Terms & Conditions
The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the governing body of solicitors. Professional Rules laid down by it require that clients of solicitors be informed of certain terms of business. Accordingly, this formal statement, unless varied in writing, indicates the basis on which this firm carries out professional services on behalf of its clients.
1. Places and hours of business
1.1 Lance Mason Ltd. are located at GM House, Wilkinson Way, Blackburn, Lancashire, BB1 2EH. Telephone 01254 263 885. The normal hours of opening are between 9 am and 5.30 pm on weekdays, Monday to Friday. Appointments may be arranged out of hours and out of the office at our sole discretion.
2. Regulatory status
2.1 Lance Mason is a limited company registered in England and Wales, Company Registration Number: 0712 3287. We are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. SRA ID: 524016.
3. Responsibility for work and process of work
3.1 The person primarily responsible for the conduct of your case and where relevant the supervising partner, associate, or solicitor with ultimate responsibility will be notified to you in the letter accompanying these terms and conditions. Other staff may handle certain work on a matter. During the course of any matter and to help progress during holidays or extremely high levels of work your matter may be dealt with by someone other than the person notified to you and they may have different qualifications. They will always be judged by the firm to be competent in handling that part of the matter to which they are assigned
3.2 We aim to offer an excellent service and will communicate with you primarily by telephone, email, in writing and text message. We endeavour to return calls and emails within 2 working days and to respond to written communications within 7 working days. We are unable to promise responses any quicker than this.
3.3 We will update you by telephone or in writing with progress on your matter regularly. We will communicate with you in plain language. We will explain to you by telephone or in writing the legal work required as your matter progresses.
4. Our responsibilities
- We will review your matter regularly.
- We will advise you of any changes in the law.
- We will advise you of any circumstances and risks of which we are aware or consider to be reasonably foreseeable that could affect the outcome of your matter.
5. Your responsibilities
- You will provide us with clear, timely and accurate instructions.
- You will provide all documentation required to complete the transaction in a timely manner.
- You will safeguard any documents that are likely to be required for discovery.
6. Suggestions, Complaints and Information
6.1 We are always trying to improve the service that we give to our clients and if you can think of any ways in which that service might be improved we would be delighted if you would tell us.
6.2 We aim to offer all our clients an efficient and effective service at all times. However, if you feel that the service you have received falls below the standard you expect or require then we will make every effort to improve our handling of the matter and to explain and rectify any mistakes we have made.
6.3. Our Complaints Policy and Procedure
6.3.1 We are committed to providing a high quality service to all our clients. Our aim is to give you no cause for complaint but when something does go wrong, we need you to tell us about it. We want you to be totally satisfied with our services.
6.3.2 If you have a complaint concerning our service or our bill, please contact our Quality & Compliance Manager Emma Payne. It is preferable to put your complaint in writing to her at our head office at 5 Towers Court, Duckworth Street, Blackburn, Lancashire, BB2 2JQ or via email on [email protected], alternatively you can contact her by telephone on 01254 263 885.
6.3.3 A full copy of our complaint’s process can be found at ‘Annex A’.
6.3.4 If your complaint relates to our bill there are special rules about your right to apply for a remuneration certificate. Clients can challenge their bill by applying for an assessment of the Bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. The Legal Ombudsman may not consider a complaint about the bill if a client has applied to the court for assessment of the bill. Please note that if part or all of the bill remains outstanding we may be entitled to charge you interest.
7. The Data Protection Act 1998, Professional Legal Privilege and our duty of confidentiality
7.1 We use the information you provide primarily for the provision of Legal Services to you and for related purposes including:
- Updating and enhancing client records
- Analysis to help us manage our practice
- Statutory Returns
- Legal and regulatory compliance
- Counter-fraud Databases
7.2 Our use of that information is subject to your instructions, the Data Protection Act 1998 and our duty of confidentiality. Please note that our work for you may require us to give information to third parties such as expert witnesses and other professional advisers. You have a right of access under data protection legislation to the personal data that we hold about you.
7.3 We may from time to time send you information that we think might be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive that information please notify our office in writing.
7.4 In order to comply with Anti-Money Laundering Regulations and other legal obligations it may be necessary to conduct a Full Electoral Roll search on you and your address, using Personal Data provided by you. This search will leave a “soft footprint” on your credit file. It will not affect any credit score that you may have.
7.5 Whist we do not require your consent to carry out such a search for Anti-Money Laundering purposes, we do have to notify you that such a search may be carried out.
7.6 It may also be necessary to share personal data, sensitive personal data and/ or legally privileged information with third parties in pursuit of your case. As such, by instructing us you are confirming that you consent to the processing of your personal data, sensitive personal data and/or legally privileged information in this manner.
8. Outsourcing of work
8.1 Sometimes we ask other companies to print and mail correspondence on our files. We may also use other companies to prepare evidence to support in the pursuit of your case. We will always seek a confidentiality agreement with these outsourced providers. If you do not want your file to be outsourced, please tell us as soon as possible.
9. Professional indemnity
9.1 In the interests of clients, we maintain professional indemnity insurance in the sum of £3 million per transaction. You hereby irrevocably agree to limit any claim against us in respect of this or any future matter for negligence or for any other reason except personal injury or death to a maximum of £3 million. At the present time our Professional Indemnity Insurer is Elite Insurance for Solicitors services in England and Wales and anywhere else in the world.
10. Fees and Funding
10.1 All time is charged as 6 minute units (1/10th of an hour) of time including the time spent on making and taking telephone calls, answering emails and considering incoming correspondence. For the sake of clarity e-mails will be treated as correspondence.
The current hourly rates are set out below.
Senior Solicitor £250
Solicitors / Litigation Executives £185
Legal Assistants and Trainee Solicitors £111
10.2 We will add VAT to these charges at the rate that applies when the work is done. In addition to the time spent, we may take into account a number of factors including any need to carry out work outside our normal office hours, the complexity of the issues, and the speed at which action has to be taken and any particular specialist expertise which the case may demand. Our fees will be increased accordingly to reflect this.
10.3 The accompanying client care letter sets out how your case will be funded (i.e. by private funding, agreed fixed fee, conditional fee agreement or any other method).
10.4 We will update you on the cost of your matter six monthly.
10.5 We will update you on whether the likely outcomes still justify the likely costs and risks associated with your matter whenever there is a material change in circumstances.
10.6 The common law entitles us to retain papers or other property belonging to you which properly come into our possession pending payment of costs, whether or not the property is acquired in connection with the matter for which the costs were incurred. This is known as a “general lien”. We are not entitled to sell property under a lien but we are entitled to hold property, other than money, even if the value of it greatly exceeds the amount due to us in respect of costs. We are entitled to keep hold of your papers and documents until all of our fees are paid.
10.7 On occasion where Adverse Costs are incurred by Lance Mason Limited as a consequence of an act or omission on your part, we reserve the right to deduct an equivalent figure from your final damages.
10.8 In the event that a Bill is sent to you, you have the right to object to the Bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974.
10.9 Our practice policy is to only accept cash up to £500. Where we have to pay money to you it will be paid by cheque or bank transfer. It will not be paid in cash or to a third party.
11. Interest payments
11.1 If we hold your money in our Client Account we will, subject to the terms of this paragraph, pay interest to you in accordance with the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules 2011 (the “Rules”). Interest is payable at the published standard rates paid by National Westminster Bank PLC on undesignated Clients Accounts (currently published at https://www.natwest.com). If the amounts or periods for which monies are held do not exceed the de minimis figures set out in the Rules then we will retain the interest.
11.2 The period for which interest will be paid will normally run from the date(s) on which funds are received by us until the date(s) of issue of any cheque(s) from our Client Account.
12.1 Under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 you have the right to withdraw, without charge, within fourteen days of the date on which you asked us to act for you. If you seek to withdraw instructions you should give notice by telephone, e-mail, or letter to the person named in the terms of business as being responsible for your work.
12.2 Where we act for two or more clients jointly it is on the clear understanding that we are authorised to act on instructions from either, both or any of them.
12.3 Auditing and vetting of files
12.4 External firms or organisations may conduct audit or quality checks on our practice. These external firms or organisations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files.
13. Storage of papers and deeds
13.1 Following the conclusion of your transaction or case we will retain your file of papers for such a period as we shall deem appropriate in our absolute discretion, such a period being not less than six years.
13.2 Where stored papers are retrieved from storage by us in connection with continuing or new instructions to us to act in connection with your affairs, normally no charge will be made for such retrieval. However, we reserve the right to make an administration charge based on time spent in retrieval and any perusal, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with the instructions given by you or on your behalf in connection with your papers at the hourly rate in force for a partner of the firm from time to time with a minimum charge of £50+VAT. This charge may be made if we are asked to forward documents to you, to another solicitor or third party, and will be payable before the papers are released.
14. Future instructions
14.1 Unless otherwise agreed, and subject to the application of the current hourly rates, these Terms and Conditions of Business shall apply to any future instructions given by you to us.
15.1 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 fees and expenses. If at any stage you do not wish us to continue doing work and/or incurring charges and expenses on your behalf, you must tell us this clearly in writing.
15.2 If we decide to stop acting for you, for example if you do not pay an interim bill or comply with the request for a payment on account, we will tell you the reason and give you notice in writing.
15.3 If you or we decide that we should stop acting for you, you will pay our charges up until that point. These are calculated on an hourly basis plus expenses as set out in these terms and conditions.
15.4 In the event that the matter is transferred to another firm of solicitors the firm will retain all papers until such time that all invoices are paid. No discounts shall be applied. The firm will also add to its charges the time spent in preparation of the papers for transfer and copying charges for the reproduction of all papers.
16. Other parties charges and expenses
16.1 If you are successful and a court orders another party to pay some or all of your charges and expenses, it may be possible to claim interest on those charges and expenses from the other party from the date of the court order. If interest on charges and expenses is awarded and paid, 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.
17. Companies and Partnerships
17.1 Acceptance by us of instructions to act on behalf of a Limited Company or a partnership is on the basis that ALL partners of the business and ALL the directors of the Limited Company personally guarantee that they will be responsible for our costs and disbursements and that any partner or director instructing us is authorised by his fellow partners or directors to give instructions on their behalf.
18. Tax Advice
18.1 Any work that we do for you may involve tax implications or necessitate the consideration of tax planning strategies. We may not be qualified to advise you on the tax implications of a transaction that you instruct us to carry out, or the likelihood of them arising. If you do have any concerns in this respect, please raise them with us immediately.
19. Insurance Contracts
19.1 We are not authorised by the Financial conduct Authority. However, we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority so that we can carry on insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the advising on, selling and administration, of insurance contracts. 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 as www.fca.org.uk/register.
19.2 We only select products from a limited number of insurers for legal expenses insurance policies, but we are not contractually obliged to conduct business in this way. Ask us for a list of the insurers. The firm does not have an interest in recommending such policies.
20. Identity and Disclosure Requirements/Anti – Money Laundering Requirements
20.1 The law requires solicitors to get satisfactory evidence of the identity of their clients and sometimes people related to them. This is because solicitors who deal with money and property on behalf of their client can be used by criminals wanting to launder money.
20.2 We are entitled to refuse to act for you if you fail to supply appropriate proof of identity for yourself or for any principal whom you may represent.
20.3 ‘Annex B’ provides a list of satisfactory evidence which can be used to prove your identity. Please do not worry if you do not have any of the items listed. Although the law does require us to have satisfactory proof of your identity and address, we do have alternative procedures for clients who have reasonable grounds for not being able to produce any of the requested evidence.
20.4 In order to comply with Anti-Money Laundering Regulations and other legal obligations it may be necessary to conduct a credit search on you and your address, using Personal Data provided by you. This search will leave a “soft footprint” on your credit file. It will not affect any credit score that you may have.
20.5 Occasionally to comply with Bank of England sanctions and guidelines from the Financial Action Task Force on money laundering, there may be additional checks and documents required if you are a national or resident of certain countries.
20.6 If you provide us with information concerning another person, e.g. an employee, you confirm that you have their authority to do so, that you have their consent to the processing of their personal data and that you have informed them of our identity and the purpose for which their personal data will be processed
20.7 We are professionally and legally obliged to keep your affairs confidential. However, solicitors may be required by statute to make a disclosure to the Serious Organised Crime Agency [now known as the National Crime Agency (NCA)] where they 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.
20.8 We shall not be liable to you for any loss, damage or delay arising out of the firm’s compliance with any statutory or regulatory requirement including but without limitation the obligation to make reports to the criminal authorities any suspicion we have that the transaction in which we are instructed may constitute a money laundering activity and you hereby authorise us to make such disclosures without prior reference to you.
Our Complaints Policy
We are committed to providing a high quality service to all our clients. Our aim is to give you no cause for complaint but when something does go wrong, we need you to tell us about it. Our Complaints Procedure is designed to help you bring your dissatisfaction to our attention so we can look at what has happened and provide you with an explanation. We will try to resolve the matter fairly and quickly. We will apologise if need be and do our best to offer a practical solution. You will not be charged for time spent investigating your complaint and it will not prejudice or disrupt your case.
Who to contact
- We have a two stage internal complaints procedure details of which appear below. If we are unable to resolve your complaint through our internal procedures you can then contact the Legal Ombudsman, an independent body that handles complaints about legal services. Details of how to contact the Legal Ombudsman appear below.
- Initially you should contact the Supervisor of the person who is the subject of your complaint. You will find the Supervisors details in your initial paperwork. If you are unable to locate this information you can contact our Complaints Officer.
- Our Complaints Officer is Emma Payne. She is the Manager of the Quality and Compliance Department.
- If the supervisor is unable to resolve your complaint you can then refer the complaint to our Complaints Officer.
- If our Complaints Officer is unable to resolve your complaint you can seek a further review by the firm’s Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP).
- If our COLP is unable to resolve your complaint you can then contact the Legal Ombudsman.
How to make contact
- It is preferable to put your complaint to the Supervisor or Emma Payne in writing to our head office at 5 Towers Court, Duckworth Street, Blackburn, Lancashire, BB2 2JQ or via email on [email protected] alternatively you can contact her by telephone on 01254 263 885 ext. 336. A detailed note of points discussed over the telephone will then form the basis of your complaint.
What will happen next?
- We will send you a letter acknowledging receipt of your complaint within 2 working days of receiving it, enclosing a copy of this procedure.
- We will then investigate your complaint. This will usually involve the Complaints Officer reviewing your file and speaking to the member of staff who has conduct of your file.
- The Complaints Officer will then write to you with her findings within 21 days of sending you the acknowledgement letter. However, if the complaint is complicated further time may be needed. If necessary the Complaints Officer will write and tell you and set another time limit. It may take up to 8 weeks to investigate and resolve your complaint.
- If further information is required in order to investigate the complaint, you may also receive a second letter within this timescale from the person responsible for handling your case. If we request further information from you, we will write to you again advising you what we will do next.
- We may suggest to you that your complaint can best be resolved through a face-to-face meeting rather than by correspondence. The meeting may need to involve the person dealing with your case and/or the Compliance & Quality Manager.
- Within 5 working days of any meeting, we will write to you to confirm what took place and any solutions we have agreed with you.
- If you do not want a meeting or it is not possible to arrange, we will send to you a detailed reply to your complaint including any suggestions for resolving the matter.
- If you are dissatisfied with the response from the Complaints Officer, then you will need to contact the Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP), Miss Katijah Ahmed and request a review. She will then carry out a further review and will write to you confirming our final position on your complaint and explaining our reasons within 14 days.
- In some cases, an appropriate alternative at this stage might be mediation to review the decision.
- If you are still not satisfied, you can contact the Legal Ombudsman. Their postal address is Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ. Alternatively, they can be contacted by e-mail at [email protected] or telephone on 0300 555 1777. Further information is available on their website at www.legalombudsman.org.uk.
If we have to change any of the timescales above, we will let you know and explain why.
Any complaint to the Legal Ombudsman must usually be made within six months of the date of our final written response on your complaint. The Ombudsman will allow us a period of 8 weeks to resolve your complaint. Ordinarily you must make a complaint within one year of the matter giving rise to the complaint or a year from when you should have reasonably have known there was cause for complaint.
If your complaint relates to our bill there are special rules about your right to apply for a remuneration certificate. Clients can challenge their bill by applying for an assessment of the Bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. The Legal Ombudsman may not consider a complaint about the bill if a client has applied to the court for assessment of the bill. Please note that if part or all of the bill remains outstanding we may be entitled to charge you interest.
For further information about the complaints procedure contact the Quality & Compliance Manager Emma Payne at [email protected] or 01254 263 885 ext. 336.
For an Individual
So that we can confirm your identity we will need to see one form of ‘evidence of identity’ and one form of ‘proof of address’.
|Evidence of identity:||Proof of address:|
For Companies and other legal structures
|Legal structure:||Corporate ID required:||Individual ID required:|
|A company (including a UK LLP) which is not listed on a regulated market such as the London Stock Exchange||
||Identity evidence for a) the individual dealing with the transaction and b) all other individuals or entities with 25% or more of the shares or voting rights in the company|
|A company (including a UK LLP) which is listed on a regulated market such as the London Stock Exchange||
||Identity evidence for a) the individual dealing with the transaction and b) all other individuals who exercise management control|
|A partnership of non-regulated professionals (except an LLP) with five or less partners||
||Identity evidence for a) the individual responsible for the transaction and b) all other individual partners|
|A partnership of non-regulated professionals (except an LLP) with six or more partners||
||Identity evidence for a) the partner responsible for the transaction and b) one other partner and c) all other individuals who (directly or indirectly) are entitled to, or control, 25% or more of the capital, profits or voting rights|
|A partnership of regulated professionals (except an LLP) such as a firm of solicitors||
||Identity evidence for a) the lead partner, b) one other partner, and c) all other individuals who (directly or indirectly) are entitled to, or control, 25% or more of the capital, profits or voting rights|
|Identity evidence for a) the trustee with responsibility for the transaction, and b) one other trustee, and c) all individuals or entities who: 1) have a specific interest in 25% or more of the capital of the trust property; or 2) have control over the trust; or 3) belong to a class of person whose main interest benefits under a trust which does not entirely operate for the benefit of specific individuals|
|Other legal structures set up by law||
||Identity evidence for all individuals or entities who: 1) are beneficiaries of 25% or more of the property where the individual beneficiaries have been determined; or 2) fall into a class of person whose main interest benefits under the structure where individuals in that class are not determined; or 3) control 25% or more of the structure or of the property under the structure|
We will not accept (not exhaustive):
- Provisional driving licence
- Mobile phone bills
- Credit card statements