Terms of Business

The Cranbrook Group Ltd practises as Cranbrook Legal or Cranbrook Solicitors and is a company registered in England & Wales number 09872965 whose registered office address is Fox Court, 14 Grays Inn Road, London WC1X 8HN. Any References to Principal means Director (who is a practicing Solicitor) and a list is available for inspection at our registered office. Cranbrook Legal is registered with the Law Society of England & Wales and authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (Firm ID number 639517). The SRA, as the regulatory body of Solicitors, requires all firms of solicitors to give their clients details of their Terms of Business.

This Agreement sets out the Terms of Business between us Cranbrook Solicitors (“we”, “the firm”) and you (“you”, “the Client”). Please read this document carefully, it contains important information which you will find useful both now and whilst we are carrying out work for you. We recommend that you refer to this document at regular intervals and at key points as your matter progresses. These Terms and Conditions of Business, unless varied in writing or by update on our website at http://www.cranbrooklegal.com indicate the basis on which this Firm will carry out professional services on your behalf. The Agreement should be read in conjunction with our Client Care Letter which will be sent to you separately.

PLACE AND HOURS OF BUSINESS

Our Head Office is at Fox Court, 14 Grays Inn Road, London WC1X 8HN and our telephone number is +44 (0)203 865 8870 and facsimile number is +44 (0)203 103 0008. Calls may be recorded for training or regulatory purposes. Parking is available in nearby NCP Car Parks. Normal hours of opening are 9.30am to 5.30pm on weekdays. However it may be possible to arrange appointments outside these hours when it is practical. Outside of these hours facsimile or email messages can be sent. In this Agreement the term “working day” excludes Saturdays, Sundays, Bank or other statutory holidays.

SERVICE STANDARDS

We operate systems throughout our business, insisting that all our staff meet certain standards with regard to Client Care. These standards include:
  • Sending you copies of all important correspondence;
  • Responding to you promptly within two clear business days, wherever possible;
  • Dealing with correspondence of any sort promptly;
  • Writing letters to you and others in plain and concise language;
  • Giving appointments to you without any undue delay;
  • Dealing with you and all persons with the same attention, courtesy and consideration regardless of race, colour, ethnic or national origins, sex, creed, disability or sexual orientation.
There are other standards, but these are the main ones that affect your dealings with us. Please let us know if you feel we are not keeping to these standards.

In order to assist us in providing an efficient and effective service we ask that you:
  • In all communications quote the file reference number of your matter and clearly address all written communications to your Legal Representative;
  • Leave clear telephone messages with your Legal Representative’s secretary, or reception;
  • Notify us immediately of any change of your address, telephone number or other material information;
  • Notify us immediately if you are delayed or cannot attend an appointment in respect of which we reserve the right to charge;
  • Respond to our requests promptly;
  • Pay payments on account, statute bills and disbursements without delay;
  • Contact your Legal Representative immediately if you receive
  • Any communication from your opponent or solicitors on that person’s behalf. Do not reply or enter into communication without speaking to your Legal Representative.
If you have any queries, or are unclear about procedures, or simply want information, please do not hesitate to contact your Legal Representative.

RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE WORK

We have a number of specialists within our office and the person to whom you give your first instructions may not be the most appropriate person to conduct the work. In this event the person to whom you gave your first instructions will pass your details to the appropriate person and they will contact you. Work will be carried out by your Legal Representative personally. Their name and title appears in the attached letter. There may be times when your Legal Representative is not in the Office or is unable to take your call. Instead, you can speak to a colleague, who will be familiar with your file. If the colleague is unable to help, they would take a message, and your Legal Representative will contact you as soon as possible.

FEES

Unless and until an alternative fee arrangement or a fixed fee has been agreed and confirmed in writing by us, the basis for the calculation of our fees is time spent per our hourly rates charged in 6 minute units.

TIME SPENT CHARGING: Our charges will be calculated mainly by reference to the time spent by our Legal Representatives comprising Solicitors, Barristers, Non-Practising Barristers, Trainees or Paralegals and other Executive staff dealing with your matter. This may include advising, attending on you and others, dealing with incoming and outgoing papers, letters and emails, researching, correspondence, telephone calls, travelling and waiting time and attending Court or Tribunal hearings.

UNIT BASED CHARGES: We time record the work that we do and fees will be calculated by reference to the number of hours spent on the instructions. The time recording is split into 10 units per hour i.e. one unit = 6 minutes, one hour is ten units and fractional units are rounded up to the next whole unit.

HOURLY RATES: The charging rate(s) quoted are generally reviewed annually to take account of changes in salary and other overhead costs. If your matter is not concluded before the next review, we will confirm any new rates which apply for work done from then, as soon as they have been set.

ESTIMATES: It may be difficult to estimate how many hours of work will be necessary to complete your matter partly because so much depends upon the way in which others react. Where appropriate, an estimate of charges is set out in the attached letter based on information presently known, and is given on the basis that your matter does not prove to be substantially more urgent, complex or time consuming than currently anticipated. Estimates are not costs caps or limits. You may, at any stage, wish to set a limit on the costs and disbursements that can be incurred by us on your behalf without further reference to you. Any limit must be notified to us in writing by signed letter sent by recorded signed for post and are not effective until we communicate our acknowledgment of notification of such limit in writing to you. Estimates may change as the matter proceeds and it becomes clearer how much time is likely to be needed. Wherever possible and not obvious we will let you know as soon as we can, if it becomes apparent that your matter has become more urgent, complex or time consuming than presently estimated. We will try and give you an indication of the anticipated future costs. However, this is sometimes difficult and figures given are only estimates and not costs caps or limits.

DISBURSEMENTS: There will be certain additional expenses (known as disbursements) for example for items such as Court fees, Counsel’s fees, HM Land Registry fees, copying fees, local search fees, Probate Registry fees. We have no obligation to make such payments unless funds have been provided by the client for those purposes. In the event that we make such a payment we reserve the right to charge interest on the outstanding amount at the rate applicable to outstanding statute bills until reimbursement is received. VAT is payable on certain disbursements.

FIXED FEES: Where we undertake to work for a fixed fee please refer to the letter delivered at the start of the matter in which we will confirm the agreed rate. The charges that we will be making in your matter cover the work that we have been instructed to undertake. If we are instructed to undertake further work or you delay your matter we would need to make additional charges and we will either provide you with an estimate of what they would be or in default revert to our hourly time spent rate. Should a matter not proceed fully we reserve the right to retain the full fixed fee or charge for our time at applicable hourly rates.

CARE & CONTROL: In certain matters our charges may also contain an element based on the value of the matter or claim which is known as “care and control”. This is because the value is a reflection of the importance of the matter and, consequently, the responsibility of the firm.

PRIORITY UPLIFT: In the event of your case involving exceptional circumstances (for instance, but not exclusively, exceptional complexity, out of hours work or particular requirements as to speed) the Firm reserves the right to increase the hourly rate for that particular work.

NON-COMPLETION OF HOURLY RATE WORK: Unless otherwise specifically agreed with you in writing, if for any reason, the firm does not complete the hourly rate chargeable work you have instructed us to do, then a charge will be made in respect of the work that has already been completed. VAT will normally be payable on that amount and you will also be billed for any “disbursements” (expenses and payments to third parties) incurred on your behalf.

PAYMENTS ON ACCOUNT: It is normal practice to ask clients to make payments on account of anticipated fees and disbursements. It is helpful if you can meet requests promptly; if there is any difficulty, please let us know as soon as possible.

NON-PAYMENT: In the event of any fees, expenses, payment on account or VAT (whether in respect of fees and expenses already incurred or in respect of fees and expenses to be incurred) not being paid we reserve the right to decline to act any further in relation to any or all matters we are dealing with until payment is made. If there are any funds held on our client account we may set off as against our fees, expenses or VAT.

UNDERTAKINGS: It we are asked to give a solicitor’s undertaking on your behalf, we are entitled to require you to make a deposit of funds with us or give other security.

ADMINISTRATIVE FEES: From time to time we may be required to charge administrative fees in connection with your matter. Administrative fees may be incurred where we are need for example to send original documents by post, where a paid consultation/meeting has been cancelled and we have agreed not to apply the full charges, where we are required to retrieve a file from archive or where additional photocopying needs to be carried out, and those fees are not covered by any of fees as stated above. Please note that these examples for administrative fees are not exhaustive nor are we able to specify the exact fees in advance. We shall inform you if an administrative fee arises and the amount.

PRINTING / COPYING / SCANNING CHARGES: Whilst we are actively instructed, we do not charge for printing, copying or scanning documents except where the number of impressions made on your matter exceeds 1000 pages. For every subsequent impression, we charge at a cost which is less than or equivalent to the charges of external printroom agencies (such agencies fees if incurred will be treated as a chargeable disbursement). The cost per impression is 5p for black and white pages. We do not charge any additional fee for colour impressions. Once your matter is closed the cost per impression is 25p. These charges are subject to VAT and will be set out on any invoice.

SUMMARY OR DETAILED STATUTE BILLS: We provide a summary of time spent on our statute bills and not timesheet records. If you want more information a detailed statute bill can be provided on contentious matters. You may request a statute bill containing detailed items within three months of receiving a summary statute bill. This detailed statute bill will then replace the summary statute bill.

ASSESSMENT OF STATUTE BILLS: You may be able to have your charges reviewed by the Court. This is called “assessment”. You have the right to seek assessment of the statute bill under s.70, 71 and 72 of the Solicitors Act 1974. In the event of you seeking to apply for assessment of costs it is possible that you might yourself incur costs if it was found upon assessment that our bill of costs has been reasonable.

PERSONAL LIABILITY: Unless otherwise agreed in writing, you will be personally responsible for payment of our fees and VAT and for reimbursing any expenses we incur on your behalf.

PERSONAL CONTRACT OF GUARANTEE (BY DIRECTORS OR PARTNERS): Directors of a Company or Partners in a Partnership which instructs us are personally responsible for the payment of our statute bills. This is to ensure that our statute bills are paid either by your Company or Partnership and in the event they are not, by you personally (as an individual). This ensures that we are able to advise at all stages notwithstanding that the Company or Partnership is in financial difficulties or we do not have monies on account.

INTEREST AND LATE PAYMENT FEE

Unless otherwise agreed, payment of each of our statute bills, including interim statute bills, is due within 14 days of its date. If the statute bill is not paid in full within that time it is agreed that we the firm may (a) charge you the client interest from the date of the statute bill on the amount unpaid at the rate of 8% over the Bank of England’s Official Bank Rate from time to time in force and (b) a late payment administration fee of £35 plus VAT.

RETENTION OF DOCUMENTS (LIEN)

It is agreed that the firm may retain any deeds, documents or other materials belonging to you the client until payment of outstanding statute bills have been made and that we may apply money held on your behalf towards payment of outstanding statute bills.

INTEREST RECOVERED

In the event that you are successful in your claim and the costs of the matter fall to be paid by the other party (either in whole or in part) then, where interest is also recovered on your costs as payable by the other party, it is agreed that we are entitled to retain the whole of that interest. Any interest recovered on costs and disbursements after judgment is pronounced but before a Costs Assessment is made, which has not in fact been paid prior to the Assessment, shall as to the interest on costs belong to the firm and as to the interest on disbursements, be held by the firm for or on behalf of the person or persons to whom the disbursements are ultimately paid.

INTEREST EARNED

If we hold money in our bank account on your behalf, interest will be due to you in accordance with the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules 1991, which provide that, subject to certain minimum amounts and periods, notional interest is payable at the same rate as you would receive from a bank. We may apply interest towards settlement of any statute bill delivered to you or hold it on account of work in progress, and will retain it when it amounts, in total, to £50 or less.

COSTS INFORMATION

Particularly at the conclusion of your matter, and if you are successful, you may succeed in getting your costs paid by someone else. However, it is rare for the system of “Assessment” of costs, as it is known, to result in you recovering the full amount of the costs that have been incurred on your behalf.

It may also be the case, for example, that the other person may not be capable of paying what they have been ordered to pay. For this reason, responsibility for the payment of our costs remains with you; it will not be possible to postpone payment of our statute bills in the hope that they will be or should be met by someone else. This agreement expressly permits this firm to charge an amount of costs greater than that which you will recover or could have recovered from the other party to any proceedings or otherwise and expressly permits payment of such sum.

In the event of such an assessment taking place we usually employ the services of a specialist Costs Lawyers to prepare bills of costs that require the approval of the Court or the Legal Services Commission. You will be responsible for the fees charged by any Costs Lawyer (unless and until they are paid by your opponent, or you have a Public Funding Certificate) but those fees will not exceed the charging rate we would levy for the work being done by a solicitor.

If you are successful and the costs of the matter fall to be paid by the other party, we may be able to claim interest on those costs to be paid as from the date on which the Order for costs was made. We will retain this interest insofar as it relates to our charges which have not been asked for and paid on Account.

You should also bear in mind that you may be ordered to pay the costs of another party, especially if you are unsuccessful.

Withdrawal from Proceedings – If following the institution of Court proceedings, you decide to discontinue your action you must be aware that unless your withdrawal is acceptable to the other party or parties without costs consequences you may be required to pay all or part of the other party or parties’ legal costs and disbursements.

If the other party is in receipt of Public Funding costs may not be recovered. If you are publicly funded and unsuccessful in your claim an order that you pay the other party’s costs can be made against you even though our own costs will be covered by Public Funding.

Clients must be aware that the primary liability for costs incurred with us is that of the client even in a case where it is expected that an order for costs will be obtained against another party. Further, the costs of seeking to enforce any such order for costs against another party have to be met by the client.

Enforcement Proceedings – If, following successful litigation, the party charged with paying damages and/or costs fails to pay either in full or in part then the costs of all necessary enforcement proceedings are a separate issue and are to be funded appropriately. You may not recover all of the ordered damages or costs or the costs of enforcement.

Part 36 Offer – If a Defendant makes an offer to settle or a payment in accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules the Claimant must be aware that to continue the action beyond that point in the hope of succeeding in a greater sum may have adverse costs consequences if the eventual order is for a smaller sum or the same sum as set out in the offer or paid into Court.

Costs Orders are a complex subject that we will be able to explain to you in greater detail if you wish.

Criminal Cases: If all of the allegations against you are successfully defended, the court has a discretion to order that your costs are paid from central funds. This may mean that some of this firm’s costs would be reimbursed by the court. Please note that if you are unsuccessful, the court has a power to order that you pay some of all of the costs incurred by the Crown in bringing the prosecution.

RECEIPT OF MONIES/FINANCIAL

Your matter can only be financed using funds cleared through our Client/Office Account. We require eight full working days clearance for all cheques and bankers drafts received and we recommend that you make payment direct to our account by means of an electronic transfer. If receipt of monies are delayed because you provide funds after the specified time, or by an inappropriate means, then we will not be held liable for any direct or consequential losses for as long as the funds remain uncleared and we reserve the right to charge interest at the rate stated above herein. It is agreed and understood that as your Solicitors we may receive monies directed to you and credit these to you in our Client Account.

YOUR DOCUMENTS AND DATA

  • Personal data will be processed by us in order to carry out your instructions and will be handled in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (EU) 2016/679. Data will be stored by us mainly on our Information Technology systems but will also be backed up on a third-party IT supplier’s system. At the end of your case, upon request, we can send your original documents in our file on your matter to you so you can retain them. We can also provide to you or make available for you to collect any copies that are legally yours. Our file of working papers is retained by us following completion of your case, on this basis:
  • Our file of working papers and notes, including Court Orders, may be retained by us as a “hardcopy” paper document, or at our sole option converted to and retained in an electronic format only;
  • We shall retain our file, free of charge, for a minimum period of 6 years following completion of your case or matter. After the 6 year period our file on your matter will be confidentially destroyed;
  • We are released from all responsibility for any loss, damage or other injury suffered or claimed as a result of such destruction; and
That a reasonable charge based on time spent plus VAT will be made in the respect of retrieval, checking correspondence, copying (including if for ourselves) and delivery in the event that you request your file while stored with us.

If you are an individual, you will need to provide us with personal data about yourself (and possibly others) for the purposes of our engagement. Such data may include your name, address, date of birth, passport or other identification documentation, contact numbers and email and bank account details.

Any such personal data may be used by us for the provision of our legal services, billing and other administrative purposes. It may also be used by us from time to time to provide you (and where appropriate anyone for whom you act) with information about the firm and our services (including contacting you or them by email or telephone).

If you are the representative of any legal entity other than an individual, we will use any personal data you provide to us for the purposes of acting, on the same basis as set out above. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have appropriate procedures in place (including adequate privacy notices) when you ask us to collect and process personal data for the purposes of your matter.

If you have any concerns about the status of such data you must let the solicitor dealing with your matter know before any such data is shared with us.

None of the information we hold about you will be disclosed to third parties except:

(i) as is reasonable and necessary for the purpose of carrying out your instructions;
(ii) as required by law;
(iii) as required by any regulatory or governmental authority to which we are subject;
(iv) as required to enable us to enforce our rights under our retainer; and
(v) in court proceedings whereby members of the public are able to access copies of judgments, documents and orders filed at court, and any documents, emails etc. provided to your opponent during court proceedings may also enter the public domain.

If you are an individual and wish to make a subject access request at any time, please email us on info@cranbrooklegal.com and your request will be dealt with as soon possible and in any event by one month from the date of the request.

CONFIDENTIALITY

We aim to give a high quality efficient service. We may need to demonstrate our maintenance of standards to professional bodies and authorities and to other organisations. It is agreed between us that we have your authority to produce your file and other documents and to give information as an exception to our obligations as to confidentiality. It is agreed between us that we may ask other companies or people to do administrative or storage work on our files. Moreover, the Terrorism Act 2000, Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and Money Laundering Regulations may require us to report matters to the appropriate authorities as an exception to the normal rules of client confidentiality.

LIMITATION OF LIABILITY – IMPORTANT

IT IS HEREBY AGREED AND CONFIRMED that the liability hereunder (whether vicarious or direct) of the firm of Cranbrook Solicitors and/or their successors for any loss or damage howsoever such liability shall arise (including but not limited to liability arising by reason of negligence or breach of statutory duty) shall be: Limited to the sum of Three Million Pounds Sterling (£3,000,000).

TERMINATION

You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time. For example, you may decide that you cannot give us clear or proper instructions on how to proceed, or you may lose

confidence in our work. We may be entitled to keep all your papers and documents whilst monies are owing to us. Please note that any work carried out on a Fixed Fee basis will be due in full should you terminate your instructions prior to the completion of your case.

FUTURE INSTRUCTIONS

Unless otherwise agreed and subject to the application of current hourly rates, or revised Terms and Conditions, these terms and conditions of business shall apply to any future instructions given by you to us.

GOVERNING LAW

These Terms and Conditions are governed by and shall be construed in accordance with the Laws of England. Disputes arising hereunder shall be subject to the jurisdiction of the English Courts to which you submit.

AGREEMENT

The terms of this document are not intended to form the basis of either a “Contentious Business Agreement” or a “Non-Contentious Business Agreement” within the meaning of the Solicitors Act, 1974 or the Solicitors Remuneration Order; 1994 (if they did so, it would restrict your right to challenge the fees charged by us) – although we may separately reach such an agreement with you.

Distance Selling Regulations 2000; It is agreed that you give us your permission to start work on your behalf immediately and agree that by so doing you lose the right to cancel that would otherwise apply. It is agreed and understood that work which we may be instructed to carry out on your behalf will not necessarily be completed within the 30 day period referred to in these regulations.

It is agreed that where we act for two or more clients we may (unless written instructions are given to the contrary) accept instructions from one of you on behalf of all of you. This Agreement supersedes any previous agreement between the parties and is made between you the client(s) and us Cranbrook Legal, for the time being and/or their successor and until otherwise agreed, shall apply to any future instructions given by you the client(s) to Cranbrook Legal.

These terms and the relevant client care letter constitutes the whole agreement between you and this firm and you acknowledge that you have not relied on, and shall not have any right or remedy in respect of, any statement, representation, assurance or warranty other than expressly set out in this agreement.

Your continuing instructions amount to acceptance of these Terms & Conditions of Business.

OUR COMPLAINTS HANDLING POLICY

We are committed to high quality legal advice and client care. If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service you have received, please first raise the matter with the person responsible for your case and if your complaint remains unresolved please contact our client care contact, Mr M. Amer Zaman.
  • We will acknowledge receipt of your complaint promptly.
  • Our client care contact will then investigate your complaint and review your matter and speak to the member(s) of staff who acted for you.
  • We will usually invite you within around 14 days to a meeting to discuss and hopefully resolve your complaint.
  • Within three days of the meeting, we will write to you to confirm what took place and any solutions that can be agreed.
  • If you do not want a meeting or it is not necessary, we will send you a detailed written reply, including suggestions for resolution, within 21 days of sending you the acknowledgement letter.
  • If you are still not satisfied, you can contact: Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 15870, Birmingham B30 9EB about your complaint. Any complaint to the Legal Ombudsman must usually be made within twelve months of the date of our final written response on your complaint. For further information, contact the Legal Ombudsman on 03005550333 or via email on enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk.
  • If we have to change any of the timescales above, we will let you know and explain why.
Contact Us
By Appointment Only

Fox Court
14 Grays Inn Road
London
WC1X 8HN

Telephone: 0203 865 8870
Fax: 0203 103 0008
Email: Info@cranbrooklegal.com

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