THE PENSIONS LAWYER LIMITED
Oakley House, 1 Hungerford Road, Huddersfield, HD3 3AL
OUR HOURS OF BUSINESS
Normal hours of opening are from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm on weekdays. We are closed weekends and public holidays.
- Always act in your best interests subject to our professional duties.
- Give you our best advice in accordance with your instructions.
- Deal with your instructions promptly.
- Update you regularly by telephone, email or in writing with progress on your matter.
- Communicate with you in plain language.
- Update you on the likely timescales and costs for each stage of this matter and any important changes in those estimates.
- Update you on whether the likely outcomes still justify the likely costs and risks associated with your matter whenever there is a material change in circumstances or the law relating to your matter.
- Advise you of any circumstances and risks of which we are aware, or consider to be reasonably foreseeable, that could affect the outcome of your matter.
- Advise you of any changes in the personnel handling your matter.
- Provide us with clear, timely and accurate instructions.
- Provide us with all documentation and any monies required to complete the transaction in a timely manner.
- Safeguard any documents which are likely to be disclosed during court proceedings.
- Not ask us to work unreasonably or improperly.
- Co-operate with us and our reasonable requests.
Our charges will be calculated mainly by reference to the time actually spent by all Solicitors and other staff in respect of any work which they do on your behalf. This will include meetings with you and perhaps others, reading and working on papers, correspondence, including e-mails, preparation of any detailed costs calculations, and time spent travelling away from the office when this is necessary.
You will have been advised in correspondence of the Solicitors/Fee Earners hourly charging rate and an estimate of overall costs including all disbursements. We will advise you if the charging rate varies. These hourly rates have to be reviewed periodically to reflect increases in overhead costs and inflation. Normally the rates are reviewed with effect from 1 January each year. 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.
Where we receive money on your behalf from another party in your transaction, we shall deduct from that money, before accounting to you, any money owing by you to us.
If instructions are received from more than one client in connection with the same matter then fees are the responsibility of each of the clients on a joint and several basis.
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, any particular specialist expertise which your case may demand. In particular, a charge reflecting, for example, the price of the property, the size of the estate, or the value of the financial benefit may be considered. Where a charge reflecting any value element is to be added we will explain this to you.
In addition to the Company’s own professional fees, any bills delivered may include disbursements and out-of-pocket expenses incurred or to be incurred on your behalf during the conduct of the matter. By way of example these may include agent and expert fees, travelling expenses, courier fees, photocopying, secretarial overtime, international telephone calls, registration fees, search fees. Our accompanying letter will list the particular disbursements we would expect to incur in dealing with your matter.
Solicitors have to pay out various other expenses on behalf of clients, such as Land Registry fees. We have no obligation to make such payments unless you have provided us with the funds for that purpose. VAT is payable on certain expenses. We refer to such payments generally as “disbursements”. If for any reason this matter does not proceed to completion we will be entitled to charge you for work done and expenses incurred. There may be occasions during the conduct of your case where significant disbursements or major amounts of chargeable time are due to be incurred. We are entitled to require payment in advance for these commitments, and routinely do so. In the event that we do require such payment in advance and it is not made by any reasonable deadline set, we reserve the right to cease acting for you in this matter. You must appreciate that, should this happen, it may prejudice your case.
We are entitled to deliver regular interim bills. Unless otherwise stated, the interim bills are based on costs incurred to the date of that bill. If we hold any monies on account of your costs when an invoice is raised these monies will be utilised towards discharging the invoice.
We also reserve the right to cease acting for you in the event that any bills rendered to you are not paid within the timescale required or payments on account are not made. To this extent, you agree with us that our retainer in this matter is not to be considered an “entire agreement”, such that we are entitled to terminate your retainer before your case is concluded.
The Pensions Lawyer require that any bills are paid upon presentation of the invoice. We also reserve the right to charge interest at the rate of 8% per annum on the outstanding sum whether the bill is interim or final.
In accordance with the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s Accounts Rules, we are required to account to you for interest on money held by us in our client account when it is fair and reasonable to do so. The holding of client money is incidental to the carrying out of clients’ instructions. In addition we are required to hold client money in an instant access account to facilitate transactions. As a result, the rates of interest paid under this policy are unlikely to be as high as those obtainable by you.
Interest will be paid where the amount calculated on the balance held exceeds £50.00. Where money is held in relation to separate matters for the same client we will treat the matters separately, unless the matters are so closely related that they should be considered together. Where client monies are held in our general client account we will pay interest without deducting tax at source. You will be responsible for declaring any interest to HM Revenue & Customs. Where client monies are held in a designated deposit account, interest is usually paid net of basic rate income tax.
Interest will be calculated on a daily basis, using the average rates of interest offered to business customers on instant access accounts across all banking institutions where we hold general client funds. Where appropriate we will adjust these rates to take into account our overall banking arrangements so far as they affect the rates received. Interest will be calculated on cleared client funds. In the case of cheques received, this will be 3 working days after the cheque has been deposited with our bank and for amounts received via debit card, standing orders, BACS and CHAPS interest will accrue from the day of receipt into our client account. We will normally account to you for interest at the conclusion of your matter. Where we consider it appropriate we will calculate and credit interest on an annual basis.
Provided that you have sufficient information at the outset of the matter to enable you to give informed consent, you may contract out of receiving interest by signing a written agreement with us. This interest policy including the de minimis limit of £50 will be reviewed periodically; particularly if changes are made to the Bank of England’s base rate.
- General Financial Service – Sometimes the work we carry out involves investments. We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority and so may refer you to someone who is authorised to provide any necessary advice. However, we can provide certain limited services in relation to investments, provided they are closely linked with the legal services we are provided to you, as we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
In the context of financial services, if you have any problem with the service we have provided for you then please let us know. We will try to resolve any problem quickly and operate an internal complaints handling system to help us to resolve the problem between ourselves. If for any reason we are unable to resolve the problem between us, then we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and complaints and redress mechanisms are provided through the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Legal Ombudsman.
- Insurance Distribution Activities – The Pensions Lawyer Limited is not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. However, we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority so that we can carry on insurance distribution activity as an ancillary insurance intermediary, 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 regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed by the Financial Conduct Authority website at www.fca.org.uk/firms/financial-services-register.
- Regulation and Complaints – The Law Society is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 but responsibility for regulation and complaints handling has been separated from the Law Society’s representative functions. The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory body of the Law Society and the Legal Ombudsman is the independent complaints handling body that investigates complaints about lawyers in England and Wales.
PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE
The Pensions Lawyer holds professional indemnity insurance which complies with the requirements of the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The current primary insurer is Travelers Insurance Company Limited & AIG UK Limited.
Any work that we do for you may involve tax implications or necessitate the consideration of tax planning strategies. We may not be qualified to advise you on the tax implications of a transaction that you instruct us to carry out, or the likelihood of them arising and will not be responsible for providing advice in relation to taxation matters. If you have any concerns in this respect, please raise them with us immediately.
STORAGE OF PAPERS AND DOCUMENTS
After completing the work, we are required to keep your papers and documents while there is money owing to us for our charges and expenses. In addition we will keep your file whether in paper or electronic form for not less than seven years. After that, storage is on the clear understanding that we have the right to destroy it after such period as we consider reasonable and you consent to our keeping the information and data and maintaining it as we see fit. We will not destroy any documents such as wills deeds or other securities which you ask us to hold in safe custody. No charge will be made to you for such storage unless prior notice in writing is given to you.
LIMIT OF LIABILITY TO CLIENTS
The liability of The Pensions Lawyer Limited in respect of each breach of contract or breach of duty or fault or negligence or otherwise whatsoever arising out of or in connection with your instructions shall be limited in total to three million pounds to cover claims of any sort whatsoever (including interest and costs) arising out of or in connection with your instructions. This provision shall have no application to any liability for death or personal injury. We will not be liable for any loss, damage or delay arising out of the firm’s compliance with any statutory or regulatory requirement (see below, in relation to Money Laundering).
Solicitors are not allowed to disclose information about a client’s affairs without the client’s authority. Within your continuing instructions in the matter you authorise us to disclose to the other parties in the transaction and, if applicable, to all other parties in the chain of transactions and their agents and advisors all information which we have in relation to your involvement in the transaction, including any related sale or mortgage and other financial arrangements and wishes as to dates for exchange and completion. You may withdraw this authority at any time in writing but if you do so you should appreciate that we will inform the other party or parties and their agents or advisers that this authority has been withdrawn.
Sometimes we ask other companies or people to work on our files or support our services. Where appropriate, we will enter into a confidentiality and/or data sharing agreement with these outsourced providers. If you do not wish your file to be outsourced please tell us as soon as possible.
The Pensions Lawyer Limited is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ramsdens Solicitors LLP. Ramsdens Solicitors LLP is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under number 440420. The business of the two entities is separate and matters conducted by The Pensions Lawyer Limited are not conducted by Ramsdens Solicitors LLP. The two businesses share administrative functions, including Accounts facilities, Office Services, regulatory and Money Laundering Compliance Officers, Complaints Review Partner, IT Support and Money Laundering Reporting Officer. In order for those functions to operate, for The Pensions Lawyer Limited to provide its services to you and to fulfil its regulatory obligations, it may be necessary for individuals at Ramsdens Solicitors LLP involved with the above functions to have access to information about your matter. This will be limited to the minimum amount of information required to allow them to fulfil their function. Ramsdens Solicitors LLP are subject to the same rules relating to client confidentiality and data protection as The Pensions Lawyer Limited and adequate safeguards are put in place to ensure that your interests are protected. Your continued instruction of The Pensions Lawyer Limited will be taken as your consent for the necessary sharing of information with Ramsdens Solicitors LLP for the delivery of services to you. Details of the legal bases on which data is shared between the two entities are set out in our data privacy notice.
We are entitled to refuse to act for you if you fail to supply appropriate proof of identity for yourself or for any principal whom you may represent. We subscribe to on-line ID checking system to negate the need in certain circumstances for you to forward to us original documentation, such as passports, driving licences which are required in accordance with Money Laundering Regulations. There will be a nominal fee to pay for this service.
In order to comply with our Money Laundering requirements we must refuse to accept payment of monies from clients unless we are satisfied with the source of that money and, in any event, we will not accept payment in respect of any matter by cash.
Solicitors are under a professional and legal obligation to keep the affairs of the client confidential. This obligation, however, is subject to a statutory exception: recent legislation on money laundering and terrorist financing has placed solicitors under a legal duty in certain circumstances to disclose information to the National Crime Agency.
Under the provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (“POCA”) (as amended by the Criminal Finances Act 2017), we may be required to make a report to the relevant authorities if at any time we become aware of or suspect (whether in relation to you or any other person) the existence of the proceeds of crime in relation to any services in which we are engaged. Our obligation to make such a report will, in certain circumstances, override our duty of solicitor/client confidentiality and we may not be permitted to inform you whether or not we have made, or might intend to make, such a report.
COMMUNICATION BETWEEN YOU AND US
Our aim is to offer all our clients an efficient and effective service at all times. Our clients and staff are of primary importance to us. We hope that you will be pleased with the work that we do for you. However you will have been notified in correspondence of the person who you need to address any area of concerns to. We would ask that any areas of concern that you may have are addressed to us in writing. Details of our full complaints procedure are available on request.
In addition you also have a right to complain about the bill sent by us by applying to the court for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. Any complaints will be dealt with in accordance with our Firm’s complaints procedures. We have 8 weeks to consider your complaint. If we have not resolved it within this time you may complain to the Legal Ombudsman.
In the event you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can contact the Legal Ombudsman (“LeO”) at Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ, telephone 0300 555 0333 or email email@example.com or visit www.legalombudsman.org.uk to consider the complaint. The LeO can investigate complaints up to six years from the date of the problem happening or within three years of when someone should have found out about the problem. However, if we send a final written response to your complaint within eight weeks of receiving it, the time limit for you to refer the matter to the LeO would be six months from the date of that final response. The LeO deals with complaints by consumers and very small businesses. This means some clients may not have the right to complain to the LeO, e.g. charities or clubs with an annual income of more than £1m, trustees of trusts with asset value of more than £1m 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.
We will aim to communicate with you by such methods as you may request. We may need to virus check discs or e-mails. Unless you withdraw consent, we will communicate with others when appropriate by e-mail or fax but we cannot be responsible for the security of correspondence and documents sent by any method whether by usual post, hand delivery, e-mail or fax.
You may terminate your instructions to us at any time in writing but we shall be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is money owing to us for our charges and expenses. If at any stage you do not wish us to continue doing work and/or incurring charges and expenses on your behalf, you must tell us this clearly in writing.
If we are unable to continue acting for you, for example if you do not comply with a request for payment on account or for identification, are persistently rude or abusive towards members of staff or you ask us to act unreasonably, in breach of our professional obligations, or in an illegal manner, then we shall tell you the reason and give you notice in writing.
Where the contract for our services has been made other than in person (for example by telephone, fax or e-mail) the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 may apply (“the Regulations”).
These Regulations oblige us to give you certain information, much of which is contained above or in our client care letters. Additionally, please note the following:-
- The period of time for concluding these sort of legal services may exceed thirty days;
- You have a right to cancel this contract for our legal services. To do so you must give us written notice within fourteen (14) days (“the cancellation period”) starting from the day after you receive these Terms & Conditions of Business.
- If you want us to commence work before the expiry of the cancellation period you must let us know. If we then carry out part of the work before you exercise your right to cancel, you may still cancel, but we will ask you to pay for the work that has been completed. If we complete the work before the expiry of the cancellation period, you will then lose the right to cancellation.
During the handling of property transactions we may instruct a personal search agency to carry out the Drainage Search, Environmental Search, Mining Search, Local Search and to make enquiries of the Local Authority etc. The Pensions Lawyer Limited may have an interest in the Search Company or other agency, depending upon which agency is used to carry out these searches/reports.
Our IT support and management is outsourced to Fusion IT Management to ensure this work is done competently. Sometimes we may ask other companies or people to do other work on our files to ensure this is done promptly. We will always seek a confidentiality agreement with all outsource providers. If you do not want your file to be outsourced please tell us as soon as possible.
EQUALITY & DIVERSITY
The Pensions Lawyer Limited is committed to promoting equality and diversity and opportunities for all staff, clients and third parties. This extends to our recruitment and working policies, and to our relationships with people outside the firm. We are committed to ensuring access to our services for everyone. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our Equality and Diversity policy.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
On receiving any new instructions, we will check our records in order to ensure that we do not have a conflict of interest which would prevent us from acting for you.
We cannot continue to act in circumstances where there is an actual or potential conflict between your interests and the interests of another client of the Company. If this arises we will discuss the position with you and agree on the appropriate course of action, although it may not be possible for us to discuss the reasons why a conflict has arisen.
TERMS & CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS
Unless otherwise agreed, these Terms & Conditions of Business shall apply to any future instructions given by you to this firm.
Your continuing instructions in this matter will amount to an acceptance of these Terms and Conditions of Business.