GENERAL TERMS OF BUSINESS FOR CLIENTS AND CLIENT INFORMATION
1. Contract: These terms and conditions and client information together with any accompanying letter or email and any enclosed schedule of costs/note of proposed fees and outlays will form the agreement between us to carry out the work instructed by you.
2. Service: We aim to provide a high quality service. We strive to work quickly and efficiently and hope that you find us friendly and approachable. On completion of the work which we are carrying out for you we hope you will think that you have received excellent service and that our fee represents good value for money. Our firm was formed as Paterson Robertson & Graham during 1971 in Glasgow city centre. Over the years we have opened a number of branch offices in West Central Scotland and the name of the firm changed to The PRG Partnership in 2001. We now have five branches carrying out legal work as well as estate agency offices based in Glasgow and Erskine. Our website is at www.prg.co.uk and has further information about the firm and our services. There are seven partners throughout the firm supported by both qualified and unqualified legal and support staff. We also have local agents throughout Scotland and in England.
3. Contacting Us / Office Hours: Our usual office hours are 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday. Appointments are usually possible outwith these hours. If the person concerned is unable to take your call, or if we are closed for any reason, you can leave a message on our voicemail. Our fax lines are open at all times. Email is the quickest and best mode of communication. Contact details for the firm are on our website.
4. Who Will Be Acting For You: Each matter is managed by a Partner in the firm. If I am not dealing with your case personally, you will be given the name of the person who will be dealing with your work on a day-to-day basis and who to contact if they are not available. Other people in our firm may also help from time to time with your file/transaction if we feel this will progress matters or if they have special expertise in a particular area. We have a number of qualified solicitors and paralegals throughout the firm. We believe it is very important that you are kept informed about the progress of your transaction. We will advise you at regular intervals regarding the progress of your transaction and keep you informed of all significant developments. If you are uncertain about what is happening at any time, please do not hesitate to contact us.
5. How Long Will It Take: The nature of legal work, particularly court related work, often makes it difficult to estimate precisely how long something will take to complete. When we discuss with you your requirements at the outset we will also discuss time scales with you as far as it is possible to do so. We do attempt to meet time limits and aim to deal with everything as quickly and efficiently as possible. However it is important that you remember that often the speed at which work is determined by external sources, such as your lender in conveyancing and other property transactions or your opponent and other agents in litigation matters. You should be aware that some litigation matters can take many months, and in some cases years, to conclude depending on the nature of the case, the parties involved and the court concerned.
6. Your Work: We will always to try to carry out your instructions. You may provide instructions by telephone, at a meeting, or in an email or letter. In some situations we may contact you to ask you to contact us to obtain your further instructions. It is important that you tell us if your instructions/wishes change. We will tell you at that time what effect this has on your case. In complex or controversial situations we may ask you for a specific written instruction for our records.
7. Conflicts of Interest: In general we cannot act for two or more parties if they have conflicting interests although there are exceptions to that general rule. Please advise us at the outset if you are aware of potential conflicts which may arise. If we decide that we can still act for more than one of the parties, i.e., if you are one of the exceptions to the general rule) we will confirm this to you in writing.
8. Liability: Unless agreed otherwise in writing, we shall assume that where we act for more than one person, but only one of them tells us what to do, that person has the authority of the other(s) to do so. Each person is jointly and severally liable for all matters relating to the work we carry out, including the payment of our fees.
9. Corporate Entities and Charities: If we are given instructions by a private limited company or other corporate body, such as a charity or limited liability partnership, then unless otherwise agreed with you in advance, it is a condition of our accepting your instructions that the Directors / Office Bearers are jointly and severally liable along with the company etc. for payment of our fees and outlays together with any interest thereon.
10. Confidentiality: Any information passed to us is kept confidential and will not be disclosed to third parties, unless authorised by you or we are required by law to do so.
11. Copyright & Third Parties: All copyright in documents we produce is reserved to us. Advice given and documents prepared are for your use only and may not be copied, used or relied on by any third party without our express written consent.
12. The Law Society of Scotland: Like all solicitors in Scotland we are members of The Law Society of Scotland and subject to its professional rules at all times. We are also officers of the court and as such are bound by the professional ethics and practice of solicitors in Scotland.
13. Fees: The basis on which we shall charge you fees for a particular matter will either be on a fixed fee basis or charged according to the time spent carrying out the work. My hourly charging rate for work of the nature instructed by you will be advised to you and this includes all secretarial and clerical costs. In assessing the fees which we charge, we take into account a number of factors including the value of the transaction, the complexity and difficulty of the matter, the skill, knowledge and responsibility involved, the urgency of the matter and the place where the work is done. We are happy to estimate what the fees incurred are at any particular point in time. In certain matters, such as executry cases, our fees are assessed and certified by an independent law accountant and an Audit Certificate is issued. The firm reserves the right to increase an estimated fee if the matter becomes protracted or complicated due to unforeseen events. In relation to court matters, in the event of success, it may be that you will be entitled to recover an award of expenses from another party. These are known as judicial expenses. It is rare for the recovery of such expenses, which are calculated on an entirely different scale from our fees, to meet anything more than a proportion of the successful party’s fees and outlays. In the event that you are wholly or even partially unsuccessful in your action, you can expect that the court will order you to pay the opponent’s costs or part of them. It is particularly difficult to predict how much these might be because this will depend on how far the case goes and how much work the opponent’s solicitors have done. You should budget for these costs in addition to what you have to pay our firm. The question of expenses must therefore be kept in mind in assessing your position as the case progresses. If your opponent is in receipt of legal aid you should be aware that even if you are successful and obtain an award of expenses, the Court has discretion to modify that award of expenses to nil and you will not recover any judicial expenses at all. For that reason, matters of litigation have to be looked at from a commercial point of view as well as a legal one. We shall do everything we can to advise you about this before and during any court proceedings.
14. Estimate of Fees: Any estimate we provide you with is based on our experience in handling matters similar to the work you have asked us to do. No two matters are exactly the same, however, and in some situations we may need to revise our original estimate. We will tell you as soon as we can if the work is more complicated or will take longer than we first anticipated. If you are given not an estimate but a lump sum “fixed fee” our fee will not exceed the fixed figure but because of its inflexibility, a fee fixed in advance may sometimes be higher than a fee charged for the work actually done. If additional work has to be done in a fixed fee case which could not have been reasonably anticipated prior to the commencement of the transaction, we may charge an additional fee for the additional work carried out. Where we carry out conveyancing for the purchase of a property, the estimated fee is for all work relevant to your purchase transaction including completing the missives (contract), examining/reporting on the Title to the property, examining all necessary reports provided by the seller’s agents, corresponding with your lender, preparing loan papers and generally settling the transaction. Where the conveyancing is for a sale, the estimated fee is for all work relevant to the completion of the missives (contract), obtaining reports on the Title and property, corresponding with the lender relative to the discharge of any loan, to all communications with the purchaser’s agents and generally settling the transaction. Post settlement disputes are not covered by the fixed fee and will be charged at an additional hourly rate. Commercial lease and corporate work is charged at an hourly rate unless we negotiate a fixed fee with you. This may not be possible if the extent of the work cannot reasonably be ascertained at the outset of the transaction.
15. Accounts: We will issue our account either at the end of a matter or at appropriate intervals. Payment is normally due within 14 days of the date of account. If it is not paid within this time we reserve the right to charge interest on the amount overdue at 4% over The Royal Bank of Scotland plc Base Rate. If you do not pay our account on time, we reserve the right to stop working for you and to charge you for the full amount of work we have done for you. If we are holding funds for you, we reserve the right to deduct our fees from the funds held.
16. Legal Aid: There are two forms of legal aid for civil court matters, the first being “Advice and Assistance” and the second “Civil Legal Aid”. Advice and Assistance covers non court work (i.e. advice, correspondence and negotiations etc.) although certain preparatory work can be carried out and representation is sometimes possible in court and at tribunals under the ABWOR (“Assistance By Way Of Representation”) provisions of the Advice and Assistance rules. Civil Legal Aid covers court work. We will tell you what type of legal aid you may need. Your financial eligibility for Advice and Assistance will be assessed by us. Your financial eligibility for Civil Legal Aid will be assessed by the Scottish Legal Aid Board (“SLAB”). In either case you may have to pay a contribution towards your fees/outlays. Either form of Legal Aid is essentially a loan which does not require to be repaid if you do not recover anything but does require to be repaid from any money or property which you recover or preserve as a result of the work carried out on your behalf. Interest may be charged by SLAB if the sums due are not repaid immediately. You can learn more about legal aid at www.slab.org.uk.
17. Sale & Purchase of Property: When you are selling property we will deduct all outstanding costs together with our fees from the sale proceeds as soon as practicable after the date on which the sale is completed. When you are buying property all fees and costs will be payable by you by agreement but no later than the date on which you become the owner of the new property. Where a transaction involves a purchase with the aid of a loan and we are specifically instructed to act on behalf of the lender, you should be aware that we require to advise the lender as to any of the following matters:- (a) if there is a cashback; (b) if the price is partly paid by non-cash incentive; (c) if the full balance of the purchase price is not being paid from your own funds; (d) if the property has changed hands in the last six months; (e) if there has been a substantial increase in price; (f) if there is a relationship between any of the parties; and/or (g) if the purchase price of the property is not the same as that set out in the loan instructions. If any of these aspects concern your situation, you should let us know immediately as we would not wish to conclude a bargain on your behalf without appraising the lender of these matters. If the lender were to reconsider making an offer of loan, then of course you could be put into a breach of contract situation. Where the transaction involves a sale we shall take it that we have a mandate from you to report the sale to the Local Authority and to pass your forwarding address to the Local Authority unless you specifically instruct us to the contrary.
18. Client Funds: Please note that where you, your lenders or any other party on your behalf provides us with funds to be banked on your behalf, we would advise you that we act as your nominated agent and that insofar as these funds are invested in a Bank or Building Society or other financial institution on your behalf, we accept no liability in respect of the solvency of that financial institution in the event of that particular institution going into insolvency or bankruptcy. In that event any claim you may have should be directed against the said institution. We would advise you that our Client Account is with The Royal Bank of Scotland plc and we hold client funds there on a day-to-day basis. If the funds are to be held on a longer basis they will be lodged generally with the Allied Irish Bank or other suitable Bank or Building Society investment account. If your funds are to be held with on a long term basis and you wish your funds to be deposited in a different Bank or Banks we would be pleased to receive your specific instructions to that effect, failing which we shall take it you are content with the above arrangements. In any case where you wish funds to be telexed by us into your bank account, we would wish to see a Bank Statement giving your bank details including your Sort Code and Account Number. It is our firm’s policy not to telex funds to any account where we have not been given such a Statement. This is for your protection.
19. Costs Paid on your Behalf: Where fees, outlays or expenses are to be paid by us to a third party on your behalf we will endeavour to give you details of the sum payable in advance in order that you may place us in funds before the sums are due. If however we are unable to do so we will require to be repaid by you within seven days of your receiving a request for payment of the appropriate sum.
20. Independent Fee Assessment: If you are dissatisfied with the amount of our fees and, without our having told you, they exceed any estimate supplied, you may ask the Auditor of Court to check our fees. The Auditor of Court is an independent assessor. They may confirm, reduce or increase our fees. If the Auditor reduces the amount of our fees we shall only charge that reduced amount and we shall pay the Auditor’s costs. If he confirms that our fee is correct or increases it, then you will be responsible for the Auditor’s costs in addition to our fee. If he increases our fee we reserve the right to charge the increased fee.
21. Identification: The Money Laundering Regulations and the Proceeds of Crime Act require us to be satisfied as to the identity of our clients and to the source of any funds passing through our hands. In order to comply with these regulations we require to ask you for proof of identity and other information. Satisfactory evidence of identity, preferably photographic evidence, will be required as well as recent evidence of your home address, such as a utility bill. In the event that the transaction is being funded by a third party such as a friend or relative we will also require proof of the identity of the third party. Failure to provide us with proof of your identify or the third party timeously may result in a delay in us completing your transaction. We reserve the right to withdraw from acting for you if you fail to provide us with the information requested of you and required in connection with our Money Laundering Procedures. We are required to report any reasonable suspicion we have about the source of funds to be provided for any particular transaction to the National Crime Agency (“NCA”). We are also required to report to NCA any reasonable suspicion which we have about any criminal activity on your part or indeed on the part of others connected to any transaction or proceedings in which we are instructed. If we make such a report we are obliged not to inform you until authorised to do so by NCA nor can we proceed with your business. We cannot advise you as to why we are unable to progress your transaction or case. NCA has 7 days to make a decision about whether or not a transaction or case can proceed and thereafter it can impose a further 31 day holding period. It is vital therefore that at the outset of your dealings with us that you provide us with full, frank and clear instructions.
22. Outstanding monies: You are entitled to change solicitors at any time however you will be responsible for the fees and outlays incurred up until the date we cease acting for you. We are entitled to hold any title deeds, files or other papers until payment is received from you in respect of our fees and outlays.
23. Your responsibilities to us
So that our relationship is as effective as possible we would ask that:
(a) you let us have your instructions and information timeously when requested,
(b) you communicate with us by email, letter or telephone. Email is my preferred method of communication as it is instant and also provides a written record of our business.
(c) you make yourself available to sign documents when required,
(d) you remain in contact with us, particularly if critical dates are to be met, and
(e) you advise me of any change of contact details, e.g. address, email address or telephone number.
24. Dissatisfaction: Our aim is to provide a service which is satisfactory in every respect. However, if you are at any time unhappy with the legal advice you have been given, the quality of service provided or the way you have been treated our complaints procedure is as follows. You should in the first instance take the matter up with the person with whom you have been dealing or the Partner supervising that person’s work. Alternatively if you prefer, or if you are still not satisfied, you can raise the matter with our Client Relations Partner, Eugene Boyle, who is based in our Clydebank office at:
The PRG Partnership,
1 Kilbowie Road,
0141 952 0019.
Mr Boyle will ensure that any such complaint is fully investigated and that you receive a response as soon as possible, normally within fourteen working days. If you are still dissatisfied you are entitled to take the matter up with:
Scottish Legal Complaints Commission,
The Stamp Office,
10 – 14 Waterloo Place,
Edinburgh, EH1 3EG,
0131 201 2130,
We recognise that Alternative Dispute Resolution Regulations have implemented ADR/EDR Directive 2013/11/EU to promote alternative dispute resolution as a means of redress for consumers in relation to unsatisfactory services. We have however chosen not to adopt an ADR process, and if you have any concerns about the services you receive from this firm you should contact the firm’s Client Relations Manager.
25. Data Protection Act: We will hold your personal details on computer and on paper files. These details are used by solicitors and staff within our firm. They may also be viewed in certain circumstances by other organisations in connection with the maintenance of the computer systems within our firm and by external auditors. If you have any objections to your personal details being held on computer, you should advise us in writing. During the course of our engagement you may disclose personal data to us in order that we may provide our services to you. The processing of personal data is regulated in the UK by the General Data Protection Regulation EU 2016/679 together with other UK laws which relate to privacy and electronic communications. In this clause, we refer to these laws as “Data Protection Law”. In providing our services, we act as an independent controller and are, therefore, responsible for complying with Data Protection Law in respect of any personal data we process in providing our services to you. Our privacy statement and data protection policy can be viewed on this website and explains how we process personal data. You may also be an independent controller responsible for complying with Data Protection Law in respect of the personal data you process and, accordingly, where you disclose personal data to us you confirm that such disclosure is fair and lawful and otherwise does not contravene Data Protection Law. Terms used in this clause bear the same meanings as are ascribed to them in Data Protection Law.
26. Applicable Law: These terms and conditions are governed by the law of Scotland and are subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the Scottish Courts.