Terms + Conditions of Business


This document is to inform you, our client, of the terms of engagement under which we will carry out your legal work.  The terms in this document apply to all work we do for you, of any nature, unless a variation to them is agreed in writing.


For the purposes of this document, the terms “we”, “us”, “our” and “the firm” mean Almond + Co.


In addition to this document, you will also receive a Matter Specification setting out the basis on which we will provide our services to you (the Matter Specification) and includes the following:

•    details of the instructions you have provided us with to carry out the work;

•    the charges applicable to the case where you have instructed us to act on your behalf;

•    the best information possible at the time about the likely overall cost of undertaking the work on your behalf including if it will be necessary to engage the services of another firm or agency to assist with your case, expert or barrister;

•    details of who will be dealing with your case on a day to day basis, whether or not they are a solicitor, and if any other member of the firm will carry out work on your behalf; and

•    an expectation of how long it will take to complete the work.


The Matter Specification forms part of the terms and conditions of business between us and should be read in conjunction with this document and the Matter Specification predominates over this document.


With regard to the Unfair Terms and Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 it is hereby agreed that all terms and conditions contained in the Matter Specification and thus herein have been individually negotiated.


Almond + Co – the firm


Almond + Co is company incorporated and registered in England and Wales with Company Number 11587044. Almond + Co is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation authority under number 654189. The registered office is at Peter House, Oxford Street, Manchester M1 5AN


The normal opening hours of all our offices are 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday.  Appointments can be arranged outside these hours when essential to the interests of our clients.


Confidentiality


In acting on your behalf it may be necessary for us to disclose certain information to third parties including solicitors for the other side, estate agents, experts and consultants.  We only disclose such information where we believe it to be appropriate or reasonable to do so in order to progress the case or where we are under a professional obligation to do so, or by order of a court.


We do not accept responsibility for any breach of confidentiality because of a fault or omission on your part or by your agents, or the result of any action by a third party, or if otherwise a matter enters the public domain.


Under the terms of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Terrorism Act 2000 we are prohibited from acting for or advising a client in relation to terrorist financing, or the acquisition, retention, use or control of the proceeds of any crime or any attempt to conceal, disguise, convert or transfer any criminal property or to remove it from the jurisdiction, or from being involved in arrangements relating to such activities.  The proceeds of crime and criminal property are widely defined for these purposes to include any activity (including tax evasion) carried on anywhere which would be illegal if carried on in the UK.


We have a legal obligation to report to the National Crime Agency (NCA) (formerly known as “SOCA”) if we have reasonable grounds to suspect that a person may be in possession of the proceeds of crime as defined by the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.  In such circumstances we reserve the right to notify NCA of any such suspicion without notice to you, and to apply to them for clearance to proceed with any relevant transaction on your behalf.  In those circumstances we will not inform you of what we have done even though this action may involve delays to any transaction in which you or we may be engaged (on your behalf).   In such circumstances where we are seeking clearance from NCA, we do not accept any liabilities incurred by reason of such delays or any liability for any claims costs expenses or demands howsoever incurred even if the transaction in question were to prove abortive by reasons of such delays or the notification itself.


Acceptance of Instructions


We will accept or decline instructions from you in accordance with the Solicitors Code of Conduct.   In undertaking work on your behalf we will use those members of staff who are best suited to the work, dependant on experience, complexity and value of the case.  In some instances some of the work will not be carried out by a qualified solicitor but a qualified solicitor will still supervise it.


In order for us to work on your behalf you will provide us with a full description of the service you require and your objectives.  You need to provide us with all relevant information to enable us to undertake the work which  includes  providing  all  relevant  documents,  notes,  agreements,  correspondence  and  personal statements.


Your dealings with us must be honest and straightforward and complete, and you must not ask us to act in an improper or unreasonable way.


We will communicate with you by telephone, video conference email, SMS or by post.  It is your responsibility to ensure that we have accurate contact information for you.  If you wish us to write to you at any other address or email address then you must notify us in writing.


If the client consists of more than one individual or organisation, any obligations or responsibilities of the Client are obligations and responsibilities of those persons or organisations separately, all together or in any combination.   Instructions will be accepted on the basis that either or any have the authority to give instructions on behalf of the others unless we are provided with prior written instructions to the contrary.


We will only act on your behalf if we are retained exclusively by you on that particular case.  You are free to instruct other solicitors on other matters if you wish.  It is your duty to inform us of conflicts or overlaps.


Changes in circumstances


If there is any change in your circumstances, e.g. change of contact details, change in financial circumstances you should let us know as soon as possible, so that we can ensure our records are kept up to date, but also ensure that your matter continues to be funded in the most appropriate way.


Fees


Except where we have agreed a fixed fee to carry out the work, our charges are usually based on the time spent dealing with your case.   The time charged will include meetings with you and others; time spent travelling to and from meetings away from our offices; considering, preparing and working on papers relating to your case; correspondence, both sent and received, including letters, faxes and emails; telephone calls. Time is recorded in minimum units of 6 minutes each.  Each fee earner in the firm has a given hourly rate, which is reviewed annually.  You will be advised in advance of any increase in the hourly rate to be charged by the fee earners acting on your behalf.                                                                                                                                                                           


In addition to the time charges referred to above, our costs are also assessed by reference to other factors generally referred to as the “care and conduct” aspects.  This may vary and is usually dependent upon:

•    the degree of urgency in your case or transaction;

•    the complexity of your case or transaction;

•    the importance of the case to you;

•    the amount or value of any money or property involved; and

•    the skills, specialised knowledge, experience of the solicitor.


Each fee earner’s hourly rate is exclusive of VAT and subsequently VAT will be added to all invoices.


Our fees take into account our incidental costs in carrying out the work e.g. standard postage, telephone calls.  We reserve the right to charge you for any other expenses we incur in connection with the case e.g. couriers, exceptional photocopying, etc. We add a handling charge to the cost of bank transfers to cover the time of our accounts staff.


In certain transactions we may base our charges on a percentage of the value of the transaction.  This value reflects the importance of the transaction and the responsibility placed on the firm. We will write to you at the outset of your case if we will be charging you on this basis for the work undertaken on your behalf.


If your instructions require us to work outside normal office hours, we reserve the right to increase the level of the hourly rate(s).

Where you advise us to carry out additional work on your behalf, and this is not included in the original estimate of costs, then we are entitled to charge and be paid for the additional work required.


If any transaction is not completed then we are entitled to charge and be paid for the amount of work actually undertaken in progressing the case until it ceases.


Disbursements


Disbursements are fees we pay to third parties on your behalf e.g. court fees, experts fees or Land Registry fees.  Major disbursements will be specified in the Matter Specification to the extent they can be predicted.  We are not obligated to meet any such payments on your behalf unless we have already received from you cleared monies to cover the outlay.  You will normally be requested to make payment to us to cover the cost of the disbursements before we incur or pay them.  VAT is payable on certain disbursements.


Payment


It is normal practice for the firm to ask for money on account to cover the ongoing costs of your case and anticipated disbursements.  During the course of your case we may issue interim bills in addition to a final bill on completion of your case.  These are statute bills delivered in accordance with Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974.   As such, if there are insufficient funds on your account to cover the value of the bill, then we are entitled to enforce payment of the outstanding balance under our normal terms.


Where we hold your monies in our client account we shall use them in settlement of any invoice including any disbursements shown on the invoice which have been paid or are about to be paid by us or any other sums due that are owed to us.


All bills are immediately due when issued and should be settled within 28 days of the date on the bill, if not sooner.  In the event of payments being requested and not paid within the 28 day limit we will automatically suspend work on all cases where we are acting on your behalf until we receive payment from you.


Interest will be charged on all bills not paid within 28 days at a rate of 8% per annum over the Bank of England base rate or at the default rate under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 (whichever is the higher).  This interest will be charged on a daily basis.


You may be entitled to have our charges reviewed by the court.  This is known as a detailed assessment. Time limits for the exercise of your rights under the Solicitors Act 1974 regarding the assessment of costs start at the point of delivery of each interim or final bill to you.


If you have any query about your bill you should contact the person acting on your behalf immediately and in any event within 28 days of the date of the bill, after which we will treat the bill as recoverable by any means thought fit.


Where we pay money to you this will be done by cheque or electronic bank transfer.  We are not able to make payment to a third party on your behalf nor in cash due to the Regulations. If a bank charges us for receiving cash ( which sometimes occurs) or where banks make charges for moving money electronically on your behalf we reserve the right to recharge you at cost for those items.


Payment by third parties


Unless your case has been referred to us by a third party who has agreed to pay our fees, we will address our invoices to you.  If you request us to invoice a third party we may do so at our discretion, addressing the invoice to you but marking it ‘payable by a third party’.  We will require confirmation from them in writing that they will pay our fees.  We may also carry out identity and credit checks on them in accordance with the Regulations.  In either instance you will remain personally responsible for our fees if the third party fails to pay our bills addressed to them within our agreed payment terms.


Estimates


Wherever possible we will, on accepting your instructions, provide you with an estimate of the likely costs involved to complete your case or transaction.  We will provide you with the best information possible at the time about the likely overall costs, including any disbursements that are likely to be incurred.  This is a guide to assist you with budgeting and should not be regarded as a fixed quotation.  However if the amount of work is greater than first envisaged we will inform you as soon as possible and regularly advise you of how much your case or transaction will cost you. We will notify you at least every 6 months of the costs incurred to date and provide you with a new estimate for future costs which will be incurred.


Conduct of your Case


We will keep you advised of all developments in your matter by email, at meetings, telephone or post.  


Termination


ou are entitled to terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time.  In some circumstances you may consider that we should stop acting for you if for example you are unable to provide us with clear or proper instructions on how to proceed, or if you have lost confidence in how we are carrying out work on your behalf.


Under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, for some non-business transactions, if your instructions to us have not been given in a face to face meeting and you are a consumer, you would generally have the right to cancel those instructions without any cost to you within seven working days of those instructions being received by us.  You must cancel the agreement in writing.  However, you may not cancel the agreement once we have, with your permission, started to do work on your behalf.  Our service to you will start immediately upon our acceptance of your instructions by telephone, fax, post or email during which time the seven day period will not apply.  You also accept that due to reasons beyond our control, in most cases it is impossible for us to conclude your case within the thirty day period stipulated by these regulations.   However, wherever possible we will provide you with a time estimate in which we hope to conclude it.  We will update you on the progress of your case from time to time, and at a minimum every six months.    If  you  subsequently  instruct  us  on  another  case  you  accept  that  your  right  to  cancel  your instructions under these regulations will not apply.


In some circumstances we are entitled to refuse to act or to continue acting for you in particular if:

•    we are or may be in breach of the law or the principles of the Solicitors Code of Conduct if we act or continue to act for you;

•    we consider there is or maybe a conflict or risk of conflict between your interests and those of any other client of ours or the firm;

•    you are unable to give clear or proper instructions as to how we are to proceed;

•    you fail to comply with our payment terms;

•    you fail to pay us sufficient money to complete a case or pay disbursements when requested;

•    you act dishonestly or are misleading when providing us with instructions; and

•    you ask us to act in an unreasonable or illegal manner.


If we cease acting for you we shall, where relevant, apply at your expense to remove ourselves from the court or tribunal record.

If  you  or  we  decide  that  we  no  longer  act  for  you,  you  will  have  to  pay  all  outstanding  costs  and disbursements  (including  in  both  cases  any  not  yet  billed)  together  with  VAT  and  any  costs  and disbursements incurred in connection with the termination.


However we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents (this is called a “lien”) whilst there is money owing to us for our charges and expenses, where that retention is proper exercise of a solicitor’s lien. It would normally be acceptable for these papers to be transferred to a new solicitor upon receipt of a satisfactory undertaking from the new solicitor in respect of the outstanding costs.


Client Monies


Any money received on your behalf will be held in our client account, which is separate to the firm’s money. Interest on any monies held for you will be calculated and paid by him to you, subject to the minimum amounts, periods and criteria defined in the Solicitors Accounts Rules.  Interest is normally calculated from the date the cleared monies are received to the date when any cheques or electronic banking transactions are issued from the client account.  If the amount of interest calculated is less than £20, this will not be payable. We will advise you if any interest is due to you.


We hold all client monies in banking institutions that are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and it is held in multiple designated client accounts as regulated by the Solicitors Accounts Rules 2011.


We bank with a number of banks and financial institutions and have notified them that we deposit different clients’ monies into a single account.  In the event of a bank collapse, failure or other similar event we will not be  liable to any  client  for  any monies  lost  by virtue  of  such  an  event,  nor will  we  be  liable for  any consequential loss arising resulting from an inability to withdraw such funds, other than as may be prescribed by law or by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.   The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) covers deposits belonging to clients up to £85,000 per client per bank or authorised lending institution.  This £85,000 is personal to you, so if you hold other monies with the same bank and it fails, the FSCS limit of £85,000 would apply to all deposits whether held directly by you or by us.  Some banks have different brand names but are in reality a single institution for FSCS purposes.  You should check with your bank or the FCA for more information.  If a bank fails, in order to receive compensation from the FSCS we must provide them with details of all clients where we hold money on their behalf, which we can only do with your consent. Accordingly your acceptance of these terms and conditions shall be deemed to be consent for these purposes.


Where we have provided a professional undertaking on your behalf which is reliant on funds held for you in the client account or due to you from a lending institution, and the funds are subsequently not available to us due to the collapse of the bank holding the money or the lending institution, then as soon as is reasonably practical you will need to provide replacement funds and compensate us for any costs, interest or other expenses that we may incur in seeking to honour our professional undertaking in the absence of sufficient funds from you.


Incidental Investment Business


If during your case you require advice on investments, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, as we are not.  We may be able to provide certain limited investment services where these are closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you, as we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority,  which is the independent  regulatory  body of  the Law Society.   The Law Society is a designated professional body for the purposes of Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.


Insurance Schemes


You may have the benefit of a contentious business indemnity provided by an insurance company, either as part of an existing legal expense insurance policy or a designated insurance policy obtained by you in connection with the specific contentious case.  We will only be able to conduct work in accordance with the particular terms of engagement of the insurance company providing such insurance cover and the terms contained in this document may be varied accordingly.   You will need to consider the particular policy conditions relevant to that insurance company, and the scope of cover and exclusions.


Professional Association or Union Funding


It is possible that any professional association with which you are associated or Union of which you are a member may provide indemnity in respect of legal expenses.  The terms and conditions contained in this document may well be varied by the specific terms of engagement of that funding organisation.


VAT


It is your duty to advise us of your VAT status.  If you are able to recover some or all of the VAT on costs, including disbursements, then it is not permissible to recover the same VAT from any third party who is ordered or agrees to pay your costs.  If you are in any doubt as to your VAT status then you should seek advice from a specialist such as an accountant or similar professional.


Storage of papers and documents


We do not store original documents at Almond + Co and therefore will liaise with you to post them to you at a key point or at the conclusion of your matter. 


If you are dissatisfied


If you have any problems with the service we have provided for you or with our bill to you for our services, then please let us know and we will try to resolve any problem quickly between ourselves.


If you are in any way concerned at the way in which a case is being handled you should first contact the person who is acting on your behalf.  Should you not wish to do this or are not satisfied then you should ask me to seek an independent person to deal with your complaint.  Your complaint should set out your concerns either in writing or verbally.  Once he has received your complaint he will obtain your file of papers and discuss the issues raised with the person who has been acting on your behalf.  He will then write to you or if necessary, arrange a meeting.


A copy of our complaints procedure is available on request.


In exceptional circumstances where you are still dissatisfied after referring to the Compliance and Training Manager, you may wish to address the case  to the Legal Ombudsman at PO BOX 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ or www.legalombudsman.org.uk   The Legal Ombudsman and Office for Legal Complaints are independent of the Law Society.


Almond + Co is covered by Professional Indemnity Insurance in line with the requirements set out by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.   We do not accept liability for any loss or damage in excess of our insurance cover, unless we have signed a special arrangement with you at the outset of your case.  We review our indemnity cover on an annual basis.   Details of the current insurer and level of our indemnity cover are available on request.


Copyright


Unless we agree otherwise, all copyright subsisting in the documents and other materials we create whilst carrying out work for you will remain the property of Almond + Co.  You will have the right to use such documents for the purposes for which they are created.  You agree not to make our work, documents or materials available to third parties without our prior written permission and we accept no responsibility to third parties for any aspect of our professional services or work that is made available  


Data Protection Act 2018  


We comply with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 2018 and the EU General Data Protection Regulation. A copy of our Privacy Policy which sets out how we collect, process and store your personal information, is included in this pack.  It also sets out your rights in respect of your personal information we process. We may conduct some or all of our communication and send documents, including bills, by email. However, email is not fully secure, may be intercepted by third parties and may not always reach its intended recipient. Where necessary, you should follow up important communications with a phone call, fax or printed copy by post. If you do not wish us to use email please let us know.  


We may use the personal information that you provide us, or which we obtain through our dealings with you, for the provision of our services to you. And for related purposes such as administration, billing and record keeping.


Equality and Diversity


The firm does not discriminate on the grounds of race, sex, gender, age, religion or belief, disability or sexual orientation.


General


We will not be liable to you or any third party if we are unable to perform our services as a result of any cause beyond our reasonable control.   If any such event should arise, we will notify you as soon as reasonably practicable.


Any notice given to us may be sent to our registered office and any notice given by us, may be given to you at your last address known to us.


These terms and conditions of business are governed by the law of England and Wales.

© 2022  almond+co.

Almond + Co is the trading name of Almond + Company Limited, a company registered in England and Wales with company number 11587044 and authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under number 668224. The rules may be accessed at sra.org.uk/solicitors/standards-regulations.

Almond + Co. is operated by Richard Almond, who is a practicing solicitor of England and Wales. This message is confidential and may be legally privileged or otherwise protected from disclosure. If you are not the intended recipient, please telephone or email the sender and delete this message and any attachment from your system; you must not copy or disclose the contents of this message or any attachment to any other person.