Terms and conditions of business
We set out in this statement the basis on which we will provide our professional services.
We are authorised, unless otherwise agreed, to take such action as we think necessary to obtain the required result. We shall not refer to you for specific instructions every time we take a step. If, therefore, there is a limit to what we are required to do, or a limit to expenditure, we must be notified of this in advance.
Charges and expenses
We will give you a written estimate of the probable cost of the matter and also of all disbursements which we can reasonably foresee at the start of the mater. We will notify you in writing if for any reason we feel it necessary to vary that estimate and will explain to you why we need to do so.
We will add VAT to bills at the rate that applies when the work is done. At present, VAT is 20 per cent.
VAT is payable on certain disbursements.
We have no obligation to pay disbursements unless you have provided us with the funds for that purpose.
We shall require such a payment in advance of incurring disbursements.
Where, for any reason, a matter does not proceed, we will be entitled to charge you for work done on a time spent basis and for expenses incurred. 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.
Payment arrangements in Property related transactions
In property related matters we will deliver a bill following exchange of contracts and payment is required:
- on a purchase: prior to completion;
- on a sale: at completion.
If sufficient funds are available on completion, and we have sent you a bill, we will deduct our charges and expenses from the funds; otherwise when an account is prepared and a detailed costs analysis is undertaken.
If a bill is delivered in a concessionary figure (‘but say’) and remains unpaid after one month we reserve the right to credit the account with the amount of the ‘but say’ bill and to render a full account for all work done on the basis of a detailed costs analysis.
We reserve the right at all times to suspend action on the client’s matter if these arrangements have not been followed.
We may charge interest on unpaid bills from one month after delivery of the bill on a daily basis at the rate specified in the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Rate of Interest) (No.3) Order 2002 currently 8 per cent over Lloyds TSB Bank Plc’s base rate.
Acts of Parliament and regulations give our clients procedures for challenging a solicitor’s bill.
For non-contentious work (legal work which does not involve court proceedings, e.g. conveyancing and probate), sections 70, 71 and 72 of the Solicitors Act 1974 set out your rights in relation to having the bill assessed by the court.
If the whole of the bill has not been paid we are entitled to charge interest on the outstanding amount of the bill in accordance with article 5 of the Solicitors’ (Non-Contentious Business) Remuneration Order 2009.
An application to the court must be made within one month of the delivery of the bill.
Any money received on behalf of you will be held in our client account. We maintainan instant access account to facilitate a transaction but in consequence the amount of interest earned will usually be less than would be earned if the money were held in a deposit account. Interest will be calculated and paid to you at the rate from time to time payable on Barclays Bank Plc’s instant access accounts. The period for which interest will be paid will normally run from the date(s) on which funds are received by us until the date(s) of issue of any cheque(s) from our client account. We may retain the first £20 of each amount of interest as and when calculated to help us cover the administrative expenses of arranging these calculations and payments. By signing these terms and conditions you agree to this.
Communication between you and us
We will aim to communicate with you by such method as you request.
We do not accept service of documents by e-mail.
We may need to virus check discs or e-mail.
Unless instructed otherwise, we will communicate with others when appropriate by e-mail or fax but we cannot be responsible for the security of correspondence and documents sent by such media.
The Data Protection Act 1998 requires us to advise clients that their particulars are held on our database. We may, from time to time, use these details to send information which we think might be of interest to our clients. We do not make such information available to any other provider of products or services.
Sometimes conveyancing/family/probate/company work involves investments. 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 can provide certain limited services in relation to investment advice, provided they are closely linked with the legal services we are providing to you, as we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Our role in any transaction is that of legal advisor and it is not part of our function to give advice on the merits of any transaction in investments. When providing our services we will assume that you have decided or will decide to negotiate or enter into any such transaction solely on the advice you may receive from a person authorised under the Financial Services and Markets Act. No communication from us is intended or should be construed as an invitation or inducement to you or to anyone else to engage in investment activity.
Storage of papers and documents
Concluded files will be stored.
Where stored a file of papers is kept in storage for not less than ten years. After that, storage is on the clear understanding that we have the right to destroy papers after such period.
We will not destroy any documents such as wills, deeds and other securities, which we have been asked to hold in safe custody.
If we retrieve papers or documents from storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act, we will not normally charge for such retrieval. However, we will normally make a charge based on time spent for producing stored papers or documents to the client or to another party at the client’s request.
Identity, disclosure and confidentiality of business
All advice given to you is entirely confidential, but:
- Money laundering regulations may require disclosure of confidential information by law. Please note that we accept no responsibility for any loss arising from compliance with the money laundering provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and any amending legislation howsoever caused.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority and other supervisory bodies may call for a file which is the subject of a complaint.
A court order can compel disclosure of confidential material in certain circumstances.
As part of our continuing commitment to providing a high quality of service to all our clients, Cooper Nimmo maintains accreditation with the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme. The audit procedure laid down by this scheme may require examination of clients’ confidential files from time to time under strictly controlled circumstances and only to duly appointed and qualified individuals. Acceptance of these terms and conditions by any client is deemed to include consent to such disclosure, which may be withdrawn by you in writing at any time.
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.
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 Serious Organised 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.
Cooper Nimmo’s policy is only to accept cash up to £250.00 per transaction. If clients 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.
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 and legal/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 e.g defective title insurers, mortgage lenders, estate agents. As part of our “know your client” obligations to the Law Society we will also need to share your data with identity checking service providers. We may also need to make a report as set out under the disclosure section in our terms of business above.
You have the right of access under data protection legislation to the personal data that we hold about you on payment of a modest fee.
Please also note that external firms or organisations may conduct audit or quality checks on our practice. These external firms and organisations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files.
Instructions may be terminated at any time. Termination of instructions must be in writing, to be effective.
We will be entitled to keep all papers and documents while there is money owing to us for our charges and expenses.
Under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, for some non-business instructions, the client may have the right to withdraw, without charge, within seven working days of the date on which we were asked to act. However, if we start work with consent of the client within that period, the client loses that right to withdraw. Acceptance of these terms and conditions of business will amount to such consent. If it is sought to withdraw instructions, notice should be given by telephone, e-mail or letter to the person named in these terms of business as being responsible for your work. The regulations require us to inform clients if the work involved is likely to take more than 30 days.
Tax and planning advice
Any work that we do for clients may involve tax implications or necessitate the consideration of tax planning strategies. Any responsibility to advise on the tax implications of a transaction that we are instructed to carry out, or the likelihood of them arising, cannot be implied and must be the subject of specific and express agreement.
We will not advise you on the planning implications of your proposed purchase unless specifically requested to do so by you in writing, otherwise than by reporting to you on any relevant information provided by the results of the ‘local search’.
Cooper Nimmo is committed to a high quality legal advice and client care.
All firms of solicitors are obliged to attempt to resolve problems that clients may have with the service provided. It is therefore important that you immediately raise your concerns with us. We value you and would not wish to think you have reason to be unhappy with us.
If you have any problem with the service we have provided for you then please let us know. We will try to resolve any problem quickly and operate an internal complaints handling system to help us to resolve the problem between ourselves. If for any reason we are unable to resolve the problem between us, then we are regulated by the Law Society which also provides a complaints and redress scheme.
Complaints will be dealt with under the following protocol
In the event of a complaint, you should raise the concern in the first place with the person dealing with the particular matter.
If this does not resolve the problem you should then contact the supervising Director, whose name will have been notified at the outset of the transaction.
The complaint does not have to be put in writing, although setting out clearly the issues and the action you wish us to take may help us to resolve your concerns more quickly.
If these steps do not resolve the problem you should contact the Solicitor whom deals with client care, by telephoning or writing to either Mr Nimmo or Mrs Flynn. A full copy of the practice’s complaints procedure is available on request.
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 at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ; telephone: 0300 555 0333; website: www.legalombudsman.org.uk. 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.
Please note we do not have a ramp to accommodate disabled access but we are happy to make alternative arrangements for example we could make a home visit if this is necessary.
Procedure for responding to requests from law enforcement
Cooper Nimmo is committed to compliance with its DP obligations in order to mitigate the risks of failing to protect the personal data of clients or employees, breaching the data protection legislation or obligations under the SRA Standards and Regulations.
This procedure sets out how Cooper Nimmo will ensure that requests for information from law enforcement are responded to properly by the legal practice.
This procedure applies to all employees in Cooper Nimmo including those undertaking work through a consultancy arrangement, in a volunteer capacity, on a temporary basis or through an agency. The term ‘employees’ is used to refer to all members, partners, directors, managers and employees.
All employees must familiarise themselves with this procedure and comply with it. Failure to comply with this procedure will/may result in disciplinary action.
Requests for information from third parties
The employee is responsible for transferring any telephone call received from a third party, e.g. a government department or the police, requesting information about a client under the GDPR or the Data Protection Act 2018 to the person responsible for DP compliance.
The employee will advise the caller that the call will be transferred to the person responsible for DP compliance and will then advise the person responsible for DP compliance of the name of the caller, the organisation and the details of the case.
If the person responsible for DP compliance is not available, the employee will take the caller’s details and advise that the person responsible for DP compliance will return the call within 24 hours unless advised otherwise.
The employee is responsible for forwarding any email or letter from a third party requesting information under data protection legislation or advising that a request for information is to be sent immediately to the person responsible for DP compliance.
The employee will acknowledge receipt to the person requesting information, advising that the email or letter will be forwarded to the person responsible for DP compliance.
The employee must not confirm or deny any information or indicate whether or not Cooper Nimmo acts or has acted in the matter or for that client.
The person responsible for DP compliance will, on receipt of the telephone call, email or letter, find out from the individual the key details about the case, what information is requested and the type of request.
The person responsible for DP compliance will advise the individual to whom the request should be sent and the relevant address, email and fax details.
The person responsible for DP compliance will, if it is appropriate, contact the fee earner/supervisor/COLP to advise of the request, providing the key details and whether there may be any concerns at this stage about Cooper Nimmo’s actions in the matter.
The person responsible for DP compliance will consider whether to request the file from the fee earner or archive depending on the circumstances of the case.
Dealing with the request
On receipt of the request for information, the person responsible for DP compliance will assess its validity and provisions.
If the view of the person responsible for DP compliance, in conjunction with the COLP is that the request does not override confidentiality, will respond to the third party using the letter attached. The person responsible for DP compliance will usually offer to seek consent from the client to provide the information. If either consent is not forthcoming or the third party does not agree to consent being sought, the person responsible for DP compliance will explain that the information cannot be provided without an appropriate statutory authority, e.g. a production order.
If the view of the person responsible for DP compliance is that the request gives rise to concerns about the position of Cooper Nimmo, the Directors will take external legal advice.
The person responsible for DP compliance will be responsible for assessing whether and on what grounds the client should be advised of the request, and the implications and risks of doing so, usually following a discussion with the third party and, where appropriate, the COLP.
Consent from the client
If the third party agrees to consent being sought from the client, the client will be contacted by the person responsible for DP compliance/fee earner/supervisor/COLP] explaining the request and the implications of agreeing to the request to override confidentiality and whether there are any grounds to agree to waive legal professional privilege. The client may need to be referred for specialist legal advice.
If the client gives consent to the provision of the personal data, the person responsible for DP compliance will call for the file and advise the third party that consent has been given to override confidentiality (and, where applicable, legal professional privilege).
On receipt of the file, the person responsible for DP compliance will assess it and determine if there are concerns about the handling of the file and assess whether the personal data is subject to legal professional privilege/seek [internal/external] advice on privileged material, in conjunction with the COLP.
Where the person responsible for DP compliance is satisfied that the personal data is not subject to legal professional privilege, the data will be provided to the third party, retaining a copy for the practice’s records.
Where the person responsible for DP compliance in conjunction with the COLP takes the view that the personal data is subject to legal professional privilege and therefore not subject to disclosure, a note will be placed on the file to this effect and the third party advised that certain data has not been disclosed as it is subject to legal professional privilege.
If the data requested relates to a third party, that data will be redacted unless consent has been obtained from that third party to provide the data.
The person responsible for DP compliance will liaise with the third party requesting the data to provide the data and deal with any subsequent enquiries.
Consent not sought or refused
If the third party refuses to allow consent to be sought from the client or if the client refuses to grant consent, the person responsible for DP compliance will advise the third party that the data cannot be provided without an appropriate statutory authority, e.g. a production order. If the third party serves a production order on Cooper Nimmo, the person responsible for DP compliance will liaise with the MLRO and comply with the AML policy on responding to law enforcement requests.
If data is released as a result of being served with a production order, Cooper Nimmowill not breach the data protection legislation by complying with the order.
Procedure for complying with subject rights requests
Cooper Nimmo is committed to compliance with its obligations in order to mitigate the risks of failing to protect the personal data of clients or employees, breaching the data protection legislation or obligations under the SRA Standards and Regulations.
This procedure sets out how Cooper Nimmo will ensure that data subject requests are handled properly in accordance with the legislation.
Dealing with the request
On receipt of the request and the file, John Nimmo or Joanne Flynn will assess the nature of the request and what action is required.
If a request is made on behalf of someone else, John Nimmo or Joanne Flynn will consider whether written authority is required from the data subject or whether the data should be sent to the data subject rather than the third party.
John Nimmo and Joanne Flynn will be responsible for ensuring all the data is retrieved and collated, including emails stored on computer systems and other data, wherever held, e.g. on smartphones/personal computers, subject to the nature of the request. All employees must assist in the provision of such data, so that Cooper Nimmo complies with its obligations under the DP legislation.
DSARs – Data Subject Access Request
If the request is a DSAR, the person will consider what information has been sought, whether all the information is held by Cooper Nimmo or whether information is held by a data controller/processor, whether the information requested includes data relating to a third party and whether consent should be sought from that third party to release the data.
If data is held by a data controller/processor, John Nimmo or Joanne Flynn must contact that controller/processor and ask for the relevant data to be provided at the earliest opportunity. If they are a data processor, they must provide the data. If they are a joint data controller, they may also be required to comply with a DSAR. If the individual serves both parties with a DSAR, there will need to be close liaison to ensure full compliance and ensure all personal data is provided to the individual.
If data is sought about a third party, John Nimmo or Joanne Flynn will consider whether the request can be complied with without revealing data that relates to and identifies the third party, usually by redacting (i.e. blacking out) data. If this is not possible, consideration should be given as to whether to seek consent from the third party or whether the third party has already consented. If it is not possible to seek consent, John Nimmo or Joanne Flynn will consider whether it is reasonable to disclose data without consent bearing in mind any duty of confidentiality to the third party.
The data will be collated by John Nimmo or Joanne Flynn and supplied to the individual in an intelligible form. If any codes are used they must be explained; poorly written notes will be made legible. If the client has any queries regarding compliance, they must be addressed by John Nimmo or Joanne Flynn where reasonable.
Preparing the response
Relevant information will be collated by John Nimmo or Joanne Flynn who will review it to ensure:
- it only constitutes personal data about the client or individual making the request;
- it does not include any information about the practice or its business, finances, clients or other confidential or proprietary information, or information that is not personal information about the data subject. If personal data about the client or individual making the request is contained within a document that covers other information, the relevant personal data must be extracted and pasted into a separate document and the source of the extract provided;
- it does not reveal personal information about a third party;
- that any exempt information (such as privileged or management information) is removed.
If complying with the request would reveal information about a third party, John Nimmo or Joanne Flynn will consider whether the request can be complied with without revealing data that relates to and identifies the third party. This will usually be achieved by redacting data.
The data will be supplied to the individual making the request in an intelligible form. If any codes are used they must be explained; poorly written notes will be made legible.
Failure to comply with a request
Failure to comply with a subject rights request can result in an assessment from the ICO and enforcement action, including fines by the ICO or enforcement action from the SRA. Employees who are uncertain as to how to proceed must discuss the issue withJohn Nimmo or Joanne Flynn
Communications and training
All new employees are given training on the GDPR and their obligations in relation to personal data and how to recognise a subject rights request.
The Directors and department heads are responsible for ensuring appropriate ongoing awareness of all employees in respect of the GDPR obligations and the subject rights requests procedure.
Monitoring and review
The procedure will be reviewed by John Nimmo and Joanne Flynn if there are changes to the law and they will annually monitor the suitability of and effectiveness of the processes, systems and controls through the firm’s audit programme. The results will feed into the annual report prepared by John Nimmo and Joanne Flynn. Where applicable, additional monitoring will be carried out to comply with any additional client requirements.
Records must be kept of all subject rights requests so there is oversight of the volumes, resources required and the timescales in which the requests are responded to.
- Data protection policy and related policies/procedures.
compliance officer for legal practice
Data Protection Act 2018
data subject access request
Information Commissioner’s Office