Our Terms of Business
1.1 These Terms of Business (“the Terms”) are provided to comply with certain standards recommended by the Law Society, and also to indicate to clients as clearly as possible the standard of service you can expect from us; and the amounts, and how, we will charge for the work we do.
1.2 In these Terms, Cognitive Law Limited is referred to as “we” or “us”, and our clients will be referred as “you” or “your”.
1.3 We are Cognitive Law Ltd, a limited company incorporated in England and Wales. Our registered office is 15a Brighton Place, Brighton, BN1 1HJ.
1.4 The Terms, together with the Schedule of Terms, and our Letter of Engagement set out the basis of the Agreement between us.
2 Our Services
2.1 We will provide legal advice on a retainer, fixed fee or hourly rate charging basis as requested by you. The specific services for which you engage us will be set out in our Schedule of Terms.
2.2 The legal advice that you will receive will be provided by a qualified, practising solicitor registered with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (“SRA”). The Solicitor who will carry out that work will be identified in the accompanying Letter of Engagement.
2.3 In some circumstances it may be appropriate for some work to be carried out by other members of staff, such as secretarial or support staff. All work by such staff is carried out under the supervision of a solicitor. Overall supervision of the matter is undertaken by a director.
3 Our Obligations to You
3.1 We will act with professional skill and care at all times.
3.2 We will advise you in accordance with the law as it stands as at the date of that advice. We will not update that advice in the event that the law changes unless you specifically instruct us to do so.
3.3 We will exercise our expertise and judgment to assist you to reach decisions, but we cannot guarantee certain outcomes.
3.4 We will use plain English in all the advice and documents that we provide to you.
3.5 We will be transparent about the fees that we charge.
4 Your Obligations to Us
4.1 You will provide us with clear instructions.
4.2 You will provide us with all documentation and information at the outset.
4.3 You will inform us from whom we can accept instructions and provide written authority if required. If we are instructed by more than one person, by partners of a firm, members of an LLP or directors of limited company, we will assume that we may accept instructions from you jointly or severally.
4.4 You will provide us with further information as we may request.
5 Fees and Disbursements
5.1 We will agree at the outset the Fees which you will be charged. You can choose to engage us on an on-going retainer payable monthly, at a fixed fee or at an agreed hourly rate, together with VAT at the prevailing rate. The charging basis on which you engage us will be recorded in the Schedule of Terms, and will be subject to VAT at the prevailing rate.
5.2 If you engage us on a retainer, or an hourly rate, we will record the time spent on your matter in six (6) minute units. If you engage us on an hourly rate, you may put a cap on the limit of the Fees to be incurred.
5.3 Any fees that you are quoted will be determined by the information and instructions that you provide to us. We reserve the right to modify that quote in the event that we were not provided with sufficient or correct information and instructions at the outset. If we need to carry out some unforeseen work we will let you know (normally before we carry it out), and provide you with the estimated cost of carrying it out.
5.4 Expenses such as telephone calls, scanning, general photocopying and travel to your premises are included in the Fees. Larger expenses, often called Disbursements, such as Court Fees, Counsel’s Fees, Couriers, and travel other than to your premises will be charged to you. We will not incur those Disbursements without your prior approval. We may request that you pay the Disbursements in advance, or arrange for a third party to invoice you direct. Some Disbursements will be subject to VAT. We will advise you when they are.
5.5 We will invoice you for our Fees no later than on a monthly basis. If you engage us on a retainer, you will be invoiced monthly in arrears. All invoices are payable by return. Late payment will incur an interest charge of 8% per annum. Any queries on an invoice must be raised with us by return.
5.6 If you fail to pay an invoice for an on-going matter within 28 days, we reserve the right to cease acting for you with immediate effect. Please note we do not accept cash payments in excess of £500.00.
5.7 We reserve the right to review our Fees annually. Any change in our Fees will be notified to you a month before they are effective.
5.8 We do not offer Legal Aid or other publicly funded legal services. If we believe you could be assisted by Legal Aid we are under a duty to inform you that the option is available to you.
5.9 If the matter is not concluded we will still charge for the time we spend and the disbursements and expenses we incur on your behalf, and you will have pay our charges and expenses.
5.10 We reserve the right to clear any cheques or other forms of payment you provide to us before carrying out any work on any aspect of your case.
6 Liability & Insurance
6.1 We hold Professional Indemnity Liability insurance cover for the work that we do for you. Details of our policy are available on request. The limit of our indemnity cover is £3million.
6.2 Our liability to you is limited to loss or damage arising from the Agreement. We will not be liable to you for any loss of profit or opportunity, or any consequential or indirect loss.
6.3 The limit to our liability does not apply to death or personal injury, or any other liability that cannot by law be limited or excluded.
7 Anti-Money Laundering Provisions
7.1 We are bound by the provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (“POCA”) and the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 (“MLR”) to guard against money laundering.
7.2 To enable us to comply with the POCA and MLR we are obliged to obtain certain documents from you to verify your and your business’ identity referred to as AML checks. The documents must be from two lists – List A and List B. We will give you a copy of those lists. We will also carry out an electronic verification. We cannot act for you unless we do so.
7.3 We may commit an offence if we know, suspect or have reasonable grounds to know or suspect that another person is engaged in money laundering. In those circumstances we are bound by the POCA and the MLR to report any suspicion to the National Crime Agency (NCA). If we do so we will have to cease all work until we have permission to proceed. We may have to report that suspicion without informing you. Our obligations under the POCA and MLR override our duty of confidentiality to you.
8 Communications and Email
Electronic mail enables us to communicate more quickly with our clients and other parties involved in a matter (and also for clients and other parties to correspond with us more quickly). However, not every client finds this method of communication acceptable. Email is not a secure form of communication and could be intercepted by a third party. If you have any concerns about us corresponding with you by email or any specific instructions relating to email correspondence, please advise us immediately, otherwise we will correspond by email.
9 Data Protection & Confidentiality
9.1 We comply with the Data Protection Act 1998. We use the data with which you provide us to maintain our client records, for AML checks, for business management purposes and for any legal and regulatory requirements.
9.2 We may hold your data on our computer servers or on cloud based solutions hosted by third parties.
9.3 Data may be held whilst the file remains on our system. We generally keep files for a period of 12 years from the date the file has been closed. After this time the files are securely destroyed.
9.4 We acknowledge that you may need to provide us with sensitive commercial information. We will treat that as confidential unless we are required to disclose it to a third by law, or regulation or our insurers, which we will only do with your consent.
10 Equality & Diversity
10.1 We are committed to promoting equality and diversity in our policies, practices and procedure and in those areas in which it has influence.
10.2 We are committed to complying with the Solicitors’ Code of Conduct, Equality and Diversity with all current and any future anti-discrimination legislation and associated codes of practice including but not limited to the Equality Act 2010.
11 Intellectual Property
11.1 In the course of providing Our Services, we may supply you with documents, processes, terms or agreements which are specific to your business, in which case ownership of the intellectual property remains with us.
11.2 If you require ownership of the intellectual property we reserve the right to charge you a premium on our Fees.
11.3 If we supply you with documents, processes, terms or agreements which are generic, we grant you a licence for use in perpetuity.
12.1 You may terminate the Agreement in writing at any time or for any reason, save for if we are acting for you on a Retainer to which specific termination notice provisions apply and are set out in the Schedule of Terms.
12.2 In addition to Clause 5.6 above, we may terminate the Agreement in writing for any of the following reasons:
12.2.1 You do not give us comprehensive instructions;
12.2.2 We cannot continue to act without being in breach of the SRA’s Rules of Professional Conduct;
12.2.3 We cannot continue to act without being in breach of the POCA or MLR; or,
12.2.4 There has been an irretrievable breakdown in the trust and confidence between us.
12.3 You will remain liable to pay the Fees up to the date of termination or the Agreement. If the Agreement is terminated whilst any Fees remain outstanding, or if you fail to pay the Fees charged to you up to the date of termination, we reserve the right to retain your documentation until the Fees have been paid, at which point we will release the “lien” over your papers.
In the unlikely event that you have a complaint about our services, please request a copy of our Complaints Procedure. If for any reason you are not satisfied that the problem between us has been resolved, then you may contact the Legal Ombudsman, whose address is PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ (email@example.com ). In respect of our bills, you have a right to object to the bills by making a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman (providing the work did not involve court proceedings) or by applying to the Court for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors’ Act 1974. Please note, the Legal Ombudsman may not deal with complaints on behalf of the following:
- Businesses with a turnover or balance sheet in excess of £2 million
- Charities or clubs with an annual income of more £1million
- Trustees of trust with asset value of more than £1million
Normally, you need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within twelve months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint, and within six years from the date of the act or omission giving rise to the complaint; or alternatively, within three years from the date you should reasonably have known there were grounds for complaint (if the act or omission took place before 6 October 2010 or was more than six years ago).
We are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) who oversee Solicitors’ standards of practice.
The Solicitors’ Code of Conduct/Rules can be viewed at http://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/handbook/code/content.page
Complaints about bills should be made under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. You may be entitled to have our charges reviewed by the Court.
14.1 The Terms, and any dispute arising from it, shall be governed by the laws of England and Wales.
14.2 The Terms are between us, and no other party shall have any rights under the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 or otherwise.
14.3 In the event that you fail to sign the Schedule of Terms, you will be deemed to have accepted the Terms and be bound by them by accepting our services.
14.4 We reserve the right to vary the Terms at any time, in which case prior notice will be given to you.
14.5 If you provide us with further instructions concerning other matters, these Terms will apply, unless we agree otherwise.
15 Notice of the Right to Cancel
Where we have visited you and been instructed away from our office, the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 will apply. In such cases, you may have the right to withdraw, without charge, within 14 workings days of the date on which you asked us to act for you. However, if you wish us to do work urgently, you can request in writing that we commence work before the cancellation period expires. Your acceptance of these terms of service will amount to consent to continue. If you seek to withdraw instructions, you should use the Cancellation Template at the end of the Terms.
Occasionally we use external companies or people to provide additional support (e.g. typing or administration). Where we do so, we will always seek a confidentiality agreement with them. If you do not want your matter to be outsourced, please tell us as soon as possible.
17 Financial Services Compensation Scheme
In the event of a banking failure it is unlikely that we would be held liable for any losses of client account money. If a corporate body client is not considered a small company by FSCS, then they will not be eligible for compensation.
We currently hold our client account funds in NatWest Bank Plc. The £75,000.00 Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) limit will apply to each individual client so if you hold other personal monies yourself in the same bank as our client account, the limit remains £75,000.00 in total. It may therefore be advisable to check with your own bank, as some banks now trade under different trading names. In the event of a bank failure you agree to us disclosing details to the FSCS.
We will account to you for gross calculator interest accrued on any of your cleared funds held by us in our client account in accordance with our obligations under Rules 24-28 of the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1998.
19 Force Majeure
We will not be liable to you for any delays or failures in the provision of our services due to any events or circumstances beyond our reasonable control. If any such events or circumstances affect us we will notify you as soon as reasonably practicable.
INSTRUCTIONS AND TEMPLATE CANCELLATION FORM FOR CONSUMERS (SEE CLAUSE 15)
Right to cancel
You have the right to cancel this contract within 14 days without giving any reason.
The cancellation period will expire after 14 days from the day of the conclusion of the contract.
To exercise the right to cancel, you must inform us, Cognitive Law Limited, 15a Brighton Place, Brighton BN1 1HJ, tel 0333 400 4499, email firstname.lastname@example.org, of your decision to cancel this contract by a clear statement (e.g. a letter sent by post or email). You may use the model cancellation form below, but it is not obligatory.
To meet the cancellation deadline, it is sufficient for you to send your communication concerning your exercise of the right to cancel before the cancellation period has expired.
Effects of cancellation
If you cancel this contract, we will reimburse to you all payments received from you.
We will make the reimbursement without undue delay, and not later than 14 days after the day on which we are informed about your decision to cancel this contract.
We will make the reimbursement using the same means of payment as you used for the initial transaction, unless you have expressly agreed otherwise; in any event, you will not incur any fees as a result of the reimbursement.
If you requested to begin the performance of services during the cancellation period, you shall pay us an amount which is in proportion to what has been performed until you have communicated to us your cancellation of this contract, in comparison with the full coverage of the contract.
Template Cancellation Form:
To Cognitive Law Limited, 15a Brighton Place, Brighton BN1 1HJ
I/We [*] hereby give notice that I/We [*] cancel my/our [*] contract for the supply of the following service [*].
Ordered on [*].
Name of consumer(s),
Address of consumer(s),
Signature of consumer(s) (only if this form is notified on paper),
[*] Delete as appropriate