1. Our Contract with You
- 1.1 These Terms of Business (as updated occasionally) apply to all work we do on your behalf. It is an important document—please read it and keep it in a safe place for future reference.
- 1.2 Each time you instruct us on a new matter, we will send you a letter confirming your instructions and setting out the scope of the work we will carry out for you, our fees and individual contact details. This is called the Client Care Letter. These Terms of Business should be read with the Client Care Letter—together, they form the contract between us.
- 1.3 If there is any inconsistency between our Terms of Business and the Client Care Letter, the Client Care Letter will take priority.
- 1.4 Your continuing instructions in this matter will amount to your acceptance of these Terms of Business.
- 1.5 Unless otherwise agreed, these Terms of Business will apply to all future instructions you give us on this or any other matter.
- 1.6 These Terms of Business are subject to change occasionally and are updated on our website at [UK Solicitors | Personal and Business Legal Services | Axis Solicitors].
- 1.7 This contract and any dispute or claim arising out of, or in connection with, its subject matter or formation (including non-contractual disputes or claims) shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of England and Wales.
2. About Us
- 2.1 Axis Solicitors Limited is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), The Cube, 169 Wharfside Street, Birmingham, B1 1RN. The SRA is the independent regulatory arm of the Law Society of England and Wales, governed by Codes of Conduct and other professional rules, which you can access on the SRA’s website at sra.org.uk or by calling 0370 606 2555. Our SRA authorisation number is 653526. The SRA regulates all services provided by Axis Solicitors Limited.
- 2.2 You can find details of the postal address, fax number, telephone number and email address of the office on our website at UK Solicitors | Personal and Business Legal Services | Axis Solicitors.
- 2.3 We are registered for VAT purposes. Our VAT registration number is 337871660.
- 2.4 Where we say ‘we’, ‘us’ or ‘our’ in these Business Terms, we mean Axis Solicitors Limited.
3. About You
- 3.1 Where we say ‘you’ or ‘your’ in these Business Terms, we mean the client identified in the Client Care Letter and anyone authorised to give instructions on that client’s behalf.
4. Our Responsibilities and Your Responsibilities
|What you can expect of us||What we expect of you|
|Treat you fairly and with respect||Provide documents when we ask for them and respond promptly when we ask for instructions or information|
|Communicate with you in plain language||Notify us if your contact details change|
|Review your matter regularly||Tell us immediately if your expectations change or if you are not sure you understand what we have discussed|
|Advise you of any changes in the law that affect your matter||Inform us of any time limits or objectives that might not be obvious to us|
|Advise you of any reasonably foreseeable circumstances and risks that could affect the outcome of your matter||Notify us immediately if you receive any email or other communication purporting to be from the firm stating that we have changed our bank details or payment arrangements|
|Let us know about any other changes that may affect the way we deal with your matter, including any changes that may affect your tax status in any jurisdiction|
5. Scope of Our Legal Services
- 5.1 The scope of our services is set out in the Client Care Letter.
- 5.2 We will provide legal advice and services to you with reasonable care and skill. However, the nature of many types of legal work means that it is impossible to guarantee a particular outcome.
- 5.3 Unless otherwise agreed in writing, we will advise only on English law to the extent that it has any bearing on English law.
- 5.4 We will not advise on surveying, valuation, commercial viability, trading or marketability issues. We only advise on tax when we have expressly agreed in writing to do so. We do not provide financial services or advice except as described in section 11 (Financial services).
- 5.5 If you ask us to obtain advice from another law firm, they will be responsible for the service and advice they provide.
- 5.6 Unless otherwise agreed in writing, our advice and any documents we prepare:
- 5.6.1 Are for use only in connection with the specific matter on which we are instructed, can only be relied on by you; and
- 5.6.2 Reflect the law in force at the relevant time.
6. Service Standards
- 6.1 We usually are open between 9.00 am and 5.30 pm from Monday to Friday. We may be able to arrange appointments outside of these hours in case of an emergency. We are closed on all bank holidays.
- 6.2 We will update you by telephone or in writing (including by email) with the progress on your matter regularly and explain to you the legal work required as your matter progresses.
- 6.3 We will update you at appropriate intervals on the likely timescale for each stage of your matter and any important changes in those estimates. Whenever there is a material change in circumstances associated with your matter, we will update you on whether the likely outcomes still justify the likely costs and risks.
- 6.4 We will update you on the cost of your matter at the intervals set out in the Client Care Letter. If appropriate, we will continue to review whether there are alternative methods by which your matter can be funded.
- 6.5 We are committed to acting in a way that encourages equality, diversity and inclusion in all our dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us for a copy of our equality and diversity policy.
7. Our Liability to You
- 7.1 Your contract is sole with Axis Solicitors Limited, which has sole legal liability for the work done for you and for any act or omission in the course of that work. No representative, director, officer, employee, agent or consultant of Axis Solicitors Limited will have any personal legal liability for any loss or claim.
- 7.2 Unless explicitly agreed otherwise, in writing:
- 7.2.1 We do not owe, nor do we accept, any duty to any person other than you; and
- 7.2.2 We do not accept any liability or responsibility for any consequences arising from reliance on our advice by any person other than you.
- 7.3 We are not responsible for any failure to advise or comment on matters falling outside the scope of our instructions, as set out in these Terms of Business and the Client Care Letter.
- 7.4 Our maximum liability to you (or any other party we have agreed may rely on our services) in relation to any single matter or any group of related matters which our insurers may aggregate will be £3,000,000 including interest and costs unless we expressly state a different figure in the Client Care Letter.
- 7.5 We will not be liable for:
- 7.5.1 losses that were not foreseeable to you and us when this contract was formed;
- 7.5.2 losses not caused by any breach on the part of the firm; and
- 7.5.3 business losses, including losses sustained by any individual not acting for purposes of their trade, business, craft or profession.
- 7.6 Nothing in these Terms of Business shall exclude or restrict our liability in respect of:
- 7.6.1 death or personal injury caused by our negligence;
- 7.6.2 fraud or fraudulent misrepresentation;
- 7.6.3 any losses caused by wilful misconduct or dishonesty;
- 7.6.4 any other losses which cannot be excluded or limited by applicable law.
- 7.7 Please ask if you would like us to explain any of the terms above.
8. Our Charges and Billing
- 8.1 You are liable to pay legal costs as set out in the Client Care Letter, which also states the billing arrangements. We will usually discuss this with you at the outset of your matter.
- 8.2 We may deliver our bills to you electronically. Please let us know if you have any requirements for the delivery of our bills.
- 8.3 Our bills become due for payment immediately within the agreed given time scale.
- 8.4 By Sections 70, 71 and 72 of the Solicitors Act 1674, you are entitled to have the invoice assessed by the court. To do so, you must first object in writing to the invoice amount within one month of delivery (of the invoice), and you should deliver your written objections to Axis Solicitors Limited, 109 Cheetham Hill Road, Manchester M8 8PY.
- 8.5 Please inform us if you would like a third party to be responsible for paying our bills or any part of them. We must approve this in advance and will need the party’s name, contact details and any other information or identification documents we request. It is your responsibility to pay our bills even if someone else has agreed to pay some or all of them and will still address our bills to you. If someone else does pay some of our bills, you are responsible for paying the rest.
- 8.6 We may charge interest on overdue bills daily by Article 5 of the Solicitors (Non-Contentious Business) Remuneration Order 1709. We have the right to charge interest if the invoice remains wholly or partly unpaid for more than one month after delivery. Interest will be charged at the rate payable on judgement debts at that time.
- 8.7 You have the right to challenge or complain about our bill. Please see section 14 (Complaints) for details of how to complain about our bill.
- 8.8 You have the right to challenge our bill by applying to the court to assess the bill under the Solicitors Act 1674. The usual time limit for applying to the court for an assessment is one month from the bill’s delivery date.
9. Banking and Related Matters
- 9.1 Our client account
- Unless agreed otherwise, we hold client money in various accounts with UK banks regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
- 9.2 Changes to our bank details
- We will never tell you about changes to important business information, such as bank account details, by email. Please inform us immediately if you receive any email or other communication purporting to be from the firm stating that we have changed our bank details or payment arrangements.
- 9.3 Payment of interest
- We will pay a fair sum of interest to clients or third parties on client money we hold on their behalf.
- We will not pay interest:
- a) On the money we are instructed to hold outside a client account in a manner that does not attract interest, e.g. cash held in our safe;
- b) Where the amount of interest is less than £10;
- c) Where we agree otherwise, in writing, with you or the third party for whom the money is held.
- Please ask us if you would like to see our written payment of interest policy
- 9.4 Bank failure and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme
- 9.4.1 We are not liable for any losses you suffer as a result of any bank in which we hold client money being unable to repay depositors in full. You may, however, be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
- 9.5.2 The FSCS is the UK’s statutory fund of last resort for customers of banking institutions. The FSCS can pay compensation up to £85,000 if a banking institution is unable, or likely to be unable, to pay claims against it.
- 9.5.3 The limit is £85,000 per banking institution. If you hold other personal money in the same banking institution as our client account, the limit remains £85,000 in total. Some banking institutions have several brands. The compensation limit is £85,000 per institution, not per brand.
- 9.5.4 The FSCS also provides up to £1m of short-term protection for certain high balances, e.g. relating to property transactions, inheritance, divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership, unfair dismissal, redundancy, and personal injury compensation (there is no financial limit on protection for personal injury compensation). This is called the temporary high balance scheme; if it applies, protection lasts for a maximum of six months.
- 9.5.5 The FSCS (including the temporary high balance scheme) will apply to qualify balances held in our client account. In the unlikely event of a deposit-taking institution failure, we will presume (unless we hear from you in writing to the contrary) we have your consent to disclose necessary client details to the FSCS.
- 9.5.6 More information about the FSCS can be found at https://www.fscs.org.uk.
- 9.5 Receiving and paying funds
- 9.5.1 We generally do not accept cash. We cannot offer a banking facility, and there are limits on the manner in which funds can be paid into and out of our client account. Suppose you try to avoid this policy by depositing cash directly with our bank. In that case, we may decide to charge you for any additional checks we decide are necessary to establish the source of the funds, which could also cause delays.
- 9.5 2 If we receive money in relation to your matter from an unexpected source, there may be a delay in your matter, and we may charge you for any additional checks we decide are necessary.
- 9.5.3 Where we have to pay, you will be paid by cheque or bank transfer. It will not be paid in cash or to a third party.
10. Prevention of Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Proliferation Financing
- 10.1 To comply with anti-money laundering, counter-terrorist financing and counter-proliferation financing requirements, we will likely ask you for proof of your identity, and we may conduct searches or enquiries for this purpose. We may also be required to identify and verify the identity of other persons, such as directors or beneficial owners. Your matter may be delayed if you or they do not promptly provide us with the required information.
- 10.2 You agree that we may make checks using online electronic verification systems or other databases as we may decide.
- 10.3 You must not send us any money until we have told you these checks have been completed.
- 10.4 We will not usually charge you for identification and verification checks. Still, we reserve the right to do so where the checks are likely to be significantly more involved than expected. We will confirm any extra cost in our Client Care letter.
- 10.5 We may ask you to confirm the source of any money you have sent or will send us. Your matter may be delayed if you do not promptly provide us with that information.
- 10.6 Any personal data we receive from you to prevent money laundering, terrorist financing, or proliferation financing will be used only for that purpose or:
- 10.6.1 with your consent; or
- 10.6.2 as permitted by or under another enactment.
- 10.7 We are professionally and legally obliged to keep your affairs confidential. However, we may be required by law to disclose to the National Crime Agency where we know or suspect that a transaction may involve money laundering, terrorist financing or proliferation financing. If we disclose in relation to your matter, we may not be able to tell you that a disclosure has been made. We may have to stop working on your matter for a while and be unable to tell you why.
- 10.8 Subject to section 7 (‘Our liability to you’), we shall not be liable for any loss arising from or connected with our compliance with any statutory obligation, or reasonable belief we may have, to report matters to the relevant authorities under the provisions of the money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing legislation.
11. Financial Services
- 11.1 The Financial Conduct Authority does not authorise us. However, we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority so that we can carry on insurance distribution activity, broadly advising on, selling and administrating insurance contracts. This part of our business, including arrangements for complaints or redress if something goes wrong, is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. You can access the register via the Financial Conduct Authority website at www.fca.org.uk/firms/financial-services-register.
- 11.2 We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) concerning consumer credit services. However, because the SRA regulates us, we may be able to provide certain limited consumer credit services closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you because we are members of the Law Society of England and Wales, a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 1700.
- 11.3 We are also not authorised by the FCA to provide investment advisory services. If you need advice on investments, we may refer you to someone authorised by the FCA to provide the necessary advice. However, because the SRA regulates us, we may be able to provide certain limited investment advice services where these are closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you.
- 11.4 The SRA is the independent regulatory arm of the Law Society. The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints against lawyers. If you are unhappy with any financial service you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with the SRA or Legal Ombudsman.
12. Professional Indemnity Insurance
- 12.1 We have professional indemnity insurance covering claims against us. Details of this insurance, including our insurer’s contact details and the policy’s territorial coverage, are available on our website or can be provided on request.
- 12.2 It is a condition of our professional indemnity insurance that we notify our insurer and/or broker of any circumstances which may give rise to a claim against us. In doing so, we may disclose documents and information to our insurer, broker and insurance advisers on a confidential basis. Our insurers and brokers are contractually obliged to keep all information we pass to them strictly confidential.
13. Unregulated Services
- 13.1 All services provided by Axis Solicitors Limited are regulated by the SRA and covered by:
- 13.1.1 Our professional indemnity insurance—see section 12 (Professional indemnity insurance); and
- 13.1.2 (if you are eligible) the SRA Compensation Fund—this is a discretionary fund for making grants to people for loss caused by dishonesty, hardship caused by a failure to account for the money, or an uninsured loss (which should have been covered by professional indemnity insurance).
- 14.1 We want to give you the best possible service. However, if you become unhappy or concerned about the service we have provided, you should inform us immediately so we can do our best to resolve the problem.
- 14.2 In the first instance, it may be helpful to contact the person working on your case to discuss your concerns, and we will do our best to resolve any issues. If you would like to make a formal complaint, you can read our complete complaints procedure Complaint Procedure | Axis Solicitors. Making a complaint will not affect how we handle your case.
- 14.3 What to do if we cannot resolve your complaint
- 14.3.1 We have eight weeks to consider your complaint. If we have not resolved it within this time, you may be able to complain to the Legal Ombudsman. The Legal Ombudsman will look at your complaint independently, and it will not affect how we handle your matter.
- 14.3.2 Before accepting a complaint for investigation, the Legal Ombudsman will check that you have tried to resolve your complaint with us first. If you have, then you must take your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman:
- a) within six months of receiving our final response to your complaint;
- b) no more than one year from the date of act/omission; or
- c) no more than one year from when you should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint.
- 14.3.3 If you would like more information, you can contact the Legal Ombudsman by
- a) visiting legalombudsman.org.uk
- b) calling 0300 555 0333 between 9.00 to 15.00
- c) emailing email@example.com
- d) writing to Legal Ombudsman PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9W
- 14.4 What to do if you are unhappy with our behaviour
- 14.4.1 The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) can help if you are concerned about our behaviour for things like dishonesty, taking or losing your money or mistreating you because of your age, a disability or other characteristic.
- 14.4.2 The SRA’s website contains information raising concerns about solicitors and law firms.
15. Terminations/Cancellations & Refunds
- 15.1 You may terminate our appointment at any time by giving us written notice. We can keep hold of all your papers and documents until the money owed to us for our charges or disbursements is paid in full.
- 15.2 We will only decide to stop acting for you with good reason, e.g. when we feel that the relationship has broken down, if you do not pay a bill, if you provide us with misleading information, or if you act in an abusive or offensive manner. We will give you reasonable notice before we stop acting for you.
- 15.3 If you or we decide that we should stop acting for you, we will charge you for the work we have done and, where appropriate, for transferring the matter to another adviser if you so request, for which the charges are calculated on the basis set out in the Client Care Letter.
- 15.4 We are not responsible for reminding you about important dates and deadlines after our terminated appointment.
- 15.5 If you request us (or we decide) to stop acting for you, we will charge you for the work we have done and, where appropriate, for transferring the matter to another adviser if you so request. We will usually calculate the charge on the basis set out in the Client Care Letter.
- 15.6 If you decide to cancel the contract, we will reimburse you all your payments except any fees owed to us for the work already undertaken. We will make the deductions at an hourly rate. We will usually make the reimbursement without undue delay, and within 14 days after the day you inform us about your decision to cancel the contract.
- 15.7 For reimbursements, we will usually use the same means of payment used to make the initial transaction by you; unless you have expressly agreed otherwise. You will not incur any fees due to the reimbursement.
- 15.8 Suppose you requested us to begin the performance of services during the cancellation period. In that case, you shall pay us an amount that is in proportion to work done by us until you have communicated to us your decision to cancel from the contract in comparison with the full coverage of the contract.
- 15.9 Please note you will not have a cancellation right if you ask us to start work in the cancellation period and we start/complete your matter.
16. Storage and Retrieval of Files
- 16.1 We may create and hold client files in hard copy (paper), electronically or a combination of both.
- 16.2 We usually store client files (except any of the papers you ask to be returned to you) for six years after we send you our final bill unless you instruct us to the contrary. We may destroy paper documents and scan them onto our system to be stored electronically. We store the file on the understanding that we may destroy it after six. We will not destroy original documents such as wills, deeds and other securities we have agreed to hold in safe custody. Still, on reasonable notice, we may send them to you for safekeeping.
- 16.3 We will generally not charge for this storage.
- 16.4 If we retrieve your file from storage (including electronic storage) concerning continuing or new instructions to act for you, we will not usually charge for the retrieval.
- 16.5 If we retrieve your file from storage for another reason, we may charge you for
- 16.5.1 time spent retrieving the file and producing it to you;
- 16.5.2 reading, correspondence, or other work necessary to comply with your instructions concerning the retrieved file; or
- 16.5.3 providing additional copies of any documents.
- 16.6 We will provide you with an electronic copy of the file unless it is inappropriate.
17. SignaturePlease sign, date and return one copy of these Terms of Business
|Signed by or on behalf of client||_______________|
|Name of person(s) signing these Terms of Business||_______________|
|Position or role of person(s) signing these Terms of Business, if not the individual client||_______________|