Welcome to Albin and Co Solicitors, specialising in
Thank you for instructing Albin & Co. Solicitors to assist you.
To assist you, below you will find some information which we hope you will find useful. It should be considered carefully as it also sets out the basis upon which we accept your instructions.
The person named in the first letter that you receive will ordinarily be the person responsible for the conduct of your case. If possible he or she will deal with your case personally, however occasionally it might be necessary for a colleague to deal with certain aspects of the work. Chris Albin and Jeremy Yuille have overall responsibility for the firm.
We will communicate with you in plain language.
As your case proceeds it might at times become necessary for us to instruct other agencies in order to progress your case. This might, for example, involve instructing a Barrister to assist either in the Magistrates court, or more normally, in the Crown Court. We might ask you for authority to obtain medical information from your GP if it might assist your case. We might need to liaise with the Probation Service in order to obtain relevant helpful information. We will of course keep you appraised of any needs that arise in that respect.
Any additional work will be at the discretion of the solicitor, such as the retrieval of any property seized at the time of your arrest. This is not part of the retainer, but it is a matter for you and your solicitor to agree whether that work should be undertaken.
How long a case takes to conclude is sometimes difficult to estimate. It will depend on the nature of the case, its complexity, and the amount of work involved. We are also dependant on the availability of court time to hear your case which is largely outside of our control. A case which is to be concluded after a trial will of course take considerably longer than one dealt with by an early guilty plea. A case can often take a quite different shape to that envisaged at the outset when we are first instructed. We will endeavour to keep you informed of time estimates as the case progresses.
OBLIGATION TO ATTEND COURT
If the Court or the police have granted you bail, you are under a legal obligation to turn up on the date and time set. If you do not return as directed a Court may issue a warrant for your arrest, and you may commit an offence of failing to surrender to bail. The police could then arrest you and charge you with that offence, and you risk being remanded in custody pending the disposal of your case. It might also affect the willingness of the police or Court to bail you should you commit any offences in the future. If by reason of accident or illness, or for some other good reason you are unable to attend, you must immediately let the us and the Court (or police in the event that it is a requirement to return to the police station) know. We would then be able to seek an adjournment of your case.
If your case is listed for a trial and you do not attend, not only may the Court issue a Warrant for your arrest, but the Court may proceed with the trial in your absence if it is found to be in the Interests of Justice to do so. In these circumstances you are more likely to be found guilty since you would not be at Court to give your version of events.
FUNDING – REPRESENTATION ORDER
Albin & Co will assist you in applying to the Court for a Representation Order (Legal Aid), which if granted will cover our costs in representing you.
We will apply for Legal Aid to cover your case in the MAGISTRATE’S COURT, and have asked you to complete the application forms. The decision to award Legal Aid is made on the basis of both the details of your case (called the Interests of Justice Test) and the financial information you provide (called the Means Test). It is therefore very important that you complete the forms accurately and (where necessary) send evidence to support the information you provide. If you do not tell the truth on your legal aid application about your income, assets and expenditure you could be prosecuted.
If you are under 18 or on certain benefits you do not need to pay for the work we do for you in the Magistrates’ Court. These benefits are Income Support, Income-Based Job Seeker’s Allowance, Universal Credit, Guaranteed State Pension Credit and Income-related Employment and Support Allowance. You need to provide your National Insurance Number so that the benefit can be checked.
In all other circumstances your finances will be assessed to decide whether you are eligible for Legal Aid. Your annual household income and family circumstances will be taken into account and then:
- If your annual household income is £12,475 or less you get free Legal Aid
- If it is £22,325 or more you are not eligible for Legal Aid
The assessment of your income makes an allowance for a partner or any children that you have living with you so it is important that you include details of these on the form.
If your annual household income is more than £12,475 but less than £22,325 then the Legal Aid Agency will look at your disposable income. This is the money you’re left with after you’ve paid your main bills. A standard amount is allowed for some bills such as gas, electricity and insurance, and there is an allowance for a partner and/or any children. If you’re left with:
- £3,398 or less a year (£283.17 or less a month) you get free Legal Aid
- More than £3,398 a year (£283.17 a month) you are not eligible to receive Legal Aid
If you don’t think you can afford to pay privately, or you think that a mistake has been made, you can ask for a review of your Legal Aid assessment.
If your case is heard in the CROWN COURT your financial situation will be assessed with one of the following outcomes:
You don’t have to pay for the work that we do for you because you have been awarded Legal Aid to cover all your costs
You have to pay a contribution towards our costs because you can afford to pay from your income, capital or both
You have to pay privately for all the work that we do for you.
You will be asked to provide evidence of your income and assets. If you do not provide this evidence, your payments could be increased. If you do not tell the truth on your legal aid application about your income, assets and expenditure you could be prosecuted.
You will not have to pay towards the costs of your case if you are under 18 when you make your application or if you receive any of the following benefits: Income Support, Income-Based Job Seeker’s Allowance, Universal Credit, Guaranteed State Pension Credit and Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.
If your annual household disposable income is £37,500 or more (the money you’re left with after you’ve paid your main bills, and taking into account your family circumstances, such as a partner and/or any children) then you will not be eligible for Legal Aid and you will have to pay privately for any work that we do for you.
You will have to pay a contribution towards the costs if your annual disposable income is above £3,398. A standard amount is allowed for some bills such as gas, electricity and insurance, and there is an allowance for a partner and/or any children. Where you are required to pay towards your legal costs, you will receive a Contribution Order from the court giving details of how much you must pay, and how to make the payments. The first payment will be due within 28 days of your case being committed, sent or transferred for trial. The payments will be collected by a private company on behalf of the Legal Aid Agency, and they will also write to you. You must tell the court about any changes to your financial circumstances during your case because a change may affect the amount you have to pay towards your defence costs. If you don’t think you can afford to pay, or you think that a mistake has been made, you can ask for a review of the amount the court has told you to pay.
At the end of the case, if you are found not guilty, any payments you have made will be refunded with interest. If you paid late or not at all and action was taken against you, the costs of this action will be deducted from the refund.
If you are found guilty, you may also have to pay towards your defence costs from any capital assets you may have. This would only apply if:
- You have £30,000 or more of assets, for example: savings, equity in property, shares or Premium Bonds; and
- Any payments you have already made have not covered your total defence costs.
You will be told at the end of your case if you have to make a payment from capital. The Collection and Enforcement Agency for the Legal Aid Agency will notify you of the amount you owe once your legal costs have been finalised.
If you have any restrained assets, the Court has power to order that these assets be used to satisfy any legal aid costs or contributions
FUNDING – PRIVATE
In the event that your application for a Representation Order is unsuccessful either because it fails the Interests of Justice test, or because your financial circumstances are such that you are not entitled to free representation, you have the option of instructing us on a Private basis.
Our fees are based on an hourly rate although we may in certain circumstances agree a “fixed fee” to represent you. All charges are subject to payment of VAT at the relevant rate. We may require a payment to be made on account of costs to be incurred. This will be placed in our Client account. Only when a bill is rendered can that money be transferred into our Office account. We may require payments to be made throughout the course of your case depending on the amount of work involved. We will ask you to pay for any disbursements incurred (e.g. for medical reports or the instruction of a Barrister). We will keep you appraised of costs throughout your case and endeavour to provide you with a realistic estimate of the likely total cost of concluding your case as soon as possible.
At the conclusion of your case a final bill will be submitted to you. This (or any balance) is payable within 28 days of its date. Only in exceptional circumstances may Mr Albin authorise a repayment schedule with you.
As a client, you have the right to complain if you are not happy with your bill. If that should be the case, then you should contact Mr Albin to notify us of your complaint. You may also apply to the Court for assessment.
Furthermore, you have a right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman concerning your bill. However, we must warn you that should you request an assessment by the Court, the Legal Ombudsman may decline to take your case.
Where a bill is unpaid, we have a right to exercise a lien over your papers for unpaid costs.
If you are found Not Guilty at your trial, or if your case is not proceeded with, we will make an application to the Court for a Defendant’s Costs Order (DCO). This is where your private representation is met by the Court. The Court MAY make an Order but it is in their discretion. If an order is made, by agreeing to the terms of this letter, any payments made by the Court will be made to us on your behalf. We would then reimburse you for monies paid by you. If however the court pay less than the amount we seek by way of an Order, you are responsible for the balance.
A DCO cannot be granted for matters before the Crown Court, nor can it be granted to a company in either the Magistrates or Crown Court.
In the event that your case is likely to be funded privately, we will attach to this letter a schedule of our hourly rates. That schedule is thereby incorporated into the terms of this letter.
We are able to accept payments by Credit/Debit card, cheque, Bank Transfer or cash (limited to £1,000 in a single transaction). We will require proof of identity and your address; this is to conform with the Money Laundering Regulations.
Under Rule 22 of the Solicitor’s Accounts Rules, there is a requirement that where money is held on a client account, any interest accrued should be paid to that account.
However, under Rule 25, Albin & Co contract out of that requirement and therefore, no interest will be paid to any client account where money is held on account. Should you require to see our policy on this matter, then please do not hesitate to contact Mr Albin.
CONSUMER CONTRACT REGULATIONS 2013
Albin & Co Ltd is subject to the above regulations concerning contracts between a trader (Albin & Co Ltd) and a consumer (yourself).
When we undertake work on your behalf, a contract is formed and you will have certain rights under that contract.
We are required to provide you with information depending upon whether this contract has been made either “on premises” (at our normal place of trading, namely our office) or “off premises” (where the contract is formed in any other place such as Court, hospital or a prison).
The information that is required is set out either on the letter headed paper, giving details of our address and contact numbers as well as contained within the terms of business.
Where the contract has been formed off premises, you have a right of cancellation, without giving reason, within 14 days of that contract being formed. Any money paid on account will be returned to you no later than 14 days after your notification of cancellation.
We will not undertake any work within the initial 14 days cooling off period, unless you expressly instruct us to do so. However, any work carried on your expressed instructions may still be chargeable if you are paying privately.
If we are retained by yourself under a Legal Aid Order, you still have a right of cancellation. However, you must be aware that reapplying for Legal Aid for the same issue might be difficult if the contract is terminated.
If you wish to withdraw or cancel the contract, you can either do this by completing a cancellation form or by making a clear statement setting out the decision to cancel.
At the conclusion of your case, if you have pleaded guilty or are found guilty, the Prosecution will ask you to make a contribution towards its costs in bringing the case against you. Those costs are paid to the Court and not to us. In addition, the Court may order you to pay other financial orders such as a fine or Compensation. Failure to pay Court ordered financial penalties as directed, may result in the Court instructing bailiffs who will add significantly to the costs already incurred.
As of 13th April 2015 the government has introduced a Court Tax. This tax is a fixed amount, which is levied against how the proceedings have been disposed of. The tax will be applicable to anyone who either pleads guilty or is convicted at either the Magistrates’ or Crown Court and subsequently if they are unsuccessful in appeal proceedings. The details are as follows:-
- a) Single justice proceedings – £150
- b) Summary offence guilty plea – £150
- c) Summary offence trial in absence, no plea, on the papers – £150
- d) Either way guilty plea in the magistrates’ court – £180
- e) Summary offence trial – £520
- f) Either way trial in the magistrates’ court – £1000
- g) Indictable guilty plea in the Crown Court – £900
- h) Either way or indictable only trial in the Crown Court – £1200
- i) Magistrates’ court breach hearing – £100 j) Crown Court breach hearing – £150
- k) Crown Court unsuccessful appeal against conviction and/or sentence – £150
- l) Court of Appeal application for leave to appeal – £150
- m) Court of Appeal unsuccessful appeal against conviction or sentence– £200
The Government has since decided that as of the 24th December 2015 the Criminal Courts Charge will not be payable. This means any sentence (following a Conviction or Guilty plea) will not be subject the Charge.
Albin & Co is a Ltd company trading as Albin & Co Solicitors. It maintains compulsory Professional Indemnity insurance of £3,000,000.
Our Insurers are Axis SE and their contact details can be provided to you upon written request, or are available for inspection in our reception.
Albin & Co Solicitors is VAT registered and our number is 155 227713.
Anything you tell your solicitor, or any member of Albin & Co. staff is absolutely confidential. Only in extremely rare circumstances can this duty be overridden. We are for example required to report any conduct which we believe might amount to an attempt at money-laundering.
We have a duty to the Court not to mislead it. Therefore we cannot tell the court or allow you to tell the court something different from what you are telling us. However, even if you indicate you are guilty of an offence, we may still be able to represent you, but neither you nor another person, who was saying you were not guilty, could be a witness in your defence. We would just argue that the evidence the prosecution put before the court did not prove your guilt.
Occasionally we are required to submit a selection of files to the Legal Services Commission who are also required to act confidentially in relation to any information therein. Similarly it may be necessary to submit files to our Insurers, external auditors or advisors who assist Albin & Co. in relation to risk and maintaining quality standards.
We can only disclose information regarding you or your case to a third party with your express permission. We cannot provide information to people who ring on your behalf unless instructed to do so by you. It is important that the instructions that we have are from you. We cannot accept your instructions through a third party. Sometimes we ask other companies or people to do photocopying on our files to ensure that this is done promptly. We always seek a confidentiality agreement with these outsource providers. If you do not want your file to be outsourced, please tell us as soon as possible.
We use the information you provide primarily for the provision of legal services to you and for related purposes including:-
- Updating and enhancing client records
- Analysis to help us manage our practice statutory returns and regularity compliance
Our use of that information is subject to your instructions, the Data Protection Act 1988 and our duty of confidentiality.
Please note that our work for you may require us to give information to third parties, such as expert witnesses and other professional advisors. You have a right of access under Data Protection legislation, to your personal data that we hold about you.
We may from time to time send you information that we think might be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive that information, please notify us.
We are confident that Albin & Co. will provide you with first class advice and representation. If however you feel that in any way dissatisfied with the service you have received, please initially contact the fee-earner with conduct of your case to see if it can be resolved.
We are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). We are committed to providing the very best quality legal advice and client care. We strive to provide all of our clients with an efficient and effective service. If you wish to discuss how your service could have been improved please contact Chris Albin who is the Partner responsible for complaints resolution on 0118 957 4018 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or alternatively write to him at Albin & Co. 46a West Street, Reading, RG1 1TZ. We have a procedure in the event of a complaint being made and will provide you with all relevant information immediately. We are permitted 8 weeks to consider your grievance. If we are unable to resolve the problem with you, you may ask the Legal Ombudsman to deal with the complaint. The Legal Ombudsman can be contacted at :
T. 0300 550300
PO BOX 6806
Please be aware that any complaint to the Ombudsman must usually be made within 6 months of your receipt from us of a final written response (as of 9th July 2015, this will increase to 12 months), or within 12 months of the act or omission about which you are complaining.
As of 1st February 2013, the Legal Ombudsman the following changes were made.
The time limit for accepting a complaint has increased to 6 years from the date of act/omission or 3 years from when the complainant should have known about the complaint. This new time limit will be introduced gradually and the Legal Ombudsman will not accept complaints where the act or date of awareness go beyond 6th October 2010.
Should you wish to consult the Solicitor’s Regulations Authority (SRA) handbook, their link can be found on the Albin & Co Ltd website www.acsolicitors.co.uk.
EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY
Albin & Co are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of our dealings with Clients, employees and other agencies. Please contact us if you wish to see a copy of our Equality and Diversity policy.
Once your case has finished your file will remain in storage for at least 6 years, after which it will be reviewed and if necessary, destroyed. If you require the file for any reason within 6 years it will be made available. However, we will ask you to bear the costs should you require the file to be photocopied.
We trust that the terms of this letter and our standard terms of business meet with your approval. If you are not in agreement with the terms set out, then please feel free to contact us to discuss. In the absence of any disagreement, we will assume that you accept these terms. You should be aware that by doing so, the advice and services at Albin & Co will be deemed to be on the basis of our standard terms and conditions and the terms of this letter.