Terms & Conditions

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TERMS AND CONDITIONS

The following terms of engagement apply to all work carried out by Thaliwal & Veja Solicitors except as otherwise agreed. The expression “we”, “us”, and “our” refer to Thaliwal & Veja Solicitors and “you” and “your” refer to our client.

These terms and conditions will apply to any services which we provide to you and will usually be supplemented by a letter dealing amongst other things with the specific services to be provided and the fees payable.

These terms and conditions may be revised from time to time and a copy will be sent to you to replace these, and the revised terms and conditions will apply from the date you receive them. You are of course free to terminate the arrangement between us if you do not accept the revised terms and conditions.

Our Services

Scope of our Services

The scope of the services we have agreed to provide for you in any matter will be agreed between us and confirmed in our Client Care Letter.   You agree that you do not require us to provide you advice or further services in relation to any aspect outside of the scope of the services so agreed.

Level of service

We will regularly update you by telephone or in writing with progress on your matter in particular, following key events or stages in your matter.  We will always endeavour to communicate with you in plain language.

We will update you on the cost of your matter at least six monthly and/or at agreed events.   Whenever there is a material change in circumstances, we will update you on whether the likely outcomes still justify the likely costs and risks associated with your matter.  We will continue to review whether there are alternative methods by which your matter can be funded.

We will update you on the likely timescales for each stage of this matter and any important changes in those estimates.

Joint Instructions

Where we are jointly instructed by you and another client to act in a matter, we will assume that either of you are authorised to give us instructions, unless either of you advise us otherwise.  In addition, as matters progress, we may need to act on instructions of other people from whom we consider it is reasonable to take instructions in order to progress the matter within the timescales set.  Unless informed of any change, we will assume that this remains the case until our work is completed.

Provision of Information

To assist us in carrying out the work as efficiently as possible, you will need to ensure that all information provided is to the best of your knowledge complete, accurate and up to date.  You should also notify us of any changes or variations to that information which may arise after the date it is passed to us and of any new circumstances that might be relevant to the work we are undertaking.

Responsibility for Work

The name of the person who will carry out most of the work in this matter and, if different, the partner with overall responsibility for your matter will be confirmed in our Client Care Letter. They may from time to time, be assisted by other members of our team i.e. trainees, paralegals etc.  However, you will be notified of this either in the Client Care Letter or in writing when applicable.

We try hard to avoid changing the people who are handling your work but if this cannot be avoided, we will notify you promptly of the name and status of the person who will be dealing with your case.

Complaints

We are committed to high quality legal advice and client care and aim to offer all our clients an efficient and effective service, and I am confident that we will do so in this case.  However, if you would like to discuss how the service to you could be improved, the level of your bill, or should there be any aspect of our service with which you are not satisfied, please contact  Ranjit Thaliwal on 0116 274 5252/ ranjit@thaliwalveja.co.uk or by post to 298 Welford Road, Leicester, LE2 6EG.  We have a procedure in place which details how we handle complaints and this will be immediately be sent to you.

If you would like to see a copy of our complaints procedure at any other time, please let me know and I will arrange for a copy of our complaints procedure to be sent to you.

We have eight weeks to consider your complaint. If for any reason we are unable to resolve the problem between us within that timeframe, then you may ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider the complaint.  The Legal Ombudsman may be contacted at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ.

Please be aware that any complaint to the Legal Ombudsman must usually be made within six months of your having received a final written response from us about your complaint.     Complaints to the Legal Ombudsman must usually be made within six years of the act or omission about which you are complaining occurring; or within three years from when you should have known about or become aware that there were grounds for complaint. However, the Legal Ombudsman will not accept complaints where the act or date of awareness was before 6 October 2010.  For further information, you should contact the Legal Ombudsman on 0300 555 0333 or visit www.legalombudsman.org.uk.

Regulation

We are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).  Our SRA number is 613536.

We operate in accordance with a code of conduct and other regulations contained with the SRA’s Handbook.  For further information or to see a copy of the Handbook, please visit www.sra.org.uk.

We practice through a company Thaliwal & Veja Solicitors Ltd.

Thaliwal & Veja Solicitors Ltd is registered in England and Wales with registration number 09013576.  A list of our directors and their professional qualifications is open to inspection at our registered office 298 Welford Road, Leicester, LE2 6EG.”

Contacting Us

Our office is located at 298 Welford Road, Leicester, LE2 6EG.  The normal hours of opening are between 09.00 and 17.00 on weekdays.   Appointments can be arranged outside those hours when essential to the interests of a client.

Should you require emergency assistance, whether at the Police Station or otherwise outside these hours you may contact our emergency service by telephoning 07949 020 809 and leaving a message, together with a contact telephone number.

Professional Indemnity

In the interests of our clients, we maintain compulsory professional indemnity insurance to a total level of three million pounds.

Our insurer is Travelers Insurance, London Road, Redhill, Surrey, RH1 1NA.  The territorial coverage of our insurance is England Wales.

A full hard copy of our insurance is available to view at our offices.  Please ask for details.

Our Charges

Professional Fees

Unless and until either an alternative fee arrangement has been agreed and confirmed in writing by us or you are entitled to have our fees paid by the Legal Aid Agency (in which case different cost considerations apply as set out in our Client Care Letter), the basis for calculation of our fees is primarily by reference to the time spent by the fee earner(s) dealing with the matter (including any time which we spend travelling) and will be charged at an hourly rate.

Where relevant, the hourly rates applicable to your matter will be confirmed to you in our Client Care Letter.  We may from time to time review our charging rates and will notify you immediately in writing of any changes which are applicable to your matter.

Our current rates from time to time may not be appropriate in cases of exceptional complexity or urgency or where specialist knowledge is required. Where it becomes apparent that such circumstances exist we will notify you of this.

All fees are quoted exclusive of VAT, which will be added where appropriate.  Currently, the VAT rate is 20%.

Matter not concluded

Unless otherwise agreed in writing, our fees are payable whether or not a matter is successfully concluded.  If any matter does not proceed to completion for any reason during the period in which we are instructed, then we will be entitled to charge for work done by proportion of the agreed fee as set out above but, at its absolute discretion, we may waive part or all of such entitlement to fees.

Estimate of Costs

We will provide you at the outset of a matter with the best possible information on our costs and will update this information as the matter progresses.  As you will appreciate however, a matter can often end up taking quite a different shape from that envisaged at the time when it starts and the legal advisers are instructed.  Accordingly, it can be difficult to come up with a clear estimate.  However, as matters progress, we should be able to provide you with more detailed estimates of our likely costs and will keep this under review with you.

Limits

Whilst it is often not possible to estimate charges in advance, it is open to you to notify us of any limit which you wish to impose on our charges after which further reference will be made to you.  We will advise you when it appears that any costs estimates or limits are close to being exceeded.   Notwithstanding any estimates or costs limits however, the final bill will be a product of the amount of time our fee earners spend on the matter and our agreed fee rates; any estimates provided are neither intended to be a cap nor a target billing figure.  Therefore, if significant further work is required in addition to that currently envisaged or if the timetable is extended significantly, our fees will be greater than our indicative estimates.  Should it become apparent at any time during the course of the matter that significant further work will be required, we shall of course let you know.

Fixed Charges

In property transactions, in the administration of estates and in transactions involving a substantial financial consideration or benefit to the client, fees may be calculated both by reference to the time spent and also by reference to a value element based on e.g. the price of the property; the amount of the mortgage advance; the size of the estate; or the value of the financial benefit.  The value element reflects the importance of the transaction and the consequent responsibility falling on us as a firm.  We will tell you in advance if a value element will be included, how it will be calculated and the amount to be charged.

Third party responsibility

In certain circumstances, there may be an expectation that a third party (including an insurer) will pay your costs.  In the event that the third party does not pay the sums due, you will be required to pay the outstanding costs.

Disbursements

We may incur certain expenses your behalf, (for example, such items as court fees, counsel’s fees, search fees).  You will have to pay those expenses or reimburse us for them in addition to our fees.   VAT is payable on certain disbursements.

Billing arrangements

Timing of bills

We will normally send you a final bill for the settlement of our services at the end of the matter.  However, if the matter is ongoing, we may render interim bills at agreed intervals.

Payments on account

We may ask you to pay sums of money from time to time on account of the anticipated fees.  We will offset any such payments against your final bill.

Total fees may be greater than any advance payments.

Settlement of bills

Accounts are to be paid by you when due, whether or not the amounts concerned may ultimately have to be paid by another party.  Bills are to be settled in full within one month of receipt.

We may charge interest on unpaid bills from one month of delivery of the bill on a daily basis at statutory rate (currently 8%)] [rate of [2%] above the base rate of HSBC.

In relation to non-contentious costs, we are entitled to charge interest on unpaid bills at the rate payable on judgment debts from one month after delivery of the bill in accordance with Article 5 of the Solicitors’ (Non-Contentious Business) Remuneration Order 2009.  We reserve the right to charge interest on any outstanding amounts at the [statutory rate (currently 8%)] [rate of [2%] above the base rate of HSBC.

If any payment on account is not made or a bill is not settled in accordance with these terms, we reserve the right to decline to act further for you.

Concerns over your bill

If you are not satisfied with the amount of our fees please contact us. Objections about the amount of our fee will be handled by way of our complaints procedure.

If you remain unhappy about the level of our fees you may be able to make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman (as more particularly set out above) or may be entitled to have the bill assessed by the Court in accordance with Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. Your rights are set out more fully in Sections 70, 71 and 72 of the Solicitors Act 1974.

Lien over papers and documents

Following the conclusion of your matter, we are entitled to retain your file of papers and documents while there is money owing to us for fees.

Client account

We operate a client account facility which allows for money to be held or transferred in relation to a matter we are working on.  However, the facility is operated at our discretion and any unauthorised receipts will be held pending further investigation or returned to the sender.  Therefore, we ask that you give us advance warning of any receipts.

It is our policy to only accept cash up to £1000.  If you circumvent this policy by depositing cash direct with our bank we reserve the right to charge for any additional checks we deem necessary regarding the source of the funds.  Where we have to pay money to you, it will be paid by cheque or bank transfer. It will not be paid in cash or to a third party.

Client Interest

If we hold money on your behalf, in accordance with the SRA Accounts Rules 2011, it is our policy that we will pay you a sum of money in lieu of interest on a fair and reasonable basis.

Client monies will normally be held by us in a general client account with our primary banker, HSBC bank.

A sum in lieu of interest will be payable on amounts held in our general client account on the following basis:

  1. Interest will be paid at the conclusion of your matter;
  2. The period for which interest will be paid normally runs from the date the funds are received by us cleared in our account until, where paid electronically, the date when the funds are sent or, where paid by cheque, the date(s) on the cheque(s) issued to you;
  3. The rate of interest paid to clients will be in line with HSBC’s bank’s published interest rates on Client Deposit Accounts over the period when interest is due;
  4. All sums that are paid to you will be paid as a gross amount;
  5. We will not account to you for any sums in lieu of interest in the following situations:
  • On money held for the payment of a professional disbursement if the person to whom the money is owed has requested a delay in settlement;
  • On money held for the Legal Aid Agency;
  • On money on an advance to us to fund a payment on your behalf in excess of funds already held for you;
  • Where the total amount of interest calculated over the course of the matter is £20 or less;
  • Otherwise, where there is an agreement to contract out of the provisions of this policy.

If it is apparent that money held on your behalf will need to be retained for some time then such money may need to be placed in a designated deposit account in which case all of the interest accruing while the funds are so invested will be paid to you when the account is closed or on intermittent basis as agreed with you.

Cybercrime and email Fraud

It is unfortunate that Cybercrime and email fraud targeted at law firms and their clients is on the increase.  Fraudsters are using very sophisticated methods to manipulate IT and intercept communications.

Confirmation of our bank details

Our bank account details will be confirmed to you at the outset of the matter.  We will not be changing our bank account details during the course of dealing with your matter so the account details we have confirmed in the body of these terms and conditions will stay the same throughout the lifetime of your matter.

It is very important that you are aware that we will not notify you of changes to our bank account details by email.  We will only notify you of changes to important business information, including bank account details, in official correspondence which will be sent by postal mail.

If you ever receive any other communication purporting to come from us and which purports to change our bank account details or to request that you send funds to another account, please do not rely on this and immediately contact the person at this firm handling your matter by telephone.  Even if the request appears to have come from us, you must never send funds to another account unless you have verified this with us.

We cannot take any responsibility for any losses where funds are transferred to other accounts that have not been verified by us.

Sending funds to our bank account(s)

Prior to transferring any funds to our account, we recommend you contact us to verify our account details. Wherever possible, you should contact the contact the person at this firm handling your matter by telephone.

Our firm sending funds to you

We may not agree to send any funds to you unless it is to a pre-agreed bank account which we have verified.

You must take care to protect your own data and bank account details.  Confirming your bank details be email should be avoided.

For all new matters, the person with conduct of your matter will contact you by telephone to verify your bank account details, prior to our sending funds to you.  We are sorry if this causes any delay to the processing of payments but we do consider that these steps are necessary to help protect you and your money from fraud.

If you are a long-standing client of the firm and/or a client to whom we have previously transferred funds and your bank account details have not changed we will rely on our previous transactions rather than contact you via telephone for verification unless circumstances exist which increase the level of risk or we otherwise consider it appropriate to do so.

Conflict

An actual or potential conflict between your interests and the interests of another client of the firm may arise during the course of a matter.  If this situation arises during our dealings with you, we will discuss the position with you and determine the appropriate course of action.

Equality & 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.

Data Protection

How we use your data

We are registered as a Data Controller with the Information Commissioners Office.  We will use the information that you give us to provide you with legal services, as per your instructions.  We will keep your information confidential and will only use it for the purpose(s) for which it was provided or as is permitted in law (i.e. for dealing with complaints or regulatory investigations).

Outsourcing of our services

Sometimes we have outsourcing arrangements with external companies which cover a range of services including, but not limited to secretarial and administration support, credit control and tele-conferencing facilities to ensure that our services are provided promptly and efficiently. Personal data and confidential information that we hold may be passed to these providers in order for them to undertake these services. In doing so we will always take care to ensure that your information remains confidential and safe.  In particular, we have confidentiality agreements in place with each of the providers.

Sharing information

If you are a client under the legal aid scheme, then we may be contractually required to share some or all of that information with the Legal Aid Agency and / or with our quality assurance auditors.

Occasionally, we may need to share some or all of your information with our quality assurance auditors for the purposes of their assessment of whether we are adhering to quality standards.  In particular, our files may need to be assessed for quality purposes by a Lexcel assessor and your file may be one of a sample which is to be assessed.  Any examination will be strictly controlled and will be shared for the sole purpose of ensuring that our handling of your matter meets the requirements of the quality standard.

We may have to share some or all of your information with other third parties.  This may include barristers, experts and other third parties who we need to instruct to assist us with your matter.  We may also have to share information with the Legal Ombudsman (if you complain about our services) and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (the statutory body that regulates solicitors).   In doing so we will always take care to ensure that your information remains confidential and safe. We will liaise with you during your case about which experts, barristers and other third parties we instruct on your behalf.

Your Rights

You have rights under the General Data Protection Regulation and these include the right to be informed what information we hold about you.  However, it is obviously likely that you will have provided us with such information as we hold.  If you believe that the information, we hold is wrong or out of date, please let us know and we will update it.  The person in this firm responsible for data protection is our Data Protection Officer, Nick Hanning and enquires and requests can be sent to him by telephone 0116 274 5252 or in writing to 298 Welford Road, Leicester, LE2 6EG.

How long will we hold your data?

We will only hold your information for as long as necessary to provide you with legal services and then for only so long as we are required either contractually or under our regulatory obligations.  This will generally be six years after the end of your matter.  After this time, we will confidentially destroy all information that we hold about you (in accordance with the clauses below relating to storage and retrieval) other than your name, address and date of birth which we will be obliged to continue to hold for the purposes of ensuring that we never act for another client where doing so would conflict with our obligations of confidentiality to you.

Money Laundering

Notification

Solicitors who deal with money and property on behalf of their client can be used by criminals wanting to launder money.

Under the provisions of our statutory obligations (in particular with regard to our obligations under the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 and other relevant legislation including the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Terrorism Act 2000), we are under a strict duty to report any circumstances where we know or suspect that a client or matter is involved in money laundering or terrorist financing, to the National Crime Agency.  Under these circumstances, we may be precluded from informing you of the disclosure or seeking your consent.  If we make a disclosure, we may also have to stop working on your matter for a period of time and may not be able to tell you why.

Identification

In view of the above, the law requires solicitors to get satisfactory evidence of the identity of their clients and sometimes people related to them. We may also be required to carry out background checks on our clients and to make detailed enquiries as to the source of funds being used in relation to transactions on which we are instructed to advise.

We are required to retain records of the identification obtained. We may delay, decline or cease to act for you if we have requested to see proof of your identity, but there has been an unreasonable delay in providing it.

If as a result of meeting our statutory obligations, or executing our internal procedures put in place to meet those obligations in good faith, we cause you loss, damage or delay, our liability to you will not exceed the minimum level of Professional Indemnity insurance cover as specified by the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules.

Referrals

If your matter has been referred to us by a third party and/or we have a financial arrangement with that third party then we shall disclose all relevant details to you in our Client Care Letter including the name of the referrer and the amount of any payment we make to that third party for referring you to us.  Similarly, if we receive a financial benefit as a result of acting for you, we will tell you of the amount in our Client Care Letter.

If the third party is paying us to provide services to you, we will inform you in our Client Care Letter of the amount the third party is paying us to provide services to you and, where applicable, the amount you are obliged to pay the third party.

Despite any financial relationship with a third party, we will provide you with independent advice and you are entitled to and we hope that you will feel happy to raise questions with us about any aspect of your matter.

Any information you provide to us or any advice that we give you during your matter will not be shared with the third party unless you expressly agree.

However, please note that if we are acting both for you and the third party in this matter, we may have to stop acting for both of you if there is a conflict of interest.

Email Communications

If you have the necessary facilities we will sometimes use Email for communication with you unless you tell us not to.

There are some specific points of which you should be aware:

(i)              Communications over the Internet are not completely secure. You will have to guide us as to what should or should not be sent over the Internet.

(ii)             Viruses or other harmful devices may be spread over the Internet.  We take reasonable precautions to prevent these problems by use of a firewall and virus checking software.  If we are to communicate by Email, it is on the basis that you will do likewise.

Termination

Termination by you

You may withdraw your instructions at any time by written notice to us.

Should your matter not be carried through to completion then a charge will be made in respect of the work that has already been completed based upon the fee structure that has been agreed. VAT or similar taxes will be payable on that amount and you will also be billed for any disbursements incurred.

We will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents whilst there is money owing to us for our fees and expenses.

Termination by us

In some circumstances, we may consider that we ought to cease acting for you.  We will only decline to act further for you where we have reasonable grounds to do so (for example: failure by you to settle invoices in full on the due date or to make payments in advance when so requested; failure by you to give clear and proper instructions on how we are to proceed; if it is clear that you have lost confidence in how we are carrying out your instructions; if by continuing to act we would be in breach of the law or rules of professional conduct).  If we do cease to act for you then we will confirm in writing the reasons why and give you reasonable notice.

Storage and Retrieval of files

At the end of the matter, we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses.

At the conclusion of your matter, we will store your file of papers for a reasonable period of time.  We would usually store casefiles for six years from the date of the final bill but reserve the right to determine the period of storage.  Such papers or files may be stored in an electronic form (with the original paper version being destroyed as soon as it is scanned and saved as an electronic file).

There may be documents such as deeds or wills which we have agreed to deposit for you in safe custody or documents that you have otherwise asked to be returned to you.  We will not destroy any such documents.

We also reserve our rights to destroy your files and papers (whether electronic or paper based) after a reasonable period, without prior notice to you, unless we receive a written request from you during this period.  At your request we will return any papers or property belonging to you which are not subject to a lien or otherwise being stored for safe keeping.

If we retrieve papers or documents or electronic data from storage in relation to continuing or renewing instructions to act for you, we will not normally charge for the direct cost for retrieval from storage.   However, in all other cases, we reserve the right to make a charge for the retrieval or delivery of any stored files (including electronic data), papers or deeds or a charge based on the time we spend reading stored files, papers of deeds, writing letters or other work necessary to comply with your instructions.  Our charges would be based on our hourly rate applicable at the given time and we would always discuss this with you beforehand.

Third Party Rights

The Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 does not apply to the terms of our retainer with you or any subsequent amendment to it unless we expressly confirm in writing this it does apply.

Enforcement

In the event that any of these terms and conditions is held to be invalid, the remainder of the terms and conditions will remain in full force and effect.

Governing law

These terms and conditions shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the law of England & Wales.

The Courts of England & Wales shall have exclusive jurisdiction in relation to any claim, dispute or difference concerning this agreement and any matter arising from it.

Future instructions

Unless otherwise agreed, and subject to the application of then current hourly rates, these Terms and Conditions of Business shall apply to any future instructions given by you to us.  Although your continuing instructions in this matter will amount to an acceptance of these terms and conditions of business, it will be helpful if you will please sign and return one copy of them for us to retain on our file.