Specialists in Serious Fraud and Complex Criminal Defence
Our Terms of Business
*These terms of business must be read in conjunction with our letter of engagement.
- About this document
As from 1 Jan 2015 all work we do for you is governed by these terms of business and any agreed written variation and the terms as set out in our letter of engagement.
This document should be read in conjunction with our letter of engagement. The terms set out in this document and our engagement letter will apply unless varied in writing.
- About MPR Solicitors LLP
In these terms of business “we” or “our” refer to MPR Solicitors LLP (“the LLP”).
We use the word “partner” to refer to a member of the LLP, or an employee or consultant with equivalent standing and qualifications.
No reference to a “partner” is to imply that any person is carrying on business with others in partnership for the purposes of the Partnership Act 1890.
If we merge with another firm or transfer substantially all of our business to another partnership, a limited liability partnership, or a company, then you agree that we may transfer our engagement with you on substantially the same terms (so far as applicable) to the successor enterprise. We shall write and tell you this if it happens.
- Our Liability
Your relationship is solely with the LLP, and the LLP has sole legal liability for the work done for you and for any act or omission in the course of that work. No member, consultant or employee of the LLP will have any personal legal liability for that work whether in contract, tort or negligence or otherwise. In particular, the fact that an individual member, consultant or employee signs in his or her own name any letter or other document in the course of carrying out that work does not mean he or she is assuming any personal legal liability for that letter or document.
Claims may be brought only against MPR Solicitors LLP and no claim shall be made against any member, employee, agent or consultant of MPR Solicitors LLP. Each and every member, employee, agent or consultant shall be entitled to the benefit of this paragraph under the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999.
Unless otherwise agreed in writing by a member, all liability including without limitation any claims for negligence, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of confidence, or other breach of duty or of the data protection legislation or otherwise howsoever arising on the part of MPR Solicitors LLP its members or employees, or otherwise, which you may make arising out of any matter which we handle on your behalf shall be limited to £3 million.
The amount referred to above includes, without limitation, any damages, costs (other than defence costs) and interest that may be awarded against us.
No action (other than action arising from negligence causing death or personal injury) may be bought by you more than two years after the cause of the action has arisen.
If we are jointly and severally liable to you with any other party we shall only be liable to pay you the portion which is found to be fair and reasonable due to our fault. We shall not be liable to pay you the portion which is due to the fault of another party.
If any part of these Terms of Business which seeks to limit liability (including provisions as to amount or time limits) is found by a Court to be void or ineffective on the grounds that it is unreasonable or does not accord with professional obligation, the remaining provisions shall continue to be effective.
Nothing in these Terms of Business seeks to limit or exclude our liability for death or personal injury caused by our negligence or for fraud or fraudulent misrepresentation.
- Our relationship and client care
One of our partners or associate solicitors has been appointed to be responsible for our relationship with you and has overall responsibility for all your dealings with the firm. You should always feel able to contact that person, even though he or she may not be personally involved in advising you in relation to your matter on a day to day basis.
We value our relationship with you and welcome any suggestions for its improvement. We will reserve the right to subcontract or outsource work on your case to our specially vetted and supervised agents without obtaining your prior consent.
- Equality and Diversity
MPR Solicitors LLP is committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of its dealings with clients’ third parties and employees. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our equality and diversity policy.
- Scope of our responsibility
In appointing MPR Solicitors LLP to act on any matter on your behalf you authorise us to take any necessary steps to protect your interests in that matter (unless you instruct us to the contrary). You authorise us to make routine or administrative decisions on your case without asking you first, although we will keep you informed.
We cannot be held responsible for any failure of ours to advise or comment on any matter which falls outside the scope of your instructions or the scope of work set out in our letter of engagement or that which is not normally considered part of a solicitor’s duty in relation to that work.
We have a duty to act on your reasonable instructions, subject to our legal and professional duties as solicitors.
We will provide legal advice and services to you with reasonable care and skill and keep you informed about the progress of your matter. However, the nature of many types of legal work is such that it is not possible to guarantee a particular outcome.
We rely on you for the accuracy of the information and documentation you provide to us and in a timely manner.
We will not be liable for errors or losses which arise as a result of false, misleading or incomplete information and documentation or which result from any act or omission by you or any third party,
Dispute resolution, in particular litigation of any type, is subject to detailed rules and deadlines. We are not responsible if you fail to give us instructions in time to comply with those rules and deadlines.
We will do our best to progress the matter as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, the nature of many types of legal work is such that it is difficult to forecast accurately how long a matter may take to complete.
Unless we otherwise agree in writing to the contrary, our fees are based on the amount of time spent on your matter by reference to the normal hourly rate of those involved. We normally agree the basis of charging in advance. Our aim is to be entirely open with you. We review charges annually, usually from 1 June of each calendar year. The hourly rates of the solicitors working on your matter are set out in the letter of engagement.
Where we agree to charge on a time basis, the fee is calculated by multiplying the time spent, recorded in six minute units, by the hourly charging rates of those working for you. We will let you know these hourly rates and if the rates change (through promotion, for example, or at the annual review of the costs of running our business). Hourly charging rates are based mainly on the level of skill and experience of the person involved.
We normally charge for time spent on your work in meetings; travelling (where that time cannot be usefully spent on work for others); reading, preparing, negotiating and working on documents; research on your matter; dealing with mail (letters, faxes and email); making and receiving telephone calls; attending court or other formal proceedings, including waiting time; preparing notes of meetings, of telephone calls and of proceedings; complying with professional and statutory requirements (for example – money laundering regulations).
The time charged in an invoice may include anticipated time.
Where our engagement letter sets out a fee estimate (as opposed to an Agreed Fixed Fee), this is an indication, made in good faith and on the basis of information we have at the time the estimate is given, or our likely fee for carrying out the work concerned. It is given only as a guide to assist you in budgeting and should not be regarded as a firm quotation. An estimate is subject to revision and is not a commitment by us to carry out the work for that fee. We will notify you if it becomes apparent that our fee will exceed any estimate given to you.
We aim to ensure that our involvement is cost-effective. You may set a limit on charges and expenses to be incurred. We will not exceed an agreed limit without consent.
- Fixed Fees
When a Fixed Fee is agreed in advance we shall not seek to charge any additional fee unless the work carried out is of a different nature or extent from that which we understood to be required on the basis of your instruction.
If we agree a fixed fee with you to attend and represent you at a court hearing, tribunal or an investigative interview or carry out any other work and subsequently our attendance or completion of the work is unnecessary save where you cancel our retainer then we reserve the right to charge at our hourly rates + disbursements up to the value of the fixed fee for any work done on your matter together with an administration fee of £50+vat.
- Additional charges
Whilst routine overheads are included in our agreed charges, we may charge you for non-routine photocopying, and for generation of certain other documents.
You are responsible for paying disbursements (sometimes called expenses) we incur on your behalf (for example Land Registry, Companies House and court fees, travel, couriers and printing and binding). These are added to the invoice at cost. Where they are substantial we ask for payment on account. We try to give an estimate of expenses before they are incurred.
- Transfer of money
Where we have to transfer money on your behalf we cannot do so until the money has cleared the banking system. If the money has not been cleared we will not make the payment for you. We may charge you the CHAPS or other banking charges incurred.
- Travel and accommodation
Where we need to travel for your work we do so by the most appropriate means. Hotel accommodation is of a suitable business standard. Actual costs are charged, apart from travel by car where a standard mileage charge applies.
All estimates or quotations given by us and all fees charged by us are exclusive of VAT (at the rate applicable from time to time) which will be charged as applicable on our fees and those disbursements and expenses that are subject to VAT.
We normally send out invoices on a monthly basis, then a further invoice when the work has been or is about to be completed. This applies unless we have agreed with you a different billing frequency or only to invoice at agreed stages in a case or transaction.
- Monies held by us
All monies held by us on your behalf, whether on account of fees or disbursements or otherwise, will, until used, be placed in our client account and you will be entitled to interest unless such interest is less that than £50.
We may at any stage ask you to pay us money on account of fees we reasonably anticipate will be incurred. If you do not make a payment on account when asked to do so then we will be entitled to stop working for you.
We may pay outstanding invoices by deduction from money we hold on your behalf (including money received from others). You accept to waive any right to interest that may be payable on money that we hold on your behalf.
Unless monies are held for a specific purpose, the monies may be used by us in payment or part payment of our fees or disbursements whether overdue or not and whether or not it relates to the particular matter or matters in respect of which it is held.
Once your matter is concluded, provided there are no outstanding fees and disbursements payable to us, we will return the monies on account to the appropriate party plus any accrued interest (if at least £50). If we are unable to locate the appropriate party using our best endeavours, then we may transfer these monies into one of the designated charity accounts in accordance with the Solicitors Accounts Rules 2011.
Invoices must be paid within 7 days unless other arrangements have been agreed in writing with you. If invoices are not paid within 7 days we may charge interest on the overdue amount. Interest will be charged on a daily basis at the official rate payable on judgment debts (which is usually close to standard commercial rates).
If invoices are overdue we reserve our right to suspend all work and to retain documents and papers belonging to you or supplied to us for the purpose of carrying out your instructions. This will be the case whether they relate to a matter to which the invoice relates or to any other instructions given to us until all outstanding sums are paid.
We reserve the right to pass all unpaid invoices to an external debt collection agency to pursue the debt and accrued interest. All incremental costs incurred by us in relation to the appointment of a debt collecting agents are payable by you.
If we are required by any governmental or regulatory body, or by a service provider appointed by you to audit one of our bills, to produce documents or provide information on any individual matter on which you have instructed us, we shall be entitled to bill you for the work involved (and any disbursements incurred at the rates agreed for the relevant matter. If legal privilege attaches to any such documents, you will either waive privilege or instruct us to review them in your interests.
- Joint liability
If you are party to this contract with another then each of you will be jointly and severally liable for all of our costs.
- Who does your work
Work will be done by those able to do it competently and cost-effectively. If they are not Senior Solicitors, Consultants, Associates or Partners they will be appropriately supervised. We will agree with you who handles your work and not make changes unless it is necessary. We will inform you if this happens. We may sub-contract part of the work to suitably qualified solicitors or barristers who are not employees of the Firm if we are unable to cover any hearings at court in-house. These individuals will act as if they were employees of the Firm and therefore their hourly rates will be charged to you at the same rate as if an in-house employee was conducting the work.
- Correspondent Lawyers
Where we consider it to be an effective way of dealing with a matter, we will instruct counsel or engage correspondent lawyers, experts or others on your behalf. We shall, however, consult you before engaging any such persons. We shall not be responsible for the advice given, services provided, or default of, counsel correspondent lawyers, experts or others instructed by us on your behalf, but we will use reasonable care in selecting them. You will be responsible for the fees and expenses of any such persons instructed or engaged.
We will keep all information about you and your business confidential and not disclose it to anyone outside the LLP without your consent. You do consent to that disclosure: in the proper handling of your work; on a confidential basis to auditors who make random check of files; to our professional indemnity insurers; where compelled by professional regulations or by law, such as a court.
If we are compelled to disclose information, or if you ask us to object to disclosure, we may charge for the work involved.
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.
We both agree not to issue any publicity material or information to the media about our relationship and the work we are doing without the other’s consent, save where the information is already in the public domain or where the information and publicity material does not disclose personal information or your name on our website. You do however permit us to use details of your case in publicity material on our website.
Conflict between your interests and the interests of either (i) other clients of the firm or (ii) us may arise during the course of a matter. If this situation occurs, we will discuss the position with you and determine the appropriate course of action. In order to protect your, their or our interests we may have to cease acting, in which case we will use our reasonable endeavours to find another firm of lawyers to continue acting for you.
If certain conditions are met, we are entitled to act for more than one client on the same matter where each client is competing for the same objective and where there is no other conflict of interest. In order to do so, we are required to obtain the written consent of each client for whom we are proposing to act in respect of such a matter. If the matter in respect of which our Letter of Engagement has been entered into is such a matter and we consider the necessary conditions are met for us to act, by signing our Letter of Engagement, you consent to us acting or agreeing to act for one or more other clients in respect of that matter.
- Email/Internet Communication
We routinely use email to communicate, and whilst we have normal levels of security in place, you accept the risk that email communications may not be secure.
Internet communications are capable of data corruption and therefore we do not accept any responsibility for changes made to such communications after their dispatch. It may therefore be inappropriate to rely on advice contained in an e-mail without obtaining written confirmation of it. We do not accept responsibility for any errors or problems that may arise through the use of internet communication and all risks connected with sending commercially sensitive information relating to your business are borne by you. If you do not agree to accept this risk, you should notify us in writing that e-mail is not an acceptable means of communication.
All telephone and email communication to and from MPR Solicitors LLP are monitored in the interests of maintaining high professional standards.
It is the responsibility of the recipient to carry out a virus check on any attachments received.
- Anti-Money Laundering
Both you and we are required to comply with legislation intended to combat money laundering and terrorism. This legislation, which includes the Terrorism Act 2000 and the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, also imposes additional obligations on us which may restrict or affect our ability to act for you or continue acting for you if we suspect that money laundering may have been committed or may be intended by any party. The effect of these provisions is wide and applies to the proceeds of crime, however small committed here or abroad.
The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, the Terrorism Act 2000, the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 and any other statutes or regulations dealing with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism, together with all amendments and re-enactments thereof (together the “Money Laundering Legislation”) imposes reporting obligations on us which override our duty of confidentiality to you. We shall not be liable for any loss arising from or connected with our compliance with a statutory or regulatory obligation which we may have, or honestly believe we may have, to report matters to the relevant authorities under the provisions of the Money Laundering Legislation. Where we have notified the relevant authorities, you agree that we may provide such further information as they require.
In some circumstances where we have reported matters to the relevant authorities, they may consent to us continuing to act in the matter. Although that may provide a defence to any offence under the Money Laundering Legislation, it may not absolve either you or us from any further civil or criminal liability. We therefore reserve the right to cease acting even where we have consent to proceed from the relevant authorities.
The requirements of the Money Laundering Legislation may either prevent us from taking steps on your behalf or from acting further at all and we may be prohibited by law from informing you of these matters. In those circumstances we reserve the right to cease acting and to charge you for services rendered, and expenses incurred, to that date.
We shall not be under any liability to you for any loss caused by our failure to take steps or ceasing to act where this is, or we reasonably believe it to be, in compliance with our statutory obligations.
You accept that compliance with Money Laundering Legislation or guidance issued by the Courts, the Law Society or the Solicitors Regulation Authority, may prevent us from informing you of all relevant matters either promptly or at all.
You undertake to inform us immediately, unless prevented by law, of any matter which causes you to suspect that any party may be concealing or using the proceeds of any crime or be intending to do so.
We do not accept payment of any sum in cash whether from you or any other person. If we are acting for you in a sale by auction, this may mean that we are unable to act for you on a sale to the highest bidder. We shall not be liable for the consequences of that. It is therefore essential that, before arranging any sale by auction we are consulted as to the terms of the sale.
We are required to satisfy ourselves as to the source of any monies which you pay to us. We require a minimum of 14 days in which to do so unless, in our sole discretion we agree to accept shorter notice. We therefore require you at the outset of any transaction to identify the precise source of any funds which you will be paying to us to complete the transaction. We need to know the details of the account from which it is paid and may also require proof of the original source of the money. If we do not receive, within 14 days, notice of the source of the funds, or if the money comes from a source other than that which you have previously identified, or in any event if we are unable to satisfy ourselves as to the original source of the money, we may decline to proceed within the expected timescale or at all and we shall not be liable for any losses caused by this.
Where money is paid to us in error or by a third party, we are unable to return it to you or the third party without first making enquiries required by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. We shall not be liable for any delay in returning the money, nor if we are prevented by any relevant authorities from returning it. If we are acting for you in any proceedings by the Assets Recovery Agency and become aware that you have any assets of which the Agency is unaware we shall be required to notify the Agency of these and not be under any liability to you for doing so.
Our acceptance of your instructions will be subject to you providing us with all the necessary information to enable us to comply with the Money Laundering Legislation.
To ensure that we comply with the Money Laundering Legislation, we are required to validate the name, address and other personal information supplied by you during the file opening process. Where possible, electronic verification will be used to assist us with this identification process, including a search with Experian or Veriphy on our individual and on our corporate clients and, in the case of corporate clients, on the directors of those clients. Experian or Veriphy may check details you supply against any particulars or any database (public or otherwise) to which it has access. It may also use your details in the future to assist other companies for verification purposes. A record of the search will be retained on file.
We are required by the Money Laundering Legislation to retain certain records for a minimum of five years after we cease to act for you. This may prevent us from returning documents to you or sending them to other parties on your behalf even though they may be your property. There is presently no definition of the documents that we are required to retain. You therefore authorise us to retain all documents in these circumstances. Unless prevented by law we shall provide copies at your request subject to payment of our standard copying charges in force from time to time.
If the results of the electronic verification are insufficient then you may need to provide additional information so that we can comply with our obligations. This will, in the case of individuals, normally require production of a certified copy of a passport and a certified copy of a recent utility bill or, in the case of a corporate client, for one of its directors. Corporate clients may also need to provide copies of their incorporation and constitutional documents.
We are required to ascertain the identity of beneficial owners and in such circumstances we will require clients to provide the necessary information to identify such persons and, where applicable, we will require clients to provide documents verifying such information.
If you have any concerns about money laundering issues you should discuss these with the Money Laundering Reporting Officer who is named in our Letter of Engagement.
Any information and/or documents retained for Money Laundering Legislation purposes will be subject to review approximately every three years to comply with our on-going monitoring obligations.
- Data Protection
MPR Solicitors LLP (‘ the Firm’) is fully committed to compliance with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation 2018. MPR Solicitors LLP will therefore follow procedures that aim to ensure that all members, partners, managers, associates, employees, agents and consultants who have access to any personal data held by or on behalf of the Firm, are fully aware of and abide by their duties and responsibilities under the relevant legislation.
MPR Solicitors LLP is registered as a Data Controller with the Information Commissioners Office. We will use the information that you give us to provide you with legal services, as per your instructions. We will keep your information confidential and will only use it for the purpose(s) for which it was provided or as is permitted in law (i.e. for dealing with complaints or regulatory investigations). For the purposes of the GDPR, we will be the controller of any personal data that we collect from or about you in connection with the provision of our professional services, or related activities such as promoting the Group’s business and market research or, where relevant, dealing with job applications. We may collect, use, store and process “personal data” (as defined in the Data Protection Act) about clients, and in connection with our services to clients, in computerised and/or manual form. By instructing us you consent to us:
- collecting, using, storing and otherwise processing, during and after our retainer (a) personal data about you (if applicable), (b) personal data about your staff (if applicable) and (c) any other personal data that you or your staff provide to us, in each case for the provision of professional services, including for conflict, credit and client due diligence checks, acting on your behalf, the maintenance and preservation of our records, dealing with any requests or enquiries you may have and to carry out our obligations arising from any contracts entered into between you and us, prosecuting and defending a court, arbitration, or similar proceeding, communicating with you about your client file, compliance with dietary preferences, training, time recording, accounts, audit, regulatory, insurance, legal and quality control purposes, development and maintenance of know-how and precedents, and direct marketing and other communications by us to you and your staff by any means, including in each case the transfer of the data outside of the European Economic Area (“EEA”); and
- using your personal data to contact you from time to time to send you informational and promotional content that you request from us or which we feel may be of interest to you and to bring to your attention products or services that we feel may be of interest to you (direct marketing).
Personal data we collect may include your contact details (for example, name, work address, telephone number and email address), your identification information (for example, passport details, visa and immigration status, date and place of birth) and your billing information (for example, bank account details and tax information).We may collect your information from you or from third parties and as agents on behalf of our clients, where we have obtained the requisite consent to do so (for example, upon your instructions) or as otherwise permitted by law.
All personal data is processed in line with the requirements of the applicable data protection laws. We do not sell, trade or rent your personal data to third parties.
You confirm that you will have obtained all necessary consents to any provision of personal data to us and subsequent processing of the data by us in accordance with these Terms of Business, prior to disclosing any personal data to us unless otherwise permitted by law. You also agree to inform us of any limitations on how we may use such data.
We will not pass any such personal data to a third party outside of MPR Solicitors LLP without your written consent (except to processors acting under our strict instructions, or when reasonably required in carrying out your instructions, or confidentially for audit, insurance regulatory or quality control purposes, or as required to comply with any legal obligation, or in order to enforce or apply our Terms of Business or the terms of our Letter of Engagement, or to protect the rights, property, or safety of MPR Solicitors LLP, our clients or others. This includes exchanging information with other companies and organisations for the purposes of fraud protection and credit risk reduction).
We are committed to protecting the security of your personal data. We use a variety of technical, physical and procedural safeguards to protect your data from unauthorised access, use or disclosure.
We will use reasonable efforts to ensure that your personal data is kept as accurate, complete and up-to-date as possible but will not routinely update your personal data. In order to help us maintain and ensure that your personal data is accurate and up to date, you must inform us, without delay, of any change in the information you provided to us. You have a right to request access to and rectification of your personal data by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org In all cases we will treat requests to access information or change information in accordance with applicable legal requirements.
We will take reasonable steps to ensure an adequate level of protection for your data; however you acknowledge and agree that such personal data may be processed in and accessed from countries whose laws may not require standards of data protection equivalent to those in the EEA.
You have rights as a Data Subject under the General Data Protection Regulation and Data Protection Act 2018 and these include the right to be informed what information we hold about you - a subject access request (though obviously it is likely that you will have provided with such information as we hold). You also have the right to request a copy of any information about you that we hold at any time, and also to have that information corrected if it is inaccurate. You also have rights to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office if you feel that your data is not being handled properly. Further Information about your rights is set out in our Data Protection Notice.
Further information about your rights under the data protection legislation can be found at www.ico.org.uk
These terms of business incorporates our data protection notice: https://www.mprsolicitors.co.uk/site/help/data-protection-policy/
- Credit and Debit Card Payments
We offer an online payment facility for credit and debit card payments. We can also take a payment via a merchant terminal face to face or by telephone. Full terms and conditions are on our website.
When using our online payment system you will be redirected to WorldPay who will process your payment card details and take payment. Payment card details are handled exclusively by WorldPay and are not stored within our system.
Before being redirected to WorldPay’s website we will request certain personal information required for WorldPay to process your payment. This information may include Personal Data such as your name, address and contact details.
To ensure that your card is not being used without your consent, the personal information supplied may be validated against third party databases. In performing these checks personal information provided by you may be disclosed to third parties. By accepting these online payment terms and conditions you consent to such checks being made.
Some personal information will be retained by us for future reference. We will not keep this information for longer than is necessary for the purpose for which it is collected.
During the payment process you will be required to enter the credit or debit card security code and you may be asked for further card authentication by your credit or debit card provider.
Please also be aware that :
- Payments made by credit and debit card are subject to clearance by your card provider and will normally up take ten working days to credit our bank account.
- Outgoing payments will not be made using your credit/debit card payment until MPR Solicitors are in receipt of cleared funds.
- Any refunds due on a matter where payment has been made wholly by credit/debit card, will only be refunded by using the card details previously supplied or by company cheque or BACS payment at the discretion of MPR Solicitors LLP.
- Payments by card can only be accepted with authorisation from the cardholder. If you are not the cardholder please call the Accounts Team for assistance on 020 8607 4660 Alternatively you can email email@example.com
- Contentious work (Litigation and Arbitration)
Whatever the outcome of a contentious matter where we act for you, you will be responsible for paying the full amount of our invoices, which may include the costs of assessment of those invoices by the Court.
You may be able to recover some of your costs from the other side in certain circumstances. Civil litigation in England generally operates on the basis that the loser pays the winner’s costs. However, the question of costs is ultimately a matter for the discretion of the Court. In any event, the Court generally assesses payment of the successful party’s costs of the proceedings in such a way that results in the unsuccessful party having to pay a proportion only (which may be in the region of 60-70%) of those costs. You will also need to consider whether the unsuccessful party has the financial resources to pay any costs awarded - even if ordered to do so.
If the other party is legally aided, you may not recover any of your charges and expenses, even if you win the case.
If you are unsuccessful, the Court may order you to pay the successful party’s legal charges and expenses. That money would be payable in addition to our charges and expenses.
Where we are instructed in contentious matters, you will have been sent additional information in our Letter of Engagement, including regarding the funding of contentious matters.
- Recovery of costs (criminal proceedings)
On 15th October 2012, the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 came in force. This statute has introduced significant changes to the system through which successful defendants and appellants in criminal proceedings may be awarded payment from public funds under a Defendant's Costs Order in respect of legal costs incurred by them in those proceedings. For further information please see: http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/national-taxing-team/litigators.
In short, a defendant who has paid privately for their defence will not be able to recover any legal costs incurred in Crown Court proceedings under a Defendant's Costs Order. The policy rationale for this is that all defendants are entitled to legal aid in Crown Court proceedings regardless of means, albeit subject to financial contributions. Importantly, however, in Legal aid cases, successful defendants can recover contributions made under a legal aid representation order.
In most cases where a Defence Costs Order can include a claim for legal costs the rates recoverable are capped at legal aid rates which will invariably be significantly lower than private rates. Furthermore there are criteria for assessment which can still further curtail the amount of costs that a successful defendant is able to recover from central funds.
A Defence Costs Order can include legal costs incurred by a successful individual defendant (but not a corporate defendant) in the Magistrates Court in the majority of proceedings in the Magistrates Court which have concluded in favour of the accused, such as when the charges are discontinued or dismissed or the Court refuses to commit the case for trial to the Crown Court.
A Defence Costs Order can also include the legal costs of a successful individual Defendant (but not a corporate defendant) in appeals to the Crown Court against conviction or sentence imposed by the Magistrates Court.
Following the introduction of a financial eligibility threshold for Crown court legal aid from 27 January 2014, legal costs limited to legal aid rates will be recoverable in a Defendants' Costs Order but limited to the amount that would be payable under specified legal aid rates. It is very important to note that the exception, or special circumstance allowing a Defendant's Costs Order to include legal costs, requires that the Director of Legal Aid Casework has made a determination of financial ineligibility in relation to the accused and those proceedings. To ensure that you are entitled to recover legal costs, limited to legal aid rates, in the event of your acquittal you must apply for, and be determined to be ineligible for, legal aid. These provisions do not apply to the costs of a private prosecutor, or to the costs of an Appointee under section 4A of the Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act 1964 or under section 38(4) of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 provisions.
A Defence Costs Order may include a claim for costs of a successful appellant in the Court of Appeal in The Supreme Court in certain circumstances.
In addition to any agreed fees or fixed fees we will charge you at our standard hourly rates for any work to assist you in the recovery of any costs. There will be a minimum charge applicable of £150.00.
- Liability for prosecution costs in criminal proceedings
If you plead guilty or are convicted you may be ordered to pay a contribution to the prosecutions costs
- Storage of Papers and Documents
We will not retain your deeds, securities, DVDs, CD-ROMs, tapes of interviews, case papers, expert reports, defence documents, and other important documents, and you will be expected to take possession of these items upon the conclusion of your case unless our invoice remains unpaid in which case we would hold a lien over these items.
If you do not take personal possession of these items within 14 days upon the conclusion of your case, we will have no alternative but to destroy them as we do not have the facility or storage to keep these items securely on a permanent basis. We will keep other papers for not more than 4 years from the date of the final invoice and then destroy them. We reserve the right to store any papers or documents in a scanned format rather than original hard copies which will be destroyed upon scanning.
We will make a single charge, currently £75 for storage of normal documents other than deeds and securities which we will not hold. This single charge also applies if any normal documents are retained in a scanned format.
Where you require urgent delivery of documents stored with us (including scanned format) we will make a charge of £125. For non-urgent delivery, we will make a charge of £100.
You may also have a right to be provided with a copy of personal data held by us as part of a legitimate subject access request (see the data protection section above). However, in all other cases, if we retrieve documents or papers from storage we reserve the right to charge you for the time spent reviewing stored papers and producing those requested by you or another at your request. We may also charge for reading papers or other work necessary to comply with your instructions.
We own the copyright in any work we create and this copyright will not be transferred to you although you have our licence to use our work for the purposes for which it was created. We have the right to be identified as the author of the work and to object to any misuse of it.
You agree that we may store any counsel’s opinion or other document created in the course of our work for you in our Precedents Manual. We will ensure the system is secure, confidentiality is maintained and that any identifying references are removed.
- Disclosure (Civil Litigation)
If litigation appears likely, you will be required by the Court to disclose all documents in your possession or control which either support your case, or undermine your case, or those which support your opponent's case or undermine your opponent's case. It is therefore of paramount importance that you do not destroy any document that may be relevant and you should take steps immediately to preserve all such documents, both personally and within your organisation.
It is a contempt of court to destroy documents which are subject to disclosure. We will discuss the disclosure process with you in more detail as the matter progresses, but if you have any queries about preserving documents please raise them as soon as possible.
- Disclosure (Criminal Investigations and proceedings)
Depending on the type of charge you face, you may wish to or may be required to serve a defence statement on the court and the prosecution. We will rely on information and evidence that you provide to prepare this. Please therefore ensure that you preserve any relevant information or evidence about your case.
If you destroy evidence while an investigation or criminal proceedings are underway, this could constitute a separate offence of perverting the course of justice. It is very important that you do not destroy any relevant documents.
We follow the Law Society rules and provide a copy of our complaints procedure on request. We investigate any complaint promptly and thoroughly. First, you should contact your solicitor who has conduct of your case with full details of your complaint and, after our investigation, you will receive a written response.
We have eight weeks to consider your complaint. If for any reason we are unable to resolve the problem between us within that timeframe, you have a right to refer the matter to the Legal Ombudsman at PO Box 6806 Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ or firstname.lastname@example.org ( telephone 0300 5550333 and minicom 0300 5551777) to consider the complaint. Please be aware that there are time limits involved in making a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman. 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. Complaints to the Legal Ombudsman must usually be made within six years of the act or omission about which you are complaining occurring; or within three years from when you should have known about or become aware that there were grounds for complaint.
You may also have the right to apply to the court for an assessment of a bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. Please note that if all or part of a bill remains unpaid we may be entitled to charge interest.
If we enter into a contract with you and/or you become our client of our firm by electronic means (such as by e-mail or online) then, in addition to any rights of redress you may have through the Legal Ombudsman, you may be entitled to use an EU online dispute resolution platform to assist with any complaint or dispute you may have about our services. This online platform can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/odr. We do have an e-mail address you may contact in this regard and that is email@example.com
If you think a solicitor might be dishonest or you have concerns about their ethics or integrity, you also have the right to notify our regulator, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). There are no time limits for making a report but there are limits on what the SRA will consider. Please note that the SRA is not able to deal with issues of poor service (complaints of this nature should instead be referred to the Legal Ombudsman). For further information about the SRA’s role, please visit: https://www.sra.org.uk/consumers/
- Assessment of fees
These terms of business do not restrict any right you may have to apply to the Court to have our bill assessed under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. Please note that if all or part of a bill remains unpaid we may be entitled to charge interest.
We are regulated and authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
We are not authorised to advise on financial and investment matters. We may therefore have to refer you to someone who is authorised in relation to financial and investment advice.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory body of the Law Society and the Legal Ombudsman is the independent complaints handling body of the law society.
- Ending our relationship
We expect to act on a matter until it is completed. Except as set out below, you may terminate our instructions at any time by giving us notice in writing, addressed to the Managing Partner.
In litigation matters, where we are on the court record as acting for you, the court’s permission may be required for us to be removed as acting for you. Your ability to terminate our retainer may therefore be restricted.
We are entitled to terminate our instructions for good reason and upon reasonable notice, for example, your insolvency; if a conflict of interest arises; if you fail to pay your invoices as they fall due or to meet our request for payments on account of fees or disbursements; or, if you fail to give us adequate instructions.
If you, or we, decide that we will stop acting, you will pay our charges on an hourly basis and any expenses incurred on your behalf up to the date of termination or until we are no longer on the court record, as applicable. In litigation matters, we may also apply to the court to be removed from the court record as acting for you, where relevant. This may involve an additional cost which you agree to pay in addition to all other sums due.
We will retain documents and papers belonging to you or supplied to us for the purpose of carrying out your instructions on any matter until such time as (i) we have been paid all outstanding fees and expenses which have been invoiced to you; or (ii) suitable alternative security is provided in respect of such fees and expenses to us (the decision as to suitability being at our sole discretion); or (iii) we are ordered by the Court to release our files to you.
In the event you ask us to send your files to another firm of solicitors, we will review the documents to determine which documents belong to us and which belong to you. We may charge you for this and for delivering the papers.
Office Appointments & Consultations
Where we have made an appointment for a consultation with you at our office we require you to give at least 24hrs notice if cancelling any appointment. If you fail to give at least 24hrs notice then we will charge you for 1 hour of the fee earners time at the rate applicable. If we incur any disbursements or if a fee earner has travelled away from their normal office of work in order to attend an appointment that has been cancelled without notice then you will be fully liable for all disbursements, travelling time and 1 hour of the fee earners time at the rates applicable.
If we agree a fixed fee with you to attend and represent you at a court hearing, tribunal or an investigative interview or carry out any other work and you cancel our retainer without giving us 14 days prior notice then 50% of the fee is payable to us in addition to which we reserve the right in any event to charge at our hourly rates + disbursements up to the value of the fixed fee for any work done on your matter together with an administration fee of £50+vat.
Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013
If this contract is made away from our premises then the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 applies in your case and you have 14 days to cancel our agreement. To exercise the right to cancel, you must inform us of your decision to cancel this contract by a clear statement (e.g. a letter sent by post, fax or e-mail). You may use the attached model cancellation form at the end of this document, but it is not obligatory. To meet the cancellation deadline, it is sufficient for you to send your communication concerning your exercise of the right to cancel before the cancellation period has expired.
If you wish for us to commence providing you with our service within 14 days then please send us an email confirming this or you can make an endorsement next to your signature on this agreement or the accompanying letter. If you request that we commence provision of service within the 14 day cancellation period and later choose to cancel then you will need to pay for any services delivered until the point at which you cancel at the agreed hourly rate or if we have agreed a fixed fee then we will charge at our standard hourly rates up to the maximum value of the agreed fixed fee having regard to the full coverage of the contract.
Effects of cancellation under provisions of Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013
If you cancel this contract, we will reimburse to you all payments received from you. We will make the reimbursement without undue delay, and not later than 14 days after the day on which we are informed about your decision to cancel this contract.
We will make the reimbursement using the same means of payment as you used for the initial transaction, unless you have expressly agreed otherwise; in any event, you will not incur any fees as a result of the reimbursement. If you requested to begin the performance of services during the cancellation period, you will need to pay for any services delivered until the point at which you cancel at the agreed hourly rate or if we have agreed a fixed fee then we will charge at our standard hourly rates up to the maximum value of the agreed fixed fee having regard to the full coverage of the contract.
- Third party payment of legal costs.
If another person has agreed to pay all or part of our charges or expenses you will still remain liable for those costs. You accept we may keep that third party informed about the progress of any dispute and the costs and expenses which are incurred. Third party funding may be provided by your employer, professional body, Trade Union or under a legal expenses policy. Legal expenses policies are often added to Household or Motor Insurance policies. If we have not been notified about the third party funding we will proceed on the basis that no such funding is available to you.
Our failure to enforce any one or more of these Terms of Business or any terms of our Letter of Engagement, at any time or for any period shall not be a waiver of them or our right at any time to enforce all applicable terms and conditions.
- Contract (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999
For the avoidance of doubt it is not intended by the parties that anything in our Letter of Engagement or these Terms of Business or any other agreement or arrangement between us which may be construed as conferring a benefit on any person who is not a party to this agreement shall be enforceable by such party.
You agree not to make our work available to third parties without our written permission and we accept no responsibility to third parties for any aspect of our professional services or work’s that is made available to them.
The services provided by us pursuant to our Letter of Engagement are personal to you and you shall not assign, transfer, charge or deal in any other manner with our Letter of Engagement or any of your rights under that letter or these Terms of Business without our prior written consent. The Letter of Engagement and these Terms of Business shall be binding on, and shall endure for the benefit of, each party’s successors.
The invalidity or unenforceability of any of the provisions of the Letter of Engagement or these Terms of Business shall not affect the rest of them which shall continue to bind both you and us.
- Entire Agreement
These Terms of Business and our Letter of Engagement set out all the terms agreed between us in relation to the work we are to undertake for you. All other terms, conditions, and representations are hereby excluded and you must not rely or have relied on them. The Letter of Engagement and/or Terms of Business may only be varied by agreement in writing signed by a partner on our behalf. In the event of any conflict between these Terms of Business and our Letter of Engagement, the latter shall prevail.
We may on one month’s written notice to you modify these terms from time to time to reflect our current practice and/or changes to professional and other regulatory requirements which we are obliged to meet.
- Governing Law and Jurisdiction
The Letter of Engagement and these Terms of Business and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with them or their subject matter or formation (including non-contractual disputes or claims) shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the law of England.
The High Court of England and Wales shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine any dispute (including non-contractual disputes and claims) which may arise between us. To this end, you and we irrevocably agree to submit to such jurisdiction. Judgment in any suit, action or proceedings brought in the High Court of England and Wales shall be conclusive and binding and may be enforced in the Courts of any other jurisdiction.