TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS

OAKS SOLICITORS OF 16 LEONARD STREET
HUDDERSFIELD, HD2 1AB, WEST YORKSHIRE.

Authorised and Regulated by The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
SRA Authorisation no:  488501

                                                         

Introduction

Oaks Solicitors is a firm of solicitors established and registered as a law firm in England. The firm is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and subject to the legal jurisdiction of England & Wales. The professional rules applicable to solicitors are the SRA Code of Conduct 2011 which can be found at the SRA website at www.sra.org.uk.

Any dispute or legal issue arising from these Terms and Conditions of business will be determined by the law of England & Wales and will be considered exclusively by the English and Welsh Courts.

1.      People responsible for your work

Mr. Ghulam Mohammed, an experienced Solicitor will be mainly responsible for this matter and may be assisted by others as the matter progresses.  We will tell you their names and status upon request. Mr Mohammed is also this firm’s partner who is ultimately responsible for the work on your case.

If for any reason Mr Mohammed is unavailable, please leave a message on his mobile phone on 07800915787. Mr Mohammed will respond to any messages concerning the firm’s existing casework.

We try hard to avoid changing the people who are handling your work but if this cannot be avoided we will notify you promptly who will be handling your matter and why the change was necessary.

Oaks Solicitors office at the above address is normally open: Mondays to Thursdays 10.00 am to 5.00 pm (closed lunchtimes 1.00 pm to 2.30 pm). On Fridays the office is closed to the public half day in the afternoon from 1 pm. Messages can be left on the office telephone voicemail and will be responded to on the same day or next day. The solicitor can be contacted on the mobile phone number given above any time day or night. If the solicitors mobile phone is on voicemail for whatever reason please do leave a message and your call will be returned the same or next day.

2.      Charges and expenses

This firm does not have a Legal Aid Franchise contract hence you are personally responsible for costs and expenses of any work the firm undertakes on your behalf. However, we will advise you as regards possible eligibility for public or legal aid funding of your matter at the outset; or as the matter progresses if there has been a material change in your circumstances.

If we have agreed a Fixed Fee with you for specific work as described in the letter accompanying this document; then the information contained in the following paragraphs does not apply to you unless we undertake additional work on your behalf.

Our charges are based on the time we spend in dealing with a case.  Time spent includes meetings with you and others on your behalf; attendance at courts/tribunals; travelling, considering, preparing and working on papers; correspondence and making or receiving telephone calls.

We will charge the appropriate rate for each hour engaged on your matter from now until the review date on 16th June next.  In case Mr. Mohammed is assisted by others as the matter progresses please note the current hourly rates of our Solicitors and Executives are as follows: -

 

Partners/Senior Solicitors

£200.00/£180.00 per hour.

Legal Executives

£120.00  per hour

Trainee Solicitors

£80.00    per hour

Solicitors with less than 3 years PQE

£120.00  per hour

Consultants

£200.00  per hour

 

Should your case involve travel to a particular destination, for example court or police station and should there be any waiting involved at that destination, then such travel time and waiting time will be charged at ½ the standard hourly charge rate and an additional amount per mileage will be charged as determined from time to time.

Routine letters (inc. Emails) that we send out on your case and routine telephone calls that we make and receive will be charged as units of 1/10th of an hour i.e. £12.00 each. Routine letters received will be charged as units of 1/20th of an hour i.e. £6.00 per item. Other letters/ calls will be charged on a time basis. The phone rates are double (£24) for out of office times.

On 16th June next we will review the hourly rate/s (to take account of changes in overhead costs) and notify you in writing of any increased rate.

The amount of our costs, which you will have to pay, may be greater than the amount you can recover from another party to the case. 

This firm is presently not registered for payment of value added tax (VAT) and therefore VAT is not payable on our costs. However VAT may be incurred on certain expenses on your case including payments we make on your behalf such as fees for medical reports and barrister’s fees etc. These expenses (& VAT) will be included in our invoice or bill to you for payment.

We will inform you if any unforeseen additional work becomes necessary (for example due to unexpected difficulties or if your requirements or the circumstances significantly change during the course of the matter). We will also inform you of its estimated costs in writing before any extra charges and expenses are incurred. In any event we will update you on the cost of your matter every 6 months or at intervals agreed with you and whether the likely costs you have to pay are justified on the likely outcome and risks associated with the matter. Likewise we will keep you advised of the likely time scales on each stage or to conclusion of your matter.

You may set a limit on the charges and expenses to be incurred. This means that you must pay those incurred up to the agreed limit without our needing to refer back to you. We will inform you as soon as soon as it appears that the limit may be exceeded and will not exceed the limit without first obtaining your consent.

If, for any reason this matter does not proceed to completion, we will charge you for work done and expenses incurred according to rates scheduled above. 

It is normal practice to ask clients to pay sums of monies from time to time on account of the charges and expenses expected in the following weeks or months.  This helps to avoid delay in the progress of their case.  Therefore we will need appropriate sum on account of our charges and VAT if any and to enable payment of any expenses associated with your case before we start work on your matter. We may request further payments on account for charges and expenses to be incurred as the matter progresses and we put these payments towards your bill/s and send you a receipted bill.  We will offset any such payments against your final bill, but it is important that you understand that your total charges and expenses may be greater than any advance payments. 

Please note that directors of any companies which instruct this firm may be asked to be personally responsible for the payment of our accounts. 

If we are asked to give a solicitor’s undertaking on your behalf, we are entitled to require a deposit of funds or other security from you before proceeding further.

In the event of any fees, expenses or VAT (whether these are already been incurred or are to be incurred) not being paid, we reserve the right to stop acting any further in relation to any matter that we are dealing with and prepare a detailed account for all work carried out.  (See also below under section 5).

3.      Billing arrangements

We will send you an interim bill for our charges and expenses at the end of each quarter or such other time as agreed, while the work is in progress.  This enables you to budget as the matter progresses.  We will send the final bill after completion of the work.

Payment is due to us within 28 days of our sending you a final bill.  We will charge you interest on the bill at the Judgment rate (currently 8% per year) from the date on which payment of our bill is due, if you do not pay our bill within this time. Interest will be charged on a daily basis. 

We are sure that you will understand that in the event of the payment not being made, we reserve the right to stop acting for you and prepare a detailed account for all the work carried out to date. 

If you have any queries about your bill, you should contact Mr Mohammed straight away. However, you have a right to object to the bill and apply for an assessment of the bill under Part 111 of the Solicitors Act 1974. You will find further information printed on the reverse of our bill to you on your rights to complain about the bill. You will also find more information on this under Section 8: Complaints & Service Standards set out below. However, please note that interest may be charged on all or part of the bill whilst the bill is being assessed or your complaint about the bill is being investigated.

4.      Other party’s charges and expenses

It is important that you understand that you will be responsible for paying our bill/s.  We will have discussed with you whether your charges and expenses might be paid by another person.  Even if you are successful, the other party may not be ordered to pay all your charges and expenses or these may not be recovered from them in full; if this happens, you will have to pay the balance of our charges and expenses.  If the other party is legally aided, you may not get back any of your charges and expenses, even if you win the case.

If you are successful and the court orders the other party to pay some or all of your charges and expenses, interest can be claimed on them from the other party from the date of the court order.  We will account to you for such interest to the extent that you have paid our charges or expenses on account, but we are entitled to the rest of that interest.

You will also be responsible for paying the charges and expenses of seeking to the recover any charges and expenses that the court orders the other party to pay. 

In some circumstances, the court may order you to pay the other party’s legal charges and expenses; for example, if you lose your case.  The money would be payable in addition to our charges and expenses. 

We will discuss with you whether our charges and expenses and your liability for another party’s charges and expenses may be covered by insurance, and, if not, whether it would be advisable for you to have insurance to meet the other party’s charges and expenses. 

5.      Solicitors charge over documents and money

It is agreed that we may keep all your papers and documents belonging to you whilst there is money owing to us for our charges and expenses.  We may also apply money held on your behalf towards payment of outstanding bills. Please note that solicitors are entitled to retain any documentation or monies held on your behalf until their bills are paid. This is what is known as a lien or solicitors charge. Likewise we will not release any documentation or monies held until our bills are settled in full.

6.      Storage of papers and documents

We will keep our file of papers (except for any of your papers which you ask to be returned to you).  We need the file on the understanding that we have the authority to destroy it after a certain period of time.  Our present policy for the length of time for which the file is held is as follows: -

  • Probate/Trust – 12 years
  • Other cases - 6 years

We do not destroy documents that you ask us to deposit in safe custody.

If we retrieve 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 successive retrieval.  However, we may make a charge based on time spent producing stored papers or documents to you or another at your request. We may also charge for reading correspondence or other work necessary to comply with the instructions given by you on your behalf.

7.      Termination

You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time but we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is money owing to us for our charges and expenses. 

In some circumstances we may consider that we ought to stop acting for you, for example if you cannot give clear or proper instructions on how we are to proceed, or if it is clear that you have lost confidence in how we are carrying out your work.

We may decide to stop acting for you only with good reason, for example, if you do not pay an interim bill or comply with our request for a payment on account.  We must give reasonable notice that we will stop acting for you. 

If you or we decide that we will no longer act for you, you will pay our charges on an hourly basis and expenses as set out earlier.

8.      Complaints and Service Standards

Oaks Solicitors is committed to high quality legal advice and client care and promoting equality and diversity in all of its dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us if you require a copy of our equality and diversity policy.

If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service you have received, or about the bill, in the first instance please contact Mr Mohammed on his phone on: 07800915787 or by email at: oakssolicitors@btconnect.com or by post to our office at the address given in the heading of this document. Mr Mohammed will deal with you complaint within 5 business days.

If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider the complaint. Normally, you will need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within twelve months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint. Contact details:

Legal Ombudsman,
PO Box 6806
Wolverhampton
WV1 9WJ
Website - www.legalombudsman.org.uk
Tel - 0300 555 0333
E-mail - enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk
We will update you on progress of your matter normally by telephone or text messages or sometimes in writing every 6 weeks or so or following any major development on your case as agreed with you. Likewise we will explain to you the legal work or action required as your matter progresses or advise on any changes in law or circumstances or risks of which we are aware or consider to be reasonably foreseeable and could affect the likely outcome of your matter.

In order for us to comply with our responsibilities and service standards as detailed in this document; on acceptance of these terms and conditions you will be taken to have agreed to your responsibilities in this matter which include the duty to provide us with clear, timely and accurate instructions and documents if any required to initiate or progress your matter.

Oaks Solicitors are under an obligation to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 with respect to information or documents held on client matters. We use  information or documents you provide primarily for the provision of legal services to you and for related purposes including updating and enhancing client records, analysis for practice management or for statutory returns or legal and regulatory compliance. On occasions external firms or organisations may conduct audit or quality checks on the firm in the course of regulatory requirements or other official reasons. These firms or organisations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to client files.

Sometimes we may have to 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 outside service providers. Please tell us as soon as possible if you do not want outside service provides.

9.      Money Laundering

All solicitors have obligations under Money Laundering Regulations that have recently come in to force.  We are legally required to establish the identities of our clients.  In order to assist us with this, we should be grateful if you would supply us one item of proof of identity and one item of proof of your address for each of the lists shown below: -

  • Proof of identity

    Valid national passport
    National Identity Card/ Bio- Metric Document
    Full UK/EU driving licence
  • Proof of address

    Council/Utility Bills
    Bank/Building Society statements

We may also in some circumstances require proof of the sources of money paid in to our client account. 

10.      Methods of payment

We will not accept cash payments over £1,000.00.  All payments over £1,000.00 must either be by bankers’ draft, Building Society cheque or personal cheque from your bank account only. In exceptional circumstances, such as your absence from the UK or due to reasons of disability or serious illness or hardship, we are prepared to accept cheques from other persons who have your express authority to act on your behalf. We must be notified immediately of any such persons who have your authority and this will be confirmed by us in writing.

11.      Client Account interest

Payments of interest back to you on any monies deposited with us on account for our fees and expenses are subject to a legal minimum under the Solicitors Accounts rules 1998. We are not obliged to account to you for any interest less than £20.00 over a six week period from the date of your deposit. All payments made by you to us (except for payments of our bills sent to you) will be paid into our general client bank account.  If you require a higher rate of interest on money deposited with us, you must specifically ask for this and we will place it in a special designated interest account subject to the banks conditions on the required minimum amount of deposit and withdrawal time scales. In practice only large amounts of money will attract interest higher than the £20 minimum. If you prefer we will account to you for the interest paid on your money in our general client account.

12.      Professional Indemnity Insurance

This firm is insured for professional indemnity by a Qualifying Insurer in accordance with Rule 4 of the Solicitors Indemnity Insurance Rules 2009. The contact details of the insurance company can be made available upon request by telephone or email and are also exhibited on the notice board at the firm’s offices at: 16 Leonard Street, Huddersfield. HD2 1AB.

13.      Equality & Diversity

Oaks Solicitors have a policy of commitment to the promotion of equality and diversity in the workplace. This involves avoiding any form of discriminatory practice or potentially discriminatory practice in the treatment of the firm’s members of staff or job applicants or clientele. The policy also provides for equal treatment and the provision of equal opportunities to all staff members or job applicants or clients or potential clients regardless of their status or background. A copy of the firm’s equality and diversity policy document will be provided upon request.

14.     Agreement

Unless otherwise agreed, these terms of business apply to any future instructions you give us.

Your continuing instructions in this matter will amount to your acceptance of these terms and conditions of business. If we do not hear from you within 7 days of receipt of this document we will assume that you are happy with these terms and conditions.  We can then be confident that you understand the basis upon which we will act for you. 

It is important that you notify us of any change of address or change of circumstances particularly financial as soon as possible after these changes occur.

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