About Clark Willis

Our aim is to combine exceptional legal advice that is clear to understand and delivered with a friendly, modern service.

A Little About Us

Clark Willis have been providing legal advice to clients locally, regionally and nationally for over 40 years from our offices in the heart of Darlington and Catterick Garrison.

We are a growing team of highly respected lawyers committed to making legal services simple to understand and accessible to all. We are small enough to ensure that you can benefit personally from our one-to-one service on everyday matters, but also experienced enough to deal with more complex and demanding areas.

Our history in Catterick Garrison, longstanding expertise in Courts Martial and pedigree in acting for members of the Armed Forces means we understand the additional complexities often involved in providing legal services to forces families.

So whether you require assistance for the present day, wish to make provision for the future and especially if you are a first time user of legal services, our friendly and approachable team are ready to assist you.

For our full range of services see below.

 

Our current job vacancies can be found here.

General Terms

What are these terms?

These terms are our agreement with you and outline matters you need to be aware of in relation to that agreement. It covers our responsibilities and your responsibilities. These terms should be read alongside the client care documentation forwarded to you at the beginning of your matter which outline the issues which are specifically relevant to your matter with us.

When do these conditions apply?

Subject to any variation agreed between us or to being superseded by a fresh set of terms, these terms will apply to all instructions for any new or separate matter(s) received from you in the future. Unless you withdraw your instructions in writing immediately on receipt of these terms, you will be deemed to have accepted them as applying to your current instructions and any which may arise on this or any separate matter or matters in the future. We may by one month's written notice to you modify these terms from time to time to reflect our current practice and/or changes to professional and other regulatory requirements which we are obliged to meet. Any delay by either of us in enforcing any right contained in these terms will not affect or restrict either party's rights in relation to the same.

Responsibility for Work

The lawyer in overall charge of your matter is named in your client care letter, as is the lawyer who will be working for you on a day to day basis. Some cases are so voluminous or complex that other lawyers from the firm will have to work for you as well. Occasionally, we may need to pass your matter to another lawyer within the firm, for reasons such as holidays or sickness or indeed for any other reason. We will try to tell you before this should occur but there may be occasions when we are unable to and you agree and authorise the supervisor of your matter to instruct whichever lawyer they feel is most appropriately skilled to deal with the matter at that time.

Client Care

Once the matter is underway we will keep in touch with you, usually by letter or email, as it progresses. You should expect to hear from us at least once a month. We try to return telephone calls within 72 hours. The address for any letters you wish to send to us is 105 Bondgate Darlington and the reference is at the top of each letter. Please quote this reference when writing or calling. The firm’s telephone number is 01325 281111. The e-mail address is for you to communicate with will be set out at the foot of each letter we write to you. If you would prefer not to communicate by email you must tell us. You agree to notify us as soon as possible if you change your address, email address or telephone number so that we can keep our records up to date.

Whilst we endeavour to provide a standard of service that meets or exceeds your expectations, we recognise that from time to time you may wish to raise queries or concerns. Should there be any aspect of our service with which you are unhappy including the firm's bill, and if we cannot resolve it with the responsible lawyer, you may raise the matter with our client care manager.

Regulation

This firm is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) under number 613171. The address of the SRA is The Cube, 199 Wharfside Street, Birmingham, B1 1RN.

Confidentiality and our Legal Duties

Acceptance of these Terms is your consent for us to comply with a number of legal duties and obligations set down in law without obliging us to notify you of such compliance. Please note that whilst we operate a policy of confidentiality, there are certain exceptions to these rules, namely where you or any other person (most particularly a child) is at risk of serious harm and where we are required to make disclosure to the appropriate government authorities as required by statute or regulation. We may have no choice but to disclose this information and we may be precluded from telling you that we have done so. Should we be required to do so we will not be liable to you in contract, negligence or otherwise for any loss or damage howsoever caused arising out of our compliance with any statutory or regulatory requirement in this regard.

Limitation on Liability

We carry professional indemnity insurance giving cover of three million pounds for any one claim to provide security to our clients against professional negligence. We do not accept liability for any loss or damage in excess of the level of our insurance cover unless we have agreed a special arrangement with you at the outset of your matter. If you believe that an error or negligence on our part will cause you to experience losses in excess of three million pounds you are asked to draw this to our attention.

Financial Services

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 (SRA). The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority website at https://www.fca.org.uk/register.

Joint Instructions

If by agreeing these terms the services will be provided to more than one person, unless we are specifically informed to the contrary, we shall accept instructions from any one person and we will not be responsible to any other person for any losses that may be suffered as a result. In other words if that is not acceptable and you intend for us to only act upon joint instructions then you must inform us accordingly.

Joint Liability

If by agreeing these Terms the Services will be provided to more than one person or company, you will be jointly and severally liable for the payment of our fees with those other persons or companies. If we, and or any other party cause you to suffer loss whether jointly or severally, the loss that you shall be entitled to recover from us shall be limited to the proportion of our contribution to the fault causing your loss. If you agree to exclude or limit the liability of any other party that may have contributed to a loss to you and which has been partly caused by others and as a result of which that limitation reduces the amount that we are able to claim as a contribution from that other party, then our liability to you in respect of the claim will be reduced to reflect the reduction in contribution available to us from the other party.

Termination of this Agreement and our respective responsibilities

Our responsibilities

We must always act in your best interests, subject to our duty to the court; explain to you the risks and benefits of taking legal action; give you our best advice; give you the best information possible about the likely costs of your matter.

Your responsibilities

You must give us instructions that allow us to do our work properly; not ask us to work in an improper or unreasonable way; not deliberately mislead us; co-operate with us; go to any medical or expert examination, ADR, Mediation, Court hearing, or settlement meeting; pay us such reasonable amounts on account of fees and disbursements as we may reasonably require as the case progresses.

Termination of this agreement by you

You may terminate this agreement by giving your instructions to us in writing at any time but we will be entitled to keep all of your papers and documents whilst money remains owing to us for our charges, disbursements and expenses. Termination of this agreement by you where we are acting for you on a time spent basis will entitle us to charge you for all work carried out up to the date of termination and any additional work necessary in transferring or releasing your papers to any new advisors. Termination of this agreement by you where we are acting for you on a fixed fee basis will entitle us to charge the entire agreed fixed fee. This agreement automatically ends if you die. 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 as clearly and in writing.

Termination of this agreement by us

We can end this agreement if you do not keep to your responsibilities as set out in the paragraph entitled “Your responsibilities” above. We can end this agreement if we believe you are unlikely to win any claim or successfully defend any claim being brought against you. We can end this agreement if any Legal Expenses Insurer withdraws legal expenses insurance cover be it either After the Event or Before the Event cover. We may (without prejudice to any other rights) by not less than seven days written notice cease to act for you if you fail to pay any amount due to us on the due date and, if appropriate, we will thereafter take steps to come off the court record. If we are required to make an application to come off the court record, you agree that we shall be entitled to charge you on a time spent basis for the work that is necessary.

Tax advice

We do not give tax advice, but some work we do for you may require tax planning strategies. We are not qualified to advise you on the tax implications of any transaction or the likelihood of them arising. You agree that you will not rely upon us for tax advice and will seek independent advice on the matter.

Intellectual Property Rights

Whilst you will be entitled to use all letters, reports, data, software and other documents and materials prepared on your behalf, all intellectual property rights and copyright in the same will remain ours and will be prepared for your sole use. You may not disclose, copy or use these without our consent.

Interest on money we hold for you

Interest will be calculated and paid to you in accordance with the SRA Accounts Rules unless we have agreed with you to the contrary. Interest on sums held of more than £20 will be calculated and paid at the rate you could obtain from time to time payable by Natwest instant access account applicable to the exact sum held on your behalf. Periods for which interest is paid runs from the date on which cleared funds are received by us until the date of the issue of any cheques.

Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982

We are under a legal duty to supply goods and/or services to you which conform with the agreement we have entered into with you for the supply of those goods and/or services as set out in the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. This means that we will act in accordance with our agreement with you as set out in your client care letter. This is subject at all times to our legal and professional obligations.

Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999

It is not intended by you or others that any other person should be entitled to enforce any term of the contract between us as reflected in the Terms or client care letter, whether by virtue of the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 or otherwise, and any such right to do so is hereby excluded.

Recording of telephone conversations

We do not generally record telephone conversations. However for reasons of training, security or evidence, we may do. Your acceptance of these terms will be taken as your consent to this.

Data Protection and GDPR

How we use your data

Clark Willis Law Firm LLP is registered as a Data Controller with the Information Commissioners Office. We will use the information that you give us to provide you with legal services, as per your instructions. We will keep your information confidential and will only use it for the purpose(s) for which it was provided or as is permitted in law (i.e. for dealing with complaints or regulatory investigations). By signing these terms you are giving your explicit consent to us to process such information for the purposes of your case.

Sharing information

We may need to share some or all of your information with quality assurance auditors for the purposes of their assessment of whether we are adhering to quality standards. Any examination will be strictly controlled and will be shared for the sole purpose of ensuring that our handling of your matter meets the requirements of the quality standard. If you are a client under the legal aid scheme then we may be required to share some or all of that information with the Legal Aid Agency.

We may have to share some or all of your information with other third parties. This may include barristers; experts; and others who we need to instruct to assist us with your matter, the Legal Ombudsman (if you complain about our services) and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (the statutory body that regulates solicitors). In doing so we will always take care to ensure that your information remains confidential and safe. We will liaise with you during your case about which experts, barristers and other third parties we instruct on your behalf.

Your Rights

You have rights under the General Data Protection Regulation and these include the right to be informed what information we hold about you (though obviously it is likely that you will have been provided with such information as we hold). If you believe that the information we hold is wrong or out of date, please let us know and we will update it.

Money Laundering Precautions

We are bound by law to apply procedures to guard against the risk of money laundering. Government regulation mean that you may be asked to prove who you are, if you are a new client or we have not acted for you in some time.

The reason for that is that Solicitors’ firms, such as ours, together with other financial institutions and professional businesses, are attractive to money launders i.e individuals who try ad hide stolen money by converting it into legitimate income. To make that more difficult for them we have to carry out n identification checks which means we may ask for a copy of your passport/driving licence/benefit book/recent utility statements. Alternatively we may carry out electronic checks and if we do so you agree that we should be entitled to charge the following fees:

Individuals £7.50 plus VAT
Sole Traders/ Partnerships £15.00 plus VAT
Limited Company/LLP £25.00 plus VAT

Cash: We normally only accept £1,000 cash in any 28 day period.

Source of funds: You agree to tell us of the source of any funds you will be using.

Destination of funds: You agree we may pay any money due to you by cheque in your favour, or into an account in your name. You agree that if monies we are to pay out belong equally to you and another we will either pay those monies into your joint account or issue separate cheques to you both for an equal amount. If you want us to pay money to someone other than yourself, you agree to tell us the reason.

Confidentiality: We have always sought to keep our clients’ affairs confidential, but this duty has now been overridden in certain circumstances. The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 can oblige us to report information about financial offences to the National Crime Agency. In particular, if it seems that any assets involved in your matter were derived from a crime we may have to report it. This can include any income, capital or property of whatever nature which you and or your husband/wife/partner receive or retain as part of a settlement. This can include even small amounts of money, and covers all offences, including for example tax evasion and benefit fraud. If we have to make a report we may not be able to tell you that we have done so. A report may result in an investigation by the Police, HM Customs and Revenue or other authorities. The law contains exceptions.

Equality and Diversity

The Equality Act 2010 provides a legislative framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all. Chapter 2 of the SRA Code, on equality and diversity, is about encouraging equality of opportunity and respect for diversity, and preventing unlawful discrimination, in our relationship with clients and others. We are committed to ensuring our business runs in a way which encourages equality of diversity and respect for diversity.

Although we comply with the SRA firm diversity data collection exercise, we are unable to publish the data as it may identify individuals and will therefore breach data protection legislation.

Faxes & e-mail

Unless you withdraw your consent, we will communicate with you and others when appropriate by e-mail or fax in accordance with the details provided to us by you or by such other party but we cannot be responsible for the security of correspondence and documents sent by e-mail or fax. If you do not wish us to communicate with you or any other person this way you must tell us and if you do not we shall not be responsible for the disclosure of any information.

Hours of Business

Our core hours of opening for head office at 105 Bondgate, Darlington, DL3 7LB are between 8:30am - 5:00pm on weekdays. The hours for our Catterick office are 9:00am - 5:00pm on weekdays.

Governing Law and Jurisdiction

These Terms shall be governed by and interpreted in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and whose courts shall have exclusive jurisdiction in relation to any dispute that may arise in relation to these terms.

Invalidity

The invalidity or unenforceability of any of the provisions of these Terms of Business shall not affect the rest of them which shall continue to bind both you and us.

Entire Agreement

These Terms of Business and our Letter of Engagement set out all the terms agreed between us in relation to the work we are to undertake for you. All other terms, conditions, and representations are hereby excluded and you must not rely or have relied on them. The Terms of Business may only be varied by agreement in writing signed by a partner on our behalf. In the event of any conflict between these Terms of Business and our Letter of Engagement, the latter shall prevail.

Storage of papers, deeds and other documents

At the conclusion of your matter we may be left with a considerable number of documents which you agree we may scan and store electronically for a minimum period of 6 years. You agree that once the papers have been scanned we shall be able to confidentially destroy the originals and it is your responsibility to obtain from us any original documentation you require at the conclusion of the matter. Our default position is that all documentation you leave with us will be scanned. You agree that if you do not make a written request for any such documentation at the conclusion of the matter then we may destroy it during our scanning process. We do however reserve the right to require you to take personal custody of any papers in any event.

If you require us to retrieve any documents from storage we will charge a document retrieval fee of £25.00 which shall include the provision of up to 20 A4 pages of copy documents. Thereafter we will charge you £0.30 per A4 page printed. We do however reserve the right to provide you with a copy of your file of papers in electronic format free of charge or a paper copy at our discretion.

Provision of Services Regulations 2009

Under the Provision of Services Regulations 2009 we are obliged to inform you that our VAT registration number is 259342640. We are also obliged to inform you that the firm’s professional indemnity insurance policy is available for inspection during normal business hours at all of our offices, including the one with whom you will primarily be conducting business. Furthermore, we are obliged to inform you as to the professional rules applicable to our firm, which said rules are referred to in the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Handbook. The relevant provisions of the SRA Handbook are set out in full on the Solicitors Regulation Authority website at https://www.sra.org.uk. Should you require any further explanation of the same, that explanation will be provided by the person dealing with your case or ultimately the firm’s managing member.

Deposit Protection for client accounts

Any monies held on your behalf are held in our client account with the firm’s bank namely Natwest. In the event that Natwest were to fail then it is unlikely that we would be held liable for any losses sustained by you, subject to our having deposited the money in accordance with the Solicitors Accounts Rules (SARs). It would however be for the courts to decide whether or not we were at fault and it is important that these points are brought to your attention. There is however a Financial Service Compensation Scheme (FSCS) that may apply in such a situation which basically protects the first £75,000 of your money deposited. Obviously if you held any other monies with the same bank then the limit still remains at £75,000 in the event that Natwest were to fail. This scheme only applies to individuals and small companies, the definition of which changes from time to time. If you require any further definition as to a small company, or indeed any other aspect of this scheme, then please contact us accordingly.

In the event that you do hold your own money in Natwest or indeed you believe that your own money is held by say a subsidiary of Natwest but under a different trading name then you should check either with the organisation holding your funds, the FSA or a financial advisor as to whether or not such monies will be treated as a separate entity for example for the payment of the FSCS monies or whether it is deemed to be the same organisation so that the £75,000 cap applies. In the event of us making any claim on your behalf under the FSCS, whether it be in respect of client money or indeed on your behalf, we would be obliged, subject to your consent, to give certain client information to the FSCS to enable that scheme to process any claim.

Financial Services and Insurance Mediation Services

If during this transaction you need advice on investments, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, as we are not. However, as we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, we may be able to provide certain limited investment services where these are closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you. 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 at https://www.fca.org.uk/register.

Costs General

The Cost of Our Services

How we calculate what you will pay for our Services

As our client you are the person instructing us, and as such you will be responsible for our fees. If you are giving us instructions jointly with one or more other clients then you agree you will be jointly and severally liable for our fees. This means that we may look to you for the discharge of all or part of the fees and our fees shall not be divided in equal proportions with any other client.

Our charges will be calculated by reference to the time we spend providing you with our Services including the preparation of any detailed costs calculations, advising you, attending upon you and others, preparing, drafting or otherwise dealing with documents, letters, emails, texts or other communications, handling telephone calls to and from you and other parties, and any travelling and waiting time in attending court, alternative dispute resolution meetings, mediation, conferences or any other form of negotiations.

Routine telephone calls and letters are charged at the rate of 1/10th of the lawyer’s hourly rate, whilst other telephone calls and letters are charged on the actual time spent in units of 6 minutes. Part units will be rounded up. Letters/emails received are charged at 1/10th of an hour for routine items and on the actual time spent in units of 6 minutes for non-routine items.

Each person dealing with your matter is a "fee earner" and their time is charged at an hourly rate, which varies depending on their experience and the complexity of the task concerned. The hourly rates for the lawyer dealing with your case will be set out in your client care letter at the commencement of your case.

VAT will be charged in addition to our fees at the rate prevailing at the time of the delivery of our bill.

The hourly rates do not include payments to third parties (disbursements see below). They do not include expenses incurred in providing the Services such as cost of travel, and whilst we will not charge for routine postal, fax, telephone and photocopying costs incurred on your behalf, we will charge for non-routine items such as special deliveries or a substantial number of photocopies. We charge 27p per A4 sheet for substantial photocopying in excess of 50 A4 pages. A mileage charge of 45p per mile is made to cover fuel, wear and tear and depreciation to vehicles. If we are required by you, or if the circumstances require us to carry out a significant amount of work outside our normal office hours, or to carry out work that is exceptionally complex, or needs to be carried out in a very short space of time, we reserve the right to increase the level of the hourly rate.

To reflect increases in overhead costs and inflation the rates will increase in percentage terms equivalent to the retail prices index for the preceding year, unless we notify you to the contrary in writing. Changes take effect from the 1st January each year.

If your fees and disbursements are to be paid by a third party or from another source, because our contract is with you, we reserve the right, at our discretion, to require you to personally fund your matter in accordance with the remainder of the terms. We reserve the right to require a guarantee of fees and disbursements from directors or shareholders giving instructions on behalf of a limited company.

We reserve the right to undertake credit reference checks on you when we consider it necessary and may require you to produce trade or business references. If we are required to carry out any searches or incur any fees in order to comply with the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 or relevant Money Laundering Regulations, we reserve the right to charge you for any costs associated with the same.

Paying our bills and making payments on account

We will require you to make an initial payment on account and make thereafter regular monthly standing order payments, unless we agree otherwise in writing. We cannot commence work on your behalf until the initial payment is received. You can make a payment by debit/credit card in person at our reception, or by ringing our fees department. We will send out interim bills and if they are intended to be interim statute bills pursuant to the Solicitors Act 1974 they will say so on the face of the bill. We will also send out to you regular interim bills on account of costs which shall be marked as such. Our fees are not incurred or charged on a contingent basis unless such an arrangement has been agreed by us in writing in your client care letter. You will be liable to pay our fees irrespective of the outcome of any transaction or work undertaken on your behalf.

You agree and irrevocably authorise us to deduct any fees due to us from any sums held on your behalf on this matter or any other, whether those sums have been received by us as payment for costs or damages or for any other reason.

In the event of a request for a payment on account not being met or an interim account not being paid, we reserve the right to take no further action or carry out any further work in relation to the Services provided to you. If we are conducting contentious matters for you and have notified the court that we act for you in relation to any litigation then we reserve the right to apply to be removed from the court's record as acting for you if you do not pay any bill on time or pay money on account if requested. You agree that the cost of such an application shall be borne by you.

We have no obligation to make payments for disbursements unless you have provided us with funds for that purpose or we have agreed to pay them on your behalf.

For the above purposes, we consider contentious matters to be all work carried out in contemplation of or in the conduct of court proceedings, tribunal proceedings, arbitration proceedings and any other work which is by its nature contentious.

Where a bill of costs is delivered to you on a final or interim basis, we will deduct from the bill the value of payments received from you in the meantime. Payments of bills must be made within 7 days of delivery of the bill. If any payment due or required is not made, a final account will be sent for payment in accordance with our Terms. If we are holding any money or property on your behalf, we shall be entitled to deduct what is due to us from that matter or to retain that property until payment is made, and for the avoidance of doubt you authorise us to make any necessary transfers from any client or deposit account we hold on your behalf to our office account. Interest will be charged at 8% per annum after 7 days. Our fees and disbursements will be payable whether or not the matter is successfully concluded. We also reserve the right to charge interest under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 where and when appropriate.

Disputes over bills

You have the right to challenge certain aspects of our charges. You are entitled to request that we present you with an itemised breakdown of the time spent and we will be happy to do this upon request. However, please note that if, as a result of this itemised breakdown, it is seen that the work undertaken justifies a higher charge than that figure contained in the bill already delivered to you, we are at liberty to substitute that higher charge for the services we have provided. We reserve the right to exercise a lien over any or all of your file of papers until such time as all outstanding accounts, fee notes, requests for monies on account of costs and/or disbursements are settled in full or to the satisfaction of our managing partner.

Incomplete work

If for any reason we do not conclude your work, you agree we may make a charge for the amount of the work actually undertaken on the basis of the time spent by us unless otherwise agreed in writing. You agree to pay any disbursements incurred.

Disbursements

Disbursements are payments we make on your behalf to others and generally include such items as fees payable to the court, medical or other experts, barristers, enquiry agents, photographers, copy documents, searches, oath fees, accountants, valuers and travelling expenses. This list is non-exhaustive. Unless we agree in writing with you to the contrary, these will be your responsibility to pay and will be added to your final bill or any interim bill. Before a disbursement is incurred you agree to put us in funds to pay it. By instructing us, you give us your authority to incur and pay reasonable disbursements for the proper conclusion of the matter. Depending on your income level, you may be able to get a fee remission from the court relieving you from payment of court fees. You agree that it will be your responsibility not ours to ascertain from the court whether you are eligible.

General Costs- Fixed Fees

The Cost of Our Services

General

We have agreed to act on your behalf for a fixed fee. The amount of the fee and the scope of the work we have agreed to do for that fixed fee are set out in the initial client care letter which was sent to you. Once we have started the work we shall be entitled to the entirety of the fixed fee irrespective of whether you terminate your instructions prior to the conclusion of the work. Our fixed fee does not include the payment of any disbursements which are set out below. VAT will be charged in addition to our fee at the rate prevailing at the time of the delivery of our bill.

The fixed fee does not include payments to third parties (disbursements see below). It does not include expenses incurred in providing the Services such as cost of travel (should that be necessary), and whilst we will not charge for routine postal, fax, telephone and photocopying costs incurred on your behalf, we will charge for non-routine items such as special deliveries or a substantial number of photocopies. We charge 27p per A4 sheet for substantial photocopying in excess of 30 A4 pages. A mileage charge of 45p per mile is made to cover fuel, wear and tear and depreciation to vehicles. If we are required by you, or if the circumstances require us to carry out a significant amount of work outside our normal office hours, or to carry out work that is exceptionally complex, or needs to be carried out in a very short space of time, we reserve the right to increase our fee.

If your fees and disbursements are to be paid by a third party or from another source, because our contract is with you, we reserve the right, at our discretion, to require you to personally fund your matter in accordance with the remainder of the terms. We reserve the right to require a guarantee of fees and disbursements from directors or shareholders giving instructions on behalf of a limited company.

We reserve the right to undertake credit reference checks on you when we consider it necessary and may require you to produce trade or business references. If we are required to carry out any searches or incur any fees in order to comply with the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 or relevant Money Laundering Regulations, we reserve the right to charge you for any costs associated with the same.

Paying our bills and making payments on account

We will require you to make an initial payment on account unless we agree otherwise in writing. We cannot commence work on your behalf until the initial payment is received. You can make a payment by debit/credit card in person at our reception, or by ringing our fees department. Payments made by a credit card will attract transaction charges. Payments by debit card will not. We will send out interim bills and they shall be interim statute bills pursuant to the Solicitors Act 1974. Our fees are not incurred or charged on a contingent basis unless such an arrangement has been agreed by us in writing in the initial client care letter which was sent to you. You will be liable to pay our fees irrespective of the outcome of any transaction or work undertaken on your behalf.

You agree and irrevocably authorise us to deduct any fees due to us from any sums held on your behalf on this matter or any other, whether those sums have been received by us as payment for costs or damages or for any other reason.

In the event of a request for a payment on account not being met or an interim account not being paid, we reserve the right to take no further action or carry out any further work in relation to the Services provided to you. If we are conducting contentious matters for you and have notified the court that we act for you in relation to any litigation then we reserve the right to apply to be removed from the court's record as acting for you if you do not pay any bill on time or pay money on account if requested. You agree that the cost of such an application shall be borne by you.

We have no obligation to make payments for disbursements unless you have provided us with funds for that purpose or we have agreed to pay them on your behalf.

Where a bill of costs is delivered to you on a final or interim basis, we will deduct from the bill the value of payments received from you in the meantime. Payments of bills must be made within 7 days of delivery of the bill. If any payment due or required is not made, a final account will be sent for payment in accordance with our Terms. If we are holding any money or property on your behalf, we shall be entitled to deduct what is due to us from that matter or to retain that property until payment is made, and for the avoidance of doubt you authorise us to make any necessary transfers from any client or deposit account we hold on your behalf to our office account. Interest will be charged at 8% over the base rate applicable from time to time by Natwest from the date of delivery of all accounts where payment is not made within 7 days. Our fees and disbursements will be payable whether or not the matter is successfully concluded. We also reserve the right to charge interest under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 where and when appropriate.

Disputes over bills

You have the right to challenge certain aspects of our charges. You are entitled to request that we present you with an itemised breakdown of the time spent and we will be happy to do this upon request. However, please note that if, as a result of this itemised breakdown, it is seen that the work undertaken justifies a higher charge than that figure contained in the bill already delivered to you, we are at liberty to substitute that higher charge for the services we have provided. We reserve the right to exercise a lien over any or all of your file of papers until such time as all outstanding accounts, fee notes, requests for monies on account of costs and/or disbursements are settled in full or to the satisfaction of our managing partner.

Incomplete work

If for any reason we do not conclude your work, you agree we may make a charge for the amount of the work actually undertaken on the basis of the time spent by us unless otherwise agreed in writing. You agree to pay any disbursements incurred.

Disbursements

Disbursements are payments we make on your behalf to others and generally include such items as fees payable to the court, medical or other experts, barristers, enquiry agents, photographers, copy documents, searches, oath fees, accountants, valuers and travelling expenses. This list is non-exhaustive. Unless we agree in writing with you to the contrary, these will be your responsibility to pay and will be added to your final bill or any interim bill. Before a disbursement is incurred you agree to put us in funds to pay it. By instructing us, you give us your authority to incur and pay reasonable disbursements for the proper conclusion of the matter. Depending on your income level, you may be able to get a fee remission from the court relieving you from payment of court fees. You agree that it will be your responsibility not ours to ascertain from the court whether you are eligible.

Litigation

Your liability to pay other fees and expenses

The Court has power to order parties to litigation matters, including you, to pay fees and expenses of their opponent as the matter progresses. Failure to comply with such an Order may result in you not being able to participate further in the matter or financial penalties being imposed or steps being taken by your opponent to enforce the order for payment by seeking the seizure and sale of your assets, an attachment of part of your earnings or taking steps to make you bankrupt or put you into liquidation. In that event, we reserve the right to withdraw from acting further for you and not to implement your instructions concerning the matter. Notice of this will be given to you in writing and you will be liable to pay our charges and expenses as set out herein.

Recovering costs, fees & disbursements

All Court proceedings are expensive and involve a significant financial risk on your part.

If you become involved in Court proceedings, as opposed to negotiating prior to Court proceedings beginning, you will be at risk of having to pay your opponent’s legal fees and disbursements. The general rule in any litigation which is allocated to the fast track or multi track is that the loser pays the winner’s costs and disbursements but this is modified from time to time depending upon the case and the circumstances. In family matters the court will often make an order that each party will bear its own costs.

This is departed from on some rare occasions and in that event, if you win your case the judge has a wide discretion and may order your opponent to pay either all or part of your own legal fees and disbursements. If you do become entitled to any reimbursement by your opponent or other party, the amount of that reimbursement will either be agreed by negotiation with your opponent and you, or if agreement cannot be reached, assessed by the Court. You agree and instruct us to carry out such work and that we shall be entitled to retain your file of papers for the purpose of doing so. It is rare this amount will reimburse you in full, and if it does not then you will be liable to pay the balance.

If your opponent receives a public funding certificate (legal aid) it is more than likely the court will not make a costs order in your favour, meaning you will be liable for your own costs and disbursements in full. The Court assessment process will require us to do work towards recovering monies on your behalf and unless otherwise agreed with you in writing this will be charged on a time spent basis.

If you lose your case the opposite will apply, and again the judge has a wide discretion and may order you to pay some or all of your opponent’s legal fees and disbursements. Even if you have had the benefit of a public funding certificate you can still be ordered by the judge to pay all or part of your opponent’s legal fees, particularly if you do not comply with the provision of information to the Legal Aid Agency.

You agree that any sums we recover from your opponent whether they be for damages or costs, may be used to reduce any sum due to us, but if a balance remains owing to us you will be responsible for paying it.

It may be possible to claim interest on any costs awarded against another party from the date of the court order. We will account to you for such interest to the extent that you have paid any charges or expenses on account, but we are entitled to the rest of the interest.

You agree you will be responsible for paying our charges and expenses of seeking to recover any costs the court orders your opponent to pay you, unless you have the benefit of legal aid.

Tribunal Proceedings are similar to Court Proceedings. Most of the time, Orders for the payment of legal fees and disbursements in tribunal proceedings are not made, but it is possible that a Tribunal Judge could make such an Order in the same way that a Judge in a Court can.

Section 74 Solicitors Act 1974 agreement

By accepting these terms and conditions you agree that you are liable to pay, and we are entitled to charge, an amount of costs greater than that which you will recover or could have recovered from the other party to the proceedings and our terms and conditions expressly permits payment of such sum.

This part of the agreement is made under section 74(3) of the Solicitors Act 1974 and Civil Procedure Rules 46.9(2) and (3).

In so far as any costs or disbursements are of an unusual nature or amount these costs might not be recovered from the other party.

Litigated matters

The Family Procedure Rules 2010 (FPR) or Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) apply to your matter and you agree to comply with them and agree that we must do so on your behalf. Failure to comply with the rules shall mean you will be deemed not to be co-operating with us and thus entitling us to terminate this agreement should we choose.

Statement of truth

The FPR/CPR require some documents prepared before or during Court proceedings to be verified by a statement of belief on the part of the signatory of the document that it is believed that the facts set out are true. Lack of truth may subject the signatory to proceedings for contempt of Court which may result in a fine or prison sentence. Where we sign such statements on your behalf, we will be certifying only that you believe the facts stated to be true and under no circumstances will we be certifying them as true within our own knowledge. If you are a limited company, your instructions will act as your authority to any person giving us those instructions on your behalf to make statements of truth on your behalf.

Documents

The FPR/CPR requires you to search for, locate and disclose originals or copies of documents relating to the matter. It is a condition of us acting in your matter that you will let us have all the documents relating to your matter as we may from time to time require you to produce. In the event that you fail to comply with any such requirement, we may decline to act for you further in that matter and other matters and you will be liable to pay our charges and expenses as set out herein.

Hearings, meetings & complying with Court Orders

From time to time, you may be required to attend hearings or meetings arranged in connection with your matter or to take certain steps or produce written or other materials relating to the matter. Failure to comply may result in your matter being stopped or a financial penalty being imposed upon you. If after giving you written notice, that failure persists, we reserve the right to withdraw from the case and from acting for you further in implementing your instructions. If as a result of that we deem it necessary to make an application to come off the court record you will be liable to pay our charges and expenses incurred in doing so.

Settlements before or during proceedings

Before allowing you to claim or defend or to continue to claim or defend proceedings, the Court may require you to show the steps you have taken to settle the dispute with your opponent. This could include attending mediation, ADR (alternative dispute resolution), or an informal round table negotiation. Failure on your part to attempt a reasonable settlement of the dispute may result in financial penalties being imposed on you by the Court. Whilst we will from time to time, and as appropriate, raise with you the possibility of such settlement, the primary responsibility for protecting yourself against such financial penalties is yours and not ours.

Inaccuracy or exaggeration

Please note that in a civil litigation or personal injury claim, any exaggeration or inaccuracy by you or on your behalf in relation to any part of the claim will lead to the whole claim being thrown out, with you being ordered to pay the other side’s costs. This will happen even if you have already won your claim. For example if the court finds that the accident was the other party’s fault but you exaggerate your injuries or the amount that you have spent then your claim would be lost. You will then be responsible for our costs as well as the other side’s costs. Such conduct on your behalf will invalidate any insurance policy.

Cancellation of Distance and Off-Premises Contract

The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 apply in respect of any instructions that you provide to the firm to act on your behalf. That means that if any contract of the firm to supply legal services to you off premises or by distance, i.e. by the telephone, then you will have 14 calendar days to cancel any contract without incurring any costs. These regulations do not apply however to what is probably the more usual scenario whereby you provide instructions to the firm in person at one of our offices. In those circumstances the contract will commence immediately and there will be no right for you to cancel or if you do so you will be liable for any costs incurred. By way of further example, the regulations would apply if for any reason a member of the firm visits you in your home to take instructions, or as mentioned above you contact us by telephone or even the internet. These are only examples and you are advised to check the regulations which will be made available to you upon request.

Where the right to cancel within 14 calendar days arises, you have the right to cancel this contract within that time period without giving any reason. The cancellation period will expire after 14 days from the day of the conclusion of the contract. In order to exercise the right to cancel you must inform Clark Willis Law Firm LLP of 105 Bondgate, Darlington, Co Durham, DL3 7LB, telephone number 01325 28 11 11, fax number 01325 28 98 00 and email address of enquiries@clarkwillis.co.uk of your decision to cancel this contract by a clear statement (e.g a letter sent by post, fax or email). You may also use the below model cancellation template, but it is not obligatory. You may also cancel by telephone, i.e not in writing. To meet the cancellation deadline it is sufficient for you to send your communication concerning your exercise of your right to cancel before the cancellation period has expired.

The effects of cancellation are that we will reimburse to you all payments received from you. We will make the reimbursement without undue delay and not later than 14 days after the date on which we were informed about your decision to cancel the contract. We will make the reimbursement using the same means of payment as you used in your initial transaction unless you have expressly agreed otherwise; in any event you will not incur any fees as a result of a 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 would have been performed until you have communicated to us your cancellation from this contract, in comparison with the full coverage of the contract.

Furthermore upon receiving your instructions, whether or not the above regulations apply we will endeavour to give you as accurate an assessment as possible for the provision of those services, bearing in mind however that sometimes it is difficult if not impossible for us to conclude your matter within the time period originally specified for reasons that may well be beyond our control. You will agree that the time limit for the provisions of services will not necessarily be restricted to within 30 days of you first instructing the firm.


MODEL CANCELLATION TEMPLATE

TO: Clark Willis Law Firm LLP of 105 Bondgate, Darlington, DL3 7LB

Fax: 01325 289800

Email: enquiries@clarkwillis.co.uk


I/We hereby give notice that I/we cancel my/our contract of the supply of the following services …………………………………ordered on ………………………………./received on ………………………………….


Name of Consumer:


Address of Consumer:


Signature of Consumer (if this form is notified on paper):


Date:

Client Care, the SRA and Legal Ombudsman

Our complaints policy

We are committed to providing a high-quality legal service to all our clients. When something goes wrong, we need you to tell us about it. This will help us to improve our standards and hopefully resolve any problem that you have.

In the first instance it may be helpful to contact the person who is working on your case to discuss your concerns and we will do our best to resolve any issues at this stage.

Confidentiality

Your complaint will remain confidential between Miss Bloomfield and those involved. It will not affect our conduct of the matter or the way in which you are treated in relation to any other ongoing or future matters.

Our complaints procedure

All complaints are investigated by the firm’s complaints manager Miss Tanya Bloomfield. Miss Bloomfield may delegate the investigative process to another senior member of the firm, if they have a particular specialist knowledge which might assist in the investigation, she is unavailable or there is a conflict of interest preventing her from so doing.

Her contact details are Clark Willis, 105 Bondgate, Darlington, Co. Durham DL3 7LB. 01325 281 111, or email t.bloomfield@clarkwillis.co.uk. Please quote any reference number stated at the top of any letters you have previously received from us.

Stages of the procedure

1. Your complaint will be acknowledged within 7 days. It will be recorded in our central register and we shall open a separate file to deal with it.

2. Where appropriate you will be invited to meet Miss Bloomfield to discuss your complaint. The choice of meeting with Miss Bloomfield is entirely yours, and if you feel you have adequately detailed your complaint in writing and do not feel it is necessary to explain matters further we shall deal with the matter on the basis of your written complaint.

3. We will then investigate the complaint, which may involve one or more of the following steps:

(a) We will ask the member(s) of staff concerned with the complaint to respond to those complaints relating to them. They will be required to do so within 21 days of any meeting, or your confirmation that you do not want a meeting. If the personnel are absent on leave or sick, they will be asked to respond within 14 days of their return;

(b) Miss Bloomfield will then consider all the information she has collated and if necessary ask you or the member of staff concerned for more information. This may take an additional 14 days from receiving their reply.

4. Once Miss Bloomfield has received all the information necessary she will, within 14 days thereof send to you a detailed reply to your complaint. This will include our suggestions for resolving the matter. If you feel our suggestions are not satisfactory you can ask us to review our decision. This will happen in one of the following ways.

(a) Miss Bloomfield will review her own decision within 14 days of hearing from you, or

(b) We will arrange for another partner in the firm who has not been involved in your complaint to review it. They will carry out the review within 14 days of hearing from you.

(c) The result of the review will be sent to you within 7 days of the decision. We will confirm in the review decision our final position on your complaint.

You have a right to make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806 Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ, tel no. 0300 555 0333, and also to the court for an assessment of any bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. If all or part of any bill remains unpaid the firm may be entitled to charge interest. The Legal Ombudsman service is available to members of the public, very small businesses, charities, clubs and trusts. Complaints to the Legal Ombudsman must be brought within 6 months of receiving a final response. Details can be found at https://www.legalombudsman.org.uk.

Alternative complaints bodies such as Ombudsman Services, ProMediate and Small claims mediation exist which are competent to deal with complaints about legal services should both you and our firm wish to use such a scheme. We would agree to use Promediate.

We are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Our SRA No. is 613171.
https://www.sra.org.uk/consumers/consumers.page