Berkeley Solicitors – Terms And Conditions Of Business
The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the governing body of Solicitors.Professional rules laid down by it require that clients of Solicitors be informed of certain terms of business. Accordingly this formal statement indicates the basis upon which we will carry out our professional services on your behalf.
1. Hours of business
We are located at 100-102 Market Street, Droylsden, Manchester, M43 6DE, and normally open our offices between 9.00 a.m. and 5.00 p.m. on weekdays. Appointments can be arranged outside of these hours if absolutely essential. We are closed on all Bank Holidays and some religious days.
2. Responsibility for work
2.1 The person primarily responsible for the conduct of your transaction or case will be Adrian R. Berkeley. Our reception staff or the fee earner’s secretary may be able to deal with your queries and will be pleased to take any message for you.
2.2 We aim to offer all clients a friendly, efficient and professional service. If, however, any difficulty should arise, you should first raise your concerns with Adrian R. Berkeley or, failing that, with Sue Berkeley, our Personnel and Compliance Officer. Or if relevant with Adrian R. Berkeley, if the matter regards a Trainee Solicitor. If for any reason we are unable to resolve the problem between us, then we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority firm no. 211002, which also provides a complaints and redress scheme.
2.3 You are reminded that you will be bound by the contents of all signed documents and you are strongly advised to read all documents thoroughly and to raise any queries before signature. Under no circumstances should a document be signed unless you thoroughly understand it and are satisfied with its contents in all respects. We are here to help you – please ask questions whenever you wish.
2.4 No member of this practice will be required to do anything which may, in the opinion of Adrian R. Berkeley, amount to a breach of the Law Society’s Practice or Account Rules or those of the SRA.
3. How we can help each other
3.1 Please let us have clear instructions and make sure that we have understood each other correctly. We will, within our opening letter usually, relate your instruction as we understand them to be. If you are unsure about anything, please ask us to explain.
3.2 Tell us of any important time limits or if you are going to be unavailable for a period of time.
3.3 Deal promptly with any correspondence or questions and we shall endeavour to do the same.
3.4 Keep in regular contact. Inform us if you move or change phone numbers. If you are worried about anything or do not hear from us when expected, you are welcome to ask for a progress report.
3.5 Help us to plan our working day. Unless it is urgent or you need to discuss matters, write to us rather than telephoning. If you wish to see someone, please make an appointment.
4.1 Conveyancing work done not directly relating to transfer of the legal estate and charges e.g. contract races, separations, policies, guarantees, etc. will not be within any quotation given by us but will be charged on a “work done” basis.
4.2 Purchase of property – As Solicitors we can neither comment upon nor accept responsibility for the condition of the structure or fabric of the property or the utility services. You are recommended in all instances of purchase to have the property competently surveyed.
4.3 Property transactions. An account will normally be rendered following the exchange of contracts and payment is required prior to or upon completion. When sufficient funds are payable to you upon completion, amounts due to Berkeley Solicitors will be deducted from such funds unless otherwise agreed.
4.4 In Conveyancing matters there will be an extra charge of £100 plus vat in the event of expedited work due to exchange of contracts and completion of the sale being within 1 working week.
4.5 In conveyancing matters there will be additional charges in relation to:-
1) Our legal fees for acting for your lender at the rate of £100 + vat for each mortgage/secured charge.
2) Our legal fees for preparing the Stamp Duty Land Transaction documentation at the rate of £100 + vat.
3) Access to the National Land Information Service at the rate of £50 + vat.
4) Reprographics at a standard charge of £50 + vat.
5) Acting for you in regard to other 3rd parties such as matrimonial or debt solicitors etc at the rate of £100 + vat.
5. Fees (relating to all matters)
5.1 Unless and until either (a) an alternative fee arrangement has been agreed and confirmed in writing by us or (b) you are entitled to have the fee of Berkeley Solicitors paid by the Community Legal Service, the basis for calculation of our fees is described below. This is mainly by reference to the time spent by the relevant fee earner and Staff on dealing with the transaction or case, the time charged being all time spent on your affairs. This will include attendances upon yourself and perhaps others; any time spent travelling; considering, preparing and working on papers and correspondence; making and receiving telephone calls; all time spent making file notes; etc.
5.2 Each Solicitor and Executive’s time is charged out at an hourly rate (broken down into six minute units) which reflects overhead costs. Routine letters, telephone calls and faxes are charged at a single unit whereas longer telephone calls or letters are timed in six minute units, as are all other matters. File opening is charged at £25.00. Minimum charge on any matter is £50.00. These rates do not include VAT.
5.3 The current hourly rates are set out below. These rates do not include VAT.
|Adrian R. Berkeley Principal||– £350.00|
|Leslie D. Berkeley JP Para-Legal||– £175.00|
|Sue D. Berkeley Para-Legal||– £158.00|
|Victoria Lonergan Solicitor||– £225.00|
|Trainee Solicitor||– £175.00|
|Fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives||– £195.00|
|Other admin staff||– £140.00|
5.4 Where your instructions require that of necessity work is done outside of normal office hours, we reserve the right to increase the level of the hourly rate.
5.5 The hourly rates set out above are normally reviewed annually to take effect from the 1st November. Details of any revision of rates occurring during the continuance of a case or transaction will be supplied to you. These rates may not be appropriate in cases of exceptional complexity or urgency. Where it becomes apparent that such circumstances exist, we reserve the right to cease acting for you unless revised rates are agreed for future work.
5.6 Property transactions, administration of Estates and transactions involving a substantial financial consideration or benefit to the client, may attract fees calculated by reference to the time spent and also by reference to a value element based on e.g. the price of the property, 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 the Firm. Further information on the calculation of the value element and whether it will be applied to your case will be supplied.
5.7 In relation to payments made by us on your behalf e.g. for such items as Court fees, Counsel’s fees, fees for medical reports, search fees, Land or Probate Registry fees, etc., Berkeley Solicitors have no obligation to effect such payment unless funds have been provided by you for that purpose. VAT is payable on certain of these payments.
5.8 Fees are payable whether or not a case is successfully concluded or a transaction is completed. If any case or transaction does not proceed to completion for any reason during the period in which we are instructed, then we shall be entitled to charge for work done on the basis set out above but, in our absolute discretion, we may waive part or all of such entitlement to fees.
5.9 Instructions from limited liability companies are accepted only on the basis that all sums due to Berkeley Solicitors for costs and disbursements are personally and jointly and severally guaranteed by all the directors and officers of the company.
5.10 You should take careful note that instructing Berkeley Solicitors to take on your matter under a No Win No Fee agreement involves Berkeley Solicitors in funding your case throughout its lifetime – obviously at some cost to Berkeley Solicitors. This is done without charge or interest payable by you. Therefore Berkeley Solicitors are anticipating making their profit out of their share of your costs/damages. You should therefore realise that although there is no restriction on your changing solicitors in your matter there are financial matters to be settled. Should you wish to change solicitors and we are confident that Berkeley Solicitors are providing a full and proper service, you will be invoiced the full cost of the work we have carried out to-date at our private rates according to our Terms and Conditions. Your new chosen Solicitors will also have to provide a written undertaking to discharge our No Win No Fee percentage out of any future compensation received. Both these matters are required to be satisfied prior to your file of papers being handed over.
5.11 Berkeley Solicitors may have contracted will an introducer for your instructions. We will pay commission or an introducer’s fee which could be anywhere up to £1000. Any such payment will be detailed on your quotation and account and is set out in our Initial Letter to you.
5.12 Other cases or transactions – it is normal practice to ask clients to pay sums of money from time to time on account of the fees and disbursements which are anticipated in the following weeks or months. It is helpful if you meet such requests with prompt payments to avoid any delay in the progress of your case. In transactions or cases likely to continue for more than one month, interim accounts covering the work already carried out will normally be rendered at least quarterly.This procedure enables you to budget the costs as the matter progresses.In the event of any account or request for payment on account not being paid, we reserve the right to decline to act further in the case. The full amount of work done up to that date will be subject to a final account rendered and will be a debt due from you.
5.13 Interest will be charged at 4% over Nat West Bank PLC’s base rate from time to time from the date of delivery of an account in cases where payment is not made within twenty-eight days of such delivery. Berkeley Solicitors will be entitled to charge for all expenses and costs to which we are put in recovering monies due to us.
5.14 In cases or transactions continuing for some period of time, you may find it convenient to arrange regular payments on account by way of Bank Standing Order. If you wish to make use of this facility, please raise this with us.
5.15 Where in any matter you are receiving assistance with payment of legal costs or disbursements from another source, for example, legal insurance, you will remain responsible to us for those costs and disbursements unless and until payment has been received in full.
5.16 There is always be a charge for opening a file of £25.00 and a charge for dealing with Money Laundering Regulation of £40.00 where relevant.
5.17 Our VAT registration number is 677 3657 84
6. Costs recovered
6.1 In some litigation cases a successful client may be entitled to the payment of costs by some other party to the proceedings. However, it is rare for the system of “taxation” of costs, as it is known, to result in the other party having to pay the full amount of the costs incurred by the client with their own Solicitor. If the other party is in receipt of Legal Aid, no costs are likely to be recovered. You should realise that the primary liability for costs incurred with Berkeley Solicitors is yours even in a case where it is expected that an order for costs will be obtained against another party. Further, the costs of seeking to enforce such an order for costs against another party have to be met by you.
7. Interest payments
7.1 If we hold money on your behalf, subject to the terms of these paragraphs, interest will be calculated and credited to you on the quarter date and in accordance with the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules 1991. Subject to certain minimum amounts and period of time prescribed by the Rules, interest will be calculated and paid at the rates from time to time payable on Nat West Bank PLC’s Business Services Practice Call Deposit Accounts less a sum of £20.00 to take into account the administrative costs of calculation and payment in respect of each amount of interest as and when calculated. The period for which interest will be paid will normally run from the date(s) on which cleared funds are received by us until the date(s) of issue of any cheques in discharge thereof. In lengthy matters, interest is calculated on our Accounting quarter dates; end January, end April, end July and end October.
7.2 Where clients obtain borrowing from a lender, Berkeley Solicitors will request the lender to arrange that the advance cheque is received by us a minimum of four working days prior to the completion date to ensure that cleared funds are available in time for completion. You should note that the lender may charge interest from the date of issue of the cheque.
7.3 Where a client has taken out a loan through a third party to fund litigation, in all cases where we receive money on your behalf, which must be paid to discharge your loan, we will pay that received money into our Office Account. In such cases, the client is not entitled to receive the money from us on demand as we have a superior duty to discharge/reduce your loan. Interest will not be earned on such balances.
7.4 As the liability for your solicitors costs are always yours, although we may be instructed to obtain all or part of those costs from your opponent, our costs bill, once it has been agreed for payment with your opponent, will be secured by money held on your behalf in our Clients Account. For this purpose such security will be transferred to our Office account as against the outstanding account.
8.1 Administration of Estates. It is our usual practice to deliver interim accounts at intervals during the administration. An interim bill will normally be submitted when the Grant has been obtained. If it then transpires that it will take some time to complete the administration, further interim accounts will be rendered periodically and the final account will be presented when the Estate accounts are delivered for approval. On all Probate matters there will be a charge calculated on the Net Total Estate. This will be equal to 2-5% depending on the complexity of the estate and the instructions. We shall be pleased to advise you what percentage will be used on your matter and will keep you informed of any changes.
9. Professional Indemnity
9.1 Berkeley Solicitors maintains professional indemnity insurance to a total level of 2 million pounds.
10. Money Laundering
10.1 Where you instruct us to accept or hold or pay over money on your behalf, if the circumstances give us cause that a proper disclosure ought to be made to the Authorities you hereby authorise us to make such disclosure on your behalf. In such circumstances we shall not be liable for any consequential losses following from such disclosure.
11. Financial Services – Conduct of Business
11.1 If during the course of your instructions, you require advice on investments, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised by the Financial Services Authority, as we are not. However, as we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, we may be able to provide certain limited investment services, where these are closely linked to the Legal Work we are carrying out for you.
12.1 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 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/Pages/register
13. Storage of papers and deeds
13.1 Following the conclusion of a transaction or case, we will retain your file of papers for such a period as we deem appropriate in our absolute discretion. If you require such papers (including pre-registration deeds and documents where the title to a property has been registered at H M Land Registry) to be kept for any specific period you must give notice in writing to us to that effect and, in the event of such notice being given, we reserve the right to require you to take personal custody of the papers. This provision does not apply to current deeds, wills and securities.
13.2 Berkeley Solicitors provide a safe custody service in respect of wills, deeds and other securities and no charge will be made unless prior notice in writing is given of a charge to be made from a future date to be specified in that notice. There is a charge for the storage of deeds at the rate of £45.00 per year, commencing the 01 January after lodgement of the deeds. A lifetime one off charge rate of £400 is also available.
13.3 Where stored papers, wills, deeds or securities are retrieved from storage by us in connection with continuing or new instructions, normally no charge will be made. However, we reserve the right to make an administration charge based on the time spent in retrieving and any perusal, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with the instructions given by or on behalf of the client or former client for whom the papers, wills, deeds or securities are stored.
14. Future instructions
14.1 Unless otherwise agreed, and subject to the application of the then current hourly rates, these Terms and Conditions of Business shall apply to all future instructions given by you to us.
Although your continuing instructions in this matter will amount to an acceptance of these Terms and Conditions of Business, it should be helpful if you would please sign and return one copy of the same for us to retain on our file.