1. Responsibility for the work
The person responsible for dealing with your case is identified in the letter enclosed with this leaflet. The letter also lets you know who will have access to your file and who to contact when the person responsible for your case is unavailable. We have also provided you with the name of the head of department.
2. Service Standards and Responsibilities
Service standards and our responsibilities
- review the matter regularly and update you by telephone, email, text or by letter.
- communicate with you in plain language;
- explain to you by telephone, email, text or by letter the legal work required to be carried out as your matter progresses;
- provide you with a fixed fee or an estimate of costs of the case in writing at the outset and then update you in writing concerning costs incurred at least every six months;
- in contested matters and in the event of a material change of circumstances advise you about whether the likely outcome still justifies the costs and risks associated with the claim;
- advise you at the outset and keep you updated concerning the likely timescale for each stage of the matter and any important changes to those estimates;
- in appropriate cases continue to review whether there are alternative methods by which your matter can be funded;
- advise you of any changes in the law which affect your matter and advise you of any developments and/or foreseen risks which might affect the outcome of the matter;
- always act in your best interests;
- seek to obtain the best possible result for you;
- in appropriate cases give you our best advice about whether to accept any offer of settlement;
- provide us with clear, timely and accurate instructions;
- provide all documentation relevant to the matter;
- safeguard and make available to us any documents which are likely to be required by us in order to deal with the matter;
- not ask us to work in an improper or unreasonable way;
- not deliberately mislead us;
- co-operate with us; and go to any medical or expert examination or court hearing.
3. Hours of Business
Canter Levin & Berg offices are open Monday to Friday 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. We outsource calls outside those hours to a service company which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Canter Levin & Berg is committed to high quality legal advice and client care and our aim is to offer all our clients an efficient and effective service at all times.
If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service you have received, or about any bill sent to you, we will try to resolve any problems quickly. We operate an internal complaints handling system to help us resolve any problems. Please raise your concerns in the first place with the person responsible for your matter. If you remain dissatisfied with any aspect of our service, including any bill, please get in touch with Martin Malone, Partner, at 1 Temple Square, 24 Dale Street, Liverpool L2 5RL / email@example.com
If for any reason we are unable to resolve the problem or you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can ask the Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ (tel: 0300 555 0333; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
) to consider the complaint. Click here for our complaints procedure.
5. Equality and Diversity
Canter Levin & Berg is committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of its dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our equality and diversity policy.
6. Funding your Case
There are a number of ways in which your responsibility to pay legal costs may be met. Details of the funding arrangements applicable to your matter are outlined in the initial instructions letter enclosed with this leaflet.
7. Charges and Expenses
Our charges are calculated as a fixed price or otherwise mainly with reference to the time actually spent by the solicitors and other staff dealing with the work undertaken on your behalf. This will include meetings with you and perhaps others, reading and working on papers, correspondence (including emails) telephone calls, preparation of any detailed costs calculations and time spent travelling away from the office when this is necessary. Routine letters are charged as equivalent to six minutes of the hourly rate and we charge for time spent on making and taking telephone calls in six minute units. From time to time we may arrange for some of this work to be carried out by persons not directly employed by us. For all such work, our charges are noted in the letter enclosed with this leaflet. Should you be unhappy with our bill, you have the right to object and apply for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. Please also refer to point 4 above.
Unpaid Invoices/Bills - should we need to commence debt recovery proceedings to recover payments overdue by more than 30 days, we reserve the right to charge for the work done at the standard hourly rate of the person dealing with the matter. We also reserve the right to charge interest on all or part of the bill if it remains unpaid.
8. Barristers' Fees
In many cases we will negotiate the settlement of claims without the need to utilise the services of a barrister. However this may be necessary and, if so, you will be notified in advance of this and provided with details of any charge incurred. If we are acting pursuant to a no win no fee arrangement and it becomes necessary to use a barrister, we will aim to arrange a no win no fee agreement with him or her as well so that your responsibility for such fees will be covered on the same basis as our own.
9. Disbursements and Expenses
Disbursements are payments we make on your behalf as the matter proceeds such as court fees and payments for medical reports. Unless you notify us in writing to the contrary, we will assume that we have your authority to incur the usual disbursements and expenses encountered in the course of the work we do for you. We will seek your express agreement before incurring on your behalf sums which are substantial in the context of the work in question. Disbursements and expenses are charged to you in addition to Canter Levin & Berg's charges.
10. Payment of Interest
We account to our clients for interest due on funds held in our client account (following clearance of those funds) at the conclusion of the matter.
The amount is calculated as follows: balance x annual percentage rate / 365 x number of days held.
We do not account for interest if the amount is less than £20. Any amount payable for interest will be utilised first in paying any outstanding costs and/or disbursements.
The annual percentage rate is the interest rate applied to our general client account by our bankers and is adjusted from time to time to correspond with the prevailing bank rate.
11. Storage of Papers
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. At the conclusion of your matter, we will keep your file of papers (except those papers that you ask to be returned to you) in electronic form for:
- road traffic accident and other personal injury claims involving persons under 18 years old - until the person is 21 years old;
- wills, trusts and lasting powers of attorney - 105 years
- contracts and related documents - 15 years
- all other matters - 6 years;
Paper files (if they exist) are shredded at the conclusion of the matter. 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 such retrieval. However, we may charge you both for time spent producing stored papers that are required and reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions in relation to retrieved papers. If you prefer we will make your file of papers available for collection by you.
12. Vetting of files and confidentiality
External firms or organisations may conduct audit or quality checks on our practice. These external firms or organisations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files.
13. Outsourcing of work
Sometimes we ask other companies or people to carry out administrative functions on our files to ensure that necessary work is carried out promptly and efficiently. We always require outsourced service providers to enter into a confidentiality agreement. If you do not want your file to be outsourced, please tell us as soon as possible. Canter Levin & Berg outsource some of the initial administrative functions on your file to a service company and a confidentiality agreement is in place.
14. Investment Business
Sometimes the work which we carry out for clients involves investments. Like most solicitors we are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority and so may refer you to someone who is authorised to provide any necessary advice. However, we may provide certain limited 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 is the independent body responsible for investigating complaints. If you are unhappy with any investment advice you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with either of those bodies.
15. Insurance Mediation
We are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority. However we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Services 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 regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Services website at www.fsa.gov.uk/register.
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 is the independent body responsible for investigating complaints. If you are unhappy with any investment advice you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with either of those bodies.
16. Consumer Protection
If we have not met with you, the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 apply to your case. This means you have the right to cancel your instructions to us within seven working days of receiving this leaflet. You can cancel your instructions by contacting us by post, fax or email. Your notice to cancel must be in writing. Once we have started work on your file, you may be charged if you cancel your instructions. If you would like us to commence work on your file within the next seven working days, please ensure you complete the authority enclosed with this leaflet.
17. Minimal Balances on Client Account
If, at the end of your case there is a balance in your client account of £5 or less, the Firm reserves the right to donate this figure to a charity of choice. Should you not agree to this, please notify us in writing.
18. Data Protection
Canter Levin & Berg is compliant with the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998. Our registered data controller is Mrs Louise Burns-Lunt. 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. You have a right of access under data protection legislation to the personal data that we hold about you. We may from time to time send you information which we think might be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive that information please notify our office in writing.
19. Money Laundering
We are legally required to obtain satisfactory evidence of the identity of our clients and sometimes people connected with them. This is because solicitors, who deal with money and property on behalf of their clients, can be used by criminals who want to launder money. To comply with the law, we need to get evidence of your identity at the outset of the case. Our practice is to input your identity details into our computer system. We then use an electronic search facility which will verify identity details. The search procedure leaves a 'footprint' on your credit report but does not affect your credit score. There is a fee for this search which changes from time to time, although this is only a nominal charge. The fee will appear on your bill under disbursements or expenses, broken down into the charge and VAT. We are professionally and legally obliged to keep your affairs confidential. However, solicitors may be required by statute to make a disclosure to the Serious Organised 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.
20. ID Checks
For the majority of matters conducted by Canter Levin & Berg our electronic search to confirm your identity is sufficient; however there are matters which require additional proof of identity and you may be requested to provide us with your current photo card driving licence or your passport, plus an item of evidence to prove your address, such as a utility bill.
21. Notice of Right to Cancel
This paragraph only applies when you have signed your contract in the presence of a representative of this firm in your home or place of work, or signed pursuant to such a meeting.
This contract is between you and Canter Levin & Berg and the contract date is the date of the letter enclosed with this leaflet. The unique reference number for your matter is shown on the front page of the letter enclosed. You have the right to cancel this contract if you wish and this right can be exercised by delivering, or sending (including email) a cancellation notice to the person indicated in the letter attached at any time within the period of seven days starting with the day of receipt of a notice in writing of the right to cancel the contract. The addresses of our offices are printed on this leaflet and the address of the office where your matter is being dealt with is the address shown on the initial instruction letter enclosed. Please note that you may be required to pay for legal services supplied if the performance of the contract has begun upon your written agreement before the end of the cancellation period. A statement of that notice of cancellation is deemed to be served, as soon as it is posted or sent to our office or in the case of an e-mail, from the day it is sent to us. Should you wish to cancel the contract you may use the 'Cancellation Form' attached to the letter, which is enclosed with this leaflet.
Please note that Canter Levin & Berg only accept cash up to a limit of £500 in any 28 day period. If clients circumvent this policy by depositing cash directly with our bank, we reserve the right to charge for any additional checks we deem necessary regarding the source of the funds. We also reserve the right not to accept this payment and may charge for any additional bank transfer should we return the money to you. As alternatives to cash we accept online payments and payments by cheque, bank transfer and all major credit and debit cards.
23. Transfer and transmission of funds
All transfer and transmissions of client funds are made at our clients' risk and Canter Levin & Berg shall not be liable for any loss, damage or delays howsoever caused which are not directly caused by gross negligence on the part of any of our employees.
24. Applicable Law
Any dispute or legal issue arising from our terms of business subject to the laws of England and Wales and the exclusive jurisdiction of the English and Welsh courts.
25. Terminating the Retainer
You may end your instructions to us by writing to us at any time, but we may keep all your papers and documents while there is money still outstanding to us for fees and expenses.
We may decide to stop acting for you only with good reason e.g. if you do not pay an interim bill, a conflict of interest becomes apparent or if we think that you will lose your case and you disagree. We must give you reasonable notice that we will stop acting for you.
If you or we decide that we should stop acting for you, you must pay our charges up to that point. These are calculated either at an hourly rate or as a proportion of the agreed fee, as set out in the initial instructions letter enclosed.
26. Acceptance of Terms
As an indication of your acceptance to our terms of business, please sign and return the declaration on the last page of the enclosed letter.
We cannot carry out any work on your behalf until the above declarations are returned. A pre-paid envelope is enclosed for your convenience.
1 Temple Square
24 Dale Street
Tel: 0151 239 1000
Fax: 0151 239 1001
18 Newtown Gardens
Tel: 0151 292 8181
Fax: 0151 292 8182