Terms and Conditions of Business
We aim to offer our clients quality legal advice with a personal service at a fair cost. We set out in this statement the basis on which we will provide our professional services.
In these terms and conditions, the expressions “you” and “your” refer to the client of Green & Olive Solicitors, and “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Green & Olive Solicitors.
1. Our Opening Hours
The normal hours of opening at our offices are 9.00 am to 5.30 pm.
1. Our charges are usually based on the time we spend on work undertaken on your behalf. This will include, for example, meetings with you and perhaps others; considering, preparing and working on papers; making and receiving telephone calls; correspondence, and any time spent travelling or appearing before courts or tribunals. Value Added Tax (“VAT”) is in almost every case payable on our charges, at the rate applicable when the work is billed. Our VAT Registration Number is 256104427.
2. Our charges are normally calculated by reference to an hourly charging rate, and by reference to six minute units. For example, a telephone call lasting four minutes would be charged as one unit, and an attendance lasting thirty minutes would be charged as five units. The hourly charging rate is reviewed from time to time, and we will notify you in writing of any changes. Rates are always quoted exclusive of VAT. Mileage is charged at 45p per mile. Car parking and train tickets are charged to you at cost subject to the addition of VAT where applicable.
3. In addition to the time spent, we may also take into account other factors in assessing the level of our charges. These may include the complexity of the work, the speed with which action must be taken, the expertise or specialist knowledge which the matter requires and the value of any property involved or which is the subject-matter of a claim. The rates may be higher if, for example, the matter becomes more complex than expected, or if your instructions mean we have to work outside normal office hours. We will always notify you in writing of any increase in the hourly rate charged.
4. At the beginning of a matter, we will provide you with an estimate of our charges. This estimate is based on the information you have supplied to us. There may be cases where new information comes to light or unforeseen circumstances occur which may add extra costs to the transaction. Should this be the case we will inform you of any changes to the estimate provided.
5. Where costs are recoverable (in whole or in part) from someone else (for example, in a contested claim) you still remain primarily responsible for paying of our charges. You will also be responsible for paying the charges and expenses of seeking to recover any costs that the court orders the other party to pay to you.
6. You authorise us to make payments on your behalf (called “disbursements”), such as court fees, fees for medical reports, search fees, stamp duty, Stamp Duty Land Tax, land registry fees or barrister’s fees. We have no obligation to make such payments unless you pay the full amount to us as cleared funds in advance. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss or penalty incurred by you if we are unable to comply with any timescale or obligation on your behalf by reason of your non-payment of any disbursement. However, if we do decided to make any such payment on your behalf, you agree to refund to us any money paid on your behalf, together with VAT if appropriate.
7. You or we may set a limit on the charges and expenses to be incurred. This means that you agree to pay charges and expenses incurred up to the agreed limit, without us needing to refer to you again. We will inform you as soon as it appears that the limit may be exceeded, and will not exceed the limit without first obtaining your agreement. If you do need us to work within a fixed budget, we will stop when we reach the budget limit and wait for your further instructions. This may mean that the work is unfinished.
8. If, for any reason, this matter does not proceed to completion then, unless otherwise agreed in writing, you will be responsible for payment of our charges for any work done and/or expenses incurred on your behalf.
1. It is usual for us to ask for a payment on account of our charges and expenses before we start work on your behalf. We may request further payments on account for charges and expenses to be incurred as the matter progresses. We will account to you for all sums received at the conclusion of your matter, but it is important that you understand that your total charges and expenses may be greater than any advance payments you have made. You agree to make such payments if requested. You agree that all sums deposited or paid to us may be applied by us in payment of expenses incurred by us on your behalf and our fees after these have been invoiced to you
2. Unless otherwise agreed, we may send you interim bills or ask for money on account of our charges. We reserve the right to terminate our retainer (that is to say, to refuse to take any further action on your behalf) if money requested from you has not been paid within 28 days of the due date.
3. Payment of our charges is due within 14 days of the date of our bill. Article 5 of the Solicitors’ (Non-Contentious Business) Remuneration Order 2009 allows us to charge you interest on unpaid bills. If your bill remains unpaid after 28 days, you agree to pay interest at the rate payable on judgment debts from that date, calculated on a daily basis.
4. If you have any query about your bill, you should contact the person dealing with your matter immediately.
5. If we agree to delay sending or seeking payment of a bill and subsequently recover all or part of that bill from another party, we reserve the right to retain any interest paid by that party on the charges included in that bill. Payments you make to us should be drawn on an account in your name(s) with a reputable UK clearing bank or building society.
6. You must tell us the source of any payments above €15000 or the sterling equivalent if we request this. We cannot accept payments from 3rd parties which exceed (or in the aggregate exceed) €15000 or the sterling equivalent. We reserve the right to refuse payments of less than this amount and you must tell us about any such payments in advance.
7. Money received from you or on your behalf (including money that we receive from another party in settlement of any claim or court proceedings) will be applied first towards the settlement of any outstanding charges, and may be held by us as a payment on account for future charges.
4. Limited Companies
When accepting instructions to act on behalf of a limited company, we may require a Director and / or controlling shareholder 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.
We are entitled to retain any money, papers or other property belonging to you which properly come into our possession pending payment of our costs, whether or not the property is acquired in connection with the matter for which the costs were incurred. This is known as a “general lien”. We are not entitled to sell property held under a lien but we are entitled to hold property, other than money, even if the value of it greatly exceeds the amount due to us in respect of costs.
6. Other Parties’ Charges and Expenses
1. It is important that you understand that you will be responsible for paying our bills. We 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. The amount of our costs which you have to pay may be greater than the amount you can recover from another party to the case. If this happens you will have to pay the balance. If the other party is funded by the Legal Services Commission you may not get back any of your charges and expenses even if you win the case.
2. You will also be responsible for paying the charges and expenses of seeking to recover any sum that the Court orders the other party to pay.
3. In some circumstances, the Court may order you to pay the other party’s legal charges and expenses; for example, if you lose the case. The money will be payable in addition to our charges and expenses. We have discussed with you our charges and expenses and your liability for other parties’ 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.
1. The Law Society has advised solicitors that it is not clear to what extent the Financial Services Compensation Scheme would cover each client’s money held in our client account. We are not liable to compensate you if money you deposit with us and held in our client account is lost or frozen through a banking failure.
1. We have the facility to send and receive communications by e-mail, and in appropriate circumstances we will use this method of communication unless we are instructed by you to the contrary.
2. If you contact us by e-mail, we will assume that we have your agreement to reply by e-mail, unless you have expressly instructed us otherwise. Please bear in mind that e-mails are not secure, and no agreed service delivery standards apply to internet communications. Just as we cannot control what happens to material sent by conventional mail we cannot control the time it may take for an e-mail to reach a recipient, or the use that a recipient may make of that e-mail.
3. You acknowledge that conventional email may present security risks in certain circumstances and you accept those risks unless you tell us not to use email. To protect the integrity and security of our IT systems, we may prohibit the receipt and opening of certain types of electronic files by our staff and our internal IT procedures may impose delays on our ability to open and deal with certain types of electronic files. Sometimes email is not received in the recipient’s inbox. We cannot accept responsibility for not acting upon email we do not receive in the ordinary way or that is treated by our systems as junk.
4. We do not accept any liability for any loss arising from conventional mail or e-mail not arriving on time, or not arriving at all, or for any consequences of interception or loss of confidentiality.
9. Complaints handling
We want to give you the best possible service. However, if at any point you become unhappy or concerned about the service we have provided then you should inform us immediately, so that we can do our best to resolve the problem.
In the first instance it may be helpful to raise the matter with your file manager or their supervisor to discuss your concerns and we will do our best to resolve any issues at this stage. If you would like to make a formal complaint, then you can read our full complaints procedure, a copy of which is available on request. Making a complaint will not affect how we handle your case.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority can help you if you are concerned about our behaviour. This could be for things like dishonesty, taking or losing your money or treating you unfairly because of your age, a disability or other characteristic.
You can raise your concerns with the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
What do to if we cannot resolve your complaint
The Legal Ombudsman can help you if we are unable to resolve your complaint ourselves. They will look at your complaint independently and it will not affect how we handle your case.
Before accepting a complaint for investigation, the Legal Ombudsman will check that you have tried to resolve your complaint with us first. If you have, then you must take your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman:
- Within six months of receiving a final response to your complaint
- No more than six years from the date of act/omission; or
- No more than three years from when you should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint.
If you would like more information about the Legal Ombudsman, please contact them.
Call: 0300 555 0333 between 9am to 5pm.
Legal Ombudsman PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ
If you are dissatisfied with our bill, you may also have the right to object to the bill by applying to court for an assessment of the bill under part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. If all or part of our bill remains unpaid 28 days after delivery, we are entitled to charge you interest at the rate specified above.
10. Disputes over charges or payments
1. If you are unhappy about the amount we have charged you, please follow our Complaints Handling procedure as set out in the paragraph above.
2. In non-contentious cases, if you are not satisfied with the amount of our charges you should also be aware that:-
3. Sections 70, 71 and 72 of the Solicitors Act 1974 set out your rights in relation to having the bill assessed by the Court. There are time limits within which you must apply.
4. We are entitled to charge interest on the outstanding amount of our charges, in accordance with Article 5 of the Solicitors’ (Non-Contentious Business) Remuneration Order 2009, and we will do so at the rate payable on judgment debts, from 28 days after delivery of our bill.
5. In contentious cases, you may be entitled to have the bill assessed by the Court. This is called “detailed assessment”. The procedure is set out in sections 70, 71 and 72 of the Solicitors Act 1974. There are time limits during which you must apply.
6. Where any payment is made by debit or credit card, you agree that any dispute arising out of that transaction will be dealt with solely according to our Complaints Handling procedure (including where necessary by referral to the Legal Ombudsman), to the exclusion of any procedure operated by the debit or credit card provider.
11. Data protection
1. All of your dealings with us are confidential. We will not disclose details of your dealings with us, or even the fact that you are a client, to any third party without your consent.
2. We use the information you give to us primarily for the provision of legal services to you and for related purposes including updating and improving client records, analysis to help us manage our practice, statutory returns and legal and regulatory compliance
3. 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.
4. We may from time to time send you information which we think might be of interest to you.
5. Please note that telephone communications may be recorded.
6. Green & Olive Solicitors will be seeking to implement the Law Society’s Practice Management Standards and Lexcel (the Law Society Quality Standard). One requirement of these quality standards is that randomly-selected client files are inspected by an outside assessor. The purpose of the inspection is to monitor our performance against the standards required. Unless you inform us in writing, you agree to such an inspection if the assessor chooses your file. The strictest confidentiality will, of course, be maintained.
12. Financial Services and Insurance Contracts
1. If, while we are acting for you, you need advice on investments, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, as we are not. However, as we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, we may be able to provide certain limited investment services where these are closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you.
2. We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. However, we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority so that we can carry on insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the advising on, selling and administration of insurance contracts. Insurance mediation activities and investment services, including arrangements for complaints or redress if something goes wrong, are regulated by The Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority website at www.fca.gov.uk/register.
3. Sometimes this area of work involves investments. As we are not authorised by the Financial Conduct 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 providing to you, as we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
4. The Law Society is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, but the responsibility for regulation and complaints handling has been separated from the Law Society’s representative functions. The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory body of the Law Society and the Legal Complaints Service is an independent complaints handling body of the Law Society.
13. Money Laundering Policy
We are subject to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and to the Money Laundering Regulations 2007.
1. We are required to obtain satisfactory evidence of your identity. In the case of a private individual this must comprise the production by you to us of the following original documents:-
(a) a current passport or photo-card driving licence, together with either
(b) ● a recent electricity/gas/telephone/water bill; or
● a recent Council tax demand for the current year; or
● a recent bank, building society or mortgage statement; or
● a recent Inland Revenue tax demand.
If you are not able to come to a meeting here with the above documents, you should please send three original documents, for example, a utility bill and a council tax bill/mortgage or bank statement. However, please note that valuable items such as passports and driving licences if being sent through the post, should be sent by special delivery or some other secure method.
In the case of a corporate client we will carry out a company search the cost of which will be payable by you at the cost to us of obtaining the search. In addition, we are required to obtain the same checks as for a private client in relation to one of the directors or the shareholders who is instructing us or who is active in the management or control of the company.
2. At the start of any matter we will normally ask you to tell us the source of any funds you will be using. It is simplest for us if the source is an account, in your name, in a UK bank or building society. If the source is an unusual one such as an account in another country or in the name of someone other than yourself please tell us as early as possible including the reason so that this can be appropriately noted.
3. We are not able to accept cash in excess of £500.00 except in exceptional circumstances.
4. Where we are to pay money out to you we will normally do so by cheque in your favour or by payment to an account in your name. However if you would like us to make payments of any surplus amount of money to any third party, please tell us (in writing) as early as possible, including the reason why such a payment is required.
5. We are also obliged to report information to the authorities (which includes the National Crime Agency (NCA), formerly known as the Serious Organised Crime Agency) in certain circumstances. In particular if it seems that any assets involved in your matter were derived from a crime we may have to report it. This can include even small amounts of money, and covers all offences, including for example tax evasion and benefit fraud. If we have to make a report we may not be able to tell you that we have done so.
6. Unless you are an existing client of the firm, we are obliged by the Government to deal with evidence of your identity and address. In order to deal with this aspect we need to see your passport. If you do not hold a passport then we need to see evidence in the form set out in the above list. Under the present procedures laid down, we cannot open a file until we have this evidence. Please either send to us the original document so that we can copy and return to you.
14. Limitation of liability
1. You agree that our liability to you for a breach of your instructions is limited to £3million, unless we expressly agree otherwise in writing.
2. We can only limit our liability to the extent the law allows. In particular, we cannot limit our liability for death or personal injury caused by our negligence.
3. We are not liable to repay money lost through a banking failure.
4. We will not be liable for any consequential, special, indirect or exemplary damages, costs or losses or any damages, costs or losses attributable to lost profits or opportunities.
5. For the purpose of this clause, a claim against any one or more of our directors, solicitors, legal executives or any other members of our staff (whether employees or not) shall be regarded as a single claim against us and our liability to you shall be limited accordingly.
15. Equality and diversity
Green & Olive Solicitors 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.
16. Tax Advice
Any work that we do for you may involve tax implications or necessitate the consideration of tax planning strategies. We may not be 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 us in writing immediately. If we can undertake the research necessary to resolve the issue, we will do so and advise you accordingly. If we cannot, we may be able to identify a source of assistance for you.
1. You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time. Special terms may apply where a conditional or contingency fee agreement is in operation.
2. In some circumstances, we may consider that we ought to stop acting for you if, for example:-
• you cannot give clear or proper instructions on how we are to proceed;
• it is clear that you have lost confidence in how we are carrying out your work;
• you do not pay an interim bill or you do not agree to a revised fee estimate or comply with our request for a payment on account (see above);
• if our own interests conflict with yours;
• if a conflict of interests arises between you and any of our other clients in relation to the same or related matters, or there is a significant risk that this might happen;
• if any instructions you give us conflict with our professional duties or obligations as solicitors; or
• in circumstances where to continue acting for you would mean that we might be in breach of criminal law or professional obligations.
3. On any termination of instructions, you will pay our charges, calculated on an hourly basis, and any disbursements incurred on your behalf, unless special terms apply.
4. Under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, for some non-business instructions, you may have the right to withdraw, without charge, within 7 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 and conditions of business will amount to such consent. If you seek to withdraw instructions, you should give notice by telephone, email or letter to the person named in these terms of business as being responsible for your work.
18. Safekeeping of deeds, wills and powers of attorney
1. If you ask us to place deeds, wills, codicils, powers of attorney or other similar documents in our secure storage facility on your behalf, you agree to pay our reasonable charges for doing so. We will charge an accession fee for placing such documents into storage, and a withdrawal fee for withdrawing them from storage. We will waive the accession fee if we have acted for you in the matter which has given rise to your ownership of the documents in question, and we will waive the withdrawal fee if their withdrawal is required in connection with a matter in which we act on your behalf. The accession fee and the withdrawal fee are both currently £50 exclusive of VAT and are subject to review from time to time.
2. Please note that our storage of your deeds, wills, codicils, powers of attorney or any other documents on your behalf does not impose on us any obligation to advise you of changes in the law or taxation which may mean that you should review the terms of such documents. Documents stored on your behalf will not be destroyed without your specific instructions.
19. Storage of other papers and documents
1. We will keep your file of papers (except for any of your papers which you ask to be returned to you) for a limited period of time. This is normally 6 years. In some cases, such as employment work, or abortive property transactions, we may keep the files for a shorter time.
2. We regret that it is not practical for us to store your file indefinitely. We will therefore retain the file on the understanding that we have your authority to destroy it at the end of the storage period.
3. If you ask us to send documents to anyone else, we shall not be liable for any loss or damage that occurs to those documents after they leave our possession.
20. More than one of you
Where we are acting for more than one person, we are entitled to act on instructions received in any manner from any one or more of you and we are not obliged to check that you all agree. In the event of non-payment of any sums owing to us, we are entitled to seek payment in full from any one of you.
21. Copying and certifying of stored documents
If you ask us to make copies of any documents we are storing for you, and/or if you require such copies to be certified, you agree to pay our reasonable charges, calculated at the charging rates applying when the documents are copied and/or certified, for doing so.