Collings Law Limited, t/a Collings Solicitors (the/this "Firm") is a limited company registered in England and Wales with registered number 7652387. Our registered office is 51 Stamford New Road, Altrincham, Cheshire WA14 1DS. We are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under Practice ID Number 560946. A list of directors is open to inspection at our registered office. The Firm's VAT registration number is 115 6869 93.
1. Business hours
Our business hours are between 9.00 a.m. and 5.00 p.m. from Monday to Friday. We are able to provide appointments outside of these hours, by prior arrangement. We are closed on all bank holidays and during the period 24 December to 1 January (both days inclusive).
2. Scope of these Terms of Business
These Terms of Business govern our Retainer with you to the exclusion of any other terms. Any variation to these Terms of Business must be agreed in writing with the Firm. Although your continuing instructions in this matter will amount to your acceptance of these Terms of Business, we ask that you sign, date and return a copy of the enclosed acknowledgement of our engagement letter for our file. Unless otherwise agreed in writing, these Terms of Business (as varied from time to time) will apply to any future instructions you give this Firm.
3. Scope of instructions
We will ordinarily not provide taxation advice at all, but may advise you about the taxation implications of your Matter only if you have expressly instructed this Firm in writing to do so, and this Firm accepts the terms of such instruction in writing.
4. Client care issues: The Solicitors' Code of Conduct
The Firm is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors' Regulation Authority, The Cube, 199 Wharfside Street, Birmingham, B1 1RN (the "SRA"). You can also contact the SRA at www.sra.org.ukor by calling 0370 606 2555.
The Firm is bound by the Solicitors' Regulatory Authority's Standards and Regulations 2019 and other professional rules, to advise you as to certain matters as set out below, receipt of which information you acknowledge.
In addition, our engagement letter sets out details of matters which we commit to deal with and update during the course of our Retainer.
5. Contracts with consumers
If you are instructing this Firm for non-business related purposes, and we have not met you in person, the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 apply. This means you have the right to cancel your instructions to us within fourteen (14) working days of receiving our letter of engagement. You can cancel your instructions by contacting us by post, fax or email. If you wish to waive your rights under these regulations because you wish us to start work on a Matter before the expiry of fourteen (14) working days, you should do so in writing. We will charge you for any work that we have carried out.
6. Important information
Please be aware that the Firm does not notify changes to important business information, such as bank account details, by email.
7. The Firm's responsibilities
The Firm will:
9. Service levels and frequency of communication between us and third parties
Following receipt of your instructions, we will carry out an internal conflict of interest check to confirm that we can act for you in connection with your Matter. We will contact you immediately if there is a conflict.
This Firm will update you by telephone or in writing (which includes email) with progress on your matter regularly. This Firm will explain to you by telephone or in writing (which includes email) of the legal work required to be carried out as your Matter progresses. This Firm will update you on the likely timescales for each stage of this matter and any important changes in those estimates. Whenever there is a material change in circumstances associated with your matter, this Firm will update you on whether the likely outcomes still justify the likely costs and risks.
We will communicate with you at the address/telephone number/fax number/email address that you have given to us. Please notify us of any changes immediately so that we can amend our records. However, we cannot accept any liability for losses or otherwise arising out of our communications to you that are received by a third party.
In certain circumstances it may be necessary for us to communicate with other professionals who act for you. By instructing this Firm you are giving the Firm consent to so communicate. You may withdraw this consent at any time by notifying us in writing.
10. Limit of liability
Our maximum aggregate liability to you in this Matter shall not exceed £3,000,000.00 (three million pounds), including interest and costs, unless we expressly state a different figure in our letter confirming your instructions. If you consider that the value of this Matter may be in excess of this figure, you must inform us at the outset so that any alternative arrangements can be considered, please contact the person dealing with your Matter. Agreeing a higher limit on our liability may result in us seeking an increase in our charges for handling your Matter. We will not be liable for any amount of any claim in excess of that level unless you have given us prior notification of such higher level and we have agreed the alternative agreed terms upon which we will act for you.
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 profit or opportunity.
This Firm is a limited company. This means that the Firm's directors are not personally liable for any acts or omissions by the Firm, unless the law requires otherwise. This does not limit or exclude liability of the Firm for the acts or omissions of its directors.
We can only limit our liability to the extent the law allows. In particular, we cannot and do not limit our liability for death or personal injury caused by negligence.
The Firm does not accept any liability arising from circumstances beyond its control. Where we instruct third parties (such as counsel and experts). We do not accept any liability for the advice or conduct of such third party.
We hold all client money in Lloyds Bank plc which is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority ("FCA"). It is unlikely we will be held liable for any losses you suffer as a result of any such banking institution being unable to repay depositors in full. You may, however, be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme ("FSCS").
The FSCS is the UK's statutory fund of last resort for customers of banking institutions. The FSCS can pay compensation up to £85,000 if a banking institution is unable, or likely to be unable, to pay claims against it. The limit is £85,000 per banking institution. If you hold other personal money in the same banking institution as our client account, the limit remains £85,000 in total. Some banking institutions have several brands and the limit is £85,000 per institution, not per brand. You should check with your banking institution, the FCA or a financial advisor for more information.
The FSCS also provides up to £1,000,000.00 (one million pounds) of short-term protection for certain high balances, e.g. high value property transactions. This is called the temporary high balance scheme and, if it applies, protection lasts for a maximum of six (6) months.
The FSCS (including the temporary high balance scheme) will apply to qualifying balances held in our client account. In the unlikely event of a deposit-taking institution failure, we will presume (unless we hear from you in writing to the contrary), we have your consent to disclose necessary client details to the FSCS.
12. Professional indemnity insurance
This Firm has professional indemnity insurance giving cover for claims against the Firm. Details of this insurance, including contact details of this Firm's insurer and the territorial coverage of the policy, can be inspected at our office, or made available on request.
To comply with our regulatory obligations and the terms of our professional indemnity insurance, we may disclose relevant documents and information to insurers, brokers and insurance advisers on a confidential basis. This could include details of any circumstances arising from our work for you that might give rise to a claim against us. Unless you notify us to the contrary, you agree to such disclosure by us even if the documents and information in question are confidential and/or subject to legal professional privilege.
13. Storage and retrieval of files/papers/documents
After completing the work, this Firm will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents whilst there is still money owed to us for our charges and expenses. Thereafter, we will keep your file of papers for no more than six (6) years, although in some cases, we may need to keep your file for up to twelve (12) years, save for any papers you ask to be returned to you. This Firm currently does not charge for storing original documents in safe custody, e.g. title deeds and leases.
This Firm will store files on the understanding that we have the authority to destroy them six (6) years after the date of the final bill. We will not destroy documents you ask us to deposit in safe custody, although we reserve the right to charge you for such long term storage.
If we retrieve your file of papers or deeds from storage (including electronic storage) in relation to continuing or new instructions to act for you, we will not normally charge for the retrieval.
However, if we retrieve your file from storage for another reason, this Firm may charge you for:
Sometimes we ask other companies or people to carry out photocopying on our files to ensure this is done promptly and in the most cost-effective manner. We will always seek a confidentiality agreement with these outsourced providers.
15. External auditing and due diligence
External firms or organisations (such as the Law Society Conveyancing Quality Scheme to whom the Firm is accredited) may conduct audit or quality checks on our Firm from time to time. They may wish to audit or quality check your file and related papers for this purpose. It is a specific requirement imposed by us that these external firms or organisations fully maintain confidentiality in relation to any files and papers which are audited or quality checked.
16.Terminating your instructions
You may terminate your instructions at any time by giving us notice in writing. We can keep all your papers and documents while our charges or disbursements are outstanding.
We may decide to stop acting for you, but only with good reason. We must give you reasonable notice that we will stop acting for you.
If you or we decide that we should stop acting for you, you are liable to pay our charges and expenses up until that point, for example, if you fail to provide us with instructions, if we believe that our relationship has irretrievably broken down, in the event of a conflict of interest, or if you do not pay an interim bill, or comply with our request for payment on accounts of costs or disbursements. These are calculated on the basis set out in our engagement letter confirming your instructions and will include, where appropriate, any costs in transferring your file to another law firm.
17. Data protection
Our use of your personal data is subject to your instructions, the EU General Data Protection Regulation ("GDPR"), other relevant UK legislation and our professional duty of confidentiality
The Firm is a data controller for the purpose of the GDPR and other relevant data protection legislation. We have nominated Imaan Malik as the Firm's representative for the purpose of the GDPR.
18. 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 current or new services.
You have the right to opt out of receiving promotional communications at any time by contacting us.
19. Prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing
We are required by law to confirm satisfactory evidence of the identity of our clients and, sometimes, people related to them. This is because solicitors who deal with money and property on behalf of their clients can be used by criminals wanting to launder money.
To comply with the law, we need evidence of your identity as soon as possible. This is explained in our letter confirming your instructions. Any personal data we receive from you for the purpose of preventing money laundering or terrorist financing will be used only for that purpose or:
We are professionally and legally obliged to keep your affairs confidential. However, solicitors may be required by statute to make a disclosure to the National Crime Agency where they know, or suspect that, a transaction may involve money laundering or terrorist financing. If we make a disclosure in relation to your matter, we may not be able to tell you that a disclosure has been made. We may have to stop working on your matter for a period of time and may not be able to tell you why. If we have to spend time in addressing any money laundering issues, we reserve the right to charge you in the same manner as any other work undertaking by us in relation to your Matter.
Subject to the "Limit of liability" set out in section 10 above, we shall not be liable for any loss arising from or connected with our compliance with any statutory obligation which we may have, or reasonable belief we may have, to report matters to the relevant authorities under the provisions of the money laundering and/or terrorist financing legislation.
The information and documentation you provide us is confidential and subject to legal professional privilege, unless:
We cannot absolutely guarantee the security of information communicated by email or mobile phone. Unless we hear from you to the contrary, we will assume that you consent for us to use these methods of communication.
21. Receiving and paying funds
Our policy is not to accept cash from clients. If you try to avoid this policy by depositing cash directly with our bank, we may decide to charge you for any additional checks we decide are necessary to prove the source of the funds. Where we have to pay money to you, it will be paid by cheque or bank transfer. It will not be paid in cash or to a third party.
Please be aware that we do not notify changes to important business information, such as bank account details, by email.
We are committed to providing high-quality legal advice and client care. If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service you receive or about the bill, please contact Imaan Malik email@example.com or by post to 51 Stamford New Road, Altrincham, Cheshire WA14 1DS. We have a written procedure that sets out how we handle complaints. It is available by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have eight (8) weeks to consider your complaint. If we have not resolved it within this time, you may complain to the Legal Ombudsman. If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint, you can ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider the complaint. The Legal Ombudsman's contact details are:
PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ
0300 555 0333—from 8.30am to 5.30pm
Normally, you will need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six (6) months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint and within 1 year of the occurrence of the act or omission about which you are complaining (or if outside of this period, within 1 year of when you should reasonably have been aware of it).
The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints by consumers and very small businesses. This means some clients may not have the right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman, e.g. charities or clubs with an annual income of more than £1,000,000.00 (one million pounds), trustees of trusts with asset value of more than £1,000,000.00 (one million pounds) and most businesses (unless they are defined as micro-enterprises). This does not prevent you from making a complaint directly to us about the service you have received or about the bill.
23. Our invoices(s)
You are liable to pay our legal costs as set out in our engagement letter. We will also usually discuss this at either our initial meeting with you, on the telephone or by exchange of emails. Our charges are intended to be a fair and reasonable fee taking into account the nature of the work carried out and other factors. Unless otherwise agreed in our Retainer, the basis of our charges will be the time spent on the Matter (including prior to the date of our Retainer) charged at the hourly rates set out in our engagement letter, or agreement to which these Terms of Business relate. However, we may adjust that sum to reflect matters such as the efficiency and skill with which the work was carried out, the nature and complexity of the Matter, the size or value of the Matter, the risks and the value provided to you or any saving achieved. You may, of course, agree with us a prior limit on our charges and expenses. Any limit may however affect how much work we can do within your instructions. The Firm's hourly charging rates are reviewed regularly and may be increased from time to time, and, if there are any increases, you will be notified in writing of the same. All charges and hourly rates stated are exclusive of VAT. The Firm's VAT registration number is GB 115 6869 93.
24. Additional disbursements or expenses
Our invoice(s) will set out the Firm's own charges. These may include photocopying and other services or charges carried out within or incurred by the Firm on your behalf. We reserve the right to show these items separately. Invoices and/or completion statements will also include payments made to third parties on your behalf ("disbursements" or "expenses"). We charge an administration fee of £36 (inclusive of VAT) for each transfer of funds made by us through our bank. Any charges by your own or other transferee bank will be payable by you or such transferee.
VAT at the then prevailing rate will be charged on all items to which it is applicable.
We aim to provide estimates where possible. Any estimate is intended to be a guide only and will not be a quotation binding upon us. If, in the course of a particular Matter, we have not heard from you within a reasonable time of giving an estimate for any work required to progress a Matter, we may proceed with such work as is, in our discretion, necessary or desirable to progress the Matter in accordance with such instructions as we have previously received from you. The giving of an estimate will not prevent us from charging for work you have instructed us to undertake which is evidently in excess of, or outside the scope of the Firm's original estimate and Retainer.
26. Timing of invoices
Unless otherwise stated in our Retainer, invoices will normally be prepared and sent to you on completion of your Matter unless the level of activity on the Matter makes this inappropriate, or in the case of a long running matter, where such expenses are incurred, we will normally send you interim invoices for our charges and expenses at regular intervals, usually every two (2) months whilst work is in progress. We will then send a final invoice on completion of your Matter. Should we have to deal with requisitions received from the Land Registry in connection with the registration of your property due to failures on the part of your seller's solicitors providing the necessary certificates of compliance etc and/or delays on the part of any management company or managing agents dealing with notices of transfer/charge etc, we would not normally charge you for this, but if the time spent dealing with these matters is excessive, we reserve the right to charge an additional fee for this not exceeding £500 plus VAT and disbursements. Such invoices represent a final charge for the period they cover unless otherwise indicated and include third party invoices then received.
Invoices should be paid on receipt by you, unless the Firm's charges have already been paid by you on completion of the Matter. You agree to accept delivery of invoices by email. Receipt by you of the Firm's invoice will constitute notice to you of the amount of the sum due. Where the invoice is not paid within one (1) month, we reserve the right to charge interest at the rate payable on judgment debts. We are entitled to use funds provided by you or received on your behalf to settle any outstanding invoices. We will not accept payment in cash. The Firm's charges and expenses are payable even if the Matter to which they relate is not completed. You must pay all invoiced amounts without making any deduction, unless you are required by law to make such deduction. If you are required by the law of any non-UK jurisdiction to make a withholding from any such payment, you shall pay to us such sum as will, after the making of any withholding, leave us with the same amount as we would have received had no withholding been made. We may charge interest on overdue invoices at four (4)% over Lloyds Bank plc's base rate.
We may cease acting for you if an interim invoice remains unpaid after thirty (30) days or if our reasonable request of a payment on account of costs is not met.
The Firm is permitted to keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to the Firm for fees and expenses.
27. Enhanced statutory rate of interest
If you do not pay our invoice(s) immediately, we reserve the right to charge you statutory interest at the rate prescribed under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 (the "Act"). The applicable interest rate is eight (8)% above Lloyds Bank plc's base rate (formerly base rate) as defined in the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Rate of Interest) (No. 3) Order 2002. We also reserve the right to recover compensation for the costs incurred as a result of pursuing the unpaid invoice as defined by the Act.
28. Payment on account
Before we start work on any Matter (or during the progress of any Matter), we may ask you to make a payment on account of our charges or disbursements which we have made, or are to be made, in the proper conduct of any Matter, which is normal practice. This helps to avoid delay in the progress of your Matter. This Firm may decline to provide further services and/or to incur any disbursements, or to instruct any third party (such as a barrister or other third party) until the requested payment is received by this Firm. If you owe the Firm any fees, expenses, VAT or other amounts, we may deduct such amounts from any money of yours held by this Firm for your account.
29. Other remedies
Without prejudice to our right to charge you interest, or to any other remedy available to us, if you do not pay any invoice when due, or if you do not meet any request to make a payment on account, we may terminate your Retainer and any other matter which we are handling on your behalf, and/or suspend or cease working on any current Matter.
30. Payment of interest
The Firm's interest policy explains our approach to paying interest where we hold money in client accountfor a client, person funding all or part of our fees, trust or person to whom a deposit or other sum is to be paid. Interest will be calculated and paid in accordance with the Firm's interest policy and will take into account various factors that are explained in it. Please ask the Firm to send you a copy of our interest policy should you wish to view it.
The Firm is required by the Solicitors Regulation Authority to deposit monies in instant access accounts only. This means that the interest rate paid on monies in a Separate Designated Client Account ("SDCA"), or in our general client account may not be as high as the recipient can achieve by placing the money on deposit themselves.
We will pay interest when it is fair and reasonable to do so in all the circumstances, unless we have agreed with the recipient to contract out of our obligation to pay interest or where the amount of interest, calculated in accordance with this policy, is less than £20.
31. Investment advice services
We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority ("FCA") to conduct investment business. If, while we are acting for you, you need advice on investments, we may refer you to someone who is authorised to provide the necessary advice.
However, we may provide certain limited investment advice services where these are closely linked to the legal work we are carrying out for you. This is because we are members of the Law Society of England and Wales, which is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory arm of the Law Society. The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints against lawyers. If you are unhappy with any investment advice you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with the Solicitors Regulatory Authority or the Legal Ombudsman.
32. Insurance mediation activity
We are not authorised by the FCA. However, we are included on the register maintained by the FCA so that we may 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 authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority website at: https://register.fca.org.uk/.
The Law Society of England and Wales is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. If you are unhappy with any insurance advice you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with the Solicitors Regulation Authority or the Legal Ombudsman.
33. Equality and diversity
The Firm is committed to promoting equality and diversity in all our dealings with clients, third parties and employees.
34. Applicable law
Any dispute or legal issue arising from our Terms of Business will be determined by the laws of England and Wales and considered exclusively by the English and Welsh courts.
35. Future instructions
Unless otherwise agreed, these Terms of Business (as varied from time to time) will apply to all future instructions you give to this Firm on this Matter, or any other matter.