Terms of Business
1.1 These are our standard Terms of Business and apply to all the work we carry out for our clients. In these Terms of Business, the words 'Bevan Brittan', 'the firm', 'we', 'us' or 'our' refer to Bevan Brittan LLP.
1.2 Our engagement letter will contain additional information and terms of business and if there is any conflict between these Terms of Business and those contained in the engagement letter, the latter will apply.
1.3 Further important information including our policies on privacy, anti-bribery, equality and diversity and the payment of interest on our client account is available from our website at www.bevanbrittan.com
2 Work to be undertaken by Bevan Brittan
2.1 Under these Terms of Business your engagement is with Bevan Brittan and no-one else.
2.2 We will agree the work which we will carry out and we will confirm this in writing. We will also agree any work which is specifically excluded or which is to be undertaken by others.
2.3 We ask that you give us clear and full instructions, all relevant documents and details of any time limits, other constraints or commercial considerations at the outset, so that we have a clear understanding of your objectives for each transaction or case. We will agree these with you and explain the key issues. In litigation cases we will recommend a strategy for achieving your objectives.
3 Limitations on our liability to you
3.1 Our liability to you for breach of our retainer shall be limited to £3,000,000 (three million pounds) inclusive of costs and interest, unless we expressly state a higher amount in our engagement letter.
3.2 We may be prepared to agree a higher limit of liability for certain transactions, in which case higher fee rates will normally apply. Please discuss any variations with your client relationship partner. Any agreement relating to our limit of liability must be confirmed in writing.
3.3 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. All claims arising from the same act or omission or from a series of related acts or omissions shall be regarded as one claim.
3.4 Nothing in these terms of business shall apply to exclude or limit any liability for death or personal injury caused by our negligence or any other liability for which exclusion or restriction is prohibited by law or any liability arising as a result of fraud on our part.
3.5 Our liability for any loss or damage suffered by you as a result of a breach by us of our terms of engagement or of negligence in the course of providing our services shall be limited to a just and equitable proportion of the total loss or damage having regard to the extent of your responsibility and that of any other party known to you who may also be liable to you in respect of it (and regardless of the ability of such person to make payments).
3.6 Any claim for breach of contract, breach of duty or fault of negligence or otherwise whatsoever arising out of or in connection with this engagement shall be brought against us within six years of the act or omission alleged to have caused the loss in question.
3.7 No partner, employee or consultant shall be personally liable for any advice or work carried out for you and any duty of care which such person would otherwise owe to you is excluded. You agree that you will not bring any claim in respect of or, in connection with our work against any partner, employee or consultant of Bevan Brittan.
4 Tax advice
4.1 We do not provide specialist legal tax advice on the transactions and matters you instruct us on. We are happy to refer you to a suitable firm to provide this advice to you.
4.2 If you prefer to rely upon your own advisers for tax advice for specific transactions, we will assume that you will obtain any relevant tax advice from those advisers and that copies of their advice will be made available to us to assist in the overall advice that we give.
5 Bevan Brittan personnel
5.1 We will agree with you a partner or other senior lawyer who will be responsible for your relationship with us.
5.2 For each transaction, you will be given details of the supervising partner, the lawyer with day-to-day responsibility for the work and where appropriate, other members of their team.
5.3 Our aim is to allocate tasks in a manner to ensure efficient and cost effective achievement of our client's agreed objectives. We are committed to minimising the number of people working on a matter, subject always to staffing consistent with delivering the right service.
6 Our charges
6.1 We aim to give you the best possible information about the likely costs of your matter. Unless a fee is fixed (see para 6.6) we will charge you for the work done based on the time we have spent and to bill you monthly for this. Each invoice will be a self-contained bill being a final charge for work done and so far as possible disbursements and expenses incurred during the period covered by the bill.
6.2 We will agree our hourly charging rates with you at the outset. They are subject to annual review on 1 May and we will advise you of any changes. Our rates may vary for different specialisations and types of work. If we agree a rate for a particular type of work and you later instruct us for a different type, we will agree the new rates with you.
6.3 We also charge for disbursements (including counsel, experts and cost draftsman's fees if applicable), expenses and VAT where applicable. Expenses include document production and travel/accommodation/meals/refreshments etc. We do not charge for faxes and telephone calls as disbursements.
6.4 We record time in six minute units and multiples of these. Time is charged for legal advice and research, correspondence, telephone calls, reviewing, preparing and drafting documents, attending meetings and court hearings (including travel time) and all other time incurred on each transaction, including the preparation of attendance notes and memoranda, supervision file reviews and collating and preparing documents and general file administration. Where significant periods of time are spent on a matter, the entire time period will be recorded and charged without deduction for minor interruptions.
6.5 Certain activities, such as research, have standard time charges allocated to them or we may charge an amount of time which we consider reasonable for the work involved and the value added. This may vary from the actual time spent.
6.6 We may agree a fixed fee for particular transactions. If so it will be based on the following assumptions, in addition to any specific assumptions set out in the matter engagement letter:
6.6.1 disbursements and any VAT are payable in addition;
6.6.2 there will be no substantial renegotiation of terms or changes in the scope of the matter once we have commenced our work;
6.6.3 the transaction will be concluded reasonably smoothly; and
6.6.4 completion takes place by an agreed date.
7 Estimate of our costs
7.1 For each transaction we will provide an estimate of our fees. We will also provide an estimate for any likely significant disbursements e.g. counsel's fees and expert's fees. Our estimates are based on the information you provide to us. We may need to revise them if additional information comes to light.
7.2 We make every effort to ensure our costs estimates are as accurate as possible, although particularly in litigation matters it can be difficult to predict the costs, especially at the outset. We may therefore provide an estimate within a range or for a stage of the work. If so we will provide revised estimates as the case progresses and/or for subsequent stages and at least every six months.
7.3 If you want to set a limit to our costs and/or disbursements for a particular transaction or case, please let us know and we will not exceed the limit agreed without your prior approval.
7.4 For monthly billing matters we will usually confirm the overall costs incurred position against the current estimate on a monthly basis, when sending the monthly bill. If you have any special requirements for costs information please let us know and we will agree appropriate arrangements.
8 Payments and monies held on account
8.1 If it becomes necessary to incur significant disbursements (for example counsel's fees) we reserve the right to ask you to make a payment to us on account of those disbursements before we incur them. We will not incur such disbursements without first agreeing them with you.
8.2 We also reserve the right to request money on account of costs in advance of billing. If such a request is not met or our fees remain outstanding, we are entitled to cease acting and remove ourselves from the court record in any proceedings.
8.3 We will be entitled to transfer small balances under £15 received on your behalf in connection with one specific matter or transaction to any another transaction or matter on which we are at the time acting for you.
9 Payment terms
9.1 Payment is due within 15 days of the date of issue of our invoices. Where amounts invoiced remain unpaid when due, we reserve the right to charge interest on those amounts at either 3% above our current banker's base rate or the current rate payable on judgment debts (whichever is the higher). Payment of invoices should be made in sterling either by cheque, drawn on a clearing bank, or direct to our bank account details of which are available on request. We will not accept cash from you or on your behalf.
9.2 We are also entitled to settle your entire account from monies received or held on your behalf and to retain files, documents and other property held by us until payment is made.
10 Client service and complaints procedure
10.1 Bevan Brittan is committed to providing best value service to our clients. We want to know if you are dissatisfied with any aspect of the service provided to you so that we can deal with your concerns promptly, fairly, openly and effectively; in the first instance please contact the partner responsible for the matter or your client relationship partner who will be happy to discuss the matter with you. If they are unable to resolve the problem satisfactorily, or you wish to invoke our complaints procedure, please contact Duncan Weir. He will advise you of any escalation procedures that are applicable and will, for example, advise whether you can refer the matter to the Legal Ombudsman ("LeO").
10.2 There are time limits within which to contact LeO and some limitations on the type of complaint which LeO will accept. These are set out in detail on the Ombudsman's website at www.legalombudsman.org.uk but in general terms LeO will accept a complaint six years from the date of the act or omission, or three years from when you should have known about the complaint provided that date is not before 6 October 2010. You need to contact the Ombudsman within 6 months of receiving a final written response from us (which we will provide to you within 8 weeks) about your complaint. The Legal Ombudsman's postal address is: PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ.
10.3 If your complaint is about your bill you may also be entitled to apply to the court for an assessment of a bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. If all or part of a bill remains unpaid, we may be entitled to charge interest.
11 Communications and data security
11.1 We will communicate with you and with others by letter, fax, telephone and email. Please let us know if any of these methods is insecure or inappropriate. As you will be aware email carries particular risks e.g. of non-delivery and security breaches, so if you have any specific data security concerns, please let us know.
11.2 We endeavour to protect the integrity of computer systems by screening for viruses and we expect you to do the same. We may monitor email and telephone communications in accordance with applicable law and regulations.
12.1 Except to the extent that disclosure is required by law or regulation or as set out below, all the work we carry out for you is on a confidential basis and will not be disclosed to third parties without your consent. Therefore, we will not disclose to you any information given to us in confidence in relation to any other matter, even if it is material to yours, without that client's prior consent. Your safeguard is that we will act in your best interests or cease to act.
12.2 We will be entitled to refer to you as our client in publicity, marketing and other materials, but we will not disclose the nature of the work we carry out for you without your consent or unless it is otherwise in the public domain.
12.3 Bevan Brittan has a Quality Management System which is certified to ISO 9001. As part of the ongoing certification process we are subject to regular audits by a third party which includes a review of a sample of client files. Other external firms or organisations may also conduct audit or quality checks on our practice. These external firms or organisations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files. In addition, our regulators and auditors have the right to view our files and financial records.
12.4 We will be entitled to disclose your files, any information we hold or know about you or the services we are providing, to our actual or prospective professional indemnity insurers, brokers or advisors, and auditors or risk managers whom they may appoint.
12.5 We reserve the right to use external agencies for services such as photocopying, printing, translation and typing, and for publicity, subject to appropriate safeguards to maintain confidentiality. Please let us know if you do not wish us to do so in any particular case.
12.6 You agree to waive your rights to claim privilege to enable us to disclose and rely on information and documents if a third party brings a claim against us and in relation to proceedings for a wasted costs order against us so that the court or tribunal has full information available to it.
13 Anti-money laundering procedures
13.1 We are subject to laws and regulations on anti-money laundering which require us to obtain and keep documentary evidence of the identity of our clients and have an understanding of their financial position and business affairs. We are also required to investigate the management and control (including beneficial ownership) of corporate entities and trusts.
13.2 We may need to ask for additional information about the source of funds for a transaction and we may refuse to proceed if we are not reasonably satisfied about the source and legitimacy of funds.
13.3 We are also required to report certain suspicious transactions to the authorities and this overrides our duty of confidentiality to our clients. Where this occurs we cannot allow the transaction to proceed until we receive authorisation. We are also not permitted to tell you we have made a report. We do not accept any liability which may arise as a result of us complying with our obligations under these provisions.
14 Files and documents
14.1 After completing the transaction, we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses.
14.2 We will keep our file of your papers for a minimum of six years, except those papers that you ask to be returned to you. We keep files on the understanding that we can destroy them six years after the date of the final bill.
14.3 If you would like us to retain and store documents, such as title deeds, at the end of the transaction, we will do so subject to a fee which we will agree at the time.
14.4 Our working papers, draft documents and all correspondence between us will remain our property. We will retain copyright and other intellectual property rights in all documents we draft and produce for you but we will grant you an unlimited licence to use those documents for your own purpose.
14.5 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 such retrieval. However, we may charge you for time spent producing stored papers that are requested, reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions in relation to the retrieved papers.
15.1 We are entitled to terminate our retainer and cease carrying out work on all or any matters if any invoice is not paid when due or a payment on account is not made within the time requested, subject to our professional conduct rules.
15.2 We are also entitled to terminate our retainer in circumstances where this is permitted by our professional conduct rules e.g. if a conflict of interest arises or where we suspect a breach of money laundering provisions or other fraud has occurred.
15.3 You have the right to terminate our agreement at any time, but we ask you to give reasonable notice where possible. If you terminate our agreement, we will prepare invoices for all outstanding work and submit them as soon as reasonably possible. We are entitled to retain all files documents, property and monies held by us on your behalf until those invoices have been prepared, issued and settled.
16 Litigation costs and funding
16.1 If you instruct us on litigation you need to be aware of the following points of principle on which we will also provide more detailed advice at the time.
16.2 You should tell us about any legal expenses or other insurance that you may have which might cover either our costs or your potential liability for the other party's costs. If you do not have cover you may wish to consider obtaining it. We are happy to discuss this and other methods of funding with you.
16.3 You will remain responsible for our costs whatever the outcome of the litigation. If you succeed and obtain an order that your costs (or a proportion of your costs) are to be paid by another party, we shall of course endeavour to recover those costs. However, if for any reason, such as financial difficulties, your opponent does not pay those costs, your liability for our costs remains.
17 Data Protection Act 1998 and General Data Protection Regulation 2016
17.2 You have a right of access under data protection legislation to the personal data that we hold about you. We have in place measures to prevent unauthorised and unlawful processing of personal data and to prevent accidental loss or destruction or damage to personal data.
17.3 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 email email@example.com.
18 Financial Conduct Authority
18.1 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 mediation 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.fsa.gov.uk/Pages/register/index.shtml
18.2 The Law Society is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. The SRA is the independent regulatory body of the Law Society. The Legal Ombudsman deals with some types of complaint against lawyers. If we cannot resolve any concerns you have about insurance mediation activity, then you should contact the SRA or the Legal Ombudsman.
19 Freedom of Information Act
19.1 You agree that if you receive a request from a third party under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to disclose information about us or our retainer with you, then you will advise us of the request, the identity of the third party and the information you are intending to disclose as soon as possible and in any event prior to disclosure.
19.2 We will then advise you promptly if we consider that the information you are intending to disclose is commercially sensitive, has been provided in confidence or that any other exemption to disclosure under the Act applies.
20 Third parties
20.1 The advice we provide is for the benefit of the business or individual client to whom our engagement letter is addressed. No benefits under our contract are to be conferred by you to any third party without our written consent.
20.2 If you disclose any of our advice or reports to a third party, you will make it clear to the third party that we accept no responsibility to them. If we do consent to copies of our advice being provided to a third party we will be entitled to charge an additional fee for providing such consent.
21 Law and insurance information
21.1 Our relationship is governed by the law of England & Wales and if there is any dispute between us, the courts of England & Wales shall have exclusive jurisdiction.
21.2 We have professional indemnity insurance and details of the current insurance including contact details and territorial coverage, can be found under 'key information' on our website. Any queries about our insurance cover should be addressed in writing to Peter Rogers.
22 Conflicts of interest
22.1 A law firm must always act in the best interests of a client and a conflict of interest arises if the firm is acting for two or more clients and those interests do not coincide.
22.2 We aim to avoid conflicts arising by checking our records at the outset and during the course of our work. However if an actual or potential conflict arises, we may have to stop acting for you and for reasons of confidentiality may not be able to tell you why. Please ask if you need more information about this.
23 Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013
23.1 If you are an individual or employ fewer than 10 persons and we have not met you before starting work for you the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 may apply. Where this is the case:
23.1.1 you have the right to cancel your instructions to us within fourteen working days of receiving the engagement letter. You can cancel your instructions by contacting us by post, fax or email.
23.1.2 once we have started work on your file, you may be charged if you then cancel your instructions. If you would like us to commence work on your file within the next fourteen working days, please sign a copy of the engagement letter and return it to us by post or fax.
24 Bevan Brittan – ownership and regulation
24.1 Bevan Brittan LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England & Wales (number OC309219). Our registered office is at Kings Orchard, 1 Queen Street, Bristol, BS2 0HQ, which is the firm's Bristol office. Bevan Brittan LLP is a 'recognised body' authorised and regulated by the SRA and practices in accordance with the SRA's rules, regulations and codes of practice (www.sra.org.uk/solicitors). Our SRA number is 406315.
24.2 A list of members of Bevan Brittan LLP may be inspected at any of our offices. The term 'partner' may refer to a member, employee or consultant of Bevan Brittan LLP who is a lawyer.
24.3 Our VAT registration number is GB 840 7231 48. Bevan Brittan LLP is registered as a data controller with the Information Commissioner under reference: Z 9665446.
If any provision or part-provision of these Terms of Business is or becomes invalid, illegal or unenforceable, it shall be deemed modified to the minimum extent necessary to make it valid, legal and enforceable. If such a modification is not possible, the relevant provision or part-provision shall be deemed deleted. Any modification to or deletion of a provision or part-provision under this paragraph shall not affect the validity and enforceability of the rest of these Terms of Business.
26 Previous agreement(s)
This agreement replaces all previous representations and agreements between us. If you continue to instruct us after receiving these Terms of Business you will be deemed to have accepted them.
Valid from: March 2018 Bevan Brittan LLP