Terms and Conditions

1. Introduction

1.1. When you request us to advise you on a particular matter we will also send you a letter (“an Engagement Letter”) confirming your instructions. In these terms of business “we” or “us” refers to Cardona & Co solicitors.

1.2. This Engagement Letter together with our terms of business which appear below form the contract between us under which we will provide services to you. Our agreement to provide services may be varied by agreement during the course of the matter. In the event of any inconsistency between our Engagement Letter and these terms of business the Engagement Letter shall prevail. Our services will not include tax advice on, or the tax implications of, any instruction or course of action unless this is expressly agreed in writing at the outset, or during the course, of a matter.

2. People responsible for your work

2.1. The Engagement Letter will identify the solicitor with ultimate responsibility for your matter. It will also identify the solicitor with day to day responsibility for your matter. He or she may be assisted by others (for example, trainee solicitors or paralegals) during the course of our work for you. If we have to change the solicitor for any reason we will notify you promptly.

3. Fees and expenses

3.1. We will do our best at the outset to give you an estimate of the likely overall cost in relation to a matter. There are, of course, many variables which come into play and therefore we will provide you with an estimate based upon the information we have at any particular stage. Unless our Engagement Letter states otherwise, any estimate or quotation of costs we give you is not a promise or agreement that we will perform our services within a fixed time or for a fixed fee. We shall do our best to notify you if any estimate of our time and/or fees that we have given you needs to be changed as a result of a change in circumstances.

3.2. Our charges are primarily based upon the time we spend dealing with your matter including meetings with you and others; any time spent in travelling (for example, to and from Court or to meetings); considering, preparing and working on papers; correspondence (whether written or electronic); and making and receiving telephone calls. The hourly charging rate which will apply will be confirmed in the Engagement Letter. If there is to be a change in the hourly rates applicable to your matter, you will be notified in writing.

3.3. These rates take into account a number of factors which include the complexity of the issue, the speed at which action was to be taken; the expertise or specialist knowledge which the case requires and, if appropriate, the value of the property or subject matter involved. Accordingly, the rate may be increased if, for example, the matter becomes more complex than expected.

3.4. Routine letters that we write and routine telephone calls that we make and receive will be charged as units of 1/10th of an hour. Other letters and telephone calls will be charged on a time basis.

3.5. The charges quoted are exclusive of VAT which will be added where appropriate.

3.6. Expenses or disbursements (i.e. payments to third parties) including travel expenses, expert reports, court fees, counsel’s fee and other experts will be charged in addition together with photocopying, faxes and petty incidentals as appropriate. VAT is also payable on certain disbursements. We will notify you in advance of any significant disbursement to be incurred on your behalf and for which payment is due in advance.

3.7. We review charges annually, usually from 1 May.

4. Monies on account

Payment on account of disbursements may be requested before payment is made on your behalf. If you do not make a payment on account in respect of disbursement payment when asked to do so we will be entitled to stop working for you.

5. Billing arrangements

5.1. We will send you a final bill after completion of the matter. However, it is likely that we will also render interim bills to you at regular intervals until the matter is concluded. Any balances held will remain as general money on account of fees and disbursements to be incurred we may also request you to make further payments on account from time to time.

5.2. Even if someone else has agreed to pay or be responsible for payment of all or part of your legal costs, we will normally address our bills to you and you will, in any event, be primarily liable to us for those costs.

5.3. Our bills are due for payment on delivery and we will be entitled to claim interest at the rate of 8% per year if any of them are not discharged within 30 days after the date the bill is sent to you.

5.4. If you have any queries about a bill please contact the person who sent it as soon as you receive it.

5.5. We may pay any outstanding invoice by deduction from money we hold for you (including money received from others).

6. Special Conditions in Litigation matters

6.1. A conditional or contingency fee arrangement will not be entered into on behalf of the firm without a thorough initial risk assessment being carried out and approved and authorized by at least two partners in the firm.

6.2. If you think you are entitled to receive legal assistance under an insurance policy (for example a home insurance policy or an After the Event (“A.T.E”) policy which can be arranged in certain circumstances), please let us know as soon as possible so we can discuss this with you.

6.3. If your matter is a litigation matter or becomes so, our aim is to ensure that you are successful and that you obtain a settlement or judgment against your opponent which provides that your opponent meets your legal costs. These costs are often subject to a Court process known as “assessment” which means that the costs ordered to be paid by another party, will cover the entire amount of costs that you will be liable to pay to us for conducting the litigation. If you lose your case you are likely to have a costs order made against you so that you will be obliged to pay your opponent’s costs on a similar basis.

6.4. Please note that it is open to the Court at certain hearings during the litigation to “summarily assess” the costs of any particular hearing and order that one of the parties pays the other costs of the hearing within 14 days. If you fail to pay you risk losing your case.

6.5. Interest will be claimed on the costs which another party has to pay to you and if you request us to do so, we will attempt to enforce an Order for costs against another party. However, any further costs in taking such action will be your liability, although we will claim for these costs as part of the assessment procedure. Throughout the case you should always give consideration to the likelihood of enforcing any orders that are made in your favour. It is, in practice, often the case that litigation has to be abandoned because the opponent has no money or there will be major problems in enforcing any judgment or Costs Order obtained. If an opponent is publicly funded you will not be able to recover your costs, even if you are successful unless there are exceptional circumstances.

6.6. We will do our best to advise you throughout as to the continuing merits of pursuing the litigation but please bear in mind that embarking upon litigation, even with the most meritorious of cases, carries risks and the outcome cannot be guaranteed. This is something you should consider throughout the case but we stress at all times that you are primarily responsible for paying our costs whether you win or lose your case.

7. Money Laundering Precautions

7.1 Like all firms of solicitors, we are now required by law to apply procedures to guard against the risk of money laundering. It will help us to avoid any problems with your legal work if you bear in mind the following points.

7.2 Identification checks - we may need to obtain formal evidence of your identity. This may be necessary even though we have acted for you before, or even if you are known personally to a member of staff. We will tell you if such evidence is necessary, but it may help us if you are able to bring evidence to our first meeting. Normally, the evidence we request is your passport, plus two or more documents to establish your address, such as recent utility bills, council tax statements, or bank statements.

7.3 Cash – we will not normally be prepared to accept over £500.00 in cash.

7.4 Source of funds - at the start of any matter we will normally ask you to tell us the source of any funds you will be using. It is simplest if the source is an account, in your name, in a UK bank or building society. If the source is an unusual one, such as an account in another country, or in the name of someone other than yourself, please tell us as early as possible, including the reason

7.5 Destination of Funds - where we are to pay money out to you, we will normally do so by cheque in your favour, or into an account in your name. If you would prefer us to pay money to someone other than yourself, please tell us as early as possible, including the reason.

7.6 Confidentiality - we have always sought to keep our client’s affairs confidential. However, the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 may oblige us to report information about any criminal offences to the National Crime Intelligence Service (NCIS). If we have to make a report we may not be able to tell you that we have done so. A report may result in an investigation by the police, the Inland Revenue or other authorities.

8. Raising queries or concerns with us

8.1. We are committed to providing a high quality service in all respects and keeping you advised regularly of the progress of your matter. If you have any queries or concerns about our work for you, please raise them in the first instance with the Principal. We wish to ensure that you have no reason to be unhappy with our service and therefore if you do have any concerns, please raise them with us as soon as possible.

8.2 Each contract between us shall be subject to and governed by the Laws of England and Wales. Any dispute arising from or under our contact with you shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English Courts.

9. Limitations on our liability

You accept that we have an interest in limiting the personal liability and exposure to litigation of employees, consultants and partners. In so doing you accept that we are a limited liability entity and agree that you will not bring any claim personally against any individual employees, consultants or partners in respect of losses which you suffer or incur, directly or indirectly, in connection with our services. The provisions of this paragraph 10 will not limit or exclude the liability of Cardona and Co for the acts or omissions of our employees, consultants or partners.

10. Liability Cap

We may agree with you that our liability to you in relation to any particular matter is limited to an amount specified in the relevant Engagement Letter (“a Liability Cap”). A Liability Cap will apply to any liability we may have to you (including for example, in contract or negligence) for all losses which may arise in connection with our services or a particular matter including all demands, claims, actions, proceedings, damages, payments, costs, expenses or other liabilities.

11. E-Mail

11.1 We may communicate with you by e-mail, unless you request us not to do so. Documents sent to you by e-mail (whether or not containing confidential information) will not be encrypted unless you request us, in writing, to encrypt outgoing e-mail and we are able to agree with you and implement mutually acceptable encryption standards and protocols.

11.2 It is your responsibility to protect your system from viruses and any other harmful code or device. We try to eliminate them from e-mails and attachments but we accept no liability for any which remain. We may monitor or access any e-mails sent to us.

12. Termination

12.1 You must notify us in writing if you wish to terminate our appointment on any or all of your matters. We may keep all of your papers and documents whilst there remains any unpaid charges or expenses due to us on any matter.

12.2 We will only stop acting for you if there is good reason, for example, if you do not pay an interim bill or money requested on account of our charges, or if you fail to give us proper instructions or your instructions conflict with our rules of professional conduct.

12.3 If you or we decide that we no longer act for you, you will be responsible to pay our outstanding charges and expenses including those not yet billed.

13. Retention of deeds and documents

13.1 At the conclusion of a transaction, we will store documents and deeds on your behalf for a reasonable period of time. Such papers or files may be stored in an electronic form. This service is currently free of charge.

13.2 We also reserve our rights to destroy your files and papers after a reasonable period, without prior notice to you, unless we receive a written request from you during this period. At your request we will return any papers or property belonging to you which are not subject to a lien or otherwise being stored for safe keeping.

13.3 If we retrieve documents or papers from storage in relation to continuing or renewing instructions from you, we will not normally charge the direct cost for removal from storage. However, we may make a charge based on time spent producing stored papers or documents to you or any other person at your request.

14. Data Protection Act 1998 (the “DPA”)

14.1. We are registered under the Data Protection Legislation. The personal information provided by you will be held by Cardona & Co for record keeping and general administration in the context of our business. In most circumstances we are able to supply you on request with copies of the information we store about you and your business.

14.2. Some of our typing work is carried out on our behalf by external service providers. This work is carried out under conditions of rigorous security and confidentiality and the service provider is obliged to ensure that your rights under data protection legislation are protected.

14.3 In respect of any personal information which we process during the course of a matter we will comply with our duties under the DPA and we will take reasonable steps to ensure the reliability if our employees who have access to your personal information.

15. Application of these terms

15.1 Your continuing instructions will amount to your acceptance of these terms of business. These terms supersede any earlier terms of business we may have agreed with you and, in the absence of express agreement to the contrary, will apply to the services referred to in the Engagement Letter accompanying these terms and all subsequent serves we may provide to you. If it is necessary at any time to amend or supersede these terms with new terms we will notify you of the changes. Unless we hear from you to the contrary within 14 days after such notification, the amendments or new terms will come into effect from the end of that period.