Terms of Business

Service Levels

We are committed to providing all of our clients with a high quality of legal advice and client care and to enable us to achieve those standards for your benefit we commit to the following:

  • We will update you regularly by telephone or writing as to the progress of your matter.
  • We will communicate with you in plain English.
  • We will update you on the costs of your matter at least six monthly and in any event at any point where we see that we are likely to exceed our initial costs estimate.
  • We will update you on whether the likely outcome of your matter still justifies the likely costs and risk associated in particular where there is a material change in circumstances.
  • We will update you on the likely timescale for each stage of your matter and any important changes in that timescale.
  • We will continue to review your matter and advise you whether there are alternative methods by which your matter can be funded.
  • We are committed to avoiding any unfair discrimination in the way that we deliver our services.  If we can help you by providing information in alternative formats, please let us know. 

Our Responsibilities

  • We will review your matter regularly.
  • We will advise you on any relevant changes in the law.
  • We will advise you if any circumstances and risks of which we are aware or consider to be reasonably foreseeable, could affect the outcome of your matter.

Client’s Responsibilities

  • 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 that are likely to be required by way of discovery.

Process for terminating the Retainer

You may end your instructions to us in writing at any time, but we can keep all of your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses.  We may also decide to stop acting for you with good reason.  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 need to pay our charges up until that point. 

Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013

If we have not met with you or we have met with you but at your home or business premises then you have the right to cancel your instructions without giving any reason.  This right to cancel applies for 14 days from the date of our having provided you with details of our all terms of business.  If this applies to you we will at the same time as providing you with a copy of terms of business also provide you with a notice about your rights to cancel and a cancellation form.

Consumer Protection Regulations (CPR)

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (as amended) regulate transactions between traders and consumers and prohibit trading practices that amount to unfair commercial practices and misleading acts and omissions.  Neither you, the client, or us, your legal representative, must mislead a buyer or tenant either by providing incorrect or ambiguous information, or by omitting to provide material information about the property you are selling.

Certain information will be revealed through searches and other enquiries of public databases, surveys and valuation reports. However, you must disclose to us any known defects and other material adverse matters relating to the property known to you, and failure to do so may mean that, in certain circumstances, the buyer or tenant would have rights of redress against you.

We encourage you to make all known disclosures as early in the transaction as possible to prevent delays. 

If We become aware of any such existence of material information, and you decline to authorise disclosure to the buyer or tenant, then we would have to consider whether it was possible to continue to act for you as the CPR’s impose a duty to act fairly towards You as Our client and also towards third parties, especially those that are unrepresented.

Criminal Finances Act 2017

The firm is committed to promoting compliance with the requirements of the Criminal Finances Act 2017 within its practices as well as in those areas in which it has influence.

The firm does not tolerate tax evasion, or the facilitation thereof in any circumstances, whether committed by or facilitated by a client, personnel or associated persons/companies.

Insurance Distribution Activities

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 advising on the selling and administration of insurance contracts.  The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority at www.fca.org.uk/register.  The Solicitors Regulation Authority regulates this part of our business, including arrangements for complaints or redress if something goes wrong.

Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS)

In the event of a banking failure it is unlikely that the firm would be held liable for any losses of client account money.

We currently hold our client account funds in HSBC. The £85,000 Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) limit will apply to each individual client so if you hold other personal monies yourself in the same bank as our client account, the limit remains £85,000 in total, so it may be advisable to check with your own bank as some banks now trade under different trading names.  Further details are a provided as to who is covered by the FSCS on their website - details given below.

However, the FSCS will provide a £1 million protection limit for temporary high balances held with a bank, building society or credit union if it fails.  Further details relating to what constitutes a temporary high balance and the rules relating to the protection can be found at www.fscs.org.uk 

In the event of a bank failure we will require your consent to us disclosing details to the FSCS.

Joint Instructions

Where we agree to work on a matter for more than one client jointly, the rights and obligations of the joint clients to us in relation to the services will be several (save for obligations to pay money to us, which will be joint and several).

Each joint client irrevocably permits us to disclose to any other of the joint clients at any time any information which we would otherwise be prohibited from so disclosing by virtue of our duty of confidentiality. If any joint client ends this permission during the provision of the relevant Services, or if a conflict of interest otherwise arises between joint clients, we may suspend or terminate the provision of Services related to that Matter to one or more of the joint clients.

If any joint client asks us to transfer documents we will deliver your documents to, or to the order of, the joint client who delivered them to us. We will retain any documents held for you and will supply copies to each joint client, making the originals available at one of our offices for inspection by any joint client on reasonable prior written notice.

Conflict of Interest

Definition

“Conflict of Interest” means any situation where:-

  • we owe (or, if we accepted your instructions, would owe) separate duties to act in the best interests of two or more clients in relation to the same or a related matter and those duties conflict, or there is a significant risk that those duties may conflict; or
  • our duty to act in your best interests in relation to a matter conflicts, or there is a significant risk that it may conflict, with our own interests in relation to that or a related matter; or
  • we have confidential information in relation to a client or former client, and you wish to instruct us on a matter where:-
  • that information might reasonably be expected to be material; and you have an interest adverse to our other client or former client, and for the purposes of this paragraph “you” does not include Associated Entities.

Similar Activities

We may act for parties engaged in activities similar to or competitive with yours.

Third Parties

Once we have agreed to act for you in relation to a matter, we will not act for a third party in relation to the same matter if there is a Conflict of Interest between that third party’s interests and your interests.

Instructions Creating a Conflict of Interest

We may decline to act for you where accepting your instructions would create a Conflict of Interest or cause us to break an existing agreement with a third party.

Consent

Where our professional rules allow, and subject to satisfying the requirements of those rules (for example by implementing an information barrier), we may act for you and another client where a Conflict of Interest would otherwise exist, provided that we have the consent of both parties. We do not require your consent to act against an Associated Entity.

Cessation of Services

If, whether through a change in circumstances or otherwise, we find that we have agreed to provide Services to you in circumstances which give, or could give, rise to a conflict of interest we will discuss with you how to deal with the conflict and may, be obliged to stop providing Services to you and/or to all other clients affected by the Conflict of Interest.

Complaints

We are committed to high quality legal advice and client care.  If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service that you have received or about the bill, please raise this with the person acting for you or the Supervisor responsible.  If your concerns still remain unresolved please contact our Complaints Partner, Tracey Smith on 01225 485700, by email at tas@mowbraywoodwards.co.uk, or by post at 3 Queen Square Bath BA1 2HG.  We have a procedure in place which details how we handle complaints which is attached to these Terms of Business.  We have eight weeks to consider your complaint and if we have not resolved it within this time you may complain to the Legal Ombudsman at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ (telephone 0300 555 0333) to consider the complaint.  Normally you will need to bring the complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint and within six 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.

Although all our clients will have the right to complain as indicated above some will not have the right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman.  For example:

  • Most businesses unless defined as micro-enterprises;
  • Charities or Clubs with an annual income of more than £1million;
  • Trustees of Trusts with asset value of more than £1million. 

 

You also have the right to challenge or complain about our bill; this includes a right for assessment of our bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. 

Insurance and our Liability

The firm is covered by Professional Indemnity Insurance.  Our insurers are:

International General Insurance (UK) Ltd

Forum House

15-18 Lime Street

London

EC3M 7AN

The liability of this firm in any matter will be limited to £5,000,000.

Regulation

This firm is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)

Appendices

The attached Appendices highlight our important information: