Dawson Cornwell LLP
Terms and Conditions
The purpose of this document is to provide you with important information on how we work, how we charge for our work and to set out the terms on which we will be acting for you. Your continuing instructions will amount to your acceptance of these terms of business.
Who we are
We practise law in the United Kingdom through Dawson Cornwell LLP which is a limited liability partnership in England and Wales. We are registered at Companies House with number OC441340. We are legal advisers and it is not part of our role to advise on business or financial matters. We will not advise on any tax related aspects of a matter unless we specifically agree to do so in writing.
“Us” or “we” or “the Firm” refers to the limited liability partnership operated under English law and trading as “Dawson Cornwell” presently at 11 Staple Inn, London WC1V 7QH (Telephone +44 (0) 20 7242 2556)
Dawson Cornwell LLP is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (“SRA”) which is the regulatory body of solicitors practising in England and Wales. Our SRA number is 8000448. The SRA’s Standards and Regulations can be found at: https://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/standards-regulations/. Further details regarding the SRA and the Law Society can be found at www.sra.org.uk and www.lawsociety.org.uk respectively.
The term “partner” is used to refer to a member of Dawson Cornwell LLP or an employee of equivalent standing. A list of the members of Dawson Cornwell LLP is open to inspection at our office.
These terms and conditions together with any letter which we may send you confirming your instructions (“Engagement Letter”) are together referred to as the Retainer and the Retainer constitutes the contract between you and the Firm and all the information the SRA require us to provide.
Our overall aim is to provide you with a service which is completely satisfactory to you in every respect.
Our service commitment
We will keep you regularly informed of progress in relation to your matter and likely future timescales. At each stage, we will explain what work might need to be carried out by us.
We can be contacted by telephone, email or letter. Our normal office hours are 9:30am to 5:30pm Monday to Friday, although individuals can often be contacted outside these hours during the week. Meetings usually require a prior appointment.
Individuals working on your case
We will keep you informed in writing of the person responsible for your case and the person (if different) with day to day conduct of it. Where appropriate, other individuals may assist where this is desirable because of legal issues that arise or to handle the case in the most efficient and cost effective way. We try to avoid changing the people who handle your work but if this cannot be avoided we will inform you promptly who will be handling the matter and why the change was necessary.
We will update you on the cost of your matter at least six monthly and/or at agreed events. Whenever there is a material change in circumstances, we will update you on whether the likely outcomes still justify the likely costs and risks associated with your matter. We will continue to review whether there are alternative methods by which your matter can be funded.
We will update you on the likely timescales for each stage of this matter and any important changes in those estimates.
Provision of Information
To assist us in carrying out the work as efficiently as possible, you will need to ensure that all information provided is to the best of your knowledge complete, accurate and up to date. You should also notify us of any changes or variations to that information which may arise after the date it is passed to us and of any new circumstances that might be relevant to the work we are undertaking.
Accepting these terms and conditions
If you continue to instruct us after receiving these terms and conditions you will have accepted them. If you provide us with further instructions concerning other matters, these general terms and conditions will apply unless they have been superseded.
If we have not met you in person and if the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 apply to any matter you instruct us on, you agree:–
- That we may begin our work immediately and once that happens you have no right to cancel your instructions (this does not affect your right to terminate this agreement in accordance with its terms); and
- That unless we have agreed otherwise in writing our service may take more than 30 days to be performed.
Where we are jointly instructed by you and another client to act in a matter, we will assume that either of you are authorised to give us instructions, unless either of you advise us otherwise. In addition, as matters progress, we may need to act on instructions of other people from whom we consider it is reasonable to take instructions in order to progress the matter within the timescales set. Unless informed of any change, we will assume that this remains the case until our work is completed.
Only our client may rely on the advice we give. Where we act for a corporate entity (such as a company, LLP or statutory body) we undertake no duty of care to any other person such as the directors or shareholders of that corporate entity
FEES AND CHARGES
Basis of charge
We will provide details of our applicable charging rates at the outset of any matter. We will add VAT to our charges at the rate which applies when the work is done. Where time based charging applies (as is usual), we will charge you according to the amount of time spent dealing with your instructions. Time is recorded and charged on the basis of 6 minute units. Each member of staff has a different hourly rate depending on his/her seniority, experience and the nature of the case. Letters, emails, telephone calls or other communications that we receive are charged as one 6 minute unit or the time required to deal with them (if longer). Time recorded is rounded up to the nearest 6 minute unit. (Some routine incoming items may be charged at 3 minutes).
Secretarial assistance, which includes typing correspondence and documents and telephone calls is included within the calculation of our hourly rates. Tasks of a more administrative nature may be carried out by administrative staff or paralegals.
You can of course help to keep costs to a minimum.
Our hourly rates are reviewed on an annual basis, normally on 1st June each year. We will notify you in writing of any increased rate.
In addition to the time spent, our charges may also take into account a number of additional factors which include the complexity of the issues involved in the matter, the speed at which action must be taken, the expertise or specialist knowledge which the matter requires and, if appropriate, the value of the property or subject matter involved. Our rates may be adjusted upwards if, for example, the matter becomes more complex than expected or has to be carried out in an emergency or outside of normal working hours.
Our hourly rates are exclusive of Value Added Tax, disbursements and administrative charges. Currently, the rate is 20%.
Disbursements are charges paid to external providers on your behalf. Administration charges are internal charges which we make in place of incurring a disbursement. The most common disbursements (although this list is not exhaustive) are the fees of any external expert or barrister, court fees, search fees payable to the Land Registry, company search fees, photocopying charges, courier fees, travel expenses, charges for the transfer of funds electronically and bankers drafts, costs draftsman’s fees. VAT is payable on some of these expenses.
Administration charges may be made for photocopying, bank transfers, company searches at a variable cost, designated bank deposit accounts etc.
Disbursements and Administration charges do not form part of our hourly rate and may not be recoverable from any other party. In addition there may from time to time be unusual expenses not included in our hourly rate which will not or may not be recoverable from any other party. We will advise you of such expenses in advance.
Whilst it is often not possible to estimate charges in advance, it is open to you to notify us of any limit which you wish to impose on our charges after which further reference will be made to you. We will advise you when it appears that any costs estimates or limits are close to being exceeded. Notwithstanding any estimates or costs limits however, the final bill will be a product of the amount of time our fee earners spend on the matter and our agreed fee rates; any estimates provided are neither intended to be a cap nor a target billing figure. Therefore, if significant further work is required in addition to that currently envisaged or if the timetable is extended significantly, our fees will be greater than our indicative estimates. Should it become apparent at any time during the course of the matter that significant further work will be required, we shall of course let you know.
Third party responsibility
In certain circumstances, there may be an expectation that a third party (including an insurer) will pay your costs. We may at our discretion issue invoices to a third party funder and accept payments from them but you will remain liable to us for all charges. In the event that the third party does not pay the sums due, you will be required to pay them.
We will be entitled to raise interim bills and final bills for periods as we determine from time to time (for example, monthly). We will provide you with information as to the frequency of such bills. We will normally send you an interim statute bill for our charges and expenses at appropriate intervals while the work is in progress. This enables you to budget for costs as the matter progresses. Invoices must be settled upon delivery. We do accept payment by credit card or you may wish to set up a standing order at an early stage in order to spread the cost. Interest will be charged on any overdue bill (at the rate payable per annum on judgment debts in accordance with the current law – currently 8%) from the invoice date. If any bill is not paid by its due date or in the event of a request for payment on account not being met, we reserve the right to suspend work or to cease to act for you and will render a final account for any further work carried out to that point. All interim bills are “statute bills” unless stated to be otherwise. If you have the benefit of legal fees insurance you will nevertheless be liable to pay bills yourself in the absence of our written agreement to the contrary.
If you have any query about your bill, you should contact the person dealing with your case or the partner in charge of the department straightaway. You may have the right to object to a bill by making a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman and/or by applying to the High Court for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. This process is subject to certain limitations. For details on your rights concerning this, please consult the Solicitors Act 1974 Sections 70-72.
Money on account and guarantees (as defined by the Solicitors Act 1974)
We will normally require payment on account of future costs or expenses as a condition of our commencing or continuing to act on your behalf. In particular, we will ask you for funds in advance to cover forthcoming court hearings. It is a condition of our retainer that:–
- We will ask clients to let us have sums of money on account of costs to be incurred in the following weeks or months; this includes both our costs and anticipated disbursements. It is expected that such payments on account will be made promptly. If such payments are not paid we may decline to act or to continue to act when requested for you and will render a further account for any unbilled work carried out.
- If a barrister or other third party is required to be instructed then we will obtain a quote for their professional fees and you will be required to pay such sum to ourselves in advance of their services being retained.
- In some cases it may become necessary to request others to guarantee our fees and disbursements.
Where an estimate is given it is given in good faith and in light of our experience. However costs can sometimes be increased for reasons outside of our control including unforeseen complications or delays by other parties or the court. We will inform you if it becomes apparent that an estimate is likely to be exceeded. Estimates will be reviewed and revised according to developments in your case.
If the transaction is abortive for any reason, we reserve the right to charge you for the work carried out based upon the time we have spent on the transaction in accordance with the hourly rates quoted. We will also require you to pay for any disbursements incurred on your behalf.
We operate a client account facility which allows for money to be held or transferred in relation to a matter we are working on. However, the facility is operated at our discretion and any unauthorised receipts will be held pending further investigation or returned to the sender. Therefore, we ask that you give us advance warning of any receipts.
Any client money we hold on your behalf in our client account or on deposit is afforded the protection under the Solicitors Act 1974.
Client monies will normally be held by us in a general client account with our primary banker, HSBC UK Bank Plc in the name of Dawson Cornwell LLP.
For your information and should you be asked to make a payment to our client account, the account details are confirmed as follows:
Account holder: Dawson Cornwell LLP
Sort code 40 03 27
Account number 61329502
IBAN GB58 HBUK 40032761329502
Payment on account for our fees or disbursements
We may need to draw upon sums held for you in the client account to reimburse us for payments we have made on your behalf, for example, where we pay a court or search fee on your behalf using our own money. You will have been informed at the outset (or updated during your matter as necessary) of likely disbursements we will need to make on your behalf and some of the monies we ask you to pay on account will reflect those anticipated costs. Where it is appropriate to do so, we will deduct money from sums paid by you into our client account to reimburse us for those payments after they have been paid by us. We will not issue a bill each and every time that we make a transfer but we will ensure that you are provided with information as and when appropriate (not least a final bill at the end of the matter) to ensure that you can reconcile the payments. All transfers will be done in accordance with our regulatory obligations (including those set out in Rule 5 of the SRA Accounts Rules). For more information, see: https://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/standards-regulations/accounts-rules/
Costs recoverability in litigation
If proceedings are issued you might, under certain circumstances, be entitled to an Order for costs against the other party. Even if you are successful in your case, it is unlikely that you will receive the full amount you have been billed by us primarily because although the
court may consider it reasonable for you to incur the costs that you properly incur, it may not consider it reasonable and/or proportionate for the other party to pay all those costs. In addition, there may be some disbursements and expenses which we will be unable to recover but for which you will remain primarily responsible e.g. some travel expenses. It is rare for the system of “assessment of costs” to provide anything like a full indemnity and it is also rare for all the costs relating to the assessment hearing to be recoverable from the other party.
During the course of the case the court may make orders for costs in relation to specific applications. The court can order that those costs be paid by one party to another within a specified period.
It is important that you understand that you will be responsible for paying our bills whatever the outcome of your case. You would remain primarily responsible for payment of this firm’s bill of costs, in full, regardless of any order for costs made against your opponent. If your opponent is legally aided you may not recover your costs, even if you are successful in these proceedings.
If you are unsuccessful in court proceedings then you could be ordered to pay some or all of the other party’s costs. The person dealing with your matter will discuss these aspects with you further as the case progresses, where appropriate.
In certain circumstances recoveries may be limited to fixed costs.
If you are an executor or trustee, you would ordinarily be entitled to recover your costs from the estate/trust. However, this depends on the nature of the dispute and should not be assumed. For example, where an action is based on your conduct as an executor or trustee, and you lose the action, you may be ordered to pay the costs personally.
Disputes before tribunals or which are submitted to arbitration or other forms of dispute resolution may involve additional and/or irrecoverable costs.
OTHER FINANCIAL MATTERS
Our charges do not allow for the costs of administering the calculation and payment to clients of small amounts of interest. Accordingly, we will pay you a sum in lieu of interest (on your money which we hold in our general client account) if the “interest” in relation to any matter exceeds £200 in any period of one year ending on 5th April. The “interest” paid will reflect the rate of interest that might reasonably be obtainable on the amount in question for the period in question if placed with our bank at the time by a member of the business community. This is a variation of the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s standard requirements for solicitors, of which we are required to advise you. Payments in lieu of interest will be made within a reasonable time and in any event no later than three months after the end of the year to 5th April to which they relate.
If we pay you sums in lieu of interest on a general client account without deduction of tax, you will be responsible for declaring and paying any tax due.
If it is apparent that money held on your behalf will need to be retained for some time then such money may need to be placed in a designated deposit account in which case all of the interest accruing while the funds are so invested will be paid to you when the account is closed or on intermittent basis as agreed with you.
We can only act in reliance upon payments you make to us once these are cleared funds.
Anti Money Laundering Rules
In order to comply with legislation aimed at preventing the laundering of proceeds of crime we are required to satisfy ourselves that we are not unwittingly involved in money laundering. This means we must be satisfied as to your identity and the provenance of any funds which are received by us, or which will be dealt with through our actions. It is a condition of the Retainer that you provide us promptly with such information as we may request for these purposes. It will help us to avoid any problems with your legal work if you bear in mind the following points:-
We may need to obtain formal evidence of your identity. We will tell you if such evidence is necessary, but it will help us if you are able to bring evidence to our first meeting. Normally the evidence we would ask for is your passport, plus one or more documents to establish your address, such as recent utility bills, council tax statements or bank statements. If you cannot come in to see us so that we can check your identity documents we can accept certified copies by a trusted third party, such as a solicitor or a chartered accountant or doctor.
The identification checks required for some transactions, for example property transfers, can be more extensive, in which case you might be asked to provide additional information and documents.
We are required to retain records of the identification obtained. We may delay, decline or cease to act for you if we have requested to see proof of your identity, but there has been an unreasonable delay in providing it.
If as a result of meeting our statutory obligations, or executing our internal procedures put in place to meet those obligations in good faith, we cause you loss, damage or delay, our liability to you will not exceed the minimum level of Professional Indemnity insurance cover as specified by the SRA’s Standards and Regulations.
Please note that we cannot accept cash payments over the sum of £1000 in any 28 day period.
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 for us 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 you, please tell us as early as possible, including the reason.
If we have a reason to suspect that a transaction or funds involved in a transaction are an attempt to launder money, then we have a positive obligation to notify the National Crime Agency (NCA) of our suspicions. This duty overrides a solicitor’s duty to keep their clients’ affairs confidential. We have a duty of disclosure if our suspicion arises for any reason whether or not that reason is your failure to provide us with information. In any such event, and in most cases, we are not permitted to advise you that we have notified NCA of our suspicions. If we were to do so we would ourselves be committing a criminal offence.
You acknowledge, as a condition of the Retainer, our duty to make such disclosure as we may at our discretion consider necessary or appropriate pursuant to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, the Money Laundering Regulations 2017, the Terrorism Act 2000 and any legislation subsequently amending or supplementing any of that legislation and any other legislation which places an obligation or a duty on solicitors to disclose information in circumstances where we have a reason to suspect that the transaction or funds involved are an attempt to launder money. For the avoidance of any doubt you also acknowledge and agree, as a condition of the Retainer, that our duty of confidentiality to you is overridden by our duty to notify NCA if we have reason to suspect that a transaction or funds involved in a transaction are an attempt to launder money.
It may be necessary for your matter to be considered by a solicitor other than the person with conduct of it for the purpose of considering the application of money laundering legislation to your instructions. We may raise a time charge in relation to this work at rates equivalent to those applying to the matter.
Destination of funds
Where we are to pay money out to you, we will normally do so by cheque in your favour, or electronically into an account in your name. If instead you want us to pay money out into the name of someone other than yourself, please tell us as early as possible, including the reason.
If we are also acting for your proposed lender in a conveyancing transaction, we have a duty to fully reveal to your lender all relevant facts about the purchase and mortgage. This includes:
- any differences between your mortgage application and information we receive during the transaction
- any cash back payments or discount schemes that a seller is giving you
If your matter has been referred to us by a third party and/or we have a financial arrangement with that third party then we shall disclose all relevant details to you in our Client Care Letter including the name of the referrer and the amount of any payment we make to that third party for referring you to us. Similarly, if we receive a financial benefit as a result of acting for you, we will tell you of the amount in our Client Care Letter.
If the third party is paying us to provide services to you, we will inform you in our Client Care Letter of the amount the third party is paying us to provide services to you and, where applicable, the amount you are obliged to pay the third party.
Despite any financial relationship with a third party, we will provide you with independent advice and you are entitled to and we hope that you will feel happy to raise questions with us about any aspect of your matter.
Any information you provide to us or any advice that we give you during your matter will not be shared with the third party unless you expressly agree.
However, please note that if we are acting both for you and the third party in this matter, we may have to stop acting for both of you if there is a conflict of interest.
CONTROL OF INFORMATION
Email and voicemail
We may communicate with you by email unless you inform us to the contrary. In such cases, you may wish to take steps to ensure that email we send to you is
received solely by the intended addressee. Documents sent to you by email will not be encrypted and it is your responsibility to protect your computer system from viruses and other code or devices which may be harmful. We accept no liability for any such items that any email from us may contain. We cannot guarantee the security of emails or when they will arrive. If any expected message has failed to reach you please contact us immediately. We are not responsible for any loss or damage caused by emails arriving late or by email security being broken.
Unless you instruct us that your voicemail and email are not secure, we may leave messages on your voicemail and/or send you emails. If you do not wish us to do so, please let us know immediately.
Our electronic mail may be monitored for compliance with the SRA’s and our regulatory practices and procedures. We use filtering software to protect our systems. This means that email communication may not reach the person to whom it is addressed. You should check for receipt by other means of communication if your email is urgent.
There is no confidentiality between joint clients. Unless you tell us otherwise we are authorised to reveal any information relating to a matter to any other professional adviser or other third party who is assisting you in relation to that matter.
Conflicts between your interests and those of another client may arise. If there is a conflict of interest, we might have to cease acting for you. Conflicts may arise (amongst other reasons) because:
We have discovered information while acting for another client which we would normally be bound to disclose to you; and
To disclose that information conflicts with our duty to that other client.
Conflicts may also arise in transactions in which we are also acting for a lender in which case we may have to stop acting for you, the lender or both. If that happens, we have the right to withhold that information and terminate our engagement with you. We may also cease to act in a particular matter for the other client involved. All fees and disbursements and VAT up to the date of termination will be charged and become due.
It is our practice to check for conflicts of interest before taking on work. We provide many different services and cannot be certain that we will identify all situations where there may be a conflict. We therefore ask you to notify us promptly of any potential conflict of which you are or may become aware.
We are entitled to provide information concerning your matters in confidence to our auditors or professional indemnity insurers or our regulatory bodies and you waive your legal professional privilege to the extent necessary for us to do so.
In order for us to deal with your matter promptly, we sometimes arrange for certain tasks to be carried out by persons not directly employed by us. These tasks usually consist of administrative or clerical work (such as typing, photocopying or filing). Where we do this, it will mean that the contents of your file (including information about yourself) must be provided to them in order to perform the tasks. We will always try to have a confidentiality agreement in place with such persons. If you do not wish us to allow persons who are not directly employed to carry out such tasks, you must inform us to that effect.
Duties to the court
If we are acting for you in connection with Court proceedings, we must comply with our duties to that court. In some circumstances, our duties to the Court outweigh our obligations to our clients.
We must not mislead the Court, nor be complicit in another person deceiving or misleading the Court. If during the course of acting for you, we become aware that we have inadvertently misled the Court, or that you have misled the Court or committed perjury, we would have to inform the Court immediately, or, if you do not consent to us doing this, we would have to cease to act.
Should we receive requests, either directly from you or from accountants and/or auditors for confirmation as to whether we are instructed on your behalf, our response may be addressed either to them directly or to you for onward transmission. We may raise a charge for this if it appears to us appropriate to do so.
Such requests may require us to confirm whether any matters are of a litigious nature, whether any deeds or documents are retained by us on your behalf and also whether there are any outstanding bills owed by you to us or work in progress at any given point in time.
How we use your data
We are registered as a Data Controller with the Information Commissioners Office. We will use the information that you give us to provide you with legal services, as per your instructions. We will keep your information confidential and will use it for the purpose(s) for which it was provided or as is permitted in law (i.e. for dealing with complaints or regulatory investigations) or as otherwise authorised by you specifically or more generally in these terms and conditions.
Outsourcing of our services
Sometimes we have outsourcing arrangements with external companies which cover a range of services including, but not limited to secretarial and administration support, credit control and tele- conferencing facilities to ensure that our services are provided promptly and efficiently. Personal data and confidential information that we hold may be passed to these providers in order for them to undertake these services. In doing so we will always take care to ensure that your information remains confidential and safe. In particular, we have confidentiality agreements in place with each of the providers.
If you are a client under the legal aid scheme then we may be contractually required to share some or all of that information with the Legal Aid Agency and / or with our quality assurance auditors.
Occasionally, we may need to share some or all of your information with our quality assurance auditors for the purposes of their assessment of whether we are adhering to quality standards. In particular, our files may need to be assessed for quality purposes by for example a Lexcel or Conveyancing Quality Scheme assessor and your file may be one of a sample which is to be assessed. Any examination will be strictly controlled and will be shared for the sole purpose of ensuring that our handling of your matter meets the requirements of the quality standard.
We may have to share some or all of your information with other third parties. This may include barristers, experts and other third parties who we need to instruct to assist us with your matter. We may also have to share information with the Legal Ombudsman (if you complain about our services) and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (the statutory body that regulates solicitors). In doing so we will always take care to ensure that your information remains confidential and safe. We will liaise with you during your case about which experts, barristers and other third parties we instruct on your behalf.
We may also choose to share on an anonymised basis some of your information with legal directories and legal services schemes.
How long will we hold your data?
We will only hold your information for as long as necessary to provide you with legal services and then for only so long as we are required either contractually or under our regulatory obligations. In most cases this will not be more than six years after the end of your matter. After this time, we will confidentially destroy all information that we hold about you (in accordance with the clauses below relating to storage and retrieval) other than your name, address and date of birth which we will be obliged to continue to hold for the purposes of ensuring that we never act for another client where doing so would conflict with our obligations of confidentiality to you.
QUALITY OF SERVICE
Client Satisfaction and complaints
Our aim is to provide a service with which you will be completely satisfied. However, we do realise that on some occasions your expectations may not be met or that you may have a query or concern. If you are dissatisfied about any aspect of the service you receive or about any invoice we render, initially please raise your concerns with the person with conduct of your case. If that person cannot resolve them to your satisfaction or you would not wish to speak to that person, then please contact the person named who has overall responsibility for your matter. If you are still dissatisfied, please write to Stephen Harker, Managing Partner. All solicitors are obliged to attempt to resolve problems that clients may have with the service provided. It is therefore important that you immediately raise your concerns with us. We value you and would not wish to think that you have any reason to be unhappy with our service.
We have a written complaints procedure. If you would like to receive a copy of it, please contact the person with conduct of your case.
We have eight weeks to consider your complaint. If for any reason we are unable to resolve the problem between us within that timeframe, then you may ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider the complaint. The Legal Ombudsman may be contacted at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ.
Please be aware that any complaint to the Legal Ombudsman must usually be made within six months of your having received a final written response from us about your complaint. Complaints to the Legal Ombudsman must usually be made within one year of the act or omission about which you are complaining occurring or from when you should have known about or become aware that there were grounds for complaint.
For further information, you should contact the Legal Ombudsman on 0300 555 0333 or visit: www.legalombudsman.org.uk.
If you withhold payment of our bill either in full or in part whilst a complaint is being considered, we will be entitled to charge interest on the outstanding sum as set out above.
If you think a solicitor might be dishonest or you have concerns about their ethics or integrity, you also have the right to notify our regulator, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). There are no time limits for making a report but there are limits on what the SRA will consider. Please note that the SRA is not able to deal with issues of poor service (complaints of this nature should instead be referred to the Legal Ombudsman). For further information about the SRA’s role, please visit: https://www.sra.org.uk/consumers/
Equality & Diversity
We have a strong commitment to embracing as well as promoting equality and diversity in the relationships we have with our clients, our employees as well as with third parties. If you would like to see our equality and diversity policy please let us know.
When instructing third parties, e.g. barristers, we will not take into account the individual’s sex, race, religion, age (unless justifiable), sexual orientation or any disability. In the event that you insist that we do so, we may have to cease acting for you.
Our services are provided in accordance with the provisions in our Quality Manual as published from time to time, a copy of which is available on request.
The current edition of our terms and conditions of business is available at any time on our website or on request.
By accepting this Retainer, you accept that you are dealing solely with Dawson Cornwell and that there is no individual acceptance or assumption of responsibility by any partner or employee or agent of Dawson Cornwell personally for carrying out any work. The firm is covered by solicitors’ professional liability insurance. Our insurers are Qualifying Insurers who are authorised by the FCA to conduct general insurance business in the UK and have signed the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s Qualifying Insurer’s Agreement. Territorial coverage is worldwide.
To the extent permissible by law, you agree that our aggregate liability to you for any demands, claims, actions, proceedings, damages, payments losses, costs and expenses arising in relation to any one transaction or matter (or series of connected transactions or matters) on which you are instructing us is limited to
£2,000,000 (two million pounds sterling) unless we expressly state a higher amount in the Engagement Letter accompanying these terms and conditions. This limitation will not exclude or limit our liability for fraud or for reckless disregard of professional obligations which cannot lawfully be excluded or limited. Where this letter is addressed to more than one client the above limit of liability applies to the aggregate of all claims by all clients and not separately to each client.
Document storage and file retrieval
As part of our overall service we store most files for a period of at least 6 years after the matter is concluded on the understanding that we have your authority to destroy the file 6 years after the date of our final bill. Please note that we do not destroy files relating to the preparation of a Will until 6 years after the death of the client concerned. We will not destroy any documents we have agreed at your request to keep in safe custody. Where files are particularly bulky we may request you to take delivery of them.
Files are often stored offsite and we need at least 7 days notice if you require your file. We may charge for time spent at your request retrieving papers and documents, delivering papers and documents or for any reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your request. If we agree to retain important original documents such as title deeds, trust deeds and wills, we will not charge you for this service unless we agree otherwise or after giving you one month’s written notice that we propose to do so.
Dawson Cornwell does not accept any continuing responsibility to notify you of any changes in the law which take place after the termination of your retainer. By accepting a document for storage, Dawson Cornwell does not accept any continuing responsibility to notify you of any changes in the law which may affect the effectiveness of any of the terms of that document, including, in the case of a Will, any tax planning arrangements. By accepting any property deeds for
storage, Dawson Cornwell does not accept any continuing responsibility to notify you of any changes in the law which might affect your title to the property, nor for reminding you about dates for serving break, termination or renewal notices or in respect of rent reviews.
We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (formerly the Financial Services Authority). However, our firm is included on the Exempt Professional Firms Register maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority so that we can carry on insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the advising on, selling and administration of insurance contracts. This is 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 via the Financial Conduct Authority website at www.fca.gov.uk
We do not generally sell or advise on insurance policies except those that are required in relation to our conveyancing and litigation practices. In conveyancing work, clients may encounter a problem that can be overcome by the taking out of a suitable insurance policy such as to protect against a defect in the title to a property. Similarly, in litigation, ‘after the event’ insurance may be obtained by us on behalf of a client to protect against the costs the client may incur when making a claim. Should we identify a problem that cannot readily be overcome without taking out such a policy, we will inform clients at the appropriate time.
If we are requested to recommend an insurer, we will advise the client about the range of legal indemnity insurers we have checked before recommending a particular policy and, if it is not on a fair market analysis, we will explain the basis upon which the recommendation has been made and will check the suitability of any such policy. If we are requested to assist in the arranging of any insurance on behalf of a client, we will inform the client of all necessary information by means of a written ‘demand and needs statement’.
If we recommend a referral to a particular insurer, we shall do so in good faith but we shall not be liable to you for any advice or assistance you may be given by them. Furthermore, you will not be afforded the regulatory protection of the SRA and shall not be entitled to the benefit of the SRA Compensation Fund in relation to those insurance services.
Sometimes the work we are likely to carry out for you can involve investments. We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (previously the Financial Services Authority) and so may refer a client to someone who is authorised to provide any necessary investment advice. However, we can provide certain limited services in relation to investments provided they are closely linked with the legal services we are providing to a client, as we are members of the Law Society of England and Wales.
If we recommend a referral to a particular firm, agency or business to provide you with investment advice, we shall do so in good faith but we shall not be liable to you for any advice you may be given by them. Furthermore, if that firm, agency or business is not another firm of solicitors you will not be afforded the regulatory protection of the SRA and shall not be entitled to the benefit of the SRA Compensation Fund.
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 SRA is the independent regulatory body of the Law Society and the Legal Ombudsman is the independent complaints handling body of the Law Society.
Subject to any written agreement to the contrary, any money that we hold for you will be deposited in a client bank account or accounts with a clearing bank or banks (“our banks”) in accordance with the requirements of the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules as varied from time to time. The relevant bank currently is HSBC. In accordance with established practice, your funds may be pooled with those of other clients in one or more general client accounts.
We shall not be liable to account to you to the extent that your money is or may be comprised within any client funds held by any of our banks which are not available to us for withdrawal or transfer (including without limit by reason of any action, inaction, default, legal requirement or insolvency in relation to any of our banks) nor for any loss arising therefrom.
The Financial Service Compensation Scheme will apply to the funds which we hold on your behalf up to the limit of £85,000. This limit applies to the total of funds
which you hold with the relevant deposit taking institution and will therefore include any which you deposit separately with the same institution. You should bear in mind that the compensation applies only once in relation to each institution, even where it is trading under a number of different brands/names.
Confirmation of our bank details
Our bank account details will be confirmed to you at the outset of the matter. We will not be changing our bank account details during the course of dealing with your matter so the account details we have confirmed in the body of these terms and conditions will stay the same throughout the lifetime of your matter.
It is very important that you are aware that we will not notify you of changes to our bank account details by email. We will only notify you of changes to important business information, including bank account details, in official correspondence which will be sent by postal mail.
If you ever receive any other communication purporting to come from us and which purports to change our bank account details or to request that you send funds to another account, please do not rely on this and immediately contact the person at this firm handling your matter by telephone. Even if the request appears to have come from us, you must never send funds to another account unless you have verified this with us.
We cannot take any responsibility for any losses where funds are transferred to other accounts that have not been verified by us.
Sending funds to our bank account(s)
Prior to transferring any funds to our account, we recommend you contact us to verify our account details. Wherever possible, you should contact the contact the person at this firm handling your matter by telephone.
Our firm sending funds to you
We may not agree to send any funds to you unless it is to a pre-agreed bank account which we have verified.
You must take care to protect your own data and bank account details. Confirming your bank details by email should be avoided.
For all new matters, the person with conduct of your matter will contact you by telephone to verify your bank account details, prior to our sending funds to you. We are sorry if this causes any delay to the processing of payments but we do consider that these steps are necessary to help protect you and your money from fraud.
If you are a long-standing client of the firm and/or a client to whom we have previously transferred funds and your bank account details have not changed we will rely on our previous transactions rather than contact you via telephone for verification unless circumstances exist which increase the level of risk or we otherwise consider it appropriate to do so.
If any of the terms on which you engage us is or becomes illegal, invalid or unenforceable to any extent then that term can and shall be severed from the remaining terms to the extent it is illegal, invalid or unenforceable and the remaining terms shall remain valid and enforceable.
Assignment and novation
We may assign the benefit of this Retainer to any partnership or corporate body which carries on the business of the Firm in succession to the Firm and you agree to accept performance of our obligations under the Retainer by such assignee in substitution for performance by us.
Third party rights
Our advice is given to you and our services are provided to you as our client in accordance with your instructions and for your benefit only. Our advice should not be passed on as advice to any third party and we accept no liability to any third party.
No provision of this Retainer is intended to be enforceable by any third party pursuant to the Contract (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999. Accordingly no third party shall have any right to enforce any provision of this Retainer.
Only the client named in our Engagement Letter enclosing these terms and conditions may rely upon our advice and should any information be provided to any third party by you or at your request (either with or without our consent) you undertake to inform them that we accept no responsibility to them for it.
We retain all copyright and other intellectual property rights in everything developed by us either before or
during the course of carrying out any work for you provided that you will have the full right to distribute copies of these materials within your own organisation and will be licensed to use it for any purpose expressly referred to prior to our retainer.
Our advice is provided to you and may not, without our prior written consent, be disclosed to any other party. You will not refer to us or our advice in any public document or communication without our prior written consent.
Suspension of our obligations
Our obligations to provide legal services to you will be suspended during any period where this is reasonably required for reasons beyond our control.
All of our advice is given on the basis of the laws of England and Wales. To the extent we advise on documents governed by the laws of other jurisdictions, we will not be advising on any specific implications of the laws of those jurisdictions. Our retainer is subject to English law and the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.
Litigation: documents and ceasing to act
We will be authorised to accept the service of documents on your behalf sent by a court or other party with whom you are in dispute unless we receive your written instructions to the contrary or (in our discretion) decline to do so or the documents in question may only be served personally.
If we cease to act for you (for whatever reason) you agree to send to the court and every other party involved in the case a notice. The notice will state that we are no longer acting for you and, if appropriate, indicate who then is. You agree to do this immediately upon us ceasing to act for you. Your new solicitors may do this for you. However, if you do not do this (or your new solicitors do not do this) then you authorise us to send to the court and the other parties a notice indicating that we have ceased acting for you. If we send the notice then you agree that the notice will indicate your address for correspondence as your official address for service of documents relating to the case and will show you as acting in person. If we are required to make an application to be removed from the court record, we reserve the right to make a further charge in respect of that application.
In the event that any of these terms and conditions is held to be invalid, the remainder of the terms and conditions will remain in full force and effect.
Unless otherwise agreed, and subject to the application of then current hourly rates, these Terms and Conditions of Business shall apply to any future instructions given by you to us. Although your continuing instructions in this matter will amount to an acceptance of these terms and conditions of business, it will be helpful if you will please sign and return one copy of them for us to retain on our file.
As this is an important document, please keep your copy in a safe place for future reference.
If the instructions you have given us have not been given at a face to face meeting between us, you would have, normally, a right to cancel these instructions (and the agreement between us) within fourteen days of our receiving them. A form of notice to cancel is set out below. It should be delivered in hard copy or by email to the person who sent you these terms and conditions.
To Dawson Cornwell:
I cancel the contract for your services with immediate effect on the matter described below.
Unless the Engagement Letter indicates otherwise you are not able to cancel this agreement in respect of any work you asked us to do before cancellation. If you wish to reconsider and defer the start of our work, please let us know immediately.
Termination by you
You may withdraw your instructions at any time by written notice to us.
Should your matter not be carried through to completion then a charge will be made in respect of the work that has already been completed based upon the fee structure that has been agreed. VAT or similar taxes will be payable on that amount and you will also be billed for any disbursements incurred.
We will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents whilst there is money owing to us for our fees and expenses.
Termination by us
In some circumstances, we may consider that we ought to cease acting for you. We will only decline to act further for you where we have reasonable grounds to do so (for example: failure by you to settle invoices in full on the due date or to make payments in advance when so requested; failure by you to give clear and proper instructions on how we are to proceed; if it is clear that you have lost confidence in how we are carrying out your instructions; if by continuing to act we would be in breach of the law or rules of professional conduct). If we do cease to act for you then we will confirm in writing the reasons why and give you reasonable notice.