Client: Keith Betts
Matter: Betts Sale to Smith
- Engagement Letter Introduction
These terms and conditions together with the engagement letter and short form terms and conditions provided to you at the commencement of a matter. Together, these documents provide you with the basis upon which this firm accepts your instructions and charges for its services. If there is any conflict between these terms and conditions and the engagement letter then the engagement letter will prevail.
By reading and agreeing to these terms and conditions you acknowledge that you have had access to all of the policy documents referred to in these terms which can be access via our website. A written copy of these terms and any document or policy referred to in these terms can be provided in paper form upon request at our reception.
You will be asked to sign and return the short form Terms as acceptance of all of our terms and conditions. We are unable to start any work on your behalf without your signature.
- Robson & Co Solicitors
Robson & Co Solicitors is the trading name of Henwood Twenty Two Limited Registered in England under company number 9642284 managed by Directors: Keith James Betts a solicitor of England and Wales, Donnalee Jane Trewerne a Licensed Conveyancer and Jackie Hearn-Betts.
The firm’s ID number with the Solicitors Regulation Authority is 624268. On our website is a link to the SRA which provides you with full information about our authorisation. Our registered office address for SRA and Companies House purposes is 147 High Street Hythe Kent CT21 5JN. Our VAT registration number 223490329 which will be quoted on all invoices.
Office hours are 9.00am to 5.00pm., Monday to Friday although you may be able to contact us or make an appointment out of office hours. Outside of office hours, messages can be left on our answer phone on 01303 264581. We will call you back as soon as possible but please take account of weekends and public holidays which may delay a call back.
Our aim is to offer our clients quality legal advice with a personal service at a fair cost. Our commitment to you is:
- to represent your interests and keep your business confidential ;
- to explain to you the legal work that may be required and where appropriate, the prospects of a successful outcome;
- to explain to you the likely degree of financial risk that you will be taking on;
- to deal with your queries promptly;
- to keep you regularly informed of progress or if there is none, when you are next likely to hear from us and keep you informed of the likely time scale involved in the matter
- to advise of any changes in the law or circumstances that may affect the outcome of the matter that we are dealing with for you
- People responsible for your work
The engagement letter which accompanies these Terms and Conditions will set out the person or persons who will be carrying out the work for you on a day to day basis. If you need to telephone and the person concerned is not available, please leave a message with that person’s secretary or our receptionist. An email will be sent to the person dealing with your matter immediately advising them that you have called. Please note that neither the secretary nor the receptionist are qualified to give legal advice on your matter.
You will be given an email address to contact the person responsible for your matter. Please note that although emails are an instant form of communication, we treat emails like incoming post and deal with matters based on the order in which they are received.
We attempt to avoid changing the person who is handling your work but if this cannot be avoided, we will notify you promptly who will be handling your work their charging rate and status and why that change was necessary.
- Charges and Expenses
The engagement letter will set out the basis upon which the firm will charge for its services. Our charges are may be based on the time spent dealing with the case. Time spent on your affairs will include meetings with you, considering, preparing and working on papers, correspondence and making and receiving telephone calls.
Our pricing policy is transparent and is published on our website (link).
The engagement letter will provide you with details of the amount we will charge you per hour, for each hour worked by the person or persons concerned. The contentious matters within the Litigation Department operate a computer time recording system under which our charges are calculated in units of one tenth of an hour.
We may provide you with a fixed fee quote for the work that we undertake on your behalf. In the event that we do this we will not exceed the amount quoted unless the circumstances of your matter change significantly from the position when we quoted. If this happens we will discuss this with you first and will not undertake and further work at further cost without your approval first.
We will add VAT to our charges at the rate that applies when the work is done.
Our engagement letter will set out:-
- An estimate for time we are likely to spend on your matter.
- Details of any expenses (e.g. search fees, Land Registry fees, bank charges, Court fees and experts fees) that we believe you are likely to have to pay for and our best estimate of the amount you are likely to pay for them and when payment is likely to be needed.
We will update you on the position as to your charges and expenses every six months, if the transaction is not completed within that period, and inform you if it appears that any estimate previously given may be exceeded.
If this firm does not complete the work, we may charge you for the work done and expenses involved. If there is a referral arrangement or fee sharing arrangement we will explain these clearly.
On the 1st March in each year, the hourly rates are reviewed. We will notify you in writing of any increase to our rates. If there is any query about the revised rates, please contact the person carrying out your work immediately.
In property transactions, administration of estates and in transactions involving a large amount of money or benefit to the clients, we may base our charges on the time spent and by referring to a value element, such as the price of the property, the size of the estate or the value of the financial benefit. The value element reflects the importance of the transaction and the responsibility placed upon the Firm. Our letter of engagement will set out whether the value element will apply to your case.
We may, for a certain type of work, be able to agree with you an alternative charging arrangement such as a fixed fee or a conditional fee arrangement. If you wish, the person carrying out your work will discuss this with you. If our fees are not to be based on time spent, this will be set out in our letter of engagement.
We will inform you if any unforeseen work becomes necessary, for example, due to unexpected difficulties or if your requirements or circumstances change significantly during the matter. We will also inform you in writing of the estimated cost of the extra work before incurring those extra costs unless the urgency of the matter renders this impossible, in which case we will notify you at the earliest possible opportunity.
It is always difficult to predict the exact length of time that a transaction will take but in general terms we would estimate that your transaction will take approximately 12 weeks from instruction to the date of completion. This is subject to various factors including the party on the other side dealing with the matter quickly and efficiently and us being provided with all of the information that we request from you as quickly as possible.
In the event that you have a timeframe for your transaction which is shorter than the average then please let us know at the outset so that we can properly advise you as to whether or not this is possible.
In addition to providing a cost estimate full details relating to our charges are published on our website in accordance with the current SRA and Law Society guidance.
- Money Laundering / Terrorism
All solicitors are duty bound to comply with legislation and regulations framed to prevent money laundering and terrorist activity.
At the outset we need to have evidence of your identity, such as sight of a current original passport or a driving licence that includes a photograph, and of your current address, such as a utility bill. If it is convenient for you to do so, we always prefer that we see you at the time that the identification is produced so that a member of our staff will have identified you as the same person pictured in the passport or drivers licence As the transaction progresses, there may well be more information, which we have to request from you from time to time.
The documentation that you provide to us relating to your identity will be used to conduct a real time online anti-money laundering search against your personal details. This information is a requirement and will be kept on file for the duration of the transaction and thereafter will be stored in accordance with the requirements of the Solicitors Regulatory Authority and as per the guidance of the Law Society.
If we know or suspect that you may have been involved in a criminal offence, we may be under a duty to report the matter without telling you that we have done so. Compliance with this law may delay the work we do for you. We might ourselves be committing a serious criminal offence if we fail to do so. Indeed, in those circumstances, we might well have to decline to act for you further. The work for which we bill you would include steps to be taken in connection with these obligations which are a legal requirement in all cases.
- Bills / Payments / Interest
In relation to property transactions, we will send you a bill for our charges and expenses, payment of which is due upon completion. If sufficient funds are available on completion, and we have sent you a bill, we will usually deduct our charges from the funds.
In relation to the administration of estates, we will usually send you a bill on account for our charges and expenses on a periodic basis, normally every three months during the administration of the estate. We will also send you a final bill for our charges and expenses when the administration of the estate is completed. If there is sufficient funds we will normally deduct our charges from these funds within two weeks of issuing the bill.
In relation to other matters, we will send you a bill for our charges and expenses when the work is completed. We will also render interim bills on a regular basis to help you budget. This avoids having one large bill at the very end. All bills should be paid within one month. If not, we reserve the right to charge interest on the amount owing on a daily basis at 4% over Barclays Bank plc base rate from time to time from the date of the bill in cases where payment is not made within one month of delivery of the bill or the judgement rate whichever is the greater.
Sections 70, 71 and 72 of the Solicitors Act 1974 set out your rights in relation to having a bill assessed by the court; and
that we are entitled to charge interest on the outstanding amount of the bill in accordance with Article 5 of the Solicitors (Non-Contentious Business) Remuneration Order 2009.
For contentious work e.g. court proceedings, you may be entitled to have our charges reviewed by the Court. This procedure is called “Detailed Assessment”. The procedure for this is set out in Sections 70, 71 and 72 of the Solicitors’ Act 1974. If you have any query about the bill, you should contact us straightaway.
We may ask you to make a payment on account of costs or as part of your transaction. We will send you our bank account details at the start of the matter by post. We will not send you bank account details at any time by email.
We recommend that you make an initial payment of £1 to the accounts details we give you. You must then telephone us to confirm we have received the payment. This is done for you to verify that our bank details are correct. In the event that you make a payment direct to our bank without following this procedure then we will not be responsible for any loss you incur as a result of fraud.
We may need to make a payment to you during your transaction. We will provide you with a form to print, complete and sign confirming your account details. Please note that we will not accept these details by email. We will require a copy of a bank statement relating to the nominated account to be attached to the original hard copy of the form which must be returned to us either personally or by post. Should you fail to comply with this procedure then we may delay making a payment to you.
Please note that we are not able to act as a banking service. Payment will be made to an account in your name only (or both names if a joint transaction) and cannot be made to any other party unless they are directly linked to your transaction, such as paying your estate agents fees from the proceeds of your sale.
In relation to any payment sent to you by cheque which remains uncashed, or any payment made by bank transfer that is returned to us by the bank, or any balance on your client of less than £200 which we are unable to pay to you despite our best efforts, will be paid to a nominated charity if unclaimed by you after 90 days in accordance with the SRA accounts rules.
We may hold your money on your behalf as part of your matter. Your money will be held in a separate client account in accordance with the SRA client money rules. Should interest accrue on your money we will deal with that interest in accordance with our client account interest policy we can be viewed in full on our website (link).
- Financial Services and Insurance
If during this transaction 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. However, as we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, we may be able to provide certain limited investment services where these are closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you.
In the event that we feel you need specialised financial advice we will tell you. We are able to provide details of Independent Financial Advice near to you.
If we recommend an insurance policy it is because the insurers are a reputable company and the policy is suitable for the problem you have. However, it should be emphasised that we will not have carried out a fair analysis of the market or approached other insurers for quotations before making this recommendation to you and you are free to make your own enquiries through an insurance broker or otherwise if you wish. If you wish you can request of us details of the insurance providers we select from or deal with in respect of the contract or insurance we are referring.
You are under an obligation to disclose to the insurers any matter or material fact that might be considered likely to influence the insurer in accepting the application for insurance.
This firm is not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. However, we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Services 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. The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority website at www.fsa.gov.uk/register.
In order to maintain our high levels of advice and service some of our files are regularly audited by external auditors to ensure we are providing a good quality of service. The auditors are bound by the same duty of confidentiality as we are and therefore cannot reveal any information they see on a file to a third party. The files are selected randomly and your consent to such an audit taking place should your file be selected will be assumed unless you advise us in writing. No personal information is retained or stored by the auditors at the end of the audit process.
Our accounts are fully audited every year by a qualified team of accountants to ensure that we handle your money in the correct way and in accordance with the SRA rules. No personal information is retained or stored by the auditors at the end of the audit process.
- Tax advice
The firm does not generally provide tax advice except in specific narrow areas such as Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax associated with Wills and estate planning and Stamp Duty Land Tax which will be identified in the engagement letter. Any work that we do for you may involve tax implications or necessitate the consideration of tax planning strategies.
We may not be qualified to advise you on the full tax implications of the 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. If we can carry out the research necessary to resolve the issue, we will do so and advise accordingly. If we cannot, we may be able to identify a source of assistance to you, i.e. an accountant or other such specialist upon whose advice you could rely.
- Joint or Multiple instructions/other interests
When instructed by more than one person, the Firm may take instructions from any one of you. In the case of Companies, the instructions may come from an individual director of the Company unless otherwise instructed in writing. Unless agreed otherwise any one or more of those instructing jointly is jointly and severally liable for costs and disbursements. If we are acting for you on a disposal where there will be proceeds of sale, those net proceeds will be paid to you. Joint owners will be paid equally unless you tell us otherwise. Unless so notified, we shall take it that only you are interested in those proceeds, and there are no trusts or similar in favour of third parties.
Communications will be by telephone, by letter, by fax and/or by e-mail and in plain language. E-mail is not always secure and data sent by us by email is not routinely encrypted and so if you do not want us to use email as a form of communication with you then please advise us. Important communications should be confirmed by fax or post as e-mails are not always received.
- File closure
Files are stored for a maximum of 15 years only and will then be destroyed. In the case of conveyancing files, we will generally retain a purchase file for 12 years and will retain sale files for 6 years. Of course, if we know that a property where we have acted on the purchase has been sold within 12 years of the date of when it was purchased, then we will destroy the purchase 6 years after the date of the sale of the property. If you require your files to be retained longer, you must instruct the firm accordingly.
Time limits imposed by documents – rent review dates, dates for service of a break notice under a lease etc. are your responsibility to diarise. The firm does not take responsibility for diarising dates, which occur after a transaction is concluded for you by the firm. In certain circumstances, by express agreement with you, the firm will diarise dates.
We shall not be responsible for advising you of any future changes in the law which may impact upon you.
If we take papers 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 and reading and related work to comply with your instructions.
- Legal Documents
During the time we are working with you it is likely we shall send you legal documents and papers to read and perhaps sign. These may be complex and onerous and we strongly recommend you carefully read these documents and come back to us if there is anything in them of which you are unclear.
- Data Protection
We are committed to respecting the data that we hold on you. Your details will be kept to enable us to carry out the matter for which you have instructed us, for administration and for accounting purposes. We are registered with the Information Commissioners Office for the purposes of holding and storing personal information. Your details are kept securely in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679. I
f you have any questions or concerns regarding the use of your details please address these to the person named in your Terms of Engagement letter. You have right of access under data protection legislation to the personal data that we hold about you.
We abide by our Data Protection Policy, full details of which can be accessed via our website (link) or a printed version can be provided on request.
Any information you provide relating to a person will be safely stored by this firm for the purposes of this transaction only. This information will be kept for a period as specified/recommended by the Law Society and as required by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority. You will be given access to the information in the future upon written request.
- Termination of Instructions
You may terminate your instructions to the Firm at any time in writing. The Firm will be entitled to keep your papers and documents for as long as there is money owed to the Firm in respect of the charges and expenses, otherwise known as a “lien”. If at any stage you do not wish the Firm to continue doing work or incurring charges and expenses on your behalf, you must inform this Firm of this clearly in writing.
We will decide to stop acting for you only with good reason and on giving you reasonable notice if for example you fail to pay an interim bill or to comply with a request for a payment on account.
If you or we decide we no longer act for you, you will pay our charges on an hourly basis and expenses as set out earlier.
- Off Premises and Distance Selling
Regulations provide that if you have not instructed us in a face to face meeting or in a meeting that takes place not in our office you have the right to cancel your instructions without costs within fourteen working days of instructing us. Cancellation can be by post, fax or email but you cannot cancel once we start work with your permission. You can obtain a copy of the Solicitors Handbook from the The Law Society 113 Chancery Lane London WC2A 1PL
- Anti-Discrimination Policy
The firm is committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of its dealings with clients, third parties and employees and is required to produce a written equality and diversity policy. Please contact us if you would like us to send you a copy of that equality and diversity policy or alternatively this can be viewed on our website (link).
We are confident we will provide a high quality service in all respects. We have a set complaints policy / procedure which can be viewed in full on our website (link)
If however you have any queries or concerns about our work for you, please raise this in the first instance with the person carrying out your work or the person with overall responsibility for it. If that does not resolve the problem to your satisfaction or you prefer not to speak to the person or persons concerned, then we operate a written complaints procedure and you should contact Keith Betts at our office, who will deal with your complaint and supply you with a copy of our written complaints procedure. We have eight weeks to consider your complaint. If we have not solved it within this time you may complain to the Legal Ombudsman.
All firms of solicitors are obliged to attempt to resolve problems that clients may have with the service provided. It is therefore important that you immediately raise any concerns you may have with us and we will do our best to assist, having regard to your particular needs.
If, with the exception of corporate clients, you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can then ask the Legal Ombudsman at PO Box 6806 Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ to consider your complaint. You will need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within twelve months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint and if the issue happened within the last twelve months or you became aware of it in the last twelve months but for further information and financial limits, you should contact the Legal Ombudsman (0300 555 0333 or refer to www.legalombudsman.org.uk )
We would inform you at the outset of your retainer that at no cost to yourself:
- you are entitled to complain about your bill;
- there may also be a right to object to the bill by making a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman and/or by applying to the court for an assessment of the bill; and
- if all or part of the bill remains unpaid we may be entitled to charge interest
In some circumstances it will be appropriate to remind you at a later stage to whom you should approach under the firm’s complaints procedure if you wish to complain about the bill (or for us to inform you at this later stage if you have not been told at the outset)
Where we are effectively the client e.g. as executors or trustees we will also consider whether information on complaining about the bill should be given to any person likely to be affected by the bill e.g. beneficiaries.
If you are a business operator (unless you are defined as a micro enterprise), a charity or a club with an annual income of more than £1m, or a trustee of an asset with asset values of more than £1m you will not have the right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman. You still have a right to complain to this firm and to have an assessment, however. If there are circumstances in which you are not entitled to the protection of the Solicitors Regulation Authority fund we will advise you.