BHATIA BEST SOLICITORS
COMMERCIAL DEBT COLLECTION
TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT
Thank you for instructing Bhatia Best Solicitors. Although formal and computer generated, this is an important document, intended to explain the terms upon which we accept instructions to act for you. It applies to all work undertaken. It accords with Law Society Guidelines, but if there is anything about which you are unsure please ask.
HOURLY RATES: (A) SOLICITORS/LEGAL EXECUTIVES – DEBT LIMIT £5,000 : £118.00 PER HOUR
(B) SOLICITORS/LEGAL EXECUTIVES – DEBT £5,001 – £15,000 : £160.00 PER HOUR
(C) SOLICITORS/LEGAL EXECUTIVES – DEBT OVER £15,000 : £185.00 PER HOUR
FIXED FEE TERMS – PLEASE SEE PRICE LIST ATTACHED
For undefended debt claims, we operate a fixed fee regime which is detailed on the annexed schedule.
In cases where we pursue an additional claim for Interest and Statutory Compensation under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 (as amended 2013), we will also charge 50% of any Statutory Compensation recovered.
Where cases become defended either before or after issue of a Claim Form, our hourly rates will apply to future work. We will notify you as appropriate.
Professional Services Information
E.U. Directive 2006/123 and the Provision of Services Regs 2009 requires that you are made aware of;
(a) VAT number [reg 8 (1)(g)] this appears on our invoices and it is; 987 2815 66
(b) Professional Indemnity Insurance [reg 8 (1)(n)]: See para below headed ‘Corporate Identity’.
(c) Access to Professional Rules [reg 9(1)(d)]: These are available from our regulator: www.sra.org.uk
(d) Complaint Resolution [reg 10(1)]: See para below headed ‘Complaints’.
Bhatia Best Solicitors is the trading style of Bhatia Best Limited and is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority – Registration no: 533279 (www.sra.org.uk). Bhatia Best maintains professional indemnity insurance in accordance with the rules of the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Details of the insurers and the territorial coverage of the policy are available for inspection at our offices and upon request in writing.
In order to ensure that we communicate with you in a timely and cost effective manner, we will normally correspond with you only by email. We will ask you to provide your contact email address at the outset of your case, and in providing this address, you agree and accept this means of communication.
Responsibility For Work
Please note the fee earner already advised is responsible for managing your case. Most of the work will be done by them personally, but to ensure progress and maximum expertise, we reserve the right to delegate all or part of your case to other colleagues.
Other Legal Services
We offer a 24 hour emergency help line, specialist departments covering most areas of law, and referrals to other experts when necessary. Initial advice is free and without obligation. For further information visit our website at www.bhatiabest.co.uk or telephone us.
We are confident in the quality of our service. Nevertheless, we operate an internal complaints handling procedure as required by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The procedure reflects the requirements of the Regulator and the Legal Aid Agency. A copy of our procedure is available upon request, but the following may help.
a) You may use this procedure if you have a problem with our service or our fees.
b) Complaints can progress through 3 stages;
i) Informal resolution: Just tell your caseworker or supervisor. Ordinarily this should be sufficient.
ii) Formal complaint: If unresolved by informal resolution, start our complaints process by writing to Mr Bhatia, the Managing Director.
iii) Appeal: Legal or service complaints that remain unresolved can be referred to the Legal Ombudsman for up to 6 months from close of formal complaint handling (www.legalombudsman.org.uk) (tel: 0300 555 0333). Fee complaints can be referred to the Court for an assessment under part III of the Solicitors Act 1974, but remember that valid unpaid bills may attract interest.
If we have agreed a fixed fee, this sum is noted above. Otherwise basic charges are calculated by reference to the time spent by each caseworker on your case at the appropriate hourly rate noted above. In addition we charge 6 minutes per short letter written and short telephone call, and 3 minutes for considering short letters received. Longer letters and telephone calls are charged according to the time spent dealing with them.
In addition to the basic charges calculated as above, in exceptional circumstances there will be an added increase or mark up to your bill, which depends on a number of factors including speed, complexity, urgency, importance, value of the transaction/financial benefit, specialist expertise, documentation. We will write to you separately if a mark up is to be applied to your matter. VAT is added to the total fee.
The hourly rates are reviewed annually each January which reflect changes in our overheads. You will be notified in writing of the increase in rates, which will apply to work done from notification.
Invoices will be rendered at regular intervals, usually monthly, which you will be asked to pay promptly. Interest will be charged at 8% on invoices outstanding for more than 28 days. We reserve the right to decline to act further until paid. If any disbursements (payments to other agencies) are to be incurred, such as search fees and registration fees, we will require sufficient monies on account before those fees are incurred.
Our policy, like all solicitors, is to require a payment on account of our fees, and what we now request is noted above. That sum will be held in our client account and utilised to defray costs and expenses. We may seek further monies on account of costs as the matter progresses. This approach will assist you in checking your total liability. We reserve the right to decline to act further until monies requested on account are paid.
You can also make payment on account by credit or debit card. We accept payment by SWITCH, DELTA, MASTERCARD AND VISA. These payments can also be made by telephone – contact our Finance Department on 0115 9503231. Payments can also be made by telegraphic transfer or credit transfer to our client account. Such payments should be made to The Royal Bank of Scotland, 8 South Parade, Nottingham, sort code 16-26-32, client account number 10033204. Your bank will usually make a charge for this facility. Please notify our Finance Department on 0115 9503231 if you are making payment by this method.
If you wish us to raise interim accounts at different time intervals or wish to set a limit to your costs, you must request this in writing. If we do not complete the work, we will charge you for the work done and expenses incurred.
Interest earned on money received on your behalf will be calculated at the rate set by our bank, which may change. No interest will be payable to you unless the amount of accrued interest exceeds £20.00. This figure will be reviewed regularly in the light of current interest rates. This policy accords with the SRA Accounts Rules 2011.
If we recover money from any of your debtors, whether it be by debit card, credit card or bank transfer, either from the debtor direct or from Enforcement Officers who make a recovery from the defendant, those monies will be retained in client account and paid over to you promptly after funds are cleared.
As agreed, all monies recovered will be paid over to you gross without deduction of any outstanding fees due to us. We will invoice you separately for our services on a monthly basis. Which you are asked to settle in full promptly.
Costs Estimate And Length Of Case
It is notoriously difficult for a lawyer to provide a precise estimate of the costs of a particular case, or the length of time a case will take, as we cannot assess at the outset what will be required. It depends in part upon the response of your opponent. However, a broad initial indication is given above which is not intended to be fixed. These estimates will be revised during your case. You will be notified as and when there is a change to these estimates.
More About Costs
You will be personally responsible for all our costs in your case whether you win or lose.
If you win your case:-
• A Court may order your opponent to repay to you the costs which you have paid to us. However this is unlikely to include all the costs. In addition your opponent may not be capable of paying what the Court has ordered your opponent to pay.
• You are unlikely to recover any of your costs if your opponent is legally aided.
If you lose your case, you will probably be ordered to pay your opponent’s costs as well as paying our costs.
In Employment Tribunal and Small Claims Court proceedings, the loser is only ordered to pay the winners’ costs in exceptional circumstances. If this situation arises, we shall provide more detailed information.
You may have an existing policy of insurance that may cover our charges and expenses and also possibly your liability for another party’s charges and expenses. You must check the position and ensure that a claim on the policy is made immediately.
If you do not have an existing policy, it may be advisable to take out a policy of insurance now. If you have not already discussed insurance with your caseworker, please ensure that you raise it immediately.
Quality of Service
It is our objective to provide to you a quality service including regular updates on the progress of your matter, clearly explaining legal work involved (by telephone or in writing) and updating you on the cost of your matter. We rely on you to provide us with clear, timely and accurate instructions , to respond to us promptly, and to preserve and provide all documentation relevant to your case. You must notify us promptly of any change in circumstances relevant to your case.
Equality & Diversity
Bhatia Best 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.
We use the information you provide primarily for the provision of legal services to you and related purposes including: maintaining client records; legal and regulatory compliance; statutory returns. Our use of that information is subject to your instructions, the Data Protection Act 1998 and our duty of confidentiality. Our work for you may require us to give information to third parties such as expert witnesses and other professional advisers. You have a right of access under data protection legislation to the personal data we hold about you.
Client Due Diligence
The law requires solicitors to get satisfactory evidence of the identity of their clients and sometimes people related to them. This is because solicitors who deal with money and property on behalf of a client can be used by criminals wanting to launder money. To comply with the law, we may need to get evidence of your identity as soon as possible. Details are set out separately of the necessary documents which you must provide.
It is our policy not to accept any sum exceeding £250 paid in cash. 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.
Like all solicitors we have a duty to keep your affairs confidential, but this duty is overridden in certain exceptional circumstances when it may be necessary for us to make disclosure. Exceptional circumstances include:-
• Where a Court orders disclosure;
• Disclosure under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002;
• Disclosure to external firms or organisations who may conduct audit or quality checks on our practice. These firms are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files.
By accepting these terms of business you acknowledge our obligation to make disclosure as and when necessary which may occur without your prior knowledge and approval.
We are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority. However, we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Services Authority 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 Financial Services Authority website at www.fsa.gov.uk/register. Sometimes the work we undertake including conveyancing, probate, family and company work involves investments. We are able to provide a limited range of advice and arrangements in relation to investments provided they are closely linked with the legal services we are providing to you, as we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. However, for more complex matters relating to investments we may refer you to another expert who is authorised by the Financial Services Authority, as we are not so authorised.
Limitation of Liability
You acknowledge and agree that if you wish to make a claim relating to or in connection with the services provided by us, the claim can only be brought against Bhatia Best and not against individual members, officers or employees. Bhatia Best has in place indemnity insurance as required by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Law Society. ‘Claim’ means any claim whether arising out of this agreement or otherwise and whether such claim is in contract, tort, breach of trust or any other basis. Our maximum liability for loss or damage for breach of contract, breach of trust, negligence or otherwise (other than fraud) is £3 million for any one transaction or matter or series of connected transactions or matters. We will not be liable for any consequential, special, indirect or exemplary damages, costs or losses or any damages, costs or losses attributable to lost profits or opportunities. This does not limit our liability for death or personal injury caused by our negligence, or any other situation where the law prohibits us from excluding or limiting our liability to you.
Storage of Papers and Deeds
After completing the work, we are entitled to keep all your papers and documents while money is owing to us. Thereafter we will keep our file of papers (except for any of your papers you ask to be returned to you) for no more than 6 years and on the understanding that we have your authority to destroy the file after 6 years. We will not destroy documents you ask us to deposit in safe custody. If you want to retrieve your case papers or do not want them destroyed please say so in writing. Retrieval or retention (for an extended period) will be subject to an administration charge based on the time involved reviewing papers, and other work required to meet your instructions and our professional duties.
You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time. For example, you decide you cannot give us clear or proper instructions on how to proceed, or you no longer wish to proceed with your matter. We will decide to stop acting for you only with good reason and on giving you reasonable notice. Upon termination of our retainer with you we are entitled to be paid for all work undertaken and expenses incurred until termination. We are entitled to keep all your papers and documents while money is owing to us. When you have been granted legal aid a request to transfer to another solicitor must first be approved by the Legal Aid Agency, and sometimes the Court.
Right to Cancel
Where we conclude this contract with you away from our business premises, or in other circumstances which are regarded in law as creating an off-premises contract or a distance contract, you have the right to cancel this contract within 14 days without giving any reason. The cancellation period will expire after 14 days from the day of the conclusion of the contract. To exercise the right to cancel, you must inform us, Bhatia Best Solicitors of 12 Carrington Street, Nottingham, NG1 7FF – Telephone Number: 0115 950 3221; Fax Number: 0115 941 3169; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org – of your decision to cancel this contract by a clear statement (eg a letter sent by post, fax or E-mail). You may use the attached model cancellation form but it is not obligatory. To meet the cancellation deadline, it is sufficient for you to send your communication concerning your exercise of the right to cancel before the cancellation period has expired.
Effects of Cancellation
If you cancel this contract, we will reimburse to you all payments received from you, including the costs of delivery (except for the supplementary costs arising if you chose a type of delivery other than the least expensive type of standard delivery offered by us). We may make a deduction from the reimbursement for loss in value of any goods supplied, if the loss is the result of unnecessary handling by you. We will make the reimbursement without undue delay, and not later than:
(a) 14 days after the day we receive back from you any goods supplied; or
(b) (if earlier) 14 days after the day you provide evidence that you have returned the goods; or
(c) If there were no goods supplied, 14 days after the day on which we are informed about your decision to cancel this contract.
We will make the reimbursement using the same means of payment as you used for the initial transaction, unless you have expressly agreed otherwise; in any event, you will not incur any fees as a result of the reimbursement.
We are not permitted to begin the performance of our services until the cancellation period has expired unless you ask us to do so. By signing and returning these terms of business you are requesting that we begin work on your behalf immediately.
If you requested to begin the performance of services during the cancellation period, you shall pay us an amount which is in proportion to what has been performed until you have communicated to us your cancellation from this contract, in comparison with the full coverage of the contract.
Model Cancellation Form
To Bhatia Best Solicitors of 12 Carrington Street, Nottingham, NG1 7FF – Fax Number: 0115 941 3169; E-mail: email@example.com:
I/We hereby give notice that I/We cancel my/our contract for the supply of the following service,
Names of consumer(s),
Address of consumer(s),
Signature of consumer(s) (only if this form is notified on paper),
Your continuing instructions will amount to your acceptance of these terms of business but please sign and date the enclosed copy of these terms and return it to us immediately. We can then be confident that you understand the basis on which we will act for you. However, we are not obligated to proceed unless and until you have signed and returned these terms together with any payment on account requested.
We hope that by sending these terms to you we have addressed your immediate questions about the day-to-day handling of your work and our terms of business. However, if you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact your caseworker.
This is an important document which we would urge you to keep in a safe place for reference. If you have any queries about this document, please indicate so we can clarify.
BHATIA BEST SOLICITORS
Address: 12 Carrington Street, Nottingham, NG1 7FF – Tel Number: 0115 950 3231 Fax Number: 0115 941 3169;
Westfield Lane, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, NG18 1TW – Tel Number: 01623 427944 Fax Number: 01623 427955
11-17 Sitwell Street, Derby, DE1 2JT – Tel Number: 01332 203000 Fax Number: 01332 203555
I confirm acceptance of the above terms and instruct you to commence work.
Name of Company: ………………………………………………………………………
Position with Company: ………………………………………………………………………