TERMS OF BUSINESS
The purpose of this document is to confirm the arrangements between us and should be read together with the client care letter. Any reference to ‘the firm’ means Sony Sadaf Haroon Ltd. Although your continuing instructions in this matter will amount to your acceptance of these Terms of Business, we ask that you sign, date and return one copy for our file.
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 public bank holidays and operate reduced hours over the Christmas period.
Scope of our services
The services we provide for any matter are described in the Client Care Letter or otherwise agreed between us at the outset of the matter and may be varied by agreement during the course of the matter. We shall not be responsible for any failure to advice or comment on any matter which falls outside the scope of your instructions. Our advice to you is provided for the purpose of the instructions to which it relates and for your benefit. It should not be used or relied on for any other purpose or by any other person without our prior agreement.
- treat you fairly and with respect;
- communicate with you in plain language;
- provide legal immigration advice and review your matter regularly;
- d 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 genuine documentation and information that we reasonably request in a timely manner, and
- safeguard any documents that may be required for your matter, including documents that you may have to disclose to another party
- disclose all material facts that are relevant to your UK immigration matter
Our members of staff have the right to be treated with dignity and respect at all times. Please be aware that Sony Sadaf Haroon Solicitors will not tolerate verbal or physical abuse towards its staff. We reserve the right to stop acting for you / your Company where we have reasonable grounds to do so.
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. We will update you on the cost of your matter at the intervals set out in the accompanying letter.
The team responsible for your work
The initial Client Care Letter we send you identifies the person who will be involved in your matter from the outset. It may be necessary to involve others as the matter progresses. If there may be a change of personnel in your matter we will endeavour to keep you informed of such changes and the reasons for this. We will be pleased to establish a method of reporting which is specifically suited to your needs (for example monthly or quarterly reports and/or meetings).
Our fees are based on the various criteria required by law which state that our charges are to be fair and reasonable having regard to all the circumstances. VAT will be charged if it is applicable, our VAT Reg. No: 103934240
Where possible we will provide an estimate of the likely overall costs in relation to a matter. If we cannot give an estimate, we will explain why not. Unless our Client Care Letter states otherwise, any estimate or quotation of costs is not an agreement to perform our services within a fixed time or a fixed fee. We will notify you if any estimate of time and/or fees we have given you needs to be revised, for example, because your requirements or the circumstances have changed, or unforeseen additional work becomes necessary.
Generally, we will work on a fixed fee basis which is agreed with you in writing at the outset of a matter. Whether or not a matter proceeds to completion, you will be charged for work done, and expenses incurred, unless otherwise agreed.
In certain circumstances, our charges are based on the time we spend in dealing with a matter. Time spent on your affairs will include meetings with you and others; considering, preparing and working on papers; written and electronic correspondence; making and receiving telephone calls; and any time spent traveling. Hourly rates vary according to the level of seniority of each lawyer and expertise required; your instructions will be carried out at a level appropriate to providing an efficient and cost-effective service. Our Client Care Letter outlines the current relevant hourly rates for the personnel involved in any matter unless you have already been notified of those rates. From time to time we will review our hourly rates and will notify you of any increased rate. In addition to the time spent, our charges may take into account a number of other factors. These include the complexity of the issues, the level of urgency, the expertise or specialist knowledge required and, if appropriate, the value of the subject matter involved.
Our duties and rights of third parties
Our duties are owed only to the client named in any engagement letter, and we disclaim any liability to any other person. If another person specifically requests the right to rely upon our advice, we will consider it, but we reserve the right to decline any such request. You agree that in any matter you will not be acting for another person unless we agree in writing in advance.
The terms on which we agree to conduct your matters (whether or not contained in these terms of business) are not intended to be enforceable by anyone but the parties to that agreement.
We have no liability in relation to services provided by counsel, experts, foreign lawyers or other third parties selected or instructed by us on your behalf.
This provision applies if you make any claim against us and we wish to claim contribution from a third party. If that third party’s liability to you has been excluded or limited, reducing the contribution we can recover from them, you will make an equal reduction in your claim against us. In this provision, “reduce” and “contribution” include a 100% reduction or contribution.
Duties to the court
Your case may involve court proceedings. All solicitors have a professional duty to uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice. We must comply with our duties to the court, even where this conflicts with our obligations to you. This means that we must not:
- attempt to deceive or knowingly or recklessly mislead the court
- be complicit in another person deceiving or misleading the court
- place ourselves in contempt of court
- make or offer payments to witnesses who depend on their evidence or the outcome of the case
We must also comply with court orders that put obligations on us and ensure that evidence relating to sensitive issues is not misused.
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 million including interest and costs unless we expressly agree on a different figure. 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.
[EITHER (FOR COMMERCIAL CLIENTS):
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.
OR (FOR INDIVIDUAL CLIENTS):
We will not be liable for:
losses that were not foreseeable to you and us when this contract was formed
losses that were not foreseeable to you and us when this contract was formed
losses not caused by any breach on the part of the firm, and
business losses, including losses sustained by any individual not acting for purposes of their trade, business, craft or profession]
Sony Sadaf Haroon Ltd (trading as Sony Sadaf Haroon Solicitors) is a limited company. This means that the firm’s members and 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.
Please note that increasingly fraudsters are targeting communications between clients and solicitors in order to try and misappropriate money. Please note that we will never change our bank account details part way through a case and we may need to confirm in discussions with you changes of banking information or similar before acting upon your instructions in this respect.
We hold all client money in Barclays Bank which is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). We are not liable for any losses you suffer as a result of any such banking institution being unable to repay depositors in full. You may, however, be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
The FSCS is the UK’s statutory fund of last resort for customers of banking institutions. The FSCS can pay compensation up to £75,000 if a banking institution is unable, or likely to be unable, to pay claims against it.
The limit is £75,000 per banking institution. If you hold other personal money in the same banking institution as our client accounts, the limit remains £75,000 in total. Please bear in mind that some banks operate several brands.
The FSCS also provides up to £1m of short-term protection for certain high balances, e.g. relating to property transactions, inheritance, divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership, unfair dismissal, redundancy and personal injury compensation (there is no financial limit on protection for personal injury compensation). This is called the temporary high balance scheme and, if it applies, protection lasts for a maximum of six months.
The FSCS (including the temporary high balance scheme) will apply to qualifying balances held in our client account. In the unlikely event of a deposit-taking institution failure, we will presume (unless we hear from you in writing to the contrary) we have your consent to disclose necessary client details to the FSCS.
Sony Sadaf Haroon Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, The Cube, 199 Wharfside Street, Birmingham, B1 1RN (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 0370 606 2555.
Storage and retrieval of files
After completing the work, we will be entitled to keep your file, papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses. Thereafter, we will keep your file, papers and documents for up to 6 years, except those papers you ask to be returned to you. We will not charge for this storage.
We store 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 retrieve your file from storage (including electronic storage) in relation to continuing or new instructions to act for you, we will not normally charge for the retrieval.
If we retrieve your file from storage for another reason, we may charge you for:
- time spent retrieving the file and producing it to you
- reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions in relation to the retrieved file
- providing additional copies of any documents
If you have the necessary facilities we will use email for communication with you unless you tell us not to. Communications over the Internet are not completely secure. It is your responsibility to guide us as to what should not be sent over the Internet. Viruses or other harmful devices may be spread over the Internet. We take reasonable precautions to prevent these problems by use of a fire wall and virus checking software. If we are to communicate by email, it is on the basis that you will do likewise.
Although we make reasonable attempts to exclude from our emails and any attachments any virus or any other defect which might affect any computer or IT system, it is your responsibility to put in place measures to protect your computer or IT system against any such virus or defect and we do not accept liability for any loss or damage which may arise from the receipt or use of electronic communications from us.
These terms shall apply to you and your associates, which, for the purposes of these same terms, include all companies which you control, or, if you are a company forming part of a group, all companies in that group.
External firms or organisations may conduct audit or quality checks on our practice, e.g. our regulator (the SRA), our accountants or assessment bodies for quality accreditations. These external firms or organisations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files. Please contact us if you do not wish your files to be disclosed to external auditors.
Right to cancel
You have the right to cancel the signed contract within 14 days without giving any reason if your sign up to our firm considers as a distance sales (Via email, telephone, etc). Please send us cancellation request via an email or a signed letter mentioning your name, contact details, matter details, reference numbers if any.
We will start work on your matter as soon as possible if you expressly ask us to, you would not have a right to cancel the instruction in such instances.
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 and/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.
Prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing
We are required by law to get satisfactory evidence of the identity of our clients and sometimes people related to them. This is because solicitors who deal with money and property on behalf of their clients can be used by criminals wanting to launder money.
To comply with the law, we need to get evidence of your identity as soon as possible. This is explained the accompanying letter.
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 and may not be able to tell you why.
Confidentiality and Publicity
Our clients may from time to time include one or more who operate in your area or a related area. We retain the right to act for these clients, subject to our professional duties in relation to conflict of interests and our obligations of confidentiality referred to in the following paragraph.
The information and documentation you provide to us is confidential and subject to legal professional privilege unless:
- stated otherwise in this document or our letter confirming your instructions, e.g. in relation to prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing, or
- 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 to only accept cash up to £1000. 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 a high quality legal service and to dealing with all our clients fairly. We acknowledge that we may not always get it right so if something has gone wrong, including in relation to the bill, we need you to tell us. Making a complaint will not affect how we handle your case, and you will not be charged for time spent handling your complaint.
How do I make a complaint?
You can contact us in writing (by letter, fax or email) or by speaking with our complaints manager, whose contact details are: Fatima Hussain, email@example.com, 01727568353
To help us to understand your complaint, and in order that we do not miss anything, please tell us:
- your full name and contact details
- what you think we have got wrong
- what you hope to achieve as a result of your complaint, and
- your file reference number (if you have it)
- If you require any help in making your complaint, we will try to help you.
How will you deal with my complaint?
We will record your complaint centrally.
We will write to you within three working days acknowledging your complaint, enclosing a copy of this policy.
We will investigate your complaint. This will usually involve:
- reviewing your complaint
- reviewing your file(s) and other relevant documents, and
- speaking with the person who dealt with your matter
We may also need to ask you for further information or documents. If so, we will ask you to provide the information within a specific period of time.
We will update you on the progress of your complaint at appropriate times.
We may also, if appropriate, invite you to a meeting to discuss your complaint. You do not have to attend if you do not wish to or if you are unable to. We will be happy to discuss the matter with you on the telephone.
We will write to you at the end of our investigation to tell you what we have done and what we propose to do to resolve your complaint. Where possible, we will aim to do this within ten days of the date of our letter of acknowledgement.
What if I am not satisfied with the outcome?
The Legal Ombudsman may be able to help you if we are unable to resolve your complaint ourselves. They will look at complaints independently and it will not affect how we handle your case. Most ‘consumer’ clients (as oppose to large businesses) will be able to make use of the Ombudsman scheme.
Before accepting a complaint for investigation, the Legal Ombudsman will check that you have tried to resolve your complaint with us first. If you have, then you must take your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman:
- Within six months of receiving a final response to your complaint
- No more than six years from the date of act/omission; or
- No more than three years from when you should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint.
If you would like more information about the Legal Ombudsman, please contact them:
Call: 0300 555 0333 between 9am to 5pm.
Legal Ombudsman PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ
Please note that the Ombudsman are there to deal with concerns about the level of service received. Where there are more serious concerns that a solicitor or solicitor’s firm have been involved in professional misconduct then reports can also be made to The Solicitors Regulation Authority, the regulator of solicitors and solicitor firms. This could be for things like dishonesty, taking or losing your money or treating you unfairly because of your age, a disability or other characteristic. Obviously we do not anticipate any such problems arising and would ask that you notify the matter supervisor straight away if you have any such concerns. You can find out more about the Solicitors Regulation Authority including their contact details on their website: www.sra.org.uk.
If we are unable to resolve your complaint, and it relates to a contract we entered into online or by other electronic means, you may also be able to submit your complaint to a certified alternative dispute resolution (ADR) provider in the UK via the EU ‘ODR platform’.
The ODR platform is an interactive website offering a single point of entry for disputes between consumers and traders relating to online contracts. The ODR platform is available to consumer clients only, i.e. where you have instructed us for purposes outside your trade, business, craft or profession. The website address for the ODR platform is: http://ec.europa.eu/odr
What will it cost?
We will not charge you for handling your complaint.
Please note that if we have issued a bill for work done on the matter, and all or some of the bill is not paid, we may be entitled to charge interest on the amount outstanding.
The Legal Ombudsman service is free of charge.
Expenses and disbursements
In appointing us to act on your behalf, you are also authorising us, unless you instruct us to the contrary, to incur such expenses and disbursements as we consider necessary. You will be required to pay for or reimburse us for those expenses. Examples of expenses and disbursements which we may have to pay on our behalf include reprographic charges, court fees, barristers’ fees, overseas lawyers’ and experts’ fees, application filing fees and special bank transaction costs. We reserve the right to charge for the expenses of travel, accommodation and meals while working on your behalf away from the office.
We will consult you before incurring any significant expenses or disbursements.
In circumstances where we pay government fees on your behalf, we cannot be liable for problems arising with your application if a payment is declined due to banking error. If you prefer to pay the disbursement directly to UK authorities, please let us know when you instruct us to act for you.
Funding and Billing
You are personally responsible for all legal costs as set out in our letter confirming your instructions, whether or not you have legal expense insurance. We will also usually discuss this at our initial meeting with you.
We will submit interim bills for our charges and disbursements at set milestones.
Any interim bill we send you is a self-contained invoice for the work done during the period if covers. We will send you a final bill at the end of your matter which will cover our work from the date of the last interim bill.
Bills should be paid within 7 calendar days unless agreed otherwise and confirmed in writing. We may charge interest on overdue bills at 4% above Barclays Bank Rate from the date of the invoice. Interest will be charged on a daily basis.
We may cease acting for you if an interim bill remains unpaid after 90 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.
You also have the right to challenge our bill by applying to the court to assess the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. The usual time limit for making such an application is one month from the date of delivery of the bill. If the application is made after one month but before 12 months from delivery of the bill, the court’s permission is required for the bill to be assessed.
Unless there are special circumstances, the court will not usually order a bill to be assessed after:
- 12 months from delivery of the bill
- a judgment has been obtained for the recovery of the costs covered by the bill
- the bill has been paid, even if this is within 12 months
We can keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses.
Community Legal Service Funding
You may be eligible to apply for financial assistance from the Legal Aid Agency (previously the Legal Service Commission) with respect to your immigration matters. For your information, we do not currently operate under a Community Legal Service (CLS) contract and therefore we are unable to advise as to eligibility. If you believe you are eligible to apply, you may wish to consult a firm of solicitors that does operate a CLS franchise. Legal Aid funding is subject to a means test, as well as a prospect of success/merits test.
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 scope of our services does not include giving you financial or business advice on the merits of entering into a transaction in investments. No communication either to you, or on your behalf to any other person, during the course of our engagement will be an invitation or inducement to engage in investment activity and nothing we say or write should be considered as such.
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.
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.
These terms supersede any earlier terms of business we may have agreed with you and, in the absence of express agreement to the contrary, will apply to the services referred to in any Client Care letter accompanying these terms and all subsequent services we provide to you.
From time to time it may be necessary to amend or supersede these terms by new terms.
Where this is the case we will notify you of the changes and, unless we hear from you to the contrary within 14 days after such notification, the amendments or new terms will come into effect from the end of that period.
It is essential that you contact this firm immediately in writing if you do not wish to be bound by these Terms of Engagement.