Terms & Conditions of Business

1.    Regulation

Hine Downing LLP, Trading as Hine Downing Solicitors, are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority No. 597318.   Details of the Solicitors’ Code of Conduct may be found at http://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/code-of-conduct.page

2.    Hours of Business

Our normal opening hours are 9:00 am to 5:15 pm Monday to Friday. Messages can be left on voicemail outside those hours and appointments can be arranged at other times if essential.

3.    Our Charges

Our charges are calculated mainly by reference to the time spent by the Partners and other staff dealing with the matter. This includes advising, attending meetings with you and others, dealing with papers, correspondence, research, telephone calls, travelling and waiting time.

Our charges also contain an element based upon factors such as the complexity of the matter, its importance and urgency and the amount or value of any money or property involved. This is because these factors are a reflection of the importance of the matter and, consequently, the responsibility of the firm. The letter you will receive at the outset of the transaction will set out the particular charging basis to you for that transaction.

CHAPS Telegraphic Transfer fees – where the payment of monetary funds is required to be made by way of a CHAPS Telegraphic Transfer (which is a same day transfer) we will charge an administration fee of £19.20 incl VAT (£16.20 plus£3.20 VAT) in addition to the bank CHAPS Telegraphic Transfer fee of £10.80 incl VAT (£9.00 plus £1.80 VAT) making a total charge of £30 incl VAT (£25 plus VAT) for each CHAPS transfer.

BACS Transfer fees – at the present time the bank do not make a charge for a BACS transfer but the clearance time for BACS transfers is at least three banking days. We do not at this time charge an administration fee for this transfer, but we reserve the right to do so.

Expenses – During the course of the matter outgoings called “disbursements” may be incurred. These may include search fees, Land or Probate Registry fees, court fees, Stamp Duty, Barrister’s and Expert’s fees etc.. We have no obligation to make such payments unless you have provided us with the funds for that purpose unless otherwise agreed but (with the exception of normal conveyancing disbursements) we will obtain your approval before incurring any significant disbursements.

If, for any reason, the matter does not proceed to completion, we will be entitled to charge you for work done and expenses incurred.

 

Other Expenses – In addition, we will not normally charge for photocopying, facsimiles and minor travelling expenses etc., but if these are likely to be significant, we reserve the right to do so, and would discuss this with you at that time.

Value Added Tax – Our fees and some of our expenses are subject to VAT at current rates. Our VAT No. is 132 1223 31.

Community Legal Services Funding – If you are in receipt of CLS Funding then a separate letter of advice in respect of your liability for our fees and expenses will be given to you.

4.    Terms of Payment

Cash   We regret we cannot accept cash in excess of £2,000, due to our commitments under anti-money laundering regulations. You may pay us by Bank Transfer, Cheque, Debit or Credit Card in payment for costs or disbursements only; we accept Delta, Electron, JCB, Maestro, MasterCard, Solo and Visa cards.

 

Payments on Account – It is normal practice for us to ask clients to make payments on account of anticipated costs and disbursements both at the start of the matter and at regular intervals thereafter. We shall be at liberty to apply any monies held on account as above to the payment of our fees, disbursements and VAT which these terms irrevocably authorise us to do so. If such requests are not met with prompt payment, delay in the progress of a case may result. In the unlikely event of any bill or request for payment not being met, this firm must reserve the right to stop acting for you further; similarly, where reasonable e.g. when the outstanding amount is large relative to the importance of the matter, we might exercise a lien or withholding of assets.

Deductions from client accounts – Where funds are available (for example in a probate or property transaction) we will normally deduct our charges from those funds on completion of the matter which these terms irrevocably authorise us to do so. In all other cases settlement is due upon delivery of our account.

Interim Accounts – We reserve the right to deliver bills to you at regular intervals for the work carried out during the conduct of your matter.

 

Liability for Costs & Legal Expenses insurance – It is sometimes possible for us to recover part or all of our charges from another party. In litigation cases, for example, the loser is usually responsible for the payment of some or all of the winner’s costs. In conveyancing/commercial cases for example sometimes the other party is authorised to pay your costs. However, it is a term of our retainer that you are responsible for the payment of our costs, disbursements and VAT in full when they are due for payment. You will be paid, on our rendering an account or accounts, whether interim or final, any costs recovered from another party unless they are deducted on account of your indebtedness to us which these terms irrevocably advise us to do so.

A client who is unsuccessful in a court case may be ordered to pay the other party’s legal charges and expenses. That money would be payable in addition to our charges and expenses. Arrangements can be made to take out insurance to cover liability for such legal expenses. Please discuss this with us if you are interested in this possibility.

Interest – Bills raised are payable on receipt. We reserve the right to charge interest on accounts that are not paid within 30 days at 4% above Lloyds Bank Plc base rate from time to time in force, from the date our account is rendered until the date it is paid.

5.    Ceasing to Act

We reserve the right to terminate our retainer with you on all or any matters currently conducted by us if any payment on account or anything we reasonably ask you to do in connection with your transaction is not made or dealt with within 28 days of request or if any invoice due for payment is not met within 7 days of the delivery of the account. We may also terminate our retainer immediately if the relationship between yourselves and ourselves has broken down or there is any conflict of interest; in these circumstances a charge will be made in respect of the work that has already been done and that charge inclusive of any disbursement incurred and VAT must be paid before we release any papers, deeds, documents etc. (either relevant to that matter or not to you) and these terms irrevocably authorise us so to do.

6.    Complaints

We try to deal with any complaints we receive in a friendly, efficient and professional manner and our aim is to ensure that we receive no complaints at all. Please ask if you would like a copy of our complaints policy and procedure now. However, should you have cause to complain, which might include a complaint about the size or nature of our bill, or about our services, please raise it first with the member of staff who is responsible for the day-to-day conduct of your matter. That person should be able to resolve your problem quickly and informally. You can also raise the matter with the person identified in our Engagement Letter as the ‘Supervisor’.

If this does not resolve the matter to your satisfaction, you should refer the matter to our Client Care Partner, Mr. John Lowry. He will speak with you as soon as possible, provide you with a copy of our complaints procedure if you do not already have one and will explain what we will do and by when. He will confirm this in writing.

You will not be charged for any costs associated with handling your complaint.

In any event, you may complain directly to the Legal Ombudsman, by writing to the Legal Ombudsman, normally within 6 months of receiving Hine Downing’s final decision letter and 6 years from the date of the act or omission giving rise to the complaint or alternatively 3 years from the date you should reasonably have known there are grounds for complaint (if the act/omission took place before October 2010 or was more than 6 years ago).. Write to or contact the Office of the Legal Services Ombudsman at:

 

PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ          Email: enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk          Tel: 0300 555 0333.     

You will need to provide:

  • Reasons why you are dissatisfied with Hine Downing’s handling of your complaint and/or the decision reached;
  • Hine Downing’s reference;
  • The name of the case worker at Hine Downing;
  • A copy of our final decision letter.

Additionally, you may also have a right to object our bill by applying to the court for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974.   However, if you apply to the court about our bill, the Legal Ombudsman may not deal with your complaint

If all or part of a bill ultimately deemed payable remains unpaid, we may be entitled to charge interest per section (4) above.

7.    Deeds and Documents

Deeds and Wills Etc.We can provide a safe custody service in respect of Deeds, documents, Wills and securities (the Secure Documents) entrusted to our care. We do not currently make any charge for this service, but we reserve the right to do so in future and make an administrative charge (minimum £10 per item, actual figure provided upon client request), based on the time spent in respect of the retrieval, copying and perusal or other work necessary to comply with instructions given by or on behalf of a client or former client for whom Secure Documents or other papers have been stored and these terms entitle us to retain such documents and papers until such charge and any disbursements or VAT have been paid to us.

Files and Papers – Our files and papers are kept by us following completion of your matter for at least the minimum periods recommended by the Law Society, after which, unless otherwise noted by you, our files of working papers will need to be destroyed. Clients are asked in their Client Engagement Letter to agree to destruction of papers at the appropriate time.

As part of our commitment to quality, we are audited by the Law Society each year to renew our Lexcel Accreditation. There is a small possibility that our assessor may pick your file for review. The assessor is appointed by the Law Society and must comply with the strictest client confidentiality. However, please let us know if you would prefer this not to happen.

 

Because of the Money Laundering Acts no file must be destroyed before 7 years

We reserve the right to retain all papers until all our accounts have been settled and to make a charge for retrieving, copying and forwarding any Deeds, documents, Wills or working papers which you request are sent to another firm of solicitors or a third party.

8.    Incidental Investment Advice and Insurance Mediation

We are not authorised under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 but we are able, in certain circumstances, to offer a limited range of investment services to the client because we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. We can provide these investment services if they are an incidental part of the professional services we have been engaged to provide.

If you have any problem with the service we have provided for you then please let us know. We will try to resolve any problem quickly and operate an internal complaints handling system to help us to resolve the problem between ourselves. If for any reason we are unable to resolve the problem between us, then we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and complaints and redress mechanisms are provided through the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the legal complaints service.

The Law Society is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 but responsibility for regulation and complaints handling has been separated from the Law Society’s representative functions. The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent complaints handling body of the Law Society.

9.    Financial Services:

On occasion, our work for our clients might give rise to the perceived need for financial advice. Hine Downing Solicitors are not in the business of providing financial advice and is not itself authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority to provide such advice other than that referred to in paragraph 8 above, but we have made arrangements with Professional Financial Centre (Cornwall) Limited (PFCC), trading as Hine Downing Financial Services (HDFS), with a view to ensuring that when advice is required by you and you seek a referral, it will be of a suitably high standard. HDFS is largely owned by the partners of Hine Downing. Should you consult HDFS or any other financial advisor, please note that the statutory protection that you have for your legal matter under our authorisation and regulation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority does not apply to the financial advice. PFCC is not regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, but is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

On those occasions when it is thought by you that financial advice is required, we may suggest that a joint meeting should be arranged with an advisor from HDFS. If you then decide to use their services, they will supply you with a copy of their Terms of Business and will proceed to undertake a ‘fact find’ with a view to establishing your specific needs. We will assume, unless we receive instructions to the contrary, that you will approve of our passing to HDFS any information in our possession which is considered relevant to this fact finding process.

Should you ask us for information about any aspect of financial services and where we then judge it to be in your best interests and we feel able to recommend a consultation with HDFS, you should be aware and bear in mind that we as shareholders in HDFS may gain benefit. For instance, HDFS may receive commission or fees from third parties to whom your business is referred later – the amount of any such commission or fees will be disclosed to you in detail by HDFS – and we may receive financial benefit from such commission or fees by dividend or capital accruing within HDFS.

In addition, we as the controlling shareholders in HDFS, have a shareholding in an investment management holding company, Hawksmoor Group Limited (HGL) and if you are referred at any stage to any HGL related company, we may similarly receive or gain financial benefit. Any commission or fees received by HDFS or any HGL company as a result of your business will be accounted for according to the standard Terms of Business of HDFS and/or of any relevant HGL related company, unless otherwise agreed.

Hine Downing Solicitors are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. However, Hine Downing Solicitors are included on the Exempt Professional Firms 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. This is part of our business, including arrangements for complaints or redress if something goes wrong and is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority website at www.fca.gov.uk/register.

When we recommend that a client enters into an insurance contract, we will provide a written ‘demands and needs’ statement so as to comply with Appendix 1 of the Solicitors’ Financial Services (Conduct of Business) Rules 2001. This statement will vary according to the situation, but may address the following.

a.      Why the client needs the particular type of insurance recommended.

  1. Whether the client already has any existing policy already that may be of use to cover the risk being addressed, such as home contents or legal expenses insurance.
  2. An explanation about what the client needs to disclose to the insurance provider.
  3. A statement as to the sufficiency of the cover proposed for the risks the client wishes to cover.
  4. An assessment of the relevance of any exclusions, excesses, limitation or conditions of the cover.
  5. Why we have recommended the particular insurance contract.

Where such insurance is recommended, we only deal with products from Countrywide Legal Indemnities, but we are not contractually obliged to conduct business this way.

10.Bank Security

We deposit client monies in a dedicated client account with Lloyds Bank plc. Hine Downing may not be liable to repay money lost through a banking failure. On specific client request, we will arrange for large sums to be placed in one or more specific accounts.

11.Commission and Interest Received

If we receive commission from Building Societies, Insurance Companies, Stockbrokers and other agents, these will be credited to your account.

 

Interest on Client’s Money

If we are holding money on your behalf then, subject to the terms of this paragraph, a sum in lieu of interest will be calculated and paid to you in accordance with the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules 1998. Key features of our policy are summarised below. We pay when the sum in lieu of interest payable is calculated to be £20 or more for the whole period and where we hold;

  • £1,000 to £1,999 of your money for 8 weeks or more
  • £2,000 to £9,999 of your money for 4 weeks or more
  • £10,000 to £19,999 of your money for 2 weeks or more
  • Over £20,000 of your money for 1 week or more

We calculate sums payable to clients based upon the rate of interest we are able to obtain from Lloyds Bank. We update this rate as and when Lloyds change our rate and calculate the sum on the whole period the money is held, using the same compound basis as Lloyds. We do not expect to achieve the maximum rate of interest that may be obtainable across the market, but the rate we achieve with our bank is expected to be competitive with the rates you could obtain yourself from a retail bank or building society instant access account. We will provide an account for the money we hold on your behalf if required. We do not pay sums in lieu of interest where the monies are being held against specified disbursements.

We will provide you with a copy of the 2011 Solicitors Accounts Rules on your request.

12.Current and Future Instructions

Our agreement with you is personal. It may not be enforced by a third party and confers no benefit on a third party. Unless otherwise agreed these Terms and Conditions of Business shall apply to any future instructions given by you to us.

13.Quality Standards

In order to secure accreditation to, and to maintain our quality standards such as Lexcel, Investors in People and Legal Services Franchise, we need to allow External Auditors to inspect certain files, which may include yours. The inspection will only be for the purpose of assessing that we are handling your work in accordance with the relevant Quality System. The External Auditors have given an undertaking of confidentiality. If you do not consent to such an inspection will you please confirm this in writing so your file can be marked accordingly.

14.Data Protection

The personal data provided by you will be processed in accordance with the principles of the Data Protection Act 1998. You have the right to make a formal request in writing for access to personal data held about you to inspect it and have it corrected if it is wrong.

15.Money Laundering

We are obliged, following the introduction of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Money Laundering Regulation 2007, to determine the required extent of customer due diligence measures on a risk-sensitive basis and depending on the type of client, business relationship, product or transaction, to establish the identity and the address of the persons that we are dealing with. We also have to be satisfied that the source of any finance is legitimate and legal. In general, we will select from the following methods to meet our due diligence obligations:

  • obtaining or viewing original documents
  • conducting electronic verification
  • obtaining information from other regulated persons

Most often, we will ask to view and copy original documents to prove both the identity and address of our clients.

1.     Acceptable Forms of Identity include: Passport, National ID Card (non UK residents), Police/Armed Forces ID Card, Driving Licence with photograph or Credit Card with photograph.

2.     Proof of Address can be evidenced by showing us an up-to-date public utility bill, council tax demand or bank statement.

We will need to see the originals and retain photocopies on your file.

Solicitors are under a professional and legal obligation to keep the affairs of clients confidential. This obligation, however, is subject to a statutory exception: recent legislation on money laundering and terrorist financing has placed solicitors under a legal duty in certain circumstances to disclose information to the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA). Where a solicitor knows or suspects that a transaction on behalf of a client involves money laundering, the solicitor may be required to make a money laundering disclosure. If this happens, we may not be able to inform you that a disclosure has been made or of the reasons for it.

 

Please note that emails are not secure and may be falsified, you should not rely on their integrity without checking by telephone or fax. We may view emails for the purpose of detecting unauthorised use of our email system.

We have taken every reasonable precaution to ensure that emails and any attachments have been scanned for viruses but we cannot accept any liability for any loss or damage sustained as a result of software viruses and advise you to carry out your own virus checks before opening any attachment.

Disclaimer: Please be aware of cyber crime. Hine Downing LLP will not take responsibility if you transfer money to a wrong bank account. Please speak to your lawyer before transferring any money if you have any doubts or concerns. If you receive an email from Hine Downing LLP requesting your bank details, or an email providing you with bank details, please contact your lawyer immediately to clarify the position as we do not use email to send or receive bank details.

 

It is clear that there is an increasing risk of emails being hacked and false bank details being provided to law firms.  For this reason, all clients should send their bank details to us by post or provide them in writing at a face-to-face meeting with your lawyer (such as by providing a recent bank statement containing the relevant bank details).  Hine Downing LLP will not use bank details sent by email for payments or receipts to avoid any possible email fraud.

 

16.Professional Indemnity

Hine Downing LLP are insured by QBE through AON whose registered address is 25 Marsh Street Bristol BS14AQ.  Territorial coverage is worldwide and insurance is maintained in accordance with the rules of the Solicitors Regulation Authority.  Further details of the insurance held are available at our offices for inspection upon request.