Terms of Business

1. Definitions

1.1 Contract: is the agreement between you and the firm as set out in the Terms of Business, Client Care Letter and any other documents referred to within either the terms of business or the client care letter. 

1.2 The firm or this firm or we or us: is Element Law Limited.

1.3 These terms: is these Terms of Business.

1.4 You: means each and every party to this contract (other than us).

1.5 In relation to the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013:

  1. Consumer: means an individual acting for purposes which are wholly or mainly outside of that individual’s trade, business, craft or profession.
  2. Trader: means a person acting for purposes relating to that person’s trade, business, craft or profession, whether acting personally or through another person acting in the trader’s name or on the trader’s behalf. The firm is a trader for the purposes of these regulations.
  3. Distance contract: means a contract concluded between a trader and a consumer under an organised distance sales or service-provision scheme without the simultaneous physical presence of the trader and the consumer, with the exclusive use of one or more means of distance communication up to and including the time at which the contract is concluded.
  4. Off-premises contract: means a contract between a trader and a consumer which is any of these:
  1. A contract concluded in the simultaneous physical presence of the trader and the consumer, in a place which is not the business premises of the trader;
  2. A contract for which an offer was made by the consumer in the simultaneous physical presence of the trader and the consumer, in a place which is not the business premises of the trader;
  3. A contract concluded on the business premises of the trader or through any means of distance communication immediately after the consumer was personally and individually addressed in a place which is not the business premises of the trader in the simultaneous physical presence of the trader and the consumer;
  4. A contract concluded during an excursion organised by the trader with the aim or effect of promoting or selling goods or services to the consumer.
  1. Conclusion of the contract: is the date you sign the Client Care Letter to confirm acceptance of our Terms of Business.
  2. Cancellation period: is 14 days from the day of the conclusion of the contract.

 

2. Terms of Business

2.1 These terms may not be altered unless agreed in writing by the parties.

2.2  You should read these terms carefully, along with your Client Care Letter any other documents referred to within that Client Care Letter, as these documents set out the basis on which we will provide services to you and form the contract between us.

2.3 By accepting these terms, you are entering into a contract with the firm.

3. Instructions

3.1 If we are advising more than one person (whether individuals, companies or other entities), we will, unless otherwise agreed in writing, act for those persons jointly and severally.

3.2 If you are instructing us jointly, it is your responsibility to tell us straightaway if you require more than one person to give us instructions in relation to your matter. Otherwise, we will accept instructions from any one person.

3.3 If you are a company or other commercial entity, it is your responsibility to tell us at the outset if you require more than one Director (or equivalent) to give us instructions.

4. Information about this firm

4.1 The firm’s contact details are:

  1. Name: Element Law Limited
  2. Constitution: Limited Company registered in England and Wales with company number 6866778
  3. Address: Pantiles Chambers, 85 High Street, Tunbridge Wells, TN1 2TU
  4. Contact number: 01892 516 216
  5. Email: katelawson@elementlaw.co.uk
  6. Website:elementlaw.co.uk
  7. VAT number: 131 0104 92

4.2 We are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and our SRA ID number is 511716. This means that we are required to comply with a number of professional rules set out in the SRA Handbook which you can view at https://www.sra.org.uk/handbook/. Alternatively, you can contact the SRA at ‘Solicitors Regulation Authority, The Cube, 199 Wharfside Street, Birmingham, B1 1RN’ or by calling the SRA’s contact centre on 0370 606 2555 (inside the UK).

4.3 The SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules, in force from time to time, require us to take out and maintain Professional Indemnity Insurance with participating insurers. Information about the compulsory layer of Professional Indemnity Insurance we carry is in the Client Care Letter.

4.4 We are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of its dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our equality policy.

5. Our charges

5.1 The basis for our charges will be set out in your Client Care Letter.

5.2 Fixed fee services:

  1. If we charge on a fixed fee basis, this is based on the assumption that the work will be completed without any complications arising. If any unforeseen additional work is required, or if you change your instructions to us, we will either provide a revised fixed fee or agree that any additional work will be charged at the hourly rate of the person dealing with your matter. In either case, we will not carry out any further work until any changes to our original estimate have been agreed in writing.

5.3 Hourly rate services:

  1. If we charge on an hourly rate basis, hourly rates vary according to the experience of the person handling your matter. The hourly rates that apply to your matter are set out in your Client Care Letter.
  2. We review our hourly rates from time to time, we will notify you in writing of any increase.
  3. You will be charged for time spent on your matter which will include: any meetings with you (and any third parties); considering, preparing and working on papers; correspondence; making and receiving telephone calls; research; internal consultations; and travelling. Time is recorded and charged in six-minute units at the applicable hourly rate. Therefore, this is the minimum amount of time we will charge for any piece of work undertaken on your matter.
  4. We add VAT to our fees at the applicable rate at the time that the work is completed.
  5. Where we give you an estimate of costs, it is a guide to assist you in budgeting for your legal costs and is not fixed. We will do our best to keep you updated with the best costs information that we are able to provide at any one time. If you would like to agree a ceiling figure, above which we will not incur any further costs without your consent, please let us know as soon as possible.

6. Disbursements

6.1 All disbursements (expenses) which we incur in working on your matter will be payable by you in addition to our charges. Examples of these expenses include but are not limited to Companies House fees; fees charged by experts, agents, couriers and barristers; court fees; travel expenses and subsistence; international telephone calls and use of on-line databases. VAT is payable on certain expenses, which you will need to pay in addition.

7. Paying our bills

7.1 The frequency of billing will depend on the nature of a matter. The frequency of billing for your matter is set out in your Client Care Letter.

7.2 You must tell us straightaway if you have any form of legal expenses insurance that you think might pay for our bills.

7.3 If a third party agrees to pay our bills, you will remain responsible to us for payment until those bills have been paid in full.

7.4 Unless agreed otherwise, our bills are payable on receipt. We may retain any papers and documents belonging to you while payment for our bills is outstanding.

7.5 All bills, whenever they are submitted, will be for final bills for the period to which they relate but this does not prevent us from invoicing you for expenses for that period on a subsequent bill.

7.6 If we are providing services to more than one person whether individuals, companies or entities and we are asked to deliver bills only to one person, those bills will remain payable in full by all persons that we provide services to under this contract.

7.7 You can make a complaint about a bill using the firm’s complaints procedure which is available upon request. You may also have the right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman (see clause 6) or to apply to the court for an assessment of the bill under part III of the Solicitors Act 1974.

8. Insurance

8.1 We have professional indemnity insurance with Endurance Worldwide Insurance Limited whose address is: Endurance Worldwide Insurance, First Floor, 2 Minster Court, Mincing Lane, London, EC3R 7BB. The territorial coverage of the policy is worldwide.

8.2 Our liability to you for a breach of your instructions shall be limited to £3,000,000 (three million pounds) for any one claim excluding costs and expenses. We will not be liable for any consequential, special, indirect or exemplary damages, costs or losses, or any damages, costs or losses attributable to lost profits or opportunities.

8.3 We will not accept liability for delays or losses arising as a result of deficient instructions or circumstances beyond our control. Please seek separate advice on non-employment issues such as taxation, pension, personal injury or share schemes.

8.4 We can only limit our liability to the extent the law allows. In particular, we cannot limit our liability for death or personal injury caused by our negligence.

Please ask if you would like us to explain any of the terms above.

9. Rights of third parties

9.1 Unless permitted to do so by law or our professional rules, a person who is not a party to this contract shall not be entitled to enforce any of its terms.

10. Storage of documents

10.1 After completing the work, we may be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for charges and disbursements.

10.2 We will keep our file of your papers for up to 6 years, except those papers that you ask to be returned to you. We keep files on the understanding that we can destroy them 6 years after the date of the final bill.

10.3 If we take papers or documents out of storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act for you, we will not normally charge for such retrieval. However, we may charge you for: time spent producing stored papers that are requested; and reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions in relation to the retrieved papers. Unless otherwise agreed with you in writing, those charges will be at our hourly rates applicable at that time.

11. Confidentiality and Data Protection

11.1 Our use of your information is subject to your instructions, the Data Protection Act 2018 and our duty of confidentiality. Therefore, we keep information passed to us confidential and will not disclose it to third parties except as authorised by you or required by law, such as if, on your instruction, we are working with other professional service providers (such as expert witnesses or other professional advisors).

11.2 The firm is the Data Controller (for the purposes of the Data Protection Act 2018) of personal data that you provide to us. This means that the firm has a duty to comply with the provisions of the Data Protection Bill when processing your personal data. The firm has appointed Kate Lawson as its Data Protection Officer (DPO) and she is responsible for overseeing the firm’s compliance with the Data Protection Act.

11.3 We use the information you provide primarily for the provision of legal services to you and also for related purposes including (but not limited to): updating and enhancing client records; analysis to help us manage our practice; statutory returns; and legal and regulatory compliance.

11.4 If you are an individual, you have rights under the Data Protection Act. These rights are:

  • The right to be informed – To request a ‘Subject Access Request’ (SAR) please email the supervisor of your matter or email our DPO with the details of your matter and the data that you want to have access. We will ensure that the Subject Access Request has been completed within 30 days.
  • The right of access – To request a ‘Subject Access Request’ (SAR) please email the supervisor of your matter or email our DPO with the details of your matter and the data that you want to have access to. We will ensure that the Subject Access Request has been completed within 30 days.
  • The right to rectification – Please contact the supervisor of your matter to rectify any information that we hold. In some cases, we may ask to see proof of this change of data.
  • The right to erase – To request to erase any data that we hold on you, please contact your supervisor or the DPO. Please also bear in mind if we are in the middle of a matter this may affect our capability to act for you. If this is the case, we will discuss this with you.
  • The right to restrict processing – To request a restriction of processing please notify your supervisor or our DPO who will contact you to discuss the requirements of your requested restriction. Please bear in mind that some restrictions may prevent us from acting on your behalf. If this is the case, we will discuss this with you.
  • The right to data portability – To request this please contact your supervisor or the DPO who will discuss the format you would like your data in when you make a SAR.
  • The right to object – If you wish to the objection of any processing (irrelevant if consent has been provided previously). Please contact the supervisor of your matter or the DPO who will discuss your needs with you and action your request. Bear in mind, depending on the extent of the request this may prevent us from acting on your matter.
  • Rights in relation to automated decision making and profiling – The firm does not conduct any automated decision making or profiling.

Please also refer to our Privacy Notice at www.elementlaw.co.uk.   Our Data Protection Policy is also available on request.

11.5 These rights are absolute, however, there are some cases where our legal obligation overrides data subject rights. (For example, keeping data for anti-money laundering purposes, notifying the NCA of any money laundering suspicions without notifying you).

11.6 We retain data as needed under the Data Protection Act 2018. The timescales are explained in clause 10.2.

11.7 Should you have any queries concerning these rights, please contact our Data Protection Officer on katelawson@elementlaw.co.uk

12. Security of communications

12.1 Where you provide us with fax or computer network addresses for sending material to, we will assume, unless you tell us otherwise, that your arrangements are sufficiently secure and confidential to protect your interests.

12.2 The Internet is not secure and there are risks if you send sensitive information in this manner or you ask us to do so. Data we send by email is not routinely encrypted, so please tell us if you do not want us to use email as a form of communication with you or if you require data to be encrypted.

12.3 We will take reasonable steps to protect the integrity of our computer systems by screening for viruses on email sent or received. We expect you to do the same for your computer systems.

12.4 It is very unlikely that we will change our bank account details during the course of your matter. In any event, we will never contact you by email to tell you that our details have changed. If you receive any communications purporting to be from this firm, that you deem suspicious or have any concerns about (however slight), please contact our office straightaway. We accept no responsibility or liability for malicious or fraudulent emails purporting to come from Element Law Limited. It is your responsibility to ensure that any emails coming from us are genuine before relying on anything contained within them.

13. File auditing and vetting

13.1 The firm may become subject to periodic audits or quality checks by external firms, companies or organisations. This could mean that your file is selected for checking. It is a specific requirement imposed by us that these external firms, companies or organisations fully maintain confidentiality in relation to any files and papers which are audited/ quality checked by them. Please indicate whether or not you are happy for your file to be selected for file auditing and vetting on the Client Care Letter. If you do not provide us with consent to make your file available for checking, your refusal will not affect the way your matter is handled in any way.

14. Referrals to third parties

14.1 If we recommend that you use a particular firm, agency or business, we shall do so in good faith and because we believe it to be in your best interests. However, if that particular firm is not another firm of solicitors, then you will not be afforded the regulatory protection of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the SRA’s Code of Conduct and SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules, nor shall you be entitled to the benefit of the SRA Compensation Fund.

15. Anti-Money Laundering

15.1 In accordance with the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 (‘the Regulations’), we may be required to:

  1. Obtain information about a client’s identity and to verify that information;
  2. Obtain identity information about people related to a client (such as beneficial owners), where relevant, and at time verify that information; and
  3. Continue to monitor the transaction and keep identity information up-to-date.

15.2 We shall inform you in your Client Care Letter whether the Regulations apply to your matter.

15.3 To comply with the law, we need to get evidence of your identity as soon as possible. Our practice is to:

  1. In the case of individuals (including Directors, Secretaries and Shareholders of a Company or Members of a Limited Liability Partnership), we require to see and keep a photocopy of a Passport, Photo Driving Licence, or National Identity Card (or similar document) as evidence of your identity and a recent utility or council tax bill (or similar type of document) as additional evidence of your address. We need to see original documents and will discuss with you, acceptable documents and methods of certification if the original is not available;
  2. For all companies we will carry out a search of Companies House (or similar registry in foreign jurisdictions) and may ask for further information;
  3. For non-listed companies and other organisations, we will also require the evidence for individuals for one or more Directors, Company Secretaries, Shareholders, Partners or other persons authorised to represent the organisation; or
  4. For other legal entities we will inform you of the evidence required to confirm identity.

15.4 We are professionally and legally obliged to keep your affairs confidential. However, we may be required by law to make a disclosure to the National Crime Agency where we know or suspect that a transaction may involve money laundering or terrorist financing. If we make a disclosure in relation to your matter, we may not be able to tell you that a disclosure has been made. We may have to stop working on your matter for a period of time and may not be able to tell you why.

15.5 We will not accept any liability for any loss caused to you or any other party as a result of our refusal to proceed with a matter or transaction or otherwise complying with our legal obligations.

16. Complaints

16.1 This firm is committed to high quality legal advice and client care. If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service you have received, please contact Kate Lawson who is a Director at this firm on 01892 516216 or by post to the address above. We have a procedure in place which details how we handle complaints which is available on request.

16.2 We have eight weeks to consider your complaint. If we have not addressed it within this time, you may complain to the Legal Ombudsman.

16.3 The Solicitors Regulation Authority can help you if you are concerned about our behaviour. This could be for things like dishonesty, taking or losing your money or treating you unfairly because of your age, a disability or other characteristic.
You can raise your concerns with the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

16.4 If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider the complaint.  They will look at your complaint independently and it will not affect how we handle your case.  Before accepting a complaint for investigation, the Legal Ombudsman will check that you have tried to resolve your complaint with us first.

16.5 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 of this period, within three years of when you should reasonably have known there was a cause for complaint).

16.6 You should also be aware that, when your complaint relates to a bill, the Legal Ombudsman will not consider your complaint while your bill is being assessed by a court.

16.7 A complainant to the Legal Ombudsman must be one of the following:

  1. An individual;
  2. A micro-enterprise as defined in European Recommendation 2003/361/EC of 6 May 2003 (broadly, an enterprise with fewer than 10 staff and a turnover or balance sheet value not exceeding €2 million);
  3. A charity with an annual income less than £1 million;
  4. A club, association or society with an annual income less than £1 million;
  5. A trustee of a trust with a net asset value less than £1 million; or a personal representative or the residuary beneficiaries of an estate where a person with a complaint died before referring it to the Legal Ombudsman.

16.8 Legal Ombudsman Contact Details:

  1. Address: PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ
  2. Telephone: 0300 555 0333 between 9am and 5pm
  3. Email: enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk
  4. Website: legalombudsman.org.uk

16.9 The firm is committed to ensuring that all staff give their full co-operation to the Legal Ombudsman in the event of any dispute or complaint against the firm.

17. Online Dispute Resolution (ODR)

If you are a client and we have made a contract with you by electronic means (website, email, etc.) you may be entitled to use an EU online dispute resolution service to assist with any contractual dispute you may have with us. Details of this service may be found at http://ec.europa.eu/odr. Our email address for the purposes of using this service is katelawson@elementlaw.co.uk.

18. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Alternative complaints bodies (such as Ombudsman Services (https://www.ombudsman-services.org/), ProMediate (http://www.promediate.co.uk/) and Small Claims Mediation (http://www.small-claims-mediation.co.uk/) exist which are competent to deal with complaints about legal services should both you and our firm wish to use such a scheme.

19. Termination

19.1 You may end this contract (and therefore, your instructions to us) at any time by writing to us by post or email (see clause 1 of these terms for details). However, we may be entitled to keep all of your documents and deeds while there is money owing to us (including charges and disbursements which have not yet been billed).

19.2 We may end this contract (and, therefore, cease acting for you) in relation to any matter or all of your matters. We will only do this where we believe we have a good reason and upon informing you in writing. Examples of a good reason include where you have not given us sufficient instructions, where you have not provided appropriate evidence of identification or we reasonably believe that the relationship between you and us has broken down

19.3 If your matter does not conclude, or we are prevented from continuing to act because of our legal obligations or our professional rules, we will charge you for any work we have actually done. Our charges will be based on our hourly rates applicable at that time (and where a fixed fee has been agreed, the charges will not exceed that fixed fee).

19.4 If we cease acting for you, we shall (where relevant) inform the court or tribunal that we no longer act for you and shall apply to be removed from their records. We may charge you for doing so at our hourly rates applicable at that time.

20. Cancellation rights

20.1 If you are an individual consumer (and not a business entity) and if our contract with you is a ‘distance contract’ or an ‘off premises contract’, you have the right to cancel this contract within 14 days from the day of the conclusion of the contract (the ‘cancellation period’). This right exists in accordance with The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. Please refer to clause 1.5 for key definitions.

20.2 This right will typically exist where we take instructions from you outside of our office address as listed at clause 4.1 above, for example at an external meeting site, during a visit to you or by a means of distance communication such as over the telephone or by email. However, if you are unsure whether these cancellation rights apply to you, please contact us immediately upon receipt of these terms.

20.3 Please refer to the cancellation notice at the end of these terms for further information about your right to cancel and the conditions attached to the same.

20.4 Where cancellation rights apply under these regulations, we will not start work on your file for 14 days from the day of the conclusion of the contract because the regulations prevent us from doing so unless you instruct us otherwise. If you would like our service to start within 14 days of the day of the conclusion of the contract, please select the appropriate option on the Client Care Letter, and sign and return this to us.

20.5 Once we have started work on your file within the cancellation period, on your instruction, you will be charged for any work done if you then cancel your instructions. You will have to pay us an amount which is proportionate to the work completed until we receive notice of cancellation from you, in comparison with the full coverage of this contract. These charges will be applied on the same basis as set out in clause 5 of these terms and where a fixed fee has been agreed, the charges will not exceed that fixed fee.

21. Applicable law

21.1 These terms and your Client Care Letter shall be governed by, and interpreted in accordance with English law. Any disputes or claims concerning this contract and any matters arising from it shall be dealt with only by the courts of England and Wales.

21.2 If any provision of this contract is found by any court or administrative body of competent jurisdiction to be invalid or unenforceable, such invalidity or un-enforceability shall not affect the other provisions of this contract which shall remain in full force and effect.


Instructions for Cancellation

These instructions for cancellation only apply where clause 20 of the Terms of Business applies.

Right to cancel

You have the right to cancel this contract within 14 days without giving any reason.

The cancellation period will expire after 14 days from the day of the conclusion of the contract.

To exercise the right to cancel, you must inform us, Kate Lawson at Pantiles Chambers, 85 High Street, Tunbridge Wells, or katelawson@elementlaw.co.uk, of your decision to cancel this contract by a clear statement (e.g. a letter sent by post, fax or e-mail). You may use the attached ‘Cancellation Form’, but it is not obligatory.

To meet the cancellation deadline, it is sufficient for you to send your communication concerning your exercise of the right to cancel before the cancellation period has expired.

Effects of cancellation

If you cancel this contract, we will reimburse to you all payments received from you, including the costs of delivery (except for the supplementary costs arising if you chose a type of delivery other than the least expensive type of standard delivery offered by us).

We will make the reimbursement without undue delay, and not later than –

  • 14 days after the day on which we are informed about your decision to cancel this Contract.

We will make the reimbursement using the same means of payment as you used for the initial transaction, unless you have expressly agreed otherwise; in any event, you will not incur any fees as a result of the reimbursement.

If you requested to begin the performance of services during the cancellation period, you shall pay us an amount which is in proportion to what has been performed until you have communicated us your cancellation from this Contract, in comparison with the full coverage of the contract.

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ONLY IF YOU WISH TO CANCEL THIS CONTRACT

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