Client Care Information
This is an indicative version of the non-contentious terms and conditions that this firm utilises. Client care letters and terms and conditions when sent to clients along with letters of engagement contain further information than that which is readily discernible from this version which is for information purposes only.
Standard Terms & Conditions and Client Care Information (Non-Contentious Matters)
This is important information which you should read carefully in conjunction with the engagement letter.
This document sets out the standard terms of business upon which we will carry out your work. An engagement letter will identify the work we will be carrying out for you, who will be doing it and, where appropriate, which Partner has overall responsibility for the matter. The engagement letter will also provide specific information on all other matters referred to in this document as being contained in the engagement letter.
Client Identity and Limitation on Client Confidentiality
Why are we now asking clients for proof of identity?
The Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 (as amended 2019) require practitioners not only to verify their clients’ identity before accepting instructions but to keep foo r at least five years records of the documents which were used to prove their identity.
What is meant by “proof of identity”?
For an individual, we require to see and take a copy of: -
Your passport or full UK driving licence with photograph AND
A utility or phone bill (not a mobile phone bill) that is not more than three months old.
For a limited company, we require to see and take a copy of: -
Certificate of Incorporation
List of Directors
List of shareholders
Individual identity documents as referred to above of Director giving instructions.
Individual identity documents as referred to above of a beneficial owner of a limited company. A “beneficial owner” is anyone with 25% ownership or voting rights or anyone who exercises control over the management of a company.
The Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 (as amended 2019)
The ACCA Accountancy firm will undertake identity and money laundering checks and that information will be shared with the CILEX-ACCA Probate firm.
If in the course of business, a practitioner suspects or ought to suspect that the client or anyone else involved in their activities has benefited, is benefiting or intends to benefit from the proceeds of some financial crime, the practitioner must immediately report their suspicion to the National Crime Agency (NCA) without informing anyone else that a report has been made. The practitioner must report the suspicion and stop work until authorised by NCA.
What about the firm’s duty of confidentiality to their client?
Firms are under a practitioner and legal obligation to keep the affairs of clients confidential. This obligation, however, is subject to the firm’s obligations under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. We may not be able to inform you that we have made a report and we will be obliged to cease work for you, pending receipt of NCA permission to continue to act.
abacus & Azure Ltd, the CILEx-ACCA Probate firm is authorised and regulated by CILEx Regulation to undertake probate work.
CILEx Regulation may seek access to client’s papers, in these circumstances, we will grant access unless you object; CILEx Regulation also has a consumer feedback programme, and your comments are welcomed using the following link https://cilexregulation.org.uk/surveys.
People responsible for your work
The CILEX Practitioner (ACCA-Probate) who will be responsible for carrying out your work, and, where appropriate, who will be supervising the work and ultimately responsible for your matter is Noel Aloko. Noel Aloko is authorised and regulated by CILEx Regulation. There will always be a Partner with overall responsibility for the matter.
If you need to telephone, you should in the first instance speak to the person undertaking your work but if they are unavailable, someone will be happy to take any message for you.
We try hard to avoid changing the people who are handling your work but if this cannot be avoided, for example, because of absence on holiday or for some other reason, then in the interests of efficiency and avoiding delay the matter will, on those occasions, be handled by someone else and you will be notified as appropriate. Equally, if for any reason there is a need to change, permanently, the person handling your matter, you will be notified promptly and given the reason for the change.
Client Care Partner and Complaints
The engagement letter will identify a Client Care Partner for this case. The purpose is to provide you with another line of communication with the firm. In the event that you have a complaint or concern over the handling of your matter, the complaints partner is Noel Aloko a CILEX Practitioner (ACCA-Probate) who can be contacted at 85-87 Bayham Street, London NW1 0AG. The firm has a written complaints procedure which is available on request. We aim to deal with complaints promptly, fairly, and effectively in accordance with the complaint’s procedure, which can include a complaint about the firm’s bill (in respect of which, see heading “information on challenging your bill”) below. You have a right to complain to The Legal Ombudsman at the conclusion of the complaints process. You can contact The Legal Ombudsman at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ and they should be contacted within six months of your last contact with us in relation to your case, otherwise your complaint to them may be deemed to be out of time.
Why there are two firms involved
There are two firms involved to maintain a clear separation between what is deemed as reserved parts of the work and what is deemed as non-reserved parts of the work.
The two firms involved in your matter are abacus azure Ltd and abacus & Azure Ltd. abacus azure Ltd is an ACCA Accountancy firm while abacus & Azure Ltd is a CILEX- ACCA Probate firm.
The CILEx-ACCA Probate firm, abacus & Azure Ltd, will be responsible for all reserved matters as defined in the Legal Services Act – the preparation of any probate papers for the purposes or in relation to any proceedings in England and Wales on which to found or to oppose grant of probate and grant of letters of administration.
The ACCA Accountancy firm, abacus azure Ltd, will be responsible for non-reserved matters relating to Estate administration, holding of related client monies, accountancy elements, etc.
Charges and Expenses
In the case of certain transactions such as preparation of Wills and some probate work, we will endeavour to agree a fee in advance. Otherwise, our charges are based on the time we spend dealing with a case. Time spent on your matter will include meetings with you and perhaps others, any time spent travelling, considering, preparing, and working on papers, correspondence and making and receiving telephone calls. It is not only good practice but also a practitioner obligation to keep you fully informed, in writing, as to the progress of your matter on a regular basis.
Where we cannot agree a fixed fee our charging rate in this matter will be £180 per hour plus VAT (total £216 per hour). This takes into account a number of factors which include the complexity of the issues, the expertise or specialist knowledge that the case requires and on the basis of the information currently available. The rates may be higher if, for example, the matter becomes more complex or urgent than expected in which event we will notify you.
Generally, hours worked outside normal office hours are charged at the same rate but in the event that we are obliged to work regularly outside office hours, we reserve the right to increase the level of the hourly rate. However, you will be notified in advance of any such intention.
If you have any query about the level of any revised rates notified to you, please contact the person in charge of your case straight away.
We will add Value Added Tax to our charges at the rate that applies when the work is done. The present Value Added Tax is 20%. In addition, all out of pocket expenses including in particular fares and telephones will be charged and other expenses which we are likely to pay.
Details of other expenses which you are likely to have to pay when they are likely to become due and an estimate of their costs will be given to you by the person in charge of your case as soon as possible.
We are entitled in most circumstances to exercise a lien over any money or assets held by us on your behalf for any outstanding costs due to us. This means that we are able to pay those costs out of funds or assets held on your behalf. See below for more detail under “Our right to a Lien.”
Inability to agree a fixed fee
In matters where we have not been able to agree a fixed fee, we will provide an estimate. In some cases, it is hard, in the first instance, to provide a sensible estimate of the likely overall costs. Nevertheless, we try where possible to give estimates for the overall costs of the matter concerned and more particularly, we will endeavour to give you estimates for each stage of the matter as it proceeds.
You may set a limit on the charges and expenses to be incurred which means that you will be responsible for paying those charges up to the agreed limit without our having to refer back to you. In such an event, we will inform you as soon as it appears that the limit may be exceeded. Please bear in mind, however, that in such situations your instructions may be needed urgently so as to avoid a delay in dealing with your matter which can, in some circumstances, result in orders for costs being made against you.
NOTE, an estimate is not intended to be a fixed or guaranteed figure. It represents our view of the likely cost up to a particular stage or point in time and it will usually be on the basis that the matter proceeds smoothly.
Information on Challenging our Bill
If you are unhappy with our bill, you may have a right to object to this bill by way of the firm’s complaints procedure (copy supplied on request) and/or by making a complaint to The Legal Ombudsman. If all or part of this bill remains unpaid, we may be entitled to charge interest. For information about The Legal Ombudsman see “Client care partner and
Payments on Account
Where a fee has been agreed, we may ask for payment of disbursements on account, e.g., search fees, but otherwise the agreed costs are payable in the case of purchases just before completion and in respect of sales, out of the proceeds of sale.
We will send you a final bill after completion of the work. Payment is due on delivery of any bill.
In some cases, we may agree to send you interim bills at various stages in which case we will agree those arrangements in writing with you.
If you have any query about your bill, you should contact the person undertaking the work on your matter straight away.
Administering Estates and Trusts/Insurance Mediation Activity
We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, so may refer you to someone who is authorised to provide any necessary advice on insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the advising on, selling and administration of insurance contracts.
Sometimes probate work involves investments. We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority and so may refer you to someone who is authorised to provide any necessary advice. However, we can provide certain limited services in relation to investments, provided they are closely linked with the probate services we are providing to you, as we are regulated by the ACCA.
If you have any problem with the service, we have provided for you, then please let us know. We will try to resolve any problem quickly and operate an internal complaint handling system to help us resolve the problem between ourselves. If for any reason we are unable to resolve the problem between us, then the Legal Ombudsman (see “client care partner and complaints” above) provide complaints and redress mechanisms.
Interest on monies held
Any money which you pay to us or which we receive on your behalf otherwise than in respect of invoiced fees or disbursements will be held on a client account by abacus Azure Limited and we will account to you for interest thereon at a fair and reasonable rate when it is fair and reasonable to do so, taking into account the amounts held and the periods for which those amounts are held. What is “fair and reasonable” will depend on the amounts held, the period for which they are held and the interest rate available so that in some circumstances where the amounts held are small and the interest rates low, the administrative cost may not justify a payment of interest. A typical example may be where the interest accruable would amount to less than £20.00.
Our right to a Lien
The common law entitles us to retain any money, papers or other property belonging to you which properly come into our possession pending payment of our 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 the property held 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.
Storage of Papers and Documents
After completing the work, we are entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is money owing to us for our charges and expenses. In addition, we will keep your file of papers for you in storage for six years. After that, storage is on the clear understanding that we have the right to destroy it after such period as we consider reasonable or to make a charge for storage if we ask you to collect your papers and you fail to do so. We will not of course destroy any documents such as Wills, Deeds, and other securities, which you ask us to hold in safe custody. No charge will be made to you for such storage unless prior notice in writing is given to you of a charge to be made from a future date which may be specified in that notice. If we retrieve papers or documents from storage at your request, we may make a charge.
Termination of Retainer
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 charges and expenses.
In some circumstances we may consider we ought to stop acting for you, for example, if you cannot give clear or proper instructions on how we are to proceed or if it is clear that you have lost confidence in how we are carrying out your work.
We may decide to stop acting for you only with good reason, for example, if you do not pay an interim bill or comply with our request for payment on account. We must give you reasonable notice that we will stop acting for you.
If you or we decide that we will no longer act for you, you will pay our charges on an hourly basis and expenses as set out earlier.
It may occur that a conflict of interest arises either at the time of the commencement of our retainer or at a point after you sign this letter. Wherever possible we will attempt to avoid this occurrence
Conflicts do not just arise where we may be asked to act for two Clients on opposite sides of a dispute, which we are not permitted to do.
Conflicts can also occur where: -
Clients have a joint interest in a transaction – e.g., the disposal of loan funds or sale proceeds to one Client where two or more Clients have a claim on those funds
Married and unmarried couples – potential conflicts of interest arise where no dispute is apparent. Where this occurs, we will advise upon the necessity for a trust deed and whether independent legal advice is required.
Partnership issues – not all partners have the same interest. We will attempt to recognise this and where a potential conflict arises, advise as to separate representation.
Repeat instructions – where these are received from just one party, we will check the extent of our continuing authority.
Company Clients – we will check that the proposed action is intra vires the Company by referring to an up-to-date copy of the Memorandum and Articles of Association.
E-mail and other communications
We will aim to communicate with you by such method as you may request. We may need to virus check discs or e-mail. Unless you withdraw consent, we will communicate with others when appropriate by e-mail or fax, but we cannot be responsible for the security of correspondence and documents sent by e-mail or fax.
Data Protection Act
The Data Protection Act 2018 requires us to advise you that your particulars are held on our database. We may, from time to time, use these details to send you information which we think might be of interest to you, or for the legitimate needs of our business and to comply with legal and regulatory issues.
Communication between you and us
We are confident of providing a high-quality service in all respects. If, however, you have any queries or concerns about our work for you, please raise them in the first instance with
the person handling your matter. If that does not resolve the problem to your satisfaction or you would prefer not to speak to the person handling your matter, then please contact the person identified in the engagement letter as being available for you to contact in such an event (the Client Care Partner).
All practitioners must attempt to resolve problems that may arise with their services. It is therefore important that you immediately raise any concerns that you have with us. We value you and would not wish to think that you have reason to be unhappy with us.
Limitation of Liability
Our liability in respect of our work for you on any matter is limited to £10 million.
Our indemnity insurers are AXA Insurance UK plc who can be contacted at 20 Gracechurch St, London EC3V 0BG. Our insurance covers the work carried out by both abacus Azure Limited and abacus & Azure Limited
Unless otherwise agreed these terms of business apply to any future instructions you give us.
Your continuing instructions in this matter will amount to your acceptance of these terms and conditions of business. Even so, we ask you please to sign and date the enclosed copy of these terms and return it to us immediately. We can then be confident that you understand the basis on which we will act for you.
We hope by sending you these terms, we have addressed your immediate queries about the day-to-day handling of your work and our terms of business. If you still have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact the person handling the matter.
Many Years of Accumulated Practice
Request a Price Quote
For a free, no obligation consultation please call abacus accountants Islington on 0844 050 2293 or 0203 740 6877. We will be delighted to introduce you to our efficient and friendly service and explain how we can bring real benefits to your business.