wish to proceed. Generally contested litigation is very expensive and in a range of £2,500 upwards to tens of thousands of pounds in complex and lengthy cases. However, estimates will be provided to make an informed decision making.
4.1 Because litigation is expensive and unpredictable, you are advised to consider whether your case might be suitable for mediation. Mediation involves the appointment of an independent person who will work with both parties with a view to bringing about a settlement. If you would like to pursue this course then please let us know but we will endeavour to raise it with you at the beginning of the case and as it proceeds.
5.1 If at any time during the course of your case you are unhappy about the handling of it then please raise this with the person dealing with it in the first instance or with Mr David Downton. If your concern cannot be resolved then we are happy to refer the problem to the Solicitors Regulation Authority to see if they can assist in resolving the problem.
5.2 Any complaint will be investigated as soon as reasonably practicable and you will be given a written explanation of the investigation and action taken. You will receive written confirmation of the outcome of the complaint. A copy of the firm’s written complaints procedure may be made available to you upon request.
5.3 If you remain unhappy, then the matter can be referred to the Legal Ombudsman. Please see www.legalombudsman.org.uk.
5.4 This practice is regulated by the Solicitors Code of Conduct which can be found at www.sra.org.uk.
5.5 The above also applies to any bill delivered to you. In addition, you may apply to the court for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974.
6.1 The office is open from 9:00am to 5:30pm Monday to Friday, but we are always available at evenings and weekends if matters are urgent. Please use the office telephone number.
6.2 The work on your case will be carried out by David Downton (Principal and solicitor) save where the work consists of undefended debt recovery in which case the work will be carried out by a paralegal supervised by David Downton.
6.3 These terms will apply to any matter which we undertake for you save in respect of any fee limit, quotation or hourly rate which, generally, are set on a case by case basis.
6.4 Our VAT number is 660 9302 43.
6.5 Our insurers are AXIS Speciality Europe SE.
7. Very Important
During the course of your case, you may receive documents and witness statements from other parties to the case. Please note that it is contempt of court punishable by a fine or imprisonment to use such documents or witness statements for any purpose other than the proceedings. If you are unsure about the use of a document then please ask for advice. Documents include electronic material or material recorded electronically including videotape.
8. We do not hold ourselves out as being qualified to advise on matters of tax and accordingly if you have any concerns in this respect then please raise them with us so that we can ensure that you liaise with your appropriate tax advisors and with us in the event that that is necessary for the work that we carry out for you.
9. Insurance Mediation Activity
We are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority. However we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Services Authority so that we can carry on insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the advising on, selling and administration of insurance contracts. This part of our business, including arrangements for complaints or address if something goes wrong, is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Services Authority website at www.fsa.gov.uk/register.
10. Your File and Information About You
10.1 We will keep your file in store for at least seven years. In certain cases, it may be kept for up to 15 years but no guarantee is given that this will be so.
10.2 Your details will remain on our computer records even after your case has been concluded. The computer record contains your details and details that relate to your case. The record also will record where your file has been stored.
10.3 We do not allow any other person, firm or company to use information about you to try to sell you their goods or services. We do use your information, and we are sometimes assisted by third parties for example in relation to accountancy services provided to us or to provide you with newsletters and information about our services.
Please inform us if you do wish to receive information from your firm about its services or newsletters
10.4 You will be asked to authorise us to use your personal data for the purposes of undertaking the instructions that you have given to us.
11 If you believe that there is a problem with the way in which we are handling your data, you have a right to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office.
12 You will be asked to confirm the person or persons who are authorised to give instructions on behalf of the client and to receive advice.