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.
For the purpose of these Terms and Conditions “we” “our” “us” or “the Company” means Albin & Co Ltd trading as Albin & Co Solicitors which is a Limited Company. The registered office and principle place of business is at 46a West Street, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 1TZ. Persons referred to in these Terms and Conditions as “directors” are members of that Company.
These Terms and Conditions, together with our client care letter and instructions letter, set out the basis on which we will provide our services and should be read together. The Terms and Conditions including the limits on liability will apply to all services provided to you from time to time unless we have entered into a specific written agreement which expressly excludes or modifies them in whole or in part.
Any business conducted with us is solely with Albin & Co. Ltd who has sole legal liability for the work done for you and for any act or omission in the course of that work. No member, director, principal, employee, associate or consultant of the Company will have any personal liability for work undertaken for you. If any of them signs in his or her own name any letter or other document in the course of carrying out that work it does not mean he or she is assuming any personal legal liability for that letter or document.
1. General Basis for Acceptance of Instructions
Instructions will be accepted or declined in accordance with the SRA Code of Conduct 2011, as it may from time to time be amended.
We are free to use such members of our staff or agents in connection with your case as we consider to be appropriate and in your best interests.
You will notify us in writing if communications are to be sent to you other than at the postal address, fax number or email address you have provided, and whether particular advice is to remain undisclosed to other persons associated with you. Unless you tell us not to do so, we may communicate to you by email and do not accept responsibility for any breach of confidentiality which may occur, whether because of a fault or omission on your part or by any of your agents or the result of any action of a third party. We do not encrypt, password protect or digitally sign any e-mail or document sent by us unless agreed with you in writing.
You will provide us with sufficient information to enable us to carry out our work in a timely manner. This will include relevant documents, notes, agreements, emails, correspondence and personal statements. You will safeguard any documents that are likely to be required for discovery.
It is our practice to check for conflicts of interest in appropriate cases. However, an actual or potential conflict between your interests and the interests of another advised party may arise during the course of a matter. If this situation arises during our dealings with you we will discuss it with you and determine the appropriate course of action. In order to protect your interests we may not be permitted to continue to act for you.
If we are instructed to act for a third party, in circumstances where we hold information which is confidential to you which would be material and adverse to that third party, we may accept that party’s instructions provided that we put in place such information barriers as may be suitable to prevent the passage of that information to the third party. Your consent to our proceeding in that manner is deemed to have been explicitly given by your agreeing to these Terms and Conditions.
Part of our transcription may be outsourced to a third party based in the UK or overseas. We will take reasonable steps to ensure that confidentiality and security of information is strictly adhered to.
2. Consumer Contract Regulation 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 these Terms and Conditions 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 out on your expressed instructions may still be chargeable if you are paying privately.
Any off-premises contract under which the payment to be made is less than £42 will be excluded from the regulations. This will include legal aid services which are provided free of charge as well as Mental Health Legal Help and Controlled Legal Representation, including all tribunal work.
If we are retained by yourself under the Legal Aid scheme, you still have a right of cancellation. You must be aware however that reapplying for Legal Aid for the same issue may be difficult if the contract is terminated.
If you wish to withdraw or cancel the contract, you can either do this by writing to us with a clear statement setting out the decision to cancel.
3. Charges and Expenses – Privately Paying Matters
Details about our likely charges or, where possible, an estimate, are set out in our client care letter. Estimates are based on information available to us at the time they are given and are not binding. If it appears that the amount set out in any estimate is likely to be exceeded through reasons outside of our control, we will explain these reasons and discuss the situation with you as soon as is practicable and try to agree a revised figure with you. If this cannot be agreed, we reserve the right to stop acting for you further. Below is some general information about how our charges are calculated.
Unless we have agreed a “fixed fee” for the work to be done for you, our charges will be calculated mainly by reference to the time actually spent doing the work on your behalf (using 6 minute units). This will include meetings with you and perhaps others, reading and working on papers, researching the law, drafting and checking documents, correspondence we write and receive including emails and faxes, making and receiving telephone calls, preparation of any detailed costs calculations and time spent travelling away from the office when this is necessary and, where appropriate, time spent at Court or general advocacy.
Routine letters, faxes and emails are charged as 6 minute units of time, whilst letters taking longer to prepare will be charged according to the time spent (using 6 minute units). We charge for the time spent on making and taking telephone calls in 6 minute units and the consideration of incoming letters as half-units of 3 minutes per page.
The current hourly rates are set out in your client care letter. We will add VAT to these at the rate that applies when the work is done. At present, VAT is 20%. If the VAT rate changes during the currency of your matter then it may be necessary to recalculate some or all of the VAT on some or all of the work done for you including any carried out in the period before such VAT rate change and in that event you will be responsible for payment to us of any additional VAT howsoever calculated. The hourly rates include incidental expenses such as routine photocopying and postage but extra charges will need to be made for large amounts of copying or collating, excess postage and courier services. We will inform you, wherever possible in advance, if the need for extra charges is likely to arise in your case.
Where work is carried out on our behalf by persons not directly employed by us, you will be charged at the hourly rates set out in your client care letter as if we had done the work even if the cost to us is greater. If you do not want any work on your file to be outsourced please let us know as soon as possible. This may affect the fees chargeable for our work for you and any estimates previously given.
The hourly rates have to be reviewed periodically to reflect increases in overhead costs and inflation. If a review is carried out before your matter has been concluded, we will inform you of any variation in the rate before it takes effect. If you object to the revised rates we reserve the right to stop acting for you.
Travelling expenses by car will be charged at the rate of £0.45 per mile plus any parking fees. If travel is by public transport then you will be charged the actual fees incurred. VAT is chargeable on some of these expenses.
In some cases involving particular complexity or requiring specialist expertise, an additional charge to that specified in your client care letter may be made. This is calculated on the basis of time spent. 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 and any particularly specialist expertise that your case may demand. It is not always possible to indicate how these aspects may arise but on present information we would expect them to be sufficiently taken into account in the rates that we have quoted. Where a charge reflecting any value element is to be added, we will usually explain this to you in advance of higher rates being applied to your case.
Solicitors have to pay out various other expenses on behalf of clients such as court fees, barristers’ fees, experts’ fees etc. We have no obligation to you to make such payments unless we have agreed in writing to do so or you have provided us with the funds for that purpose. VAT is payable on certain expenses. We refer to such payments generally as ‘disbursements’. Unless directed by a Court or tribunal to incur an expense, we will, where possible, first obtain your approval to these expenses. We will usually require a payment in advance from you in respect of any disbursements payable on your transactions. If you fail to provide on time cleared funds that we have requested from you, we reserve the right not to make any payments on your behalf and/or not to proceed further with your transaction until we have received such cleared funds from you.
It is normal practice to ask clients to pay sums of money from time to time on account of the charges and expenses that are expected in the following weeks or months. We find that this helps clients in budgeting for costs as well as keeping them informed of the legal expenses that are being incurred. If such requests are not met with prompt payment, delay in the progress of a case may result. In the event of any bill or request for payment not being met, we reserve the right to stop acting for you further.
If, for any reason, this matter does not proceed to completion, we will be entitled to charge you expenses and for work done calculated in accordance with the charging basis for your case.
Where you instruct us jointly with one or more other persons you all specifically agree to us acting, at our discretion, on instructions provided by any one or more of you unless otherwise agreed by us in writing. In such cases you will each be jointly and severally responsible for the payment of all of our charges and expenses, irrespective of who we deal with on a day to day basis.
When Albin & Co. Solicitors are instructed by or on behalf of another company we will usually seek a guarantee from one or more directors who will personally be responsible for our fees and expenses, jointly and severally with each other if more than one and with the Company who is instructing us.
When acting on behalf of a limited company, we may at any time require one or more Directors and/or controlling shareholders to sign our Terms and Conditions of Business and a form of personal guarantee in respect of the charges and expenses of Albin & Co. Solicitors. If such a request is refused, we will be entitled to stop acting and to require immediate payment of our charges and expenses as set out earlier.
4. Payment Arrangements
Payment is due to us within 30 days from delivery of our bill and if not paid within that time interest will be charged from the date payment fell due at 1.5% of the amount outstanding for each 30 day period or part of any 30 day period where payment remains overdue and an administration charge of £25.00 + VAT shall immediately become payable.
The law entitles us to retain any money, papers or other property belonging to you that properly come into our possession pending payment of our costs, whether or not the item is acquired in connection with the matter for which the costs were incurred. This is known as a “general lien”. We are not entitled to sell property held under a lien but we are entitled to hold items, other than money, even if the value of it greatly exceeds the amount due to us in respect of costs.
If we are conducting litigation for you, we have additional rights in any property recovered or preserved for you whether it is in our possession or not and in respect of all costs incurred, whether billed or unbilled. We also have a right to ask the court to make a charging order in our favour for any assessed costs.
If during your matter we receive damages or other payments on your behalf you agree to these funds being immediately applied towards payment of any outstanding bill or paid disbursement in relation to your matter or to create a reserve for such costs and disbursements due within the following few weeks, unless otherwise agreed with you in writing.
We can accept only a maximum of £500.00 in cash unless our fees and disbursements are being paid. If you try to avoid this policy by depositing cash directly with our bank, we may charge you for any additional checks we decide are necessary to prove the source of the funds and for the time such process takes at our usual rates for your matter in addition to an administration fee of £25.00 + VAT which shall become immediately payable by you.
We can accept payment of our charges and expenses by credit or debit card either in person at or by telephone to the Company’s Registered Office in Reading, Tel: 0118 957 4018. We can provide you with our bank details in the event that you wish to arrange for payment to be made to us electronically or via your internet or telephone banking service.
If money is paid or received by electronic transfer a fee for the service will be charged that will be subject to VAT at the rate applicable at the date of that transaction.
If any payment made to us by you by cheque is not honoured you will be liable for any and all charges that our bankers make to us in that regard, as well as an administration fee of £25.00 that will be subject to VAT at the rate applicable at the date of that transaction, and we will notify you of the total amount of those charges in writing. Any payment made to us by cheque will be subject to 5 working days’ clearance.
If you have any queries concerning your bill you must notify us in writing within 30 days of the bill being delivered to you. If no query or challenge is made within that time the bill will be treated as approved and you agree to not dispute the bill or the sums claimed in it thereafter.
We cannot pay money due to you in cash or to any third party. Money will be paid by cheque or, if you request it, by bank transfer in which case the additional fee will be payable by you and deducted from the sum being paid to you.
We will not be liable to repay or credit you with monies lost through any banking failure.
5. Interest Payments
Any money received on your behalf, other than money due to us for our fees and disbursements will be held in our Client Account until utilised. Subject to certain minimum amounts and periods of time set out in the SRA Accounts Rules (where the amount of interest would amount to £20 or less or the sum held does not exceed £1,000 and is held for a period not exceeding 8 weeks, £2,000 for 4 weeks, £10,000 for 2 weeks or £20,000 for 1 week), interest will be calculated and paid to you at the rate from time to time payable on that Bank’s Designated Client Account.
The period for which interest will be paid will normally run from the date(s) on which cleared funds are received by us until the date(s) of issue of any cheque(s) or the date(s) of issue of any electronic payment instruction(s) from our Client Account. However, we do not account for interest on monies held by us on account of our fees and disbursements.
By this agreement you authorise us to set off any interest otherwise due to you in respect of money held in client account against monies otherwise due to us.
6. Charges and Expenses – Publicly Funded Matters
Where we are acting for you under the Civil Controlled Work (Legal Help and Controlled Legal Representation) or Civil Legal Aid Certificate then our hourly charging rate will be that set by the Legal Aid Agency (“LAA”) from time to time. In most Mental Health cases, the LAA will make payment to us of a fixed fee rather than make payment at an hourly rate. It is agreed in such cases that such payment will constitute our fee for your matter.
Where your work is funded by the LAA our charges and expenses may be paid by the LAA on your behalf. However, should your Civil Legal Aid be revoked or discharged at any time, we reserve the right to cease acting for you further until an alternative funding arrangement has been agreed. In addition in those circumstances, you may become liable to us or to the LAA for some or all of the costs incurred in your case.
In cases which are funded by a Legal Aid Certificate, a separate document outlining our actual costs, details on obligations and the limitations on work will be sent to you.
MENTAL HEALTH WORK
7. Legal Help and Controlled Legal Representation:
Actual Costs: Non-Tribunal Cases: Legal Help
Mental Health cases which do not concern a tribunal application are paid at a fixed fee of £253. The fee is payable for work in matters where the issues are separate from the tribunal process such as a separate Hospital Manager’s hearing or cases involving complaints or the provision of treatment where there is no tribunal application. Should work carried out on a non-tribunal case go beyond £759 then we will be paid an hourly rate as detailed below.
Actual Costs: Tribunal Cases: Controlled Legal Representation
Mental Health Cases which concern a tribunal application fall into 3 separate levels which include:
- Level 1 Initial Advice: this is paid at a fixed fee of £129 and covers initial advice to you in cases where you are eligible and submit or has submitted an application for a tribunal hearing. It covers the work done in making the initial visit to you, and follow-up work such as sending initial letters of instruction or making the application for a tribunal hearing if one has not already been made. Should the work carried out at this level go beyond £387 then we will be paid at an hourly rate at the rates detailed below.
- Level 2 Negotiation and Preparation: this is paid at a fixed fee of £321 and covers all negotiation with third parties (such as doctors and hospital managers) and all preparation for a tribunal hearing after the initial advice has been given and the tribunal application has been made. This fee can only be claimed if 30 minutes of preparation or advice or where there has been separate communication with other parties on legal issues. It will cover work dealing with Manager’s hearing or meetings with professionals involved in your case between an application for a tribunal hearing being made and the hearing taking place. Our ability to attend such hearings or meetings will depend on the nature of the issues to be discussed and whether legal advice and / or representations will be required. Should work carried out at this level go beyond £1350 then we will be paid at an hourly rate at the rates detailed below.
- Level 3 Representation before a Tribunal: this is paid at a fixed fee of £249 and covers us representing you in a tribunal hearing and in relation to any aftercare services. Should work carried out at this level go beyond £2232 then we will be paid at an hourly rate at the rates detailed below.
- Adjourned Hearings: Please note that if your case takes more than one tribunal hearing to reach a final decision then we will be paid an additional £117 for each adjourned hearing. This additional £117 will be added to the overall fixed fee of £744 and we will only be paid an hourly rate if the total time spent on you file goes beyond £2232 plus 3 times the added fee of £117 per adjourned hearing.
Hourly Rates, Telephone Calls and Letters
Level 1 Tribunal Cases & Non-Tribunal Cases:
Telephone Calls: £3.78
Preparation & Attendance: £48.24
Travel & Waiting: £27
Level 2 & 3 Tribunal Cases:
Telephone Calls: £3.87
Preparation & Attendance: £54.09
Travel & Waiting: £27.81
We will, on giving reasonable notice be free to refuse to act or continue acting if:–
- We are or may be in breach of the law or the principles of professional conduct by accepting or continuing to accept instructions;
- We consider there is or may be a conflict or risk of conflict between your interests and those of any other client of ours or Albin & Co. Ltd;
- Any account rendered by us in respect of fees or disbursements has not been paid within 30 days of its date; or
- Any request for money on account of costs or disbursements incurred or to be incurred has not been complied with within 30 days.
- We may also discontinue acting on other reasonable grounds.
You may terminate our retainer in writing at any time. In some circumstances, you may consider we ought to stop acting for you, if, for example, you cannot give clear or proper instructions on how we are to proceed, or if it is clear that you have lost confidence in how we are carrying out your work. If you or we decide that we can no longer act for you, you are liable for our charges up to the date of termination.
9. Consequences of Termination
If our instructions are terminated for any reason then we may in addition to any other remedy available to us:–
- retain any deeds, securities or other documents under our control or;
- retain any monies for the time being standing to any account you may have with us until payment on each case has been made of all outstanding costs and disbursements (including, any not yet billed) together with VAT and costs and disbursements incurred in connection with the termination.
If we cease acting for you, we shall, where relevant, apply at your expense to remove ourselves from the court or employment tribunal record.
10. Continuing Obligations
Unless specifically agreed otherwise we shall not be under any continuing obligation to advise you of changes in the law which may affect advice previously given.
All communications generated between us during the currency of our retainer shall remain confidential and shall not be disclosed to any third party without consent.
As part of our commitment to provide a good quality service to you we may, from time to time, invite suitably qualified external assessors periodically to review our files on a sample basis for compliance. These external firms or organisations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files.
11. Equality and Diversity
Albin & Co. Solicitors 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.
12. Compliance and Complaints
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, 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.
13. Identity and Disclosure Requirements
The Money Laundering Regulations 2007 require us to obtain information about a client’s identity and to verify that information. We are entitled to refuse to act for you if you fail to supply to us, when requested to do so, appropriate proof of identity and address for yourself or for any principal whom you may represent.
Solicitors are under a professional and legal obligation to keep their clients’ affairs confidential. However, there is an important exception to this. Under legislation solicitors have a duty in certain circumstances to disclose information to the National Crime Agency. Where a solicitor knows or suspects that a transaction involves money laundering or terrorist financing, the solicitor may be required to disclose this to that Agency without telling the client either that a disclosure has been made or the reasons for it. We may have to stop working on your matter for a period of time and may not be able to tell you why.
We will not be liable for any consequential, special, indirect or exemplary damages, costs or losses or any damages, costs or losses attributable to lost profits or opportunities arising out of our compliance with any statutory or regulatory requirement in this or any other regard or for any delay occasioned by such compliance or mistaken compliance.
14. Data Protection
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 legal and regulatory compliance. Our use of that information is subject to your instructions, the Data Protection Act 1998 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 advisers. You have a right of access under Data Protection legislation to the personal data that we hold on you. Your particulars are held within the European Union on our database and externally with our business computer software provider. Data may be processed on our behalf by third parties. You expressly agree that we may, from time to time, use your post and/or fax details to send you information about developments in the law and our services which we think might be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive that information please notify Chris Albin in writing.
15. Conclusion and Storage of Papers / Documents
Once your case has finished your file will remain in storage for at least six years, after which it will be reviewed and if necessary destroyed. If you require the file for any reason within six years it will be available.
Correspondence and documents received by us may be routinely scanned into our data storage and retrieval systems. The originals may be destroyed unless you have provided us with specific instructions in writing not to do so. In addition, personal information you provide us will be stored on our systems. We will retain electronic information for a minimum of 6 years. By submitting any correspondence, documents or personal information to us, you consent to the storage of information about you and your matters in such media.
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 above then please feel free to contact Chris Albin to discuss them further. 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. Solicitors will be deemed to be on the basis of these Standard Terms and Conditions.