Our contract with you
Each time you instruct us on a new matter we will send you a letter confirming your instructions and setting out:
- the details of the work we will carry out for you;
- our fees; and
- any specific terms that will apply to the work.
By continuing to instruct us to carry out work for you, you are accepting the terms of the letter of engagement and these terms of business.
Unless you and we agree otherwise, these terms of business will apply to all future instructions you give us on this or any other matter. We may change these terms of business from time to time, and the most up-to-date version will be on our website at www.robsols.co.uk/terms-of-business
The contract between you and us, and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with it (including non-contractual disputes or claims), will be governed by, and interpreted in line with, the laws of England and Wales.
We, Robertsons Legal Ltd (trading as Robertsons Solicitors & Robertsons Family Law), are a company incorporated in England and Wales. Our registered office is at 6 Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3RS, and our company registration number is 9645024.
You can find details of the addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of our offices on our website at www.robsols.co.uk.
We are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). The SRA is the independent regulator of all solicitors, and most law firms, in England and Wales. We and our solicitors, registered European lawyers and registered foreign lawyers are governed by codes of conduct and other professional rules. You can see these on the SRA’s website (www.sra.org.uk) or get copies by calling 0370 606 2555.
References to ‘you’ in these terms of business mean the client (or clients) named in the letter of engagement, and anyone authorised to give instructions on their behalf.
Receiving instructions from you
If two or more people are named as clients in the letter of engagement, we can act on instructions given by any or all of you. If the client named in the letter of engagement is a company, unless we are told otherwise we will accept instructions given by any or all of your employees, directors and officers.
We can act on instructions that are not given in writing.
Our responsibilities and your responsibilities
|What you can expect of us||What we expect of you|
|We will… Treat you fairly and with respect Communicate with you in plain language Review your matter regularly Tell you about any changes in the law that affect your matter Tell you about any reasonably foreseeable circumstances and risks that could affect the outcome of the work we are carrying out for you||You must… Provide documents when we ask for them, and respond promptly when we ask for instructions or information Tell us if your contact details change Tell us immediately if your expectations change or if you are not sure you understand what we have discussed Tell us any time limits or objectives that might not be obvious to us Tell us immediately if you receive any email or other communication that appears to be from us and stating that we have changed our bank details or payment arrangements Let us know about any other changes that may affect the way we carry out our work for you|
Our legal services
We will not advise on surveying, valuation, commercial viability, trading or marketability issues. We only advise on tax if we have agreed in writing to do so. We do not provide financial services or advice, except as described at the ‘Financial services’ section of these terms of business.
- are for use only in connection with the specific matter you have instructed us to deal with;
- can only be relied on by you; and
- reflect the law in force at the time.
We are normally open between 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday.
We will keep you updated on the likely timescale for each stage of your matter. Whenever there is a significant change in circumstances associated with your matter, we will update you on whether the potential outcomes still justify the estimated costs and risks.
We will update you on the cost of your matter at the intervals set out in the letter of engagement. If appropriate, we will continue to review whether there are alternative ways of funding your matter.
Our liability to you
Your contract is solely with us, and we alone are legally liable for the work we do for you. No individual representative, director, officer, employee, agent or consultant of ours will have any personal legal liability for any loss or claim.
- We do not have any obligation to any person other than you.
- We do not accept any liability or responsibility for consequences arising from any person other than you relying on our advice.
- We are not responsible for any failure to advise on or comment on any matters falling outside the scope of your instructions, as set out in these terms of business and the letter of engagement.
- Our maximum liability to you (or any other party we have agreed can rely on our services) in connection with any single matter or group of related matters will be £5 million in total, including interest and costs, unless we state a different amount in the letter of engagement.
- losses that you or we could not have foreseen when the contract was formed;
- losses not caused by any failure or negligence of ours; and
- business losses, including losses suffered by any person not acting for the purposes of their trade, business or profession.
- death or personal injury caused by our negligence;
- fraud or fraudulent statements or assurances;
- any losses caused by misconduct or dishonesty; or
- any losses which, by law, we cannot limit.
Our charges and billing
We will charge a fee of £35 if a cheque is returned unpaid (that is, if it ‘bounces’.).
Please tell 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 we will need the third party’s name, contact details and any other information or ID we ask for. You will always be responsible for our bills, even if someone else has agreed to pay some or all of them, and our bills will still be addressed to you. If someone else pays only some of our bills, you are responsible for paying the rest.
You have the right to challenge our bill by asking the court to assess it under the Solicitors Act 1974. The usual time limit for applying to the court for an assessment is one month from the date the bill is delivered.
- you give us permission (consent) to share the information;
- we have to provide the information by law; or
- these terms of business state otherwise.
Unless you instruct us otherwise, we will communicate with you by email. We use a range of information-security measures, but we cannot guarantee the security of information or documents sent by email. If you do not want us to communicate with you by email, please let us know.
External organisations such as the Information Commissioner’s Office, the Law Society, qualification boards and the SRA may from time to time conduct audits or quality checks on our work. They may want to check your case file and related papers for this purpose. We will make sure that these external organisations keep any information involved in an audit or quality check confidential.
Conflicts of interests
A conflict of interest is a situation where the concerns or aims of two different parties are incompatible. Before we accept any instructions from you we will consider relevant legal or professional regulations to determine whether following your instructions would create a conflict of interest. Similarly, we will not act for another client in connection with the subject matter of your instruction, or a related matter, if this would create a conflict of interests, unless legal or professional regulations allow us to also act for that other client.
If a conflict of interest arises while we are carrying out work for you, we may have to end the contract with you. However, we could continue to provide advice as long as that was allowed under legal or professional regulations.
We will not be liable to you for any losses arising from us ending the contract if we have to do so as a result of a conflict of interest.
If we have arrangements in place to protect your documents or information which are or may be relevant to any instructions for another client, we can act for that other client.
We are under a professional duty to keep your documents and information confidential and will not reveal them to any third party outside our firm without your permission. You agree that we may share your information with other parties within our firm if we have a legal or professional obligation to do so.
Privacy and data protection
We use your personal information mainly to provide legal services to you, but also for related purposes such as administration, billing, record keeping, and to tell you about our services and events that we think you may be interested in.
How we can use your personal information is controlled by:
- your instructions;
- the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UKGDPR);
- other relevant UK laws; and
- our professional duty of confidentiality.
We use third-party service providers (including ‘cloud’ service providers) to help us provide efficient, cost-effective legal services. We make sure all third-party service providers keep to service agreements that are consistent with our legal and professional obligations, including in relation to confidentiality, privacy and data protection. If you instruct us to use an alternative provider for storing, sharing or exchanging documents or information, we are not responsible for the security of the documents or information, or the provider’s security standards.
We may use your personal information to send you updates (by email, text message, phone or post) about legal developments that might be of interest to you or information about our services, promotions or new services. You can opt out of receiving such communications by:
- emailing email@example.com; or
- using the ‘unsubscribe’ link in our emails.
Banking and related matters
Our client account
Unless we agree otherwise, we hold clients’ money in various accounts with UK banks regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Changes to our bank details
We will never tell you about changes to important business information, such as bank account details, by email. If you receive any email or other communication claiming to be from us and stating that we have changed our bank details or payment arrangements, please tell us immediately.
Paying interest on client money
- on money we have been instructed to hold outside our client account and where it does not earn interest (for example, in our safe);
- that is less than £30;
- if we agree otherwise, in writing, with the person the money is held for.
Financial Services Compensation Scheme
We are not liable for any losses you suffer as a result of any bank that client money is held with being unable to pay back the money in full. However, you may be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). The FSCS can pay compensation of up to £85,000 if a banking institution cannot pay, or will likely be unable to pay, money it owes.
The compensation limit is £85,000 per banking institution. If you have an account of your own in the same banking institution as our client accounts, the compensation limit is still £85,000 in total. Some banking institutions have several brands. The compensation limit is £85,000 per institution, not per brand.
The FSCS also provides up to £1 million of short-term protection for certain high balances (for example, the proceeds from selling a home, inheritances, divorce settlements, redundancy payments, and personal-injury compensation). This is called the temporary high balance scheme and, if it applies, protection lasts for up to six months.
The FSCS (including the temporary high balance scheme) will apply to eligible balances held in our client account. If a banking institution which holds client money is unable to repay it, we will (unless you tell us otherwise in writing) give your details to the FSCS.
More information about the FSCS can be found at www.fscs.org.uk.
Receiving payments from you
Our policy is to only accept cash payments of up to £500 per matter we are instructed upon. If you try to avoid this policy by paying cash directly to our bank, we may charge you for any checks we decide are necessary to prove the source of the funds. Those checks could also delay our work for you. This also applies if we receive money relating to your matter from an unexpected source.
Making payments to you
Preventing money laundering and terrorist financing
To keep to anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing requirements, we are likely to ask you for proof of your identity and may make enquiries for this purpose. We may also need to verify the identity of other people associated with you. If you or they do not provide the required information promptly, your matter may be delayed.
We may ask you to confirm the source of any money you have sent us or will send us. If you do not provide that information promptly, your matter may be delayed or we may not be able to continue to act for you.
We are professionally and legally obliged to keep your affairs confidential. However, we may be required by law to give information to the National Crime Agency if we know about or suspect money laundering or terrorist financing. We may not be able to tell you that we have done this. Also, we may have to stop working on your matter for a period of time and may not be able to tell you why.
Except where the ‘Our liability to you’ section says otherwise, we will not be liable for any loss arising from or connected with us keeping to any legal obligation we have (or have good reason to believe we have) to report matters to the relevant authorities under anti-money laundering or terrorist financing laws.
We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, but we are included on their register so that we can carry on ‘insurance distribution activity’, which broadly means advising on, selling and managing insurance contracts. This part of our business, including arrangements for settling complaints if something goes wrong, is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
You can check the FCA register at www.fca.org.uk/firms/financial-services-register.
We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in relation to credit arrangements. However, because we are regulated by the SRA, we may be able to provide limited consumer credit services that are closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you.
We are also not authorised by the FCA to provide investment advice. If you need advice on investments, we may refer you to someone who is authorised by the FCA to provide the necessary advice. And because we are regulated by the SRA, we may be able to provide limited investment advice that is closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you.
Professional indemnity insurance
It is a condition of our professional indemnity insurance that we tell our insurer, or the broker who arranged the cover, about any circumstances which may give rise to a claim being made against us. In this situation we may provide documents and information to our insurer, broker and insurance advisers. They are contractually obliged to keep all information we pass to them strictly confidential.
If you are unhappy with our service
We want to give you the best possible service. However, if you become unhappy with or concerned about the service we have provided you should tell us immediately so we can do our best to solve the problem.
If we do not settle your complaint within eight weeks, you may be eligible to complain to the Legal Ombudsman (for example, if you are an individual, a business with fewer than 10 employees and turnover or assets under a certain threshold, or a charity or trust with an income (after tax) of less than £1 million). Making a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman will not affect how we handle your matter.
The Legal Ombudsman will check that you have tried to settle your complaint with us first. If you haven’t, the Legal Ombudsman cannot consider your complaint.
Normally, you will need to contact the Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving our final written response to your complaint, or within:
- six years of the act or failure you are complaining about; or
- if you do not become aware of the act of failure within the six-year period, within three years of when you should reasonably have subsequently become aware of it.
You can get more details from the Legal Ombudsman using the contact details below.
If you are unhappy with our behaviour
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) can help if you are concerned about our behaviour. This could be for things like dishonesty, taking or losing your money or treating you unfairly because of your age, a disability or other characteristic.
The SRA’s website (www.sra.org.uk/consumers/problems/report-solicitor) contains information about raising concerns about solicitors and law firms.
Ending the contract
We will only end the contract and stop acting for you if we have good reason (for example, if we feel that the relationship between you and us has broken down, you do not pay a bill within one month of it becoming due, you give us misleading information, or you act in an abusive or offensive way). We will give you reasonable notice before we stop acting for you.
If you or we decide to end the contract, we will charge you for the work we have done so far and, if appropriate, for transferring the matter to another adviser you specify. We will calculate the amount you owe as set out in the letter of engagement.
Right to cancel
If you entered into the contract:
- during a visit we made to meet with you outside our office, or after an offer you made during that visit;
- on your business premises; or
- by phone, email or other communication that is not face-to-face;
the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 and the Consumer Rights Act 2015 may apply to the contract. If so, you will have the right to cancel the contract, without giving any reason, within 14 days of the day the contract started. This 14-day period is referred to as the cooling-off period.
To cancel within the cooling-off period, you must tell us this by:
Effects of cancellation
If you cancel this contract during the cooling-off period, we will refund all payments we have received from you, unless you asked us to do any work before the end of the cooling-off period (see ‘Work carried out during the cooling-off period’ below).
We will pay the refund:
You will not have to pay any fees to receive a refund.
Work carried out during the cooling-off period
We will not start work during the cooling-off period unless you ask us to.
In most cases, if you ask us to do any work during the cooling-off period, you will not lose your right to cancel. If you go on to cancel the contract during the cooling-off period, we can charge you for the work we have done. This charge will be a proportion of the full cost of the work, as set out in the contract.
You will have to pay the full cost set out in the contract, and lose the right to cancel, once we have completed all the work, even if this happens within the cooling-off period.
Storing and releasing files
We normally store your file (except any of your papers you ask us to return) for six years after we send you our final bill, after which time we may destroy it. Unless you tell us otherwise, we may scan paper documents onto our system to be stored electronically and then destroy the paper copies. However, we will not destroy original documents such as wills, deeds and other securities which we have agreed to hold in safe custody, but we may return them to you, after giving you reasonable notice.
We will not charge you anything for storing your file, or for the safe-keeping of original documents such as wills and title deeds, unless the letter of engagement says otherwise.
- time spent retrieving the file and providing it to you;
- any tasks we need to carry out to meet your request, including reading and producing correspondence; and
- extra copies of any documents.
We will provide an electronic copy of the file unless it is not appropriate to do so.
Version 15 – Updated 16.05.2022