Terms of Business

TERMS OF BUSINESS – all prices exclude VAT which will be added if applicable

Version June 2021

DIRECT ACCESS CLIENTS

This is an important document as it set out terms if you use my services as well as giving you indicative pricing structures which will be agreed by email once you agree the level of services required.

  1. INTRODUCTION

1.1.        These terms of business (“Terms” or “Terms of Business”) apply to all work done by Dr John Brown of North East Barristers Chambers (“we”, “us”, “our”, “the firm”).

1.2.       You will be considered to have accepted these Terms if you instruct us to do work for you.

1.3.        References in these Terms shall include any letter, document or email sent to you which sets out, amongst other things, the scope of the work we will be carrying out for you, any assumptions we have made about the scope, any exclusions from the scope, the anticipated timescale, and an estimate or proposal in respect of fees we will charge for the work undertaken on your behalf.

IMPORTANT NOTE

 1.4      If you instruct me to attend a PM hearing in a civil court there is always a remote possibility that if I have an AM hearing (specifically in the Crown Court), that AM hearing may run into the PM. In such cases where I then become double booked, you agree that I can instruct a litigation assistant who is a qualified solicitor to attend the hearing in my place.

  1. SERVICES

2.1.        Our Aim

In all our dealings with clients we aim to provide a professional quality of service. We shall endeavour to meet all your objectives within an agreed timescale, subject to external factors over which we may have little or no control.

2.2.     The general times-scales to be agreed are that any emails sent to us shall be replied to within 48 hours (not including weekends). The only email you should use to correspond with us is jbrown@nechambers.co.uk

2.3.        Our Relationship with you

Our advice is provided solely to you, our client. Without our prior written consent, our advice may not be used for any purpose other than the one for which it was given. You may not disclose our advice to any person other than those who normally have access to your records and papers, such as your employees, agent, and other professional advisers. You may not quote or refer to us or our advice in any public document or communication without our consent.

Our duty of care is to you and not to any third parties. No third parties (unless we specifically agree) shall have the right to rely on or enforce any term of our agreement with you under the Contract (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 or otherwise.

We may act for and provide advice to more than one person or organisation jointly in relation to the same matter. In such a case, we are acting for all of you, collectively. We may sometimes need to take instructions from one of you on behalf of the others, for example, because it is more convenient for one of you to deal with us, or because the matter needs to be dealt with quickly. You authorise us to do this without needing to confirm the instructions with all of you.

2.4.        Scope of our Advice

We do not normally give advice on taxation or accountancy matters. Accordingly, we have no responsibility for the effectiveness of tax advice on any matter nor for the taxation consequences of any tax advice that we give. If we believe that you require such advice, we shall advise you to seek it from suitably qualified professionals. Similarly, we can only advise on the law in England and Wales and not in any other jurisdiction. If you require advice on the law of any other jurisdiction then we may, with your permission, seek advice from a suitably qualified legal adviser in the relevant jurisdiction. You will be responsible for their fees.

2.5.        Use of Professional Third Parties

If a third party is needed (e.g., an expert) we will agree the expert with you, but you will have to appoint that expert and pay him. Services provided by any such third party will be subject to their terms of business (as provided to you).

From time to time, we may use temporary legal staff. Although they are not all our employees, we supervise such staff as if they were employees and place them under similar obligations as to confidentiality so to protect your confidential information and preserve your right to privilege. If practicable we will advise you of any such arrangements made in relation to your work.

  1. RESPONSIBILITIES

3.1.        At the start of any new matter, it is important that we clearly understand what you want to achieve, the timescale in which you wish to achieve it and, if you have a budget in mind, your expectations in respect of legal costs.

3.2.        Having taken your instructions, we will address the following matters and
issues:

3.2.1      your requirements and objectives.

3.2.2      the scope of the work that we will be carrying out for you and any exclusions or
assumptions to the work.

3.2.3      an explanation of the issues and an outline of your options.

3.2.4      what we will do and what we will not do for you.

3.2.5      we will identify any unusual level of risk or uncertainty in the proposed matter.

3.2.6     identify if you will act as a litigant in person or if you want us to come on the court record. 

3.2.7      we will consider if we have any potential conflicts in carrying out the work for you.

3.2.8      we will, if appropriate, estimate the likely timescales of the matter and advise as to any specific issues which may affect timing; and

3.2.9      if possible, we will provide you with an estimate of the fees likely to be involved which will be updated from time to time as the matter progresses. 

3.3.        Our responsibilities to you are:

3.3.1.    to act in accordance with your instructions.

3.3.2.    to exercise a high degree of professional care in our dealings with you.

3.3.3.    to be proactive in ensuring you meet your objectives.

3.3.4.    to communicate with you at regular intervals by telephone and email.

3.3.5.    to notify you of any material developments or occurrences.

3.3.6.    (if agreed with you) provide you with a cost benefit analysis of the matter (i.e. our assessment as to whether the likely outcome of a disputed matter will justify the expense or risk involved, including, if relevant, the risk of having to bear an opponent’s costs);

3.3.7.    to act in your best interests at all times; and

3.3.8.    to ensure that you are advised of the legal issues arising in this matter and the options available to you in respect of these.

3.4.        Your responsibilities to us are:

3.4.1.    to inform us of all material factors of which you are aware which may affect the matter.

3.4.2.    to provide us with appropriate evidence as to your identity and, where requested, that of your organisations;

3.4.3.    to provide us with prompt, accurate and appropriate instructions when required.

3.4.4.    to provide an appropriate level of funding as required by these terms.

3.4.5.    to settle our bills promptly when delivered; and

3.4.6.   if despite ongoing emails or calls you fail to keep in contact and update your instructions as matters move on, we will be entitled to withdraw the services and will be under no obligation to refund you any fees you have paid.

The decision as to whether to proceed to instruct us in relation to any matter (and the course to be taken in relation to that matter) will be made by you based upon your own commercial assessment.

  FEES

4.1.        Charges

We will generally charge on a fixed-fee basis and these are generally given subject to certain assumptions and may be revised if these assumptions change.

In the case of estimates, we reserve the right to change or amend the estimate at any time while we are carrying the work out for you. We will, however, notify you beforehand (except in a case of urgency) if we need to revise our estimate upwards.

If you require a written advice before I can determine if you have a legal claim I will base my time on drafting that advise on an hourly charge of £250 with a minimum period of 3 hours.

 You will always be liable to pay any court fees e.g., to lodge a claim and any experts fees. 

 If you are only instructing us to attend a court/tribunal  hearing, £500 of the total agreed fee (or the full fee if less than £500) needs to be paid as a retainer for me to put the matter in the diary, the remaining payment for the hearing must be paid at least 72 hours before the hearing.

My fees to attend civil courts or tribunals are £400 for a hearing of less than ½ day, £650 for a ½ day, £1,500 for a full day.

Hearing fees are non-refundable, unless the hearing is adjourned at least 1 day before the hearing is listed. If the court lists a case for more than 1 day and your case concludes early you will not be entitled to claim a pro rata refund.

Whilst hearings are by phone or video (because of Covid 19) no additional fees will be billed, however if we must travel more than 30 miles to a court, we will have to charge additional petrol costs and if the hearing is more than 100 miles away and goes into a second day, we will also have to charge B&B costs to ensure I am on site for the second day.

4.4      Postage costs

Generally, we will agree any correspondence with you and will then put it into PDF format for you to post it. If, however we must post anything on your behalf you will agree to meet the postage fees.

  1. 5.            LIEN AND SET-OFF

 We reserve the right to retain funds, correspondence, documents, records and title deeds belonging to you which have come into our possession until all our fees and disbursements owed to us by you have been paid. We shall be entitled to set off any amounts owed to us against any funds we are holding on your behalf.

  1. 6.            LIMITATION OF LIABILITY

 The following should be read carefully as it limits the extent of our liability to you. Any such liability arising from or in connection with the services provided to you by us is the liability only of Dr John Brown. Our partners, employees and contractors shall have no personal liability to you.

The liability of Dr John Brown for loss or damage cause by our negligence, breach of contract, misrepresentation) is limited to a maximum sum of £500,000 (five hundred thousand pounds) for each single originating cause, which amount includes all legal and other costs which we may incur in defending any actions against us. Our liability is covered by Bar Mutual Insurance. This limitation of liability provision shall apply to each and every matter we handle for you unless otherwise agreed with you in writing.

You also agree to indemnify us and hold us harmless against all losses, damages or costs howsoever caused which we may suffer in acting for you in this engagement (including, without limitation, our compliance with our statutory obligations), subject to the limitation in liability set out in the preceding paragraph.

  1. 7.            CONFLICT OF INTEREST

 We are not allowed to act for you if there is a conflict between your interests and ours. For example, we normally cannot act for you if the other party in the transaction is a regular client of ours. If in the course this engagement a conflict of interest arises, we will let you know as soon as we become aware of it and discuss with you the course of action required.

  1. 8.            MONEY LAUNDERING

 We are required to comply with our statutory obligations under the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 (as amended by the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Amendment) Regulations 2019, otherwise known as the 5th Money Laundering Directive) (together “the Money Laundering Regulations), to carry out certain checks in order to verify identity and the source of funds supplied by a client.

If you instruct us, you must send me a proof of ID and proof of address.

We are also under a duty to report any suspicion that we have of money laundering and this duty may override our duty of client confidentiality. We shall not incur any liability to you for any loss you may suffer as a result of our compliance with the Money Laundering Regulations to include any delay in dealings with or concluding your matter. While this may seem excessive, we are required to adhere to the Money Laundering Regulations and may not be able to act for you if we cannot comply with these Money Laundering Regulations.

  1. 9.         COMMUNICATION BY EMAIL

 We generally communicate with and send documents to clients and any other parties by e-mail. You accept that the internet is not a secure medium and that electronic transmission of e-mail may become lost, delayed, intercepted, corrupted, delivered incomplete or fail to be delivered.

We shall use our reasonable endeavours to ensure that our e-mails are free from viruses and other obstructions and shall expect you to do the same. However, you should note that e-mail cannot be guaranteed to be secure, error-free or confidential and that we shall have no responsibility or liability for any error, omission, claim or loss arising from or in connection with any communication to you via email, in the absence of any bad faith or willful default on our part.

Do not send us original documents unless we specifically ask for them (only send us photocopies). We hold no liability for original documents unless liability is agreed before they are sent to us.

  1. 10.         INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

 All copyright and intellectual property rights in any work and materials that we develop or create for you shall be our property unless specifically agreed otherwise. You are, however, permitted to use any such materials for the purposes for which they were created.

For the purpose of advising you or other clients, and subject to our duties of confidentiality to you, we shall be entitled to use, analyse, share and develop the knowledge, experience or skills of general application gained through working for you.

  1. 11.         DATA PROTECTION

11.1.     As part of our engagement with you, we expect to receive personal data from you or from persons connected with your business. This could be personal data about you, people who work for or with your business, or third parties, including people at organisations you do business with or are in dispute with. We are required under the Data Protection Act 2018 (“DPA”) and the General Data Protection Regulation (EU 2016/679) (“GDPR”) (the GDPR and the DPA collectively, “data protection law”) to inform you about the uses to which we put your personal data.

11.2.     We will comply with the data protection law in our own handling of personal data (including any personal data we obtain from third parties for your engagement) but will not be responsible for any action taken by the Information Commissioner (or any other data protection regulator), data subjects or other persons arising from any transfer of personal data to us by you (or its processing in order to fulfil your instructions) contrary to data protection law.

11.3.     We may use third parties to process your personal data for us in order to obtain goods and services related to your engagement or appropriate for the running of our firm. We do not sell personal data to third parties for marketing or other commercial purposes.

11.4.     Data protection law requires that all personal data kept by us is accurate and up to date, so please keep us informed of any changes to personal data, including email and mobile phone numbers, which you supply to us in connection with our engagement.

  1. 12.         CONFIDENTIALITY

 As a Barristers Chambers, we are under strict rules of confidentiality and shall not disclose any confidential information received from you unless instructed by you or as required by law. Equally, we cannot use or pass on confidential information obtained from other clients for your benefit.

Occasionally, we may be requested to refer in general terms to work done for you. For example, we may be requested to give information for reports to be published in the legal or business press of transactions where we have acted for one of the parties, or we may wish to disclose that we have acted for you in a particular deal or matter. In such cases, we will ask for your consent before disclosing and, if given, this consent will also apply to future similar disclosures by us.

  1. 13.         TERMINATION

 You may terminate your instructions in writing at any time, but any retainer is non-refundable. We may stop acting for you where we believe that we have a good reason to do so, for example, if a conflict of interest arises, if you persistently refuse to provide information that we require, if you persistently refuse to take our advice, if you do not pay your invoices on time or do not provide an interim payment when requested. Termination shall not affect any accrued rights of either party.

  1. 14.         COMPLAINTS POLICY

 14.1.     We are committed to providing a high-quality service to our clients. This includes a commitment to putting things right when they go wrong. Our objective at all times is to exceed your expectations. If you do not feel that we have fulfilled our responsibilities, or the standard of our service has been less then you expected, then please let us know in writing.

 14.2.     The Bar Standards Board will 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.

14.3.     What to do if we cannot resolve your complaint.

The Legal Ombudsman can help you if we are unable to resolve your complaint ourselves. 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. If you have, then you must take your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman:

  • Within six months of receiving a final response to your complaint; and
  • No more than six years from the date of act/omission; or
  • No more than three years from when you should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint.

14.4.     If you would like more information about the Legal Ombudsman, please contact them using one of the options below:

  1. 15.         STORAGE OF YOUR DOCUMENTS

15.1.     We shall keep our file of papers (except for any papers which you ask to be returned to you) for as long as we consider appropriate (see below) but for no more than 6 years.

15.2.     Litigation Matters

At the end of your case, we will send you the original of all (i) pleadings (ii) orders (iii) witness statements (iv) affidavits (v) consent orders or settlement agreements. We will retain for 6 years an electronic copy of the entire file, but you agree we may destroy any paper copies. If you wish to keep the entire file you must collect it within 14 days of receiving from us a letter confirming that we are closing the file, otherwise you authorise us to destroy it.

  1. 16.         VARIATIONS

From time to time, we amend our Terms. These Terms replace any previous Terms provided to you.

Our Scope of Works (including these Terms of Business) shall form the entire agreement between us in relation to its subject matter. The terms and conditions of our Scope of Works may not be modified or amended other than by written agreement between us.

  1. 17.         GOVERNING LAW

These Terms are governed by the laws of England and Wales. You agree that the English courts shall have exclusive jurisdiction in any dispute that may arise between us.

  1. THE BAR STANDARDS BOARD

We are authorised and regulated by the Bar Standards Board

 

 

 

 

The terms are dated June 2021 

If you commence a legal claim we will agree whether I will come on the court record or if you will act as a litigant in person. 

If you start proceedings you may be entitled to fee remission against any court fee if you are on benefits or on a low income. You will have to make your own application for fee remission if you think it may apply. 

In all cases a formal letter before action (LBA) is required to be served on the other side before you can start court action. I charge a minimum of £250 to draft a LBA. 

I am pleased to accept instructions from you on the terms herein. It is important that you  understand my full terms as they will form a legally binding contract between us. Any disputes under these terns are governed by English law and can be adjudicated by the courts of England and Wales.

Please review the Bar Standard Board’s (BSB) guidance for lay clients, which explains how the public access scheme works, if you are unsure of anything. https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/regulatory-requirements/bsb-handbook/public-access-guidance-for-lay-clients

My Basic Terms
1.Any quote given to you for legal services will assume that you will provide me with all necessary information to enable me to deliver the agreed scope of work within the agreed time-frame. I may have to amend my fee if the scope of work or time-frame changes for reasons beyond my control, alternatively if you simply fail to provide information required to enable me to proceed with your case I will entitled to discontinue providing the service and in such circumstance you will not be entitled to any refund on fees which you have already paid.

2. When you instruct me I will not be able to act until you type me up a case summary and send me any relevant documents. 

3. I offer only a 20 minute free consultation. If you then seek to instruct me I will require at least a £500 retainer to be paid. 

4. Any agreed fee for me to attend a hearing must be paid at least 72 hours before the hearing, failing which I am not obliged to attend the hearing.

5. If I quote a fee for the dates of the hearing as set by the court you will not be entitled to a refund if your case finishes early. e.g. a case is set for 2 days and it concludes in 1 day. 

6. If your case does not start on the day it is supposed to and is simply adjourned, I will charge £250 and carry the balance over to the adjourned hearing date (with you making up the £250 deficiency).  

7. If you succeed at trial (where permitted), I will make a request for your legal fees to be paid by the other side and in criminal cases to be refunded through a Defendants Costs Order.

8. If your case is listed more than a 60 mile round trip from my address you will have to meet travel costs, either petrol costs or train travel to/from Durham. 

9. If your case is listed more than 100 miles from my address and it goes into a 2nd, 3rd etc day, as well as travel costs, you will have to pay for a local B&B for me to be on site for the following days hearings. 

10. If an expert is to be instructed you will have to appoint the expert and meet his/her fee. 

11. Note that I may not be able to speak to you when you call me (as my phone must be off when in court). In such situations you should email me at jbrown@nechambers.co.uk or text me on 07491041812 and I will reply.

12. If you contact me by email I will reply within 72 hours.

13. I will not charge you additional fees to call me or email me. but that level of contact must be reasonable. You will have no real need to contact me every day. If your level of contact is unreasonable I will tell you so and if it continues I will have to charge my time pro-rata £175 per hour. 

The work I will carry out is set out in the letter I will have already emailed to you along with my fees for this work

If subsequent work is needed on this matter, there will have to be another letter of agreement between us. Note that because I carry out all my work personally and cannot predict what other professional responsibilities I may have in the future, I cannot at this stage confirm that I would be able to accept instructions for any subsequent work you may request from me.

If you are satisfied with my services, I would ask that you give me an appropriate rating on Trust Pilot. A button is on the home page of my website.

if you know anyone else who could use my services, (my website lists all areas of law I deal with), I would hope you would invite them to contact me.

If you are dissatisfied with my services, I have a complaints process that you may follow. Further details are set out on my website. 

Other matters

I am the only person you are instructing. I am a sole practitioner direct access barrister but I may use the services of a litigation assistant and one of my litigation assistants is a solicitor and I may ask him to deal with simple procedural hearings. 

I will have carefully considered your instructions and I can confirm that I have sufficient experience and competence to undertake the work.

The work you are instructing me to carry out is set out in my letter of agreement.

If subsequent work is needed on this matter, and I am available to do the extra work, there will need to be another letter of agreement between us.

Barristers advise on the law, draft documents for clients to use and appear on behalf of their clients before courts or tribunals and other organisations. Barristers do not handle client money. 

Here are some examples of work I can carry out:

(i)        I can draft letters on your behalf;

(ii)        I can liaise with other parties on your behalf;

(iii)       I can appear on your behalf to argue your case at court;

(iv)       If a witness statement is needed from you, I can draft it from what you tell me. I can help finalise a witness statement from another person based on the information that person has provided;

(v)        I can advise you on the need for expert evidence and on the choice of a suitable expert. However, I am not permitted to instruct an expert on your behalf. Expert evidence is evidence about a professional, scientific or technical matter provided by an individual with expertise in that area; and

(vi)      I can draft formal court documents for you and can  serve court documents on other parties and file them at court on your behalf. 

(vii) I will hold no liability (unless I agree a future hearing date when I am in Court) or the Court correspond with me with any revised hearing date. 

(viii) As you are instructing me without a solicitor, you must be sure that:

(a)        you are able to do whatever is necessary for matters identified herein which  I cannot deal with; or

(b)        you have made an arrangement with another person of suitable competence and experience to provide those services for you.

Circumstances when I may not be able to act for you:

As a barrister, I must follow the Bar Code of Conduct. That code of conduct requires me to consider whether a solicitor needs to be instructed in your own interests. If there comes a point at which I consider you may need a solicitor I will no longer be able to act for you without the involvement of a solicitor. If I foresee that situation arising, I will give you as much notice as possible.

Legal Aid:

As a barrister I cannot undertake legal aid work unless I have been instructed by a solicitor. If you want to talk to someone about getting legal aid, you should contact a solicitor who does legal aid work. They will be able to advise you about legal aid arrangements relating to civil cases e.g. where you are in dispute with another individual or organisation and also criminal cases e.g. where a crime may have been committed. You can find out more information on the www.gov.uk website: https://www.gov.uk/community-legal-advice

In agreeing these terms, you confirm that you have been informed that you may be eligible for public funding. You confirm in agreeing these terms that you are choosing to instruct me without the benefit of any public funding that may be available to you.

As I carry out all my professional work personally, there may be times when I am not available to you by phone. For example, if I am in court my phone must be switched off. If I am in court for several days in a row, I may be totally unavailable to all clients during that time. If you are not able to contact me by phone send an email to jbrown@nechambers.co.uk, or send me a text on 07491041812 and I will respond as soon as possible.

My fees for this work are set out in my cover letter. Under these terms, you are responsible for paying the fees set out in my cover letter.

You and I agree that:

(i)        I am entitled to keep copies of any documents you give me for my own professional records; and

(ii)        I will return all your original documents to you when I have carried out the work you have instructed
             me to do.

I would prefer that you give me copies of documents rather than originals. However, if this is not possible, you agree that I may (if there are a large number of documents) make a reasonable charge to you for producing photocopies.

General Obligations:

The information which you give to me will be received in professional confidence. I am registered with the ICO under the Data Protection Act 2018 (Number ZA528085). This means that I must maintain the confidentiality of any information you have shared with me and can only tell others about it if you give your consent for me to do so. The only exception is that statutory and other legal requirements  may mean that I have to disclose your information to governmental or other regulatory authorities, eh organisations, whose rules I must meet, without your consent and without telling you that I have made the disclosure. Statutory and legal requirements are rules or regulations that an individual must, by law, follow.

This contract will be governed by English law, and any dispute will be subject to the jurisdiction of the Courts of England and Wales. Jurisdiction means the power and authority of a court or tribunal to determine the outcome of a case and impose sanctions or penalties on those involved.

Legal Complaints:

If you are not happy with my reply to any complaint you can contact the Legal Ombudsman. The Legal Ombudsman is a free, impartial and independent service set up by the Government which deals with complaints about legal services you have received.

You must complain to the Ombudsman within 6 months of receiving a final response to your complaint from myself. A complaint to the Ombudsman must also be made not more than 6 years after the act or omission complained about or not more than 3 years from the date when you should reasonably have known that there were grounds for complaint.

For further details about how to make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman, please contact the Legal Ombudsman directly at:

Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ – Email: enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk 
Phone: 0300 555 0333 – Website: www.legalombudsman.org.uk

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