Terms of Business
Merali Beedle Limited is a limited company registered in England and Wales under registered number 11399125 (the "Firm"). Its registered address is Vicarage House, 58-60 Kensington Church Street, London W8 4DB.
2. Basis of retainer
This document sets out the terms on which we will supply legal services and shall override any other terms and conditions stipulated or incorporated by its clients in their instructions or in any negotiations (save as shall have been expressly agreed in writing by the Firm). No variation or representation will be binding on the Firm unless confirmed in writing by a duly authorised representative of the Firm.
This document sets out the terms on which we will act for you. Should these terms be different from those set out in the engagement letter sent to you, the terms in the engagement letter will prevail.
3. Our advice
Our advice relates to the specific circumstances and specific scope in which you are instructing us. Our advice will be provided on the amount and accuracy of the information provided to us, the timescale within which we are required to act, and our understanding of the law and practice at the time we provided it.
Our advice must not therefore be relied upon in different circumstances or at another time than when the advice is provided.
Unless specifically agreed with you otherwise, we will not update the advice given to take account of changes in the law or practice which may affect the advice.
All solicitors practising at Merali Beedle are senior practitioners with extensive experience in their relevant practice area. In circumstances where supervision is required, we will ensure that this is arranged and will notify you of such circumstances where it is necessary. If you have any queries regarding supervision, please raise these with Adam Merali and Nico Beedle.
5. Communications and authorisation
We communicate with clients by phone, letter, fax, and electronic form or in any other agreed form unless you instruct us otherwise. We will accept written instructions from you and may need evidence of oral instructions in writing.
Merali Beedle use the term ‘Partners’ to refer to the Directors of the firm.
Where we act for two or more clients jointly, it is on the understanding that we are authorised to act on instructions from any of them unless we are otherwise instructed.
Our preferred form of communication with you may be by email. Therefore you should let us know if you do not wish us to use this method of communication in light of the nature of the internet and emails: we cannot guarantee how secure emails will be, or when you will receive them.
We are careful to ensure that our computers are free from viruses and secure. However, we cannot be held responsible for emails arriving late; any loss or damage caused by email security being broken; and damage to your computer system caused by electronic communications with us.
We accept no responsibility or liability for malicious or fraudulent emails purportedly coming from our firm, and it is your responsibility to ensure that any emails coming from this firm are genuine before relying on anything contained within them.
6. Data protection
As a controller under the Data Protection Act 2018, the Firm use the information you provide (including personal data) primarily for the provision of our services to you, but also for related purposes including creating and maintaining notarial records, issuing invoices, collecting payments and debts, analysis for the purposes of practice management, statutory returns, insurance, legal and regulatory compliance. You have a right of access to the personal data that we hold about you as well as other rights under the Data Protection Act 2018.
The Firm retain your personal data for only so long as is necessary or as otherwise required by applicable law.
The Firm may use third parties, including third parties located abroad, to perform certain support services on our behalf in relation to work that the Firm does for you. This may include (without limitation) word processing, copying, printing, translation and other support services. The work that is outsourced may include special categories of personal data as defined in the Data Protection Act 2018.
Where third parties provide support and services as a processor, the Firm will as controller take appropriate measure to maintain client confidentiality by ensuring that a Confidentiality Agreement and a Data Processor Agreement is executed with those provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018.
Further information about how we process personal data is available from the Privacy Notice on our website.
7. Fees and Expenses
The fees and expenses will depend on the nature of the advice provided. In some instances, it may be possible to agree a fixed fee for transactional work, other areas of work will attract an hourly rate. The Firm's engagement letter will confirm the fee structure arrangement.
The following options may be available:
7.1 Fixed Fee
7.1.1 In some matters it may be possible to agree a fixed fee for the completion of a matter. If the matter does not complete an abortive fee will be charged.
7.1.2 The fixed fee is not time based however if unexpected extra work becomes necessary then the extra work will be discussed with the client and it will be explained why the extra work will not fall within the fixed fee. If the client wishes the Firm to carry out the additional work, then an additional fee will be agreed upon. If an additional fee cannot be agreed upon then it may not be possible to carry out the original work in which case the Firm will be entitled to be paid for the work done to date.
7.2 Non-Fixed Fee
7.2.1 The fee will be in reference to the time spent working on the matter. Time is recorded in units of six minutes. This work will include by way of example only: considering matters and reading, meetings, preparation, drafting, communications cost estimates, attending court and travelling time.
7.2.2 The hourly rates will be stated in the engagement letter. As a consequence of your acceptance of these Terms of Business, your rights subsequently to challenge these rates will be restricted.
7.2.3 Where possible we will give you an approximate cost estimate. The cost estimate will be based on the information we have at the time and if circumstances change the estimate may prove to be inaccurate. We will keep you appropriately updated on costs. Any such estimate is not intended to be fixed or binding and other factors may mean that the estimate will be varied from time to time. We will review that estimate throughout your care and at appropriate stages.
7.2.4 If you do not instruct us through to the completion of a matter, our fees (together with disbursements and VAT) will still be payable.
7.2.5 We do not have a contract with the Legal Services Commission and therefore we cannot undertake publicly funded work.
Expenses and disbursements
7.2.6 If we need to pay certain fees on your behalf (also known as disbursements), for instance Land Registry, Experts, Counsel, Court fees, travelling fees, photocopying and scanning charges of our Firm or of other Firms/third parties, courier fees etc. then we may ask you to provide us in advance with the funds for that purpose.
7.2.7 VAT is payable on certain expenses.
8. Third party services
We may engage specialist third party companies to provide support services in relation to this matter but shall not do so without your consent. If we do engage any such third parties, we shall take all reasonable steps to ensure any information is kept strictly confidential.
9. Bills and payment
9.1.1 The Firm only bills for work after it has been done and when costs have been incurred on your behalf, so settlement of an invoice is due upon presentation unless an extension has been agreed by the Firm in writing with the client.
9.1.2 In property transactions it is customary to send the Firm's invoice to the client between exchange and completion. Where possible we will deduct our fees from any proceeds of sale.
9.1.3 For non-property matters we aim to invoice monthly or quarterly at the latest. The bills are based on the time spent since the matter began or the last bill. Our bills will also include expenses which we have incurred on your behalf, but it is not always possible to include in a particular bill all the expenses incurred during that period. Time, expenses and disbursements omitted from a bill will be included in subsequent bills.
9.1.4 Interest will be charged at the statutory rate for any invoices which are unpaid for over 14 days after the date of presentation.
9.1.5 Payment on or before the due date is the essence of the contract and should a client fail to make payment within that time, the Firm reserves the right to decline to act any further and suspend our services with immediate effect until payment in full of the invoice is received.
9.2 If the Firm is acting for more than one person then your liability to us will be joint and several meaning each person is individually liable for the total fee due.
9.3 When we act for a limited company, we may require a director to sign a form personally guaranteeing our fees and disbursements.
9.4 The Firm may retain your papers (as far as permitted by the applicable rules of professional conduct) pending settlement of any outstanding invoice(s).
9.5 You have a right to object to our invoice under Part II of the Solicitors Act 1974.
9.6 It is our Firm's standard practice to ask for money on account of our fees and disbursements at the outset of the matter. Where appropriate, we also routinely ask for money on account of our fees and disbursements at specific interim stages and we will discuss this with the client as the matter progresses.
10. Client money and interest on client money
The Law Society has specific rules covering the way in which Firms handle client money. These are detailed and strict. We cannot usually pay out any money on the client's behalf until we are in possession of cleared funds. Any cheques must therefore be received by us at least seven days before any money is to be paid out on your behalf. Similarly, if we receive any cheques for the client, these must be cleared through the Bank before we can pay the client.
Where we hold funds on the client's behalf for any reason and you owe us money in any matter, we reserve the right to use such funds in settlement.
The Law Society's deposit interest rules require us to account to you for a fair sum of interest on funds we have held on your behalf, pursuant to the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules 1998. Given the fact that the majority of the work carried out by the firm is transactional work and client funds are generally held for very short periods prior to exchange and completion, we will only calculate whether there is interest on funds held on a specific client’s account where requested to do so by the client. Our administration fee for our accountants calculating the interest accrued on a specific client account is £75 plus VAT. Please do let us know if you would like us to calculate whether any interest is payable in relation to your case. By agreeing to proceed with these terms of business you are providing your informed consent that, in accordance with rule 7.2 of the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1998, we will only account to you for interest upon request.
Funds held in our general client account at Barclays Bank Plc are covered by the UK's statutory scheme known as the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (the `FSCS') which guarantees up to a maximum of £85,000 per person per authorised bank. (If you also hold funds in Barclays Bank PLC personally, the guarantee will still only be for a total of £85,000.) Any balance of funds in excess of £85,000 is at risk in the event of the bank's insolvency.
Unless the law, practice or professional rules say otherwise, we will not be liable for the loss of client funds.
11. The Firm's liability towards you
Unless the law or professional rules say otherwise:
11.1 The client relationship is solely with the Firm, and the Firm has sole legal liability for the work done for you and for any act or omission in the course of that work. No partner, director, consultant or employee of the Firm will have any personal legal liability for the work undertaken whether in contract, tort or negligence. In particular, the fact that an individual director, consultant or employee signs in his or her own name any letter or other document in the course of carrying out that work does not mean he or she is assuming any personal legal liability for that letter or document.
11.2 We will only be liable to you, for up to £3 million unless stated otherwise in the engagement letter, for any loss or liability arising from the work we carry out for you including for negligence or any other category of liability. We do not accept liability for any loss or damage in excess of the level of our insurance cover.
11.3 The Firm will not liable for any loss that arises from us relying on information and documentation that are misleading, incorrect and/or incomplete.
11.4 We are only liable for the losses we cause directly. We are not liable for your loss of profit or other indirect loss. We are not liable for matters outside our control.
11.5 If we are acting for more than one client in a single matter this limit of liability applies to the total of all claims that may be made against the Firm by all of you and not separately to each of you or to each separate incident or loss of damage. If you are able to claim for the same loss or damage against Merali Beedle Limited and any other third parties (be they person(s) or company(ies) or groups), the limits of liability clause will apply as if it were made against one person.
11.6 The Firm is not liable for any loss caused by anything any person other than our partners, directors, consultants and employees does or fails to do. If you have instructed other advisers, we will not be liable for any loss you suffer for which the other advisers alone are responsible for. Should we and other advisers be jointly and individually responsible, we will pay our share of the loss up to £3 million unless stated otherwise in the engagement letter and our liability for any losses or claims in relation to the matter shall be limited to that proportion of any losses which it would be just and equitable to pay having regard to the extent of our responsibility for the loss. Our share of the liability shall not be increased because a claim cannot be made against others who are held responsible for any loss because such parties are insolvent or have contractually or otherwise excluded or restricted their liability.
11.7 By engaging the Firm, the client agrees that any claim of any sort whatsoever arising out of or in connection with this engagement shall be brought against this Firm and that no claims in respect of this engagement will be brought personally against any member or employee involved in the performance of this engagement.
11.8 The Firm can only limit its liability to the extent the law allows. In particular, we cannot limit our liability for death or personal injury caused by our negligence.
If any information is confidential, we will keep it confidential. However, and unless you tell us otherwise, we will assume that we are authorised to make information about you available to other advisers and organisations instructed to assist with dealing with your matter if we consider it appropriate to do so.
If we have a legal duty, we will also make information available to the Courts, police and regulatory authorities.
To keep to our regulatory obligations and the requirements of our insurers, we may release privileged and confidential information to our insurers if we believe there are circumstances connected to your matter which could give rise to a claim against us. By accepting these Terms of Business, you agree to us releasing the information without having to ask you again in the future.
13. Proof of identity and money laundering
We have a professional and legal responsibility not to become involved in any money-laundering activities.
To comply with money laundering legislation, we will ask you to provide documents to check your identity and other information. We may use a web-based identity checking service to confirm your identity (and the identity of your directors, management, trustees and owners where relevant). In doing so we may pass personal information provided by you to a credit-reference agency, which information they may retain.
The Firm will have to carry out identity checks on all its clients and third party that may be meeting the legal fees of the client. The Firm asks for cooperation in this regard and might be unable to act for the client if the client refuses to cooperate and/or we are not able to satisfactorily check the client (and relevant third parties) identity and confirm other relevant information.
We have a legal duty in certain circumstances to make information available to the relevant authorities should we know or suspect about matters regarding 'criminal property' and/or 'terrorist property'. In these circumstances, we may not be able to continue work for you until we have received permission from the relevant authorities to do so. We may also not be able to tell you that we have made information available to the relevant authorities and/or our reasons for doing so. If, as a result of the Firm complying with legislation, the Firm would be obliged to do, or refrain from doing, tasks relating to the client's matter, then the Firm shall not be held liable for any consequences of that.
It is the general policy of the Firm not to accept cash payments.
If any one of these terms (or any term of an engagement letter) is or becomes illegal, invalid or unenforceable that shall not affect the validity and enforceability of any other terms of this document or any engagement letter.
15. Governing law and jurisdiction
The agreement between the Firm and the client is governed in all respects by the Laws of England & Wales. The Firm and the client submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English Courts.
16. Storage of papers and documents
The Firm's general policy is not to keep paper files. All documents are scanned into our software and held electronically. In certain circumstances paper files may be kept and a storage fee may apply. Files will be kept for seven years after the work is finished. After seven years and without further notice to you, we may destroy them, unless the law, practice or professional rules say otherwise. We will not destroy documents you ask us to deposit in safe custody.
17. Complaints procedure
If you wish to make a formal complaint against any of the directors or fee earners, or in relation to any aspect of the service provided to you by the firm, you should submit this in writing to Naama Zohn, a director of the firm, whose role is to achieve a solution wherever possible and to respect the confidentiality of all concerned. Your written complaint should set out full details of the issue in question. As a general principle, the decision whether to progress a complaint is up to you. However, we have a duty to protect all staff and may pursue the matter independently if, in all the circumstances, we consider it appropriate to do so.
We will investigate complaints in a timely and confidential manner. Individuals not involved in the complaint or the investigation will not be told about it. The investigation will be conducted by someone with appropriate experience and no prior involvement in the complaint. The investigation will be thorough, impartial and objective, and carried out with sensitivity and due respect for the rights of all parties concerned.
We will arrange a meeting with you, usually within one week of receiving your complaint, so that you can discuss the nature of your complaint (if you would so wish). Where your complaint is about a fee earner, we may consider suspending them or making other temporary changes to working arrangements pending the outcome of the investigation, if circumstances require. The partner looking into the complaint will also meet with the relevant solicitor to hear their account of events.
At the end of the investigation, the director dealing with your complaint will submit a report to you. The director will arrange a meeting with you as soon as possible after producing their report to discuss the outcome and what action, if any, should be taken.
Whatever the outcome of your complaint, we will consider how best to manage the ongoing working relationship between you and the person concerned, and between you and the firm.
Confidentiality is an important part of the procedures provided under this policy. Details of the investigation and the names of the person making the complaint and the person accused shall only be disclosed on a "need to know" basis.
The client may terminate its instructions to the Firm in writing at any time but the Firm will be entitled to raise an invoice for the work done and retain all papers, books, documents, information (electronic or otherwise) until all money owing is paid in full.
The client must tell us clearly in writing if it wishes the Firm to stop incurring expenses on its behalf.
You have a statutory right to cancel the engagement within the first 14 days of that engagement (the “cancellation period”). In the event that you cancel the contract during the cancellation period you will be required to pay any fees and disbursements incurred up until the date of cancellation where you have expressly requested we commence and carry out the relevant work. If we have completed the terms of our engagement by the date on which you wish to cancel the engagement, you will lose your right to cancel.
The Firm may decide to stop representing you in appropriate circumstances, for example, if we do not have adequate or clear instructions on how we are to proceed, if there is a breakdown in confidence between you and us, where we are required to stop working for you by law or the rules of the Solicitors Regulation Authority or other regulatory body with whose rules we customarily comply, if you fail to comply with a request for a payment on account or if you do not pay an interim bill.
Where possible, we will give you reasonable notice that we are to stop representing you. If you or we decided that we no longer represent you, you must pay our charges on an hourly basis and expenses up to the point where we stop acting for you.
19. Application of these terms
These terms and conditions of business shall apply, without alteration unless in writing, to any future instructions given by you to this Firm. The client's continuing instructions will amount to acceptance of these terms.
20. Investment activity and insurance
The Firm is not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and cannot provide investment advice.
The Firm is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and as such we are permitted to assist with advising on the purchase and administration of insurance contracts incidental to legal work.
Where necessary we will introduce you to someone who is regulated by the FCA.
21. Introductions and referrals
21.1 This section applies where the client has been introduced to us and the Firm is to pay a fee to that person.
21.2 The fee is not added to your bill and the arrangement is solely between the Firm and the introducer.
21.3 Our advice to the client will not be compromised by this arrangement and we will disclose the fee paid.
We may disclose the fact that you are a client. We may also disclose the fact that we are acting for you or have acted for you on a matter if information about that matter is in the public domain or you specifically consent to the disclosure.
23. Business hours
Our office hours are between 9:00am and 5:30pm from Monday to Friday but communications may be answered outside of these times.
The Firm is closed on bank holidays and details of Christmas opening hours will be published in early December of each year.
24. Your obligations
24.1 In order for us to provide accurate advice and to deal with the matter, you are required disclose all relevant facts and answers to all questions asked. We shall not accept liability in respect of information which was not disclosed and therefore not documented by the person taking your instructions, and which comes to light at a later date as being of relevance and which may affect the nature of advice given.
24.2 It is your responsibility to provide us with all necessary documents as soon as possible in order for your transaction to begin.
We shall not be responsible for any delay due to your failure to comply with the above.
25. Accepting these Terms
If you continue to instruct us after receiving these Terms of Business, you will have accepted the terms set out above. These Terms of Business apply to any future instructions you give us.
These Terms were last updated September 2021.