TERMS OF BUSINESS
These terms of business are to be read in conjunction with the terms of the engagement letter and Information Sheet. Both these terms and the engagement letter shall form the basis on which we will provide the professional services to you specified in the engagement letter. No variation shall be effective unless agreed in writing and signed by a Partner of Abbott Solicitors. These terms do not affect the statutory and common law rules governing solicitors’ business although if there is a conflict these terms take precedence so far as permitted.
2. IDENTITY PROCEDURES
1. You will probably be aware that under UK laws brought in following the European Money Laundering Directive, we are required to satisfy ourselves as to the identity of all our clients. We are sorry to trouble you with this but if we fail to comply with these laws, we may commit a criminal offence. We are keen to minimise the inconvenience to you and list below various types of evidence which are acceptable for us to use to verify identity. You will need to provide us with an original document which confirms your full true name and a letter or statement confirming your up-to-date postal address. Please could you arrange to visit my office at a time convenient to you to bring the documents to me so that I can take certified copies.
2. We are under a duty to you to keep all information relating to your affairs completely confidential unless authorised by you to disclose information to someone else. How-ever we may sometimes have other duties and obligations which affect our obligations to you, for example we are obliged to disclose to the National Criminal Intelligence Service any suspicions we may have regarding money laundering or terrorist activities and this will override our duty of confidentiality to you.
3. PERSONAL IDENTITY
EVIDENCE OF PERSONAL IDENTITY CAN BE BY:
a) Current signed passport
b) EU member state identity card
c) Residence Permit issued by the Home Office together with own country's passport
d) Current EU or UK photo card driving licence
e) Armed Forces ID card
f) Current full UK driving licence (old version)
DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE OF ADDRESS CAN BE:
a) Confirmation from the electoral register
b) Recent utility bill or bank statement or mortgage statement with the current address
c) Local Authority Rates bill
d) Current UK driving licence (but only if not used as evidence of ID)
e) National Insurance Card
f) CIS Card
g) Local Council rent card or tenancy agreement
4. INFORMATION SHEET FOR PRIVATELY FUNDED CLIENTS
In our experience no two cases are identical in all respects. Whilst we endeavour to ensure that each matter progresses smoothly from start to finish and to keep you informed of all developments, there are a number of circumstances which are outside our hands that can cause frustration.
5. SERVICE LEVELS
We will update you [by telephone or in writing] with progress on your matter regularly in plain language. We will explain to you [by telephone or in writing] the legal work required as your matter progresses. We will update you on the cost of your matter after three months if it’s not fix fee.
We will update you on whether the likely outcomes still justify the likely costs and risks associated with your matter whenever there is a material change in circumstances
We will update you on the likely timescales for each stage of this matter and any important changes in those estimates.
We will continue to review whether there are alternative methods by which your matter can be funded.
You will be informed in writing as to the person having the conduct of the transaction on your behalf although from time to time certain aspects of the transaction may be dealt with by other members of this firm. The person dealing with your matter will be happy to speak with you by telephone at the office should you have any points to raise at any time and will also wish to meet you when appropriate. If for any reason the person dealing with your matter is unavailable when you call a message can be left and every effort will be made to return your call by the end of that day.
It is our intention to offer to you an efficient and effective service, however, if you identify a problem with the service provided, please discuss it with the person dealing with your case. If you remain unsatisfied then you should ask to speak to any of the firm's Senior Partner or nominated supervisor who has overall responsibility for client care issues and takes a personal interest in their concerns.
7. STORAGE OF PAPERS AND DOCUMENTS
After completing the work, we are entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is money owing to this firm for our charges and expenses. We will keep our file of papers (except for any of your papers which you wish to be returned to you) for no more than 6 years after the date of the final bill that we send you for this matter. We will not destroy documents that you ask us to deposit in safe custody. If we retrieve the papers or documents from storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act in connection with your affairs, 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 to another person at your request. We may also charge for any work undertaken to comply with the instructions given by you or on your behalf.
8. PROCESSES FOR TERMINATING THE RETAINER
You may end your instructions to us in writing at any time, but we can keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses.
We may decide to stop acting for you only with good reason. We must give you reasonable notice that we will stop acting for you.
If you or we decide that we should stop acting for you, you will pay our charges up until that point. These are calculated on [an hourly basis plus expenses/by proportion of the agreed fee] as set out in these terms and conditions.
9. THIRD PARTIES
If we need to engage another professional on your behalf (such as an accountant or a surveyor to provide expert evidence etc.) whether in the UK or abroad we will do so as your agent. We cannot be responsible for any act or omission of such a professional unless we have otherwise agreed in writing. We shall consult with you as to the identity of the Third Party and the cost before confirming instructions on your behalf.
Information passed to us is kept confidential and will not be disclosed to third parties except as authorised by you or required by law. If on your authority we are working in conjunction with other professional advisors we will assume that we may disclose any relevant aspect of your affairs to them.
Where you provide us with fax or computer network addresses to which material is to be sent, we shall assume, unless you tell us otherwise, that your arrangements are sufficiently secure and confidential to protect your interests.
It shall be recognised that the Internet is not secure and that there are risks if sensitive information is sent in this matter by you or us. We will use our best endeavours to protect the integrity of computer systems by screening for viruses on mail sent or received and would expect you to do the same.
11. PRIVACY AND DATA PROTECTION
We use the information you provide primarily for the provision of legal services to you and for related purposes including:
updating and enhancing client records
analysis to help us manage our practice
legal and regulatory compliance
Our use of that information is subject to your instructions, the Data Protection Act 1998 and our duty of confidentiality. Please note that our work for you may require us to give information to third parties such as expert witnesses and other professional advisers. You have a right of access under data protection legislation to the personal data that we hold about you.
We may from time to time send you information that we think might be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive that information please notify our office in writing.
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 you do not want your file to be outsourced, please tell us as soon as possible.
External firms or organisations may conduct audit or quality checks on our practice. These external firms or organisations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files.
12. MONEY LAUNDERING
The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Money Laundering Regulations 2003, which are aimed at preventing money laundering, require that we obtain proof of identity from clients for whom we act in connection with relevant financial business. Accordingly, you may be asked to supply us with the necessary details.
If you cannot provide us with the specific identification requested, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss other ways to verify your identity.
We are professionally and legally obliged to keep your affairs confidential. However, solicitors may be required by statute to make a disclosure to the Serious Organised Crime Agency where they know or suspect that a transaction may involve money laundering or terrorist financing. If we make a disclosure in relation to your matter, we may not be able to tell you that a disclosure has been made. We may have to stop working on your matter for a period of time and may not be able to tell you why.
Our liability to you for a breach of your instructions shall be limited to £ 2 million, 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.
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.
This limit shall apply to direct loss or damage in tort or in contract or otherwise including loss or damage resulting from our negligence but not loss or damage directly caused by our deliberate and wilful default.
Subject always to the above limitation and exclusion our liability shall be limited to a just and equitable proportion of the total loss or damage after taking into account contributory negligence and the legal responsibility of any other party (regardless of the ability of any other party to make payment). Where we work with another organisation which limits its liability in any way, our own liability in relation to that matter shall be limited to the amount which would have applied had the other organisation not so limited its liability.
Claims shall be brought only against the partners of Abbott solicitors and no claim shall be made against any employee or agent of Abbott solicitors. Each and every employee and agent shall be entitled to the benefit of this provision under the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999.
Please ask if you would like us to explain any of the terms above.
14. COMMUNICATION BETWEEN YOU AND US
We are confident of providing high quality service in all respects. If however, you have any queries or concerns about our work for you, please raise them in the first instance with the Partner responsible for the supervision of your work. If that does not resolve the problem to your satisfaction, and you wish to make a formal complaint, please contact our Senior Partner.
All members of the firm will attempt to resolve problems that may arise with their service. It is therefore important that you immediately raise any concerns you may have with us. We value our relationship and would not wish you to be dissatisfied.
15. APPLICABLE LAW
Our relationship with you will be governed by English Law and will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English Courts. This is an important document; please keep it in a safe place for future reference.
16. COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE
It is the policy of the Firm to ensure that:
Every complaint made by a client is reported and recorded centrally.
Every complaint received is responded to appropriately.
The cause of a problem is identified, appropriate redress is offered and unsatisfactory procedures are corrected.
All clients will be informed by letter of the action that they should take if they feel they have grounds for complaint. This will be by way of a standard paragraph in the initial letter to the client.
The standard paragraph will specifically state:
Who the client should contact in the first instance of a problem.
Who the client should contact if the problem is not resolved to their satisfaction.
All complaints will be recorded in the central Complaints Register.
A full description of the complaint will be held on the case file and a copy placed in the Complaints Register and Mr Mirani will keep the Complaints Register.
All complaints will be notified to Mirani in the first instance, who will;
Review the file with the Fee Earner.
Request details of the complaint from the client by letter or interview.
Determine what degree of validity the complaint has.
Decide how the complaint should be remedied.
Mr Mirani will review the complaint folder every six months, for evidence of trends, in order to improve the service.
The firm has in place a central record of complaint, which is reviewed every six months to identify any trends.
A client satisfaction feedback procedure is in place that includes all of the following;
A comprehensive feedback mechanism
Details on how and when the client gives feedback.
The frequency and methodology of analysis of submitted feedback.
The client feedback is to be reviewed annually, and such findings and outcome are to be documented.
We are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). We are committed to high quality legal advice and Client Care and aim to offer all our clients an efficient and effective service, the level of bill, or should there be any aspect of our service with which Clients are not satisfied, please contact Mr Adnan Saeed on 01582 737952 or by post to Clody House, 90-100 Collingdon Street, Luton – Beds LU1 1RX. We have a procedure in place, which details how we handle complaints.
We aim to deal with any complaints promptly, fairly, openly and effectively.
Our definition of a complaint is:
“any written or verbal expression of dissatisfaction referred to any person in our organisation by a client.
A complaint can be identified through a letter, telephone call, e-mail, and fax or in the course of a face to face conversation.
A complaint may involve:
• Dissatisfaction with the handling of a case;
• Disappointment with an alleged lack of communication;
• Frustration with an alleged lack of case progress;
• An allegation of discrimination; or
• Dissatisfaction with the outcome of the case.
However, issues of a very minor nature, for example, not returning a non-urgent telephone call until the following day will not be recorded as a complaint.
It is the policy of the firm that:
• Every complaint made by a Client is reported and recorded centrally;
• Every complaint received is responded to appropriately;
• The cause of the problem is identified, appropriate redress is offered, and
unsatisfactory procedures are corrected
We inform Clients in writing at the outset of their matter of their right to complain and how complaints can be made.
We also inform Clients in writing, both at the outset of their matter and at the conclusion of our complaint’s procedure (where the complaint has not been settled or dealt with to a Client’s satisfaction) of their right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman, and /or SRA, the time frame for doing so and full details of how to contact the Legal Ombudsman.
When a Client makes a complaint, we send them our standard letter which sets out our complaints handling procedure, outlining the relevant stages and timescales. Where appropriate, we shall ensure that our procedure is tailored in response to the needs of our individual Clients, especially those who are vulnerable.
We report and record every complaint made centrally. All complaints are referred to Mr Adnan Saeed in the first instance, who:
• Reviews the matter with any staff member involved;
• Identifies the cause of any problems of which the Client has complained
• Determines what degree of validity the complaint has; and
• Decides how the complaint should be resolved.
Where Mr Adnan Saeed identifies a potential negligence claim or where a Client claims financial loss, compensation or threatens legal action, the case must be referred immediately to Mr Adnan Saeed who will decide, in conjunction with our insurers, whether we should continue with this complaints procedure or adopt some other course of action.
We inform Clients, if we discover any act or omission which could give rise to a claim by them against us but before doing so fee earners must refer any such cases to their supervisor for advice. If the supervisor agrees that the circumstances of the case could give rise to a claim then the case must be referred immediately to Mr Adnan Saeed who will decide, in conjunction with our insurers, what information should be provided to the Client.
Mr Adnan Saeed will offer the Client appropriate redress and recommend amendments to unsatisfactory procedures to the Mr Mirani where appropriate who will ensure that any unsatisfactory procedures are corrected.
Any complaints made where Mr Adnan Saeed had conduct of the matter are referred to Mr Faisal Mehmood.
Mr Adnan Saeed will keep details of all complaints received in a central record. Copies of any documents/correspondence showing how each complaint is resolved are also retained on the central record.
Mr Adnan Saeed has overall responsibility for handling complaints and carries out an analysis of the central record of complaints annually. Following this review, he decides whether any action can be taken to improve our services. The results of the review (i.e. any trends identified and action proposed) are documented.
Mr Adnan Saeed is responsible for the operation of this procedure. He will review it annually to verify that it is in effective operation.
We have eight weeks to consider your complaint. If for any reason we are unable to resolve the problem between us within that timeframe, then you may ask the Legal Ombudsman and/or SRA to consider the complaint.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority could help you if you think a solicitor might be dishonest or you have concerns about their behaviour.
Shutting down their law firm without telling you.
Dishonesty or deliberately overcharging you.
Taking or losing your money.
Treating you unfairly because of your age, a disability or other characteristic.
You can find out at https://www.sra.org.uk/consumers/problems/report-solicitor/
Or write to:
Solicitors Regulation Authority
199 Wharfside Street
The Legal Ombudsman could help you if you are not happy with your solicitor's work or service and need to put things right.
Not replying to your emails, letters or calls.
Losing your documents or giving you unclear advice.
Charging you an amount you are not happy with.
Not explaining issues properly so you do not understand.
The Legal Ombudsman may be contacted at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ. Please be aware that any complaint to the Legal Ombudsman must usually be made within six months of your having received a final written response from us about your complaint or within a year of the act or omission about which you are complaining occurring (or you becoming aware of it). For further information, you should contact the Legal Ombudsman on 0300 555 0333 or www.legalombudsman.org.uk.