Carnforth: 01524 734 884
Lancaster: 01524 590 540
Morecambe: 01524 834 222
Call: 01524 734 884
Call: 01524 590 540
Call: 01524 834 222

Terms of Business

Ratcliffe & Bibby Solicitors is the trading name of R&B Legal Limited, a limited company registered in England and Wales under registration number 05126369. Our registered office is at 44 Market Street, Carnforth, Lancashire, LA5 9JX.

Legal services are provided by Solicitors of England and Wales authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under SRA registration number 408111 in accordance with the Solicitors' Handbook which is available to view at rules.sra.org.uk. We hold professional indemnity insurance to a level of £3million per claim with International General Insurance Company (UK) Ltd of 15-18 Lime Street London EC3M 7AN.

Charges and Expenses

Our charges are based mainly on the time we spend in dealing with a case. Time spent on your affairs will include meetings with you and others; time spent travelling; considering, preparing and working on papers; correspondence; and making and receiving telephone calls. The hourly rates depend on the seniority and specialised knowledge of the person dealing with your work. Details of the rates are available on request and are subject to periodic review.

In addition to the time spent, we may 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.

We will endeavour to provide a realistic estimate or give a forecast within a possible range of costs. Any estimate, quotation or other indication of charges is not intended to be fixed unless otherwise agreed in writing.

Sometimes we are able to offer a fixed fee at the outset. In these cases we will not increase our fee unless the work becomes unduly protracted or you change your instructions to us. If such a matter does not proceed to completion then we reserve the right to make a charge equivalent to the work done on your behalf.

We will inform you if any unforeseen additional work becomes necessary, for example, due to unexpected difficulties or if your requirements or the circumstances significantly change during the course of the work. We will also inform you of its estimated cost in writing before any extra charges and expenses are incurred.

You may set a limit on the charges and expenses to be incurred. This means that you must pay those incurred up to the agreed limit without our needing to refer back to you. We will inform you as soon as it appears that the limit may be exceeded and will not exceed the limit without first obtaining your consent.

In addition there may be other expenses that we need to pay on your behalf such as court fees, experts' and barristers' fees, Land Registry fees, local authority and other search fees, etc. You agree to repay us for such expenses and we may ask you for money on account before we pay certain expenses.

Where we are required to transfer money to you or a third party we will charge an additional fee to cover our costs in arranging these payments.

Value Added Tax

We will add VAT to our charges and expenses at the rate and according to the rules which apply when the work is carried out. Our VAT registration number is 154 9507 48. You may have to pay VAT even when someone else pays our charges and expenses for you, for example, your insurer.

Terms of Payment

It is normal practice to ask clients to pay sums of money on account in advance to cover the cost of future charges and expenses. We may request further payments on account for charges and expenses to be incurred as the matter progresses. When we put these payments towards your bill, we will send you a receipted bill. We will offset any such payments against your final bill, but it is important that you understand that your total charges and expenses may be greater than any advance payments.

Payment is due to us within 21 days of our sending you a invoice. If you do not pay within this time we may charge you interest on the amount outstanding. Interest will be charged at the rate of 10% per year, from the date on which payment is due until payment is received and will be charged on a daily basis.

If instructions for a matter are given by more than one person or company, we may recover our charges and expenses from any one or more of them. This includes situations where one person or company instructs us on behalf of another.

If arrangements are made for a third party to pay any of our charges or expenses, or a court orders a third party to pay any part of our charges or expenses, you remain liable to pay them to the extent that the third party does not pay them when due.

Other party's charges and expenses (Contentious matters only)

It is important that you understand that you will be responsible for paying our invoice. We will discuss with you whether your charges and expenses might be paid by another person. Even if you are successful, the other party is unlikely to be ordered to pay all your charges and expenses or these may not be recovered from them in full; if this happens, you will have to pay the balance of our charges and expenses. If the other party is legally aided, you may not be reimbursed for any of your charges and expenses, even if you win the case.

If you are successful and the court orders the other party to pay some or all of your charges and expenses, interest can be claimed 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 and expenses on account, but we are entitled to the rest of that interest.

You will also be responsible for paying the charges and expenses of seeking to recover any charges and expenses that the court orders the other party to pay.

In some circumstances, the court may order you to pay the other party's legal charges and expenses, for example, if you lose the case. The money would be payable in addition to our charges and expenses. We will discuss with you whether it would be advisable for you to have insurance to meet the other party's charges and expenses.

Our Commitment to You

We value your instructions and our aim is to give you quality legal advice with a personal service at a fair price. During the course of your matter we will:

  • Identify your objectives at the beginning and review them with you as required
  • Update you on the likely timescales for each stage and any changes in these estimates
  • Advise you of any changes in the law which affect your matter
  • Advise you of any circumstances that could affect the outcome of your matter
  • Advise you of any delays and explain the reasons
  • Explain the effect of any important documents
  • Explain any changes of staff affecting your matter

How you can help us:

  • Give us clear instructions
  • Tell us if you have any important time limits
  • Make sure we have understood each other correctly, ask if you are unsure of anything
  • Deal promptly with any important questions that arise
  • Keep in regular touch; do not feel afraid to ask for a progress report if you are worried about anything or do not hear from us when you expect
  • Help us plan our working day; unless it is urgent, write to us rather than telephone and make an appointment if you want to see someone

Acting for a Lender

Where we are acting for both you and your lender in the purchase or remortgage of a property, we have a duty to reveal to your lender all relevant facts about the transaction. This includes any differences between the information we hold and that declared on your mortgage application and any cash back payments, incentives or discount schemes that your seller may give you.

Incidental Investment and Insurance Distribution Activities

Sometimes legal work involves investments. We are not authorised or regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and so may refer you to someone who is authorised to provide any necessary advice. We cannot advise you on the merits of investment transactions and we will assume that your decision to enter into any such transaction is based solely on the advice you may receive from a person authorised by the FCA.

We are, however, included on the register of exempt professional firms maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority which enables us to provide certain limited services in relation to investments, provided they are closely linked with the legal services we are providing to you. We can also carry on insurance distribution activity, which is broadly the advising on, selling and administration of insurance contracts. This is because we are members of the Law Society of England and Wales which is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. This part of our business, including arrangements for complaints or redress if something goes wrong, is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority website at register.fca.org.uk.

Client Funds and Interest Policy

Money held by us on your behalf is deposited in a designated client account with one or more banks. We do not accept any liability to you or anyone else if such a bank holding a client account defaults in making a required payment when due, including refunding the money to you. However, if there is such a default, you may be entitled to compensation under such financial services compensation schemes as may be operated by the Financial Conduct Authority at the relevant time.

In the unlikely event of a bank's failure, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) will repay individual clients up to a maximum of £85,000 or in certain cases a maximum of £1 million; see the FSCS website for full details: www.fscs.org.uk. Should you hold other personal funds at one of these banks; the limit applies to your total holding. Certain institutions trade under more than one brand name. Should the situation arise, we would ask for your agreement to disclose certain details to the FSCS.

We will account to you for a sum in lieu of interest calculated on the whole period for which cleared funds are held by us on your behalf. The rate of interest applied is that payable on the Yorkshire Bank Client Account. No interest will be payable where the funds are held for less than 14 days or where the total amount of interest calculated on the balance held is less than £20 as the cost of administering this payment exceeds the amount payable.

Client monies will normally be held in an instant access bank account to facilitate transactions and you are unlikely to receive as much interest as might have been obtained had you held and invested the money yourself. If client monies are held in a separate Designated Deposit Client Account interest earned on such deposits shall be paid in full at the rate determined by the bank.

Where you are borrowing from a lender in a property transaction, we will ask the lender to send the advance by telegraphic transfer on the day before completion. This will enable us to ensure that the necessary funds are available in time for completion. Please be aware that the lender may charge interest from the date of telegraphing of the payment.

Should you wish to contract out of our interest policy and receive no interest due on funds held in our Client account, possibly due to your tax position or religious beliefs, we would require you to acknowledge your understanding that this may not be in your best interests and confirm your instruction in writing.

Consumer Contracts Regulations

If you instruct us to provide legal services without meeting us face to face or at a location other than our offices you may have the right to cancel your contract with us, without charge, within 14 days of the date on which you asked us to act for you. However if we start work for you with your express written consent within that period we may charge you for the work we do if you cancel your instructions.

If you wish to cancel your instructions, you should give notice by post, fax or email to the person named in your engagement letter as being responsible for your work. To meet the cancellation deadline, it is sufficient for you to send your notice before the cancellation period has expired.

Arrangements for the Introduction and Referral of Work

We are permitted by the Solicitors Regulation Authority to make payments for the introduction and referral of work. Where we have a relationship with an introducer or referrer of work either directly or indirectly through marketing activities we shall notify you in writing. Where marketing or promotion fees are paid to any marketing company, introducer or referrer by us, any such payments are a direct overhead of the Firm and these costs will not be passed on to you at all. Further details can be made available on request

Where we have a relationship with the introducer or referrer of work we promise that the advice we give you will be independent and that you are free to raise question on all aspects of the relationship and the transaction where fees are paid to the introducer. We confirm that information you disclose to us will not be disclosed to the introducer or referrer of work unless you consent. Where we are also acting for the introducer or referrer of work in the same matter and a conflict of interest arises, we might be obliged to cease acting for you.

Storage of Papers and Documents

After completing the work, we are entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is money owing to us for our charges and expenses. In addition, we will keep your file of papers for you in storage (except any of your papers which you ask to be returned to you) in accordance with our Privacy Policy. We may, at our discretion, destroy original paper files and retain scanned electronic copies instead. We will keep the file on the understanding that we have the authority to destroy it after such period as we consider reasonable. We will of course not destroy any documents such as Wills, Deeds or other securities which you ask us to deposit in safe custody.

If we retrieve papers or documents from storage in relation to continuing or new instructions from you, we will not normally charge for such retrieval. However, we may make a charge for producing stored papers or documents to you or another person at your request. We may also charge for reading correspondence or other work necessary to comply with the instructions given by you or on your behalf. We are often asked to retrieve information from our files for Income Tax purposes, queries in connection with Title Deeds or probate distributions or indeed any other matter. We would urge you to keep all correspondence and paperwork which you may think would be relevant in the future.

Confidentiality and Data Protection

We will keep your affairs confidential unless you specifically ask us to disclose information to third parties or we need to do so in order to deal with your matter. From time to time we may outsource certain support functions such as typing and copying, costs drafting, information technology and secure document destruction. We will always seek a confidentiality agreement with the suppliers of these services. We are also subject to auditing by assessors for the Lexcel scheme, our accountants and the Solicitors Regulation Authority who may review our files from time to time. They are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your matters.

At all times during the course of your matter, your personal information will be collected, stored and processed according to our Privacy Notice which is available on our website at www.ratcliffe-bibby.co.uk/privacy. If you are unable to access our website we will be happy to supply you with a printed copy on request.

Anti-Money Laundering Measures

Under anti-money laundering regulations, we are required to obtain evidence of identity of our clients. This is because solicitors who deal with money and property on behalf of their clients can be used by criminals wishing to launder money. Therefore we may have to ask you for information confirming your identity and the source of any funds to be used in any transaction. If you fail to comply with requests for this information as set out in our engagement letter, we will not be able to act for you.

We are required to make a report to the National Crime Agency if we know or suspect a transaction may involve money laundering, drug trafficking or terrorist financing. If this is the case we regret we will not be able to discuss this with you and we may have to stop working for you for a period of time and will not be able to tell you why.

Termination

You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time but we will be entitled to keep all of your papers and documents while there is money owing to us for our charges and expenses. In some circumstances, you may consider we ought to stop acting for you, for example, if you cannot give clear or proper instructions on how we are to proceed, or if it is clear that you have lost confidence in how we are carrying out your work.

We may decide to stop acting for you only with good reason, for example, if you do not pay an interim bill or comply with our request for a payment on account or if you do not provide us with instructions when we ask you to. We must give you reasonable notice that we will stop acting for you. If you or we decide that we will no longer act for you, you will have to pay our charges and expenses for the work done up to that point.

Complaints

We are committed to high quality legal advice and client care. If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service you have received or about the bill, please contact Neil Anderton, our Client Care Manager, on 01524 734884 or by email to neil.anderton@rblegal.co.uk or by post to our Carnforth office. We have a procedure in place which details how we handle complaints which is available upon request. We have eight weeks to consider your complaint. If we have not resolved it within this time you may complain to the Legal Ombudsman

If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can ask the Legal Ombudsman at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ to consider the complaint. 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 or within six years of the act or omission about which you are complaining occurring (or if outside this period, within three years of when you should reasonably have been aware of it).

Governing Law

These terms of business and the services we provide shall be interpreted in accordance with English Law and the exclusive jurisdiction of the Courts of England and Wales shall apply to any dispute arising from them.

Agreement

Unless otherwise agreed, these terms of business apply to any future instructions you give us. Your continuing instructions in this matter will be taken as acceptance of these terms and conditions of business.

We reserve the right to make changes to these terms. Any changes to these terms will be posted here.