Terms of Business
Terms of Business
These terms, together with any covering letter or e-mail setting out specific details of the basis on which we are instructed, comprises our retainer. Kaurmaxwell Limited is a limited company registered in England and Wales under company number 11121299 (“KaurMaxwell”). The firm is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (“SRA”). References to a partner of the firm are to a director or shareholder of KaurMaxwell or employee or consultant of equivalent standing. A list of directors of KaurMaxwell is available for inspection at 16 High Holborn, London WC1V 6BX.
Scope of Advice
We only advise on the law of England and Wales. We do not provide advice on the law of other jurisdictions, including Scotland, Northern Island, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands. We do not provide advice on taxation matters (see further below). We will set out in a separate communication to you the scope of the work on which we are instructed before we carry out any substantive work on your behalf.
Conflicts of interest
When you first consult us, we will check whether there is any connection between the firm and your opponent or other party involved in the case. If there is a connection and we believe this may give rise to a conflict of interest, we will not be able to accept instructions from you. Should a conflict of interest arise as a case develops, we will let you know. If this occurs, we may not be able to continue to represent you.
Our hours of business
The normal hours of opening at our offices are between 9.00 am and 6.00 pm on weekdays. The partners of the firm can be contacted outside office hours where urgently required on their mobiles or by e-mail, details of which are set out in all of our e-mail communications.
People responsible for your work
When you instruct us, you will be advised in writing which partner will be responsible for dealing with your work. Partners at KaurMaxwell are heavily involved in all client matters on a day to day basis although work requiring less experience will be dealt with by more junior staff under partner supervision.
Charges and expenses
In litigation matters, our charges are calculated mainly by reference to the time actually spent by the solicitors and other staff in respect of any work which they do on your behalf. This may include meetings with you and perhaps others; reading, preparing and working on papers; making and receiving telephone calls, e-mails, faxes and text messages; preparation of any detailed costs estimates, schedules and bills; attending at court; and time necessarily spent travelling away from the office. From time to time we may arrange for some of this work to be carried out by persons not directly employed by us; such work will be charged to you at the hourly rate which would be charged if we had done the work ourselves.
- Routine letters, e-mails and texts that we send and routine telephone calls that we make and receive are charged at one-tenth of the hourly rate. Other letters, e-mails and calls are charged on a time spent basis.
- The current hourly rates are set out below. We will add VAT (if applicable) to these at the rate that applies when the work is done. At present, VAT is 20%.
Solicitors, Partners and legal executives with over 8 years of equivalent experience
£430 + VAT
Solicitors or legal executives and fee earners with over 4 years of equivalent experience
£390 + VAT
Solicitors or legal executives and fee earners of equivalent experience
£250 + VAT
Trainee Solicitors, paralegals and other fee earners
£200 + VAT
These hourly rates have to be reviewed periodically to reflect increases in overhead costs and inflation. Normally the rates are reviewed with effect from 1 January each year. If a review is carried out before this matter has been concluded, we will inform you of any variation in the rate before it takes effect.
- In addition to the time spent, we may take into account a number of factors including any need to carry out work outside our normal office hours, the complexity of the issues, the speed at which action has to be taken, any particular specialist expertise which the case may demand. An increase in the rates may be applied to reflect such factors.
- We will provide you with a costs estimate of dealing with your matter at an early a stage in the matter as possible. Where circumstances change which have an impact on the cost estimate, we will advise you as soon as reasonably practicable of the change and the revised estimate in writing.
- In transactional matters, whilst time spent will be a factor in our charges, generally we will provide you with a fixed or capped fee quotation for carrying out your instructions. In such cases, the likely time involved will only be one a range of factors which may also include the complexity of the transaction, the value and importance of the transaction, the urgency of the matter, etc.
- As with contentious matters, where circumstances change which significantly impact on the work required on a transaction, we reserve the right to increase the amount of our quotation accordingly and we will advise you of this change as soon as reasonably practicable following the change in circumstances in writing.
- Solicitors have to pay out various other expenses on behalf of clients ranging from Court fees, Counsel, experts’ fees, and so on. We have no obligation to make such payments unless you have provided us with the funds for that purpose. VAT is payable on certain expenses. We refer to such payments generally as ‘disbursements’.
- We will add charges for telephone calls, postage, photocopying (5p per sheet), delivery charges and fares to our invoices.
- We seek to reduce your costs where possible. Rather than traditionally having a junior charge their time for doing at attendance note after a telephone conference, we will more likely than not, suggest that the call be recorded, and the sound file will be saved on your matter. This can be used as a point of reference for you and us. You can always choose to opt out should you wish.
- If, for any reason, this matter does not proceed to completion, we will be entitled to charge you for work done and expenses incurred.
- Transactions: We will normally send you our bill on completion of the work although if the transaction is protracted, we reserve the right to issue an interim bill.
- Litigation: It is normal practice to ask clients to pay interim bills and sums of money from time to time on account of the charges and expenses which are expected in the following weeks or months. We find that this helps clients in budgeting for costs as well as keeping them informed of the legal expenses which are being incurred. 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.
- Our practice is to ask for money on account of costs and disbursements prior to acting.
- Payment is due to us within 14 days of our sending you a bill. Interest may be charged on a daily basis at 10% per annum from time to time from the date of the bill in cases where payment is not made within 14 days of delivery by us of the bill.
- 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.
- If we are conducting litigation for you, we have additional rights in any property recovered or preserved for you whether it is in our possession or not and in respect of all costs incurred, whether billed or unbilled. We also have a right to ask the court to make a charging order in our favour for any assessed costs.
- We do not accept payments by credit card. We would ask that bills and payments on account are made by cheque or bank transfer. Our bank details will be provided to you privately.
- Please ensure that you quote our reference when making payment so that we can ensure that the funds are allocated to your matter and/or the invoice.
- WE WILL NEVER CHANGE OUR BANK DETAILS. Please ensure that you contact our offices before making any payments to verify our account details.
Other parties’ charges and expenses
- It is important to understand that whatever the outcome of a case the liability for our costs remains with you.
- If you succeed in your case it is usual for the losing party to be ordered (in what is known as a “final order”) to pay your costs at the end of an action on what is known as the “standard basis” and for the costs to be assessed by the court by a process called detailed assessment. The law also allows you to claim interest on the costs payable from the date of the final order provide your costs are assessed on detailed assessment at £5,000 or more.
- The detailed assessment process involves a costs judge or officer looking at the file to determine how much the losing party should pay. The usual amount a costs judge or officer will order to be paid is between 65 and 80% of the actual costs, and you remain liable for the shortfall (of 20-35%). Also, if the losing party is not able to pay what the court has ordered it to pay, we will look to you to pay our costs.
- We will put any monies we receive from your opponent, whether in damages, costs or interest on costs, towards any of our fees that are unpaid at the time of receipt.
- If your opponent is legally aided, even if you win, you may not recover any of your costs and expenses.
- You will be responsible for paying the costs of seeking to recover costs that the Court has ordered your opponent to pay.
- If you lose your case (or if you decide to discontinue it) it is usual for you to be ordered to pay your opponent’s costs on the standard basis. You may have an insurance policy which covers you for this and for this reason we ask you to let us have copies of your policies when you first instruct us so that we can check for you if this is the case. If you do not have such a policy, however, we recommend that you consider taking out insurance to cover your opponent’s costs in case you lose. It is possible to take out a certain amount of cover to start off with and then increase it as the action goes on and your potential liability increases. If you take out insurance and you win, the court may allow you to recover the insurance premium from your opponent as part of your claim for costs. If you take out an insurance policy you will, of course, be bound by the terms and conditions of that policy. If you breach a term of the policy the insurer may refuse to pay your opponent’s costs and responsibility for paying them will fall to you.
- Interim hearings are hearings that take place on the way to trial. If you lose an interim hearing, you will be ordered usually to pay your opponent’s costs of that hearing within 14 days. If you do not pay you may not be able to continue with your case. Similarly, if you win, your opponent will be ordered usually to pay your costs of the hearing within the same period. Often, costs at interim hearings are assessed summarily (i.e. on the spot at the hearing) without the court looking at the papers in detail. Therefore, the amount the court might order to be paid may be difficult to predict. If you are at risk of an adverse costs order at an interim hearing, we will give you the best information we can about your potential exposure to costs before the hearing takes place.
- The courts are encouraging parties to resolve disputes by alternative dispute resolution. If you reject alternative dispute resolution and the matter proceeds to trial, at trial the court will require you to justify that decision and will take that decision into account when making a costs order.
- If unfortunately for some reason your instructions become abortive, we agree to an appropriate reduction on the fee estimate on a case by case basis. This will be calculated by KaurMaxwell on a fair and reasonable basis and applies whether a fixed rate has been agreed or an hourly rate. Abortive fees are based on the work already carried out up until the time the transaction is aborted, but it will not be more than what was quoted. All abortive costs will also be in addition to any disbursements incurred.
- Any money received on your behalf will be held in our Client Account. Subject to certain minimum amounts and periods of time set out in the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules 2019, interest will be calculated and paid to you at the rate from time to time payable on National Westminster Bank plc’s Designated Client Accounts. The period for which interest will be paid will normally run from the date(s) on which funds are received by us until the date(s) of issue of any cheque(s) from our Client Account.
Our service standards
- We thrive to provide the best possible level of service to our clients. Our aim is to achieve the following standards:
- To return your telephone calls on the same day (if you cannot speak to the solicitor handling your case or another person at our firm when you call).
- To respond to urgent correspondence (however sent to us) within the same day depending on the time of day it was sent to us or the following working day.
- To respond to non-urgent correspondence (however sent to us) within two to three working days or to acknowledge receipt of the correspondence if it is not possible to respond within that time frame (sometimes we need more time to consider and prepare a response).
- To supply you with a copy of any correspondence or other documents that other persons or organisations send us about your case within one to two working days of receipt (unless the material sent to us is purely routine).
- To confirm, in writing, your instructions to us within two to three working days of you providing them (or when you give further or different instructions).
- To confirm, in writing, any advice within two to three working days of providing it to you however this will depend on the complexity of the matter and whether research is required. If further time is required, we will (within this period) provide you with an estimated timeframe for the advice. They may also be occasions where an expert and/or counsel needs to be instructed which may result in the estimated timeframe of the advice being extended; we will continue to update you on the progress.
- To let you know when you can expect to hear from us after you have contacted or met with us.
- To keep you regularly updated on the progress of your matter.
- To let you know how long your matter will take and to inform you of deadlines and the likely consequences to you and others of them not being met, together with the consequences and/or sanctions which may be imposed by the Court and/or an agreement which has been entered into between the parties.
- You can help us to provide a better standard of service to you by:
- returning our phone calls if we are unable to speak to you;
- replying promptly if we write to you to ask for more information;
- providing us with any documentation within a stipulated period of time;
- ensuring that you adhere to any deadlines which have been set by the Court and/or in a transaction to ensure the smooth progression of you matter; and
- letting us know if you will be away on holiday or will be uncontactable for any period of time for any reason.
- We sometimes obtain some of our work from third parties. In these circumstances, third parties will refer a client to us in return for us paying them a referral fee or sharing some of our fees with them.
- We will only accept such referrals where our professional judgement and independence are not prejudiced, and where your interests as a client are not affected in any way.
- If we have entered into an arrangement with a third party who has referred or introduced you to us in return for us paying them a referral fee or sharing our fees with them, we will let you know about this. Where this is the case, we will confirm the arrangement and the amount of our fee that we are sharing with the third party or the amount of the referral fee that we will pay them in the Letter of Engagement.
Storage of papers and documents
- We are entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is money owing to us for our charges and expenses (a solicitor’s lien). Once you have paid your final invoice and there are no further monies owing to us or any third parties instructed on your behalf, 10.2 and 10.3 will apply.
- KaurMaxwell is a firm that does not store physical files after the matter has come to a close. You are of course entitled to collect your physical papers should you so wish, and we will write to you at the end of your matter reminding you of this again. However, if you choose not to, upon completion of your matter all physical files will be scanned and converted into digital format. Once converted we will destroy (where applicable) all physical copies of the documents relating to your case.
- In addition, your file (which includes documents, correspondence, emails and any other relevant information) relating to your matter will be electronically filed and digitally archived for a period of 6 years , should you wish to request a copy of your file , we will require a clear 28 day written notice period in which to provide you with it. In agreeing to our Terms of Business, you agree that we have the right to destroy your electronic file after such period as we consider reasonable or to make a charge for storage if we ask you to collect your papers and you fail to do so. We will not of course destroy any documents such as wills, deeds and other securities, which you ask us to hold in safe custody. No charge will be made to you for such storage unless prior notice in writing is given to you of a charge to be made from a future date which may be specified in that notice.
- If we retrieve papers or documents from storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act in connection with your affairs, we will not normally charge for such retrieval. However, we may make a charge based on time spent at the junior executive hourly rate for producing stored papers or documents to you or another at your request. We may also charge for reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions.
Financial services and insurance contracts
- If, while we are acting for you, 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 so authorised.
- You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time, but we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is money owing to us for our charges and expenses. If at any stage you do not wish us to continue doing work and/or incurring charges and expenses on your behalf, you must tell us this clearly in writing.
- We may stop acting for you only if we have reasonable grounds to do so, for example if you do not pay an interim bill, comply with a request for a payment on account or if you fail to provide us with instructions or fail to do so on a prompt basis. If we decide to stop acting for you, we must provide you with reasonable notice. If we decide to stop acting for you, we will tell you the reason and give you notice in writing.
- Under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, for some non-business instructions, you may have the right to withdraw, without charge, within seven working days of the date on which you asked us to act for you. However, if we start work with your consent within that period, you lose that right to withdraw. Your acceptance of these terms and conditions of business will amount to such consent. If you seek to withdraw instructions, you should give notice by telephone, e-mail or letter to the person named in these terms of business as being responsible for your work. The Regulations require us to inform you that the work involved is likely to take more than 30 days.
- When accepting instructions to act on behalf of a limited company, we may require a Director and/or controlling shareholder to sign a form of personal guarantee in respect of the charges and expenses of this firm. If such a request is refused, we will be entitled to stop acting and to require immediate payment of our charges on an hourly basis and expenses as set out earlier.
- Any work that we do for you may involve tax implications or necessitate the consideration of tax planning strategies. We do not provide tax advice and are not qualified to do so. We strongly advise you to take separate advice on the tax implications of a transaction that you instruct us to carry out, or the likelihood of them arising. If you have any concerns in this respect, please raise them with us immediately as we may be able to identify a source of assistance for you.
Identity, disclosure, and confidentiality requirements
- We are entitled to refuse to act for you if you fail to supply appropriate proof of identity for yourself or for any principal whom you may represent. We may arrange to carry out an electronic verification of your identity if we consider that a saving of time and cost will be achieved by doing so. The cost of any such search will be charged to you. If the amount is in excess of £10 including VAT, we will seek your prior agreement.
- Solicitors are under a professional and legal obligation to keep the affairs of the client confidential. This obligation, however, is subject to a statutory exception: legislation on money laundering and terrorist financing has placed solicitors under a legal duty in certain circumstances to disclose information to the National Crime Agency. Where a solicitor knows or suspects that a transaction on behalf of a client involves money laundering, the solicitor may be required to make a disclosure. If, while we are acting for you, it becomes necessary to make such a disclosure, we may not be able to inform you that it has been made, or of the reasons for it, because the law prohibits ‘tipping-off’. Where the law permits us, we will tell you about any potential money laundering problem and explain what action we may need to take.
- Our firm may be subject to audit or quality checks by external firms or organisations. We may also outsource work. This might be for example typing or photocopying or costings, or research and preparation to assist with your matter. Information from your file may therefore be made available in such circumstances. We will always aim to obtain a confidentiality agreement with the third party.
- In order to comply with court and tribunal rules, all documentation relevant to any issues in litigation, however potentially damaging to your case, have to be preserved and may be required to be made available to the other side. This aspect of proceedings is known as ‘disclosure’. Subject to this, we will not reveal confidential information about your case except as provided by these terms of business and where, for example, your opponent is ordered to pay your costs, we have to meet obligations to reveal details of the case to them and to the court.
Communication between you and us
- We will aim to communicate with you by such method as you may request. We may need to virus check discs or email. Unless you withdraw consent, we will communicate with others when appropriate by e-mail or fax, but we cannot be responsible for the security of correspondence and documents sent by e-mail or fax.
- The Data Protection Act requires us to advise you that your particulars are held on our database. We may, from time to time, use these details to send you information which we think might be of interest to you.
- Where we act for two or more clients jointly it is on the clear understanding that we are authorised to act on instructions from either, both or any of them.
- We will update you by telephone or in writing with progress on your matter regularly. We will communicate with you in plain language. We will update you on whether the likely outcomes still justify the likely costs and risks associated with your matter whenever there is a material change in circumstances.
- We will update you on the likely timescales for each stage of this matter and any important changes in those estimates. We will continue to review whether there are alternative methods by which your matter can be funded.
- If you are a company, we will assume that all of your employees, directors, officers and representatives who give us instructions are authorised to do so and that we may follow their oral instructions. If you instruct us as an agent for a third party, you warrant that you have the actual authority of that third party to do so.
Examination of our files and systems by third parties
- We may be subject to inspection by various external organisations, i.e. the Law Society and the Solicitors Regulation Authority. We will obtain an assurance of confidentiality when any such inspection occurs, but please advise the person handling your matter if you would prefer for your file to be withheld from inspection for these purposes. Work on your matter will not be affected in any way if you would prefer to withhold consent.
- Our liability to you for a breach of your instructions shall be limited to £3 million, unless we expressly state a higher amount in the letter accompanying these terms of business. 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 profits or opportunities.
- We can only limit our liability to the extent the law allows. In particular, we cannot limit our liability for death or personal injury caused by our negligence. Please ask if you would like us to explain any of the terms above.
- Our maximum aggregate liability to you in this matter will be £3 million including interest [and costs] unless we expressly state a different figure in our letter confirming your instructions. If you wish to discuss a variation of this limit, please contact the person dealing with your matter. Agreeing a higher limit on our liability may result in us seeking an increase in our charges for handling your matter.
- KaurMaxwell is 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 contact our Complaints Handling Officer, Ms Charlene Robinson, Practice Manager of the firm, in the first instance by email to CHO@KaurMaxwell.com. If you would like a copy of our Complaints Handling Policy, you may request it from Ms. Robinson.
- If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you may be entitled to ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider the complaint. Their full contact details are:
Postal address: The Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ
Telephone number: 0300 555 0333
Email address: email@example.com
- Ordinarily 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, and within 6 years of the act or omission about which you are complaining occurring (or if outside of this period, within three years of when you should reasonably have been aware of it).
Governing law and jurisdiction
- These terms and conditions are governed by and fall to be interpreted under English law. The English courts shall have exclusive jurisdiction over any dispute arising under or out of these terms and conditions.
- For the purposes of the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999, this contract is not intended to, and does not, give any person who is not a party to it the right to enforce any of its provisions.
- Only the person(s) named as our client or clients in the letter accompanying these terms and conditions can rely on any advice or assistance or other work that we provide. If any information given as part of our advice, assistance or other work is revealed to a third party by you (or by us), you must then inform the third party that we accept no responsibility for it.
Terms and Conditions of Business
- Unless otherwise agreed, and subject to the application of current hourly rates, these Terms and Conditions of Business shall apply to any future instructions given by you to this firm. Although your continuing instructions in this matter will amount to an acceptance of these Terms and Conditions of Business, it may not be possible for us to start work on your behalf until one copy of them has been signed and returned to us for us to keep on our file.