Terms of Business

Our Contract

 

The following terms of business of MetroLaw Solicitors Limited (“these terms”) apply not only to the present instructions but also to all future instructions from you accepted by us, unless otherwise agreed in writing by a director or the practice manager.

We shall notify you in writing of any change to these terms and arrangements that come into effect during our management of your matter(s). These terms should be read subject to the terms of our engagement letter, which is our client care letter, which is sent/given to you at the outset of your instructions to us and which will prevail if it conflicts with these general terms of business

 

MetroLaw Solicitors Limited

 

MetroLaw Solicitors Limited (trading as MetroLaw Solicitors) is a limited company (no 07709426) registered in England and Wales. Registered Address: 92 Goodmayes Road, Goodmayes, Essex, IG3 9UU. A list of the directors is open to inspection at our registered address. All references in these terms to “us”, “we”, and “our” refer to MetroLaw Solicitors Limited (trading as MetroLaw Solicitors).

We are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and our registration number is 562625. Details of the professional rules which apply can be seen at www.sra.org.uk.

 

Our Responsibilities

 

In providing our services to you we will rely upon the information and instructions provided by you or by others authorised to do so on your behalf. Advice is provided in relation to a specific set of facts and as a result we do not accept any responsibility for the applicability of that advice to other situations or to other parties or for any reliance placed upon it by such parties or in such situations. We will not give advice on the tax implications of your instructions unless we specifically agree to do so in writing in advance.

We reserve the right to refuse new instructions or not to continue with existing instructions if in so doing we would be presented with a conflict of interest as defined by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. We also have a professional duty to uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice. We must comply with our duties to the court even where these conflict with our obligations to you.

We follow the Code of Conduct published by the SRA. This is found at http://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/handbook/code/content.page.

 

When you first instruct us, we shall confirm in writing

 

  • Who we understand the client to be
  • Your instructions
  • Our advice, agreed action and next step(s)
  • Timescales for the next step(s)
  • Who will be handling your matter, including who will be supervising
  • Our fees
  • Complaints (how you may complain if you wish to)

 
 

When a matter has been completed, we shall

 

  • Confirm that this has happened
  • Explain whether you will need to take any further action in the future
  • Enclose our final bill
  • Account for any money due to you
  • Advise you of how long your file will be stored for
  • Remind you of your right to complain
  • Invite you to complete a client satisfaction feedback questionnaire

 

Our service

 

As a matter progresses, we shall

 

  • Deal with it promptly
  • Keep you informed of developments
  • Tell you about any delays and explain the reasons
  • Let you know if there is, or is likely to be, any change to our fees or expenses, and, if so, agree these with you before proceeding
  • Tell you if somebody else is to deal with your work

 

How you can help us

 

  • Let us have clear instructions and tell us promptly if anything changes
  • Tell us if you have any important time limits or dates to avoid
  • Keep in touch regularly, particularly if there is something which is worrying you
  • Deal promptly with any questions which we ask
  • Let us know immediately if you have moved address or changed your contact details

 

We may decide to stop acting for you

 

We may stop acting for a client for a number of reasons including

  • the client is looking to change the initial instructions to a work area that the firm does not undertake, or wishes to restrict
  • the client is not paying the firm’s bills, or has threatened or assaulted personnel within the firm
  • it is discovered that the client is engaged in business activities that the firm would not wish to be associated with
  • documents presented to the firm, or to the courts, by the client have been found to be falsified
  • the matter is now considered to be of high risk

 

If we decide to stop acting for you, we will notify you in writing of this, and the reasons for this notification, as soon as practicably possible, and, if appropriate, will refer you to a third party, such as another firm of solicitors.

 

Quality standards

 

Our firm achieved Lexcel accreditation on 24th May 2012, a quality standard of the Law Society. Our firm also achieved the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) accreditation on 15th February 2016.

 

Money laundering

 

The Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 (MLR 2017), which came into force on 26th June 2017, require us to ensure that we have conducted “due diligence” in relation to our clients and, in particular, have identified our client and verified their identity on the basis of a reliable independent source (such as a passport), where applicable, identified the beneficial owners of the client, taken reasonable measures to verify their identity so we know who they are and, if the beneficial owner is an entity or legal arrangement, taken reasonable measures to understand its ownership and control structure, assessed and, where appropriate, obtained information on the purpose and intended nature of the business relationship or transaction, and identified, and verified, the identity of a person who purports to act on behalf of a client, and verified that they are authorised to act on behalf of the client. We may, therefore, require you to provide that evidence to us.

Normally we will not accept payments of cash of more than £1,000, and we may not agree to transfer money on your behalf.  Monies due to you from us will be paid by cheque or bank transfer, but not in cash, and will not be made payable to a third party.

You should be aware that these Regulations, and the provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, may require us to take further steps such as ceasing to act for you in the relevant matter, or at all.

Solicitors are under a professional and legal obligation to keep the affairs of clients confidential. This obligation, however, is subject to statutory exceptions which have placed solicitors under a legal duty to disclose information to the relevant authorities in certain circumstances. A solicitor may be required to make a formal disclosure to the relevant authorities when that solicitor knows or suspects that a transaction on behalf of a client involves an offence under the Proceeds of Crime Act, or other related legislation. If this happens, we may not be able to inform you that a disclosure has been made, or of the reasons for this, because the law prohibits this.

Please find the money laundering information sheet in the appendix below.

 

Electronic and other communication

 

We will aim to communicate with you by such method as you may request. Unless you instruct us to do otherwise, we will communicate with others, when appropriate, by letter, eMail or facsimile, but we cannot be responsible for the security of correspondence and documents sent by letter, eMail or facsimile.

 

Data protection

 

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (EU) 2016/679 is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union. It addresses the export of personal data outside the EU.

 

The GDPR forms part of the data protection regime in the United Kingdom, together with the new Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 2018). The main provisions of this apply, like the GDPR, from 25 May 2018.

 

We are required to advise you that your particulars are held on our database, and in physical file(s) relating to the matter(s) we managed/are managing for you.  We will only use these for legitimate reasons and will always look to comply with legal and regulatory requirements. All the data we hold on you is protected, with the data held in soft version being protected by state-of-the-art hardware and software, and that held in files protected under lock and key in CCTV and alarm protected offices, and a secured storage unit when sent to storage. All data held on you is easily traceable via our Central Records.

 

None of your data held by us is shared outside of the firm except in cases where we are audited by, or on behalf of, a regulatory body, the Legal Aid Agency (part of the Ministry of Justice), assessed as part of our Lexcel re-accreditation, or where there is a statutory exception (see Money Laundering above). As a result of us having to be annually monitored in terms of Lexcel, or having to be audited, your file(s) could be selected for checking, in which case we will need your consent for inspection to occur. All inspections are, of course, conducted in confidence. If you prefer to withhold consent, work on your file will not be negatively affected in any way. We will assume that we do have your consent unless you notify us to the contrary.

 

Your rights as data subjects

 

Under the GDPR clients have the following rights:

 

  • the right to rectification
  • the right to erasure
  • the right to restrict processing
  • the right to data portability

 

Mr Avnish Sood is the firm’s Data Protection Officer (DPO).

 

Storage of deeds and documents

 

On completion of your matter, subject to any rights of retention that we may have, upon your written request we will return to you any documents you provided to us for the purposes of acting for you. Those documents which belong to us will remain our property.

 

We provide a free safe custody service to our clients for deeds, wills, share certificates and other securities and documents. We keep clients’ files, which are left with us, on the understanding that we have authority to destroy them at the end of six years from delivery of our final bill/our file closing letter. Please let us know before your matter is completed if you wish us to retain your file for a longer period. If you do, we shall agree suitable arrangements with you. When deeds or documents are taken out of storage in connection with a current matter, no charge is made. In other circumstances, a charge may be made to cover the costs of obtaining the deeds or documents from storage, and of any time which we spend in looking through them. A charge may also be made for any copying and postage expenses which may be incurred.

 

Our Right to a lien

 

The common law entitles us to retain any deeds, documents, money and other property which properly come into our possession, until our fees and expenses, including VAT, have been paid. This is known as a lien, and applies whether or not the deeds, documents, money and other property relate to the matter for which the outstanding fees and expenses have been incurred. We are not entitled to sell property held under a lien, but we are entitled to retain the property even if its value exceeds the amounts due to us in respect of fees and expenses.

 

 

Money held for you

 

If we hold money for you, we shall account to you for interest in accordance with the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules 2011, unless we agree some other arrangement with you in writing. Subject to the minimum amounts and periods stated in those Rules, where money is held on a general client account, a payment in lieu of interest will normally be calculated from the date on which we receive the money to the date on which it is paid out. No payment in lieu of interest will be due or payable where the sum calculated is less than £20.

 

Limitation of liability

 

Our limit of liability will never be below the minimum required by the Solicitors’ Indemnity Insurance Rules and SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules. Our limit of liability is £3,000,000.

 

Insurance

 

Our Indemnity Insurers are Chancery Pii, which is a trading name of Six Clerks Insurance Services Limited, an appointed representative of Miller Insurance Services LLP, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Six Clerks Insurance Services Limited is registered in England and Wales Reg. No. 08517341 FCA No. 602218; Registered Address: 70 Mark Lane, London, EC3R 7NQ.

 

Fees information and invoicing

 

Our current hourly rates are:

 

  • Senior Solicitors (3 years post qualified)                         £275.00 + VAT
  • Solicitors                                                                        £250.00 + VAT
  • Trainee Solicitors, Paralegals             £175.00 + VAT

 

These hourly rates are reviewed periodically to reflect increases in overhead costs and inflation.  Normally the rates are reviewed with effect from 1 January each year.  If a change in our charge out rate is to be implemented before your matter has been concluded, we will inform you of any variation in the rate before it takes effect, but this will not normally affect the fees we have already quoted you.

 

In addition to the time spent, we may take into account a number of factors including any need to carry out work outside our normal office hours, the complexity of the issues, the speed at which action has to be taken, any particular specialist expertise which the case may demand.  An increase in the rates may be applied to reflect such factors.  It is not always possible to indicate how these aspects may arise, but on present information we will expect them to be sufficiently taken into account in the rates which we have quoted.  Where an increase in the rates, or a charge reflecting any element is to be added, we will explain this to you.

 

Solicitors have to pay out various expenses on behalf of clients ranging from Land or Probate Registry fees, court fees, experts’ fees, and so on.  VAT is payable on certain expenses.  We refer to such payments generally as ‘disbursements’.  If, for any reason, your matter does not proceed to completion/conclusion, we will be entitled to charge you for work done and expenses incurred.

 

In all cases other than ones we are managing on a Conditional Fee Arrangement basis, we will require you to put us in funds to meet any expenses (such as experts’ and barristers’ fees) before these are incurred, because we accept the obligation to pay these expenses when they are incurred on your behalf. If, in our opinion, it is necessary to instruct an expert or a barrister in connection with your work, we shall discuss this and the probable fees and expenses with you, and obtain your prior authority. You will be responsible for the fees and expenses incurred.

 

VAT will be charged at the rate that applies when the work is done.  The present rate of VAT is 20%.

 

When a new matter is referred to us, we shall inform you how our fees will be calculated, and about the expenses we expect will be incurred on your behalf.  In most cases it will be possible to agree a fixed fee, and this will not be altered without your agreement.

 

It is not possible to agree a fixed fee with some types of work, but as a matter of guidance we shall give you a best estimate, either for the entire matter or to take the work to an agreed stage. An estimate is not a fixed price, nor is it binding. In these cases, work is charged on a time basis. You will be told at the outset the hourly rates of the persons dealing with your work. The individual charging rates take into account seniority, experience and expertise. As explained above, we review the charging rates periodically and we shall inform you of any change to the rates charged by the person(s) doing your work.

 

We will try to avoid changing the people who handle your work, but if this cannot be avoided, we will tell you promptly of any change and why it may be necessary.

 

Our fees include the time spent on such matters as

 

  • Taking your instructions, client care, including file opening, research, supervision, telephone calls to and from you and others, letters, eMails, and faxes
  • Considering, preparing and working on papers
  • Preparation of any detailed costs estimates, schedules and bills
  • Correspondence
  • Attending Court
  • Travelling and waiting time

 

We may issue an invoice, after agreeing this in advance with you, for postage costs and courier charges which we pay on your behalf, and for copying costs where significant numbers of copies are needed or when external copying is required.

 

We shall include in our invoice(s) any charges which are passed on to us by third parties relating to your matter.

 

Our invoices are payable on delivery, and if we ask you for a payment on account this will be due upon our request. We are entitled to charge interest on invoices which are paid late.

 

Our invoices contain the following important information relating to our fees:

 

“Notice with regard to costs

 

1      The Solicitors’ (Non-Contentious Business) Remuneration (Amendment) Order 2012 – ‘the Order’) gives you and us certain rights as to costs. The Order (a copy of which may be inspected at our offices) only applies if our fee for non-contentious work is less than £50,000 and does not apply to work carried out by us under the terms of a non-contentious business agreement (under Section 57 of the Solicitors Act 1974) between you and us.

2      Interest

Our terms of business are, and we are entitled, to charge interest on unpaid bills for all work carried out on your behalf at the rate payable for the time being on court judgment debts, from one month after delivery of this invoice in respect of any balance then unpaid.

3      Dissatisfaction with Bill

Please note you are entitled to complain about your bill and you may have a right to object to your bill by making a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman.

4      Assessment

You may be entitled to have our charges reviewed by the court. This is called ‘assessment’. The procedure is set out in part 3 of the Solicitors Act 1974. If you do not pay us when requested a sum on account of fees or if you do not settle any invoice for either fees or expenses, we shall have the right to cease acting for you in any matters currently being handled for you and to invoice you for all fees and expenses to date.”

 

Also, please see https://www.gov.uk/challenge-solicitors-bill/overview.

 

Limited companies

 

When accepting instructions to act on behalf of a limited company, we may require a Director and/or controlling shareholder to sign a form of personal guarantee in respect of the charges and expenses of this firm.  If such a request is refused, we will be entitled to stop acting and to require immediate payment of our charges and expenses to date.

 

 

Other parties’ charges and expenses

 

In some cases and transactions, a client may be entitled to payment of costs by some other person.  It is important that you understand that in such circumstances the other person may not be required to pay all the charges and expenses which you incur with us. You have to pay our charges and expenses in the first place, and any amounts which can be recovered will be a contribution towards them. If the other party is in receipt of legal aid, no costs are likely to be recovered.

 

You will also be responsible for paying our charges and expenses of seeking to recover any costs that the court orders the other party to pay to you.

 

A client who is unsuccessful in a court case may be ordered to pay the other party’s legal charges and expenses. These will be payable in addition to our charges and expenses.  Arrangements can be made to take out insurance to cover liability for such legal expenses.  Please discuss this with us if you are interested in this.

 

Tax advice

 

We do not offer tax advice in respect of any matters.

 

Any work that we do for you may involve tax implications, or necessitate the consideration of tax planning strategies.  We are not qualified to advise you on the tax implications of a transaction that you instruct us to carry out, or the likelihood of them arising. If you have any doubts/concerns in this respect, please obtain advice from an accountant.

 

Right to cancel

 

The requirements of the Consumer Contract Regulations 2013 provide you with a right to cancel your contract usually within 14 days of us receiving instructions from you, that is when the contract was entered into. We may ask you to sign a waiver of your right to cancel in order to be able to progress the work required on their behalf.

 

Termination of instructions

 

We expect to continue to act in any matter on which we have accepted instructions from you until the matter is completed. However, you may terminate your instructions to us at any time for any reason by giving us written notice, but we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is money owing to us for charges and expenses.  We shall not stop acting for you unless we deem that it is in your best interests for us to do so, or for any other good reason, and upon giving you reasonable notice where this is practicable. Good reasons (please also see “We may decide to stop acting for you” above)  include actions which may result in our being in breach of the law or in breach of the principles of good professional practice, our inability to obtain clear instructions from you, where there is a breakdown in confidence between you and us, where we consider there to be a conflict of interests, or your failure to pay one of our invoices, or to make a payment which we have requested on account of fees or expenses. We may also stop acting for you where we are unable to agree a revised fee arrangement with you where the circumstances and/or your requirements change and additional unforeseen work becomes necessary.

 

If we do stop acting for you, for whatever reason, you will be liable for all fees and disbursements incurred up to the date of termination of the instructions, plus any fees and expenses for work necessary in connection with the transfer of your matter to another adviser of your choice, and/or removing ourselves from the Court record, as applicable.

 

If you terminate your instructions with us without due cause you will be obliged to pay us all the fees that you owe us in cases where we took these instructions on a fixed fees basis. This also applies in cases where you have instructed another firm of legal representatives for the same matter that you had previously instructed us on.

 

 

Identity requirements

 

We are entitled to refuse to act for you if you fail to supply appropriate proof of identity for yourself or any principal whom you may represent.

 

Investment services

 

We are not authorised under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2012, but we are able, in certain circumstances, to offer a limited range of investment services to clients because we are members of the Law Society. We can provide these investment services if they are an incidental part of the professional services we have been engaged to provide.  In some circumstances, we may refer you to someone who is authorised by the Financial Services Authority.

 

The Law Society is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2012, but responsibility for regulation and complaints handling has been separated from the Law Society’s representative functions. The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory body of the Law Society, and the Legal Ombudsman is the independent complaints handling body of the Law Society.

 

Complaints

 

If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service you receive from our firm, or about the bill, please contact the fee-earner who has conduct of your matter. S/he will look to deal with your issues without the need to take this matter to a formal complaint.

 

If you are still unhappy then s/he will refer you to our formal complaints procedure. Please feel free to request further details on this whenever you wish to, including to request a copy of our complaints procedure.

 

Your concerns will be investigated promptly and thoroughly and we shall contact you so that the results of our investigation may be discussed with you. There is no charge for this investigation.

 

We will have eight weeks from the time you raise your complaint with us to respond substantively to you. If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider the complaint. The Legal Ombudsman may be contacted at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ, or by email to enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk or by telephone on 0300 555 0333. The office is open Mon-Fri between 8.30 am and 5.30 pm. You may find out more information at www.legalombudsman.org.uk.

 

We refer you to http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/?faqs-category=how-to-complain-to-your-service-provider Please note here the timescales within which you may raise your complaint. The section states

 

“Ordinarily, you can ask us to look at your complaint if it meets all three of the conditions below:

 

  1. The problem or when you found out about it, happened after 5 October 2010; and
  2. You are referring your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within either of the following:
  • Six years of the problem happening; or
  • Three years from when you found out about it; and
  1. You are referring your complaint to us within six months of your service provider’s final response.

 

 

Governing law

 

Our engagement and its performance will be governed by and interpreted in accordance with the laws of England and Wales, and we and you submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English Courts. Each provision of these terms of business and our letter of engagement is severable and distinct from every other provision.

 

 

 

 

APPENDIX                                         Money Laundering Information Sheet

IMPORTANT. THIS SHEET GIVES DETAILS OF THE DOCUMENTS

WE NEED FROM YOU BEFORE WE CAN START ACTING ON YOUR BEHALF

 

This sheet is aimed at assisting us with meeting our obligations under the UK anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML/CTF) regime. There is no suggestion that you are involved in Money Laundering, but it is the Government’s policy to try to eradicate instances of Money Laundering, which has meant that we must make certain checks of your identity at an early stage of the transaction.

 

We are required to check the identity, name and address of all clients. We must, therefore, ask you to supply us with one item from List A and one from List B:-

 

List A              (a) your current signed passport or;

(b) a current photocard driving licence (UK or EEA) or;

  1. c) an EEA member state identity card or;

(d) an HM Forces identity card or;

(e) a National photo identity card or;

(f) a photo registration card for people self-employed in the construction industry (C1S4) or;

(g) a firearms or shotgun certificate

 

 

List B              (a) a utilities bill (not mobile phone bill) or council tax bill less than three months old or;

(b) a mortgage statement for the mortgage accounting year just ended or:

(c) a recent bank/building society statement or;

(d) a current photocard driving licence (UK or EEA) or;

(e) a state pension benefits book or:

(f) a valid home or motor insurance certificate or;

(g) a current local authority tax bill, Housing Association rent card or tenancy agreement or;

(h) a solicitor’s letter confirming house purchased/land registration or;

(i) an Electoral Registry entry or;

(j) an NHS medical card or;

(k) a Benefits book or;

(l) a recent Inland Revenue self-assessment statement or tax demand

 

In order to assist, if you wish to bring the originals of the required documentation you are using to prove your identity to our reception then they will take copies for you whilst you wait, which we will certify free of charge, and then you can take the originals away with you.

 

If you intend to post the originals to us for us to take copies, please use special delivery. Please rest assured that special delivery will be used to return the documents to you.

 

Alternatively, if you cannot get into the office and are concerned about posting original documents, you can ask a local solicitor, accountant, bank manager, independent financial adviser or doctor to photocopy and certify them for you, and you can post the copies to us. Please note that other people are not authorised to certify ID, and inadequately certified ID may hold up the transaction. If you decide to do this, please make sure that the person certifying the copies uses the wording set out below. They may make a charge for this.

 

Unfortunately, there can be no exceptions to these rules. We do appreciate that not everyone, for example asylum seekers who have entered the UK clandestinely, will have the required documentation, and there are separate guidelines for such instances. If you cannot provide us with the required two forms for proof of identity then please telephone us to discuss what documentation you do have, and we can find out whether such documentation can be used in place of the list shown above.

 

Additionally, we regret we are not normally able to accept payments of cash in any amount greater than £1,000.

 

Wording to be used by persons carrying out certification:

 

I certify that [this is a true likeness of                                                               and that] this is a true copy of the original document

Signed

Full name………

Address………..

Qualification……

 

Insert words in square brackets if evidence includes a photo.