Terms of Business
This statement and the Schedule attached explain the basis on which we will carry out the work you have instructed us to do.
PCB Solicitors is the trading name of PCB Solicitors LLP a limited liability partnership registered number OC312267. Our registered office is at Cypress Centre Shrewsbury Business Park Shrewsbury Shropshire SY2 6LG.
Any person acting on our behalf does so in their capacity as a Partner, agent or employee of ours, and not in any personal capacity. Any action by them, any communication from them, or any advice from them, is taken, sent or given on our behalf.
Except and to the extent that the law does not permit us to exclude or limit our liability, the total liability of this LLP, its partners and employees in connection with or arising, directly or indirectly, from this matter, will be limited to an aggregate amount of £3 million. This limit will cover all claims of any sort whatsoever whether arising in contract negligence or otherwise and all losses or damages including interest, costs and expenses.
In these terms of business “we” or “our” or “us” refer to PCB Solicitors LLP (‘the LLP’). Your relationship is solely with the LLP, and the LLP has sole legal liability for the work done for you and for any act or omission in the course of that work. No Partner, consultant or employee of the LLP will have any personal legal liability for that work whether in contract, tort or negligence. In particular, the fact that an individual Partner, consultant or employee signs in his or her own name any letter or other document in the course of carrying out that work does not mean he or she is assuming any personal legal liability for that letter or document.
No reference to a “partner” is to imply that any person is carrying on business with others in partnership for the purposes of the Partnership Act 1890. You are authorising us to take necessary steps to take the case forward until you tell us to stop work. We shall not be responsible for any failure to advise or comment on anything which falls outside the scope of your stated instructions. We use the word “Partner” to refer to a Member of the LLP, or an employee or Consultant with equivalent standing and qualifications.
People responsible for your work
The Schedule sets out some important information about the conduct of your case. The Person named as having conduct of your matter is your case worker who will carry out most of the work on the matter personally on behalf of the LLP, although from time to time it may be necessary to involve other Partners or employees of the LLP as well. Time spent by other Partners or employees of the LLP will be charged at their respective hourly rates, which may be higher or lower than the case worker’s rates. If you wish to contact your case worker, but find that he/she is unavailable please ask to speak to his/her secretary who will be pleased to assist or to take a message for you.
The Schedule sets out your details, the matter on which you have instructed us to act for you, information on the costs and expenses involved in your case; and details of the partner with ultimate responsibility for your matter..
Unless you tell us otherwise, you agree to us communicating with you, including sending bills and other confidential information, by normal, unencrypted email, using the email address(es) you have given us from time to time. You should be aware that there is a risk that emails (in particular when unencrypted) may be intercepted, delayed or corrupted or may fail to be delivered.
We make reasonable attempts to exclude from our emails any virus or other defect that might harm a computer or IT system. You undertake to act likewise with any electronic communications you send to us. Neither you nor we shall have any liability to each other in respect of any claim or loss arising in connection with such a virus or defect in an electronic communication other than where such claim or loss arises from bad faith or wilful default.
Charges and expenses
In some cases we may be able to agree a fixed fee. If so this will be set out in the schedule. Otherwise the hourly rate is set out in the schedule and our fees will be calculated by reference to the time spent in dealing with your matter, and in some cases, a percentage mark up. Our hourly rate will be charged for time spent dealing with your matter including, but not limited to, time spent advising, attending on you and others, dealing with papers, correspondence, telephone calls, travelling, time spent at Court Hearings and site inspections. The current hourly charge out rate is set out in the Schedule. This rate will be reviewed periodically. Routine letters and e-mails that we write and receive on your behalf and routine telephone calls that we make and receive will be charged as units of 6 minutes each. We have indicated in the Schedule or in correspondence an estimate of the costs involved either by time or by value, based on the information we currently have; this may need to be revised as the case goes on and we can estimate more accurately the level of costs involved.
If a member of staff is required to travel on your matter (e.g. to Court or for a site visit) we reserve the right to charge travelling expenses and parking. Such travel expenses will be itemised on your accounts. We also reserve the right to charge for photocopying. These charges are subject to VAT and will be set out in your invoices.
In most cases, in providing an estimate of our charges we take into account a number of factors which include the complexity of the issues, the speed at which action must be taken, the expertise or specialist knowledge that the case requires and, if appropriate, the value of the property or subject matter involved. On the basis of the information currently available, we expect those factors to be adequately covered by the charges set out in the Schedule. However, if your instructions mean we have to work outside normal office hours or the matter becomes more complex than anticipated, we reserve the right to increase the level of those charges you will be notified of any change in the charges.
If you have any query about the level of our charges please contact your case worker straight away. We will inform you if any unforeseen additional work becomes necessary.
If we are instructed by joint clients then all clients are jointly and severally liable for our fees, notwithstanding any agreement between you as to how you will share the costs. This means that we will be able to look to one client only or to each of our clients to pay the whole of or any balance of any unpaid fees.
Instructions are understood to be for the purposes of all of those instructing us. We will act on instructions from any one of those clients unless you instruct us otherwise. Liability to pay our costs is joint (all the clients together) and several (each may be liable for the whole amount).
If instructions are given on behalf of a client, we are entitled to assume that the person giving the instructions has lawful authority to instruct us. If not, then that person will be liable to us as if they were our client.
Payments on account of fees and expenses
It is our normal practice to ask clients to pay sums of money from time to time in advance on account of our charges and any expenses e.g. searches, court fees etc. This helps to avoid delay in the progress of the case. We will offset any such payments against your bills, but please note that our total charges and expenses may be greater than any advance payments.
Credit/debit card payments
We accept payment by credit/debit card from VISA; Switch; Maestro. If you want to pay this way please let us know and we will send a form for completion or alternatively payment can be made personally using chip and PIN at any of our branch offices. Deposits on property cannot be paid for by credit card.
Please note that we are normally only able to accept cash up to a limit of £1,000 in any 28 day period.
If appropriate, we will send you interim bills for our charges and expenses at regular intervals while the job is in progress. In any event we will provide costs updates at least every 6 months. We will send a final bill on completion of the work. Whatever the outcome we will charge you for all work done and expenses incurred. If you have not already paid in advance, payment is due to us within 14 days of the date of any bill. If payment is late, we may charge you interest on any bill at the appropriate Court rate (currently 8%) from the date on which payment of our account is due. In the case of business clients we are entitled to charge interest pursuant to the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998. Interest will be charged on a daily basis. If any amount (including VAT and expenses) remains unpaid after six months from the date of the bill an administration fee of 15% of the total amount outstanding will be added in respect of credit control costs (and for the avoidance of doubt this is in addition to such costs as may be awarded by the court in any legal proceedings).
In the event of prompt payment not being made we reserve the right to bill you then for the full amount of the value of work done up to that date and we reserve the right to refuse to carry out any further work for you, not only on this matter but on any other matter in which the LLP is acting for you until the bill and any other outstanding bill is paid in full.
If you have any question or query about any bill, you should get in touch us straight away.
Anticipated Expenses e.g. Searches, court fees, stamp duty, probate fees and out of pocket expenses
In appointing us to act on your behalf, you are also authorising us, unless you instruct us to the contrary, to incur such expenses as we consider necessary. You will be required to reimburse us, but we will tell you before incurring any significant expenses. A summary of anticipated expenses is set out in the Schedule. This list is as complete as we are able to make it at present, but please note that additional expenses may have to be incurred while dealing with your matter. You may be asked to place us in funds before any expenses can be incurred.
Value Added Tax
Figures quoted are net of VAT, which will be chargeable on fees and any taxable disbursements and expenses at the appropriate rate chargeable from time to time.
Money held by us for you, whether on account of fees or expenses or otherwise, will be placed in our Client Account. Where a Partner or Partners of this LLP alone act as executor or trustee in a matter, the money will be held in Client Trustee Account.
In accordance with the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 we are obliged to ensure that any money held is available for the purpose for which it is provided for and is therefore required to be placed in an instant access account. For this reason any interest that will be paid on the funds held, when appropriate, is unlikely to be as high as that obtainable by you, the client, depositing the funds yourself.
When we hold money on your behalf we will (except where the interest payable would not exceed £20.00) pay interest to you equivalent to the rate payable on an instant access account at the bank in which the funds are held.
Money held by us (including accrued interest and money held for your associates) may without reference to you be taken by us in payment or part payment of our bills, whether overdue or not, including any outstanding expenses, whether it relates to this matter or any other in which we act for you. In addition, if you owe us any money in respect of unpaid fees and expenses, we reserve the right to transfer any money held by us to which you are beneficially entitled (but which may not be necessarily held in your name) at the time when you become absolutely entitled to that money to settle or part settle any indebtedness to us.
As part of carrying out your instructions to us, we may need to hold your money in our client account. In holding client money, we have an obligation to pay interest on that money at a fair and reasonable rate and are required to put in place an interest policy; this policy sets out the guidelines for when interest will be paid and is summarised below.
We aim to account to you for interest at a reasonable rate of interest, but as the holding of your funds is incidental to the carrying out of your legal instructions, the rate is unlikely to be as high as the rate you may be able to obtain when depositing the money we hold on your behalf yourself. In most cases, we must ensure that money held on client account is immediately available and therefore may require an instant access account or a notice account that allows us to make an immediate withdrawal at the sacrifice of interest. All of this is taken into consideration when we set our interest rate.
We align our interest rates paid on both monies held on general client account and separate designated deposit account to the rates paid on an instant access business deposit account by Royal Bank of Scotland. This rate is likely to change from time to time.
Where amounts are held outside of a general client account or separate designated deposit account, the rate of interest and date that interest is credited will depend on the relevant institution where the funds are held, and as such fall outside the requirements of this policy. The relevant interest information can be obtained at your request.
Where your money is held on our general client account, or in a separate designated deposit account, any interest paid to you is paid without any deduction for income tax. As such it is your responsibility to inform HM Revenue & Customs of amounts of interest received from us, and the implications of this will depend upon your own financial circumstances. The same rate of interest will be paid on money held in general client account as will be paid on money held in a separate designated deposit account.
Interest will be calculated from the time the funds become cleared for interest purposes. On cheques or banker’s drafts this will be 3 days after the cheque or draft has been deposited with our bank. For amounts received by debit or credit card, interest will start to accrue from the date of the actual receipt, usually 3 days after the transaction has been authorised. For direct transfers or same day payments the funds become cleared on the day after receipt. Interest will be calculated on a daily basis and calculated on amounts held overnight from the day the funds become cleared for interest purposes.
Interest will not paid if the total amount calculated for the period that cleared funds are held is less than £50.00.
Interest will be calculated at the end of the matter and we will credit the client ledger at that date.
Under Government money laundering regulations, the law requires solicitors, in common with banks, building societies and others to obtain satisfactory evidence of the identity of their clients. We should be grateful therefore if you would provide us with the following documents to verify your identity and address – one bearing your photograph such as a current photo driving licence or passport and an item of evidence to prove your address, such as recent (i.e. being not more than three months old) utility bills, recent council tax demand or bank statement. We will take copies of those documents, which we will retain, on your file and on a central file. If you cannot provide such evidence please tell us and we will advise what alternative evidence may be acceptable. We may make use of an online checking service and any cost in respect thereof will be charged as an additional expense.
In the event that you are a company client we will require evidence of the existence of the Company and confirmation of the person(s) in the Company from whom we are to take instructions. Please, therefore, let us have a copy of your memorandum and articles of association, and a recent set of accounts together with written confirmation, on headed paper, of the person(s) authorised on behalf of the company to give us instructions.
Before we can proceed further with this matter, the above identification must be produced to us, even if you are a well-known and long established client of the LLP. Please do not send us any funds until the identification procedures have been carried out.
Identity and Disclosure Requirements
We are entitled to refuse to act for you if you fail to supply appropriate identity for yourself or for any principal whom you may represent. We may, if required so to do by statute or regulations, provide information concerning this matter to regulatory authorities, notwithstanding that legal professional privilege may otherwise prevent us from such action.
We will not be liable for any loss, damage or delay arising out of the LLP’s compliance with any statutory or regulatory requirement.
Confidentiality and conflicts
We will keep all information regarding your affairs confidential at all times unless you instruct us to disclose information, or it is necessary to further your case (e.g. to instruct experts) or we are compelled to disclose it by law. Legislation on money laundering and terrorist financing puts solicitors under a legal duty in certain circumstances to disclose information to the National Crime Agency. Where a solicitor knows or suspects that a transaction on behalf of a client involves money laundering the solicitor will be required by law to make a money laundering disclosure. If that happens, the solicitor may not be able to inform the client that a disclosure has been made or the reasons for it because the law prevents “tipping off”.
If, during our dealings, an actual or potential conflict arises between the interests of any client of the LLP and another client, or between the interests of any client and any professional duty of the LLP, we may have to cease acting for one or more of the clients concerned. If such a situation arises in your case, we shall notify you as soon as practical. Please note however that in such circumstances our professional duties would mean that it is unlikely that we would be able to give a detailed explanation as to the background circumstances. In Conveyancing matters we often receive instructions from your lenders also to act on their behalf. If so, it should be noted that we would have to pass to them information you give us that might be relevant to their decision whether to finance your purchase. If you tell us things that you do not want the lenders to know, and which are relevant to the lenders, we may have to stop acting for the lenders and possibly also for you.
Because of our duty of confidentiality to you, if you want us to discuss your case with any other person (such as a member of your family) you should give us your consent first (preferably in writing).
During the course of proceedings, certain information may have to be disclosed to third parties. If your case is funded by the Legal Aid Agency or a legal expenses insurer they have a right to know full details of your case and inspect your file.
Storage of papers and documents
We are entitled to keep all your paper and documents while money is owing to us. After completing a transaction files and other papers relating to your matters will be stored for such time as we judge reasonable or for such time as we are required by law, after which we will dispose of them. Such files or papers (excluding Deeds and securities) may be preserved by an electronic means of image processing and the originals shredded. We will not destroy any document you deposit with us for safe custody.
We do not normally make a charge for retrieving stored papers or Deeds in response to continuing or new instructions to act for you. However, we reserve the right to make a charge based on the time we spend on reading papers, writing letters or other work necessary to comply with the instructions to retrieve old papers and files.
In the event that you terminate your instructions and require us to send to you stored papers or Deeds we will make a reasonable charge based upon the time required retrieving and where necessary making a list of them.
We will normally store Deeds and other documents from you free of charge but reserve the right in exceptional circumstances to make a charge. In the event that you remove Deeds and documents from our safe custody we reserve the right to make a charge for collation, scheduling and arranging for collection of these.
Please note that producing a CD of a scanned file can take up to fourteen days and if you wish to have a hard copy there will be copying charges in accordance with the schedule.
The LLP is not able to give advice on matters governed by foreign law i.e. legal jurisdictions outside England and Wales, including the acquisition of overseas property and the LLP will, in no circumstances, be deemed to have done so.
In some circumstances, you may consider we ought to stop acting for you. You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time but we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is money owing to us for our charges and expenses.
We may decide to stop acting for you but only with good reason; for example, if you do not pay an interim bill or fail to comply with our request for a payment on account or to give clear or proper instructions on how we are to proceed. We will give you reasonable notice if we intend to stop acting for you.
How you can help us
Please give us clear instructions, tell us if you have any important time limits, make sure we have understood each other correctly, ask us if you are not sure about anything, deal promptly with any questions that arise, keep in regular contact – don’t feel afraid to ask for a progress report if you are worried about anything.
If you require large print on letters or documents please do not hesitate to contact us and this will be arranged if at all possible.
Communication and complaints
Please refer to our Client Care statement on the website https://www.pcbsolicitors.co.uk/client-care/
INFORMATION FOR LITIGATION CLIENTS ONLY:¬
(a) Other party’s charges and expenses (if applicable).
In some cases and transactions you may be entitled to recover from some other person payment in full or part of costs you have incurred. Please note that in such circumstances the other person may not be required, or be able, to pay all the charges and expenses which you incur with us. You have to pay our charges and expenses in the first place and any amounts which can be recovered will be a contribution towards them. If the other party is in receipt of legal aid (i.e. is publicly funded) no costs are likely to be recovered.
If you are successful and a Court orders another party to pay some or all of your charges and expenses, interest may be claimable on them from the other party from the date of the Court Order. We will account to you for such interest to the extent that you have paid our charges or expenses on account but we are entitled to the rest of that interest. You will also be responsible for paying our charges and expenses of seeking to recover any costs that the Court Orders the other party to pay to you.
If you are unsuccessful in a court case you may be ordered to pay some or all of the other party’s legal charges and expenses. That money will be payable in addition to our charges and expenses. Arrangements can sometimes be made to take out insurance to cover liability for such legal expenses. Please discuss this with your case worker if you are interested in this possibility. It may be that you already have some legal expenses insurance in place which could cover such expenses. Please let us have sight of any insurance documentation so that we can advise further and if necessary assist you to make a claim under your policy. (Note that legal expenses insurance is unlikely to be retrospective i.e. it will be necessary to make a claim under the policy and obtain confirmation of cover before your legal costs can be met by the insurer)
(b) Public Funding and insurance
We have discussed with you whether Public Funding is available for this matter and if any alternative funding or insurance covers you. We only have public funding franchises for family and criminal law.
This contract and any dispute or claim arising out of, or in connection with, it, its subject matter or formation [including non-contractual disputes or claims] shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of England and Wales.
When accepting instructions to act on behalf of a limited company, we may require a Director and/or controlling shareholder to sign a form of personal guarantee in respect of the charges and expenses of this LLP If such a request is refused, we will be entitled to stop acting and to require immediate payment of our charges on an hourly basis and expenses as set out earlier.
Our Hours of Business
The normal hours of opening at our offices are between 9:00am and 5:00pm on weekdays. Appointments may be arranged at other times when this is essential.
Disabled Access Statement
We aim to serve a wide range of clients and welcome all disabled people in society, irrespective of age, physical, intellectual or sensory ability. We care as much for the disabled as we do the able-bodied. We will endeavour to ensure that disabled people are not treated any less favourably and that ‘reasonable adjustments’ are made where appropriate.
The Shrewsbury office has access for wheelchair users via a ramp. There is a wheelchair-accessible toilet on the ground floor. The three meeting rooms are on the ground floor with a level surface and are located close to the reception area. There are also two appointed disabled parking areas in the car park nearest the entrance. Reception staff are on hand to offer wheelchair users and others assistance if required.
The Church Stretton office has access for wheelchair users via a ramp. With the exception of Telford and Ludlow offices are located on the ground floor. However, Telford offers a ground floor meeting room.
Reception staff are on hand to offer assistance.
We have good lighting in all areas of our offices including meeting rooms.
If you are disabled and may find it difficult to attend any of our offices all of our advisors will be happy to arrange a home visit. If you would like a home visit, please contact us so that this can be arranged.
Unless specifically instructed by you, and we have confirmed acceptance of such instructions, our advice does not include taxation advice.
If during a transaction you need advice on investments, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), as we are not. However, as we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority we may be able to provide certain limited investment services where these are closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you.
We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). However we are included on the register maintained by the FCA so that we can carry on insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the advising on, and selling and administration of insurance contracts. This part of our business, including redress for complaints or redress if something goes wrong, is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the FCA web site at www.fca.gov.uk/register.”
Money held on behalf of clients is deposited in a client account at either Royal Bank of Scotland plc or Santander plc. It is unlikely that we will be held liable for losses of client money if a bank collapses. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme can provide compensation (currently up to a limit of £75,000 but this is liable to change – watch the press for announcements). The compensation limit applies to each depositor for the total of their deposits with an organisation, regardless of how many accounts they hold. You should therefore be aware that if you have personal money in the same bank as our client account the limit will apply to the total amount inclusive of monies in our client account. Some banks trade under several brands but have only one banking licence. You should therefore check with your bank, the Financial Conduct Authority or financial advisor whether you could be affected by this limitation.
In the event of a bank failure we will write to make a claim under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme in respect of any money held on your behalf. Subject to your consent, we will give the FSCS certain information to help them identify the amounts to which you are entitled. If you do not provide consent we will inform the FSCS of the amount held but withhold your identity. In these circumstances you will not be able to receive compensation from the FSCS.
If a bank where we hold client money collapses and we are required to complete your transaction before you are likely to receive compensation from the FSCS we will request additional funds from you.
The firm has been accredited with the Lexcel quality standard of the Law Society. As a result of this we are subject to periodic checks by outside assessors. This could mean that your file is selected for checking, in which case we would need your consent for inspection to occur. All inspections are, of course, conducted in confidence. If you prefer to withhold consent, work on your file will not be affected in any way. Since very few of our clients do object to this we propose to assume that we do have your consent unless you notify us to the contrary. We will also assume, unless you indicate otherwise, that consent on this occasion will extend to all future matters which we conduct on your behalf. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can explain this further or if you would like us to mark your file as not to be inspected.
These terms shall apply subject to any variation agreed with you in writing.
Your continuing instructions in this matter will amount to your acceptance of these terms and conditions of business. We hope that by sending this statement we have addressed any immediate questions about the day-to-day handling of your work and our terms of business. If you still have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the person dealing with your matter.
This is an important document: please keep it in a safe place for future reference.
Changes to this policy
This policy was published on 1 December 2022 and last updated on 15 April 2023.
We may change this policy from time to time. When we do, we will inform you via our website.