We aim to offer all of our clients quality legal advice and an unrivalled service. These Terms of Business have been designed to explain to you exactly how we will provide our professional services.
RHL Solicitors Limited, trading as RHL Solicitors, is a company incorporated in England and Wales with registered number 09683298. Its registered office is at RHL Solicitors Limited, 2440 The Quadrant, Aztec West, Bristol, England, BS32 4AQ.
The contract between us
This document, together with any Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) and Authority form will act as the contract between you and RHL Solicitors Limited and contains the terms of the Agreement.
Our commitment to you
- Represent your interests, conduct negotiations on your behalf and, if necessary, issue and pursue court proceedings.
- Explain to you the legal work which may be required, and the prospects of a successful outcome.
- Keep you regularly informed of progress in a variety of ways, using technology where agreed, and tell you when you are next likely to hear from us.
- Try to avoid using technical legal language when writing to you. Do please tell us if we fail to do so.
- Deal with your queries and correspondence promptly. We will aim to return your telephone calls on the same day or, if that is not possible, the next day and respond to your letters and emails within 2 working days.
What we ask from you
That you give us full, prompt, honest and proper instructions; cooperate fully with us in the preparation of your case and do not ask us to work in an improper or unreasonable way. Failure to meet these requirements may, regrettably, result in us having to end the agreement.
Our hours of business
Our offices are open between 9.00am and 5.30pm on weekdays. Messages can be left outside our normal operating times and appointments can also be arranged at other times when this is essential.
RHL Solicitors Limited: 0344 776 8328
People responsible for your work
You will receive a letter from us at the start of our instruction (“the Engagement Letter”) that will tell you about who will be dealing with your matter and provide you with their contact details. We do all we can to ensure the same people handle your case throughout but if a change in the team cannot be avoided, we will tell you about it quickly and will explain why it’s necessary.
We operate a comprehensive system of file review and supervision under the control of the Managing Director and Compliance Officer for Legal Practice and full details are available upon request.
Communication between you and us
Our aim is to offer our clients an efficient and effective service at all times and to communicate with you in whichever way you prefer (telephone/text/email/letter). We may need to virus check discs or e-mails. Unless you ask us not to, we will communicate with others involved in your matter, when appropriate, by e-mail, but we cannot be responsible for the security of correspondence or documents sent by e-mail. Telephone calls received or made may be recorded for monitoring and training purposes.
In order to manage our business and provide our services to our clients, as solicitors working on your behalf we collect a certain amount of personal data. “Personal data” means data relating to a living individual who is or can be identified either from the data or from the data in conjunction with other information.
The basis on which we gather, use, disclose and process any personal data we collect from you, or that you provide to us is set out in the enclosed Data Protection Notice.
We will use your personal data only for the purposes and in the manner set out in our Data Protection Notice which also describes the steps we take to ensure our processing of your personal data is in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation ((EU) 2016/679) (the GDPR) and any implementing legislation.
Charges and expenses
We have a professional duty to explain to you how costs are calculated and we think it is very important that you understand what the likely costs of the case will be. It is important to point out that you will not usually be called upon to pay costs if you lose your case. Within your Conditional Fee Agreement you will find full details of how our fees are calculated and what your responsibilities are. Should you have any questions about our fees please do not hesitate to contact us.
Our Fees are the costs of the time spent by the solicitor and other staff when working on your behalf. This may include meetings with you and other parties, preparing and working on papers, making and receiving telephone calls, e-mails and text messages, preparation of any detailed costs estimates/schedules and bills, attending at court and time spent travelling away from the office. From time to time, we may arrange for some of this work to be carried out by people who are not directly employed by us. If this happens, we will still charge you the same hourly rate that we would have charged if we had done the work ourselves.
Routine letters, e-mails and texts that we send, and routine telephone calls that we make or receive are charged at a tenth of the hourly rate.
Our current hourly rates for most work types are between £160 – £360 + VAT (unless separately agreed). The rate applied will depend upon the experience of the person undertaking the work on your file. The hourly rates must be reviewed from time to time to reflect inflation and any increases to the cost of running our business. Normally, the rates are reviewed with effect from 1st January each year. If the hourly rate increases whilst we are dealing with your case, we will write to tell you about the change before it happens.
If you lose your case or we end this Agreement because we no longer believe that your case has a good chance of success, you will not have to pay anything to us by way of Fees, or disbursements.
Please see your Conditional Fee Agreement later for further information regarding the costs you will be required to pay.
Other parties’ charges and expenses
You can never be made to pay anything to the other party unless court proceedings are commenced. If we are not able to settle your claim by negotiation, we might advise you to issue court proceedings. Ordinarily if proceedings are issued and you lose, you would not have to pay your opponent’s legal costs.
But there are some exceptions. If your opponent makes an offer to settle your claim which you reject but are then unable to better it via court proceedings, you could be ordered to pay your opponent’s legal costs.
Legal Expenses Insurance (LEI) products are available to cover the risk of you having to pay the other side’s legal costs, and your own disbursements, in the event of your claim being unsuccessful. To protect your position, we will ensure, as early as possible, that you are covered against this risk by insurance. You may already have such insurance in place. If not, there are products we can arrange for you. We will advise you further in relation to Legal Expenses Insurance should it become necessary.
Should we advise you to put a Legal Expenses Insurance policy in place, the premium will be payable by you, in addition to our Fees. However, it is only payable if your claim is successful; if you lose your claim, you do not have to pay the premium.
The Legal Expenses Insurance market is complex and changes frequently. We do not offer professional advice on all policies available in the market. The products we do recommend are chosen for a number of reasons, including the fact that these policies provide a level of indemnity that is sufficient to cover the risks of the litigation, at a very reasonable cost, they are deferred, and the premiums are self-insured (meaning you do not pay the premium if your case is unsuccessful).
We are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) or the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). However, we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) so that we can carry out insurance mediation activities. This broadly means advising on selling and administering 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 Conduct Authority website at www.fca.org.uk/register.
Disbursements are the various expenses that solicitors must pay out on behalf of clients, including but not limited to court fees, service fees, barrister’s fees etc. VAT is payable on most disbursements, but not all (e.g. Court fees).
Statement under the Provision of Services Regulations 2009
- We are a Limited Company registered at Companies House under number 09683298.
- We are registered with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) under number ZA 164833.
- We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority but are included on the Financial Conduct Register under number LS625566 so that we can carry out insurance distribution activity, which is broadly the advising on, selling and administration of insurance contracts.
- We are registered with HMRC for VAT under number 234004262.
- We hold professional indemnity insurance in accordance with our professional obligations and full details will be supplied upon request.
- We are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) under number 625566. We are governed by Codes of Conduct and other professional rules, which you can access on the SRA’s website at www.sra.org.uk or by calling 0370 606 2555.
Any money received on your behalf will be held in our Client Account. Subject to certain minimum amounts and periods of time set out in the Solicitors Regulation Authority Accounts Rules 2019 (or any superseding regulations), interest will be calculated and paid to you at the rate from time to time payable. The period for which interest will be paid normally runs from the date(s) on which we receive funds, until the date of issue of any cheque(s) from our Client Account. In addition, if you win your claim through Court Proceedings your opponent may be required to pay interest on the charges and disbursements incurred by us on your behalf. Since you will not have been paying our charges throughout the duration of the case we would be entitled to retain such interest.
We are entitled to charge interest on all or part of a bill if it is unpaid. If you object to a bill that you receive, you are entitled to apply for an assessment of that bill under Part Ill of the Solicitors Act 1974.
When accepting instructions to act on behalf of a limited company, we may require a director and/or controlling shareholder to sign a form of personal guarantee in respect of the charges and expenses of this firm.
Identity, disclosure and confidentiality requirements
We are entitled to refuse to begin to act for you, or continue to act, if you fail to supply proof of your identity upon request which means evidence of who you are and your address. The person who is dealing with your case will discuss with you what evidence may be required, but it must be sufficient to establish your identity, not just to us, but also to any reasonable person who does not otherwise know you. Solicitors are under a professional and legal obligation to keep the affairs of clients confidential.
In order to improve our service delivery to you we may validate your 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. You can rest assured that this is done only to confirm your identity, that a credit check is not performed and that your credit rating will be unaffected. All information provided by you will be treated securely and strictly in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation ((EU) 2016/679) (the GDPR) and any implementing legislation.
This obligation, however, is subject to a statutory exception. Legislation on money laundering and terrorist financing has placed solicitors under a legal duty in certain circumstances to disclose information to the National Crime Agency (NCA). In certain circumstances, the solicitor is legally obliged to make a money laundering disclosure. If, while we are acting for you, it becomes necessary to make such a disclosure, we may not be able to inform you that it has been made, or the reasons for it, because the law prohibits ‘tipping off’. Where the law permits us, we will tell you about any potential money laundering problem and explain what action we may need to take. Please note that this legislation extends to circumstances such as someone being in receipt of earnings that have not been reported to the Inland Revenue, or someone attempting to claim benefits to which they know they are not entitled, or attempting to make a fraudulent claim.
Our firm may be subject to audit and quality checks by external organisations. We may also outsource work. Examples of outsourced work include costings or research and preparation to assist with your case. On this basis, information from your file, or your entire file, may be made available in these circumstances. However, there is a confidentiality agreement between these companies which ensures that only necessary information and data will be disclosed.
In order to comply with court and tribunal rules, all documents relevant to any issue in litigation, no matter how potentially damaging to your case, have to be preserved and may have to be made available to the other side. This aspect of your case is known as ‘Disclosure’. Subject to this, we will not reveal confidential information about your case, except as provided by this Agreement or in circumstances beyond our control. For example, where your opponent is ordered to pay your costs, or an insurer is paying them, we have to meet obligations to reveal details of the case to them and to the Court.
By signing this Terms of Business Agreement you will be giving your consent to such disclosures but you may withdraw that consent, in respect of any subsequent disclosures, at any time.
The ATE insurance provider provides after-the-event insurance policies. We have no financial interest in the scheme and receive no financial benefit and our interest in entering into this scheme is purely in the interests of our clients.
The Solicitors’ Regulation Authority Codes of Conduct 2019
We comply fully with the SRA’s Codes of Conduct 2019 and any other professional rules in respect of its marketing methods. Should you require any further information in this regard, please write to us.
You have the statutory rights of termination set out below under the heading ‘Statutory Cancellation Rights’. Alternatively, you can terminate your instructions to us at any time but if you do so after your compensation has been agreed or fixed by a court then we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents to ensure that we receive all money properly payable to us under the terms of this Agreement (whether for our solicitors’ charges, including disbursements, or otherwise). If at any stage you do not wish us to continue doing work and/or incurring charges and expenses on your behalf, you must tell us this clearly in writing.
The common law entitles us to keep any money, papers or other property belonging to you that properly came into our possession, pending payment of our costs, whether or not the property is acquired in connection with the matter for which the costs were incurred. This is known as a ‘general lien’. We are not entitled to sell property held under a lien, but we are entitled to hold property, other than money, even if the value of it is much more than the amount due to us for costs. If we are conducting litigation for you, we have additional rights in relation to any property recovered or preserved for you, whether it is in our possession or not and in respect of all costs incurred, whether billed or unbilled. We also have a right to ask the court to make a charging order in our favour for any assessed costs.
All of these rights can, of course, only be put into action by us if there is outstanding money that is payable to us (whether under the terms of this agreement or otherwise and whether by way of our solicitors’ charges (including the Success Fee), disbursements or otherwise).
Any dispute or legal issue arising from our Terms of Business will be determined by the Law of England and Wales and considered exclusively by the English and Welsh Courts.
Statutory Cancellation Rights
If this contract was completed at a distance, for example, through the post or email, under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 you have the right to cancel this Agreement, without charge, within fourteen days after the day on which you sign this Agreement. If you seek to cancel instructions, you must give us written notice by letter or e-mail via the as directed below. If you authorise us to undertake any work or provide our services within the ‘cancellation period’ you shall pay us an amount which, in comparison to the full coverage of the contract, is proportionate to what has been performed until you have communicated to us your cancellation from this contract. This will extend to reimbursement of any disbursements incurred or paid on your behalf.
The Regulations require us to inform you that the work involved is likely to take more than thirty days.
If we cannot conclude the contract via post or email and we attend your property and therefore you enter into a contract with us either at your home or place of work or at the home of another individual you also have cancellation rights under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013.
A formal Notice of your right to cancel will be supplied within the Agreement together with a detachable slip which you can use if you want to cancel your Agreement with us under these Regulations. You are not obliged to use this cancellation slip for the purposes of exercising your rights of cancellation under these Regulations, but it must be in writing and sent via letter or email to our Senior Manager whose details are email@example.com. If you authorise us to undertake any work or provide our services within the “cancellation period” you shall pay us an amount which, in comparison to the full coverage of the contract, is proportionate to what has been performed until you have communicated to us your cancellation from this contract. This will extend to reimbursement of any disbursements incurred or paid on your behalf.
Storage of papers and documents
After your matter has concluded, we will keep any file of papers in storage for you for at least six years. No charge will be made to you for storage, unless prior notice has been given to you in writing of a charge to be made from a future specified date.
We reserve the right to shred or otherwise destroy your file in accordance with our professional obligations or to retain your file for specific periods. We are committed to remaining a completely paperless office and our solicitors operate paperless client files. This means incoming post and documents will be scanned upon receipt. We will destroy the majority of letters and documents we receive once an electronic version has been created. Please let us know if you require the return of any original documents you send to us but please be advised that we only retain originals for a period of 7 days from receipt. Some documents are automatically returned following scanning such as original Birth Certificates / Marriage Certificates, Death Certificates and other statutory documentation, a full list is available upon request.
This firm is committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of its dealings with clients, third parties and employees. A copy of the firm’s Equality & Diversity Policy is available upon request from the HR Department.
We hold professional indemnity insurance in compliance with the appropriate regulations, to the value of £3 million per claim. Details of our insurer and territorial coverage of the policy are available on request.
We are committed to providing high quality legal advice and client care and we are confident that you will be impressed with the work we do for you. But if you are unhappy about any aspect of our service, please raise your concern, initially, with the person dealing with your case and/or their manager. If they are unable to satisfactorily resolve your concerns, the firm operates a formal complaints procedure. Full details of this procedure are available upon request.
However, in the event of a formal complaint, please contact Head of HR & Development Stephanie Harris, either by email at Stephanie.Harris@rhl-solicitors.com or by writing to her at RHL Solicitors Limited, 2440 The Quadrant, Aztec West, Almondsbury, Bristol BS323 4AQ.
Your complaint will be fully investigated and responded to by her and if you are dissatisfied with her decision, your complaint will be reviewed by Rhiannon Cambrook-Woods, Senior Manager, in accordance with the firm’s Complaints Procedure at Rhiannon.firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint, you can ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider the complaint.
From 1 April 2023 the Legal Ombudsman expects complaints to be made to them within a year of the date of the act or omission about which you are concerned or within a year of you realising there was a concern. The requirement to refer your concerns to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of our final response to you remains the same.
For further information please visit their website at www.legalombudsman.org.uk. You can also contact the Legal Ombudsman by:
Telephone: 0300 555 0333
Email on email@example.com
Post: Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ