The following document sets out in more details our general Terms of Business.
If you have any queries regarding the contents of this or any of our documents, do not hesitate to contact a member of our staff.
1.Terms of Business.
- We will update you by telephone, writing or via e-mail with progress on your matter at least every six weeks, unless agreed to the contrary or there is a good reason not to.
- We will communicate with you in plain language.
- We will explain to you either by telephone, e-mail or in writing the legal work required as your matter progresses.
- 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.
Our Responsibilities include:
- We will review your matter regularly.
- We will advise you of any changes in the law.
- We will advise you of any circumstances and risks of which we are unaware or consider to be reasonably foreseeable that could affect the outcome of your matter.
Your Responsibilities include:
- You will provide us with clear, timely and accurate instructions.
- You will provide all documentation required to complete the transaction in a timely manner.
- You will safeguard any documents which are likely to be required for discovery.
At your first appointment with us we aim to:
- Identify your problem and how we might help. If we cannot handle your case from start to finish, and need to refer you somewhere else for help with part of your case (e.g. if your case involves representation at an immigration tribunal), then we will tell you this, and give you details of where and how you will be referred.
- Tell you who will be dealing with your case and whether or not he/she is a Solicitor.
- Explain what Public Funding/Legal Aid can and cannot do for you, if you qualify, and especially whether or not it will pay for advice only or representation at Court as well. We will also explain what being a legally aided client involves for you.
- Explain what we will do to help you with your problem and what you need to do.
- Tell you the likely cost both of our help and that of any other firm/agency to whom we might refer part of your case. We will tell you about any contribution you may have to pay and explain the circumstances in which you might have to pay costs to the other side.
- Tell you how long your case might take and when you can expect to hear from us.
- Check that we have properly explained everything you need to know and answer any questions you have.
After your first appointment, we will confirm all these points and anything else we tell you, usually in writing.
4.Papers and Documents.
Please remember to bring all relevant papers to the first appointment. If you are not sure which papers are relevant, bring anything you think will be helpful. This will make it much quicker and easier to find out what your problem is and how we can help you with it. You should also bring with you information about your own and your partner’s income, savings and outgoings; for example, recent wage slips, mortgage or rent information and bank statements. Proof of your identity is also required in every case.
5.At the End of Your Case.
When we finish dealing with your case, we will:
- Tell you about the outcome and anything else you need to do, including whether you need to look at the matter again in the future.
- Return any of your property.
6.Hours of Business.
Our normal hours of business are Monday to Friday 0930 hours (9.30am) to 1730 hours (5.30pm), although 24 hours assistance can be obtained for criminal matters only by contacting: 07956 570788.
During the course of our business with your Mackenzie & Co may use e-mail as a means of communication, either with you or other parties in connection with your case. We would point out that, due to the nature of e-mail communications and despite our best efforts:-
- Confidentiality of e-mail cannot always be guaranteed
- E-mail always has a risk of interception
- Mackenzie & Co treat e-mail received as confidential and subsequently it may not be opened if the addressee is away from the office.
- Mackenzie & Co do not encrypt e-mail.
Whilst the chances of interception are unlikely, we feel it is our duty to advise you of the above. You should NOT wish us to communicate via e-mail regarding your case, please notify us in writing.
8.Equality and Diversity.
Mackenzie & Co are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of its dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our equality and diversity policy.
We have a public Legal Aid Agency Contract. This means that we have been approved by the Legal Aid Agency to provide a quality service to you.
10.Data Protection and Confidentiality.
We comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 with respect to information held on our clients.
We use the information you provide primarily for the provision of legal services to you and for related purposes including:
- Updated 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 our office in writing.
All the advice we give you is entirely confidential. Your file may be seen by staff from the Legal Aid Agency as part of the quality check of our work. Legal Aid Agency staff are bound by law to keep information confidential. However, if you do not wish your file to be audited, would you please tell me as soon as possible so we may note your file accordingly.
However, please note that we are obliged by the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to inform the National Crime Agency (NCA) of any suspicion or knowledge that we may have of any “criminal property” (including any money, cash or benefit received) that is, or we suspect may be, the product of any criminal behaviour. Therefore we must reserve the right to give such notices as we deem appropriate and thereafter not to discuss such matters further with you.
11.Storage of Documents.
At the conclusion of your case, I will send your papers to our old file storage depot and they will be kept there for the required statutory period and then destroyed. If you wish me to retrieve your papers after they have been placed in storage, then my Company must reserve the right to make a reasonable charge, which will be limited to one hour of chargeable time, dependent on the documents requested. We do not charge for the actual cost of retrieving your file. The copyright in all documents prepared by this Company shall remain the copyright of the Company. In order to avoid the above charge being made, please ask for your original papers to be returned immediately upon the conclusion of your matter. I will send you copies of all important letters at the time that they are sent out by me or received by me.
12.Outsourcing of Work.
We may outsource any aspect of our work on client files, however were we do so, each supplier would be bound by strict confidentiality agreements to preserve client confidentiality at all times. If you do not want your file to be outsourced, please tell us as soon as possible, in writing.
13.Vetting of Files.
External firms or organisations such as our indemnity insurers or regulatory bodies, such as, but not limited to the Legal Aid Agency or the Legal Complaints Service, may conduct audit or quality checks on our practice. These external firms or organisations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files.
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.
15.Terminating the Retainer.
You may end your instructions to us in writing at any time, but we can keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses. This right of retention is known as a “Lien”.
We may decide to stop acting for you only with good reason, e.g. if you do not pay an interim bill, if there is a conflict of interest or you fail to provide timely and reasonable instructions. We must give you reasonable notice that we will stop acting for you.
If you or we decide that we should stop acting for you, you will pay our charges up until that point if you are funding your representation privately. These are calculated as set out in the client care letter you have been provided, or if you are Publicly Funded, we will notify the Legal Services Commission and your Public Funding Certificate may be transferred to another firm of Solicitors, discharged or revoked.
16.Money Laundering Regulations.
In order to comply with the law on money laundering, we may need to obtain evidence of your identify as soon as practicable. Your Solicitor will advise you if your instructions would be subject to Money Laundering regulations and if so, we should be grateful, if you would provide us with documents to verify your identity and address as set out as below. We require evidence of your full name and current address, including your postcode. If you are a UK resident, examples of suitable evidence include:
- Current signed passport
- Current UK or EEA photo-card driving licence
- A recent utility bill or statement
- Local Council tax bill for current year
- Bank, Building Society or credit union statement
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 (NCA) 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 must be aware that unless you have a prior agreement with us whereby funds are to be remitted direct into our bank account, we are not now able to accept any money which is transferred or paid in our Client or Office accounts without our prior approval. Any such unauthorised receipt of funds may result in a delay in your transaction or in the matter being subject to an investigation.
We are also not able to make payments to thirds parties on your behalf, other than in respect of pre-agreed payments to, persons or bodies such as your mortgagees in respect of the redemption of your mortgage or bank loan, your estate agent, surveyor or local authority or utility companies.
We are also unable to accept cash in respect of any matter, or in respect of our professional fees and disbursements, in excess of £500 nor, in order to comply with the Regulations, are we able to accept remittances from third parties on your behalf unless these have been authorised by us in advance.
If we are acting for both the lender and the purchaser, we have a requirement to fully disclose to them relevant facts affecting their decision to make the loan, for example
- 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.
17.Payment of Invoices.
We accept cash and cheques.
18.Payments of Interest.
Any money received on your behalf will be held in our client account. Interest will be calculated and paid to you. For details of the current rate, please speak to your Solicitor. The period for which interest will be paid normally runs from the date(s) when funds are received by us until the date(s) of the cheque(s) issued to you. The payment of interest is subject to certain minimum amounts and periods of time set out in the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules 1998.
We are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority. If, while we are acting for you, you need advice on investments, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised to provide the necessary advice.
Mackenzie & Co will take every precaution possible to safeguard any funds held on account, however we cannot accept responsibility for any funds which may be lost as a result of the collapse of a financial institution.
MacKenzie & Co. 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 your bill, please contact Mr Narendra Mehta of Mackenzie & Co, 146 London Road, Isleworth, Middlesex TW7 5BG or NMehta@Mackenzieco.co.uk.
We have a procedure in place which details how we handle complaints which is available at our offices and from your lawyer.
If you are not satisfied with our handling of the complaint, you can ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider your complaint on 0300 555 0333 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Their postal address is: The Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ.
Normally you will need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within 6 months of receiving a final response from us about your complaint.
21.Challenging a Bill.
Our standard complaints procedure is also applicable if you wish to complain about your bill, you may also object to the bill by making a complaint to The Legal Ombudsman or the Office of Legal Complaints, and/or by applying to the Court for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974; and however if all or part of the bill remains unpaid, the Solicitor may be entitled to charge interest.
22.Insurance – Provision of Service Regulations 2009.
MacKenzie & Co comply with the above regulation by displaying the required details of our Professional Indemnity Insurance in each of our offices.
Should you require any further information, please speak to your Solicitor who will be happy to assist you.