We set out in this statement the basis on which we will provide our professional services.
We are McCarthy Webb. You are the client.
We are authorised, unless otherwise agreed, to take such action as we think necessary to obtain the required result. We shall not refer to the client for specific instructions every time we take a step. If, therefore, there is a limit to what we are required to do, or a limit to expenditure, we must be notified of this in advance.
The client’s matter will be dealt with by a director, assistant solicitor, legal executive or conveyancing executive. A letter at the outset will be sent to the client stating who is dealing with the matter and giving the name of the supervising director.
Sometimes, however, work will be delegated to another member of staff where we deem it appropriate to expedite matters or to minimise expense. All support staff are closely supervised and the practice takes complete responsibility for their work.
Our fees are based mainly on the time spent by the director(s) and staff acting for our clients. This includes: time spent on interviews; drafting of documents; reading and research; preparing and working on papers and correspondence; telephone calls; and any time spent travelling or waiting while on clients’ business.
In addition to measured periods of time for e.g. interviews, drafting, etc., we apply a minimum unit of six minutes to each letter and telephone call. Items of a ‘routine’ nature, e.g. telephone calls solely to make appointments, letters of acknowledgement, etc., are not normally charged for.
The time so recorded is costed according to a formula, which gives a charging rate or cost per hour for undertaking work on clients’ behalf, according to the level of fee-earner allocated to the client’s matter (the ‘charging rate’).
We will give you a written estimate of the probable cost of the transaction and also of all disbursements which we can reasonably foresee at the start of the transaction. We will notify you in writing if for any reason we feel it necessary to vary that estimate and will explain to you why we need to do so. Any additional work will be charged at an hourly charging rate for the fee earner dealing with the matter, namely;
Jayne McCarthy, Principal £240
Tina Webb, Principal £240
Rebecca Haywood, Head of Private Client £240
Ellie Webb, Associate Legal Executive £185
Katie Holman, Conveyancer £185
We will add VAT to bills at the rate that applies when the work is done. At present, VAT is 20.00%.
VAT is payable on certain disbursements.
We have no obligation to pay disbursements unless the client has provided us with the funds for that purpose.
We shall require such a payment in advance of search fees and other costs.
Where, for any reason, a matter does not proceed to completion, we will be entitled to charge you for work done on a time spent basis and for expenses incurred.
If your matter is in relation to a property sale and / or purchase which fails to complete this often involves as much work as those which reach completion. Any charge made will not exceed the amount of our estimate even if the time spent would justify a higher fee.
We are permitted by the Solicitors Regulation Authority to deduct funds in settlement of any outstanding bill owed by you, if we are holding monies on your behalf.
Residential and Commercial Property Transactions
We will deliver a bill following the exchange of contracts or if the matter proceeds straight to completion, prior to this date and payment is required:
Administration of Estate
In administration of Estates we normally submit interim at regular intervals during the administration, starting with the Grant of Probate / Letters of Administration
In all other matters our normal practice is to notify you of the sum of money that we should hold on account of costs and disbursements. The matter will then be billed regularly, sometimes monthly.
If a bill is delivered in a concessionary figure (‘but say’) and remains unpaid after one month we reserve the right to credit the account with the amount of the ‘but say’ bill and to render a full account for all work done on the basis of a detailed costs analysis.
We reserve the right at all times to suspend action on the client’s matter if these arrangements have not been followed.
We may charge interest on unpaid bills from one month after delivery of the bill on a daily basis at the rate specified in the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Rate of Interest) (No.3) Order 2002 currently 8% over Lloyds TSB Bank Plc’s base rate.
Acts of Parliament and regulations give our clients procedures for challenging a solicitor’s bill.
For non-contentious work (legal work which does not involve court proceedings, e.g. conveyancing and probate), sections 70, 71 and 72 of the Solicitors Act 1974 set out your rights in relation to having the bill assessed by the court.
If the whole of the bill has not been paid we are entitled to charge interest on the outstanding amount of the bill in accordance with article 5 of the Solicitors’ (Non-Contentious Business) Remuneration Order 2009.
An application to the court must be made within one month of the delivery of the bill.
If we have not yet met you and you are an individual acting for purposes which are outside your business, the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 apply to our agreement with you. That means that you have the right to cancel our engagement without charge at any time within seven working days of your acceptance of our engagement terms. If you wish to do so you must inform us of your decision to cancel in writing. Your right to cancel our engagement will not apply if you agree to us beginning work in relation to your instructions during the relevant cancellation period.
Any money received on behalf of clients will be held in our client account. Subject to certain minimum amounts and periods of time set out in the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules 1998, interest will be calculated and paid to the client at the rate from time to time payable on National Westminster Bank Plc’s designated client accounts. The period for which interest will be paid will normally run from the date(s) on which funds are received by us until the date(s) of issue of any cheque(s) from our client account. We will credit you with interest if the amount of interest involved is more than £50
Where the client obtains borrowing from a lender in a property transaction, we will ask the lender to arrange that the loan cheque is received by us a minimum of four working days prior to the completion date. If the money can be sent by CHAPS, we will request that we receive it the day before completion. This will enable us to ensure that the necessary funds are available in time for completion. Such clients need to be aware that the lender may charge interest from the date of issue of their loan cheque or the transfer of the payment.
We will aim to communicate with clients by such method as they may request.
We do not accept service of documents by e-mail.
We may need to virus check discs or e-mail.
Unless instructed otherwise, we will communicate with others when appropriate by e-mail or fax but we cannot be responsible for the security of correspondence and documents sent by such media.
We may also be acting for your proposed lender in a transaction. This means we have a duty to make full disclosure to the mortgagee of all relevant facts relating to you, your purchase and mortgage. That will include disclosure of any discrepancies between the mortgage application and information provided to us during the transaction and any cashback payments or discount schemes which a seller is providing you. If a conflict of interest arises, we must cease to act for you in this matter.
McCarthy Webb is not authorised by the Financial Services Authority (“FSA”). We are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (“SRA”) and our SRA number is 524643, which is the independent regulatory arm of the Law Society of England and Wales. If you are unhappy with any investment advice or insurance advice you receive from us you should raise your concerns with the SRA.
Financial Services and Markets Act (“FSMA”)
If while we are acting for you, you need advice on investments we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised to provide the necessary advice. However we may provide some limited investment advice services where these are closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you. This is because we are regulated by the SRA, which is a designated professional body for the purposes of the FSMA.
Our role in any transaction is that of legal adviser and it is not part of our function to give advice on the merits of any transaction in investments. When providing our services we will assume that you have decided or will decide to negotiate or enter into any such transaction solely on the advice you may receive from a person authorised under the FSMA. No communication from us is intended or should be construed as an invitation or inducement to you or to anyone else to engage in investment activity.
Although we are not authorised by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) we are included on the register of exempt professional firms maintained by the FCA so that we can carry on insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the advising on, selling and administration of insurance contracts. The register can be accessed via the FCA website at www.fca.gov.uk/register.
The Law Society
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 regulatory body of the Law Society. The Legal Ombudsman is the independent complaints handling body who will investigate any complaints made against solicitors.
After completing any work, we are entitled to keep all papers and documents while there is money owing to us for our charges and expenses.
We limit our liability to you for claims for breach of contract, breach of duty, negligence and for claims otherwise arising out of or in connection with our engagement or the services we provide, in the ways described below.
Our liability to you shall be limited to £3 million or such higher amount as is set out in the letter accompanying these Terms of Business.
This liability cap will apply to our aggregate liability to you together with any associated party for whom you are acting as agent in relation to the relevant matter on any basis.
In addition to the other limitations in this document, where we and/or third parties are responsible for any loss suffered by you, our liability for that loss will be limited to a fair proportion of your total loss calculated by reference to the extent of our responsibility. If you have engaged others to represent or advise you on a matter in which we are involved and you agree with any of them that their liability to you will be limited, in order that our position is not adversely affected by any such limitation of their liability, you agree that our liability to you will not exceed the amount which would have applied in the absence of that limitation.
Third party liability
If you start proceedings against us for loss or damage and there is another person (for example, another adviser) who is liable (or potentially liable) to you in respect of the same loss or damage, then you will (if we so request) join them into the proceedings. This is subject to any legal prohibition against your joining them in that way.
No claim against individual employees/partners
We have an interest in limiting the personal liability of employees, consultants and partners. Accordingly you agree that you will not bring any claim against any individual employee, consultant or partner in respect of losses which you suffer or incur, arising out of or in connection with our engagement or the services we provide. The provisions of this paragraph will not limit or exclude the firm’s liability for the acts or omissions of our employees, consultants or partners.
The provisions of the above paragraph are intended for the benefit of our employees, consultants and partners but the terms of our engagement may be varied without the consent of all or any of those persons.
Limitation on exclusions
The above exclusions and limitations will not operate to exclude or limit any liability which cannot lawfully be limited or excluded. In particular they do not limit liability for fraud, nor for causing death or personal injury by negligence, nor for negligence in contentious business, insofar as the Solicitors Act 1974 s 60(5) precludes the exclusion of such liability.
Concluded files will be stored.
Where stored a file of papers is kept in storage for not less than six years. After that, storage is on the clear understanding that we have the right to destroy papers after such period as we consider reasonable or to make a charge for storage if we ask the clients to collect the papers and they fail to do so.
We will not destroy any documents such as wills, deeds, and other securities, which we have been asked to hold in safe custody. No charge will be made for such storage unless prior notice in writing is given of a charge to be made from a future date which may be specified in that notice.
If we retrieve papers or documents from storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act, we will not normally charge for such retrieval. However, we will normally make a charge based on time spent for producing stored papers or documents to the client or to another party at the client’s request.
All advice given to clients is entirely confidential, but:
As part of our continuing commitment to providing a high quality of service to all our clients, McCarthy Webb maintains accreditation with the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme. The audit procedure laid down by this scheme may require examination of clients’ confidential files from time to time under strictly controlled circumstances and only to duly appointed and qualified individuals. Acceptance of these terms and conditions by any client is deemed to include consent to such disclosure, which may be withdrawn by you in writing at any time.
The law now requires solicitors as well as banks, building societies and others to obtain satisfactory evidence of the identity of their client. This is because solicitors who deal with money and property on behalf of their client can be used by criminals wishing to launder money. In order to comply with the law on money laundering we will need to obtain evidence of your identity as soon as practicable.
Solicitors are under a professional and legal obligation to keep the affairs of the client 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 Organised Crime Agency. 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, while we are acting for you, it becomes necessary to make a money laundering disclosure, we may not be able to inform you that a disclosure has been made or of the reasons for it.
McCarthy Webb’s policy is only to accept cash up to £500 on account. If clients circumvent this policy by depositing cash direct with our bank we reserve the right to charge for any additional checks we deem necessary regarding the source of the funds.
Instructions may be terminated at any time. Termination of instructions must be in writing, to be effective.
We will be entitled to keep all papers and documents while there is money owing to us for our charges and expenses.
Under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, for some non-business instructions, the client may have the right to withdraw, without charge, within seven working days of the date on which we were asked to act. However, if we start work with consent of the client within that period, the client loses that right to withdraw. Acceptance of these terms and conditions of business will amount to such consent. If it is sought to withdraw instructions, notice should be given 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 clients if the work involved is likely to take more than 30 days.
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 practice. 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.
Unless there is a specific and express request by you, we will not advise upon the following
Complaints will be dealt with under the following protocol.
In the event of a complaint, the client will raise the concern in the first place with the person dealing with the particular matter.
The client should then contact the supervising director, whose name will have been notified at the outset of the transaction.
The complaint should be put in writing explaining what action is requested.
A full copy of the practice’s complaints procedure is available on request.
If the complaint is still not resolved at the end of this complaints process you have the right to refer your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman at Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 15870, Birmingham B30 9EB; telephone: 0300 555 0333; website: www.legalombudsman.org.uk. 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.
We may pay a referral fee for work to be referred to us. In such a situation we will inform you in writing and will tell you what fee we have paid. The advice which we give to you will be independent and we will treat you the same as any other client. You are free to raise questions on all aspects of the transaction and any information which you disclose to us will be treated as confidential and not disclosed to the referrer or to any other third party without your consent. We will not act for the referrer in connection with the same transaction in any way at all and you are under no obligation to instruct us in connection with the transaction.
We will not carry out a physical inspection of the property.
We will not advise on the valuation of the property nor the suitability of your mortgage nor any other financial arrangements.
We will not advise on environmental liabilities where we shall assume, unless you tell us in writing to the contrary, that you are making your own arrangements for any appropriate environmental survey or investigations. We may, however, need to obtain on behalf of your lender at your expense an environmental search.
All information that we hold concerning you as an individual will be held and processed by the firm strictly in accordance with the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018. Such data will be used by us to provide you with legal services and for related purposes, and, if you agree, to inform you about the firm’s other services and events.
The advice we provide to you is for your use as our client and is confidential. In some circumstances it may be privileged, which can protect you from needing to disclose it. It should not be disclosed to a third party without our advice or consent
This agreement and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with it or its subject matter or formation (including non-contractual disputes or claims) shall be governed by the law of England and Wales, and the Courts of England and Wales shall have exclusive jurisdiction over any such dispute or claim.
If you require clarification on any of these points please do not hesitate to let us know.
Unless otherwise agreed, and subject to the application of then current hourly rates, these terms and conditions of business shall apply to any future instructions given to this practice.
Although continuing instructions in this matter will amount to an acceptance of these terms and conditions of business, it may not be possible for us to start work on the client’s behalf until one copy of them has been returned to us for us to keep on our file.
Where we are acting for more than one person we have an obligation to obtain instructions from each of them. This may be inconvenient for you and so to enable us to accept instructions from either of you on behalf of both, you are asked to sign the authority at the end of the enclosed copy of this form. We will then accept instructions from either of you on behalf of you both.
I/We confirm that I/We have read and understood, and I/We accept, these terms and conditions of business.
You may accept instructions from either one/any of us on behalf of us both/all of us in connection with all matters relating to our purchase/sale and to any related transaction.
I/We agree to our details being retained on a computer database.
I/We have read the above. I am/We are happy to give you the authorities requested and to instruct you to act for me/us on the terms set out.