Terms & Conditions

1. INTRODUCTION

1.1 These Terms set out the basis for our provision of legal services to you. An appointment letter and our full and current Standard Terms of Business will be sent to you setting out the work to be undertaken by us and how we will charge for that work. You are asked to note that the Terms of this Website and our Standard Terms of Business should be read together with the appointment letter issued to you at the outset of the matter. Any variation of these terms of business must be agreed in writing.

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2. CHARGES

2.1 Our fees are based on the various criteria laid down by statute which states that our charges are to be fair and reasonable having regard to all the circumstances.  Other factors may also be taken into account, notably complexity, value or urgency, and an additional mark-up added.

2.2 We will agree a basic fixed fee amount with you at the time that we agree the instruction; VAT will be chargeable in addition to the fixed fee together with any additional fees and disbursements which are incurred as a result of the transaction being carried out on your behalf.

2.3 Where for any reason a matter does not proceed to completion, we will be entitled to charge you proportionally for works done and for expenses incurred. Our abortive charges will therefore be as follows:

  • If a matter is abortive at the stage where only the initial enquiries have been undertaken, we will be entitled to charge up to 30% of our initial fees quoted to you.
  • If a matter is abortive prior to or on exchange, we will be entitled to charge up to 70% of our initial fees quoted to you as the majority of our work would have been completed at this stage.
  • If a matter is abortive following exchange, we will be entitled to charge up to 100% of our fees, less any completion disbursements.

We ask you to note that property sales and purchases which fail to complete often involve as much work as those which reach completion. Any charge made will not exceed the amount of our estimate even if the time spent would justify a higher fee.

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3. INVOICES

3.1. We will normally send you an invoice for the work carried out on your behalf following exchange of contracts, in situations where completion of your contract is likely to occur shortly after or on the date of exchange then we will provide you with an invoice for the entirety of the transaction.  We will inform you if our invoices cover all the work carried out during the specified period, or are simply for payments on account of our overall charges

3.2 Payment is due when our invoice is delivered. We may charge you interest on invoices not paid within 30 days of the delivery at the rate of 4% above the base rate of HSBC PLC.

3.3 If a transaction or other matter is abortive, our fees will still be payable.

3.4 If our invoice is not made out to you but to a third party, you must pay our charges if and to the extent that the third party fails to pay our invoice in full.

3.5 There are circumstances in which we may be entitled to exercise a lien for unpaid costs.   A lien includes an entitlement to retain property that belongs to you, such as deeds, other documents, or money, until our professional costs have been paid.

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4. DISBURSEMENTS AND PAYMENTS ON YOUR BEHALF

4.1 We will often incur expenses on your behalf in the course of a transaction. These include the couriers, searches, registrations and agents who conduct investigations or agency fees, or provide reports and other reasonable out of pocket expenses (“Disbursements”).   Disbursements incurred on your behalf will be included in our invoice.

4.2 We will obtain your approval before incurring any substantial Disbursements (including barristers’ fees, agency fees, overseas legal fees or separate solicitor’s lenders fees).  We will normally either require you to provide us with sufficient funds to cover such Disbursements or arrange for the person providing the services to invoice you direct.   If we pay any such Disbursements on your behalf, we will invoice you for them and payment will be due from you on delivery of the invoice.

4.3 We will sometimes be required to give an undertaking (i.e.a binding commitment) to pay an amount of money on your behalf in relation to a matter.  We will not give such an undertaking without your prior approval.  We will normally require that the relevant amount (or a reasonable estimate of it) is paid to us before we can give the undertaking.

4.4 If we have to incur additional expenses for non-legal staff working overtime on evenings or weekends in order to meet deadlines set by you we may include overtime charges as a separate item on our invoices to you. A charge of up to 10% will be levied in this respect.

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5. MONEY ON ACCOUNT

5.1 We require clients to provide us money on account before starting work on their behalf.  This will serve as a source of payment of our invoices when delivered.  From time to time, we may ask you to replenish the account so that it does not fall below the agreed amount.  Any funds in excess of our charges will be returned to you after the completion or termination of our services.

5.2 The terms on which interest is paid on money we hold for clients are governed by the SRA Accounts Rules 2011.

5.3 We maintain records in respect of interest earned as required by the Inland Revenue and our professional rules.  We may, when it is fair and reasonable, apply interest that has accrued on monies held on account (or otherwise received on your behalf) towards payment of unpaid invoices and/or accrued interest on those unpaid invoices.

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6. VAT

6.1 All fees quoted, Disbursements and other charges are exclusive of value added tax (VAT).  We deal exclusively with the purchase, mortgage or sale of property in England and Wales and therefore it is highly unlikely that our services will be outside the scope of UK VAT.

6.2 If our services are subject to VAT, and if we incur interest, penalties or legal costs because any information on your VAT status is not correct, you must indemnify us fully on demand for these amounts.

6.3 If our invoices are not payable by you as our client but by a third party, you will still be liable for any VAT in respect of our charges.

6.4 Our VAT number is: 701 8201 82

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7. MONEY LAUNDERING PRECAUTIONS

7.1 Like all firms of solicitors, we are now required by law to apply procedures to guard against the risk of money laundering.  It will help us to avoid any problems with your legal work if you bear in mind the following points.

7.2 Identification checks: We need to obtain formal evidence of your identity.  This is necessary even though we have acted for you before, or even if you are known personally to a member of staff.  We will tell you when such evidence is necessary, but it may help us if you are able to bring evidence to our first meeting.  Normally the evidence we would ask for is your passport, plus two or more documents to establish your address, such as recent utility bills, council tax statements, or bank statement. Please be advised that if we have not have sight of the original document, you will be required to forward to us either the original or a certified copy of the document at your own cost. In doing so, we urge you to obtain our approval as to who is authorised to provide the appropriate certification.

7.3 Cash: We do not accept payment in cash.

7.4 Source of funds: The law now requires solicitors as well as banks, building societies and others to obtain satisfactory evidence of the identity of their client. This is because solicitors who deal with money and property on behalf of their client can be used by criminals wishing to launder money. In order to comply with the law on money laundering we will need to obtain evidence of your identity as soon as practicable.

Please ensure that you let us have your proof of identity, proof of address and evidence as to the source of income used to finance your transaction either before or at the time of delivering to us a signed copy of these Standard Terms and Conditions of Business. Without these documents we will not be able to conduct works on your file.
 
We will also require up to date copies and/or originals of these documents prior to completion particularly if a considerable amount of time has lapsed from the date of exchange and the anticipated date for completion. If we do not receive this documentation from you when so requested we reserve the right to cease working on your file until our request has been fulfilled. By virtue of these Terms and/or by signing at the foot of our Standard Terms and Conditions of Business you hereby accept that Riseam Sharples shall not be held liable for any loss or damage arising from any delay in your transaction arising from your failure to provide us the documents as requested or for complying with the conditions set out herein.
 
We ask you to note that we will only accept funds from the purchaser(s) named on the contract and we will only transmit funds to the vendor(s) named on the contract. It is the firm’s policy not to accept/transmit funds from or to third parties which may include spouses/children/parents/ siblings. This is a private matter for you. Any attempts to circumvent the firm’s policy may result in your funds being frozen and a disclosure report being made to the appropriate authorities, without any further notice to you, in accordance with the Anti-Money Laundering Regulations.
 
Solicitors are under a professional and legal obligation to keep the affairs of the client confidential. This obligation, however, is subject to a statutory exception: recent 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. Where a solicitor knows or suspects that a transaction on behalf of a client involves money laundering, the solicitor may be required to make a money laundering disclosure.
 
If, while we are acting for you, it becomes necessary to make a money laundering disclosure, we may not be able to inform you that a disclosure has been made or of the reasons for it.
 
Riseam Sharples policy is only to accept funds from you by way of a bank transfer. Please note that it is the firm’s policy not to accept payments in the form of cash due to concerns under the Anti Money Laundering Regulations. If you attempt to circumvent this policy by depositing cash direct with our bank we reserve the right to charge for any additional checks we deem necessary regarding the source of the funds.
 
Furthermore, we ask you not to send us funds by way of a cheque due to potential clearance concerns which could jeopardise the logistics of your property transaction.
 

7.5 Cyber Crime: Please be aware of cyber crime. Riseam Sharples will not take responsibility if you transfer money to the wrong bank account. Please speak to your Solicitor before transferring any money. If you receive an email from Riseam Sharples requesting your bank details or requesting that you send money to an alternative account, please contact your Solicitor immediately to clarify.

Please be aware that cyber-fraudsters are increasingly targeting law firms. Cyber-crime committed against law firms could for example be used to steal money or to facilitate identity theft.

Our computer systems are secure.  However, we are aware that clients’ personal systems are not and it is possible for fraudsters to intervene in the email chain between client and solicitor and for example, direct money from the client to the fraudster’s bank account.  Be wary of such emails and always check with your solicitor before sending money and indeed Riseam Sharples Solicitors own rules are that no money is sent without a telephone call to the receiver to verify the bank details before sending.

Whilst we do everything possible to make our system secure it is always sensible to be particularly cautious when requests for funds are received through electronic media. For example, always check that the email address of the sender exactly matches our genuine address. Be wary of any messages that indicate that our bank account has had to be changed at short notice. That is highly unlikely to be genuine. Treat with caution any emails requesting funds which are received out of normal office hours. Please also be weary if the tone and demeanour of the email appears to have changed as this is a key red flag which may indicate that you are corresponding with an imposter.

If you have any doubts or concerns about the authenticity of emails (or any other documents) which appear to come from Riseam Sharples please send them to rslaw@rs-law.co.uk so that they can be verified or speak directly to the fee earner you are dealing with on the telephone number given in our client care letter. 

 
7.6 Confidentiality: We have always sought to keep our clients’ affairs confidential. However,  statute, including, the Anti Money Regulations can oblige us to report information about financial offences to the National Crime Agency. In particular, if it seems that any assets involved in your matter were derived from a crime we may have to report it. This can include even small amounts of money, and covers all offences, including for example tax evasion and benefit fraud.
 
7.7 If we have to make a report we may not be able to tell you that we have done so. A report may result in an investigation by the police, the Inland Revenue or other authorities. The law contains exceptions. If you are concerned about how this may affect you, please ask us to clarify.

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8.1 You may terminate our services at any time by giving us reasonable written notice, whether or not you have cause to do so. If you do so, you must pay our charges for work carried out up to date of termination.  In those circumstances, we may keep all the papers which we are entitled to retain until all of our costs, Disbursements and interest have been paid.

8.2 We may stop acting for you at any time on reasonable written notice provided we fulfil our obligation to maintain proper standards of professional conduct. We will withdraw our services if:

  • you fail to give us proper instructions;
  • you fail to give us the co-operation which we are reasonably entitled to expect;
  • our continuing to act would be impractical, unethical or unlawful;
  • you fail to provide us (or to replenish) sufficient money to be held on account; or
  • you fail to pay our invoices as and when rendered.

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9. CONFLICT

9.1 An actual or potential conflict between your interests and the interests of another client of the firm may arise during the course of a matter. If this situation arises during our dealings with you, we will discuss the position with you and determine the appropriate course of action.  In order to protect your interests, we may not be able to continue acting.

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10. GENERAL POINTS

10.1 All communications between us (and all work done on your behalf) is confidential, but we may in certain circumstances be required by law to disclose information to a relevant authority.  By law, we are not allowed to inform you of such disclosures.

10.2 Unless specifically agreed in writing we do not provide tax or accountancy advice and would expect your accountants/tax advisers to deal with all issues relating to tax and accounting arising in respect of a matter and your tax and accountancy matters generally.

10.3  Riseam Sharples is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority of England and Wales under registration number 265958, their details can be found at http://www.sra.org.uk/. We ask you to note that we are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, however, we are on the Financial Conduct Authority's list of Designated Body of Professionals.

10.4 All work done and advice provided by us is for your use and benefit only and may not be supplied or passed on to any other person without our prior written approval.   Our duty of care is to you as our client, not to third parties unless such responsibility is accepted by us in writing.

10.5 We may destroy files and documents relating to completed transactions or business six years or more after the date on which the file was closed.  Original documents held by us will of course not be destroyed.  We will seek your instructions at the close of the matter on which documents should be returned to you.  In respect of any documents retained we reserve the right to make a reasonable charge and we shall only have a responsibility to you where such charge is paid.

10.6 These Terms of Business are governed by English law.  By instructing us you agree that any dispute arising in connection with these Terms of Business or our services shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English Courts. We may vary these Terms of Business from time to time by giving you reasonable written notice.

We are committed to continuous improvements in the quality of our services. We encourage suggestions or comments from you in helping us to achieve this goal.  Whilst we hope that you will not need to complain, we recognise the wisdom of explaining our internal complaints procedure which is available upon request. Wherever possible please refer complaints to your contact Partner or alternatively the Senior Partner (Clive Sharples) who will investigate with the solicitor or legal advisor concerned.

We encourage you to first try to resolve any complaint directly with us. However if the complaint is still not resolved at the end of this complaints process you have the right to refer your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman, their details can be found at http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/.

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