This document contains the standard Terms and Conditions of Novello Law Limited and should be read in conjunction with the accompanying Letter of Engagement, which gives information about who will be working for you, the scope of work to be carried out and the basis of our fees. Where the terms set out in the Letter of Engagement differ from these standard Terms and Conditions, the terms of the Letter of Engagement will apply. If any aspect is not clear, please contact the person dealing with your matter.
We are committed to providing all our clients with an efficient and effective service. To achieve this, we believe that it is important to agree in advance the nature of our relationship with you. Please familiarise yourself with these Terms and Conditions before continuing to instruct us to avoid any misunderstandings in the future.
PROFESSIONAL RULES AND PRACTICE GUIDELINES
As solicitors, we are members of the Law Society of England and Wales and subject to its professional rules at all times.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
In general, we cannot act for two or more parties if they have conflicting interests. Please advise us at the outset if you are aware of potential conflicts that may arise. If we decide we can still act (i.e. if you are one of the exceptions to the general rule), we will confirm this to you in writing.
We will review your matter regularly and keep you advised.
We will advise you of any changes in the Law relevant to your matter.
We will advise you of any circumstances and risks of which we are aware or consider to be reasonably foreseeable that could affect the outcome of your matter.
To enable us to carry out our work, it is necessary that:
(a) you make all payments due to us on time;
(b) you provide full and accurate information necessary for dealing with your matter;
(c) where appropriate, and subject to your prior approval, you agree that we may approach third parties for additional information or documents;
(d) you agree we are entitled to rely on the information and documentation provided by you and by third parties as being true, correct and complete and that we will not audit the information or documents;
(e) as and when requested, you provide instructions to us in a timely and clear manner throughout the course of your matter;
(f) you keep us informed about significant changes in your circumstances; and
(g) you will safeguard any document likely to be required for disclosure in litigation matters.
At the outset of each matter, we will discuss your objectives with you, what is realistically to be achieved and what is necessary to achieve it. Any material developments, delays or possible deviations from your instructions will always be reported to you, but we will be guided by you as to the extent and detail to which you wish us to report. Novello Law Limited will not accept any liability arising from your failure to reply completely and accurately to any request for information or confirmation of instructions.
Our normal business hours are Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5.30 pm, but should you have specific requirements for assistance outside those hours, we can make alternative arrangements on a matter by matter basis.
Our telephones are answered Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5.30 pm. If the person concerned is unable to take your call, or if we are closed for a local or statutory holiday, you can leave a message on our answering machine/voicemail service and someone will return your call on the next working day. We can also be contacted by email.
Your relationship with us in connection with the work to which these Terms and Conditions relate is with Novello Law Limited and not with an individual person.
In our view, a close relationship with clients is essential to achieving our aims and to this end a specific Solicitor will always be assigned with overall responsibility for your work. As individual solicitors specialise in different types of work, it may be that more than one Solicitor undertakes this task. In addition, in order to obtain the benefit of specialist skills and provide the highest quality service in the most cost-effective way for you, the Partner responsible may assign tasks to another executive or assistant under their supervision but will still retain overall responsibility.
We are required by law to apply procedures to guard against the risk of money laundering. For all new clients and for those for whom we have not acted during the last twelve months (one year), we are required by the Money Laundering Regulations 2019 to carry out due diligence of our clients prior to commencing a business relationship with them. In essence this means identifying and verifying the ID of the client, obtaining details of the purpose of the transaction and the source of funds required for the transaction. The steps to be undertaken will differ depending on whether the client is an individual, company, partnership or a trust. We may use electronic verification as part of the process of verification which will entail the checking of ID against data held by an electronic verification provider. Please refer to our letter of engagement and identification list for more information on the types of ID we can accept.
Our contract with you for the provision of legal services is conditional upon successful completion of our money laundering and risk management procedures.
We are professionally and legally obliged to keep your affairs confidential. However, solicitors may be required by statute to make a report to the National Crime Agency where they know or suspect that a transaction may involve money laundering or other criminal practices or pursuant to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. If we make a report in relation to your matter, we may not be able to tell you that a report 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. The report may result in an investigation by Police, Inland Revenue or other agencies.
If you have any concerns as to the regularity of your financial affairs, we strongly recommend that you seek appropriate professional advice.
We will, wherever appropriate, provide estimates of fees, expenses and disbursements, but these are usually subject to variation in light of individual circumstances that may arise as the matter proceeds. We have no control over many of these circumstances. An estimate cannot, therefore, be regarded as a quotation or fixed cost commitment. You may, if you wish, agree a limit on fees with us, and this will not be exceeded without further reference to you. If you wish to place a costs limit on your matter, please advise us of this as soon as possible.
If we have agreed a specific basis of charging, this will, of course, be adhered to.
We aim to charge a fair fee in all circumstances. Each individual matter presents its own unique characteristics and so our fee may be adjusted upwards or downwards to take account of factors such as the urgency, novelty, complexity, importance or value of the matter.
Our fees are generally based on the amount of time spent by the Personnel engaged on your matter. Each member of staff has an hourly rate, which forms the basis of such fees. These rates are normally reviewed annually. We will notify you in writing of any increase in our hourly rates prior to any such increase taking effect. Time is recorded by reference to activities undertaken based on six-minute units (or multiples thereof). On request, we will supply you with a breakdown of time spent with each bill.
We will not charge you for routine postage, photocopying, non-international telephone or fax charges. However, we will charge for conference telephone, fax and video calls, international calls and faxes and colour or bulk photocopying. VAT will be chargeable on these expenses where applicable.
We will also charge you other fees and expenses that we incur on your behalf (e.g. search fees, Land Registry fees, printing and copying costs, travel expenses etc). These are known as ‘disbursements’. We will normally ask you to pay these to us before we incur them, or we may use any funds we are holding for you on account of costs to pay them. We will not incur large or unusual disbursements without your agreement.
Except in the case of specific disbursements, our fees will be rendered and are payable in Pounds Sterling. If you wish to pay by any other currency, this must be by way of special arrangement with our Accounts Department. Any shortfall on conversion and the costs of conversion to or from Pounds Sterling are payable by you in addition to the amount of our fees and disbursements.
PAYMENT OF COSTS
You will normally be billed monthly on an interim basis with a final bill rendered at the completion of your matter unless a fixed fee has been agreed in which case the bill will be rendered upon completion of the work to which the fixed fee relates.
It is our normal practice to ask clients to make payments on account of anticipated costs. If this is the case, it is essential for you to meet requests for payment promptly. Money paid in advance will be paid into our client account and will then be applied to pay disbursements as they are incurred and our bills when they are delivered. Once the amount paid on account has been used, we will ask you to pay a further sum on account of costs.
We require you to provide us with funds before any disbursements are incurred by the firm.
Settlement of our bills is due on presentation and we reserve the right to charge interest at a rate equal to 3% over the base lending rate from time to time of Lloyds Bank Plc on bills (or any unpaid parts thereof) which are 10 days or more overdue. Interest will be chargeable on a daily basis.
We reserve the right to discontinue work on all your current matters if any bill is not settled promptly. This will occur at 45 days, unless an alternative arrangement has been agreed in writing.
We reserve the right to offset any unpaid bills and disbursements against any monies received on your behalf. You will be notified in such an event.
On matters where a third party has agreed to pay your legal costs, these remain your responsibility should the third party fail for any reason to settle the account within our payment terms.
Our bank details will be provided to you together with any request for payment, either by email as an encrypted document or as a hard copy. Please also refer to the Cyber crime section of this document.
Our policy is not to accept cash.
If you try to avoid this policy by depositing cash directly with our bank, we may return the funds to you or charge you for additional checks we deem are necessary to prove the source of funds.
Where we are required to pay money to you, it will be paid by cheque or bank transfer. It will not be paid in cash or to a third party, unless exceptional circumstances apply which have been approved by us.
We are a quality driven law practice. To verify that our quality standards are being consistently applied to all files, it is necessary from time to time to conduct internal and external file audits. Files are selected for inspection at random. We, therefore, reserve the right, if your file is selected for audit, to make your file available for independent inspection. No copies of or notes from your file will be permitted to be taken without your specific consent and, prior to inspection, an external auditor will be required to sign an agreement to maintain confidentiality. In the event that you are not happy for an external auditor to view your file, please let us know. In addition, we reserve the right to disclose our files to regulatory bodies in the exercise of their powers.
We regularly communicate by email. This may include correspondence, documents or other information. Presently this is not encrypted before it is sent but if any attachments contain confidential information and are encrypted, we will provide you with the access password in a telephone call. It is possible that confidential information is sent in this format which, therefore, may be intercepted intentionally or by accident and read by a third party. If you do not wish us to send confidential information by email, please advise us accordingly in writing.
STORAGE AND RETENTION OF DEEDS, FILES AND OTHER DOCUMENTS
We will offer a free storage facility for clients’ papers, deeds, files and other documents. We will store your deeds until such time as you request their return. We do not charge for this service, but we cannot accept responsibility for the loss of, or the damage to, any item which we hold.
Normally there will be no charge for the retrieval of any documents from our archives, but there may be circumstances where significant time is spent or costs incurred producing papers at your request, reading correspondence or complying with your instructions. In these cases, we reserve the right to make a charge based on the time spent and the costs incurred. See also 16.4 regarding destruction of files.
If there are outstanding monies owed to the firm by you, whether in respect of fees, disbursements or other charges, we reserve the right to keep your papers, files, deeds or other documents until all outstanding payments have been discharged. This is known as a ‘right of lien’.
Unless you indicate to the contrary in writing prior to the appropriate time, we will only hold your file in relation to any particular matter (including any associated papers or documents) for a period of six years after we have archived it. After that time, it will be destroyed confidentially at no expense to you. For the purposes of clarification, this policy does not apply to original deeds, which will be retained until requested by you as mentioned above.
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 unless the amount is less than £20.00.
Any of your money that we agree to hold for you will be held by us in a separate Client Account.
We will ensure that any monies that you may lodge with us are deposited in a United Kingdom or international regulated bank and whilst we will take all reasonable steps to monitor the stability of such bank, we are not liable to you in the event of any banking failure. Accordingly, if you have concerns as to the security of any monies lodged with us, please contact us further.
The professional rules governing the payment of interest on client monies can be found at Rule 7 of the Solicitors Accounts Rules 2019 (see https://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/standards-regulations/accounts-rules/). In accordance with the rules, we will account to clients for interest on those monies when it is fair and reasonable for us to do so in all the circumstances. We will not pay interest where the amount is less than £20.
QUERIES AND CONCERNS
If, for any reason, you are unhappy about the quality of service provided or the amount of our fees, then you should, in the first instance, take the matter up with the solicitor with whom you have been dealing. Alternatively, should you prefer or if you feel your initial approach has not resolved the point, we would invite you to raise the matter with our Client Care Officer, Talia Atkins, who will ensure that any such complaint is fully investigated, and that you receive a detailed response within 30 days. More about the role of the Client Care Officer and how you can approach them can be found in our Complaints Policy, a copy of which will be provided on request and may also be found on our website.
We define complaints as any expression of dissatisfaction (however expressed) with the service you have received including our bill. A copy of our Complaints Handling Policy can be found on our website at www.novellolaw.co.uk. This explains the various stages we use to resolve complaints internally. Please feel free to ask for it at any time and certainly if you wish to make a complaint. If you have a complaint about any aspect of our bill, then you have a right to apply for an assessment of the bill. If you wish to exercise this right, then please inform us as soon as possible after receipt of your bill. If we are unable to resolve your complaint, then you can have the complaint independently looked at by the Legal Ombudsman. The Legal Ombudsman investigates complaints about service issues with lawyers. If you would like more information about this service, including the time limits for taking a case to them, please contact the Legal Ombudsman directly. You can find out more about their service by visiting www.legalombudsman.org.uk or contacting them on 0300 555 0333 or in writing at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ.
In the event that we have been unable to resolve your complaint to your satisfaction within 8 weeks of your complaint, the matter may be referred to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Whilst there are a number of ADR providers, we would prefer to use the services of the Legal Ombudsman scheme as this is a scheme dealing specifically with legal complaints.
TERMINATING OUR ENGAGEMENT
You have the right to terminate our engagement by notice in writing to us either by post or email at any time for any reason.
We reserve the right to terminate our engagement if there is a failure or unacceptable delay in providing instructions to us, a material change in the circumstances or information on which our original engagement was based, or for any reason there is a breakdown in confidence between us. We will always seek to give you reasonable notice of our decision, but there may be circumstances where it is reasonable for us to give no notice. As mentioned above, we also reserve the right to discontinue work on all your current matters if any bill is not settled promptly.
If, for any reason, we cease to act before a matter has been completed, we shall be entitled to charge for all work done up to that point plus any fees or expenses for work necessary to transfer to another advisor.
If there are outstanding monies owed to the firm by you, whether in respect of fees, disbursements or other charges, we reserve the right to keep your papers, files, deeds or other documents until all outstanding payments have been discharged.
You may have been recommended to us by an ‘introducer’ with whom we have a financial arrangement to pay a fee for your introduction as a client.
Such arrangements are permitted by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) so long as they are dealt with strictly in accordance with the Solicitor’s Code of Conduct. The payment we make is treated as an overhead cost to this firm and we assure you that your estimated fees are in no way uplifted to account for such payment and therefore, this arrangement will not operate in any way to your detriment as a client and no part of the fee is payable by you.
Our agreement with an introducer requires the introducer to tell you of the financial agreement and the amount of fee which the introducer will receive. In acting for you we will do so independently and, in your interest, without allowing influence from the introducer. Also, we confirm that that nothing of a confidential nature will be disclosed to the Introducer without your consent. Your acceptance of our Terms and Conditions will however entitle us to assume that we have your consent to communicate information which appears to us to be appropriate to the proper progress of your transaction, but we will at all times act in your best interests. You should promptly raise with us any issue of concern which may arise during the transaction.
We have a duty to ensure that no conflict of interest will occur between ourselves and the Introducer. If that should happen, we may be obliged to cease acting and advise you accordingly in that event.
In some cases a matter may, for a variety of reasons, fall through. In these cases, we may charge you a fee for the abortive work that we have carried out. The fee will be based on the amount of time spent on the file and will be calculated according to the relevant fee earner’s hourly rate, unless otherwise agreed, together with any disbursements. Any such abortive invoice will not exceed any fixed fee estimate provided to you either at the outset of the transaction or during the course of the transaction if our fee estimate was revised.
Any reduction of incurred fees will be at the direction of the fee earner unless otherwise agreed in writing.
We retain the copyright and all other rights in all documents we provide to you or any third part on your behalf. We grant you a non-exclusive licence to use such documents solely for the purpose for which we provide them to you but not for any other purpose.
APPLICABLE LAW AND JURISDICTION
These Terms and Conditions are governed by the laws of England and Wales and are subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
LIMITATION OF LIABILITY
Unless otherwise agreed with you in writing, our aggregate liability for work undertaken pursuant to this engagement is limited to a maximum of £3,000,000.00 for any single claim.
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.
This agreement is made between you and us and takes effect from the date of the Letter of Engagement accompanying these Terms and Conditions. In the context of these Terms and Conditions, ‘we/us/our’ shall mean Novello Law Limited trading as Novello Law for the time being, or such partnership, limited liability partnership or other entity that may succeed it and/or carry on its practice to which all obligations, rights duties and responsibilities under these Terms and Conditions have been transferred or assigned.
This agreement is personal to you and may not be assigned to or held on behalf of or for the benefit of any third person, without our written consent.
You agree that in any case where with your consent we act for you and another person or persons on the same matter/case that we do so on the understanding that we are free to share your instructions to us and our advice to you with them and vice versa. If there is any information that is material to the retainer/case that you do not permit us to share with the other clients we represent on the same matter, then we will be unable to continue to represent you jointly. This is because there is a duty on any individual who is advising a client to make that client aware of all information material to the retainer of which the individual has personal knowledge. You must think carefully before instructing us jointly to act for you and others where there is confidential information you have which is relevant to the retainer/case and which you would not want any other clients on the same matter to know. Please advise us if this is the case.
Our use of your personal data is subject to your instructions, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), other relevant UK and EU legislation and our professional duty of confidentiality.
Under data protection law, we can only use your personal data if we have a proper reason for doing so. Generally, we process your personal data:
(a) to comply with our legal and regulatory obligations;
(b) for the performance of our contract with you or to take steps at your request before entering into a contract or;
(c) for our legitimate interests or those of a third party.
We will NOT notify you of changes to our bank account details by email. If you receive any communications suggesting that Novello Law’s bank account details have changed, you should contact us using the number on our website or our headed notepaper immediately to confirm details before making a payment. Do not make any payment to any bank details received in such manner without telephoning us first to verify details. Please be aware that a phishing email may contain a fraudulent telephone number for us, so never call the number indicated in such email. We will not take responsibility if you transfer money to a wrong account.
If you wish to notify us of a change to your bank details to those originally provided, we will not accept these by email without additional documentation and confirmation being provided.
FINANCIAL CONDUCT AUTHORITY
We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority and therefore cannot carry out any activities which would require such authorisation.
PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE
As required for all solicitors, we carry full professional indemnity insurance. However, the level of indemnity insurance varies and is largely a matter for the discretion of the individual firm. Our cover is for a maximum of £3,000,000.00 for any single claim and the policy covers any legal services we deliver from an office in England and Wales.
International Insurance Company (UK) Limited provide us with Professional Indemnity Insurance through Pen Underwriters Limited and their contact details are: 67 Lombard Street, London, EC3V 9LJ (+44 1403 321196).
If you continue to instruct us in this matter it will amount to your acceptance of these Terms and Conditions. Even so, we ask that you confirm that you agree to them by signing and returning a copy of these Terms and Conditions to us immediately together with the signed Terms of Engagement letter. Please then retain your copy and keep it safe. It is an important document.
These Terms and Conditions, together with the Letter of Engagement accompanying them and any attachments thereto, will form the whole agreement between us to carry out the work referred to in that letter.
Novello Law is the trading name of Novello Law Ltd, a limited company (registration number 11157738, registered address, Cardiff Marine Village, Penarth Road, Cardiff, CF11 8TU), which is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority with SRA number 654885. All references to ‘Novello Law’, the ‘firm’ and the like should be read as referring to Novello Law Ltd. Reference to a Partner does not mean a Director of the company or imply any partnership; a full list of Directors is available on request. VAT no. 320 1500 76