Terms of engagement and complaints


1.         Responsibility for Work

The sole principal of the firm is Adil Vittachi who is a solicitor. He is responsible for, and will deal with, the legal work on your matter and may be assisted by Miranda Rossides who is a paralegal or by other paralegals, working under his supervision.  

We will:

  • Regularly update you as to progress on your    matter
  • Communicate with you in plain language

2.         Contacting Us

Our office is located on the first floor of 22 Aldermans Hill Palmers Green London N13 4PN. This is three doors from Palmers Green railway station.  We are open between 09.00 and 17.00 on weekdays.  Appointments can be arranged outside those hours when essential.  

When we are closed you can leave a message on our answerphone or if urgent an email can be sent to info@law123.co.uk

3.         Complaints

We aim to offer all our clients an efficient and effective service.  However, should there be any aspect of our services with which you are unhappy, please raise the matter with our principal who will provide you with a copy of our complaints procedure.  We will look into your complaint carefully and promptly.  

If for any reason we are unable to resolve the problem between us, then we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) under registration number 44601 and complaints and redress mechanisms are provided through the SRA and the Legal Ombudsman. 

The Legal Ombudsman may be contacted at PO Box 6806,Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ. Please be aware that any complaint to the Legal Ombudsman must usually be made within 12 months of our final response to you or within twelve months of you finding out there was a problem.  

For further information, you should contact the Legal Ombudsman on 0300 555 0333www.legalombudsman.org.uk.

4.         Insurance cover and limits

We hold professional indemnity insurance of two million pounds. We limit our liability to you to this amount. If you wish to see our insurance policy please ask.

5.         Our Charges

Professional Fees

In most cases we will agree a fixed fee with you. This will be confirmed in writing. Otherwise we will charge our fees calculated mainly by the time we spend in dealing with your matter. These charges will be set out in an initial client care letter we will send to you. VAT will be charged in addition. Our VAT registration number is 769 9881 36.

In some high value transactions and in the administration of estates our fees may be calculated both by reference to the time spent and also by reference to a value element for example, the price of the property; the amount of a mortgage advance; the size of the estate; or the value of the financial benefit.  The value element reflects the importance of the transaction and the consequent responsibility falling on us as a firm.  Where a value element will be included, we will be happy to explain how this is calculated.

Matter not concluded

If your matter does not complete, we will charge you for the work we have done based on our  hourly rates. For 2018/19 these are:

Principal – £200 per hour

Paralegal –  £80 per hour

(plus VAT)

Estimate of Costs – no fixed price given

We will:

  • give you the best costs information we can when we start your matter
  • update this as the matter progresses;
  • keep costs under review with you

Limits

You can set a limit for our charges. We will let you know when we are near to this so you can decide what you want to do.

Disbursements

We may need to pay other people for things relating to your matter such as court fees and Land Registry charges.  You will need to pay us in advance for these if we ask or to reimburse us in addition to our fees.

Fees payable to barristers will always have to be paid in advance.  

VAT may also be payable on some of these payments.

7.         Billing arrangements

Timing of bills

We may send you a bill:

  • At the end of the matter;
  • At intervals, if the matter is on-going;
  • If the matter will take more than three months to complete;
  • In probate cases when a Grant has been issued

In property matters we will usually send you a bill when contracts are exchanged. If we have sent you a bill we will deduct our charges from any money we receive on completion.

Payment

  • We may ask you to pay money on account of our fees
  • Payments are due 7 days after you receive the bill.
  • We may charge interest (at 4% above Barclays Bank base rate) if payment is late

Concerns over your bill

If you are not satisfied with the amount of our fees please contact us. Objections about the amount of our fees will be handled by way of our complaints procedure. 

If you remain unhappy about the level of our fees you may be able to make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman (see section 3) or you may be entitled to have the bill assessed by the Court in accordance with Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. Your rights are set out more fully in Sections 70, 71 and 72 of the Solicitors Act 1974.

Lien over papers and documents

We are entitled to retain your file of papers and documents while there is money owing to us for fees.  

Money

  • We can only accept cash up to £1,000
  • Any payments made to you will be by cheque or bank transfer and not in cash or to third parties
  • We will pay you interest on money we hold for you in accordance with the Solicitors’ Accounts rules 1998 and where the amount of your money we hold is £20,000 or more and the interest is at least £20.

      8.         Investment

Sometimes the work we are likely to carry out for you can involve investments.  We are not authorised by the Financial Services Authorityand so may refer a client to someone who is authorised to provide any necessary investment advice.  However, we can provide certain limited services in relation to investments provided they are closely linked with the legal services we are providing to a client, as weare members of the Law Society of England and Wales.

The Law Society is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 but responsibility for regulation and complaints handling has been separated from the Law Society’s representative functions.  The SRA is the independent regulatory body of the Law Society and the Legal Ombudsman is the independent complaints handling body of the Law Society.

      9.         Insurance

Although we are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority, we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Services Authority so that we can carry out 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 Regulatory Authority. The Register can be accessed by the Financial Services Authority website at www.fsa.gov.uk/register.

10.       Confidentiality

When you give us any personal information we will not pass this information to anyone else unless you instruct us to. This does not apply when the law says we have to make a disclosure. In particular we are required, without your knowledge or consent, to report any awareness or suspicion of money laundering in relation to the proceeds of any crime. 

Occasionally, our files may need to be examined by our insurers, external auditors (for quality purposes) or external advisers (who assist the firm in maintaining quality and risk).  In particular, our files may need to be assessed for quality purposes by the SRA. Also, we may use external companies or people to do photocopying and typing for us. 

These external organisations and people are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files. If you wish to withhold your consent, please let us know.

11.     Conflict

An actual or potential conflict between your interests and the interests of another client of the firm may arise during the course of a matter.  If this happens we will discuss this with you and determine what should happen.  

12.     Equality & Diversity

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.

13.     Data Protection

We are registered under the Data Protection Act 1998. We use the information you provide primarily for the provision of legal services to you and for related purposes including:

  • updating and enhancing client records
  • analysis to help us manage our practice
  • statutory returns
  • legal and regulatory compliance

Our use of that information is 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 give 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 from time to time send you information which we think might be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive that information please notify us in writing.

14.     Money Laundering

Notification 

Solicitors who deal with money and property on behalf of their client can be used by criminals wanting to launder money. 

Under the provisions of our statutory obligations (in particular under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007), we are under a strict duty to report any circumstances where we know or suspect that a client or matter is involved in money laundering or terrorist financing, to the Serious Organised Crime Agency.  Under these circumstances, we may not be able to tell you of the disclosure or seek your consent.  If we make a disclosure, we may also have to stop working on your matter for a period of time and may not be able to tell you why.

Identification

In view of the above, the law requires solicitors to get satisfactory evidence of the identity of their clients and sometimes people related to them. We may also be required to carry out background checks on our clients and to make detailed enquiries as to the source of funds being used in relation to transactions on which we are instructed to advise.

We are required to retain records of the identification obtained.

15.       Mortgage fraud

In property matters we will usually also be acting for your lender. We have a duty to fully reveal to your lender all relevant facts about the purchase and mortgage. This includes:

  • any differences between your mortgage application and information we receive during the transaction
  • any cash back payments or discount schemes that a seller is giving you

16.       Distance Selling Regulations

If we have not met with you the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 may apply to your matter. This means you have the right to cancel your instructions to us within 14 working days of receiving our first correspondence with you. 

You may cancel your instructions by contacting us by post at 22 Aldermans Hill Palmers Green London N13 4PN or by fax to 020 8886 9341.

Once we have started work on your matter, you may be charged if you then cancel your instructions. If you would like us to commence work on your matter within the next seven working days, please sign a copy of these terms and conditions, marking on them that you wish us to ‘commence work now’ and return the signed and marked copy to this office by post or fax.

17.       E-mail Communications

If you agree, we will use email to contact you except when we need to send you certain documents.

Please be aware that:

  • Communications over the Internet are not completely secure. You will have to guide us as to what should or should not be sent over the Internet.
  • Viruses or other harmful devices may be spread over the Internet.  We take reasonable precautions to prevent these problems by use of a firewall and virus checking software.  If we are to communicate by E-mail, it is on the basis that you will do likewise.

18.       Termination

Termination by you

You may withdraw your instructions at any time by written notice to us.  

We will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents whilst there is money owing to us for our fees and expenses.

Termination by us

In some circumstances, we may consider that we ought to cease acting for you.  We will only decline to act further for you where we have reasonable grounds to do so (for example: failure by you to settle invoices in full on the due date or to make payments in advance when so requested; failure by you to give clear and proper instructions on how we are to proceed; if it is clear that you have lost confidence in how we are carrying out your instructions; if by continuing to act we would be in breach of the law or rules of professional conduct).  If we do cease to act for you then we will confirm in writing the reasons why and give you reasonable notice. 

19.       Storage of files

We will keep our file of your papers for up to 6 years, except those papers that you ask to be returned to you. We keep files on the understanding that we can destroy them 6 years after the date of the final bill or earlier if they are scanned and stored electronically. 

We will not destroy documents you ask us to deposit in safe custody.

20.       Governing law

Any dispute or legal issue arising from these terms will be determined by the law of England & Wales and considered exclusively by the English and Welsh courts.

      22.          Future instructions

      Unless otherwise agreed, and subject to the application of then current hourly rates, these Terms and Conditions of Business (or our current terms where these have been notified to you) shall apply to any future instructions given by you to us.  

      Although your continuing instructions in this matter will amount to an acceptance of these terms and conditions of business, it will be helpful if you will please sign and return one copy of them for us to retain on our file.