1.1 Hattons Solicitors Legal Services Limited is registered in England and Wales with Company Number09771400:
1.2 In these Terms of Business all first person terms such as ‘we’, ‘us’ and ‘our’ refer to Hattons Solicitors Legal Services Limited and not to any Member, Partner, Consultant or Employee personally or to any combination of Members, Partners, Consultants or Employees collectively. By entering into this Agreement, you are entering into a contract with Hattons Solicitors Legal Services Limited and not with any Member, Partner, Consultant or Employee personally or with any combination of Members, Partners, Consultants or Employees collectively.
1.3 We are bound by various professional rules of conduct which can be viewed at www.sra.org.uk or by writing to ‘Solicitors Regulation Authority, The Cube, 199 Wharfside Street, Birmingham, B1 1RN’ or calling the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s contact centre on 0870 606 2555 (inside the UK), 09.00 to 17.00, Monday to Friday.
1.4 A list of Members is available for inspection at our registered office, together with a list of those non Members who are referred to as Partners. We may from time-to-time use the word ‘Partner’ to refer to a Member of the LLP or an Employee or Consultant of Hattons Solicitors Legal Services Limited with equivalent standing and qualifications.
1.5 The SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules, in force from time to time, require us to take out and maintain Professional Indemnity Insurance with Qualifying Insurers. Information about the compulsory layer of Professional Indemnity Insurance we carry, including the contact details of our insurers and the territorial coverage of our insurance, are available in hard copy at our registered office.
2.1 These Terms of Business may not be varied unless agreed in writing and signed by a Partner. They should be read in conjunction with our Client Care Letter which sets out the basis on which we act for you and any documents referred to in that letter. Together these form the ‘Agreement’ between us relating to each matter on which we advise you.
2.2 These terms, including the limits on our liability in clause 10, shall apply to all personal injury work done by us for you (and any work to be done in the future) unless we otherwise notify you in writing.
3.1 We do not advise on the laws and regulations of jurisdictions other than England & Wales (which for these purposes includes the law of the European Union as applied in England & Wales).
3.2 Whilst we have a degree of understanding of taxation relevant to an individual or corporate entity or value added tax or other taxation, we are not qualified to give any taxation advice in any form and you should take the professional advice of a taxation accountant or your own accountant. If you authorise us to proceed with the transaction, we will proceed on the basis you have sought appropriate professional advice. If you wish us to help you appoint an appropriate accountant please ask.
3.3 If now, or at any time in the future, any matter on which we act for you is the subject of formally contested proceedings, whether in the courts or other tribunals, you will almost certainly have to disclose documents, including electronic documents, relevant to the matter. You should ensure that you do not destroy or allow to be destroyed any documents that relate to such matter in any way (however slight you believe the connection may be), as your position in such proceedings could be seriously compromised if you do so.
4.1 If now, or at any time in the future, any matter on which we act for you is the subject of formally contested proceedings, whether in the courts or other tribunals, you will almost certainly have to disclose documents, including electronic documents, relevant to the matter. You should ensure that you do not destroy or allow to be destroyed any documents that relate to such matter in any way (however slight you believe the connection may be), as your position in such proceedings could be seriously compromised if you do so.
5.1 Unless we agree otherwise, all copyright which exists in the documents and other materials that we create whilst carrying out work for you will remain our property. You have the right to use such documents and materials for the purposes for which they are created, but not otherwise.
5.2 If you use such documents for any purpose other than that for which they were created we are not responsible to you for any losses that you may suffer as a result.
5.3 Unless otherwise required by law or court order, you agree not to make our work, documents or materials available to third parties without our prior written permission. Our work is undertaken for your benefit alone and we are not responsible to third parties for any aspect of our professional services or work that you make available to them.
6.1 We operate strict client care and quality policies and always aim to provide you with the highest level of legal expertise and to be available, approachable, understandable, prompt and courteous.
6.2 We will keep you informed about all important developments in your case and we will respond to your letters, emails and telephone calls promptly and efficiently.
6.3 The majority of our clients are very happy with the service we provide them, but in the event that you have any cause for concern, including about a bill, then please be aware that you are entitled to make a complaint, and that you can do so by contacting our designated complaints handler, Bruce Hatton (telephone: 01744 744414). We take all feedback from clients seriously and operate a Complaints Handling Procedure, a copy of which is available upon request.
6.4 We are usually able to deal with any concerns you have promptly and to your satisfaction, but if this is not the case, you will be able to make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman provided you do so within six months of the end of our internal complaints procedure if you are still not satisfied with the outcome.
6.5 In addition, there are times limits relating to the date you first became aware or should have become aware of the problem. The relevant time limits are set out in the version of the Legal Ombudsman’s Scheme Rules in force from time to time (which can be accessed here) and may only be extended by the Legal Ombudsman in exceptional circumstances.
6.6 If you are not, you should be aware that you can only obtain redress by using our Complaints Handling Procedure or by mediation or arbitration, or by taking action through the Courts.
6.7 Legal Ombudsman Contact Details:
6.8 Hattons Solicitors Legal Services Limited is committed to ensuring that all Partners, Members, Consultants and Employees give their full co-operation to the Legal Ombudsman in the event of any dispute or complaint against the firm.
7.1 We retain all documents relating to your matter (other than any documents which are in your possession or returned to you) for at least six years from the conclusion of our involvement in the matter. You agree that we may destroy them after that time.
7.2 If you ask us to retrieve documents from storage there is a charge, which is normally £25 plus VAT for each matter, although we will not normally charge that fee if we retrieve documents to enable us to carry out further work for you. We will charge, however, for any work necessary to comply with instructions given by you in connection with retrieved documents. Unless otherwise agreed with you in writing, those charges will be at our hourly rates applicable at the relevant time and those charges will be applied on the same basis as set out in this agreement.
8.1 You may end this agreement (and therefore, your instructions to us) at any time by writing to us but we may be entitled to keep all of your documents while there is money owing to us (including fees and expenses which have not yet been billed, and also any fee due to a medical expert which has been incurred due to your failure to attend any medical examination appointment without having provided the appropriate notice of your non-attendance to us
8.2 We may end this agreement (and, therefore, cease acting for you) in relation to any matter or all matters of yours but only on reasonable written notice and for good reason. Examples of a good reason include where you have not given us sufficient instructions, where you have not provided appropriate evidence of identification or we reasonably believe that the relationship between you and us has broken down.
8.3 If your matter does not conclude, or we are prevented from continuing to act because of our legal obligations or our professional rules and we are acting for you on a private client basis, we will charge you for any work we have actually done. and also any fee due to a medical expert which has been incurred due to your failure to attend any medical examination appointment without having provided the appropriate notice of your non-attendance to us. Our charges will be based on our hourly rates set out in this agreement.
8.4 If we cease acting for you, we shall (where relevant) inform the court or tribunal that we no longer act for you and shall apply to be removed from their records. We may charge you for doing so at our hourly rates applicable at the time.
9.1 If our instructions to act arose from a meeting (or other communication) that occurred with a representative of our firm who was not then at our office, it would be an “off-premises” contract; and as such (unless the payment for the services by you would not exceed £42 – e.g. a legal aid matter subject to no contribution), you would have a right to cancel your instructions to this firm (by letter, fax or e-mail) within 14 days of the day after the date that you contacted/instructed this firm. If you cancel the contract within that 14 day period, but in the meantime you instruct us to carry out an item of work, and we carry it out, you would be liable to pay our reasonable costs for that work. Also, if you authorise us to commence work and thereafter give notice of cancellation, by which time we have completed the matter, again you would be liable to pay our reasonable costs for that work. However, subject to this point, if you exercise your cancellation right, you would not be charged for our services.
9.2 If we have been instructed to act for you otherwise than as described above, this would be an “on-premises” contract, with no right of cancellation; although you would be entitled to terminate our retainer (as mentioned elsewhere in this document).
9.3 If you return these Terms and Conditions of Business, duly signed, then this would amount to your authority to proceed with this matter, with any cancellation right having been waived; and once we have started the work, you may be charged if you then cancel the instructions. As mentioned above, during the course of the matter you would be entitled to terminate our retainer.
10.1 The Law Society of England and Wales is a designated professional body under Section 326 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 which means that we may carry on certain regulated activities without being regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. This means that we may be able to provide limited financial services to you where such services arise out of, or are complementary to, the provision of legal services.
10.2 The Law Society is the designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, but responsibility for regulation has been delegated to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (the independent regulatory body of the Law Society), and responsibility for handling complaints has been delegated to the Legal Ombudsman. The contact details for the Solicitors Regulation Authority can be found at clause 1.3 and the contact details for the Legal Ombudsman can be found at clause 6.7.
10.3 The limited regulated activities that we carry out are issuing certain insurance policies, such as after the event legal expenses insurance, defective title insurance and other property indemnity insurance (such as breach of covenant, absence of easement, lack of planning permission, unknown rights and covenants policies).
10.4 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. This part of our business, including arrangements for complaints or redress if something goes wrong, is regulated by Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority website at www.fca.org.uk/register.
10.5 Any insurance policy arranged by us on your behalf, shall, in our opinion, be adequate to meet your needs, but you are hereby informed that we do not recommend any policy over and above any other and that it is your responsibility to check that you are satisfied with the excess levels, exclusions, limitations and other policy terms. We do not conduct a fair analysis of the insurance market prior to arranging insurance policies. You can request details of the insurance undertakings with which we conduct business at any time.
10.6 You hereby agree to provide us with details of any relevant existing insurance policies you may have and you agree that we shall not be liable to you for any losses you sustain as a result of your failure to provide us with such details.
11.1 You agree that the limitations on our liability as set out in this agreement are reasonable having regard to the nature of your instructions and the work involved and the availability and cost of professional indemnity insurance. We are, however, happy to consider options to increase these limitations, should you so require (which may result in an increase to our fees).
11.2 We will undertake the work relating to your matter with reasonable skill and care.
11.3 We accept liability without limit for the consequences of fraud by us or any of our Partners, Members, Consultants or Employees which is affected in their capacity as Partners, Members, Consultants or Employees and for any other liability which we are not permitted by law or rules of professional conduct to limit or exclude. If any part of this agreement which seeks to exclude, limit or restrict liability (including provisions limiting the amount we will be required to pay or limiting the time you have to bring a claim) is found by a court to be void or ineffective for any reason, the remaining provisions shall continue to be effective.
11.4 We will not be liable under this agreement or laws of negligence for any deficiencies in the work we have undertaken if and to the extent that deficiencies are due to any false, misleading or incomplete information or documentation which has been provided to us (whether by you or any third party) or due to the acts or omissions of you or any third party. However, where any failure by us to identify any such false, misleading or incomplete information (or any failure by us to inform you that we have identified such information or any failure to act on your resulting instructions) constitutes negligence then we shall, subject to the other provisions of this agreement, remain liable for such failure.
11.5 Despite anything else contained in this agreement, we are not under any obligation to act for you (or to continue to act for you) if to do so would breach any laws or professional rules. Therefore, we will not be responsible or liable to you for any loss which you or any other party may suffer as a result of our refusal to proceed with your matter where we would be in breach (or we reasonably believe that we would breach) of our legal obligations or our professional rules.
11.6 Except as stated in 11.3 and 11.9, the total aggregate liability of Hattons Solicitors Legal Services Limited to you under or in connection with this agreement (including any addition or variation to it), whether for breach of contract, negligence, breach of statutory duty, or otherwise, shall not exceed £3,000,000.00 (three million pounds).
11.7 Where we are instructed jointly by more than one party, the limit on our liability applies, in total, to all of you collectively (including anyone claiming through you or on your behalf).
11.8 You agree that you will not bring any claims or proceedings in connection with this agreement against our Members, Partners, Consultants or Employees personally, unless (and to the extent that) you are otherwise permitted to do so by law or our professional rules. Our Employees may enforce this clause even though they are not parties to this agreement (but despite having such rights, this agreement may be varied or ended without their consent).
11.9 Proceedings in respect of any claim against us must be commenced within six years after you first had (or ought reasonably to have had) both the knowledge for bringing an action for damages and the knowledge that you had the right to bring such an action and in any event no later than six years after any alleged breach of contract, negligence or other cause of action. This provision expressly overrides any statutory provision which would otherwise apply; it will not increase the time within which proceedings may be commenced and may reduce it.
11.10 If we and any other party or parties are liable to you together in respect of the same claim, then we shall only be liable to pay you the portion which is found to be fair and reasonable having regard to the level of our default. Therefore, we shall not be liable to pay you the portion which is due to the fault of such party, even if you do not recover all or any money from such other party for any reason.
11.11 If we are liable to you and any other party or parties would have been found liable to you together with us in respect of the same claim if either:
then any sum due from us to you shall be reduced by the proportion for which such other party or parties would have been found liable had those proceedings been brought or those claims been made.
11.12 Nothing in this agreement excludes or limits the liability of Hattons Solicitors Legal Services Limited for:
12.1 As part of carrying out your instructions to us, we may need to hold your money in our client account. In holding client’s money, we have an obligation to pay interest on that money at a fair and reasonable rate and are required to put in place an interest policy; this policy sets out the guidelines for when interest will be paid and is summarised below.
12.2 We aim to account to you for interest at a reasonable rate of interest. However as the holding of your funds is incidental to the carrying out of your legal instructions, the rate is unlikely to be as high as the rate you may be able to obtain yourself when depositing the money we hold on your behalf. We must ensure that money held on client account is immediately available and so the need for instant access is taken into account when setting the rate of interest payable by us.
12.3 We align our rates paid on both monies held on general client account and separate designated deposit account to the Royal Bank of Scotland. This rate is likely to change from time to time.
12.4 We have decided that the most fair and reasonable way to account to you for interest is for you to receive the full amount of interest earned on any monies held for you by this Firm. We will place the funds, if held for more than 3 working days and become cleared funds, in a designated deposit account at the Royal Bank of Scotland and we will account to you for all the interest earned on this account.
12.5 Unless otherwise agreed by us in writing, if we receive any sums to hold on your behalf (whether received directly from you or from a third party) then we may deposit such money into an account or accounts with any bank or financial institution (a “deposit provider” which expression shall include bank, financial institution or clearing house through which transfers are made) of our choosing. We confirm that we comply with any applicable laws and any applicable rules of a regulatory authority in respect of the making of any such deposits.
12.6 We shall not be liable for any loss which you or any third party may suffer in connection with an Insolvency Event occurring in relation to any deposit provider with whom we have deposited funds or through whom transfers are made, save if and to the extent that any such loss was caused by or contributed to by any breach by us of clause 11.5.
12.7 In clause 12.8 an “Insolvency Event” means:
12.8 If an Insolvency Event occurs in relation to any deposit provider which holds money that we have deposited on your behalf, you agree that we may, where applicable, disclose to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (“FSCS”) all relevant details in our possession about you and the money that we hold on your behalf with such a deposit provider. However, if you do not wish us to make any such disclosure, please notify us by writing to our Data Protection Compliance Officer, at our registered office. Please note that by withholding consent to our disclosure of your details to the FSCS in such circumstances, you may forfeit any right you may have to receive compensation from the FSCS where an Insolvency Event occurs in relation to a deposit provider holding money which we have deposited on your behalf. Compensation for deposits is limited to £85,000 for any individual’s total deposit with that service provider, including any personal finances. Further information regarding the FSCS can be found at www.fscs.org.uk, telephone number 020 7892 7300.
12.9 No interest is paid to any Client when the interest accrued is less than £20.00. The administrative time and expense in calculating such interest would exceed the value of the interest that would be paid (de minimis level).
13.1 We keep information passed to us confidential and will not disclose it to third parties except as authorised by you or required by law. In certain circumstances the law requires us to disclose information relating to you (for example, payments of interest earned on a clients’ account may have to be disclosed under the EU Savings Directive). If on your authority we are working with other professional advisers or lawyers, we will assume that we may disclose any relevant aspect of your affairs to them.
13.2 We may in some cases consult credit reference agencies in order to assess your creditworthiness. If you are an individual, we require your consent before we do this. Your continuing instructions to us will constitute your consent to us carrying out such a search. Details of the credit agency we use are available on request. We have procedures designed to ensure that personal data is used only by appropriately authorised and trained personnel and to safeguard such information against accidental loss or unauthorised disclosure. We will keep that information strictly confidential unless otherwise required by law or court order.
13.3 During the course of the firm’s work it may be necessary to discuss your case with cost specialists, experts or counsel. Your acceptance of these Terms of Business amounts to your consent to us to disclose information which we consider necessary to progress your case.
13.4 Where you provide us with fax or computer network addresses for sending material to, we will assume, unless you tell us otherwise, that your arrangements are sufficiently secure and confidential to protect your interests.
13.5 The Internet is not secure and there are risks if you send sensitive information in this manner or you ask us to do so. Data we send by email is not routinely encrypted, so please tell us if you do not want us to use email as a form of communication with you or if you require data to be encrypted.
13.6 We will take reasonable steps to protect the integrity of our computer systems by screening for viruses on email sent or received. We expect you to do the same for your computer systems.
13.7 We promise to respect the data we hold on you. Your acceptance of these terms authorises us to keep your details on our database so that we can provide you with legal services and for administration and accounting purposes, so that we can make credit searches and send you relevant information on our services and on events that may interest you. All information that we hold concerning you as an individual will be held and processed by us strictly in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998.
13.8 We will not, without your consent, supply your name and address to any third party except where:
13.9 The firm may become subject to periodic checks by Law Society approved Consultants and/or Assessors or Investors in People. This could mean that your file is selected for checking, in which case we would need your consent for the checking to occur. All such checks are conducted by individuals who have provided the firm with a Confidentiality Agreement. Your acceptance of these Terms of Business amounts to your consent to make your file available for checking. If you do not want us to make your file available for checking you must notify us immediately and we will mark your file accordingly. If you refuse to give us consent to checks, your refusal will not affect the way your case is handled in any way.
13.10 If you are an individual, you have a right under the Data Protection Act 1998 to obtain information from us, including a description of the data that we hold on you. Should you have any queries concerning this right, please contact our Data Protection Compliance Officer, at our registered office. We may charge you £10.00 for providing you with any such information. VAT will not be added to the charge.
13.11 We may correspond with you by email unless you advise us in writing that you do not wish us to do so. You acknowledge that email may not be secure. Email will be treated as written correspondence and we are entitled to assume that the purported sender of an email is the actual sender and that any express or implied approval or authority referred to in an email has been validly given. You consent to us monitoring and reading any email correspondence travelling between you and any mail recipient at Hattons Solicitors Legal Services Limited.
13.12 We will aim to communicate with you by such method as you request. More often than not this will be in writing, but may be by telephone if it is appropriate. We may need to virus check disks or e-mails, but unless you withdraw consent we may communicate with others when appropriate by e-mail or fax but we cannot be responsible for the security of correspondence and documents sent by e-mail or fax.
14.1 We have a duty to ensure that we are not involved in any way with attempts to launder money from the proceeds of crime and to be satisfied of the identity of all clients. We therefore need to obtain evidence of your identity as soon as possible. For this purpose we require the following two forms of identification: –
14.2 Please be aware that failure to provide these documents will delay matters as we are not able to commence our work on your behalf without them. Please see Form 4 in the section for documents to be signed and returned.
Please note we:-
15.1 If we recommend that you use a particular firm, agency or business, we shall do so in good faith and because we believe it to be in your best interests. If we recommend that you use a particular firm, agency or business that can only offer products from one source, we shall notify you in writing of this limitation. We will pay to you any commission that we receive from any particular firm, agency or business that we recommend you use.
15.2 If we recommend that you use a particular firm, agency or business, we shall not be liable to you for any advice you may be given by that firm, agency or business and you are advised that if that firm, agency or business is not another firm of solicitors you will not be afforded the regulatory protection of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) or of the SRA Code of Conduct and SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules, nor shall you be entitled to the benefit of the SRA Compensation Fund.
16.1 We are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of our dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our Equality and Diversity Policy.
16.2 If you have any special requirements in relation to the way in which you would like us to handle your work, (for example, if you consider yourself to have a disability) please let us know.
17.1 Except as stated otherwise in clause 11.8, a person who is not a party to this agreement shall not be entitled to enforce any of its terms.
18.1 These terms and our Client Care Letter shall be governed by, and interpreted in accordance with English law. Any disputes or claims concerning this agreement and any matters arising from it shall be dealt with only by the courts of England and Wales.
18.2 If we or you do not enforce our respective rights under this agreement at any time it will not prevent either us or you from doing so later.
18.3 If any provision of this agreement is found by any court or administrative body of competent jurisdiction to be invalid or unenforceable, such invalidity or unenforceability shall not affect the other provisions of this agreement which shall remain in full force and effect.
19.1 If you are injured and wish to pursue a claim for compensation, we will instruct a suitably qualified medical expert of appropriate seniority dependent upon the extent of your injuries. You will need to attend a medical examination following which a medical report will be compiled, a copy of which will be provided to you for agreement.
19.2 Important – Please Note: Should you fail to attend upon your medical examination appointment without having provided the appropriate notice of your non-attendance to us, you will be responsible for the fee incurred by the medical expert for the cost of the missed appointment (the non-attendance fee). This fee is typically £150.00.
19.3 These monies will be payable by you, and may be deducted from any damages we recover on your behalf as part of this claim.
19.4 We will be in a position to advise you as to the potential value of your claim once we are in receipt of the medical evidence.
19.5 Subject to your agreement, the medical evidence will be disclosed to the third party’s insurer and we will then attempt to negotiate settlement of your claim without the need to resort to litigation