1.1 This document contains the standard Terms of Business of Baldwin Wyatt Solicitors and should be read in conjunction with the accompanying letter which gives information about who will be working for you, the scope of the work to be carried out and the basis of our fees. Where the terms set out in the letter differ from these standard Terms of Business, the terms of the letter will apply. If any aspect is not clear, please contact the person dealing with your work.
2 Our Aims
2.1 We are committed to providing all our clients with an efficient and effective service. In order to achieve this we believe that it is important to agree in advance the nature of our relationship with you. Please familiarise yourself with these Terms of Business before continuing to instruct us to avoid any misunderstandings in the future.
3 Professional Rules and Practice Guidelines
3.1 We will observe the bye-laws, regulations and ethical guidelines of The Law Society and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and accept instructions to act for you on the basis that we will act in accordance with those bye-laws, regulations and guidelines.
4 Your Responsibilities – Provision of Information by you
4.1 To enable us to carry out our work it is necessary that:
4.1.1 You make all payments due to us on time.
4.1.2 You provide full and accurate information necessary for dealing with your work. Where appropriate we may approach such third parties you approve for additional information or documents. We will rely on the information and documents being true, correct and complete and will not audit the information or those documents.
4.1.3 As and when requested you provide instructions to us in a timely and clear manner from time to time during the course of your work.
4.1.4 You keep us informed about significant changes in your circumstances.
5 Service Levels
5.1 At the outset of each matter, we will discuss with you what is to be achieved and what is necessary to achieve it. Any material developments during the course of the matter, delays, or possible deviations from your instructions will always be reported to you, but we will be guided by you as to the extent and detail to which you wish us to report. Baldwin Wyatt Solicitors will not accept any liability arising from your failure to reply completely and accurately to any request for information or confirmation of instructions.
6.1 Your relationship with us in connection with the work to which these Terms of Business relate is with Baldwin Wyatt Solicitors and not with an individual person.
6.2 In our view, a close relationship with clients is essential to achieving our aims and to this end a specific director will always be assigned with overall responsibility for your work. As individual directors specialise in different types of work, it may be that more than one director undertakes this task. In addition, in order to obtain the benefit of specialist skills and provide the highest quality service in the most cost effective way for you, the director responsible may assign tasks to another executive or assistant under his supervision, but will still retain overall responsibility.
6.3 We try hard to avoid changing the staff who may be dealing with your work, but if this becomes unavoidable we will promptly notify you of any changes in personnel.
7 Statement of Equality
7.1 Baldwin Wyatt Solicitors operates a policy of equality throughout the firm and does not discriminate against any person on the grounds of sex, race, marital or civil partnership status, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, pregnancy, maternity or paternity, disability, age, religious or other beliefs.
8 Money Laundering
8.1 We are now required by the Money Laundering Regulations to obtain independent evidence of the identity and address of our clients prior to commencing a business relationship. We will need to see your passport or photo driving licence and an original utility bill issued in the last three months showing your name and private address. In the case of a corporate client we also need to see the original certificate of incorporation and proof that you are an officer or shareholder with authority to give instructions on behalf of the business.
8.2 Under the provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 new rules were also introduced which affect all solicitors. We are required to consider the source of any funds provided by you in connection with any transaction we may carry out on your behalf. If we are aware of or suspect that the proceeds of any crime (whether or not committed by you) may be involved then we may be obliged to report our knowledge or suspicion to the National Crime Intelligence Service (NCIS). We may have to do so without informing you. Proceeds of crime now include not only the obvious, but also any money deriving from tax evasion or benefit fraud.
8.3 If you have any concerns as to the regularity of your financial affairs we would strongly recommend that you seek appropriate professional advice.
9.1 We will wherever possible provide estimates of fees and expenses, but these are usually subject to variation in light of individual circumstances that may arise as the matter proceeds. We have no control over many of these circumstances, particularly in matters involving litigation. An estimate cannot, therefore, be regarded as a quotation or fixed cost commitment. You may, if you wish, agree a fees limit with us, and this will not be exceeded without further reference to you.
10.1 If we have agreed a specific basis of charging, this will, of course, be adhered to.
10.2 We aim to charge a fair fee in all the circumstances. Because each individual matter presents its own unique characteristics, our fee may be adjusted upwards or downwards to take account of factors such as the complexity, importance or value of the matter, its urgency or its novelty.
10.3 Our fees are generally based on the amount of time spent by the personnel engaged on your matter. Each member of our staff has an hourly rate which forms the basis of such fees. These rates are normally reviewed annually. We will notify you in writing of any increase in our hourly rates. Time is recorded by reference to activities undertaken, on the basis of six-minute units (or multiples thereof). On request, we will supply you with a breakdown of time spent with each bill.
10.4 We will not charge you for routine postage, photocopying, telephone call or fax charges. However, we will charge for foreign and conference telephone, fax and video calls, colour and bulk photocopying. VAT will be chargeable on these expenses.
10.5 We will also charge you for other fees and expenses which we incur on your behalf, e.g. court fees, search fees, Land Registry fees, counsels’ and experts’ fees, travel expenses etc. These are known as disbursements. We will normally ask you to pay these to us before we incur them, or we will use any funds we are holding for you on account of costs to pay them. We will not incur large or unusual disbursements without your agreement.
10.6 Except in the case of certain specific disbursements, our fees will be rendered and are payable in pounds sterling. If you wish to pay by any other currency this must be by way of special arrangement with our cashiers’ department. If we receive payment in any currency other than pounds sterling we will convert such currency at the exchange rate applicable by Barclays Bank plc on the date payment is received; any shortfall on conversion and the costs of conversion to or from pounds sterling are payable by you in addition to the amount of our fees or disbursements.
10.7 It is possible that you may be entitled to funding to cover your legal fees in respect of this matter. We strongly recommend that you enquire of your insurers, brokers, employers, membership organisation or trade union (as appropriate) to identify if cover is available.
11 Payment of Costs
11.1 You will normally be billed monthly on an interim basis with a final bill rendered at the completion of your matter.
11.2 It is our normal practice to ask clients to make payments on account of anticipated costs. If this is the case, it is essential for you to meet requests for payment promptly. Money paid in advance will be paid into our clients’ account and will then be applied to pay disbursements as they are incurred and our bills when they are delivered. Once the amount paid on account has been used, we will ask you to pay a further sum on account of costs.
11.3 We require to be put in funds before any disbursements are incurred by the firm.
11.4 Settlement of our bills is due on presentation and we reserve the right to charge interest at a rate equal to 4% over the base lending rate from time to time of Barclays Bank plc on bills which are one month or more overdue. Interest will be chargeable on a daily basis. We reserve the right to discontinue work on all your current matters if any bill is not settled promptly. In litigation cases, we also reserve the right to apply to come off the Court record as acting for you. This will incur a cost which will be recoverable from you in addition to all other unpaid sums due.
11.5 We reserve the right to offset unpaid bills and disbursements against any monies received on your behalf. You will be notified in such an event.
11.6 On matters where a third party has agreed to pay your legal costs, these still remain your responsibility should the third party fail for any reason to settle the account within our payment terms.
12 File Audits
12.1 We are a quality driven law practice. In order to verify that our quality standards are being consistently applied to all files it is necessary from time to time to conduct internal and external file audits. Files are selected for inspection at random. We, therefore, reserve the right, if your file is selected for audit, to make your file available for independent inspection. No copies of or notes from your file will be permitted to be taken without your specific consent and, prior to inspection, an external auditor will be required to sign an agreement to maintain confidentiality. In addition we reserve the right to disclose our files to regulatory bodies in the exercise of their powers.
13 E-mail Communications
13.1 We regularly communicate by e-mail. This may include correspondence, documents or other information. Presently this is not encrypted before it is sent. It is possible that confidential information is sent in this format which, therefore, may be intercepted intentionally or by accident and read by a third party. If you do not wish us to send confidential information by e-mail please advise us accordingly in writing.
14 Storage and Retention of Papers, Deeds, Wills, Files and Other Documents
14.1 We offer a free storage facility for clients' papers, deeds, wills, files and other documents. We will store your will and deeds until such time as you request their return. We do not make a charge for this service, but we cannot accept responsibility for the loss of, or damage to, any item which we hold, except by prior arrangement.
14.2 Normally there is no charge for the retrieval of any documents from our archives but there may be circumstances where significant time is spent or cost incurred producing papers at your request, reading correspondence or complying with your instructions. In these cases we reserve the right to make a charge based on the time spent and costs incurred.
14.3 If there are outstanding monies owed to the firm by you whether in respect of fees, disbursements or other charges, we reserve the right to keep your papers, deeds, wills, files or other documents until all outstanding payments have been discharged.
14.4 Unless you indicate to the contrary in writing prior to the appropriate time, we will only hold your file in relation to any particular matter (including any associated papers or documents) for a period of seven (7) years after we have archived it. After that time it will be destroyed confidentially at no expense to you. For the purposes of clarification, this policy does not apply to original deeds or wills which will be retained until requested by you as mentioned above.
15.1 If we receive a commission from a third party arising from work we are doing for you we will credit you with that commission unless you have agreed otherwise or unless the amount is less than £10.
16 Interest on Client Monies
16.1 Any of your money that we agree to hold for you will be held by us in a separate Client Account. You will benefit from interest on this money in accordance with the current Solicitors' Accounts (Deposit Interest) Rules. Generally such interest will be paid without deduction on account of tax and should be declared as such to the appropriate tax authorities.
17 Queries and Concerns
17.1 Although we make every effort to ensure that you will be completely satisfied with the service we provide, if you have any queries or concerns about our service please raise them as soon as possible. We operate a Concerns Policy and Procedure in accordance with Law Society requirements; a full copy is available on request.
17.2 Please raise your queries or concerns first with the fee-earner with responsibility for your work named in the letter sent to you confirming your instructions. Your concern will be referred to the relevant Partner in accordance with our Concerns Policy and Procedure. If you would prefer, you can take the matter up direct with the relevant Partner in the letter sent to you confirming your instructions.
17.3 Briefly, our Concerns Policy and Procedure operates as follows:
17.3.1 Any concern will be referred to the relevant Partner.
17.3.2 You can expect a full written response from the relevant Partner within 14 days or, if this is not possible, an explanation of why and a timescale for a response will be given.
18 Terminating our Engagement
18.1 You have the right to terminate our engagement by notice in writing to us either by post, facsimile or e-mail at any time for any reason.
18.2 We reserve the right to terminate our engagement if there is a failure or unacceptable delay to instruct us, a material change in the circumstances or information on which our original engagement was based or for any other reason there is a breakdown in confidence between us. We will always seek to give you reasonable notice of our decision but there may be circumstances where it is reasonable for us to give no notice. As mentioned above, we also reserve the right to discontinue work on all your current matters if any bill is not settled promptly.
18.3 If for any reason we cease to act before a matter has been completed, we shall be entitled to charge for all work done up to that point plus any fees or expenses for work necessary to transfer the matter to another advisor.
18.4 As mentioned above, if there are outstanding monies owed to the firm by you whether in respect of fees, disbursements or other charges, we reserve the right to keep your papers, deeds, wills, files or other documents until all outstanding payments have been discharged.
19.1 We retain the copyright and all other rights in all documents we provide to you or to any third party on your behalf. We grant you a non-exclusive licence to use such documents solely for the purpose for which we provide them to you but not further or otherwise.
20 Applicable Law and Jurisdiction
20.1 English law will apply to all services provided by us and any dispute arising out of or in connection with them and each party agrees to submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.
21 Limitation of Liability
21.1 Unless otherwise agreed with you in writing our aggregate liability for work undertaken (based on the fees which we have estimated) for you is limited to a maximum of £3,000,000.00 in totality. This limitation will not apply if a loss is due to dishonesty or willful misconduct on the part of any director or member of our staff. If we are jointly and severally liable to you with any other party we shall only be liable to pay you the proportion which is reasonably found to be our fault. We shall not be liable to pay you the proportion which is due to the fault of another party.
22 Contractual Relationship
22.1 This agreement is made between you and the firm and takes effect from the date of the letter accompanying these Terms. In the context of these Terms “the firm” shall mean Baldwin Wyatt Solictors for the time being, or the partnership, limited liability partnership or other entity which may succeed it and/or carry on its practice, and to which all obligations, rights, duties and responsibilities under these Terms shall be transferred or assigned. In these Terms references to “we” and “us” shall mean the firm.
22.2 This agreement is personal to you and may not be assigned to, or held on behalf of or for the benefit of any third person, without our written consent.
22.3 For the purpose of Section 1(2) of the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999, it is agreed that no term of our agreement with you shall be enforceable by a third party.
23 Data Protection - How we use your information
23.1 Baldwin Wyatt Solicitors will use the information you provide primarily for the provision of legal services to you and for other related purposes including updating and enhancing client records, analysis for management purposes and statutory returns, crime prevention and legal and regulatory compliance. Our use of that information will be 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 disclose 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. We may need to check your records now or in future at a credit reference agency which may record the search and make it available to other organisations.
23.2 We may also from time to time use your contact details to provide you with information relating to our services, seminars and newsletters. Should you not wish to receive such information, please notify us by email to email@example.com or by post.
23.3 We are keen to ensure that any personal information we hold about you should remain accurate and up to date. Therefore, please let us know if there are any significant changes to your personal details.
24.1 If you continue to instruct us in this matter it will amount to your acceptance of these Terms of Business. Even so, we ask you to please confirm that you agree to them by signing and returning a copy of the letter accompanying this document to us immediately. We can then be confident that you understand the basis on which we will act for you. Please then retain your copy and keep it in a safe place. It is an important document.
Please note that this website contains general information and does not constitute advice on any specific matter. Whilst Baldwin Wyatt Solicitors endeavours to ensure that the content on the website is accurate and up to date, nothing on the website should be construed or regarded as legal advice. By using this website you confirm that you have not relied on any such content
1. We may use your contact details and application data, submitted to us via this website, for the purposes of recruitment or marketing (see CAREERS and MARKETING below). We acknowledge that these details are confidential and will keep them confidential, in line with our internal procedures and the law.
2. We may monitor your use of this website and information obtained about you in this way may be used for our internal purposes, such as site performance, evaluation of site use and internal marketing reports. No information collected in this way will be used other than for the purpose for which it was originally obtained.
3. You have the right to view and to correct any of your personal data held by us. To do this, send us a written request to the address given (see TERMS OF WEBSITE USE) or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
4. We may use storage companies for archiving. Any such storage company will be required to enter into a confidentiality agreement and to process your data solely in accordance with our instructions.
1. We acknowledge that you may submit sensitive personal data (being information on your racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious beliefs, trade union membership, physical or mental health, sexual life, commission of criminal offences and/or involvement in criminal proceedings) to us when applying for a post at Baldwin Wyatt Solicitors. We will keep this information confidential and only use it for the purposes for which it was originally collected.
2. We process application data for the sole purposes of considering applications and recruitment, and not for marketing.
4. Baldwin Wyatt Solicitors is an equal opportunity employer. We do not discriminate on the grounds of gender, ethnic origin, age, religion, sexual orientation, non disqualifying physical or mental disability or any other basis covered by equal opportunities legislation.
If you provide us with a business card, we may enter that information on our marketing database (CRM) so we can send you legal updates on an area of law which may be of interest or to invite you to our seminars and other events. See Marketing (below) for instructions on how to opt-out of mailings from us.
1. We may use the information you submit via this website to provide you with marketing information. You have the right to be removed from our marketing mailing list, and can do so by sending us a written request to the address given above or by email to email@example.com
1. Certain areas of this website may be restricted to authorised persons only. If you believe you have been granted access to any document or file by mistake, please leave the restricted area immediately and contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. as soon as possible.
2. The documents and files hosted on the restricted areas of this website are confidential. If you believe that you may have been granted access to a document or file by mistake you must not download it or use it, and you must not disclose its contents to any other person.
3. We reserve the right to remove you from the authorised list of users for any restricted area of this website at any time.
4. Whilst we make every effort to ensure that unauthorised people will not be able to access confidential information hosted on this website, we cannot guarantee this.