Terms of business
Table of contents
- Business hours
- Our responsibilities
- Your responsibilities
- Service levels and frequency of communication
- Limit of liability
- Regulated services
- Non-regulated services
- Data protection
- Storage and retrieval of files
- External auditing
- Terminating your instructions
- Prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing
- Receiving and paying funds
- Our bill
- Payment of interest
- Investment advice services
- Insurance mediation activity
- Equality and diversity
- Applicable law
- Future instructions
We are normally open between 9.00 am and 5.30 pm from Monday to Friday. We may be able to arrange appointments outside of these hours, in cases of emergency. We are closed on all bank holidays.
- treat you fairly and with respect
- communicate with you in plain language
- review your matter regularly
- advise you of any changes in the law that affect your matter
- advise you of any reasonably foreseeable circumstances and risks that could affect the outcome of your matter
- provide us with clear, timely and accurate instructions
- provide all documentation and information that we reasonably request in a timely manner
- safeguard any documents that may be required for your matter, including documents that you may have to disclose to another party
Service levels and frequency of communication
We will update you by telephone or in writing with progress on your matter regularly.
We will explain to you by telephone or in writing the legal work required as your matter progresses.
We will update you on the likely timescales for each stage of this matter and any important changes in those estimates. Whenever there is a material change in circumstances associated with your matter, we will update you on whether the likely outcomes still justify the likely costs and risks.
We will update you on the cost of your matter at the intervals set out in our letter confirming your instructions. If appropriate, we will continue to review whether there are alternative methods by which your matter can be funded.
Limit of liability
We have professional indemnity insurance giving cover for claims against the firm. Details of this insurance, including contact details of our insurer and the territorial coverage of the policy, can be inspected at our office or made available on request.
Our maximum aggregate liability to you in this matter will be £3,000,000 including interest and costs unless we expressly state a different figure in our letter confirming your instructions. If you wish to discuss a variation of this limit, please contact the person dealing with your matter. Agreeing a higher limit on our liability may result in us seeking an increase in our charges for handling your matter.
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 profit or opportunity.
Helix Law is a limited company. This means that the firm’s members directors are not personally liable for any acts or omissions by the firm, unless the law requires otherwise. This does not limit or exclude liability of the firm for the acts or omissions of its members and directors.
We can only limit our liability to the extent the law allows. In particular, we cannot limit liability for death or personal injury caused by negligence.
Please ask if you would like us to explain any of the terms above.
Helix Law is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Ipsley Court, Berrington Close, Redditch, B98 0TD (the SRA).
This means that we are governed by a Code of Conduct and other professional rules, which you can access on the SRA’s website www.sra.org.uk or by calling 0870 606 2555.
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
Our use of that information is subject to your instructions, the Data Protection Act 1998 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. Under data protection legislation you have a right of access to the personal data that we hold about you.
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, preferably in writing.
Storage and retrieval of files
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 your papers for up to 6 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 of the final bill. We will not destroy documents you ask us to deposit in safe custody.
If we take papers or documents out of storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act for you, we will not normally charge for the retrieval. However we may charge you for:
- time spent producing stored papers that are requested
- reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions in relation to the retrieved papers
Sometimes we ask other companies or people to do typing or copying on our files to ensure this is done promptly and in the most cost effective manner. We will always seek a confidentiality agreement with these outsourced providers. If you do not want your file to be outsourced, please tell us as soon as possible.
External firms or organisations may conduct audit or quality checks on our practice [eg our regulator, the SRA]. These external firms or organisations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files.
Terminating your instructions
You may end your instructions at any time, by giving us notice in writing. We can keep all your papers and documents while our charges or disbursements are outstanding.
We can only decide to stop acting for you with good reason and we must give you reasonable notice.
If you or we decide that we should stop acting for you, you are liable to pay our charges up until that point. These are calculated on the basis set out in our letter confirming your instructions.
In the event that we are on the court record as acting on your behalf at the time of termination, howsoever arising, you agree to sign and return to us Notice of Change of Legal Representative to enable us to come off the court record upon our request.
Should you not sign and return to us Notice of Change of Legal Representative to enable us to come off the court record upon our request, we will have the right to apply to the court for permission to come off of the court record as acting on your behalf. You agree to indemnify us for our costs and expenses in the event such an application is necessary.
Prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing
We are required to verify the identity of our clients. We do this electronically using the information provided by you. This information is then supplied to Callcredit Information Group who perform appropriate electronic and registry searches to verify your identity in accordance with our professional obligations.
Although we pay a fee for this service we do not charge client’s or prospects however in providing instructions to us you are agreeing to us taking this approach. If you have any queries or if you do not wish us to verify your identity electronically you must bring this to our immediate attention. The electronic search process does leave an electronic ‘footprint’ each time a search is conducted. Footprints detail the date, time and reason for a search and certain types of search footprints are used in credit scoring systems and may have a detrimental impact on a consumer’s ability to obtain credit.
All data is held in accordance with our data protection obligations in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and in line with our authorisation and license with the Information Commissioner’s Office. All reports are confidential and all data is kept and stored securely. These reports are owned by our firm.
The information and documentation you provide us is confidential and subject to legal professional privilege unless:
- stated otherwise in this document or our letter confirming your instructions, eg in relation to prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing
- we advise you otherwise during the course of your matter
We cannot absolutely guarantee the security of information communicated by email or mobile phone. Unless we hear from you to the contrary, we will assume that you consent for us to use these methods of communication.
Receiving and paying funds
Our policy is not to accept cash from clients. If you try to avoid this policy by depositing cash directly with our bank, we may decide to charge you for any additional checks we decide are necessary to prove 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.
We are committed to providing 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 either Jonathan Waters or Alex Cook on 01273 761 990, [email protected] or by post to 1 Frederick Terrace, Frederick Place, Brighton, BN1 1AX.
We have a written procedure that sets out how we handle complaints. It is available from Jonathan Waters or Alex Cook.
We have eight weeks to consider your complaint. If we have not resolved it within this time you may complain to the Legal Ombudsman. If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider the complaint. The Legal Ombudsman’s contact details are:
PO Box 6806
0300 555 0333
Normally, you will need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint or within a year of the act or omission about which you are complaining (or you becoming aware of it).
The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints by consumers and very small businesses. This means that some clients may not have the right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman, e.g. charities or clubs with an annual income of more than £1 million, trustees of trusts with asset value of more than £1 million and most businesses (unless they are defined as micro-enterprises). This does not prevent you from making a complaint directly to us about the service you have received or about the bill.
You are liable to pay legal costs as set out in our letter confirming your instructions. We will also usually discuss this at our initial meeting with you.
Bills should be paid within 14 days. We may charge interest on overdue bills at 8%.
You agree to indemnify Helix Law Limited in respect of all costs and expenses incurred by us in pursuing recovery of any unpaid bill, invoice or disbursements, from you. For the avoidance of doubt your indemnity is uncapped and includes our legal and professional costs and expenses, including but not limited to; our costs, counsel’s fees, the costs of any debt recovery agent or firm, court fees, costs draftsmen, and any other costs or expenses, incurred by us in recovering any sum of money payable by you to us.
We may cease acting for you if an interim bill remains unpaid after 21 days or if our reasonable request for a payment on account of costs is not met.
You have the right to challenge or complain about our bill. Please see the Complaints section above for details of how to complain about our bill. The procedure for challenging a bill varies depending on whether it relates to a matter involving court proceedings. When we send you a bill, we will explain the relevant procedure for challenging it.
We can keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses.
Payment of interest
We pay interest at the Base Rate on all sums over £1,000 but only if that interest amounts to more than £30 in any calendar year.
Investment advice services
We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. If, while we are acting for you, you need advice on investments, we may refer you to someone who is authorised to provide the necessary advice.
However, we may provide certain limited investment advice services where these are closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you. This is because we are members of the Law Society of England and Wales, which is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory arm of the Law Society. The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints against lawyers. If you are unhappy with any investment advice you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with either of those bodies.
Insurance mediation activity
We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. However, we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority so that we may 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 authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority website at https://register.fca.org.uk/s/.
The Law Society of England and Wales is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory arm of the Law Society. The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints against lawyers. If you are unhappy with any insurance advice you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with either of those bodies.
Equality and 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.
If any provision or part thereof within these terms of business is or becomes invalid, illegal or unenforceable, it shall be modified to the minimum extent necessary to make it valid, and legally enforceable. If such modification under this provision is not possible, the relevant provision or part-provision shall be deemed deleted. Any modification to or deletion of a provision or part provision under this clause shall not affect the validity or enforceability of the rest of these terms of business.
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.
Unless otherwise agreed, these Terms of Business will apply to all future instructions you give us on this or any other matter.