TERMS OF BUSINESS
We value your instructions and we are committed to providing you with the highest level of service.
These standard terms and conditions are to be read in conjunction with the retainer letter and are set out on which basis we shall provide you with legal services.
Occasionally we may need to amend the terms of business but we shall provide you with those updated terms of business and those updated terms will apply.
2. Regulatory Status
2.1 Ryans Solicitors Limited is a company registered in England and Wales (register number 08374353) and we are regulated and authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA no: 596926). The professional rules relating to solicitors’ firms, including the Standards and Regulations can be accessed on the website of the SRA at https://sra.org.uk/
2.2 We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), however, we are included on the register maintained by the FCA so that we can carry on insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the advising on, selling and administration of insurance contracts. This 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 FCA website at https://register.fca.org.uk/
3. Business Hours
We are normally open between 9:00am-5:30pm from Monday to Friday excluding Bank Holidays, however we may be able to arrange appointments outside of these hours.
4. Responsibility for the work
Our retainer letter will identify who will have overall responsibility for your matter, the person who will be dealing with your matter on a daily basis and their supervisor (if this is a different person to the partner). If we have to involve other people within Ryans Solicitors, we will tell you their names, job titles and the areas of your matter that they will deal with.
We will communicate with and on behalf of you in the most effective way. We may send emails which, for convenience, are not in encrypted format but we will scan them for computer viruses although we cannot guarantee they will be virus free. We may monitor e-mails in accordance with the Telecommunications (Lawful Business Practice) (Interception of Communications) Regulations 2000.
We may inform you about our services from time to time unless you notify us otherwise.
6. Our Charges
6.1 Our service cost and our terms and conditions are outlined in the Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) or Damages Based Agreement (DBA) terms and conditions that will be sent to individual clients. Unless otherwise agreed we shall charge you for work carried out as follows;
6.2 We charge hourly rates for any time spent dealing with your matter. Our charges are calculated by multiplying a person’s hourly charging rate by the time (or units) they have spent working on your case. Each unit represents 6 minutes of time. Each routine letter, email and telephone call is charged as a unit of one tenth of the hourly rate. Preparing letters, emails, documents and telephone calls that take longer than six minutes are charged on a time spent basis.
6.3 Hourly rates vary depending upon the qualification and expertise of the fee earner and the type of work being undertaken. It may be necessary for different levels of fee earners to be involved depending upon the complexity of the matter.
6.4 Our hourly rates are reviewed periodically, we will advise you of any changes throughout the duration of your matter.
6.5 We believe that our charges should also reflect the value of our services to you. So we may take into account how complicated your matter is, how urgent it is, the value of the transaction, specialist skills, and the amount of responsibility we accept.
6.6 Disbursements may be incurred on your behalf in order to progress your claim such as expert reports, counsel or court fees. We charge for all disbursements incurred on your matter.
6.7 Where extra work is done to advance your claim and where repeated calls or letters are sent to pursue your instructions we reserve the right in every case to charge at the hourly rates set out and make additional deductions for the work we have done. Should you fail to co-operate with us under the terms of our agreement we will be entitled to recover our none co-operation charges in this matter which will be based on the time we spend on your behalf. Such charges are in excess of the 25% deduction are recoverable on the basis that you have failed to comply with the terms of our agreement and conditional fee agreement.
6.9 VAT is added to our fees as appropriate, at the prevailing rate. Hourly rates quoted are exclusive of VAT. Ryans Solicitors is VAT registered, our VAT number is 107 1237 53.
6.10 Should you wish to cap the amount of fees which may be incurred on your matter then please inform us. This may however limit and restrict the work which we will be able to carry out for you.
6.11 Any estimate of fees is not intended to be fixed or legally binding.
6.12 We do not accept payment by cash.
7. Challenging our Charges
7.1 In any circumstances where we do seek payment of our charges from you, you are entitled to make a complaint to us about the firm’s bill, in accordance with our complaints procedure. There may also be a right to object the bill by making a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman, and/or by applying to the Court for an assessment of it under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. Please note that the Legal Ombudsman may not consider a complaint about the bill if you have applied to the Court for assessment of the bill.
7.2 In the event that you become personally liable to our practice for unpaid fees, by signing the agreement you are giving permission for us to search on Experian or other credit check databases in the event that you fail to respond or we have problems tracing you to the last given address.
8. Our Responsibilities
8.1 Always act in your best interests, subject to our duty to the court;
8.2 Explain to you the risks and benefits of taking legal action;
8.3 Give you our best advice about whether to accept any offer of settlement;
8.4 Give you the best information possible about the likely cost of your case; and
8.5 Provide you with a good standard of service.
9. Your Responsibilities
9.1 Give us clear, timely and accurate instructions to allow us to do our work properly;
9.2 Provide all documentation required to complete the transaction; Court timescales are strictly enforced so you should return documents within 7 days at the latest, otherwise this could have a very negative impact on your claim;
9.3 Not ask us to work in an improper or unreasonable way;
9.4 Not mislead us;
9.5 Co-operate with us;
9.6 Attend as necessary on any expert, counsel conference and at any court hearing;
9.7 Safeguard any documents that are likely to be required for disclosure to the other party;
9.8 Advise us as soon as possible of any approach from another solicitor, or claims management company, etc.; you should not discuss the matter with them but ask them to contact us; and
9.9 If appropriate let us know as soon as possible if you are in receipt of means tested benefits or tax credits. In some circumstances, any payment that you receive as damages from the other party may affect your entitlement to claim benefits. If that was the case we would look at setting up a ‘settlement trust’ in order to protect your receipt of means tested benefits or tax credits.
9.10 Failure to keep to your responsibilities may lead to a breach in our terms of business and our agreement under which your case is funded and may render you liable for our costs and other charges and potentially those charges incurred by the opposing party. Subject to any cancellation rights, if you wish to abandon your claim at any stage before settlement without our prior agreement; fail to provide us with instructions within a timely manner or if you provide us with instructions or information which is misleading, we will be entitled to seek payment of our costs and disbursements.
10.1 No director, partner or member of staff of Ryans Solicitors Limited will have any personal liability for work undertaken for you. You agree not to bring any claim personally against any individual director, partner or member of staff in respect of any loss which you suffer or incur, directly or indirectly, in connection with our services. This will not limit Ryans Solicitor Limited’s own liability for its acts or omissions. In the event that you do pursue any director, agent or employee this provision is intended to benefit such directors and members of staff, who may enforce this clause pursuant to the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999.
10.2 Ryans Solicitors Limited may be affected as a result of any arrangements you have with other advisors which limit their liability to you in connection with a mater that we are acting for you. This could arise where Ryans Solicitors Limited is one of several professionals advising you in connection with the same matter and you have agreed a limitation of liability with another of your advisors. In circumstances where we would otherwise be jointly and severally liable with those other advisors for a claim, you agree that Ryans Solicitors Limited shall not be liable for any increased amount thereby payable by us, or for any amount which we would have been entitled to recover from another of your advisers or other third party by way of indemnity, contribution or otherwise, but are unable to recover because of that limitation or exclusion of liability. We ask you to advise us as early as possible if you have agreed or are likely to agree a limitation of the liability of your other professional advisors where we are also acting for you.
10.3 Ryans Solicitors Limited’s liability for any one claim or series of connected claim shall not exceed £3 Million Pounds. We hold Professional Indemnity Insurance and should you so request, we will provide you with the name and contact details of our insurer.
10.4 If we engage third parties to participate in the services Ryans Solicitors Limited provide then we will not be liable in respect of any advice given or work undertaken by them (regardless of whether such persons were introduced by us).
10.5 We shall only be liable to pay you the proportion of your losses which is found to be fairly and reasonably due to our fault. We shall not be liable to pay you the proportion which is fairly and reasonably due to the fault of another party.
10.6 We shall not be liable to you if we fail to meet any of our obligations under the agreement due to matters outside of our reasonable control (e.g. the disruption caused to us or opposite parties, third parties or the Courts by the COVID-19 pandemic). For the avoidance of doubt this includes the actions, omissions, errors or deficiencies of any third party instructed by us. We will let you know if such an issue arises in connection with your matter.
10.7 No third party will be entitled to enforce this agreement.
11. Data Processing
11.1 Your details may be entered into our database. We refer to this information as “personal data”. We will use this personal data, primarily for the provision of providing you with our legal services. You confirm that you are authorised to provide to us any personal data that we process on your behalf.
11.2 Such personal data will also be kept on our database for administration and accounting purposes, to enable us to undertake any searches with credit reference agencies and so that we can send you, or such key individuals, relevant information about us, our services and about developments and events which we consider to be of interest to you.
11.3 However, except as permitted above or as required by law, we will not share or otherwise disclose to any third party any information provided by you. All personal information will be processed in accordance with applicable privacy laws.
12. Complaining about data processing
12.1 If you have concerns about how we have processed your personal data, you should initially contact Joseph Ryan by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at our company registered address.
12.2 If you remain unsatisfied, You have a right to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office – concerns can be reported online at https://ico.org.uk, by telephone to 0303 123 1113 or 01625 545 745, or in writing to Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.
Sometimes we may ask other companies or people to deal with various administrative tasks on our files to ensure this is done promptly and in the most cost-effective manner. We will always put in place an appropriate outsourcing agreement with these outsourced providers.
14. Client Confidentiality & Conflicts of Interests
14.1 Our professional rules prevent us continuing to act where we owe separate duties to act in the best interests of two or more clients in relation to the same or related matters, and those duties conflict, or there is a significant risk that they may conflict. If this happens we will try to tell you as soon as possible to minimise any inconvenience to you.
14.2 External firms or organisations may conduct audit or quality checks on our practice. These external firms or organisations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files.
14.3 We search our records to protect you from conflicts of interest. Where a conflict arises or may arise (for example, where we find that your opponent is or has been our client), we may not be able to accept or continue working on your matter. We may act for two or more of you if there is no conflict. If a conflict arises during our retainer then we may have to cease to act for one or more of you.
15. Equality and Diversity
Ryans Solicitors Limited is committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of its dealings with Clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our Equality and Diversity policy.
16. Client Identification
16.1 As a law firm, we are subject to Money Laundering Regulations, The Proceeds of Crime Act and the Terrorism Act and as such we are under certain duties to report suspicious circumstances to the authorities. The law requires solicitors to obtain satisfactory evidence of the identity of their clients and we may do this in a number of ways including using computer software or arranging for your identity to be checked in person. We may validate name, address and other personal information supplied by you against appropriate third party databases. By accepting these terms and conditions you consent to such checks being made. In performing these checks personal information provided by you may be disclosed to a registered Credit Reference Agency which may keep a record of that information. This may affect your credit rating. All information provided by you will be treated securely and strictly in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018.
16.2 The provision of a Funding Agreement requires us to extend the search of the registered Credit Reference Agency to meet our responsibilities under the FCA Consumer Credit Sourcebook, which governs consumer lending and implements the Consumer Credit Act 1974. This enables us to fulfil our obligations to the funders of the Funding Agreement.
16.3 Please note that it is not our policy to make any compensation payments to anyone other than yourself as our client, regardless of whether you provide written authority.
16.4 We would prefer to make any compensation payments to you by BACS and we therefore may request those details from you with corresponding identification such as a bank statement to ensure that the bank account namely belongs to yourself. It is your responsibility to keep us informed of any changes to your bank details.
17.1 Although the great majority of claims are entirely genuine, it has to be acknowledged that dishonest claims do exist. Any claimant who is found to have brought a fraudulent claim risks having this reported to the police and being subject to criminal prosecution. In the event that the evidence establishes that a claim is being brought dishonestly, we will be entitled both to terminate our retainer and to seek recovery of any Costs and Legal Expenses which we have incurred.
17.2 Please note due to new law, section 57 of the 2015 Criminal Justice and Courts Act states that in a personal injury claim any inaccuracy or exaggeration by you or on your behalf in relation to any part of the claim will lead to the whole claim being thrown out with you being ordered to pay the other side’s costs. This may happen even if you have already won your claim. For example if the court finds that the accident was the other party’s fault but you exaggerate your injuries or the amount that you have spent then your claim would be lost. You will then be responsible for my firm’s costs as well as the other side’s costs. Such conduct on your behalf will invalidate any insurance policy. We are obligated to warn you of this.
18. Time Limits
18.1 Claims often involve time limits, particularly once legal proceedings are commenced, and there is a limitation period in place which provides a deadline by which court proceedings must be issued. Your co-operation at all times will help to ensure your matter is progressed without delay. Failure to respond to our requests for co-operation and information may result in us ceasing to act on your behalf.
18.2 Subject to your cancellation rights, if you instruct other solicitors in relation to the matter in which we are acting for you, at any time after we have commenced work on your case and before, then we have the right to keep all of your papers unless you pay all our charges and expenses due at that time or another solicitor working for you undertakes to pay us what we are owed.
19. Your Right to Cancel
19.1 You can ask us to cease acting for you at any time, however your papers will only be released subject to our terms of business document.
19.2 You have the right to cancel your instructions to us within 14 working days of instructing us you can cancel your instructions by contacting us by post, email or by fax to this office. Should you wish to cancel please complete the form “schedule 1” and return within 14 days.
19.3 We may refuse to continue to act for you if you do not pay our invoices on time or make payment on account when we ask you to or you do not provide us with instructions when we ask you to. We may also refuse to continue to act for you if there are other circumstances giving us good reason to do so (for example, where there is a conflict of interest). We will give you reasonable notice if we are no longer going to act for you. If we do this, you will have to pay any charges and expenses that arise before that date, and you will continue to be responsible for any commitments we have entered into on your behalf. We may charge you for work which we have to carry out after termination or because you ask us to transfer your papers to another adviser.
19.4 In the event of you cancelling instructions we may subject to our acceptance of an undertaking transfer your file subject to payment of copying charges at paragraph 6.7. Similarly any requests from you for copy correspondence following a breakdown in our relationship is also subject charges. Payment must be received before any documents are transferred or posted. The cost per page is exclusive of VAT.
19.5 We advise that we are not obliged to accept the undertaking of any new solicitor who may propose to “preserve our lien as to costs”.
20. Storage of documents
20.1 We will store any file relating to a matter for up to six years, except those papers that you ask to be returned to you. We keep files on the understanding that we can destroy those six years after the date of the final bill. We will not destroy documents you ask us to deposit in safe custody.
20.2 If we take papers or documents out of storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act for you, we may charge £25.00 for such retrieval.
If interest can be claimed on any amounts your opponent is required to pay, you will be entitled to any interest relating to any loss you have incurred. We are entitled to keep any interest your opponent pays on Costs.
22. Fees and Commissions
Some cases are introduced to this firm by a third party company (an ‘Introducer’). Under Solicitors Regulation Authority Rules, before we can begin to act for you, we must give you information about the financial arrangement which we have with your Introducer. We pay fees to some Introducers for introducing the Case if it meets our criteria, and we accept instructions. Fees may be payable upon successful conclusion of the Case. If any fees are payable, we will make you aware of them.
As a firm of solicitors, we have a professional duty to act in your best interests at all times and give you independent advice. There is nothing in our relationship with any referrer of business that would compromise or impair this duty or our independence.
23. Complaints Procedure
23.1 Ryans Solicitors aims to provide high quality services to meet your needs. We believe that we achieve this but if we are not getting it right then please let us know. Please contact us on 01625 783164 or by email email@example.com. If you are not satisfied with the handling of your complaint you may ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider your complaint.
23.2 You will need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint or within six years of the act or omission about which you are complaining occurring (or if outside of this period within three years of when you should reasonably have been aware of it).
23.3 From 1 April 2023, you will need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint or within one year of the act or omission about which you are complaining occurring (or if outside of this period, within one year of when you should reasonably have been aware of it).
Legal Ombudsman contact details:
Post: The Legal Ombudsman P.O. Box 6806 Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ
Telephone: 0300 555 0333
24. Deemed Acceptance
When you have read and understood our retainer and these Terms you should sign and return the copy of the Agreement confirming your acceptance of the terms. If you fail to return the copy to us but continue to instruct us in relation to the services you will be deemed to accept these Terms of Business conditions.
If we have not met with you, the Consumer Contract Regulations will apply. This means you have the right to cancel your instructions to us within 14 working days of receiving this letter.