Terms of business - Working with AVAC
These Terms of Business, along with the engagement letter which will be sent to you upon our engagement form the contract between us. If there is any discrepancy between anything in the letter and the terms of business, then the letter will prevail over these Terms. Where we say you, yourself or your’ in these terms we refer to the client identified in the engagement letter and where we say we, us or our we mean AVAC Ltd.
Our service to you
We will identify your objectives with you at the start of your matter and review them with you as required. We will update you on the cost of your matter on a monthly basis unless otherwise agreed with you. Your matter will be dealt with by a lawyer or legal assistant who will be identified when you instruct us to act for you by name and job description. We will tell you who is supervising the matter and let you know of any changes to the people dealing with the work as and when they occur. We will act for you as your legal adviser and you should make any decisions, through your other professional advisers or on your own, regarding the commercial or financial viability of the work. We will seek to provide clear advice, balancing the risk and benefits in working to achieve agreed objectives.
Unless specifically agreed with you in writing, we will not provide you with tax advice. We will update you on whether the likely outcomes still justify the cost and risks associated with your matter whenever there is a material change in circumstances. If we need to instruct external experts such as counsel, accountants or surveyors, we can only do so when you have paid those fees. We instruct the experts as your agent and the expert will be directly liable to you.
We advise on the law in England and Wales and EU law to the extent that it applies to your matter.
We will provide you with an estimate of our fees in our engagement letter, or if that is impossible, we will provide you with a formula for calculating them. This will usually be in the form of a list of charging rates for the people working on the matter for you. We will update you regularly if the estimate should change, and make sure you know if a great deal of work has to be done in a short timescale. Our charging rates are reviewed on an annual basis and we will let you know what impact, if any, this has on the amount we will charge you. We will bill you on a monthly basis and our fees are payable immediately. It is our policy not to accept cash from our clients and if we are likely to incur disbursements or expenses we will not do so until you have confirmed that you will be responsible for paying those when we send out our invoice to you.
You can terminate your contract with us at any time throughout the running of the matter. We can keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses. We can terminate the work where we feel that the relationship has broken down; or where you have not paid us on time or are not providing us with the instructions needed to carry out your work. We will give you reasonable notice of this. In any case, we will bill you up to the date of termination and our fees and disbursements must be paid in full within one month of the bill being delivered. We will not release any documents to you until the final invoice is paid.
If you are unhappy with the way we are dealing with your matter, or with a bill, please raise the issue with the person doing the work for you or the supervising partner named in your engagement letter. Our complaints procedure can be found on this website and a copy of it can be sent to you on request. You may be entitled to have your complaint dealt with by the Legal Ombudsman at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ or at email enquires@ legalombudsman.org.uk or telephone 0300 555 0333. Any complaint should be referred to them within six years from the date of act/omission, or three years from when you should have known about the complaint. Not all clients are entitled to complain to the Ombudsman and, whilst you can always take advice from others, we will advise you if you are able to complain to the Ombudsman should the situation arise.
Professional Indemnity Insurance
We hold compulsory professional indemnity insurance.
Our liability to you
We have a duty to carry out your work to a reasonable level of skill and care. The duty rests with AVAC Ltd and not with any individuals acting for you. We are not liable for any consequential or indirect losses arising from negligence in the work we do for you (for example, loss of revenue; profit; business opportunity; goodwill or damage to reputation). This is even where it might have been foreseeable at the start of the matter. Unless otherwise noted in the engagement letter relating to this matter, our liability to you is restricted to the terms set out within your engagement letter.
Protecting your data
In the course of providing our services to you we will hold personal information about you, your officers and employees and family members. We will store it on our Knowledge Management System for use in building up precedents for use for other clients. We will also hold the information so that we can provide related services, analyse figures to manage our business; carry out client due diligence in accordance with money laundering regulation, send you marketing information and carry out credit checks. We may also pass your details to other organisations to carry out these activities for us.
These organisations may be located in countries outside of Europe where data protection laws are not as strict as they are in the UK. Where we use other organisations to process your information we require them to put appropriate measures in place to protect your information. We may from time to time use your personal information to contact you about our services, events and legal updates that may be of interest to you. If you prefer not to have this information please let the person acting for you know. When you supply us with information about employees, officers or family members you confirm that you are authorised to act as their agents.
We record calls and monitor emails from time to time for training, regulation and compliance purposes.
Storage of documents
We will keep your documents and other papers for six years after we send you our final bill on the understanding that we may destroy them after that period. We may store documents on our know-how system for use as a precedent for later work. We take reasonable steps to ensure that the system is secure and that our overriding duty of confidentiality to you is observed. We may destroy your original paper document and scan it onto our system instead. If we prepare a deed or a will for you we will also store them free of charge. We reserve the right to charge you for retrieving the documents from storage and for passing them to other people or back to you. We also reserve the right to charge for storage in the future, but only after notifying you.
Sometimes we ask external organisations to provide us with support services such as document and know how processing and photocopying. We always enter a confidentiality agreement with the service provider. If you do not want your matter sent outside the firm, please let us know. We may also send work to a country outside the EU and we will ensure that your data is kept secure. Please see protecting your data above.
Anti money laundering measures
As solicitors, we are obliged to identify our clients by carrying out a client due diligence exercise before we start working on any transaction involving property or money. Please note that we will not be able to act for you until we have verified your identity. We are obliged to keep your affairs confidential, but where we know or suspect that a transaction may involve money laundering or terrorist financing we have an obligation to report our concerns to the National Crime Agency. If this is the case we may not be able to tell you that we have made the report and we may have to stop acting for you for a while.
We will keep your affairs confidential from our other clients and anyone externally unless you specifically ask us to disclose the information to them, or we need to do so in order to deal with your matter. You understand that we will not disclose any information to you about other clients.
Auditing and vetting files
External firms such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority may vet our files from time to time. They are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your matters. Please let us know if you do not want them to vet your file.
Conflicts of interest
We must not act for you where there is a conflict of interest between you and AVAC, or another client of the firm. If a conflict arises we will discuss the situation with you with a view to agreeing how the situation can be resolved. In a case where there is a potential conflict of interest between you and another client that is obvious at the outset, we will seek consent from you and the other client to act and tell you what will happen if a conflict arises.
Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013
This paragraph applies in addition to your general rights to terminate your agreement with us (see Termination). If we have not met you in person, or the contract for legal services is entered into away from our business' premises, the Consumer Contract (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations may apply. This means you may have the right to cancel your instructions to us within 14 days of our initial communication with you without giving any reason. To exercise your right to cancel, you must make a clear statement (letter, or email) setting out your decision to cancel. To meet the cancellation deadline, it is sufficient for you to send the communication before the cancellation period has expired. This will end the obligations of both you and us under the contract.
You may require us to begin work on your matter during the 14 day cancellation period. Please let us know immediately if you wish to waive the 14 day cancellation period. If you expressly request we begin work on your matter during the cancellation period, we reserve the right to ask you to pay an amount proportionate to what has been carried out prior to you communicating any cancellation. If you have made a payment on account you will only receive a refund for that part of our services not provided. If you decide to cancel before the end of the cancellation period, and we have not started to provide our services, you will receive a full refund of any fees paid. You will not have the right to cancel the agreement if you request we start work within the cancellation period and we have completed those services.
Our preferred method of communication is email. If there are physical or email addresses that you do not want us to contact at certain times, please ensure that we are informed.
AVAC Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, The Cube, 199 Wharfside Street, Birmingham, B1 1RN and a copy of the SRA Handbook is available at www.sra.org.uk