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Terms & Conditions

Costs

We offer relatively low and sensible levels of costs.  Our costs are calculated primarily to the amount of work we spend on the matter.  Our costs can increase or decrease depending on the type of case we are carrying out, it’s importance, complexity, urgency and level of skill and specialist knowledge required. The type of work that we can charge for includes advising, attending on you and others, dealing with papers, letter and telephone calls, travelling and waiting (if appropriate).

Costs / Private

The current hourly rate of charging is as follows:-

  • Directors/Consultants/Barristers – £200.00 to £275.00 ( depending on the complexity of the matter).
  • Solicitors – £177.00
  • Lawyer – £146.00

(VAT is added to all costs and some additional expenses).

The above costs are reviewed annually and are correct as of 13th January 2020.

Costs Estimates

We will always try to provide some estimate of our likely costs but there are often situations when it is difficult to do this.  If we have to do more or less work than we originally anticipated, we will inform you of this and make any adjustment to the estimate.  We will always obtain your consent before incurring additional costs.

Smartsearch UK

It is our policy on all transactions to carry out an online search with SmartSearch UK, who work alongside Experian, to validate identification, address and date of birth information in order to comply with Anti-Money Laundering Regulations and to prevent fraud.  Please contact us if you have any questions in this regard.

Confidentiality

Solicitors are under a professional and legal obligation to keep the affairs of clients confidential. This obligation, however, is subject to statutory exception: recent legislation on money laundering and terrorist financing has placed Solicitors under a legal duty in certain circumstances to disclose information to the National Crime Agency. Where a Solicitor knows or suspects that a transaction on behalf of a client involves money laundering, the Solicitor may be required to make a money laundering disclosure. If this happens, we may not be able to inform you that a disclosure has been made or of the reasons for it.

Sometimes we ask other companies or people to do typing/photocopying and other work on our files to ensure this is done promptly. We always seek a confidentiality agreement with these out-sourced providers. If you do not want your file to be outsourced, please tell us as soon as possible. External firms or organisations may conduct audits or quality checks on our practice. These external organisations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files.

Cash

Our firm’s policy is to only accept cash up to £1,000. If clients circumvent this policy by depositing cash direct with our bank, we reserve the right to charge for any additional checks we deem necessary regarding the source of the funds.

Payments On Account

It is normal practice of this firm to request clients to make payment on account of anticipated costs and disbursements. We will let you know if we do require payment on account and tell you the reason why.

Interim Accounts

We may send you bills at interim intervals for work carried out during the conduct of the matter. This assists your cash flow and enables you to budget for costs. We are sure that you will understand that in the event of an interim account not being paid we must reserve the right to decline to act for you any further and that the full amount of the work done up to that date will be charged to you.

Limit On Liability

We are permitted to limit our liability to clients in respect of legal matters undertaken. We consider that £3,000,000 represents a fair and maximum limit to our liability.

Our Solicitors, Legal Executives and Lawyers can only advise on matters relating to England and Wales.

Our Insurers are Travelers Insurance Company, policy number  UCSOL3977971. Further details are available on request.

It is also agreed that in the event of any claim arising in respect of professional services, the sum of £3,000,000 represents the maximum total liability to you in respect of the firm, its partners and staff. This maximum total liability includes any claims in respect of breaches of contract, tort or otherwise in respect of the professional services and shall also include interest.

We acknowledge that the limit in respect of our total aggregate liability will not apply to any acts, omissions or representations that are in any way criminal, dishonest or fraudulent on the part of the firm, its partners or employees, and you agree that you will not bring any claim of a kind that is included within the subject of the limit against any of our employees on a personal basis.

Methods Of Payment

We expect our bills to be paid within 28 days. If not, we reserve the right to charge interest on outstanding money at the rate of the Judgement Debt (currently 8%). Payment should ideally be in the form of a cheque or bankers draft drawn on your account with a UK clearing bank or telegraphed through the banking system to our bank account. We cannot accept more than £1,000 in cash.

By your acceptance of these terms and conditions (by acknowledging receipt of them) you are deemed to authorise us to deduct any of our fees legitimately payable from any monies that we might hold in our office or client accounts on your behalf before paying any balance of monies to you. We will provide further information on this point if you require.

PLEASE BE AWARE THAT WE DO NOT NOTIFY CHANGES TO IMPORTANT BUSINESS INFORMATION, SUCH AS BANK ACCOUNT DETAILS, BY EMAIL.

Joint Retainer

In some cases we accept instructions to act for more than one person (for example, husband and wife or a partnership). Each individual client is responsible to pay our fee in full. This is known as Joint and Several Liability. We will deliver only one account for the work carried out on your behalf but if one or more of those persons jointly instructing us does not pay, we have the legal right to fully recover the monies from any one of those jointly instructing us.

Assessment Of Costs

You have the right to challenge or complain about our bill. You have the right to apply for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. In the event that you are involved in a Court dispute and you are successful it may be that you get another party to pay your costs. However, it is rare for the system of “Assessment” of costs as it is known to result in the other party having to pay all of the full amount of the costs. This is a complex subject and we will be happy to explain this further if you so wish.

Financial Services

Sometimes conveyancing/family/probate/company work involves investments. We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority and so may refer you to someone who is authorised to provide any necessary advice. However, we can provide certain limited services in relation to investments, provided they are closely linked with the legal services we are providing to you, as we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

The Law Society is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 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 an independent complaints handling organisation.

Insurance Mediation

We may in the course of a transaction be requested by you to arrange a contract of insurance such as, for example, a restrictive covenant or other defective title indemnity policy. Usually you will request us to arrange such a policy on the basis that the cost of the policy and convenience of such a policy is more cost effective and quicker than trying to resolve the particular title defect or other issue.

This firm has not conducted a fair analysis of the market and if requested by you to arrange a contract of insurance will not undertake such an analysis. If you wish to receive advice on the market and the various policies that might suit you then you should obtain such advice from an independent insurance broker. We are not contractually obliged to conduct insurance mediation activities with any particular insurance company.

We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. However, we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority so that we can carry on insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the advising on, selling and administration of insurance contracts. This part of our business including arrangements for complaints or redress if something goes wrong, is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority website http://www.fca.org.uk/

Progress Reports

We will keep you regularly advised of progress in your case and we will try to keep in contact with you a minimum of at least once a month. We may contact you on your home, work or mobile telephone numbers. Where appropriate we may also use an email address or fax. If any of these methods are inconvenient to you, please let us know. We may also from time to time advise you of other services we have to offer, if you do not wish to receive this information please let us know.

Data Protection

We use your personal data primarily to provide legal services to you but also for related purposes including:-

  • Conducting checks to identify you, verify your identity and screen for financial or other sanctions;
  • Gathering and providing information required by or relating to audits, enquiries and investigations by regulatory bodies;
  • Complying with professional, legal and regulatory obligations that apply to our business;
  • Ensuring business policies are adhered to e.g. policies covering security and internet use;
  • Operational reasons such as improving efficiency, training and quality control;
  • Ensuring the confidentiality of commercially sensitive information;
  • Statistical analysis to help us manage our practice (e.g. in relation to our financial performance, client base, work type or other efficiency measures;
  • Updating client records;
  • Preventing unauthorised access and modifications to systems;
  • Preparing and filing statutory returns;
  • Ensuring safe working practices and monitoring and managing staff absences and staff access to systems and facilities;
  • Staff administration and assessments, monitoring staff conduct and disciplinary matters;
  • Marketing our services;
  • Credit reference checks via external credit reference agencies;
  • External audits and quality checks for Lexcel.

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.

Seatons Solicitors is a data controller for the purpose of the GDPR and other relevant data protection legislation. We have nominated Adrian Chambers as the firm’s representative for the purpose of the GDPR.

We take your privacy very seriously.  Please see our Privacy Policy as it contains important information on:-

  • What personal data we collect about you and how that data is collected;
  • How, why and on what ground we use your personal data;
  • Who we share your personal data with;
  • Where your personal data is held and how long it will be kept;
  • Whether your personal data may be transferred out of the European Economic area and, if so, the measures taken to protect that data;
  • Your rights in relation to the personal data we hold or use;
  • The steps we take to secure your personal data;
  • How to make a complaint in relation to our use of your personal data;
  • How to contact us with any queries or concerns in relation to your personal data.

Promotional Communications

We may use your personal data to send you updates (by email, text, telephone or post) about legal developments that might be of interest to you and or information about our services, including exclusive offers, promotions or new services. You have the right to opt out of receiving promotional communications at any time by:-

  • Contacting us in writing confirming you wish to “opt out” of our marketing
  • Using the “unsubscribe” link in emails or “STOP” number in texts.

Electronic Communication

Internet communications are capable of data corruption and therefore we do not accept any responsibility for changes made to such communications after their despatch. It may therefore be inappropriate to rely on advice contained in an email without obtaining written confirmation of it. We do not accept responsibility for any errors or problems that may arise through the use of internet connection and all risks connected with sending commercially sensitive information relating to you are borne by you. If you do not agree to accept this risk, you should notify us in writing that email is not an acceptable means of communication. It is the responsibility of the recipient to carry out a virus check on any attachments received.

Contracts ( Rights Of Third Parties ) Act 1999

Persons who are not a party to these Terms of Business shall have no rights under the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 to enforce any term of this agreement. This clause does not affect any right or remedy of any person which exists or is available otherwise pursuant to that Act.

Third Parties

These Terms and Conditions only apply between you and Seatons Solicitors. At no time do they give any benefit or right to any third party, individual or organisation.

Lien

A lien is our right to keep all papers, documents, money or other property held on your behalf until all money due to us is paid. We have the right in accordance with this agreement. A lien may be applied after this agreement ends.

VAT

None of our rates, estimates or charges includes VAT unless this is specifically made clear. Otherwise VAT will be charged in addition at the prevailing rate at the time of the provision of our services.

Our VAT number is 395 939678.

Interest Payments

If we hold money on your behalf, subject to the terms of these paragraphs, interest will be calculated and credited to you on the quarter date and in accordance with the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority Accounts Rules. Subject to certain minimum amounts and period of time prescribed by the Rules, interest will be calculated and paid at the rate from time to time payable on NatWest Bank PLC’s Business Services Practice Call Deposit Accounts less a sum of £20.00 to take into account the administrative costs of calculation and payment in respect of each amount of interest as and when calculated. The period for which interest will be paid will normally run from the date(s) on which cleared funds are received by us until date(s) of issue of any cheques in discharge thereof. In lengthy matters, interest is calculated on our Accounting quarter dates; end January, end April, end July and end October.

Where clients obtain borrowing from a Lender, we will request the lender to arrange that the advance cheque is received by us a minimum of four working days prior to the completion date to ensure that cleared funds are available in time for completion. You should note that the lender may charge interest from the date of issue of the cheque.

As the liability for your solicitor costs are always yours, although we may be instructed to obtain all or part of those costs from your opponent, our costs bill, once it has been agreed for payment with your opponent, will be secured by money held on your behalf in our Clients Account. For this purpose such security will be transferred to our Office Account as against the outstanding account.

Money Laundering

Where you instruct us to accept or hold or pay over money on your behalf, if the circumstances give us cause that a proper disclosure ought to be made to the Authorities you hereby authorise us to make such disclosure on your behalf. In such circumstances we shall not be liable for any consequential losses following from such disclosure.

Fraud Alert

Sadly we live in a world where fraudulent activity is rife, and some fraudsters are attempting to target solicitors. Please be on guard in relation to any unusual phone calls or emails or other attempts to communicate with you. Please never send funds to a new account without ringing our office and speaking to the relevant lawyer first. Please check the email addresses of emails purportedly sent by ourselves, particularly ones relating to payment/funds transfer requests ( e.g. check for different domain addresses, different spellings). Thank you.

Termination Of Retainer

It is agreed that both you and ourselves have the right to terminate a retainer and any legal matter that we are handling for you by either of us giving the other reasonable notice which in normal circumstances would be 14 days written notice. In the event of this occurring you agree to pay our fees up to the date of termination of retainer and/or legal matter. For the avoidance of doubt this is not our “entire contract” which means we will be entitled to cover our costs for the work carried out up to the point of termination of the retainer regardless of whether the termination is made by you or ourselves.

Storage Of Papers And Deeds

Following the conclusion of a transaction or case, we will retain our files of papers for such a period as we deem appropriate in our absolute discretion. If you require such papers (including pre-registration deeds and documents where the title to a property has been registered at the Land Registry) to be kept for any specific period you must give notice in writing to us to that effect and, in the event of such notice being given, we reserve the right to require you to take personal custody of the papers. This provision does not apply to current deeds, Wills and securities.

Seatons Solicitors provide a safe custody service in respect of Wills, deeds and other securities and no charge will be made unless prior notice in writing is given of a charge to be made from a future date to be specified in that notice.

Where stored papers, Wills, deeds or securities are retrieved from storage by us in connection with continuing or new instructions, normally no charge will be made. However, we reserve the right to make an administration charge based on the time spent in retrieving and any perusal, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with the instructions given by or on behalf of the client or former client for whom the papers, Wills, deeds or securities are stored.

Future Transactions

Unless otherwise agreed, and subject to the application of the then current hourly rates, these Terms and Conditions of Business shall apply to any and all instructions given by you to us.

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

If any initial instructions are provided away from our offices (e.g. home visit, work premises, telephone call, internet) you are entitled in law to a 14 day cancellation period to cancel the contract. You may invoke this at any time within that 14 day period without being obliged to provide any reason for the cancellation or incurring any liability. The 14 day time period runs from the day after any contract with us was agreed.

Cancellation should be set out in clear terms in writing that you wish to cancel. To meet the cancellation deadline it is sufficient for you to send your communication concerning your exercise of your right to cancel before the cancellation period has ended.

In accordance with regulations 36(1) of the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013, the right to cancel can be waived by you.

Effect Of Cancellation

If you cancel a contract in accordance with these rules, we will reimburse to you all payments received from you without undue delay and no later than 14 days after the date on which we are formally notified of your decision to cancel the contract. You will not incur any fees as a result of this reimbursement.

However, as set out above, if you requested to begin the performance of services during the cancellation period, you shall pay us an amount, which is in proportion to what has been performed in comparison with the full coverage of the contract, to the date you have clearly and unequivocally communicated to use your cancellation.

Complaints

We want to give you the best possible service. However, if at any point you become unhappy or concerned abbout the service we have provided then you should inform us immediately, so that we can do our best to resolve the problem.

In the first instance it may be helpful to contact the person who is working on your case to discuss your concerns and we will do our best to resolve any issues. If you would like to make a formal complaint, then you can read our full complaints procedure. Making a complaint will not affect how we handle your case.

What to do if we cannot resolve your complaint

The Legal Ombudsman can help you if we are unable to resolve your complaint ourselves. They will look at your complaint independently and it will not affect how we handle your case.

Before accepting a complaint for investigation the Legal Ombudsman will check that you have tried to resolve your complaint with us first. If you have, then you must take your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman:

  • Within six months of receiving a final response to your complaint; and
  • No more than six years from the date of act/omission; or
  • No more than three years from when you should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint.

If you would like more information about the Legal Ombudsman, please contact them.

Contact details.

  • Visit: www.legalombudsman.org.uk
  • Call: 0300 555 0333 ( between 9.00 to 17.00)
  • Email: enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk
  • Address: Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6808, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ

What to do if you are unhappy with our behaviour

The Solicitors Regulation Authority can help if you are concerned about our behaviour. This could be for things like dishonesty, taking or losing your money or treating you unfairly because of your age, a disability or other characteristic.

Visit their website to see how you can raise your concerns with the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Source: www.sra.org.uk

Solicitors Regulation Authority

We are regulated and authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and comply with the SRA Standards & Regulations. You can find these at www.sra.org.uk/code.

Equality And Diversity

Seatons is committed to promoting equality and diversity in all its dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our equality and diversity policy.

Lexcel

We have Lexcel accreditation.  Lexcel is the Law Society’s practice management standard.  It is a scheme for law firms to certify that certain standards have been met following independent assessment.  The Lexcel practice management standard is only awarded to Solicitors who meet the highest management and customer care standards. Lexcel accredited practices undergo rigorous independent assessment every year to ensure they meet required standards of excellence in areas such as client care, case management and risk management.

The law governing any disputes arising from these Terms of Business shall be the Laws of England and shall be determined by an English Court.

Why Use Seatons?

  • Practical sensible help and information
  • Fixed, competitive and affordable prices
  • We care about you and fight for you
  • Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority
  • We can help resolve your issue quickly & easily

COVID-19 Information

We would like to reassure our client’s that it is business as usual and as a firm we intend on supporting our clients through this difficult time. Our priority is to be able to progress client matters whilst protecting both staff and clients. As a precautionary measure to limit the risk to everyone our preferred communication is by telephone and/or email and/or post. Given the government announcement we may take a little longer to respond to enquiries and deal with matters. Please bear with us in these unprecedented times.