Terms of Business
1. Regulated Services
Horizon Law Limited is authorised and regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers. We Work, 131 Finsbury Pavement, London EC2A 1NT (the CLC). This means that we are governed by a Code of Conduct and other professional rules, which you can access on the CLC’s website http://www.conveyancer.org.uk/ or by calling 020 7250 8465 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Business Hours
We are normally open between 8.30 am and 6.30 pm from Monday to Friday, excluding bank and public holidays, and between 9 am and 1pm on Saturdays. We can arrange appointments outside these hours.
3. Our Responsibilities
- treat you fairly and with respect
- communicate with you in plain language
- review your matter regularly
- advise you of any changes in the law that affect your matter
- advise you of any reasonably foreseeable circumstances and risks that could affect the outcome of your matter
4. Your Responsibilities
- provide us with clear, timely and accurate instructions
- provide all documentation and information that we reasonably request in a timely manner
- safeguard any documents that may be needed for your matter, including documents that you may have to disclose to another party
5. Service Levels and Frequency of Communication
- We will regularly update you by telephone or in writing with progress on your matter.
- We will explain to you by telephone or in writing the legal work required as your matter progresses.
- We will update you on the likely timescales for each stage of this matter and any important changes in those estimates. Whenever there is a material change in circumstances associated with your matter, we will update you on whether the likely outcomes still justify the likely costs and risks.
- We will update you on the cost of your matter at the intervals set out in our letter confirming your
instructions. If appropriate, we will continue to review whether there are alternative methods by which your matter can be funded.
Your matter may have been introduced to us by a firm or individual with whom we have a business relationship (an Introducer). We are required by the CLC Code of Conduct to notify you that we will pay that firm or individual an agreed sum on completion of your transaction from our own funds. This cost is a standard authorised charge that a law firm may pay to attract business. Any advice that we give will be independent and you are free to raise questions on all aspects of the transaction. Information regarding your transaction will not be disclosed to the Introducer unless you consent to this. If a matter arises where we are acting for the Introducer as well, and a conflict of interest arises, we might be obliged to cease acting. You have the right to instruct another law firm if you would like to. Please contact us if you would like further information about this.
Please confirm (if appropriate by signing the appropriate statement at the foot of our Client Care Letter) whether or not you were cold-called by the Introducer. Examples of cold-calling would be being approached in the street whilst shopping or being contacted by knocking on your door at home.
7. Limit of Liability
We have professional indemnity insurance giving cover for claims against the firm. Details of this insurance, including contact details of our insurer and the territorial coverage of the policy, can be inspected at our office or made available on request.
We will not be liable for any consequential, special, indirect or exemplary damages, costs or losses, or any damages, costs or losses attributable to lost profit or opportunity.
Horizon Law Limited is a limited company. This means that the firm’s members and directors are not personally liable for any acts or omissions by the firm, unless the law requires otherwise. This does not limit or exclude liability of the firm for the acts or omissions of its members and directors.
We can only limit our liability to the extent the law allows. In particular, we cannot limit liability for death or personal injury caused by negligence.
Please ask if you would like us to explain any of the terms above.
8. Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing
The Money Laundering Regulations require solicitors to obtain satisfactory evidence of identity of their clients and where a beneficial owner who is not the client, the identity of the beneficial owner. This is because solicitors who deal with money and property on behalf of their client can be targeted by criminals attempting to launder money.
We must by law obtain satisfactory evidence of your identity and address. Please help us to do so by giving us the information and documentation we ask for. We are unable to proceed with your transaction and will not be able to exchange contracts until this has been provided.
As lawyers, we are under a general professional and legal obligation to keep your affairs private. However, we are required, by current legislation, to make a report to the National Crime Agency (the NCA) where we know or suspect that a transaction involves Money Laundering or Terrorist Financing. By instructing us to act on your behalf in accordance with these Terms of Business you give us irrevocable authority to make a disclosure to the NCA if we consider it appropriate.
You agree that this authority overrides any confidentiality or entitlement to legal professional privilege. We shall be unable to tell you if we have made a report.
9. Data Protection
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 GDPR 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. Under data protection legislation you have a right of access to the personal data that 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, preferably in writing.
Sometimes we ask other companies or people to carry out administrative tasks on our files to ensure this is done promptly and in the most cost– effective manner. We will always seek a confidentiality agreement with these outsourced providers. If you do not want your file to be outsourced, please tell us as soon as possible.
11. External Auditing
External firms or organisations may conduct audit or quality checks on our practice, for example our regulator the CLC, our accountants or assessment bodies for quality accreditations. These external firms or organisations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files. Please contact the person responsible for your files at Horizon Law if you do not wish your files to be disclosed to external auditors.
The information and documentation you provide us is confidential and subject to legal professional privilege unless stated otherwise in this document or our letter confirming your instructions, such as in relation to prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing or we advise you otherwise during the course of your matter
We cannot absolutely guarantee the security of information communicated by email or mobile phone. Unless we hear from you to the contrary, we will assume that you consent for us to use these methods of communication.
13. Our Invoices
You are liable to pay legal costs as set out in our Client Care Letter. We will also usually discuss this at our initial meeting with you.
Invoices relating to a specific transaction should be paid on completion of that transaction. Other invoices (such as interim invoices or invoices relating to abortive work) should be paid within 10 working days. We may charge interest on overdue payments at 4 percentage points above our bank’s base rate.
We may cease acting for you if an invoice remains unpaid after 10 working days or if our reasonable request of a payment on account of costs is not met. You have the right to challenge or complain about our invoice. Please see the Complaints section above for details of how to complain about our invoice. We can keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses.
14. Interim Invoicing
We have a policy of requiring payment on account and/or rendering interim invoices for disbursements (that is payments made by us on your behalf and on which we make no profit) before they are incurred.
We have a policy of rendering regular interim invoices for fees for work done which helps you to judge the level of expenditure being incurred.
The conditions for payment of invoices for disbursements and interim invoices are the same as for payment of the final invoice.
15. Payments on Account
You may be asked either at the outset of your matter or during the course of it to make a payment on account. This may be in addition to or in substitution for an interim invoice.
Any sums so paid will be held by us for your account and will be taken in payment or in part payment for any invoice under which payment is or becomes due.
In the event of non-payment after 10 days of a request for a payment on account we reserve the right to cease work for you and to render an invoice for any un-invoiced work done to that time.
16. Payment of Interest to you
We are required to account to you for interest earned on our current clients’ account pursuant to the CLC’s Accounts Code, although we are permitted to contract out of that part of the Accounts Code, and we give you notice that we have done so. Our intention is to be fair to you the client at all times, however, and so the payment of interest will be at our discretion. If we decide to pay interest, the amount of interest payable will depend on the parameters contained in the Accounts Code and the length of time and amount of those funds held.
We should make it clear that if we set up one or more designated deposit clients’ accounts for you, we are obliged to account to you for interest earned, and we will do so, using the parameters referred to earlier in this section.
17. Receiving and Paying Funds
Our policy is to only accept cash up to £250. If you try to avoid this policy by depositing cash directly with our bank, we may decide to charge you for any additional checks we decide are necessary to prove the source of the funds. Where we have to pay money to you, it will be paid by cheque or bank transfer. It will not be paid in cash or to a third party.
18. Insurance Mediation Activity
This firm is not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. However, we are included in the register maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority so that we can carry on Insurance Mediation Activities, which is broadly 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 Council for Licensed Conveyancers. The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority website at http://www.fca.org.uk/register. The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints against lawyers. If you are unhappy with any insurance advice you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with the CLC or the Legal Ombudsman.
19. Financial Services Compensation Scheme
When acting for you, we may hold money on your behalf. You should be aware that it is unlikely that we would be held liable for any loss resulting from the failure of the bank where we hold this money. We will hold any money in one of our accounts with HSBC Bank plc or Saffron Building Society.
In the event that a bank fails, under the current Financial Services Compensation Scheme, you would be entitled to 100% of the first £85,000 held in that bank.
Please note that this compensation is limited to £85,000 per individual, not per account. If you already have money deposited with that bank in your own account, this will be included in the £85,000 maximum compensation.
Please also bear in mind that many banks and other deposit taking institutions have several brands; i.e. where that institution is trading under different names. You should check with your bank, the Financial Conduct Authority or a financial adviser for more information.
By instructing Horizon Law, you consent to us disclosing your personal details to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme in the event of a bank failure.
We are committed to providing high quality legal advice and client care. If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service you receive or our fees, please contact Guy Wheatcroft on 020 8441 9999, or by email to email@example.com, or by post to Highstone House, 165 High Street, Barnet EN5 5SU. We have a written procedure that sets out how we handle complaints. It is available at our Barnet office and in our website at http://www.horizonlaw.co.uk/.
If after following the review process you remain dissatisfied with any aspect of our handling of your complaint, you may contact the Legal Ombudsman (LeO) to ask them to consider the complaint further. The LeO’s contact details are: –
Telephone no: 0300 555 0333
Legal Ombudsman PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV19WJ
Unless it agrees there are good reasons not to do so, the LeO will, in the first instance expect you to allow us to consider and respond to your complaint in accordance with the procedure set out above. You can refer your complaint to the LeO up to six months after you have received our final written response to your complaint. You can also use the LeO service if we have not resolved your complaint within eight weeks of us receiving it. A complaint can be referred to the LeO up to six years from the date of the act or omission or up to three years after discovering a problem. The LeO deals with service-related complaints; any conduct-related complaints will be referred to the CLC. Further information regarding the LeO can be found on its website http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/.
In addition to the above, if you make a valid claim against us for a loss arising out of work for which we are legally responsible, and we are unable to meet our liability in full, you may be entitled to claim from the Compensation Fund administered by the CLC from whom details can be obtained.
Alternative complaints bodies such as ProMediate http://www.promediate.co.uk/what-we-do/what-is-mediation/ exist which are competent to deal with complaints about legal services should both you and our firm wish to use such a scheme.
In addition, if you are a client and we have made a contract with you by electronic means you may be entitled to use an EU online dispute resolution service to assist with any contractual dispute you may have with us. This service can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/odr. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
21. Equality and Diversity
We are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all our dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our Equality and Diversity policy.
22. Storage and Retrieval of Files
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 our file of your papers for up to 15 years, except those papers that you ask to be returned to you. We keep files on the understanding that we can destroy them a number of years after the date of the final bill, that period to be decided according to the relevant Code of the CLC from time to time. We will not destroy documents you ask us to deposit in safe custody.
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 the retrieval. However, we may charge you for time spent producing stored papers that are requested, and reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions in relation to the retrieved papers.
23. Terminating your Instructions
You may end your instructions at any time, by giving us notice in writing. We can keep all your papers and documents while our charges or disbursements are outstanding.
We can only decide to stop acting for you with good reason and we must give you reasonable notice.
If you or we decide that we should stop acting for you, you are liable to pay our charges up until that point. These are calculated on the basis set out in our letter confirming your instructions.
24. Future Instructions
Unless otherwise agreed, these Terms of Business will apply to all future instructions you give us on this or any other matter.
25. Applicable Law
Any dispute or legal issue arising from our Terms of Business will be determined by the law of England and Wales and considered exclusively by the English and Welsh courts.