Terms of Business
In these Terms of Engagement, the words Hattons, Hattons Solicitors, Hattons For Business, we, us or our, refer to Hattons Legal Services Limited (the company) registered in England and Wales Reg. No. 09771400.
2.1 Under these Terms of Engagement, your engagement is with the company and no one else. Accordingly, any work done for you by an individual director, employee or consultant of the company shall be carried out on behalf of the company and not in that person’s individual capacity. No director, employee or consultant shall be personally responsible for any advice or work carried out for you and any duty of care which such person would otherwise owe to you is excluded. You agree that you will not bring any claim in respect of or in connection with our work against any director, employee or consultant of Hattons Legal Services Limited and this paragraph 2.1 may be enforced by any director, employee or consultant of Hattons Legal Services Limited in accordance with the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999.
2.2 Your work will be handled by the director, solicitor, trainee solicitor or paralegal, or team of them as set out in the covering letter to these Terms of Engagement. We will ensure that your work is handled by personnel with the requisite level of experience to conduct it properly and cost-effectively.
2.3 We try to avoid changing the people who are handling your work but on occasions this is unavoidable. We will discuss any significant change and the reason for it with you beforehand.
3. Our work for you
3.1 We will review your matter regularly. We will advise you of any changes in the law relevant to your matter. We will advise you of any circumstances and risks of which we are aware or consider to be reasonably foreseeable that could affect the outcome of your matter
3.2 If we engage other professional advisers on your behalf, we do so as your agent. Their fees shall be for your account in addition to our own fees and unless we have otherwise agreed in writing, we accept no responsibility for their work.
3.3 We operate procedures for identifying and assessing conflicts of interest at the outset of and during any matter. If a conflict arises we might have to stop acting for you. If you become aware of a possible conflict, please let us know as soon as possible.
4. Queries and complaints
4.1 If you have any queries or concerns regarding any aspect of our work for you or our bill, we have a procedure in place which details how we handle complaints. You may request a copy of this at any time. Please raise any queries or concerns in the first instance with the person handling your work. They will be keen to resolve your concerns as soon as possible. If your complaint cannot be dealt with by them, then it will be referred to the Managing Director, Bruce Hatton who can be contacted on 01744 413170 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are still not satisfied you may be entitled to ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider the complaint. If you have a complaint about our bill, you may also be able to apply to the court for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. The Legal Ombudsman service is available to individuals and very small businesses, charities, clubs and trusts. Any complaint to the Legal Ombudsman must usually be made within six months of the date of our final decision on your complaint and within six years from when the problem occurred, (or if outside of this period, within three years of when you should reasonably have been aware of it). Generally, the Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints relating to acts or omissions that happened after 5 October 2010. There are some restrictions on these time limits and for further information on whether you are entitled to have a complaint considered by the Legal Ombudsman, or on any other aspect of its service, you should contact the Legal Ombudsman (Helpline number: 0300 555 0333) or visit: http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk. If you prefer to write to the Legal Ombudsman, the address is PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ or email email@example.com.
5. Limitation of our liability
Subject to paragraph 5.2, our liability to you arising out of this engagement shall be limited:
5.1 to that proportion of the loss or damage (including interest and costs) suffered by you which is ascribed to us by a court of competent jurisdiction allocating proportionate responsibility to us having regard to the contribution to the loss and damage in question of any other person (loss and damage having the same meaning as in the Civil Liability (Contribution) Act 1978) and for the purposes of determining our proportionate liability no account shall be taken of any limitation of liability which you have agreed with any other person or to that other person’s inability to pay for any reason; and
5.2 in total to £3,000,000 (or such other amount as we have agreed with you in writing) to cover any claims arising out of any individual matter on which you have instructed us or any series of claims arising from the same or similar circumstances (whether on the same matter or not).
Nothing in these Terms of Engagement shall apply to exclude or limit any liability for death or personal injury caused by our negligence or any other liability for which exclusion or restriction is prohibited by law or any liability arising as a result of fraud on our part.
6. Electronic communication and electronic data rooms/data storage
6.1 When using electronic modes of communication, we take reasonable precautions to preserve confidentiality. However, we cannot guarantee it and you accept that we cannot be held liable for any breaches of confidentiality which may occur as a result of electronic communications with us. You also accept the inherent risks associated with electronic communications (including that messages are not encrypted and are not secure). If you prefer not to use electronic communications on any particular matter, please let us know. Unless you ask us to, we will not ordinarily send you confirmatory hard copies of faxes or emails.
6.2 Although our computers are loaded with virus protection software and we take measures to reduce the risk of viruses on our computers, we are not responsible for any loss or damage caused to you or your computer system directly or indirectly as a result of electronic communication with us.
6.3 We provide a web-based electronic file access (see ‘Fileview – ACCESS YOUR CASE ONLINE’ below). Although we seek confidentiality undertakings from the external service provider and relevant third parties covering information placed in it, information may be stored on servers abroad and under the control of the service provider and we cannot guarantee any person’s compliance with those undertakings.
6.4 If you choose to use the facility we may (1) upload information you provide to us to it, and (2) grant access to third parties, unless you ask us not to. Access to and use of the facility will be subject to additional terms and conditions which will be available through it.
6.5 We will not be responsible for loss, disclosure or damage resulting from the storage of your data on the facility.
7. Data protection
7.1 We are registered under the Data Protection Act 2018 (the DPA). In order to keep our clients advised of our services or matters which affect their businesses we have a database on which your business and contact details are maintained. This enables us to inform you about matters that may be of interest to you, to carry out our services, and to comply with our legal and regulatory obligations, among other things. The information which we hold may be accessed by or given to our staff and third parties who are providing services to us or to you. You have a right of access under the DPA to the personal data that we hold about you. If you do not wish us to contact you with details of the other services we offer, or to disclose information to third parties outside of Hattons Solicitors, please let us know and if personal data we hold about you is wrong or contains errors, please tell us.
7.2 Hattons Solicitors’ privacy notice can be found at https://www.hattonslaw.com/privacy-policy/?highlight=GDPR
7.3 In order to ensure that we are able to give as efficient a service as possible, please notify us of any change of address, telephone number, contact name or other personal details as soon as possible.
7.4 All calls both into and out of Hattons Solicitors will be recorded for training purposes.
8. Files and documents
8.1 After completing the work, we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses. We will keep your file of your papers for up to 7 years, except those papers that you ask to be returned to you. We keep files on the understanding that we can destroy them 7 years after the date of the final bill. We will not destroy documents you ask us to deposit in safe custody.
8.2 If we take papers or documents out of storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act for you, we will not normally charge for such retrieval. However, we may charge you for time spent producing stored papers that are requested and/or reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions in relation to the retrieved papers.
8.3 Our working papers, draft documents and copies of letters sent by us have been provided solely for the purposes of the matter you have instructed us on and will remain our property. Copyright in any document created by us will not be transferred to you unless we have specifically agreed otherwise. We assert the right to be identified as the author of and to object to the misuse of any such document.
9.1 We will agree a fee structure with you and confirm it in writing prior to commencing work on your behalf. Where this is not possible, for example, due to time constraints, we will provide written confirmation as soon as reasonably practicable.
9.2 Where hourly rates apply, they cover time spent on your work, including attending meetings, dealing with correspondence and other paperwork, drafting, advising, telephone calls, court hearings, travelling and all usual secretarial and administrative requirements. Our hourly rates do not include other administrative services provided by us, such as banking administration, photocopying, printing, scanning, fax, telephone or teleconferencing costs, for which we may make an additional charge on terms and rates determined by us from time to time. We are happy to provide details of such additional charges on request. Further, our hourly rates do not include disbursements or VAT. These are payable in addition. Disbursements include all third party expenses incurred by us on your behalf such as couriers, travelling expenses, counsel’s fees, court fees, search fees, registration fees, tax and all other expenses or third party fees paid or incurred by us on your behalf.
9.3 We may agree to represent you under the terms of a damages based agreement (‘no win no fee’), details of which will be provided to you if appropriate.
9.4 We may agree to receive full or part payment of our fees from a third party (i.e. your employer). Whilst we will seek recovery of costs from them, you will at all times remain ultimately responsible for payment of our fees and any disbursements or VAT.
9.5 Our charging rates are given as guidelines but your invoice may reflect additional factors, such as the urgency, value or complexity of the work we are doing for you. Our charging rates are reviewed periodically and any changes will be notified to you before they take effect. The rate charged may be less than quoted depending on the level of fee earner working on the file at the particular time. The current hourly rates are set out below. We will add VAT to these at the rate that applies when the work is done. At present, VAT is 20%. Our VAT number is 703425861.
9.6 Routine letters are charged as 6 minute units of time and we charge for the time spent on making and taking telephone calls in 6 minute units. The consideration of documents is also charged in units of 6 minutes.
9.7 We may send you regular interim bills or requests for payment on account during the (unless agreed otherwise as set out in our covering letter). If such requests are not met with prompt payment, delay in the progress of a case may result. In the unlikely event of any bill or request for payment not being met, this firm must reserve the right to stop acting for you further.
|Trainee Solicitors Legal/Executives/Paralegal||£195.00|
9.8 Payment is due to us within 28 days of our sending you a bill. Interest will be charged on a daily basis at 4% over Bank of England’s base rate from time to time from the date of the bill in cases where payment is not made within 28 days of delivery by us of the bill.
9.9 The common law entitles us to retain any money, papers or other property belonging to you which properly come into our possession pending payment of our costs, whether or not the property is acquired in connection with the matter for which the costs were incurred. This is known as a “general lien”. We are not entitled to sell property held under a lien but we are entitled to hold property, other than money, even if the value of it greatly exceeds the amount due to us in respect of costs.
10. Client Money
10.1 Where we hold money on your behalf in a general client account we shall, unless otherwise agreed in writing, account to you at the end of the matter for interest earned on such money in accordance with the SRA Accounts Rules. If you do not wish to receive interest please inform us that you wish to waive your right to interest. We regularly review our interest rates to ensure they are fair and reasonable. For details of the current interest rates payable or to discuss any aspect of our interest policy, please speak with the person handling your work or the supervising partner on your matter.
10.2 In certain circumstances we are required by law to provide prescribed information to HM Revenue & Customs in connection with interest paid to you on money held by us on your behalf. We shall not be liable to you for any loss which you may suffer as a result of our compliance with our statutory obligations.
10.3 For the avoidance of doubt, if any bank with which we have client funds on deposit becomes insolvent, or is the subject of any insolvency, administration, moratorium or analogous proceedings, or if any other circumstances affect our ability to access or deal with client funds, we will not be liable for any loss of the money held in our client account or for any other loss or damage incurred or suffered by you as a result. In certain circumstances we may be able to make a claim under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in respect of money held for you and you agree that we may disclose necessary information about you to the FSCS in connection with any such claim.
11. Consumer protection
If our agreement to act for you on any new matter is an “off-premises contract” within the meaning of the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013:
11.1 You may withdraw (without charge and without giving any reason) instructions on that new matter up to 14 days after the day we accept your instructions or you receive these Terms of Engagement, whichever is later (the Cancellation Period). You must inform us of your decision to cancel in writing by letter, fax or email. To meet the cancellation deadline, it is sufficient for you to send the communication exercising your right before the end of the Cancellation Period;
11.2 If you want us to start work on a new matter during the Cancellation Period you must tell us in writing. If you cancel after instructing us to start work, but before the end of the Cancellation Period you will be liable to pay us an amount which is in proportion to the work done up to the point of informing us of your decision to cancel. If you instruct us to start work in the Cancellation Period, your right to cancel will be lost if we have completed the work before the end of the Cancellation Period.
12.1 You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time. If you do so then we will be entitled to retain your deeds, documents and other papers until payment of our fees, although we will try to reach a practical agreement allowing any other solicitors whom you may have instructed to have access to those papers on an undertaking from them to pay our fees.
12.2 We reserve the right to terminate our engagement with you at any time, but we will normally only do so in writing on reasonable notice and for good cause, for example if you fail to give us clear and proper instructions as to how you wish us to proceed, or if you fail to pay a bill by the due date. We will be entitled to retain your deeds, documents, and other papers until payment of our fees.
12.3 In any case where our engagement is terminated (whether by you or us), you will be liable for all costs and expenses incurred or accrued as at the date of termination.
13.1 Except to the extent that disclosure is required by law or regulation, and subject to this paragraph 13 and paragraphs 6 and 14, we will keep your affairs and the information we receive from you confidential, and will not disclose it to third parties without your permission.
13.2 External firms or organisations may conduct audit or quality checks on our practice from time to time. They may wish to audit/quality check your file and related papers for this purpose. It is a specific requirement imposed by us that these external firms or organisations fully maintain confidentiality in relation to any files and papers which are audited/quality checked by them. Your files may also be reviewed in a due diligence exercise relating to the sale or transfer of all or part of our business, the acquisition of another business by us or the acquisition of new business If you do not wish your file to be used in this way, please let us know as soon as possible.
13.3 From time to time we need to disclose information, which may relate to your matters, to insurers, brokers and other advisers. You agree that we may make such disclosures. Our professional indemnity insurers also require us to disclose as soon as practicable any circumstances which may give rise to a claim. Unless you notify us otherwise, you agree that we may make such disclosures and you agree to waive privilege in relation to any such disclosure so that we may comply with the conditions of our insurance.
13.4 We may engage third parties to undertake searches, typing, printing, copying, translation and other support services. We will always seek a confidentiality agreement with outsourced providers. If you do not want work on your matter to be outsourced, please tell us as soon as possible.
14. Money Laundering
14.1 For the protection of our clients and in order to comply with our legal and professional obligations, we operate a money laundering reporting procedure. When we agree to act on your behalf we are required by law to check your identity and in some cases the identity of people connected with you. Any documents provided to us will be recorded and copied for audit purposes as part of our anti money laundering requirements.
14.2 We are professionally and legally obliged to keep your affairs confidential. However, solicitors may be required by statute to make a disclosure to the National Crime Agency where they know or suspect that a transaction may involve money laundering or terrorist financing. If we 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.
15. SRA regulation
Hattons Legal Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). The SRA Code of Conduct is available from the SRA website at: http://www.sra.org.uk/handbook/
16. Equality and Diversity
We are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of our dealings with clients, third parties and employees.
17.1 Unless otherwise agreed, these Terms of Engagement apply to any current instructions we are handling for you and any future instructions you give us and supersede any previous Terms of Engagement we may have sent to you. If you continue to instruct us after receiving these Terms of Engagement you will be deemed to have accepted them.
17.2 Save as provided in these Terms of Engagement or as expressly agreed between us in writing, a person who is not a party to this engagement shall have no right to enforce any of its terms under the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999.
17.3 Any claim arising out of this engagement shall be brought against us within six years of the act or omission alleged to have caused the loss in question.
17.4 Our relationship will be governed by English law and will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.