The hourly charge-out rate from 1 February 2020 is £245 (+ VAT if applicable). From time to time, the hourly rate may be revised and we will write to notify you of any change. All work is charged on a time basis. There is a minimum charge of 6 minute units for routine correspondence and telephone calls (made and received). Travel time is charged at an hourly rate of £185 (+ VAT). Administrative work is charged at an hourly rate of £150 (+ VAT).
Expenses – Items not included in Hourly Rate
Expenses include items such as VAT if payable, courier charges, bank charges, exchange commissions, printing / photocopying & communication costs and travelling and related expenses. Third party expenses incurred on your behalf cover items such as Counsel’s fees, expert fees, Court fees, translation costs and foreign correspondents’ charges. We reserve the right to request that you pay such third party expenses direct to the third party.
Interim invoices on account of our fees and disbursements are rendered regularly on all matters, usually either monthly or quarterly alternatively when a pre-agreed level of Work in Progress is reached.
A final bill will be sent out on completion of work. Payment is due as soon as the invoice is rendered. Payment method shall be either by bank transfer or cheque drawn on a UK based bank account (in either case, in full and without deduction of bank charges). We reserve the right to charge interest on invoices at 2% above UK base rate per year from the date of the invoice if payment is not received within 30 days. Such interest will be charged daily. In addition, we shall not undertake any further work (which includes not taking any steps to protect relevant time limits or time bars) until any outstanding invoice is settled or payment on account is made.
Any query arising out of an invoice should be raised without delay.
“Disbursements Only” Invoices
A “Disbursements only” invoice may be rendered where the unbilled disbursements on a matter exceed £50. This invoice is payable on receipt and if not settled promptly we may write to you indicating that we shall not undertake any further work until the outstanding invoice is settled.
Money on Account
We reserve the right to request payments on account of charges and expenses as a matter progresses. Such sums will be held in our client account and off-set against invoices.
Interest on Client’s Money
In accordance with the current rules of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and subject to a minimum amount of £20, where client’s money is held in our general client account, interest (by reference to the prevailing rate on an instant-access savings account of the firm’s bank) is payable to clients on all money held on their behalf, including payments made on account of costs and disbursements.
We may from time to time outsource work (for instance administrative or secretarial work) to ensure that this is done promptly. Steps will be taken to ensure client confidentiality is maintained and our Data and Privacy Policies are adhered to. If you do not want your file to be outsourced, please tell us in writing as soon as possible.
Auditing and vetting of files
Document Storage / Retention
All client’s papers and documents will be retained while money is owed to us for our charges and expenses. Unless otherwise agreed, the client’s papers and documents will only be stored for 7 years from the date of the final invoice. Such documents and papers will then be destroyed without further notice.
Data Protection Policy (see attached)
The business is required to comply with the law governing the management and storage of personal data, which is set out in the Data Protection Act 1998 & General Data Protection Regulation 2016 (GDPR). Compliance with the GDPR is overseen by the UK data protection Regulator which is the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
The business is accountable to the ICO for its data protection compliance. This policy applies to all staff, consultants and any third parties that this policy has been communicated to.
This policy covers all personal data and special categories of personal data, processed on computers or stored in manual (paper based) files. Philip Stembridge is the Data Protection Officer (DPO) responsible for ensuring compliance for this organisation.
Use of Your Information.
In accordance with Money Laundering Regulations, in certain circumstances and usually before accepting instructions, we may ask you to provide evidence of your identity and, if you are acting as an agent, for evidence of your principal’s identity.
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.
You agree to provide evidence of your identity and if applicable that of directors, partners, trustees and controllers of your company or firm and all connected shareholders to comply with our obligations under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 POCA, current terrorism legislation and anti-money laundering regulations.
Level of Service
While we are a small firm, we feel this enables us to provide a high standard of service at a reasonable cost. If at any stage you feel any concern about the service we are providing or fees charged, please free to contact us. It is the firm’s policy to be ready always to discuss any points of concern and a copy of our Complaints Procedure is available upon request. As with all law firms, if any complaint over the level of service provided has not been dealt with to your satisfaction within 8 weeks of being raised you may be entitled to contact the Legal Ombudsman (www.legalombudsman.org.uk). You may have a right to object to an invoice by applying to the English High Court for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974.
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 and to arrange indemnity insurance
- Statutory returns
- Legal and regulatory compliance
Our use of that information is subject to your instructions, the Data Protection Act 1998 and our duty to 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 we hold about you.
We may from time to time send you information that we think might be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive that information please notify our office in writing.
Information about our professional indemnity insurance cover is available upon request.
Termination of Retainer
Clients may terminate our retainer at any time provided they do so in writing. However, all papers will remain subject to our retention until all outstanding charges for work and expenses are paid in full. In certain circumstances, we reserve the right to terminate a client’s retainer, for instance, if the client fails to provide proper instructions or settle invoices for charges, expenses or on account payments.
Law and Jurisdiction
These Terms of Business shall be governed by and construed in accordance with English law. All and any claims, disputes or differences shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Courts of England and Wales.
Acceptance of these Terms of Business & Consent To Hold Your Data
By replying in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org stating “I Agree” or equivalent, you confirm your consent to your information being used and stored by Stembridge Solicitors Limited and agree to these Terms of Business.