Terms and Conditions of Business

If you become a client of Cullimore Dutton Solicitors, the Terms and Conditions of Business will apply. 

Cullimore Dutton Solicitors Limited (hereafter Cullimore Dutton) 

Reviewed October 2021

  

  1. Quality of service

Our aim is to provide you with the highest quality service.

We like to ensure that clients are kept fully informed about developments in their case and if you have any queries or are unclear about procedures or simply want more information, please do not hesitate to ask.

  1. Money laundering and terrorist financing

(i)          Due Diligence and Client Identity

We are by law required to satisfy ourselves as to the identity of our clients.  This is also frequently a requirement of banks and building societies in their instructions to us regarding mortgage advances or similar matters.  Accordingly, it will be necessary for you to produce acceptable evidence of identity and also of your address.  Unfortunately, until we receive evidence of your identification together with address we will be unable to progress your matter further.  Identification will be retained electronically by the business in line with our file retention periods and will be destroyed together with the file at the end of the retention period.  Please note that where your matter is being funded by a third party (eg relative) we also require evidence of their identity.

The following are types of documents which can act as evidence of identity:

(a)         Full current signed passport;

(b)         EEA member state identity card;

(c)          Residence permit issued by the Home Office to EEA Nationals on sight of their own country passport;

(d)         Current UK or EEA photo-card driving licence;

(e)         Current full UK driving licence;

(f)          Benefit book or original notification letter from the Benefits Agency confirming the right to Benefits;

(g)         Firearms or shotgun certificate;

(h)         National identity card containing your photograph.

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of documents which can act as evidence of identity.  In the context of transactions involving a mortgage, different lenders have different requirements and you should, therefore, check with us as to what evidence will be required for that individual lender.

For non-quoted private companies and other organisations, we require the evidence set out above for two of the Directors/Company Secretary/Partners or other persons authorised to act on behalf of the organisation.

Information held by us is subject to the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulations, but please note, as with most other users, we utilise a non-encrypted email system.

Electronic Identity Checks

Cullimore Dutton implement electronic identity checks in our Residential Conveyancing Department, there is no cost for this service.  Where you have been requested to provide ID either in writing or verbally please refer to 2(i) above.

(ii)         Clarification of Client Address

The following is a list of examples of suitable documentary evidence of address for UK resident private individuals:

(a)         Recent utility bill or statement (no older than 3 months).

(b)         Local Council Tax bill for the current year.

(c)         Current full UK driving licence.

(d)         Bank, building society or credit union statement (no older than 3 months) or passbook containing the current address.

(e)         Recent original mortgage statement from a recognised lender.

(f)          A solicitor’s letter confirming recent house purchase or Land Registry confirmation of address;

(g)         Local council or housing association rent card or tenancy agreement.

(h)         Benefit book or original notification letter from the Benefits Agency confirming the right to benefits.

(i)          Inland Revenue self-assessment statement or tax demand.

(j)          House or motor insurance certificate.

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of documents which can act as evidence of address.

(iii)        Persons Not Resident in the UK and the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act

(a)          There are additional considerations that may apply in respect of individuals who are not resident in the UK, students, minors and those acting in a representative capacity.

(b)         The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) is a US piece of legislation which has effect in the UK as a result of an agreement between the UK and US Governments.  The intention behind the legislation is to ensure US citizens disclose their worldwide income to the US Tax Authority (the Internal Revenue Service).

The FATCA regime requires certain financial institutions to identify and report (to HMRC) payments made to a:

  • Specified US person, or
  • Non-US entity with one or more controlling person who is a specified US person.

To comply with the law, we may have to share some of your information, including your FATCA status and, if applicable, your global                                    intermediary identification number (GIIN) with financial institutions.

We also have to establish whether you are a specified US person or an entity controlled by a specified US person.  If so, it may be necessary for                  us to report payments to HMRC.

It is vital that we keep your information current at all times.  You are responsible for communicating to us any changes in circumstances that                    may alter your FATCA status.

(iv)        Corporate Clients

For non-quoted private companies and other organisations we require the evidence of identity and address for two of the directors/company secretary/partners or other persons authorised to act on behalf of the organisation.   We also require a copy of the Certificate of Incorporation, a list of directors, a list of shareholders and the registered address.   In respect of a partnership we will require evidence of the identity and address of the partner instructing us.

(v)         The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Money Laundering Regulations 2017

This law and these Regulations have the effect of overriding the business’ duty of confidentiality to a client in circumstances where we know or suspect that he or she (or if in the case of a corporate or other business entity) is involved in any activity, including dealing, transferring or holding money including the proceeds from any criminal activity.

If we know, suspect or have reasonable grounds to know or suspect that we are assisting or being involved in the laundering of the proceeds of any criminal conduct, then we are obliged under the law to make an “authorised disclosure” of information to the National Crime Agency (“NCA”).  The disclosure is “authorised” by the Proceeds of Crime Act and the Money Laundering Regulations.  It is a potentially imprisonable offence for us to fail to make such disclosure.  It is also a criminal offence for us to “tip off” our client or clients that we have made such a disclosure.  We may have to stop working on your matter for a period of time and may not be able to tell you why.

(vi)        Source of Funds

As part of our necessary enquiries, we will have to make enquiries of you in relation to the source of your funds that you intend using for the transaction that you propose.

(vii)       Examples of Property covered by the Act and Money Laundering Regulations

Examples are:

(a)         stolen property;

(b)         the proceeds of drug trafficking;

(c)         the proceeds of immoral earnings;

(d)         the proceeds of tax evasion;

(e)         the proceeds of benefit fraud.

These are examples only and not an exhaustive list.

(viii)     Our liability to you in the event of us having to make a disclosure to NCA

In the event that we make an authorised disclosure to NCA, it is possible that delay or other detriment may be caused to your transaction by that disclosure.  You must accept that that delay or detriment has been caused by our complying with our duty under the law and that compliance with that duty does not constitute negligence or breach of contract on our part.  You must accept that no liability will attach to us in respect of such delay or detriment caused directly or indirectly by the authorised disclosure whether or not any action by NCA or other authorities resulted from that disclosure.

(ix)        Cullimore Dutton Policies relating to Money Laundering

In order to reduce the possible incidence of making disclosures to NCA we will not accept payments in cash (whether to our office or directly into our bank account) of more than £500, nor will we accept payments of any kind from any unknown or unidentified third party.  Furthermore, during or at the conclusion of a transaction, we will not be prepared to send funds to any unknown or unidentified third party.

  1. Complaints

Cullimore Dutton is committed to high quality legal service and client care.  If you do however have any comments to make about any aspect of our service, including our costs, please let the person with responsibility for your case know.  You may wish to discuss it with them when you next meet or telephone or you may wish to put this in writing.  We value our clients and it is important that any concerns you have are raised immediately.  We welcome suggestions as to how we can improve our service.

If you are not satisfied with the response given or wish to raise a complaint, including issues relating to bills and financial service matters, please contact our Complaints Handler, who will give you information on our complaints procedure, their contacts details are:

Andrew Wright, Cullimore Dutton Solicitors Limited, 20 White Friars, Chester CH1 1XS

Tel No:  01244 356789      Email:  andrew.wright@cullimoredutton.co.uk

A copy of our Complaints Procedure is also available upon request or a copy can be downloaded from our website www.cullimoredutton.co.uk.

You also have a right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman.  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.  The Legal Ombudsman will accept complaints up to 6 years from the date of act or omission or if outside of this period, within 3 years of when you should reasonably have been aware of it.  Generally, the Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints relating to acts or omissions that happened after 5 October 2010.  Their contact details are:

The Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ

Tel No:                 0300 555 0333

Email:                   enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk

Website:              www.legalombudsman.org.uk

The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints by consumers and very small businesses. This means some clients may not have the right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman, eg charities or clubs with an annual income of more than £1m, trustees of trusts with asset value of more than £1m 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.

  1. Financial services

As a firm we are authorised to provide main stream financial services advice.  Our advice is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, FCA Number 726090.

You can check this on the FCA’s Register by visiting the website https://register.fca.org.uk/

The Financial Conduct Authority, 25 The North Colonnade, Canary Wharf, London E14 5HS

Occasionally we engage in non-mainstream or incidental investment business activity on your behalf which is incidental to our legal work, and hence is not a mainstream regulated activity, and will be conducted in accordance with the Rules of our professional regulator, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).  In relation to this area of our work you have the right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman as set out in paragraph 2 above.

  

  1. The cost of our legal services

We will provide you with details of how our costs will be calculated.

Where you have not been provided with a fixed fee for the work due to be undertaken, a computerised time recording system is used to record work in fixed units of six minutes.  Charges are calculated according to hourly rates and are based on the time spent by those dealing with your case and may include, for example, drafting, dictating and checking outgoing letters, considering incoming letters, meetings with you and with third parties and preparing for such meetings, telephone calls with you and with third parties, preparation for court and attendance at court or tribunals on your behalf, considering, preparing, drafting and revising documents, deeds etc, any travelling and waiting time, instructing third parties such as enquiry agents and surveyors on your behalf, carrying out legal research on your case and preparing statements and other accounting work.

Depending on the nature of your case, costs may take into account for example, the complexity of the issues, any expedited work you ask us to undertake, expertise or specialist knowledge required and if appropriate, the value of the property or subject matter of your case (known as “a value element”).

If an estimate of legal charges is not given, you may set an upper limit on our charges.  This will be discussed with you at the outset of the case and confirmed in writing.  When the limit is reached we will discuss the matter with you to agree the next steps to be taken.

We try to ensure the same person will deal with your case on a day to day basis, in the unlikely event this is not possible we will ensure that someone else in the department will be able to assist.

Our charging rates may be increased to account for our overhead costs and this will usually be done annually in April of each year.  We will tell you in writing at the appropriate time.

We will give you details of payments which we have to make on your behalf (known as “disbursements”) during the course of carrying out your work.  These payments will be required in advance and will be shown separately on your invoice and will be charged in addition to our fees.  Some expenses of this nature will be subject to VAT.

An additional charge may also be made for photocopying and postage.

If for any reason your case does not proceed to completion, final order or other conclusion, then we will charge you only for the work done up to that point.  Depending upon the stage that has been reached, this could be a small proportion of the total cost or almost the full amount.  VAT and disbursements will also be charged as appropriate.

In cases where our legal costs are to be paid by a third party and you are registered for VAT, you must pay the VAT element of our costs and subsequently reclaim it from HMRC.

  

  1. Advance payment of fees and expenditure

It is our normal practice to ask our clients to make payments on account of legal costs and disbursements incurred from time to time.  We will tell you the amount that is required at the outset.  Interim invoices for fees and/or disbursements will be raised every month as your case progresses.  If your case is completed in a short period of time, an interim invoice will not be necessary.  Interim invoices do not necessarily cover all aspects of the work done to the date of the invoice:  If you are in doubt or are unclear, please check with the  person who has responsibility for your case.

When we hold monies on your behalf, for example the sale proceeds of property, we would normally account to you for those monies having deducted all outstanding legal costs, disbursements and VAT.

  

  1. Interest on client money

We aim to account to you for interest at a reasonable rate but as the holding of client funds is incidental to the carrying out of legal instructions, the rate will reflect the need for instant access to the funds.  Interest rates paid on funds held in either the general client account or separate designated deposit account will reflect rates paid on an instant access business deposit account, this rate is likely to change from time to time.

Client monies can be held in either the –

(1)         General Client Account

(2)         Client Monies Services Deposit Account (CMS)

(1)         Interest on Monies held in the General Client Account

Monies held by Cullimore Dutton on your behalf in the Cullimore Dutton General Client Account may attract interest and is calculated in accordance with the provision below.

The interest calculation will be worked out on the basis that 7 days notice of withdrawal shall be allowed and those funds received will take 5 working days to clear unless paid in by direct bank transfer.

Monies held on client account earns interest at the basic bank deposit rate given by NatWest for instant access business deposit accounts which is payable at the conclusion of the matter.

However, we do not pay Interest for –

(A)      Monies held to pay a professional disbursement if the intended recipient has requested a delay in paying them.

(B)      If the amount of interest, calculated in accordance with this policy, amounts to less than £30.00.

(2)         Interest on Monies held in the Client Monies Services Deposit Account (CMS)

Special deposits of large sums or sums which are to be held for a considerable period of time will be transferred to the CMS deposit account.  CMS pay interest directly to those individual accounts on a monthly basis.

  1. Late payment of invoices

Fees, disbursements and VAT are due on delivery of an invoice.  A statement will be issued on unpaid invoices after 21 days.  If our invoice is not paid in 30 days interest will be charged on the outstanding balance from the date of the invoice and calculated on a daily basis at the rate applicable to a High Court Judgment debt.

  

  1. Termination of instructions

If for any reason our instructions are terminated, whether by you or by us, you will be charged for the work carried out up to the date of when our work stops together with any disbursements incurred.  Any termination of instructions by you should be given in writing.  We are entitled to keep all of your papers and documents whilst there is money owing to us.

We may decide to stop acting for you only with good reason, e.g. if you do not pay an interim bill or there is a conflict of interest.  We must give you reasonable notice that we will stop acting for you.

  

  1. Bank charges
Same day faster payments  £2.50 + VAT bank charge  If amount less than £100,000 
Same day faster payments  £2.50 + VAT bank charge £20 + VAT handling charge (£22.50 + VAT total)  If amount more than £100,000 but less than £250,000 
Next day faster payments  No charge to client  Provided amount less than £100,000 
Next day faster payments  £20 + VAT handling charge  If amount more than £100,000 but less than £250,000 
CHAPS payments  £20 + VAT bank charge
£20 + VAT handling charge (£40 + VAT total) 
  
International payments  £48  Bank charges for such transactions are variable and we reserve the right to retain any balance remaining after the bank charges are taken to cover the handling charges 

We will charge you the banking charges that we incur in the event of cheques credited to your account with us being dishonoured.

  

  1. Receiving and paying funds

Our company’s policy is not to accept cash from clients in excess of £500 in any one transaction on any one matter.

Payments made to clients will always be by cheque or bank transfer directly and not to third parties.

  1. Deeds storage arrangements

We have secure facilities in our offices to store deeds and documents on your behalf.  We make a nominal charge for this facility where a property is in mortgage.

  

  1. Changes in the law and critical dates

Once your case is finished we cannot accept on-going responsibility for reminding you of changes in the Law which might affect you (even where we continue to store deeds, wills or other documents on your behalf), or of future critical dates.  For example we cannot accept on-going responsibility to remind you of such matters as rent review dates, lease renewals, the exercise of options, the service of notices and counter-notices within time limits and the like.

  

  1. Equality and diversity

We are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of  our dealings with clients, third parties and employees.  An Equality and Diversity Policy forms part of our Quality Standards.

  

  1. Advocates’ duty to tell the client of duties to the court

If we act for you as an advocate in court, you should be aware that we are professionally bound by duties to the court which may cause a conflict to arise between you and the advocate from Cullimore Dutton.  Those duties include the following:

  • the advocate cannot put forward arguments to the court which are untrue or misleading
  • if the advocate discovers that the client has lied to the court, the advocate will ask the client for consent to tell the court that the client has lied and if that consent is not provided, the advocate will have to stop acting for the client
  • the advocate cannot suggest that any person is guilty of a crime, fraud or misconduct unless such allegations can reasonably be substantiated are relevant to the client’s case
  • the advocate cannot put pressure on a witness to influence his/her evidence
  • the advocate cannot create information or facts to support the client’s case
  • advocates cannot tamper with evidence
  • if a court order is made against the client, the advocate must advise the client that he/she should comply with the order and advise on the consequences if the client fails to comply
  • advocates have an obligation to tell the court of any relevant cases and statutory provisions, and any material procedural irregularity even if it is detrimental to the client
  • advocates cannot in open court name a third party whose character would be called into question, unless it is necessary for the proper conduct of the case
  • advocates cannot call into question the character of a witness you have cross-examined unless the witness has had the opportunity to answer the allegations during cross-examination

 

  1. Limitation on our liability to you

Cullimore Dutton are quality accredited (see below).  We are also insured by our professional indemnity insurers in respect of incidents of professional negligence.  Details of our PII cover are made available in our office.  Our liability to you in respect of such matters is limited to £3 million.  In the event that you wish to extend our potential liability for your transaction, you will need to contact us in writing and negotiate specific written terms as to that extended liability.

You should be aware that our liability to persons other than our clients is, in all circumstances, limited to the figure stated above.  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.

  

  1. Client money bank arrangements

Any money which Cullimore Dutton holds on your behalf will be dealt with in accordance with the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules.

Clients’ money deposited with Cullimore Dutton will be held at National Westminster Bank Eastgate Branch Chester.

Cullimore Dutton will not be liable for any losses resulting from a banking failure/collapse.

In the event of a Bank collapse a claim can be made to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

  

  1. Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS)
    The FSCS covers deposits belonging to clients who are individuals or small businesses up to £85,000 per client per institution.

The FSCS covers deposits belonging to clients who are individuals or small businesses up to £85,000 per client per institution.

You should be aware that although some institutions operate under different trading or brand names, the total limit of cover per client per institution will be £85,000 (including any personal monies you may hold in it).  You should check with your Bank, the FCA or a Financial Adviser for more information.

In the exceptional circumstances of a Bank failure Cullimore Dutton will assume that you consent to the disclosure of relevant details to the FSCS for the purposes of making a claim on your behalf.

  

  1. File audit

We are  accredited with the high quality standard ISO 9001.  In order to ensure  we maintain this standard, it is a requirement that files are audited by LawNet under ISO 9001.  Unless  we hear from you to the contrary, we will assume that you have no objection to an audit being carried out on your file.

  1. Referrals and fee sharing

We sometimes obtain some of our work from third parties.  In these circumstances, third parties will refer a client to us in return for us paying them a referral fee or sharing some of our fees with them.

We will only accept such referrals where our professional judgment and independence are not prejudiced and where your interests as a client are not affected in any way.

If we have entered into an arrangement with a third party who has referred or introduced you to us in return for us paying them a referral fee or sharing our fees with them, we will let you know about this.  Where this is the case, we will confirm the arrangement and the amount of our fee that we are sharing with the third party or the amount of the referral fee that we will pay them in the letter which accompanies these terms and conditions.

  

  1. How you can help us

You can help us to do our best for you by informing us of any changes to personal circumstances such as change of address, or your ability to pay our fees, etc.  It would also assist, that where we make requests for documentation or information from you, that this is provided in a timely manner.  Please tell us at the start or a transaction what you expect of us so that we can agree with you what is possible to achieve.  If you have personal time limits or targets which would not be obvious to us please let us know so that we can do our best to work towards them.  If you do not understand anything we have discussed or written to you about, please tell us as soon as possible.

By instructing or continuing to instruct us you are deemed to have accepted these terms and conditions.

  

  1. Office opening hours

The normal office opening hours are 9:00 am to 5:30 pm, Monday through Friday.