Terms Of Business
Our terms of business
1. This document (‘Our Terms’ or ‘These Terms’), together with our ‘client care’ letter for each matter we work on, forms our entire agreement with you to provide legal services (‘our Agreement’). It is an important document and should be read carefully. If you are unsure of any part of These Terms you must contact us for clarification before we begin work for you. It should be read in conjunction with the enclosed Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA); ‘No Win No Fee Agreement’.
2. Unless expressly agree otherwise Our Terms apply to each matter we work on with you. We may change these terms and conditions from time to time and will notify you of this in writing if we do so.
3. Please note that from time to time we may use outside agents to assist us in progressing your claim. Their charges will either form part of our bill at the end of the claim, or be charged as our time at our discretion. Any reference to “First4InjuryClaims”, “Us”,” We” or “Our” etc. includes any such agent instructed by us on your behalf.
4. We are a private limited company registered in England && Wales with company number 13227852. Our registered office is Permanent House, Dundas Street, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom, HD1 2HE. We may from time to time use the word 'partner' to refer to a senior staff members but this does not mean that they are necessarily a Director of the company. Please check our website for a full list of our Directors; www.first4injuryclaims.com. Our VAT number is 374561675.
5. We are a firm of solicitors authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and our legal services under this agreement are regulated by the SRA. Our SRA number is 820935. You can find out more about the SRA and view the professional rules which apply to us on the SRA website: www.sra.org.uk. Please note that owing to our professional duties as solicitors there are some limits on what we can do to help clients achieve their goals. We cannot, for example, break the law, act in a conflict of interest, mislead the Court or act in a manner deemed ‘unethical’ by our regulator.
6. We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. However, solicitors are able to provide certain financial services incidental to their legal work while regulated by the SRA. We are included on the register maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority so that we can carry on insurance distribution activity, which is broadly the advising on, selling and administration of insurance contracts. Further information would be provided to you in advance of such work on our part including providing you with a Statement of Demands and Needs within these Terms of Business
7. We are obliged to inform you that we are not financial advisors and we do not conduct an analysis of the insurance market when making any recommendations and only do so because we are confident that the insurance policy will meet your requirements. You are of course, free to seek independent financial advice in relation to any recommendation that we make. We do not have any voting rights or capital invested in any of the insurers we introduce you to.
8. This insurance distribution 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.org.uk/firms/financial-services-register. To this extent we are an insurance intermediary, as opposed to an insurer and we cannot manufacture insurance products. The Law Society is the designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, but responsibility for regulation has been delegated to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (the independent regulatory body of the Law Society), and responsibility for handling complaints has been delegated to the Legal Ombudsman.
9. We will act for you and you are our client. It is the intention of both parties that this agreement will continue to remain in force in the event that you lose mental capacity at any stage during the course of this matter and a Court appointed Deputy or other representative is appointed on your behalf to administer your affairs.
10. We can only discuss your case and take instructions from you personally, unless you personally authorise someone else to discuss the case with us. If this is the case, then we must receive your confirmation in writing, via email or letter, of the person with whom you are happy for us to discuss your case with. However, even if you provide details of someone with whom we are authorised to discuss your case, then you will still need to provide us with instructions (make decisions) during the course of the claim.
Disclosure of relationships
11. Our Professional Rules require us to inform you of any financial relationship that we have with other organisations who have assisted us with our marketing activities. This is so despite the fact that our agreement with them means that these charges are solely at our cost, not yours.
12. We are entirely independent and will advise you and act for you in your best interests, using our own professional judgement. You are free to raise any questions that you may have, and you are free to instruct any solicitor you wish.
13. No third party has any influence over the advice we give you.
14. It is not permissible for a regulated organisation to obtain clients by ‘cold calIing’ or unsolicited approaches by telephone or personal contact. If you were cold-called by anyone please let us know immediately. Further, if you were not advised that you were free to instruct a solicitor of your choice please let us know.
15. Please note that we have entered into a Marketing Collective Agreement (Road Traffic Accidents) with First4Lawyers Limited. First4InjuryClaims Limited pay a Marketing Contribution to First4Lawyers Limited, those fees will not relate to, or constitute payment for, the client enquiry received by the firm. The fees paid to First4Lawyers will be fixed each month and will not be affected by the number of enquiries received There is no guarantee on the amount of enquiries that will be received from First4Lawyers Limited and no payment is made to First4Lawyers Limited for any individual claim received.
16. Both First4Lawyers Limited and First4InjuryClaims Limited are part of the same group of companies owned by F4L Holdings Limited. There are shared services, such as IT, finance and HR, between First4Lawyers Limited and First4InjuryClaims Limited.
17. First4Lawyers Limited recommend particular established third-party organisations to assist with claims, including an after the event insurance company and medical reporting agency to arrange a medical report in relation to any injuries. You do not have to use these organisations on your claim but, if they are used, you ought to know that these recommended organisations will pay a commission to First4Lawyers Limited. We cannot advise you as to the precise figure at this stage as the amount of it will depend on your particular case, including the complexity and the value it settles for. As a guide, the after event insurance company tends to pay First4Laywers Limited about £5.00 to £30.00 per insurance policy taken out. Due to the value, we would anticipate the commission to be about £5.00 on most of the claims where an after the event premium is taken out. The medical reporting agency tends to pay First4Lawyers Limited about £50.00 to £120.00 per medical report. The medical reporting agency’s commission will be part of (and included in) the fee for each medical report, and if costs are payable by your opponent, that will be sought from your opponent. If the cost of any medical report is payable by you, then the commission element will be included in that cost you are liable to pay. The insurance company’s commission payment will be included in the after the event insurance premium which you are liable to pay. Please remember, however, that, your contribution to our basic charges, success fee and disbursements together with any disbursements which are not recovered from your opponent cannot be more than 30% plus VAT of your damages. The cost of the insurance policy is payable on top of this.
18. In the event that you require a vehicle solution as a result of your accident, for example a replacement vehicle or repairs being undertaken on a credit basis, then we will recommend the services of Chief Vehicle Rentals. You do not have to use Chief Vehicle Rentals on your claim but, if they are used, you ought to know that they will pay a commission to First4Lawyers Limited. This commission will never be paid by you.
19. You have instructed us to provide legal advice, assistance and representation in respect of your claim. Our objective is to recover the best level of compensation for you for the injuries and associated losses that you have sustained. If you have other objectives, please inform us.
20. The issues involved include tracing and contacting the other party and any insurer, bringing a claim against that party based upon the evidence that we have, gathering any additional evidence, proving and quantifying your claim and negotiating a settlement or
taking the case to court for you.
21. You have the option of not making a claim, handling it yourself, or using a solicitor to make the claim. If you use a solicitor, then issues about the costs of the claim arise and these are dealt with in the accompanying CFA; ‘No Win No Fee Agreement.
22. You agree to:
- comply with These Terms;
- provide us with information relating to your matter in a timely, clear and accurate manner. Information provided to us must not be false or misleading. We will not generally verify the information provided unless you expressly ask us to do so;
- tell us straight away of any change in your contact details;
- pay all of our bills and other charges in accordance with These Terms;
- not ask us to do anything which would breach our legal, professional or regulatory duties;
- give us authority to act on your behalf in connection with your legal matter including incurring expenses on your behalf and instructing other professional advisers or similar.
23. The law, including the SRA Code of Conduct for Solicitors and Code of Conduct for Firms requires solicitors, as well as banks, building societies and others, to obtain satisfactory evidence of the identity of their client.
24. In order to comply we need to obtain evidence of your identity as soon as practicable. Please provide us with documents to verify your identity and address. We need one form of photographic identification, either your driving licence or passport; plus a utility bill (which confirms your address). These can be sent to us via Touchpoint.
Communicating with you and business hours
21. Most of our clients prefer to communicate with us via TouchPoint rather than email or post, as Touchpoint is quicker, more convenient and secure. If you wish us to correspond with you via email, then please supply an email address to us if you haven’t already done so. If you haven’t yet signed up for Touchpoint, then please let us know by calling 01484 955990, or emailing; Claims@First4InjuryClaims.com
22. Touchpoint allows you and First4InjuryClaims to communicate with each other when it is convenient for you. It is also a great method for us to send communication to you quickly without having to use the post and allows for you to send us documents in support of your claim, such as photographs or receipts.
23. If you provide us with your agreement to use Touchpoint for use in this case, we have your permission to send documents to and to receive documents and instructions from Touchpoint without dispatching hard copies of the correspondence by post or email.
24. We will rely upon such documents and instructions as having come from you personally.
25. We take reasonable steps to minimise the risk of our email or computer systems carrying a virus or similar harmful items. You agree to also take reasonable steps to properly secure your communications with us and protect the email and computer systems used for your matter. This is important in order to protect your rights and funds. You can learn more about staying safe and secure online including good password practice at: https://www.cyberessentials.ncsc.gov.uk
26. We will not accept any instructions from you to alter your banking details or instructions on where money should be sent if received by email. This is due to the risk of fraud by someone impersonating you to divert your money to him or her or instead of you. We reserve the right to take the time to confirm such instructions with you personally by telephone and by other reasonable means before acting on such instructions. Similarly you agree not to rely upon any change of bank details notified to you in relation to our firm including by email even if it appears to come from our firm. Fraudsters can convincingly impersonate email accounts. If you receive any such email purportedly from us or any other suspicious looking communication which appears to be from us please call us on a known number to speak to us immediately. We will not be liable for any losses or damage resulting from funds being sent to an incorrect account or for the interception of payments made in the normal manner.
27. We are normally open between 9:00am and 5:30pm Monday to Friday, except for bank holidays. While our staff may sometimes respond to communications and work outside of our normal office hours this is entirely at our discretion and we would ask you to respect that there will be times when we are not available.
28. If you are an organisation of some form rather than an individual we will generally take instructions from the individual named in our client care statement. We reserve the right to insist upon sight of a formal resolution by the client organisation as to whom shall instruct us in the future in the event of potentially conflicting instructions from different individuals connected to a client organisation and any question as to from whom we should take instructions.
29. As a firm we wish to support and promote equality and diversity. If it would assist you for our services to be delivered in a different way please do not hesitate to let us know and we will investigate how we can assist. A copy of our Equality and Diversity policy, which includes information on reasonable adjustments, is available upon request.
34. You are liable to pay our charges including our fees for our time spent, disbursements and tax (including VAT on our time spent). Our method of charging may be based upon an hourly rate or a fixed fee. We will explain whether we are charging on an hourly rate or fixed fee basis together with the details of our hourly rates in our ‘client care’ statement.
35. Our time spent on a matter is calculated in six-minute units rounded up to the nearest full six-minute unit of time. For example, short or standard letters, emails and phone calls may require less than six-minutes of a fee earner’s time but will still be charged as one six-minute unit. Each six-minute unit is the equivalent of 10% of our hourly rate.
36. We reserve the right to vary our hourly rates, for example at the start of a new year. We will give you advance notice of any proposed change. If we feel it is necessary to vary our hourly rates due to the nature of your instructions changing (such as in respect of the urgency of the matter) we will notify you of this and agree an appropriate alternative hourly rate with you.
37. When charging on an hourly rate basis we may at the beginning of your matter provide an estimate of the total costs for your matter or for reaching a certain stage in the matter. Similarly we may publish on our website estimates of our costs or automated quotes. These are estimates only and we may provide you with updated estimates as a matter progresses. The costs estimate is not a cap. You remain liable for all charges whether our original estimate is exceeded or not.
38. The cost of our services is subject to VAT. All hourly rates and costs estimates quoted by us are exclusive of VAT unless expressly stated otherwise.
39. Unless expressly stated otherwise within the client care letter, if we agree to work with you on a fixed fee basis and your instructions are terminated (either by you or because we have grounds to terminate under These Terms) we reserve the right to charge you the full fixed fee. At our absolute discretion, we may alternatively agree to reduce our fee to a sum equivalent to what our charges would have been for the work actually undertaken on a time spent basis applying our standard hourly rates.
40. We may require a payment on account of our costs prior to beginning work on your matter and in order to continue work for you. We are not required to use a payment on account of costs to fund interim bills but reserve the right to transfer monies paid on account of costs for payment of outstanding charges upon the raising of a bill.
41. Often, as a result of your accident, you will incur expenses such as hire of a replacement vehicle, treatment fees, repair costs or the like, the cost of which will be claimed by us on your behalf as part of your claim for damages. Where such services have been provided to you following your accident, or are due to be provided to you in the future, and the cost of those services is paid to us by the other side, we will send the payment directly to the service provider upon receipt, to discharge your current or future liability for those services. We have your permission to do so. Please note that any payment that forms part of your claim for past financial loss, even if it is paid to a third party on your behalf, will be taken into account for the purposes of calculating your contribution to your basic charges and success fee, as referred to in the CFA; ‘No Win No Fee’ agreement.
42. We do not accept cash from clients.
43. Unless agreed otherwise in writing we may raise a bill on an ‘interim basis’ (so before the end of your legal matter) which may include disbursement only bills. Paid interim bills will be credited against your final bill.
44. If you are receiving or anticipate receiving assistance with funding from a third party in connection with your legal matter you nonetheless remain liable for the payment of our charges in accordance with These Terms. This includes where you are seeking to claim back part or all of our costs from an opponent in litigation.
45. Should we become liable for further expenses incurred on your behalf after sending you our final bill we reserve the right to raise a further bill for these costs.
46. Our bills are payable upon receipt by you. We may charge interest on unpaid bills at a rate of 8% above the Bank of England’s base rate. Interest will begin to run prior to securing judgement.
47. If you do not pay our bills we reserve the right to cease further work for you and to withhold from you any information or items relating to your matter until full payment has been received (subject to such information that may be available to you under data protection laws).
48. It is a condition of these instructions that you agree to receive a bill via electronic means such as email.
49. If you wish to complain about our bill you can follow our complaints procedure (see below). You may also ask Court to assess our bill of costs under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974 subject to certain time limits and conditions.
50. If we are instructed by more than one person then the obligation to pay our bills will be joint and several (otherwise the rights and obligations shall be several).
Legal expenses insurance
51. It may be that you have a policy of Before the Event (BTE) Legal Expenses Insurance with your own vehicle insurers, house insurers or trade union. These policies may cover the costs and disbursements of both the other side and your instructed solicitors. As such, in these circumstances, where there is a valid BTE policy in place, we would not be able to deduct a contribution to your basic charges from your compensation.
52. If you do have a valid BTE policy in place, then please let us know in order that we can forward to you a questionnaire to complete and return it to us.
53. We will then seek to obtain an indemnity from your Insurer for us to act under that policy. However, it may be that your Insurer or Trade Union insists on you using a particular solicitor with whom they have an existing relationship and not First4InjuryClaims. We will of course keep you updated in this regard. In the event that you fail to advise us of the existence of a BTE policy within 14 days of receipt of this letter, or fail to complete the relevant BTE questionnaire and return it to us then we will assume that there is no relevant BTE cover in place and proceed with your claim pursuant to the terms of the CFA ‘No Win No Fee Agreement’ that we already have in place.
Statement of Demands and Needs
54. We recommend that we obtain a Legal Expenses Insurance policy, commonly referred to as an After the Event (ATE) Insurance Policy, on your behalf, to protect you against the risk of having to pay our disbursements if your claim is unsuccessful, or the costs and disbursements of the other side if you are successful, but fail to beat your opponent’s settlement offer. Under the Financial Services Act and associated regulations, we are required to consider and set out in writing, our understanding of your requirements, and the basis of our recommendation. This is set out below:
54.1. You are making a claim against a person or body which is insured. In practice therefore, that insurer will deal with your claim.
54.2. We have details of the circumstances surrounding your claim, and the injuries you have suffered.
54.3. There is always a possibility that it may be necessary to issue Court proceedings on your behalf in order to obtain compensation for you. This is because the insurer may deny liability, or may admit liability, but deny that the accident or negligence actually caused your injuries, or may admit both, but dispute the sum you are entitled to.
54.4. If Court proceedings are issued and your claim is successful but you fail to beat a settlement offer made by your opponent, then you may be liable to pay your opponent’s insurer’s legal costs and disbursements. It is not realistically possible at this stage to predict exactly what they may be, so your precise potential liability is at this stage unknown.
54.5. While we do not have knowledge of your assets and income, and therefore whether you could pay any sum awarded against you, our understanding is that you would not wish to pay adverse legal costs or disbursements if you fail to beat a settlement offer.
54.6. It appears that you do not have any existing insurance policy which would cover the above risk, or if you have, that it is not suitable/ possible to use it in the current circumstances. If however you do have any existing insurance policy which would cover the above risk, please let me know. Our recommendation below is specifically given on the basis that you do not have a BTE policy in place.
54.7. We have considered all of the above, and in the light of those facts, we recommend that we should at this stage obtain a Legal Expenses Insurance Policy to protect you, and that it should be obtained from ARAG. The reasons for our recommendation are set out below, but it is important that if you have any information which may be relevant to any of the above, which you believe we have not seen, then you should contact us as quickly as possible, so that we can consider matters further.
Reasons for Recommendation of ARAG
a. ARAG is an insurance undertaking which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
b. If you lose your claim, or if it is discontinued, then this insurance policy will protect you from having to pay your expenses relating to your claim. Also, if you win your claim, but fail to beat your opponent’s settlement offer, this insurance policy will protect you from having to pay your opponent’s expenses and legal costs. Your expenses will be covered even if you incurred them before the policy was taken out.
c. There is no ‘up front’ premium to pay because the premium does not become due until your claim is concluded.
d. If you lose your case you do not have to pay the premium for this insurance policy because it is a self-insured policy. This means that part of the cover provided is the premium, so if your claim is unsuccessful and there is a claim on the policy, the cost of the premium forms part of the claim.
e. They will only provide you with this ATE Policy if their experienced underwriters think that your claim has a reasonable prospect of success. In addition, there is a second-tier screening process via a medical agency to whom the medical records submitted.
f. In our experience this ATE provider operates a swift and simple application process which enables us to obtain cover for you quickly and their experienced underwriters provide support throughout the ‘life’ of your claim. As an Insurance Undertaking this company has a secure financial rating and a proven track record.
g. This ATE Policy will enable you to make your claim without the financial fear of losing your case. Your opponent will be notified that you have this insurance protection in place.
h. The premium will provide you with £100,000.00 of cover, which we have assessed to be sufficient to cover you against all of the risks we are seeking to cover. The cover that we seek is related to the value of your claim and your attitude towards how much protection you wish to seek for your eventual compensation. We will advise you in more detail in a separate letter when we come to actually apply for insurance cover and you can then make your choice.
i. As with all insurance policies, there are certain exclusions. We have examined these and consider them to be fair, reasonable and competitive in comparison to exclusions generally contained in this type of insurance policy. We consider the risk posed to you by these exclusions to be remote and well within advisable levels. Upon receipt of the policy document you should read the exclusions carefully and ensure that you are satisfied with them.
j. If insurance is not taken out at this stage, there is a real risk that it may be much more expensive/ unobtainable at a later stage. If you haven’t taken out a policy and wish to do having read through this letter, then please let us know.
k. Please note that following recent legislation, you will now be responsible for paying the ATE premium if your case is successful. ATE premiums are no longer recoverable from your opponent if you win your case. However, you may be able to recover the cost of part of any ATE policy taken out to insure against the costs of any expert report in respect of clinical negligence. In order to recover this part of the premium the following conditions must be met:
a. the part of the premium that you seek to recover must relate to insurance against the risk of incurring liability for the costs of an expert’s report
b. the expert’s report must relate to liability or causation issues;
c. the report must have been obtained;
d. the ATE policy must state how much of the premium relates to the liability to pay for an expert’s report; and,
e. the cost must be allowed under the cost order.
l. The cost of the premium, inclusive of IPT (Insurance Premium Tax) is tiered based upon the value that the claim settles for. The current rate of IPT on your policy is 12%. Please note that that if the rate of IPT increases then the cost of your policy will do likewise, however we will write to you to confirm this. The cost of the premium, inclusive of IPT, is currently as follows:
m. Please also carefully read the policy wording, upon receipt, and ensure that you are willing to accept all terms, and conditions, and particularly the ‘Cancellation’ clause. Should you wish to cancel your ATE policy then you may do so by advising us in writing within 14 days of the policy being accepted by ARAG.
Holding client money and payment of interest
55. When a payment is received from the other side in respect of your damages, sometimes the cheque is made payable to us and sometimes it is made payable to you. If it is made payable to you, we can process the payment to you more quickly to you if we encash the cheque into our Client account. Based upon this, we have your permission to endorse any cheque which forms part of your claim for damages into our Client account, unless you let us know otherwise.
56. If, at any stage, money is received for you, then we shall only pay it to you in a cheque or by BACS payment into your United Kingdom bank account. It is our preference to make any payment to you via BACS, rather than cheque, as it is a quicker and more secure method of payment. In the event that we do not receive or are unable to verify your bank details to enable us to make a BACS payment to you, we will make a payment to you by cheque.
57. Payment of any monies due to you will be made to you within 14 days of the payment being received by us from the other side.
58. We may hold money on your behalf in our client account. Our client account is in England && Wales and is covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. You should be aware however that there is a limit of £85,000.00 for all monies held by you in the particular bank whether via our client account or otherwise as well as certain eligibility conditions. For more information visit https://www.fscs.org.uk.
59. We keep interest paid on the general client account for ourselves. However, we have adopted a policy of paying to clients a fair and reasonable sum in lieu of interest on the monies held when it is fair and reasonable to do so. While we strive to adopt a fair policy, clients should understand that they are unlikely to gain as much interest on monies held by us as part of their legal matter as they might if they invested the money themselves.
60. We will apply the rates published to us, from time to time, by Barclays Bank PLC for their Client Account.
61. We do not pay interest to clients for money held in circumstances in which we are not required to do so and where we consider that this would be inappropriate, namely:
- where the amount of the interest calculated under our policy is less than £30.00 (for reasons of administrative cost and proportionality);
- on money held for professional disbursements (such as a barrister or translator’s fee) if that person has requested a delay in payment of the fee;
- on money held for the Legal Aid Agency (if applicable);
- on an advance by us into our general client account to fund a payment on the client’s behalf in excess of funds already held for the client in that account;
- where we have agreed with the client, because it is fair in all the circumstances to do so, not to pay any interest in their particular case i.e. because the client has contracted out;
- where the client has instructed us to hold the money in such a way that unusually no interest is in fact accrued.
62. We keep the £30.00 cap and levels of interest payments made under review as interest rates change from time to time.
63. Our policy is to:
- compound interest quarterly. The current rate of interest which we apply is published on our website;
- pay interest at the end of the client’s matter save for where it is more appropriate to account for a sum in lieu of interest on an interim basis owing to monies being held for an unusually long period of time;
- calculate interest in accordance with applicable rates during the period for which we hold cleared funds for the client.
Limitation of liability and professional indemnity insurance
64. You agree to the limits on our liability set out in These Terms and that these are reasonable in all the circumstances.
65. For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in These Terms seeks to exclude or limit our liability in respect of our liabilities which cannot lawfully be excluded or limited, such as in respect of death, personal injury, fraud or fraudulent misrepresentation. The following terms should therefore be read subject to this.
66. We will not be liable for any special, indirect or consequential loss or damage of any kind (whether foreseeable or known or not) including loss of profit, revenue, income, business, opportunity, goodwill or similar economic loss or damage.
67. We shall not be liable to you for any loss or damage arising as a result of ‘force majeure’ (that is, if we are unable to perform any of our services as because of a cause beyond our reasonable control).
68. We will not be liable for any loss or damage of any kind arising as a result of complying with our legal and regulatory duties, such as delays or disclosures arising in the context of compliance with anti-money laundering legislation.
69. We will not be liable for any services or product provided by any third party even if instructed by us on your behalf or utilised by us in the provision of our services to you.
70. We will not be liable in respect of any losses arising from the failure of any bank with whom client funds have been deposited.
71. We shall not be responsible for any losses suffered, sustained or incurred by you or any third party by way of our compliant with obligations imposed on us by 1) The money Laundering Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 and/or 2) The Proceeds of Crime Act 2020 and/or 3) Other legislation relating to or connected with the prevention of crime and/or 4.) The instructions of any law enforcement agencies.
72. We will not be liable to anyone who is not our client in respect of professional negligence. These Terms confer no rights on any third parties. The Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 shall not apply.
73. We may from time to time agree with you a liability cap for any given matter. This will ordinarily be agreed in our ‘client care’ statement before beginning work on the relevant matter. We will not cap our liability below the minimum amount of the professional indemnity insurance cover solicitors must have in place to insure against mistakes, currently £3 million. Where a liability cap is agreed it will apply to our aggregate liability to both you and to any other client for whom we are instructed in that matter. The cap will apply whether the liability arose by reason of negligence, breach of contract, breach of statutory duty or otherwise and whatever the type of loss or damage arising (subject to the limits on our abilities to lawfully exclude and limit liability as detailed above).
74. Services are provided by our lawyers for and on behalf of our law firm. You agree not to bring any claim against any of our staff including principals (i.e. partners / members / directors) in connection with any loss or damage suffered in connection with our services. Please note that this does not restrict your rights to compensation in appropriate cases from our insurers or from us as a law firm.
75. We will only provide advice on matters within the scope of our instructions. We appreciate that this places limits on how we can help but it is important that we do not stray into areas beyond our expertise. Please note in particular therefore that (unless explicitly stated otherwise within your client care letter) tax advice, advice on the law of jurisdictions outside of England && Wales and financial, accounting and commercial advice is outside the scope of our instructions. This means that we will not provide you with any advice on these matters or any other matters outside of the scope of our Agreement with you. We will not take account of any goals sought in respect of matters outside the scope of our Agreement with you even if a relevant issue arises during the course of our work together. You may therefore wish to seek separate specialist advice if you would like assistance with matters outside of the scope of our work together.
76. You may terminate your instructions to us at any time by telling us in writing. We may also bring our instructions to an end at any time, if we have reasonable grounds to do so, by informing you in writing. We will give you reasonable notice of our intention to stop working with you. Examples of when we may bring our instructions to an end include a breach by you of your obligations under our Agreement such as to give us timely instructions or to pay our charges or requests for payment on account on time. Other examples include where the solicitor client relationship of trust and confidence has broken down, where we discover a conflict of interest, where to proceed would otherwise be contrary to legal or regulatory duties, where the risk profile for your case significantly changed or if you experience an insolvency event.
77. If you lose and it were to turn out that you had, in connection with the claim, been fraudulent, dishonest and/or had otherwise acted in breach of the terms of your engagement with us, we may in those circumstances sue you in damages for any losses that we incur as a result, which may also include any losses we incur after notice of termination if we need to transfer your file to another adviser or remove ourselves from the Court record.
78. Subject to any applicable data protection rights which may apply, we are entitled to withhold our full file of papers until any charges owed to us have been paid. We retain all intellectual property rights in the advice which we provide and the documents which we prepare but permit you to make use of such work for the purposes of your particular matter only.
79. In some circumstances a ‘consumer’ client (but not a business or an individual instructing us in a business capacity) may have a right in law to cancel our agreement without becoming liable for our fees. Such rights may arise if we take instructions from you outside of our offices or at a distance. If the cancellation rights apply then we reserve the right to not start work on your matter until 14 days from the date of entering into this agreement i.e. until after the ‘cooling off’ period has passed. If you do not wish to wait this long then you can instruct us to proceed within the cooling off period but you will then be liable from that point for our fees whether you wish to cancel within 14 days or not. In appropriate cases we will provide you with full instructions on how to exercise your right to cancel as an annex/form attached to your CFA; ‘No-win No-Fee’ Agreement.
Client protection when working with a solicitor’s firm
80. As a firm of solicitors we are required to maintain professional indemnity insurance up to a certain limit in order to protect clients (subject to the terms of the policy) in the unlikely event of a mistake being made in a case. If you feel that we have made a mistake in your case and that you have or will suffer loss or damage as a result you must inform us straight away. Contact details and details of the territorial coverage for our professional indemnity insurers are available upon request from the individual handling your case.
81. Working with a solicitor may also provide protection to a client in certain circumstances if a solicitor fails to pay money owed to the client or is dishonest resulting in a loss to the client. Obviously we do not anticipate any such problems arising in your matter but if you would like to learn more about the SRA Compensation Fund you can do so on the SRA website: www.sra.org.uk/consumers/consumers.page
Complaints and other concerns
82. We hope that you are happy with the service we provide. If at any stage you have concerns or wish to make a complaint please tell the person handling your matter straight away about the nature of your concern. If you do not feel comfortable speaking with the individual handling your matter then you can contact our client care manager directly:
Andrew Wild, in writing at: Permanent House, 1 Dundas Street, Huddersfield, HD1 2HE or by email to Complaints@First4InjuryClaims.com.
83. If the person handling your matter cannot promptly resolve your concerns then it will be dealt with as a formal complaint under our complaints policy (see our website for a copy of this policy). This process involves an investigation of the concerns by a senior member of our firm. We will then write to you within 8 weeks setting out our final response to the complaint and how you can pursue you concerns further if you do not agree with our proposed resolution / outcome.
84. Individual consumers and smaller organisations may be entitled to complain to the Legal Ombudsman about our service if they remain dissatisfied. The Ombudsman would generally expect clients to follow a firm’s internal complaints procedure first however. Complaints to the Ombudsman should normally be made within six months of receiving our final response to your complaint and no more than 6 years from the date of when the problem arose (or if you were not initially aware of the problem, within 3 years of when you should reasonably have known that there was cause for complaint). You can find further information about the Ombudsman on the website www.legalombudsman.org.uk. You can write to the Ombudsman at Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 0300 555 0333.
85. Alternative complaints / dispute resolution bodies do also exist (such as Ombudsman Services, ProMediate and Small Claims Mediation) which are competent to deal with complaints about legal services if we both agree to use such a scheme. If we agree to use such a scheme we will inform you when notifying you of our final response to your complaint.
86. Please note that the Legal Ombudsman is there to deal with concerns about the level of service which a client has received. Where there are more serious concerns that a solicitor or solicitor’s firm have been involved in professional misconduct then reports can also be made to the SRA, the regulator of solicitors and solicitor firms. This could be for quite unusual and serious acts of misconduct such as dishonesty, taking or losing your money or treating you unfairly because of your age, a disability or other characteristic.
87. If you have a complaint or concern about any barrister or other professional we instruct on your behalf, please let us know. They should have their own complaints process, and so if you are not happy with their service you can complain to them direct. However, we can tell you how to make your complaint if they have not given you that information themselves.
Confidentiality and protecting individuals’ data rights
88. We will collect information about individual clients and organisation clients’ staff and keep this on our computers, in our email, in cloud storage and on paper for a certain period of time. The main reasons for this are to:
- deliver the legal services we have agreed in contract to provide to you. For example, we may use your information to write letters on your behalf or prepare legal documents to help you with your matter;
- comply with the law. For example, as solicitors we have to perform ‘conflicts of interest’ checks for new cases against a list of current and former clients. We also have a legal duty to report suspicious activity to the National Crime Agency (‘NCA’) if we suspect money laundering.
90. In some cases we may hold more ‘sensitive’ information about an individual such as about health. This may be necessary to pursue your legal matter. We are permitted to use such information to provide legal advice to you or in connection with equality legislation.
91. You can withdraw consent to your information being used in a particular way but this may limit what more we can do for you (if anything).
92. As a client we may in the future send you a newsletter or similar and find that most clients find this helpful. We rely upon the ‘legitimate interest’ we have in maintaining contact with former clients to do this in data protection law and your agreement for the purposes of the Privacy && Electronic Communications Regulations (which can be implied under these Regulations). However, we will never share your information with third parties to market to you and will not contact you about non-legal services. We will make it quick and easy for you to ‘opt out’ of future communications in every communication we send. If you already know that you don’t want to receive these messages then you can opt out now by emailing us via our website.
93. Your information may be kept on computer servers within the European Union. If at any point information is stored on computer servers outside of the EU we will have selected countries which are either approved for this purpose (under Article 45 of the General Data Protection Regulation or ‘GDPR’) or are located where we are happy that the safeguards in place in that country to protect your information are appropriate (under Article 45 of the GDPR).
94. Generally speaking we will not share your information with third parties unless this is part of the work on your legal matter. For example, lawyers frequently may need to send certain information about clients to other lawyers working on the matter, to Court or to government bodies. In rare circumstances we sometimes need to make reports of suspicious activity to the NCA. We do also work with some trusted contractors or consultants who may have access to your information such as our affiliated group Companies such as First4Lawyers Limited, service providers (such as the Access Group which provides case management systems and support services) or copiers. All contractors have a contract with us which requires that your information be accessed appropriately and kept confidential (among other GDPR requirements). Similarly we may occasionally need to share client matter information with our professional indemnity insurers and their advisers. If you instruct us jointly with another client then it will be necessary to share certain information relevant to you with the corresponding joint client in order to fulfil your instructions to us.
95. We want to provide a high quality service to you. To help us to do that First4Lawyers Limited, medical agencies or any Legal Expenses Insurance provider may carry out periodic random quality audits. You agree that we have your permission to allow them to audit your file in such an audit, unless you write and tell us otherwise. If at any time you wish to withdraw your permission, please write and tell us.
96. Where required by a third party to provide audit facilities to demonstrate compliance with legislation, we have your authority to disclose such material as we deem reasonably necessary to that third party (e.g. DVLA, Solicitors Regulations Authority) for the purpose of that audit, unless you write and tell us otherwise.
97. While we reserve the right to destroy non-original material at any time after the conclusion of your matter, we generally retain files for a period of 6 years after payment of the final bill and then destroy them thereafter. At the end of a case original documents will be returned to you but if we both agree we may retain certain originals for longer than this time period. We will also always keep a small amount of information after file closure to do conflicts of interest searches in the future to comply with our professional duties. If we are requested, after the conclusion of your claim, to retrieve papers or documents from our case management system for you then we reserve the right to charge you a reasonable sum for this service.
98. We do normally have a right to payment of any outstanding costs before releasing a whole file to you but individuals may arguably have a separate right under the GDPR to access certain ‘personal data’ without charge. This may include having it in a particular electronic format (‘portable’ format).
99. Our general contact details are set out in our covering letter and the contact details for our information officer can be found on our website. Contact this individual if you want to exercise one of your data protection ‘rights’ and in particular if you:
- wish to complain about how your personal data is being used;
- wish to request that our records about your personal information be corrected or deleted.
100. While we are regulated as a firm of solicitors by the SRA if you have a complaint about how your personal information is being used which we have not been able to address you may also be able to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) directly. You can learn more about the ICO and personal data rights at: www.ico.org.uk.
Anti-money Laundering and financial crime procedures
101. As a firm of solicitors we must comply with different legal and regulatory requirements aimed at preventing crime. You agree to co-operate with us in order to verify your identity, your business structure (if applicable), organisation history (if applicable) and sources of income and other matters relevant to discharging our legal and professional duties in this respect. This may include attending our offices with identification and other documentation for verification but could also involve disclosure of more personal information such as bank statements and evidence of income. We are grateful to our clients for their understanding and patience while we discharge our professional duties. If it is not possible to attend our offices lawful alternatives will be considered with you.
102. In appropriate cases we may need to report information about you or your matter to the National Crime Agency and in such an event we would be prevented by law from informing you of this fact. We therefore must reserve the right to halt progress of your case and to temporarily retain any client money held pending compliance with our professional duties without any further notice or explanation to you.
103. There are strict limits on how we may operate our client account (used to hold money on a client’s behalf in connection with a legal transaction). We 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.
104. If any provision or provisions of our Agreement including These Terms is / are found to be unlawful, void or otherwise unenforceable then it is agreed that the remainder of our Agreement including These Terms shall remain valid and enforceable.
105. Our agreement, including These Terms, shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the law of England and Wales. It is agreed that the Courts of England and Wales shall have exclusive jurisdiction over any dispute or controversy arising from our agreement and These Terms.