TERMS OF BUSINESS
The purpose of this document is to explain the basis on which we may act for you. These are standard terms and some of them may not apply to your case, depending on your type of matter.
Charges and expenses
Wherever possible we will tell you exactly how much we are going to charge and this information will be set out a the Client Care Letter. VAT is added to our charges at the current standard rate. We will also give you details of any other fees which we have to pay, and when you will have to pay them. If this firm does not complete the work and we have quoted a fixed fee we shall charge a reduced fee depending on how far the case progressed plus VAT and any expenses actually incurred. We will inform you if any unforeseen work becomes necessary and if this means extra cost to you we shall attempt to agree this with you first. In most cases clients only have to pay their own solicitors costs. If it has been agreed that you will also pay the costs of another party we always try to agree a maximum figure at the earliest possible stage. Our disbursements now include a compulsory Credit Check against you to comply with Money Laundering legislation. In court cases situations can arise where one party has to pay someone else’s costs as well as their own. We shall write separately if this applies. If the case is not straightforward we will try to give you as much information as we can about costs at the start of the case including hourly rates if applicable. We can agree to a set limited to the cost of our work on the understanding that we do no further work once that limit is reached. We may ask for payments of costs on account and it is our normal practice to ask for payment of any fees that we have to pay out (called disbursements) in advance. We are also expected to keep our costs information up to date. Please ask if you have any questions.
We will send our bill for charges and expenses, usually at the time when the work is completed. If we are holding money on your behalf, we will usually deduct our charges from these funds. Otherwise payment is due within 28 days of our sending you the bill. If the bill is not paid on time, we reserve the right to charge interest at the rate of 8% per annum from the date on which payment is due.
Storage of Papers and Deeds
After completing the work, we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses. We will keep our file of your papers for up to 6 years, except those papers that you ask to be returned to you. We keep files on the understanding that we can destroy them 6 years after the date of the final bill. We will not destroy documents you ask us to deposit in safe custody. If we take papers or documents out of storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act for you, we will not normally charge for such retrieval. However we may charge you both for:
• Time spent producing stored papers that are requested
• Reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions in relation to the retrieved papers
Bank Charges and Credit Checks
When completing Conveyancing transactions, in the interests of speed and security the preferred method of transferring funds (when paying the purchase price, redeeming a land mortgage or accounting to you for any surplus funds) is the bank telegraphic transfer system. Our invoice will show a charge for this of £60 plus VAT per transaction .In order to comply with Money Laundering Regulations we subscribe to a system operated by Call Credit whereby our clients’ details are entered and cross-checked against information held by credit agencies with the results being kept on file. To cover the cost of this service we make a charge of £10 plus VAT per name. Both of these systems are operated electronically from our office. The charges we make represent in round figures the approximate cost to us per case of using these services (including monthly subscriptions) and include a small handling fee.
Financial services and insurance contracts
We are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority. If, while we are acting for you, you need advice on investments, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised to provide the necessary advice. However, we may provide certain limited investment advice services where these are closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you. This is because we are members of the Law Society of England and Wales, which is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. We are included on the register maintained by the Financial Services Authority so that we may 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 the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Services website at www.fsa.gov.uk/register
Termination of instructions
You may terminate your instructions to us at any time, but we are entitled to keep all papers and documents while money is owing to us. We reserve the right to stop acting for you but will only do so with good reason and on giving reasonable notice. If our instructions are terminated we shall charge for work done up to that time.
Solicitors are under a professional and legal obligation to keep the affairs of clients confidential. This obligation, however, is subject to a statutory exception; recent legislation on money laundering and terrorist financing has placed solicitors under a legal duty in certain circumstances to disclose information to the Serious and Organised Crime Agency. 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 this happens, we may not be able to inform you that a disclosure has been made or the reasons for it.
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
• Statutory returns
• 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 which we think might be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive that information please notify our office in writing.
The firm is working towards/is registered under the Lexcel quality standard of the Law Society. As a result of this we are or may become subject to periodic checks by outside assessors. This could mean that your file is selected for checking, in which case we would need your consent for inspection to occur. All inspections are, of course, conducted in confidence. If you prefer to withhold consent, work on your file will not be affected in any way. Since very few of our clients do object to this I propose to assume that we do have your consent unless you notify us to the contrary. We will also assume, unless you indicate otherwise, that consent on this occasion will extend to all future matters which we conduct on your behalf. Please contact me if I can explain this further or if you would like me to mark your file as not to be inspected. If you would prefer to withhold consent please put a line through this section in the copy letter for return to me.
Queries or concerns
We strive to provide a high quality service to all our clients. However if there is any aspect of this with which you are unhappy and which you cannot resolve directly with solicitor/caseworker dealing with your matter, or you should raise the matter with Mr. Gurpreet Bhatia Singh who is expressly responsible for client care within this firm.
Mr. Gurpreet Bhatia is contactable on 0121 551 4496 or by email at or by post to our following address:-
Mr Gurpreet Bhatia
Partner / Solicitor
Harbans Singh & Co Solicitors
391 Soho Road
We have a procedure in place detailing how we handle complaints which is available our main office reception or by calling 0121 551 4496. If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can contact the Legal Ombudsman on 0300 5550333, by post at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ or by email at to consider the complaint. Normally, you will need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint.
Our firm is covered by professional indemnity insurance in line with Law Society requirements. Full details of our current cover can be inspected at our office by prior arrangement.
Equality and Diversity
Our Equality and Diversity Policy is intended to exclude all forms of discrimination in our dealings with staff, clients and third parties. We recognise that some clients may not be able to visit our offices, so we are willing to visit such clients at home or some other convenient place at no extra charge.
Your continuing instructions to us will amount to acceptance of these terms of business. Please contact us if you have any queries. This is an important document which we would urge you to keep in a safe place for future reference.