Blunts Solicitors

Terms of Business

Contents

  1. Provision of Services
  2. Professional Indemnity Insurance
  3. Financial Services
  4. Complaints Procedure
  5. Regulatory status
  6. Fees
  7. VAT
  8. Interest Payments
  9. Auditing and Vetting of Files
  10. Termination
  11. The Distance Selling Regulations
  12. Money Laundering and Client Due Diligence
  13. Rights in Relation to Material
  14. Storage of Papers and Documents
  15. Limited Companies
  16. Tax Advice
  17. Data Protection
  18. Equality
  19. General
  20. Complaints Procedure 
  1. Provision of Services

    Our offices are located at 2-6 King Edward Street, Macclesfield, Cheshire SK10 1AB. Our office hours are 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.

    1.2     We shall provide services (“the Services”) in accordance with your instructions and as set out in the scope of work identified in the attached client care letter, unless varied by agreement between us.  Any changes or additions to the service as specified should where appropriate and reasonable be agreed in writing between us.

    1.3     We shall aim to provide services to clients with reasonable skill and care and, as far as is reasonably practicable, in accordance with the instructions and scope of work referred to in our client care letter.  Where ancillary goods or services are supplied by any third party, we do not give any warranty, guarantee or other representation as to their quality.

    1.4     We shall have no liability to you for any loss, damage, costs, expenses or other claims for compensation arising as a result of information or instructions supplied by you which are incomplete, incorrect, in accurate or ineligible or arising from their late arrival or non-arrival or any act/omission of yours.  You agree that any advice given by us or any communication from us to you is provided solely in connection with advising you and for your use and benefit.  Such advice may not be used or relied on or disclosed to any other person (other than your other professional advisor) without our prior written consent.

  2. Professional Indemnity Insurance

Save as expressly stated otherwise in the attached letter, we shall accept liability to you for breach of the terms or our engagement or for our negligence for an amount of damages up to, but not exceeding, £3,000,000. On this basis we maintain professional indemnity insurance to a total level of £3,000,000 for each individual claim.  Notwithstanding this, we shall not be liable to you or be deemed to be in breach of contract by reason of any delay in performing, or failure to perform, any of our obligations in relation to the services offered to you if that delay or failure was due to any cause beyond our reasonable control.

Our Firms Professional Indemnity Insurance is covered by QBE Insurance (Europe) Ltd: – Plantation Place 30 Fenchurch Street London EC3M 3BD

  1. Financial Services

Sometimes Conveyancing/Probate work involves investments. We are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority and so may refer you to someone who is authorised to provide any necessary advice. However, we can provide certain limited services in relation to investments, provided they are closely linked with the legal services we are proving you, as we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

  1. Complaints

4.1     Blunts is committed to high quality legal advice and client care.  If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service you have received or about your bill, please contact the fee earner in your case.  We have a procedure in place which details how we handle complaints and is available upon request.  We have eight weeks to consider your complaint.  If we have not resolved it within this time you may complain to the Legal Ombudsman.

4.2     If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider the complaint.  You may obtain further information from the following internet address www.legalombudsman.co.uk.  I am happy to supply you with this information if you do not have access to the internet.  You may also telephone them on 0300 555 0333 or write to them at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ.  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 or within a year of the act or omission about which you are complaining occurring (or you becoming aware of it).

4.3     Alternative complaints bodies exist which are competent to deal with complaints about legal services should you and our firm wish to use such a scheme. We will address this with you at the conclusion of our complaints process.

  1. Regulatory Status

All the services we provide are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.  We are subject to the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2011. The Code of Conduct can be viewed at the following internet address www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/handbook/code/content.page. 

  1. Fees

  • Fees are payable immediately upon being rendered. The fees which you will incur, will, unless otherwise agreed between us, be as set out in the client care letter.  In the event that we are required to make payments in respect of any disbursements, please note that we have no obligation to effect such payments unless funds have been provided by you for that purpose.  We reserve the right to charge our fees whether or not a particular matter is successfully concluded or completed (unless otherwise agreed in writing). In the event that a fixed fee has been agreed and the transaction does not proceed to completion for any reason, then, unless otherwise expressly agreed, we shall be entitled to charge for work done on the basis of the time we have expended on your behalf.
  • By way of example in a conveyancing matter: –
  • if the matter aborts in the initial stages but before we examine the Contract pack, we will charge no more that 25% of the fixed fee as agreed.
  • if the matter aborts after we have examined the Contract pack and done our Final Report but the matter has not yet proceeded to exchange, then we will charge no more than 50% of the fixed fee as agreed.
  • if the matter aborts following exchange of contracts, then we will charge no more than 75% of the fixed fee as agreed.
  • Where fees are being raised on the basis of an hourly rate, we shall be entitled to invoice you periodically. This helps you in budgeting for our fees as well as keeping you informed of the legal fees being incurred.  Where such invoices are not discharged when due for payment, delay in the progress of the case may result and we reserve the right to cease work on the matter.
  • If payment of any invoice is not received immediately upon the bill being rendered, we shall be entitled (without limiting any other rights we may have) to charge interest on the outstanding amount at the rate of 4% above the base rate from time to time of National Westminster Bank plc, from the due date until the outstanding amount is paid in full.
  • We shall be entitled to charge an administration fee for dealing with:
  • Any additional searches carried out on your behalf in the event of delayed completions or registrations
  • the re-issue of cheques in the event that you do not cash any cheques issued by us when first delivered
  • Our fee for such work will be no more than £25+VAT and we may waive or reduce such fee at our absolute discretion.
  1. VAT

VAT is payable on all fees and is also payable on certain disbursements.  Our VAT number is 196 2598 56.

  1. Interest Payments

In accordance with the Solicitors Account Rules 2011 (“the Rules”) it is this firm’s policy to account to our clients, on a fair and reasonable basis, for a sum in lieu of interest in respect of client monies held by the firm.

Client monies will be held in a general client bank account and interest paid, will be based upon the rate of interest payable by the bank. A sum in lieu of interest will be payable on amounts held, calculated from the date the funds have cleared. There are exceptions to this requirement e.g. No interest will be paid where the total amount of interest calculated is less than £20.00 due to administrative charges.

If funds are held on a separate designated client deposit account, the interest earned on that account will be accounted to the client.

  1. Auditing and Vetting of Files

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.

  1. Termination

This engagement may be terminated by either party by written notice to the other, however, any arrangement as to the payment of fees and expenses shall survive termination.  Termination of our engagement will not affect any legal rights or obligations that may already have accrued or been incurred by either of us.

  1. The Distance Selling Regulations

If we have not met with you, under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, for some non-business instructions, you may have the right to withdraw, without charge, within seven working days of the date on which you asked us to act for you.  However, if we start work with your consent within that period, you lose that right to withdraw.  Your acceptance of these Terms of Business will amount to such a consent.  If you seek to withdraw instructions, you should give notice by telephone, e-mail or letter to the person named in these Terms of Business as being responsible for your work.  The Regulations require us to inform you that the work involved is likely to take more than 30 days.

  1. Money Laundering and Client Due Diligence

  • In common with other well-managed and reputable practices we maintain and operate procedures and controls which are intended to forestall and prevent money laundering and actions taken by any person with a view to preserving, using, investing or disposing of the proceeds of crime. In this respect, we will act at all times in accordance with and as required by the Terrorism Act 2000, Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Money Laundering Regulations 2017.  In agreeing to engage this firm you expressly acknowledge our obligations in this respect and agree that this firm shall have no liability to you by reason of any act or omission undertaken in good faith in order to comply with these laws (howsoever arising).
  • The Money Laundering Regulations 2017 require us to:
  • Obtain information about clients’ identity and to verify that information;
  • Obtain identity information about people related to the client (beneficial owners), where relevant, and at times verify that information; and
  • Continue to monitor the transaction and keep identity information up to date.

12.3   We are professionally and legally obliged to keep your affairs confidential.  However, solicitors may be required by statute to make a disclosure to the National 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 for you for a period of time and may not be able to tell you why.

  1. Rights in Relation to Material

You remain the owner of any property, copyright or other intellectual property rights, and any material provided by you for the purpose of our instructions and belonging to you.  You agree that we may reproduce and copy your materials for all purposes reasonably connected with the provision of the Services.  We have the right to retain any such material until payment of all monies due to us have been made.  In relation to material supplied, prepared or created by us, we shall retain all copyright and other intellectual property rights therein subject only to your right to use such material for the immediate purpose for which it was prepared.

  1. 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 us for our charges and expenses.  In addition, we will keep your file of papers for you in storage for not less than one year.  After that, storage is on the clear understanding that we have the right to destroy it after such period as we consider reasonable or to make a charge for storage if we ask you to collect your papers and you fail to do so.  We will not of course destroy documents such as Wills, Deeds and other securities, which you ask us to hold in safe custody.

  1. Limited Companies

When accepting instructions to act on behalf of a limited company, we may require a director(s) and/or controlling shareholder(s) to sign a form of personal guarantee in respect of the charges and expenses of this firm.  If such a request is refused, we will be entitled to stop acting and to require immediate payment of our charges on an hourly basis and expenses as set out earlier.

  1. Tax Advice

Any work that we do for you may involve tax implications or necessitate the consideration of tax planning strategies.  We are not qualified to advise you on the tax implications of a transaction that you instruct us to carry out, or the likelihood of them arising.  If you have any concerns in this respect, please raise them with a qualified tax advisor immediately.  We are not mortgage advisors, nor will be aware of your detailed personal circumstances; we are therefore not qualified to advise you on the implications.

  1. Data Protection

  • We comply with the General Data Protection Regulation in respect to information held on clients and how we do this can be found in our privacy policy on our website, https://bluntssolicitors.co.uk. If you have any difficulty accepting this policy or wish to receive a hard copy please let us know either by emailing info@bluntssolicitors.co.uk or calling 01625 429131 and we will send a copy to you. 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.  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.
  1. Equality

We are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all our dealings with clients, third parties and employees.  Please contact us if you would like a copy of our equality and diversity policy.

  1. General

  • When read with the attached letter these terms of business constitute the entire agreement between us and supercede any previous understanding and may not be varied except in writing between us. All other terms and conditions, express or implied, by statute or otherwise, are excluded to the fullest extent permitted by law.  If any provision of these Terms of Business is held by any competent authority to be invalid or unenforceable in whole or in part, the validity of the other provisions of these terms and conditions and the remainder of the provisions in question shall not be affected.  These Terms of Business shall be governed by the laws of England and both ourselves and your agree to submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.
  • Unless otherwise agreed, and subject to the application of the current hourly rates, these Terms of Business shall apply to any 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 engagement, it may not be possible for us to start work on your behalf until a signed copy of these Terms of Business attached letter has been returned to us for us to keep on our file.

Complaints Handling Process

We pride ourselves on our quality of service to our clients. If, however, there is any aspect of our service with which you are not happy, in the first instance please speak to the fee earner handling your case or alternatively the Practice Manager. If for any reason we are unable to resolve the complaint or you are not satisfied with our handling of it, you may be entitled to ask the Legal Ombudsman – www.legalombudsman.org.uk to consider the complaint. Further details of our complaint handling process are set out in our terms of engagement.