Terms of Business

 

We have prepared this page to make our terms and conditions of business as clear and understandable as possible, and to anticipate, as best we can, any queries you may have about working with us. However, we are always pleased to discuss any issues further if required.

The following areas are covered in these terms of business:

  1. Service Standards and Responsibilities

  2. Service Exclusions

  3. Anti-money laundering obligations

  4. Confidentiality

  5. Acting for your lender

  6. Financial matters

  7. Interest on money owed to you

  8. Costs

  9. Additional Disbursements

  10. Insurance Advice

  11. Professional indemnity insurance

  12. Equality and diversity

  13. Anti-Bribery Policy

  14. Data protection

  15. Use of email

  16. Complaints

  17. Storage of papers

  18. Review of files

  19. Limitation of liability

  20. Applicable law

21. Ending our services

22. Acceptance of Terms of Business

 

1. Service Standards 

We aim to provide you with high standards of service at all times. We are also committed to the Code of Conduct laid down by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.

We will:

  • keep you regularly informed in writing of progress with your matter;

  • communicate with you in plain language;

  • explain to you in writing the legal work which is required as your matter progresses;

  • keep you advised of the likely timescales for each stage of this matter and any material changes in those estimates;

  • provide the name of the person or persons who are dealing on a day to day basis with your matter;

  • provide the name of the supervising Partner if applicable;

  • if necessary, transfer your matter to a new Fee Earner and you will be notified of this;

 

Our Responsibilities

To achieve the best possible outcome in your case, we need to work together with you. We will:

  • review your matter regularly;

  • advise you on the law;

  • follow your instructions; (if applicable) 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.

You need to:

  • provide us with clear and timely instructions;

  • provide us promptly with the information and documents required to complete the transaction;

  • tell us if you do not understand anything. We want you to be happy with our service and to make it as smooth as possible. We are here to help you. It is important that you read and understand all communications we send to you. By signing any paperwork you are confirming that you have read, understood and agree the same.

2. Service Exclusions

Our service exclusions are set out below. They may only be overridden or added to, by notice from us in writing: -

Property maters only

  • We make no comment on the state and condition of any property and its services, nor on the contents of any valuation or survey sent to us, save for any part requiring specific legal comment. If you are in any doubt, you should consult a surveyor or structural engineer or other expert as appropriate. Furthermore, we can provide no comment or advice on the sale or purchase price of any property. You should always obtain an independent valuation on a purchase and in the event of a sale, three estate agent valuations.

  • We will carry out an environmental search for a residential purchase, unless you have no lender and you instruct us in writing not to. We will only carry out such a search for a commercial matter if you instruct us to do so. We will supply copies of any search carried out to you and your lender (if any), but we will not make any comment on, nor attempt to interpret, the results. If you are in any doubt you should consult an appropriate environmental expert.

Wills:

  • We make no comment on the terms of your Will including executors, beneficiaries, charities etc. Your choices are yours, and we will give effect to your wishes.

Lasting Powers of Attorney:

  • We make no comment on your chosen attorney(s) and or replacement attorney(s). We make no comment on your decisions made eg life sustaining treatment and the use of a discretionary management scheme.

All Matters:

  • Tax advice is specifically excluded from our retainer and you should consult a tax expert on any tax issues arising. We can recommend a tax expert to you on request. This includes Capital Gains Tax, Inheritance Tax, Income Tax and Stamp Duty Land Tax.

  • We make no comment on the financial or commercial viability of any agreed terms you have negotiated, nor on the amount of any property valuation. We do not make any comment on investments held, savings accounts, pensions or life assurance. 

  • Any advice we give will be provided solely to the entity which or individual who instructs us as our client and solely for the purpose for which we were instructed.

  • Our advice may not be used or relied on for any other purpose or by any other person without our express prior written agreement.

  • Our advice may not be disclosed to any other person without our express prior written agreement.

  • We may transfer our rights and obligations under these Terms of Business to another organisation, and we will always notify you in writing if this happens, but this will not affect our rights or obligations under these Terms of Business.

  • Unless expressly stated, the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 shall not apply to the retainer. No person who is not a party to the retainer shall have the right to enforce any term of it.

  • Unless we agree otherwise, we retain the copyright in any documents we prepare for you.

3. Anti-Money Laundering obligations

Evidence of identity

The law requires lawyers, banks, building societies and others to obtain satisfactory evidence of the identity of their client and, at times, people related to the client or their case. This is because lawyers who deal with money and property on behalf of their client can be used by criminals wanting to launder money.

In order to comply with the law on money laundering, we need to obtain evidence of your identity as soon as practicable, and in any event before we can proceed with your matter. 

You are requested to supply; one item from List A and one item from List B of the Identification Checklist. We will also carry out an electronic Anti-Money Laundering search on all clients. This will not affect your credit score.

4. Confidentiality

We are under a professional and legal obligation to keep details of your case confidential. This obligation, however, is subject to a statutory exception, which may require a lawyer who knows or suspects that a transaction on behalf of a client may involve money laundering or terrorist financing to make a disclosure to the National Crime Agency.

If we are required to make a disclosure in relation to your matter, we may not be able to inform you that a disclosure has been made. We may also have to cease acting in your matter for a period of time and may not be able to tell you the reasons for it.

We outsource the provision of IT support and our administration operations. We also outsource the typing and production of some documentation. We may, on occasion, need to outsource other work to people outside TMT Legal Services, e.g. copying. Our agreements with suppliers are subject to confidentiality requirements to protect your information.

5. Acting for your lender (Property Matters only)

We may also be acting for your proposed lender in this transaction. This means we have a duty to make full disclosure to your lender of all relevant facts relating to you, your transaction and mortgage. That will include disclosure of any discrepancies between the mortgage application and information provided to us during the transaction and any cashback payments or discount schemes which the transaction may involve. If a conflict of interest arises, we must cease to act for you in this matter. Should your lender appoint alternative solicitors, we reserve the right to increase our estimate.

6. Financial matters

It is our policy to NOT accept cash payments from clients. 

Where we have to pay money to you, it will be paid by bank transfer. It will not be paid in cash, by cheque or to a third party.

If we are instructed jointly on a transaction and you require monies to be paid into a sole account, unless you advise us to the contrary, we will comply with your instructions.

7. Interest on money owed to you

As part of carrying out your instructions to us we may need to hold your money in our client account.  In holding client’s money, we have an obligation to pay interest on that money at a fair and reasonable rate.

We aim to account to you for interest at a reasonable rate of interest, however, as the holding of your funds is incidental to the carrying out of your legal instructions, the rate is unlikely to be as high as the rate you may be able to obtain when depositing the money with your bank. Any money received on your behalf will be held in our practice’s client account. Money held by us (and accrued interest or fair sums in lieu of interest) may be taken by us in payment or part payment of our invoices or expenses paid on your behalf, whether overdue or related to the subject matter of the invoice or disbursement or not. This will include invoices, expenses and monies held for or on behalf of persons or entities associated with you or in which you have an interest, unless specifically excluded in writing. 

Subject to certain minimum amounts and periods of time interest will be calculated and paid to you at the rate from time to time payable on our Client Account. The period for which interest will be paid will normally run from the date(s) on which funds are received by us, until the date(s) that cheque(s) are issued. Any interest accrued will only be paid to you provided the interest received by the firms’ bank is in excess of £20 (minimum amount). We will not pay out any interest for any monies held in our client account under 10 working days (period of time).

All monies held by us for you will be deposited with a bank or banks that we consider to be reputable. However, we cannot guarantee the security of money held in our client bank account(s) against the risk of losses arising from the failure or default of any bank. If any bank should fail to remit such money to you, to us or to a third party on your behalf, we will have no liability to make good any shortfall or to otherwise compensate you for any loss arising as a result, unless we acted in breach of our  contractual or other duties to you when choosing our bank(s). In that case, our aggregate liability to you and any other person who suffer loss as a result of the failure of any bank to remit money held for you shall be limited to a maximum of £2 million.

8. Costs

We have agreed an estimated fee with you in accordance with our Client Care Letter. Disbursements and VAT are payable in addition to that amount.

Property Matters Only

We will send you a receipted invoice on completion and our fees will be included in our Completion Statement and deducted on the Completion Date from the balance held in your client account.  Where monies are required from you to complete, these must be cleared into our account no later than one working day prior to completion.

If you are obtaining funding for this purchase from a mortgage lender, we will ask for the loan advance in cleared funds one working day before the completion date. This will enable us to ensure that the necessary funds are available in time for completion. The lender may charge interest from the date of issue of their loan or the telegraphing of the payment. For more information on these charges contact the lender directly.

The Disbursements listed in our Client Care Letter are not fixed and are set by third parties e.g. HMRC, Land Registry etc. From time to time these third parties amend their pricing, offer incentives or remove incentives e.g. first-time buyer stamp duty relief. TMT Legal Services will advise you in writing if between the Client Care Letter and the completion/ registration of your property (in the case of a purchase) there is a price adjustment. We will provide you with as much notice as possible.

Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Deputyship

The Disbursements listed in our Client Care Letter are not fixed and are set by third parties e.g. Office of the Public Guardian, Land Registry etc. From time to time these third parties amend their pricing. TMT Legal Services will advise you in writing if between the Client Care Letter and the completion of your matter,  there is a price adjustment. We will provide you with as much notice as possible.

Probate

The Disbursements listed in our Client Care Letter are not fixed and are set by third parties e.g. Probate Registry, Land Registry etc. From time to time these third parties amend their pricing. TMT Legal Services will advise you in writing if between the Client Care Letter and the completion of the matter there is a price adjustment. We will provide you with as much notice as possible. When our time costs exceed £500 + Vat we will send you an interim invoice. This interim invoice will either be payable from the estate funds we are holding, or will be payable by the executors within 7 days of delivery.

All Matters

We will send you a receipted invoice on completion of your matter.

 

Any estimate will not be fixed and will be based on the current information we have. Various factors may increase the estimate and/or our hourly rate such as: - particular urgency, greater complexity, increased postal cost i.e. recorded/special/courier delivery, travel costs, more work required than expected, unsocial hours of working, the value and /or monetary importance of the subject matter involved.

Our final bill is payable either on completion of the matter or within 7 days of delivery, whichever is the sooner. We reserve the right to charge you interest on unpaid bills at 4% over HSBC Bank Plc per year, from 7 days after the delivery of our bill.  If someone else has agreed to pay our fees and expenses, but does not do so, you are still responsible for them.

We reserve the right to stop acting for you if you fail to pay any of our fees or disbursements when requested by us.

9. Additional Disbursements

It may be necessary for us to incur additional disbursements for example additional searches may be required on a property purchase or a management company pack may be required on a property sale. We will only be able to advise you of additional disbursements once they become known to us.

10. Insurance advice

We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA). The register can be accessed via the Financial Services Authority website at www.fsa.gov.uk/register.

The Law Society is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, but responsibility for regulation has been separated from the Law Society’s representative functions. The Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) is the independent regulatory body of the Law Society. The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints against lawyers.

11. Professional indemnity insurance

Firms are required to take out and maintain qualifying insurance. Details of TMT Legal Services’ insurance can be obtained from our office on request.

12. Equality and diversity

 We are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of our dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our equality and diversity policy.

13. Anti-Bribery Policy

We have an Anti-bribery Policy and associated procedures which apply to all our employees or third parties working on our behalf and to all our business dealings and relationships, including those with our clients.

The policy prohibits the giving of, offering, promising to give or offer, receiving or agreeing to receive, a payment, gift or transfer of anything of value, including the provision of any service, hospitality or entertainment, on our behalf, for the purpose of improperly obtaining or retaining business or for any improper purpose or business or personal advantage or with the expectation or hope that such an advantage will be obtained, or to reward an advantage already given.

The policy specifically prohibits such payments, gifts or transfers of anything of value and dealings with government officials or representatives, politicians or political parties.

We expect anyone providing services to or seeking to win business from us, to have similar policies.

A copy of our Anti-Bribery Policy is available on request. The Policy specifically excludes where we have entered into a referral agreement with an introducer whom has recommended our services to you in return for a referral fee and we have disclosed this agreement to you in our Client Care letter.

14. Data protection

 We use the information you provide primarily for the provision of legal services to you and for related purposes including:

  • updating and enhancing client records;

  • analysis for management purposes and statutory returns; and

  • legal and regulatory compliance.
     

Our use of that information is subject to your instructions, the Data Protection Act 1998 and our duty of confidentiality. Please note that our work for you may require us to disclose information to third parties such as HMRC, Land Registry and other legal advisers. You have a right of access under data protection legislation to the personal data that we hold about you.

We may from time to time send you information which we think might be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive that information please notify our office in writing.

A more detailed list of the purposes for which we may process personal data can be obtained from the Information Commissioner or from the website www.ico.gov.uk

 15. Use of Email

We are able and willing to communicate with you regarding your matter/s via email. However, it is important that you take into account the following and understand the basis on which we are prepared to do so.

Email communications with you are on the basis that you accept the risks involved, including that our messages to one another could be read, changed or deleted by third parties without either your or our knowledge; there may be delay in receiving email and receipt is not guaranteed. Differences between our systems may cause text to be indecipherable or lost.

Email is not a secure means of communication and accordingly we accept no liability for any loss caused as a result of communication via email, including for breach of confidentiality.

To protect our computer system certain types of attachment may be caught in our firewall. If you wish to send attachments, please ensure they are of a size and type that will not be caught, as delay may occur in these circumstances. No liability is accepted by us in such circumstances.

There may be certain instructions from you that we will not accept from you by email e.g. we will not send our bank details nor receive your bank details by email. We will advise you accordingly in such a situation.

We make every effort to ensure that we do not transmit viruses through the use of virus checking software and a computer firewall system. However, we do not accept liability for any loss caused by any virus transmitted to our clients' systems. Please ensure you have appropriate virus protection in place to safeguard your systems.

16. Complaints Policy and Procedure

TMT Legal Services is committed to high quality legal advice and client care.  If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service please initially take this matter up with the lawyer acting for you. In the event that you do not feel that this course of action is appropriate, or fully exhausted, please contact Claire Terrill on 02382 547601 or claire.terrill@tmtlegalservices.com or by post to our office at TMT House, 12 The Marsh, Hythe, Southampton, SO45 6AL.  A copy of our Complaints Policy and Procedure is available on request via our offices.

We must be given the opportunity to address and resolve your issue following the firm’s internal complaints procedure.

If, having followed our complaints procedure you remain dissatisfied with our handling of your matter, or our handling of your complaint, you may refer your concerns to The Legal Ombudsman after an eight week period. The Legal Ombudsman will not deal with your complaint until such a time as our internal Complaints Policy and Procedure has been fully extinguished. Please also note that you are required to refer any complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within 6 months of the date of our final written response to you.

Legal Ombudsman PO Box 6806 Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ Website: www.legalombudsman.org.uk    E-mail: enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk  Telephone: 0300 555 0333

We would also draw your right to seek redress under the Online Dispute Resolution guidelines. Further information can be found about the Online Dispute Resolution procedure at https://ec.europe.eu/consumers/odr/

17. Storage of papers

We will keep our electronic file (except any of your papers which you ask to be returned to you) for the following:-

Property Matters

  • for purchase files no less than sixteen years. We will keep the electronic file on the understanding that we have the authority to destroy it sixteen years after the date of the final bill we send to you for this matter. We will return any deeds to you upon completion of your matter.

  • for sale and all other property matters six years. We will keep the electronic file on the understanding that we have the authority to destroy it six years after the date of the final bill we send to you for this matter. We will return any deeds to you upon completion of your matter.

Wills, Lasting Power of Attorney and Probate Matters

They will be kept for no less than six years. We will keep the electronic file on the understanding that we have the authority to destroy it six years after the date of the final bill we send to you for this matter.

All Matters

Files for matters that do not proceed may be destroyed immediately. If we retrieve files from storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act for you, we will not normally charge for such retrieval. However we may charge you for:

a. time spent producing stored papers requested; and

b.  reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions in relation to the retrieved papers.

18. Review of files

Our practice is subject to audit or quality checks by external firms or organisations. These external firms or organisations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files.

19. Limitation of liability

Our liability to you for a breach of your instructions shall be limited to £2 million. 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 profits or opportunities.

These limitations apply only to the extent that they are permitted by law. In particular they do not apply to any liability for death or personal injury caused by negligence.

You agree that our liability is limited in the following respects:

  • It is TMT Legal Services that is liable, not an individual partner or member of staff; you agree to make no claim against an individual except for fraud;

  • our maximum liability for any mistake (except for fraud) is £2 million

  • this overall limit applies whether the mistake affects just one piece of work we do for you or several, so long as it is the same or a similar mistake;

  • for the purpose of the overall limit, more than one mistake on a matter or transaction is considered as one mistake;

  • we are liable for loss that we directly cause and for any indirect or consequential loss or loss of anticipated profit or other benefit, where that total liability does not exceed £2 million. Otherwise we have no liability for any direct, indirect or consequential loss or loss of anticipated profit or other benefit;

  • we are not liable to the extent that our mistake results from something you do or fail to do (such as giving us the wrong information, or not giving us information at the time we ask for it);

  • if others are also responsible for your loss, our liability is limited to our fair share, whether or not you are able to recover the rest from the others; and

  • we are not liable for acts or omissions of agents appointed by us in good faith.
     

All warranties, conditions and other terms implied by statute or common law are, to the fullest extent permitted by law, excluded from our relationship with you.

Nothing in these terms shall restrict or limit your general obligation at law to mitigate a loss which you may incur as a result of any mistake we make.

20. Applicable law

Any dispute or legal issue arising from our Terms of Business will be determined by English law and will be submitted to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.

21. Ending our services

You may end your instructions to us in writing at any time, but we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owing to us for charges and expenses.

We may decide to stop acting for you only with good reason. For example, if you do not pay an interim bill or there is a conflict of interest. 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 will be required to pay for the expenses which we have already paid and a percentage of our fees which is considered reasonable to cover the work we have already undertaken.

22. Acceptance of Terms of Business

This document and our Client Care letter contain the entire agreement and understanding between us about the terms and conditions upon which we propose to act for you in this matter. You acknowledge that you have not relied on any assurance of whatever nature (including any innocent or negligent misrepresentation or misstatement) which is not expressly set out in this documentation. Your continuing instructions in this matter will amount to your acceptance of these terms and conditions of business. In such an event we will keep you informed of our progress.

By signing any paperwork we send you, you are confirming you have read, understood and accept the terms and contents.The Disbursements listed in our Client Care Letter are not fixed and are set by third parties e.g. HMRC, Land Registry etc. From time to time these third parties amend their pricing, offer incentives or remove incentives e.g. first-time buyer stamp duty relief. TMT Legal Services will advise you in writing if between the Client Care Letter and the completion/ registration of your property (in the case of a purchase) there is a price adjustment. We will provide you with as much notice as possible.The Disbursements listed in our Client Care Letter are not fixed and are set by third parties e.g. HMRC, Land Registry etc. From time to time these third parties amend their pricing, offer incentives or remove incentives e.g. first-time buyer stamp duty relief. TMT Legal Services will advise you in writing if between the Client Care Letter and the completion/ registration of your property (in the case of a purchase) there is a price adjustment. We will provide you with as much notice as possible.We will keep the electronic file on the understanding that we have the authority to destroy it sixteen years after the date of the final bill we send to you for this matter.

© 2020 by TMT Legal Services LLP

TMT Legal Services is the trading name of TMT Legal Services LLP which is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales, registered number OC427224.  VAT registration number: 332 3848 07.

Authorised and regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers 11882

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