Terms of business

Client Care and Terms of Business 

These terms are made up of three parts:

  1. Client Care
  2. Terms of Business 
  3. Acceptance of Retainer 

Client Care 

Any such work will be governed by our standard terms and conditions, the current version of which is below.  Our standard terms and condition will be reviewed from time to time, and you will be notified of any change to them, where there is any discrepancy between our standard terms and conditions and your instruction letter, the letter will prevail. 

  1. Contact Details 

Our Property Team is made up of the following staff: 

Name 

Role 

Assistant 

Vicky Woodhouse

Solicitor and Head of Property 

Clementine Ingabire

Georgina Fletcher

Partner 

Samantha Thomas 

Scott Mulligan

Partner and Licenced Conveyancer

Paris Robinson 

Claire Strawford

Director and Conveyancing Manager 

Alfie West and Victoria Hawcroft 

Jodie Mason

Director and Conveyancing Manager 

Frazer Burns and Holly Calder 

Joanne Clarkson 

Conveyancer

Halle Blythen 

Daria Kaczmarek

Conveyancer

Kellie Deverux 

Amy Meekin 

Conveyancer 

 

Heather Loynd

Solicitor 

Frazer Burns and Holly Calder 

Molly Summerscales 

Conveyancer 

Holly Kirkwood

Katie Dockery

Conveyancer

Holly Kirkwood 

Caroline Ward 

Trainee Solicitor 

 

Paris Robinson

Trainee Conveyancer 

 

The Fee Earner dealing with your matter will be detailed in the covering letter.  All staff are supervised by Vicky Woodhouse who will have ultimate responsibility for your matter. 

If you are unable to contact your Fee Earner or Vicky then any of our colleagues in the Conveyancing Department will be pleased to help you or will be pleased to take any messages for you. 

  1. Business Hours 

Our normal office hours are between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday. You can contact us outside these hours by email or by leaving a telephone message. 

  1. Scope of Work 
    1. Your Instructions 

You have instructed us to act in your Purchase, Sale or Remortgage of the property detailed in the covering letter. 

    1. Responsibilities and the action to be taken 

Sale

The work that we will undertake for you will include: 

  1. Preparing the sales contract and deducing title to the property; 
  2. Dealing with the buyers solicitor in answering any pre contract enquiries, subject to relevant information being received from you; 
  3. Agreeing the form of Transfer;
  4. Dealing with completion of the sale, including receiving the sale proceeds from the buyers solicitor and discharging any mortgages secured against the property from the proceeds of sale; 
  5. Paying any estate agent fees (if instructed to do so).

Purchase 

  1. Investigating the title to the property, to include: 
    1. Carrying out searches with respect to title and local government information for the property (if instructed to do so); 
    2. Negotiating a purchase contract; 
    3. Negotiating a transfer document; 
    4. Advising you in respect of your mortgage offer (if any); 
    5. Preparing a report on title; 
    6. Proceeding to exchange of contracts and then completion of the purchase; 
    7. Transferring funds by telegraphic transfer to the seller’s solicitor; 
    8. Calculating stamp duty land tax (SDLT) on the purchase and preparing and submitting to HM Revenue & Customs the appropriate SDLT forms; and 
    9. Registering the purchase and the mortgage (if any) at the Land Registry. 

We will not be responsible for: 

  1. Undertaking any physical inspection of the property 
  2. Advising on the valuation of the property 
  3. Advising on financial arrangements including the suitability or conditions of your mortgage
  4. Advising on environmental liabilities
  5. Advising on tax including but not limited to Capital Gains Tax or Inheritance Tax

3.3. Your Responsibilities 

You are responsible for: 

  • Providing us with clear, timely and accurate instructions: 
  • Providing us with all documentation required to complete the transaction in a timely manner; and 
  • Safeguard any document that are likely to be required for disclosure. 

3.4. Your Mortgage (if applicable) 

We may also be acting for your proposed lender in this transaction. We have a duty to fully reveal to your lender all relevant facts about the purchase and mortgage.  This includes: 

  • Any difference between your mortgage application and information we receive during the transaction; 
  • Any cash back payments or discount schemes that a seller is giving you; and 
  • Any other matters which may affect their security. 

If a conflict of interest arises at any stage then we will need to cease acting for you in the transaction. 

3.5. Likely timescales 

It is difficult to predict how long this transaction will take to conclude.  From experience, I would estimate that it would be likely to take 8-12 weeks for the transaction to proceed to the exchange of contracts and the transaction to complete.  However, you should be aware that there are many factors which could affect this and, if this is part of a chain transaction, the pace is likely to be dictated by the slowest party. Common reasons for delay in these types of transaction can include, mortgage offers not being received promptly, surveys and negotiations on price reductions. 

If you are purchasing a leasehold property then they can take substantially longer given the additional documents which we will be required to review and estimate that this could mean a 12-16 week completion. 

3.6. Progress 

We have agreed that we will keep you informed regularly of progress in your case, especially if we decide we need to do something which we have not yet discussed with you. 

3.7. Tax & Planning advice 

We will not be advising you on the tax or planning implications of the transaction other than by reporting to you on any relevant information obtained from local searches. 

We will not assume any responsibility to advise on any tax implications or tax planning strategies, or the likelihood of that arising. 

3.8. Conveyancing Quality Scheme 

We are accredited as part of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS).  The CQS is designed to improve transparency of transactions, raise service levels and provide better communication and a more efficient process.  To achieve this we need your authority to enable us to share information with other parties involved in this transaction and any related chain of transactions. 

By agreeing these terms and conditions you will be confirming that we have your authority to provide information to other parties in accordance with the Law Society’s Conveyancing Protocol.  If you do not wish us to do so please advise us immediately. 

Should you have any queries about this or you would like us to explain this further, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

  1. Fees 

4.1 Estimate 

Based on the information you have provided us, we estimate that the costs involved in dealing with your transaction would be as per the quotation attached. 

This is on the basis that this proceeds to completion on a straightforward manner, and on the assumption that it will not prove to be substantially more complex or time consuming than expected.  We will inform you if any difficulties arise or if anything occurs which makes it necessary to revise the enclosed estimate.  We will update you on the cost of your matter at agreed events. 

We refer you to our schedule of additional costs. 

4.2. Estimate of costs if the matter does not proceed 

Should the transaction fail to proceed to completion, then we will charge a proportion of the enclosed fee as shown in the following table plus VAT and any disbursements we have paid out on your behalf: 

STAGE TRANSACTION HAS REACHED: 

% OF FEE CHARGED

We have issued the contract to the Buyers Solicitor

We have received and considered the draft contract from the Seller’s Solicitor 

25%

We have received enquiries from the buyers solicitor 

We have raised enquires with the sellers solicitor 

50%

We have advised you on the terms of the sale and obtained your signature to the contract in readiness for exchange

We have advised you on the terms of the purchase and obtained your signature to the contract in readiness for exchange

75%

4.3 Lien for unpaid costs 

Following the conclusion of your matter, we are entitled to retain your file of papers and documents while there is money owing to us for fees. 

4.4 Other Charges and Disbursements 

Other costs and disbursements will be chargeable in addition to our fees. 

Charges and disbursements are (where liable) subject to VAT (currently 20%). 

Your attached quotation provides details on the assumed disbursements.  These have been based on information provided by you.  We will advise you if we become aware of any additional disbursements become payable. 

We will charge a fee of £30.00 plus VAT (£36.00 in total) in respect of our charges for arranging a bank transfer (to include the bank transfer fee). 

4.5 Payment on account  

As we will need to incur some expenses very shortly, we will need to have some funds on account to cover anticipated costs and disbursements. 

We will ask for £50 in respect of a sale or remortgage and £350 in respect of a purchase. 

You will have received a request to make this payment via an online platform. 

We will confirm in writing (by letter or email) whenever we need to make a transfer or all or some of those sums to our business account to cover our fees for work that we have undertaken. 

We may need to draw upon sims held for you in the client account to reimburse us for payments we have made on your behalf, for example, where we pay search fees on your behalf using our own money.  You will have been informed at the outset (or updated during your matter as necessary) of likely disbursements we will need to make on your behalf and some of the monies we ask you to pay on account will reflect those anticipated costs.  Where it is appropriate to do so, we will deduct money from sums paid by you into our client account to reimburse us for those payments after they have been paid by us.  We will not issue a bill each and every time that we make a transfer but will ensure that you are provide with information as and when appropriate (not least a final bill at the end of the matter to ensure that you can reconcile the payments.  All transfers will be done in accordance with our regulatory obligations (including those set out in Rule 5 of the SRA Accounts Rules). For more information, see: http://sra.org.uk/solicitors/standard-regulations/accounts-rules/. 

4.7 Settlement of bills 

Accounts are to be paid by you when due, whether or not the amounts concerned may ultimately have to be paid by another party.  Bills are to be settled in full within 14 days of receipt. 

We may charge interest on unpaid bills from 14 days of delivery of the bill on a daily basis at 4% above the base rate of National Westminster Bank PLC. 

In relation to non-contentious costs, we are entitled to charge interest on unpaid bills at the rate payable on judgement debts from one month after delivery of the bill in accordance with Article 5 of the Solicitors’ (Non-Contentious Business) Remuneration Order 2009.  We reserve the right to charge interest on any outstanding amounts at the rate of 4% above the base rate of National Westminster Bank PLC. 

If any payment on account is not made or a bill is not settled in accordance with these terms, we reserve the right to decline to act further for you. 

4.8 Client Account 

We operate a client account facility which allows for money to be held or transferred in relation to a matter we are working on.  However, the facility is operated at our discretion and any unauthorised receipts will be held pending further investigation or returned to the sender.  Therefore, we ask that you give us advance warning of any receipts.  Funds should not be sent to our client account unless specifically requested. 

Any client money we hold on your behalf in our client account or on deposit is afforded the protection under the Solicitors Act 1974. 

Client monies will normally be held by us in a general client account with our primary banker, National Westminster Bank PLC in the name of Hewitson and Harker Limited. 

4.9 Payment of Interest 

The Solicitors Accounts Rules require us, in certain circumstances, to pay you interest on general client funds which we held for a period on your behalf, if the amount exceeds £20.00. where these rules are applicable, we will pay you a sum calculated in accordance with them.  This payment will be made to you without the deduction of tax so it is your responsibility to account to HMRC for tax (if any) due on this payment. 

If it is apparent that money held on your behalf will need to be retained for some time then such money may need to be placed in a designated deposit account in which case all of the interest accruing while the funds are so invested will be paid to you when the account is closed or on intermittent basis as agreed with you. 

It is extremely unlikely that we could be held liable to you if any money held in our client account is lost due to any failure in the banking system including bank collapse.  However, you may be entitled to make a claim against the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in the event of failure of the bank.  The amount of compensation which the FSCS can pay out is limited to £85,000 (subject to some restrictions).  We may be able to make a claim to FSCS on your behalf.  If we do so, we will, subject to our obtaining your consent, give certain client information to FSCS to help them identify you and any amounts to which you are entitled. 

4.10 Referrals

We currently have a referral arrangement with various third parties and we are required under our Professional Rules to notify you of any payments the firm makes to referrers.  Confirmation of any referral fee payable has been included on the attached quotation.  This fee is not payable by you and you will not be invoiced in this respect.  We also stress that the referral arrangement will not affect our professional approach to your transaction.  We will only act for you and your best interests at all times. 

Despite any financial relationship with a third party, we will provide you with independent advice and you are entitled to and we hope that you will feel happy to raise questions with us about any aspect of your matter. 

Any information you provide to us or any advice that we give you during your matter will not be shared with the third party unless you expressly agree. 

However, please note that if we are acting both for you and the third party in this matter, we may have to stop acting for both of you if there is a conflict of interest.  

4.11 Additional costs 

Additional Work

Summary 

Charge 

VAT(@ 20%)

Total

Plus

Additional Document Fee

If the title to the property refers to other documents which must be reviewed or we are required to review any other documents to satisfy our enquiries, we will charge a fee for the time taken to review this document.  The fee will be charged per document review

100

10

120

 

Additional Title Fee

If you are buying, selling or (re)mortgaging a property where the property is split over two or more titles or there is a superior/secondary title, we will charge for checking (and transferring where relevant) that title

245

49

294

 

Alteration of Official Copies

If it becomes necessary for us to alter the Official Copies, for example, to update your name, we will charge this fee

100

20

120

 

Amended Mortgage Offer

If a revised mortgage offer is received, we will have to review the document for any changes made by the lender.  We will charge a fee for each revised mortgage offer received

100

20

120

 

Amended Sale/Purchase Price

If instructions are received that the purchase price has been changed during the course of the transaction, then additional fees will be payable in respect of documents being updated

75

15

90

 

Appointment of a Trustee

If it becomes necessary to appoint an additional trustee, we will charge for preparing the necessary documentation. 

50

10

60

 

Sale/Purchase by Auction 

If we are acting on a sale or purchase and this is subject to an auction contract then this additional fee will be payable if we were not advised when providing your initial quotation

450

90

540

 

Bridging Loan

If you are obtaining bridging finance in connection with a purchase 

TBA

TBA

TBA

 

Buy to Let loan

If you are buying a property and getting a specialist ‘buy to let’ mortgage your lender will require us to do additional up to 

200

40

240

 

Company Transaction

If you are acting as a company and we were not aware when your initial estimate was provided, we will charge this fee

250

50

300

Company Search 

Concessionary Purchase

If you are buying a property from a friend or relative at less than the market value we will charge for the extra work involved with this type of transaction 

125

25

150

 

Contaminated land issue or adverse coal mining search

If the property does not receive a ‘pass certificate when an environmental search is undertaken or your coal mining search reveals mine entries or historic claims

250

50

300

 

Declaration of Trust

If two or more joint owners wish to specify in detail the terms upon which they own a property – this is our basic charge for a simple Declaration of Trust

250

50

300

 

Deed of Covenant

This is the charge for each deed required

250

50

300

 

Deed of Easement

If we are required to deal with the formal grant of any rights in connection with the property then this fee will be payable for drafting or approving the Deed

750

150

900

Land Registry Fee

Deed of Postponement

If there is more than one lender and the lenders require a deed regulating their respective priorities – this is the fee for the first two lenders

TBA

TBA

TBA

 

Defective Title

If there is a title defect and we have to take action to correct it 

TBA

TBA

TBA

 

Deputy 

If the property is being sold under an existing Deputyship Order or any of the parties to a transaction is a Deputy (under an existing Order), this is the fee for each Deputyship Order

175

35

210

 

Discharge of charge / unsecured debts

Our basic price on sales or remortgages includes the discharge of one standard registered charge – each additional registered charge and an y unsecured debt that is a condition of your lender to be repaid by us attracts this fee

150

30

180

 

Discharge of Help to Buy equity loan

If we have to arrange for repayment of a Help to Buy equity loan

300

60

360

 

Documents from Third Parties 

If we obtain documentation from third parties on your behalf such as replacement certificates, planning documents or guarantees we will charge this fee for liaising with the third party.  This fee is per document 

75

15

90

 

Duplicate Correspondence 

If we are required to copy correspondence to any other than the client or the client’s are using multiple email addresses and correspondence cannot be sent in one email then this fee will be payable (per party)

75

15

90

 

First Registration at the Land Registry 

If the property is not yet registered at the Land Registry 

300 – 600

60 – 120

360 – 720

Land Registry Fee

Freehold Property with a Management Company

If you are buying, selling or (re)mortgaging a freehold property which has an obligation to make contributions to a management company, we will charge for the extra work involved in making enquiries of the management company.  Such enquiries may include obtaining receipts to check that all payments are up to date, what the payments are going forward, obtaining accounts for previous years.  This fee is charged for each management company and is in addition to any costs raised by the management company for providing the information 

250

50

300

 

Freehold Property with Leasehold Title Fee

If you are buying, selling or (re)mortgaging a freehold property with an associated leasehold title, such as a leasehold garage, we will charge for checking the lease and all leasehold relating to the extra title.  This fee is charged for each extra leasehold title

295

59

354

 

Gift (sometimes referred to as a gifted deposit)

If you are receiving a gift of money or property 

125

25

150

ID checks

Ground Rent / Service Charge arrears

If you pay a ground rent or service charge and the account is in arrears and you require us to bring the account up to date or we are required to make apportionments on completion, we will charge this fee for the extra work involved in settling the account and obtaining the confirmation from the other lawyer

50

10

60

 

Help to Buy

If you are buying a property using the Government’s Help to Buy scheme 

300

60

360

 

Help to Buy Forces Loan

If you are buying a property with the assistance of a Help to Buy Forces loan, we will charge for the extra work involved in liaising with the Ministry of Defence and resolving any conditions relating to each mortgage

195

39

234

 

Help to Buy ISA

If you instruct us to make an application on your behalf for a Help to Buy ISA bonus

50

10

60

 

Indemnity Insurance

If a standard indemnity insurance policy is required this is the fee for each policy and also approving any existing polices already in place

75

15

90

 

Insufficient Postage 

If correspondence is sent to us and incorrect postage is paid, this fee will be payable together with the additional postage cost paid (per letter)

25

5

30

 

Key Undertaking

Sometimes, the buyer will negotiate access to the property before completion on the strength of a key undertaking 

250

50

300

 

Lease Extension

If the lease being transferred needs to be extended – this is our standard charge for straightforward extensions and does not include any other party’s legal costs

950

190

1140

Land Registry. 

Lender (acting for)

If you are buying a property and we knew there was a lender we will have included this fee in our estimate, otherwise, this fee will be due if we agree to act for your lender as well (note that even if we knew there was a lender there may be additional charges – see ‘Buy to Let loan’ and ‘Lender (special requirements)’  

150

30

180

 

Lender (special requirements)

Some lender have particular requirements that we have to meet and which are outside of our normal expectations – to deal with these special requirements we make an additional charge of up to the amount shown here – as soon as we know that your lender has a special requirement we will notify you of the applicable additional charge 

350

70

420

 

Lender’s separate lawyers

If your lender is separately represented 

TBA

TBA

TBA

 

Licence to Assign a lease

If a licence is required before a leasehold property can be transferred – this is our standard charge for a straightforward licence and does not include any other party’s legal costs

150

30

180

 

Licence to Occupy

If occupation of the property is required before completion has taken place, we will charge a fee for drafting or approving the licence to occupy 

250

50

300

 

Lifetime ISA

If you instruct us to make an application on your behalf for a withdrawal from your Lifetime ISA

100

20

120

 

Merger of leasehold and freehold 

If a freehold and leasehold title are to be merged 

TBA

TBA

TBA

 

Occupiers

Your lender may require occupiers to sign a consent or release – this is our fee for dealing with the additional work as is per occupier

75

15

90

 

Other lawyer

If we have to liaise with a lawyer acting for a co-owner or other person with a legal interest in the property, or you are using separate lawyers for your sale, purchase or other connected matter, we will charge for the extra work involved in liaising with them, resolving any issues and keeping them updated concerning the transaction.   This fee is charged for each lawyer that we liaise with 

200

40

240

 

Power of Attorney

If the property is being sold under an existing power of attorney or any of the parties to a transaction is acting as attorney, this is the fee for each Power 

175

35

210

 

Priority Fee

If you require us to complete your transaction in reduced timescales, we reserve the right to charge this fee to cover the extra work required in expediting the matter

300

60

360

 

(Re)mortgage – shared ownership

If we are dealing with a (re)mortgage rather than a sale or purchase and the property is part-owned and part-leased on a shared ownership basis and we did not know about this when we provided our estimate 

200

40

240

 

Registering a Restriction

If you are buying, selling or (re)mortgaging a property and we are required to register a restriction, we will charge for preparing and registering the restriction,  this is charged for each entry.  This fee will not be charged on any standard restrictions associated with a leasehold title, new build or mortgage.  

250

50

300

 

Referring matters to the Lender 

If we are required to refer any matter to your mortgage lender which is not covered under their standard instructions, or we consider that their explicit consent is required to a matter then this fee will be payable

150

30

180

 

Rent Charge (Releasing) 

If the property is subject to a rent charge and we need to deal with a release of that rent charge then this fee will be payable 

500

100

600

 

Repossession

If the property being purchased is being sold by a lender who has repossessed it 

250

50

300

 

Restriction, Caution or Notice

For removing or otherwise dealing with each restriction, notice or caution on a registered title

250

50

300

 

Retention

If we have to arrange for a retention on completion

150

30

180

 

Search issues

Sometimes the search results reveal entries that require further investigation 

TBA

TBA

TBA

 

Second or subsequent charge 

If you are borrowing money from more than one lender and each lender requires a mortgage, this is the fee for the second and each subsequent mortgage

150

30

180

Land Registry

Septic Tank

If the property has a septic tank this is the fee for undertaking the additional enquiries which will be required

250

50

300

 

Share Certificate Fee

If you are selling/(re)mortgaging a property and own a share in that landlord or management company and we are required to obtain and provide a share certificate and stock transfer form we will charge for this.  Please note the company may also charge for this fee if a replacement is required 

75

15

90

 

Share of freehold

If, when buying a leasehold, property you also purchase a share of the freehold interest in the building 

350

70

420

 

Shared ownership lease (purchase or sale

If the property being bought or sold is part-owned and part-leased on a shared ownership basis and we did not know about this when we provided our estimate 

500

100

600

 

Shared ownership (remortgage) 

If the property being remortgaged is part-owned and part-leased on a shared ownership basis and we did not know about this when we provided our estimate

200

40

240

 

Shared ownership (staircasing)

If you ask us to deal with an increase of the amount of the shared ownership property you own or buy

200

40

240

 

Solar panels

If the property has solar panels we charge this additional charge for dealing with the additional requirements 

250

50

300

 

Source of funds (multiple bank accounts)

As part of our legal requirements we are required to investigate the source of funds.  If your funds are coming from more than two bank account then this additional fee will be payable to account for the additional work involved

100

20

120

 

Statutory Declaration/ Statement of Truth

If a statutory declaration or statement of truth has to be prepared or approved by us this is the fee for each declaration/statement.  This is on the basis the document is a standard document and no complex in nature 

250 – 500

50 – 100 

300 – 600

Swear Fee

Tenancy 

If we are required to draft or approve a tenancy agreement, this is our basic fee for each tenancy agreement 

500

100

600

 

Tenanted property 

If the property is tenanted, this is the price for each tenancy agreement we have to consider

300

60

360

 

Third Party Family Lawyer Fee

If you are going through a divorce, separation or other family proceedings and we have to liaise with a family lawyer acting for a co-owner we will charge for the extra work involved in liaising with them, resolving any issues relating to the property and keeping them updated concerning the transaction.  This is charged for each lawyer that we liaise with and does include dealing with a lawyer appointed by you 

250

50

300

 

Transfer of Part

If the property is only part of a registered title

295 – 595

59 – 119

354 -714

 

Upgrading a legal title

If the property title is updated at Land Registry 

50

10

60

Land Registry

Verifying identification Fee including non-UK Residents

We are legally required to certify your identity.  In most cases the cost of this is included in our basic charge.  If your circumstance mean that you do not pass our initial check and further investigation is required before we can proceed, we will make an additional charge of up.  This will also be payable if any funds are being gifted from third parties outside of the UK

150

30

180

ID Checks

Voluntary First Registration 

If we have to apply to register the title before a sale 

300 – 600

60 – 120

360 -720

Land Registry Fees

  1. Complaints 

Hewitson & Harker is committed to high quality legal advice and client care.  If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service you receive, or about the bill, please contact Georgina Fletcher on 0114 551 0900, via email georgina@hewitsonandharker.co.uk or by post immediately so that we can do our best to resolve the problem for you.  We have a procedure in place which details how we handle complaints, which is available on our website and upon request. 

5.1. Legal Ombudsman 

We have eight weeks to consider your complaint.  If for any reason we are unable to resolve the problem between us within that timeframe, them you may ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider the complaint.  The Legal Ombudsman may be contact at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ. 

The Legal Ombudsman investigates complaints about service issues with lawyers. Normally, you will need to being a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint.  If you would like more information about this service, including the time limits for taking a case to them, please contact the Legal Ombudsman directly.  You can find out more about their service by visiting www.legalombudsman.org.uk or contacting them on 0300 555 0333.

5.2. Solicitors Regulatory Authority 

If someone thinks a solicitor might be dishonest or you have concerns about their ethics or integrity, they have the right to notify our regulator, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).  There are no time limits for making a report but there are limits on what the SRA will consider.  Please note that the SRA is not able to deal with issues of poor service (complaints of this nature should instead be referred to the Legal Ombudsman).  For further information about the SRA’s role, please contact the SRA or visit: https://www.sra.org.uk/consumers/problems/report-solicitor.page#report. 

5.3 Complaints about bill 

You also have the right to challenge or complain about our bill and apply for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974.  Objections about the amount of our fee will be handled by way of our complaints procedure.  The Legal Ombudsman may not deal with a complaint about the bill if you have applied to the court for an assessment of the bull.  We reserve our rights to charge interest at 8% for unpaid bills. 

Terms of Business

The following terms of engagement apply to all work carried out by Hewitson & Harker as otherwise agreed.  The expression “we”, “us”, and “our” refer to Hewitson & Harker and “you” and “your” refer to our client. 

These terms and conditions may be revised from time to time and a copy will be sent to you to replace these, and the revised terms and conditions will apply from the date you receive them.  You are of course free to terminate the arrangement between us if you do not accept the revised terms and conditions. 

  1. Service Levels 

We will update you in writing, by email or by telephone after agreed events with progress on your transaction.  We will also update you on the likely timescales for each stage of this matter. 

In acting for you in this matter, we will: 

  • Review your matter regularly; 
  • Advise you of any changes in the law relevant to your matter; and 
  • Advise you of any circumstances and risks of which we are aware of and consider to be reasonably foreseeable that could affect the outcome of your matter. 
    1. Joint Instructions 

Where we are jointly instructed by your and another client to act in a matter, we will assume that either of your are authorised to give us instructions unless either of you advise us otherwise.  In addition as matters progress we may need to act on instructions of other people from whom we consider it is reasonable to take instructions in order to progress the matter within the timescales set.  Unless informed of any change we will assume that this remains the case until our work is completed. 

 

  1. Professional Indemnity & Limitation of Liability 

Hewitson & Harker’s liability is limited under a scheme provided by Inperio. In the interest of our client’s we maintain compulsory professional indemnity insurance to a total level of £3,000,000.00.  A full hard copy of our insurances are available to view at our offices.  Please ask for details. 

    1. Reliance by third parties 

Advice rendered by us is provided for the purpose of the instructions to which it relates and for your benefit.  It may not be used or relied on for any other purpose or by any person other than you without our prior agreement. 

        7.2   Liability in respect of other parties 

We will use all reasonable endeavours to ensure that all information provided by us is accurate but we cannot account for the accuracy of information provided by or obtained from third parties.  We shall not be liable for any decision made or action taken by you or others based upon reliance on or us of information or advice provided by or obtained from third parties. 

Where we are asked to recommend the services of another advisor or service provider we will do so in good faith but without liability and without warranting the ability or standing of that person or firm. We will not be responsible for the quality of services provided by that person or firm. 

        7.3.  Limitation of our liability

Our liability to you for a breach of your instructions shall be limited to £3,000,000.  We can only limit our liability to the extent the law allows.  In particular, we cannot limit our liability for death or personal injury caused by our negligence. 

Please ask if you would like us to explain any of the terms above. 

  1. Confidentiality and disclosure 

We owe you a duty of confidentiality in respect of information elating to you which we obtain during the course of our retainer.  All such information will be regarded as, and kept confidential at all times unless you instruct us to disclose information or except in the circumstances set out within these Terms. 

Our duty of confidentiality to you is subject to any disclosures we are required to make in good faith to the policy, governmental, regulatory or supervisory authorities in relation to any statutory or regulatory obligations.  In particular, we are required, without your knowledge or consent, to report any awareness or suspicion of money laundering in relation to the proceeds of any crime.  We can also be ordered by the Government Agencies to disclose information and answer questions about your private affairs, again without your knowledge and consent. 

Our duty of confidentiality does not apply to a disclosure we make to our insurers pursuant to the terms of our professional indemnity insurance policy.  In the event of a claim, complaint or the notification of a circumstance which may give rise to a loss or claim, we are obliged to make a notification to our insurers and this may necessarily result in your file being disclosed to our brokers or insurers. 

    1. Auditing and vetting files 

External firms or organisations may conduct audit or quality checks on our practice from time to time.  They may wish to audit/quality check your file and related papers for this purposes.  It is a specific requirement imposed by us that these external firms or organisations fully maintain confidentiality in relation to any files and papers which are audited/quality check by them.  Any examination will be strictly controlled and will be shared for the sole purpose of ensuring that our handling of your matter meets the requirements of the quality standard. 

Your files may also be reviewed in a due diligence exercise relating to the sale or transfer of all part of our business, the acquisition of another business by us or the acquisition of new business.  If you do not wish your file to be used in this way, please let us know as soon as possible. 

    1. Cloud computing

We use cloud storage for client files.  Our cloud software provider is LEAP. LEAP’s cloud infrastructure is provided and maintained by industry leading cloud-platform provider Amazon Web Services.  Amazon Web Services demonstrates a commitment to information security at every level of the organisation and complies with internationally recognised standard,  the EU Data Protection Directive and UK GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018.  If you object to your files/other details being storied in this way, please let us know. 

  1. Data Protection 

We are registered as a Data Controller with the information Commissioners Office.  We use the information you provide primarily for the provision of legal services to you and for related purposes including: 

  • Updating and enhancing client records; 
  • Analysis to help us manage our practice; 
  • Statutory returns; 
  • Legal and regulatory compliance. 
    1. Outsourcing and services 

Sometimes we have outsourcing arrangements with external companies which cover a range of services including but not limited to secretarial and administration support, credit control and tele-conferencing facilities to ensure that our services are provided promptly and efficiently.  Personal data and confidential information that we hold may be passed to these providers in order for them to undertake these services.  In doing so we will always take care to ensure that your information remains confidential and safe.  In particular, we have appropriate data protection and confidentiality agreements in place with each providers. 

    1. Sharing Information 

Our use of that information is subject to your instructions, the Data Protection Act 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation as incorporated into the law of the United Kingdom by virtue of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (and known as the UK GDPR) and our duty of confidentiality.  Please note that our work for you may require us to give information to third parties such as expert witnesses and other professional advisers.  We may also have to share information with the Legal Ombudsman (if you complain about our services) and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (the statutory body that regulates solicitors).  In doing so we will always take care to ensure that your information remains confidential and safe.  We will liaise with you during your case about which experts, barristers and other third parties we instruct on your behalf.  You have a right of access under data protection legislation to the personal data that we hold about you. 

We may need to share some or all of your information with the Law Society and external auditors for the purposes of their assessment of whether we are adhering to the Conveyancing Quality Standard.  Any examination will be strictly controlled and will be shared for the sole purpose of ensuring that our handling of your matter meets the requirements of the standard. 

We may from time to time send you information that we think might be of interest to you.  If you do not wish to receive that information please notify our office in writing. 

    1. Your Rights 

You have rights as a Data Subject under the GDPR Regulations and these include the right to be informed what information we hold about you which is known as a subject access request (although obviously it is likely that you will have provided us with such information as we hold).  You also have the right to request a copy of any information about you that we hold at any time, and also to have that information corrected if it is inaccurate.  You also have rights to complaint o the Information Commissioner’s Office if you feel that your data is not being handled properly.  Further information about your rights and how to exercise them is set out in Our Privacy Policy which is made available on our website or will be provided on request. 

For information on how your information is used, how we maintain the security of our information and to exercise your rights to access information we hold on you, please contact us.  Similarly, if you believe that the information we hold is wrong or out of date, please let us know and we will update it.  The person in the firm responsible for data protection is our Data Protection Officer, Scott Mulligan and enquiries and request can be sent to them by telephone on 0114 551 0900 by emailing scott@hewitsonandharker.co.uk or in writing to 23 Worksop Road, Swallownest, Sheffield S26 4WA. 

    1. How long we will hold your data? 

We will only hold your information for as long as necessary to provide you with legal services and then for only so long as we are required either contractually or under our regulatory obligations.  This will generally be six years after the end of your matter.  For some cases, for instance where you or a named party are currently under the age of eighteen, we may decide that we are required and/or it is proper and appropriate to keep your data for longer than this period, but we will notify you if we believe that your case falls into this category. 

After the designated retention time, we will confidentially destroy all information that we hold about you (in accordance with the clauses below relating to storage and retrieval) other than your name, address and date of birth which we will be obliged to continue to hold for the purposes of ensuring that we never act for another client where doing so would conflict with our obligations of confidentiality to you. 

  1. Cybercrime and Email Fraud 

It is unfortunate that Cybercrime and email fraud targeted at law firms and their clients is on the increase.  Fraudsters are using very sophisticated method to manipulate IT and intercept communications. 

If you have the necessary facilities, we will sometimes use Email for communication with you unless you tell us not to. 

There are some specific points of which you should be aware: 

      1. Communications over the internet are not completely secure.  You will have to guide us as to what should or should not be sent over the internet. 
      2. Viruses or other harmful devices may be spread over the Internet.  We take reasonable precautions to prevent these problems by use of a firewall and virus checking software.  If we are to communicate by Email it is on the basis that you will do likewise. 
    1. Confirmation of our bank details

We will confirm our bank details in writing during the course of the transaction.  We do not intend to change our bank account details during the course of dealing with your matter so the account details we provide will stay the same through out the lifetime of your matter. 

It is very important that you are aware that we will not notify you of changes to our bank account details by email.  We will only notify you of changes to important business information, including bank account details, in official correspondence which will be sent by postal mail. 

If you ever receive any other communication purporting to come from us and which purports to change our bank account details or to request that you send funds to another account, please do not rely on this and immediately contact the person at this firm handling your matter by telephone immediately.  Even if the request appears to have come from us,  you must never send funds to another account unless you have verified this with us. 

We cannot take any responsibility for any losses where funds are transferred to other accounts that have not been verified by us. 

    1. Sending funds to our bank accounts 

Prior to transferring any funds to our account, we strongly recommend that you contact us to certify our account details.  Wherever possible, you should contact the person at this firm handling your matter by telephone. 

    1. Our firm sending funds to you 

You must take care to protect your own data and bank account details.  Confirming your bank details by email should be avoided.  If you forward details on email, please ensure you telephone the person dealing with your matter to confirm these. 

For all new matters, the person with conduct of your matter will contact you by telephone to verify bank account details, prior to our sending funds to you.  We are sorry if this causes any delay to the processing of payments but we do consider that these steps are necessary to help protect you and your money from fraud. 

If you are a long-standing client of the firm and/or a client to whom we have previously transferred funds and your bank account details have not changed we will rely on our previous transactions rather than contact you via telephone for verification unless circumstances exist which increases the level of risk or we otherwise consider it appropriate to do so. 

  1. Storage of documents 

After completing the work, we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses. 

We will keep our file of papers 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 them 6 years after the date the final bill is raised.  Such papers or files may be stored in an electronic form (with the original paper version being destroyed as soon as it is scanned and saved as an electronic file).  We will not destroy documents you ask us to deposit in safe custody.  This service is currently free of charge.  We do not always store clients’ deeds and document on our own premises but outsource our storage facilities to independent third parties. 

If we take papers or documents out of storage in relation to continuing or new instruction to act for you, we will not normally charge for such retrieval.  You may also have a right to be provided with a copy of personal data held by us as part of a legitimate subject access request (see the data protection section). 

However, we may charge for: 

  • Time spent producing stored papers that are requested, and 
  • Reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions in relation to the retrieved papers. 
  1. Terminating the retainer 
    1. Termination by you 

You may end your instructions to us in writing at any time, but we can keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses. 

    1. Termination by us 

In some circumstances, we may consider that we ought to case acting for you.  We will only decline to act further for you where we have reasonable grounds to do so (for example: failure by you to settle invoices in full on the due date or to make payment in advance when so requested; failure by you to give clear and proper instruction on how we are to proceed; if it is clear that you have lost confidence in how we are carrying out your instructions; if by continuing to act we would be in breach of the law or rules of professional conduct; or your conduct to staff members is such to cause offence or upset).  If we do case to act for you then we will confirm in writing the reasons why and give you reasonable notice. 

If you or we decide that we should stop acting for you, you will pay our charges up until that point,  these are calculated by proportion of the agreed fee as set out above. 

  1. Anti-money laundering and terrorist financing 

The Money Laundering Regulations 2017 require solicitors to obtain satisfactory evidence of the identity of their clients and, where there is a beneficial owner who is not the client, the beneficial owner.  This is because solicitors who deal with money and property on behalf of their client can be targeted by criminals attempting to launder money. 

To comply with the law, we need to obtain evidence of your identity as soon as possible.  Our practice is to ask you to undertake an online ID verification.  If you cannot provide us with the specific identification requested, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss other ways to verify your identity.  We are required to retain records of the identification obtained. 

If satisfactory evidence of your identity and address is not provided within a reasonable time, we are not able to proceed with your instructions, and may have to cause to act for you. In these circumstances we will charge you for the work done prior to that date. 

If as a result of meeting our statutory obligations or executing our internal procedures put in place to meet those obligations in food faith , we cause you loss, damage or delay, our liability to you will not exceed the minimum level of Professional Indemnity insurance cover as specified by the SRA’s Standards and Regulations. 

We are also required to carry out background checks on our clients and to make detailed enquiries as to the source of funds being used in relation to transaction on which we are instructed to advise.  We may ask you to provide us with detailed information about the source of any funds or your financial circumstances and the sources of your income or wealth. 

    1. Electronic Identity Checks 

In the same way as bank transfer fees, firms need to account properly for electronic check fees and/or the fee they charge (which may contain a profit cost element). 

This cost is included in any “onboarding” fee which has been detailed on your attached quotation.  We may however, have to charge additional costs if further electronic identity checks are required for third parties such as persons gifting funds. 

    1. Making a disclosure 

We are professionally and legally obliged to keep your affairs confidential.  However, solicitors may be required by statute to make a disclosure to the National Crime Agency where they know or suspect that a transaction may involve money laundering or terrorist financing.  If we make a disclosure in relation to your matter, we may not be able to tell you that a disclosure has been made.  We may have to stop working on your matter for a period of time and may not be able to tell you why. 

    1. Transfer of funds 

Our practice’s policy is to accept cash from client’s up to the sum of £500 only. 

If you try to avoid this policy by depositing cash directly with our bank, we may decide to charge for any additional checks we decide are necessary to provide the source of the funds. 

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. 

    1. Stamp Duty and Land Transaction Return 

You will be required to complete and sign a declaration about the consideration paid to satisfy the Stamp Duty Land Tax Act.  Amongst other things, this will require you to supply us with your National Insurance Numbers for all proposed purchases and transfer of equities or a UTRN Number for company clients. 

We will complete and submit a Land Transaction Return on your behalf within 14 days of completing your purchase.  The Return will be based on the information we receive from you and therefore the accuracy of the information is your ultimate responsibility. 

There are consequences that you need to bear in mind for providing inaccurate information on the form.  Not only will this cause delay in completing registration at the Land Registry, you will also incur penalties for late submission.  There is a fixed penalty of £100 for failing to submit within fourteen days of the completion date of your purchase and increasing penalties therefore after.  Where stamp duty is payable, there may also be interest payable in respect of the late payment of this. 

HM Revenue and Customs may contact us to enquire about the Land Transaction Return you submitted at a later date.  We will notify you in the event of such enquiries and we reserve the right to charge for the work undertaken in providing the Revenue with replies to their enquiries. 

  1. Conflict 

An actual or potential conflict between your interest and the interest of another client of the firm may arise during the course of a matter. If this situation arises during our dealing with you, we will discuss the position with you and determine the appropriate course of action. 

  1. Equality & Diversity 

We are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all our dealings with clients, third parties and employees.  Please contact us if you would like a copy of our equality and diversity policy. 

  1. Third Party Rights 

The Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 does not apply to the terms of our retainer with you or any subsequent amendment to it unless we expressly confirm in writing that it does apply. 

  1. Enforcement 

In the event that any of these terms and condition is held to be invalid, the remainder of the terms and condition will remain in full force and effect.

  1. Governing Law 

These terms and conditions shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the law of England and Wales. 

The Courts of England & Wales shall have exclusive jurisdiction in relation to any claim, dispute or difference concerning this agreement and any matter arising from it. 

  1. Conclusion 

We trust that our standard terms and conditions meet with your approval. If you are concerned that any of the above information is not correct please contact us as soon as possible. 

As confirmation that you would like our firm to proceed on this basis, we request that you confirm within your onboarding documents that you have read the above in full.  You should be aware that the confirmation by you of advice from our firm will be deemed to be on the basis of our standard terms and conditions and the terms in our covering letter.