Terms Of Engagement

The following terms of engagement apply to all work carried out by Clough & Willis for clients unless agreed otherwise in writing by a partner in the firm. In these terms, “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Clough & Willis and “you” and “your” refer to our client. 

Your Instructions 

1.1 We will take your instructions on your particular case and give you advice according to English law.

1.2 You and we agree to submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts. 

1.3 We try to avoid changing the lawyers who are handling your work. If we have to change the lawyer, we will tell you who will be dealing with your work and why the change was necessary.

1.4 Unless we agree a particular way of communication with you, we will choose whether we contact you in writing, in person, by phone or by e-mail.

1.5 We are advising and preparing documents for you and not anyone else. We do not accept responsibility if anyone else relies on our advice unless we have agreed that with you.

1.6 Unless we have agreed it separately with you, we will not be giving you tax or planning advice on your case.

1.7 We will keep you informed of progress on your case but you should let us know if you would like us to discuss particular reporting requirements with you.  

2 Data protection and using data

2.1 Under data protection law we have given the Information Commissioner formal notice that we handle personal information.

2.2 We have to tell you about your rights under data protection law. Please see the Privacy Notice here: https://clough-willis.co.uk/privacy-policy/ or a written copy can be obtained by contacting Lee Marston, Clough & Willis Solicitors, 2 Manchester Road, Bury, BL9 0DT 

2.3 As part of providing our services to you, we may need to reveal personal information about you to other people. It is impossible to list everyone this includes because this will depend on the nature of your case. However, examples might include:

2.3.1. the court;

2.3.2. other people who are involved in your legal action;

2.3.3. experts;

2.3.4. barristers;

2.3.5. legal agents or inquiry agents; or

2.3.6. other service providers (such as typing services).

2.4 In some cases we may have a legal duty to release information about you. If we have to release personal information about you as part of the work that we are providing to you, we will only release what is reasonable and appropriate. Please ask us if you are concerned about this. Please also see paragraph 3.

2.5 If we set up a company for you, we may have to release personal information about you to the companies that set it up and who provide director and secretarial services.

2.6 We might also need to share personal information about you with companies or businesses that we control or are connected with us.

2.7 Almost all of our IT is managed by another organisation, which may process your information for us. As a result, we may need to share with them personal information about you so they can maintain our IT systems, such as our electronic filing system. All these services are provided under a written contract with them to protect your details and to keep them confidential.

2.8 We would like to keep you up to date with information about us, our services, events and legal developments and issues that might interest you. Occasionally, we might also want to tell you about services, products or events other companies offer. We will send you an electronic communication to identify whether you would like to receive that information from us in the future and if so what and how you would like to receive it. 

3. Money laundering and terrorist financing regulations 

3.1 As well as what we say about using your personal information in paragraph 2 above, we will also use any personal information about you for the purposes of preventing money laundering and terrorism.

3.2 The Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 say we must gather evidence of the identity of our clients and of any ‘beneficial owners’ (people who own or control a client). 

3.3 As a result, we may do an independent computer identity check on you with another service provider and we will ask you to show us some form of personal or business documents (as required by the regulations) to check your identity. The service provider who carries out the check will record the fact that we have carried out a search and may also use the details from our search in the future to help other companies confirm people’s identities. The provider may also reveal your information to a credit reference agency to confirm your identity. That agency may keep a record of the search, but they will not carry out a credit check and your credit rating will not be affected.

3.4 We have to continually keep to these regulations and this may mean that there is a delay in the work we are carrying out for you. Neither we, nor our employees, consultants or members, accept any liability to you for any loss or damage caused by that delay.

3.5 Solicitors must keep the affairs of clients confidential. However, recent laws on money laundering and terrorist financing have given solicitors a legal duty in certain circumstances to release information to the National Crime Agency (NCA). If a solicitor knows or suspects that money laundering is involved when, for example, a client buys a property, the solicitor may have to tell the NCA. If this happens, we may not be able to tell you that your information has been passed on to the NCA because the law does not allow ‘tipping-off’. The NCA will then decide whether or not to let us continue acting for you. Even if the NCA gives permission for us to act, it can pass the information to any relevant body (for example, HM Revenue and Customs) and an investigation may take place at any time in the future. If there is no evidence for our suspicions, all letters, phone calls, e-mails and so on between you and us will remain private. If, however, the NCA finds evidence for our suspicions (for example where money we have handled on your behalf involves money laundering or we have become involved in money laundering in your case), that privacy will be lost and we can discuss the matter with other people, including showing them your letters, e-mails, phone call records and so on. 

4. Fee estimates and quotations 

4.1 If we provide a fee estimate or fee quotation for a piece of work its effect is as follows: 

4.1.1 An estimate is our indication, made in good faith, of our likely fee for carrying out the work concerned, based on our information at the time the estimate is given. An estimate is subject to revision and does not amount to a contractual commitment on our part to carry out the work for that fee. We will tell you promptly if it becomes apparent that our fees are likely to exceed an estimate that we have given. 

4.1.2 A quotation is a proposal by us to carry out specified work for a stated fee. If you accept that proposal, it then becomes a contractual commitment on our part. If we carry out work in addition to that specified, our fees for that additional work will be charged at our then applicable standard hourly rates.  We also reserve the right to charge additional fees on the same basis for material additional work arising from circumstances known to you (or which ought to have been known to you) when you accepted our quotation, but which you did not disclose to us. 

5. Payment on account of fees 

We may ask you, either at the outset of our work or as it progresses, to make a payment to us on account of our fees, expenses and disbursements. We hold client money in a separate bank account, as described below under “Custody of client money” and credit it against our invoice(s) for the work concerned. 

6. Interim Invoices 

In order to assist you in budgeting for further expenditure we may invoice you at periodic intervals as we consider appropriate before final completion of the work we have undertaken to do for you. An interim invoice represents our final charge for our work up to the date stated in the invoice unless we tell you otherwise at the time. 

7. Financial Services and Insurance Distribution 

7.1 If during this transaction you need advice on investments we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, as we are not. However, as we are regulated by the Law Society, we may be able to provide certain limited investment services where these are closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you. 

7.2 If you have any problem with the service we have provided for you then please let us know. We will try to resolve any problem quickly and operate an internal complaints handling system to help us resolve the problem between ourselves (please see 18.2 below) If for any reason we are unable to resolve the problem between us, then we are regulated by the  Solicitors Regulation Authority, which also provides a complaints and redress scheme. 

7.3 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 distribution 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 Regulation Authority (SRA). The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority website at:  www.fca.org.uk/firms/financial-services-register. 

8. Any monies we hold on your behalf

8.1 We may at some time during the transaction hold money on your behalf.  We confirm that our monies are held with the Royal Bank of Scotland plc (the Bank).  Your money is held in an individual client account in your name and therefore the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) individual limit of £85,000.00 applies to that account.  If you hold other personal monies of your own in the same Bank or group the limit will remain at £85,000.00 in total. Please ensure that you check as some deposit taking institutions have several brands. 

8.2 Please note the scheme application is limited.  If you are a corporate entity and not considered a small company by the FSCS, you will not be entitled to compensation. 

8.3 In the unlikely event that the Bank should fail the FSCS does apply to your money.  In the event of a collapse we would contact the FSCS with details of all clients whose monies are held in the account and the amount to which they are entitled with supporting evidence. You give your consent to give your details by instructing us in your matter.  If you do not give us the authority to release your identity in those circumstances although we may notify the FSCS of the account balance you will not be able to receive compensation from them for any monies held in our client account on your behalf. 

8.4 Please note it is unlikely we will be held liable for losses resulting from any banking failure and if you wish to leave your money in client account with us on a long term basis you must be aware of this. 

9. Custody of Client Money 

9.1 Any of your money which we hold for you, for whatsoever reason, will be held in our general client account under your name and which is a bank account separate from our own money.  

9.2 We will account to you for interest on this money, in accordance with the current Solicitors’ Accounts (Deposit Interest) Rules. Such interest is paid to UK resident clients without deduction on account of tax and should be declared by recipients to the appropriate taxing authorities accordingly.  

9.3 Our policy and rates of interest payable are reviewed from time to time and are set out on our website. 

10. Disbursements and expenses

10.1 Unless you notify us in writing to the contrary, we will assume that we have authority to incur the usual disbursements and expenses encountered in the course of work we do for you.

10.2 We shall in any event seek your express agreement before incurring on your behalf sums which are substantial in the context of the work in question and our knowledge of your circumstances. 

10.3 Disbursements and expenses are charged to you in addition to our fees.  

10.4 Invoices in respect of disbursements and expenses are payable immediately. 

11. CHAPS Payments (Clearing House Automated Payment Service) 

These are payments to UK bank accounts that are guaranteed to arrive on the day you make them.  Our bank levies a charge of £10 plus VAT for these and we also make an administration charge  of £20 plus VAT. 

12. Payment terms 

12.1 We are committed to providing a timely service and in turn you must pay interim and final invoices within the appropriate credit period.

12.2 The appropriate credit period may be set out in our acknowledgment of instruction letter. It will also be stated when the invoice is delivered. 

12.3 If you wish to dispute any invoice you should speak to the person responsible for the relevant work immediately so that any necessary action can be taken.

12.4 We reserve the right to charge interest, from the end of our credit period, at the current Court debtor’s rate of 8% a year on any outstanding balance. 

13. Commissions 

If we receive a commission from a third party arising from work we are doing for you, we will credit you with that commission, unless you have agreed otherwise or the amount is less than ten pounds (£10.00). 

14. Papers held by the firm 

14.1 When we complete the work concerned we require you to collect all documents and other material loaned by you to us for the purpose of that work.

14.2 Our working materials, all correspondence between you and us and other material generated by us in that work will remain our property. Unless agreed otherwise, we will retain these documents and materials, normally for a minimum of 6 years, when we may destroy them without further reference to you.

14.3 We may exercise a lien over (that is, retain) any of your property and money we hold for as long as any fees are outstanding. 

15. Document custody 

15.1 We will store deeds and documents in our strong room for you if you require.

15.2 We do not make any charge for this service but except by prior arrangement we do not accept responsibility for the loss or damage of any item which we hold. 

15.3 There will be an administration charge for retrieval of deeds payable at the time of request.  The fee is currently £20 plus VAT (£24 including VAT). 

16. Termination of our instructions

16.1 The following terms apply unless other arrangements are agreed with you at the outset of your case. 

16.2 We expect to continue to act for you until we finish the work concerned.  Either you or we may bring instructions to an end at any time by telling the other in writing. We will not do this without good reason. Examples include the creation of a conflict of interest, your requiring us to break rules of professional conduct, our determining that the relationship of trust and confidence necessary between Solicitor and Client does not exist between us, your failure to give us adequate instructions and your failure to pay any amount due to us.

16.3 If either of us terminates instructions, you must pay all fees disbursements and expenses incurred before termination, plus any further fees disbursements and expenses for work necessary to transfer our files to another adviser of your choice. 

17. V.A.T. 

VAT at the prevailing rate(s) will be added to fees, disbursements and expenses where applicable. 

18. Complaints 

18.1 We are committed to high quality legal advice and client care. If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service you have received or about a bill please try to resolve this with the lawyer dealing with your case. 

18.2 If you do not feel he/she has dealt with your complaint adequately please contact Christopher Macwilliam on 0161 764 5266 or by email at christopher.macwilliam@clough-willis.co.uk  or by post to our head office. 

18.3 We have a procedure in place which details how we handle complaints which can be found on our website here. A printed copy is available on request. 

18.4 If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider the complaint. Normally, you will need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint. 

18.5 The Legal Ombudsman’s address is P.O. Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ, its website address is www.legalombudsman.org.uk and its phone number is 0300 555 0333. 

19. Changing these terms 

If we change these terms, we will write to tell you.

Note

These are our standard terms and conditions of business and apply to all matters we undertake for our clients unless we agree otherwise in writing during the course of a particular matter. Any such written  agreement shall take precedence over these standard terms and conditions.