Our commitment to you
We, National Law Partners, value your instructions and our aim is to help you achieve your goals quickly and effectively in an approachable and cost-efficient way. This document sets out the terms on which we agree to act for you. You should read it with your letter of engagement. In particular your attention is drawn to the paragraphs headed “Your identity” in Section A and “Disclaimer” in Section M.
A. When you instruct us
Responsibility for work
We will tell you which partner or Senior Manager will have overall responsibility for your matter, the person who will be dealing with your matter on a daily basis (if this is a different person) and their supervisor. If we have to involve other people within National Law Partners, for example, if your matter covers a number of different areas of law, we will tell you their names, job titles and the areas of your matter that they will deal with.
Conflicts of interest
We search our records to protect you from conflicts of interest. Where a conflict arises or may arise (for example, where we find that your opponent is or has been our client), we may not be able to accept or continue working on your matter. We may act for two or more of you if there is no conflict. If a conflict arises during our retainer then we may have to cease to act for one or more of you.
To meet the Money Laundering Regulations 2007, we may have to ask you for information confirming your identity, financial details, sources of funding and, where relevant, identity information about people related to you i.e. beneficial owners. You must comply with requests for proof of identity as set out in our letter of engagement, and if requested, you will meet us to enable us to verify your identity. If you fail to comply with requests for identity, we will be unable to act for you. We are required to monitor transactions and maintain records relating to your identity, and we may ask you to provide updated proof of identity from time to time.
If you are a director or other representative acting on behalf of a company, we are entitled to assume that the instructions we may receive from you have been authorised by the company.
B. Right to Cancel
Consumer Contract Regulations 2013
You have the right to cancel your instructions to us without cost up to 14 days after our initial communication with you. To exercise your right to cancel, you must inform us of your decision to cancel by a clear statement (e.g. a letter sent by post, fax or email) using the contact details on our letter or by completing and returning the cancellation form available on our website at (www.national-law-partners.co.uk/cancellation-policy
Otherwise, you have a right to end your agreement with us at any time. We can also end the agreement with you if for example you do not follow our reasonable advice or do not provide us with instructions. More information can be found in our Terms of Business.
All matters are individual and it is not possible to be precise about how long your matter will take. Your case handler will provide an indication of the likely duration of your matter in due course.
In relation to the cost of your claim, this will depend on a number of factors including the value and stage your claim reaches. For more information contact your case handler.
C. Our charges
We normally work out our charges by multiplying a person’s hourly charging rate by the time (measured in units) they have spent on your matter. Each unit represents 6 minutes of time. However, time spent is not the only factor that we take into account. We believe that our charges should reflect the value of our services to you. So we may take into account how complicated your matter is, how urgent it is, the value of the transaction, specialist skills, and the amount of responsibility we accept.
Conditional Fee Agreements and other special arrangements
We may vary our methods of charging if special arrangements with you and/or your legal expense insurer are made in writing.
Changing our charging rate
We regularly review our hourly charging rates. We will tell you about any changes before they take effect. If you do not agree with any increase in our hourly rates you may terminate the retainer in accordance with section P (Termination) below.
We will give the best possible information about the likely overall costs of the matter. We will tell you as soon as possible if we think our charges will be higher than any estimate or other indication of costs. An estimate is only a guide. We will take it into account in the final invoice, but you should not take it as a binding quotation. You can ask to set a limit on our charges if you want to.
Payment on account
We may before starting work on your matter, or at any stage during your matter, ask you to make a payment on account. This payment will be held on account of any charges and expenses incurred and can be applied against any invoice issued to you. We will inform you when a payment on account is to be deducted from an invoice issued and clarify the outstanding invoiced amount due.
Unless we agree otherwise in writing, we will normally invoice you at regular intervals, even if your matter has not been completed. We will seek to agree these intervals to suit you, but they will not normally be shorter than monthly or longer than every three months.
Information on charges
Our invoices will give details of our charges and expenses, but please ask us if you would like further information at other times.
We will account to you for a sum in lieu of interest calculated on the whole period for which cleared funds are held by us on your behalf. We will apply the rates published, from time to time, by Lloyds Bank plc for their Clients’ Call Account. No interest will be payable where the total amount of interest calculated on the balance held is less than £20, as the cost of administering this payment exceeds the amount payable.
D. Extra payments
Whilst we are acting for you expenses (or ‘disbursements’) may arise. We will normally charge you separately for internal expenses such as travel, and external expenses we have to pay on your behalf such as barristers’ fees. Other expenses such as stamp duty, search fees, estate agents’ fees, accountants’, surveyors’ and other experts’ fees and court fees we can pay on your behalf (and normally we will require advance payment from you for such expenses). We will send you an estimate at the start of your matter of how much and what these are likely to be. You can ask us to set a limit on expenses if you want to.
Value Added Tax (VAT)
By law we have to add VAT to our charges and expenses. You may have to pay VAT even when someone else pays our charges and expenses for you, for example your insurer.
E. Your responsibilities
We may ask you for information to help us with your matter. You must give us information we ask for as soon as possible, and tell us if you think it is not complete or accurate. It is also your responsibility to carry out any other tasks that we agree you should do. We will not be responsible for anything that happens because you have not done something we asked you to do promptly. This may also mean you have to pay extra charges or expenses.
Paying our charges
We expect you to pay our invoices when they are due, even if you have an arrangement with another person for payment (unless we have already agreed in writing to contact that person for payment).
We will not advise you on any tax consequences of your matter except where we have agreed in writing that we will give you tax advice. You should ask your accountant to advise on tax and similar matters including VAT.
We are obliged to keep your affairs confidential. However we may be required by law to disclose certain information and documents about you to authorities such as the Police, HM Revenue & Customs, Serious Fraud Office or National Crime Agency in relation to matters such as tax, fraud, bribery, money laundering or terrorist financing. In the unlikely event we may have to share such information and documents with colleagues within National Law Partners and third parties, in this respect you agree to waive our duty of confidence to you and the ‘legal professional privilege’ that attaches to your communications with us and in particular to the communications between you and the person at National Law Partners handling your matter.
If we are required to 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 on your matter for a period of time and may not be able to tell you why.
We keep all copyright and other rights to all reports and draft agreements we produce, written advice or other materials we provide and all systems we work out while we are acting for you. You have the full right to use these materials within your own organisation or on another matter we are dealing with on your behalf. If you want to use these materials in any other way, you will need our prior permission.
Releasing your papers
We have the right to keep your papers as well as monies and other items held for you until our charges and expenses have been paid in full.
Unless you notify us in writing otherwise, you consent to the exclusive electronic storage of all documents (including documents belonging to you) during the course of your matter and the disposal of all paper versions except for original paper documents such as title deeds, wills, share certificates or other documents which continue to have effect.
At the end of your matter we will continue to store your documents electronically. Any original paper documents will be returned to you. If we store them we will do so without charge for a limited period of time which will depend on the nature of the matter. We may make a reasonable charge for obtaining your documents from storage, producing paper copies of electronically stored documents, delivering them to you or for providing information about them.
Audit and quality review by introducers
We agree service standards with introducers to ensure you receive the best service and introducers review and audit files against these standards. In instructing us to act you allow your introducer to access your entire file for audit and quality review. If you do not wish to allow access to your entire file please let us know in writing by email to email@example.com.
Methods of payment to us
We will not accept any payment to us in cash. We will only accept payments to us made by cheque, credit card or electronic funds transfer (such as CHAPS, BACS or Faster Payments) provided such cheques or transfers are drawn on or made via a London clearing bank (unless otherwise agreed by us in writing beforehand).
If you choose to make a payment by credit card a handling fee will be charged. The amount of this handling fee will vary depending upon the type of card used and will be confirmed to you prior to payment. This amount will be debited from your card at the same time as your payment is processed. Payment by credit card is not accepted for payments to be made to a third party.
Terms of payment
You must pay our invoices as soon as you receive them. We may charge interest on invoices which are not paid within 28 days from the date of the invoice. The rate of interest will be 2% more than the base rate of Lloyds Bank Plc.
Payment by the opponent
Where we are instructed on a matter involving court proceedings, if the court rules allow us to, we will try to get your opponent to pay our charges and expenses of dealing with your matter. Where we are successful, there may still be some charges and expenses which you will have to pay. We will discuss this with you at the relevant time.
Where appropriate, we will help you to apply for Legal Aid. You will be responsible for our charges and expenses until Legal Aid is granted. We will tell you about your responsibilities to the Legal Aid Agency (formerly the Legal Services Commission) when you apply for Legal Aid.
If your insurers are responsible for paying our charges and expenses, we will obtain the money from them. You must tell us immediately if your insurers plan to withdraw cover. If you are registered for VAT, you may still have to pay the VAT on our charges and expenses.
The matter on which we are advising you may have been referred to us by an introducer.
If your case has been referred to us by an introducer any advice we give you will be independent and you are free to raise questions on all aspects of the matter. Where we are also acting for the introducer in your matter and a conflict of interest arises we may be obliged to cease acting.
I. Financial Services
We are legal advisers and we are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. We cannot advise you on the merits of investment transactions or exercising investment rights or act as an arranger or broker of transactions. We assume that your decision to enter into an investment transaction is yours alone based on your own assessment of the transaction and any advice you receive from a person authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. Nothing in our communications with you or made on your behalf should be interpreted as an inducement or invitation to engage in investment activity.
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. This is because we are members of the Law Society of England & Wales, which is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.
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 may carry on insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the advising on, selling and administration of insurance contracts. This part of our business, including arrangements for complaints or redress if something goes wrong, is regulated by The Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority web site at: register.fca.org.uk
The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory arm of the Law Society and the Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints against lawyers. If you are unhappy with any investment advice you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with either of those bodies.
J. Provision of Services Regulations 2009
We are required under the Provision of Services Regulations 2009 to provide you with certain details regarding our Professional Indemnity Insurance and to comply with these regulations the required details are available on our website. These details can also be provided upon written request.
K. Ancillary, Nominee trustee and company secretarial services
We use our associated practice Lyons Davidson Limited and their service company File Dynamics Limited to provide certain management and back office functions to us (“Ancillary Services”) which are necessary to provide legal services to you. Lyons Davidson Limited is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. You consent that we may share information and documents about you with Lyons Davidson Limited and File Dynamics Limited in order that they can effectively provide the Ancillary Services. Your file and other information about you may be passed to one of the offices of Lyons Davidson Limited and in these circumstances we ensure that Lyons Davidson Limited will maintain confidentiality in relation to your information and documents.
Trustee and nominee services
These services are available to you from Lyons Davidson Trustee Company Limited and Lydaco Nominees Limited. These companies are both owned by Lyons Davidson Limited.
Company secretarial services
We may offer company secretarial services including a registered office service which we may charge you separately for. We will tell you the amount of the charge at the time. We review our charges for company secretarial services every year, and we will tell you if they change.
L. Client Money
If we receive or hold money for you or on your behalf, we will deposit that money in a client account at a bank which is permitted by the Prudential Regulation Authority to accept deposits. You can request details of the bank in which we hold your money by writing to us.
We shall not be responsible for any losses whatsoever suffered, sustained or incurred by you or any third party by reason of any failure or collapse of any bank at which client monies are deposited.
You consent to the disclosure by us to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) of details of your holding(s) of any money in any client account at a bank which fails or collapses. The FSCS imposes a limit on the amount of compensation which may be claimed. The limit applies to all monies held by a client with one bank regardless of the brands which that bank may use. If you hold personal money in the same bank in which we hold money for you then the FSCS limit will apply to your entire money. You can obtain further information via the FSCS website.
M. Disclaimer and third parties
We shall not be responsible for any losses whatsoever suffered, sustained or incurred by you or any third party by reason of our compliance with obligations imposed on us by 1) The Money Laundering Regulations 2007 and/or 2) The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and/or 3) other legislation relating to or connected with the prevention of crime and/or 4) the instructions of any law enforcement agencies.
These terms of business are not intended to and do not confer any rights on any third party under the Contracts (Right of Third Parties) Act 1999.
N. Data Protection
The Data Protection Act 1998 imposes obligations on us as we will obtain and process personal data relating to you. We are required to inform you that personal data we receive about you or from you about other persons may be processed by us in order to provide legal services to you and other ancillary functions.
If a person requests in writing the access to personal data relating to him or her which is processed by us we are legally required to grant such a request unless the data is legally privileged. The right of access includes the right to information on the purposes of the processing, the recipients, the source and substance of any disclosed data. If we are required to provide data in response to a request relating to your matter, the work involved will be treated as part of our services to you.
We will communicate with and on behalf of you in the most effective way. We may send emails which, for convenience, are not in encrypted format. We will scan any emails we send for computer viruses although we cannot guarantee they will be virus free. We may monitor e-mails in accordance with the Telecommunications (Lawful Business Practice) (Interception of Communications) Regulations 2000.
We will inform you about our services from time to time unless you notify us otherwise.
You can ask us to cease acting for you at any time. If you do so, we draw your attention to the paragraph headed ‘Releasing your papers’ under Section G of these terms of business.
We may refuse to continue to act for you if you do not pay our invoices on time or make payment on account when we ask you to or you do not provide us with instructions when we ask you to. We may also refuse to continue to act for you if there are other circumstances giving us good reason to do so (for example, where there is a conflict of interest). We will give you reasonable notice if we are no longer going to act for you. If we do this, you will have to pay any charges and expenses that arise before that date, and you will continue to be responsible for any commitments we have entered into on your behalf. We may charge you for work which we have to carry out after termination or because you ask us to transfer your papers to another adviser.
Q. Law and Jurisdiction
These terms of business and the services we provide shall be interpreted in accordance with English Law and the exclusive jurisdiction of the Courts of England and Wales shall apply to any dispute arising out of the services we provide.
We expect that you will receive a comprehensive, efficient and effective service. In the unlikely event of a problem arising or you being dissatisfied with the service provided or an invoice you have received, we have a comprehensive complaints procedure. Initially you should raise your concerns with the person handling your case or another more senior member of the department, such as your Case Supervisor, who will try to deal with the problem promptly.
Should you remain dissatisfied and wish to make a formal complaint you should contact our Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP), Michael Greybanks, using the contact details below. A copy of our complaints procedure is available on our website www.national-law-partners.co.uk or can be provided upon request.
Please note, the investigation of and response to any formal complaint may be dealt with by Lyons Davidson Limited which is an associated law firm. You consent that we may share information and documents about you with Lyons Davidson Limited in order that they can effectively deal with a complaint. Your file and other information about you may be passed to Lyons Davidson Limited and in these circumstances we ensure that Lyons Davidson Limited maintains confidentiality in relation to your information and documents
If you are still not satisfied once your complaint has been investigated and we have provided you with our final written response then you may take your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman P.O. Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ. Any complaint to the Legal Ombudsman must usually be made within six months of the date of our final written response to your complaint or within six years of the act or omission about which you are complaining occurring (or if outside of this period, within three years of when you should reasonably have been aware of it). If your complaint relates to an invoice you may have a right to challenge the invoice by applying to the court for an assessment of your invoice under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. The Legal Ombudsman may not consider a complaint about an invoice if you have applied to the court for an assessment.
For further information you should contact the Legal Ombudsman on 0300 555 0333 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. Further information is also available on their website.
National Law Partners is a trading name of National Law Associates LLP, a company registered in England & Wales number OC417924. Our registered office is at: 43 Queen Square, Bristol, BS1 4QP
We are authorised and regulated by The Solicitors Regulation Authority. The SRA Code of Conduct and professional rules to which we are required to adhere are available via the SRA website.