Terms of Business
1. Byrne and Partners LLP
These Terms apply to the services which Byrne and Partners LLP supplies to its clients. In these terms references to “Byrne and Partners”, “we”, “us” or “our” are references Byrne and Partners LLP and any successor or assignee. Any reference to “Partner” or “Partners” means a partner or partners in Byrne and Partners LLP. Byrne and Partners LLP is a limited liability partnership incorporated in England and Wales with registered number OC351443 and registered office at 5th Floor, 1 Plough Place, London EC4A 1DE.
When you instruct us in relation to a new matter or case, we will normally send you a letter confirming your instructions (an “engagement letter”). The terms of an engagement letter (if any) and these Terms will together form the contract between us in relation to that matter or case. If you are arranging for any other person to pay our fees and expenses on a matter you must ensure that they are aware of our Terms of Business and the arrangements agreed in your engagement letter. These Terms of Business supersede any earlier terms of business we may have provided to you.
If we enter into a Conditional Fee Agreement with you (either before or after your receipt of these Terms), the terms of the Conditional Fee Agreement also form part of our contract with you. In the event that there is any inconsistency between the terms of the Conditional Fee Agreement and these Terms and/or any engagement letter, the terms of the Conditional Fee Agreement shall prevail.
We would ask you to sign and return a copy of these Terms to indicate your agreement to them. If we do not receive a signed copy, your continuing instructions will amount to acceptance of these Terms.
Your contract is a contract with Byrne and Partners LLP. A limited liability partnership is a body corporate which has “members”. However, it is more usual for senior professionals to be referred to as “partners”. We have decided to retain the traditional title of “partner” to describe members of the LLP and some senior employees. There is, however, no partnership between the members or employees or between the members or the employees and the LLP. A reference in these Terms or otherwise in the course of your dealings with us, to a person being a “partner”, is a reference to that person in his capacity as a member or employee of the LLP.
There is no contract between you and any member, employee or consultant of the LLP. Any advice given to (or other work done for) you by a member, employee or consultant of the LLP is given (or done) by that person on behalf of the LLP and not in his or her individual capacity and no such person assumes any personal responsibility to you for the advice or other work.
You agree that, to the extent permitted under any applicable law, if, as a matter of law, a duty of care, or any other duty, liability or obligation would otherwise be owed to you by any member, employee or consultant of the LLP, such duty is hereby excluded and you agree that you will not bring any claim – whether on the basis of breach of contract, tort (including, without limitation, negligence), breach of statutory duty or otherwise howsoever – against any member, employee or consultant of the LLP in respect of any loss or damage that you or any person or company associated with you suffer or incur, directly or indirectly, in connection in any way with any advice given to or other work done for you.
Accordingly, any claim that you wish to make can only be made against the LLP and not against a member, employee or consultant of the LLP.
Each member, employee and consultant of the LLP shall be entitled to the benefit of these provisions under the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999, but LLP’s contract with you may be varied from time to time or terminated without the consent of any such persons.
3. Responsibility for matters
The engagement letter will tell you who will carry out most of the work in your matter. It will tell you the name of the partner who is ultimately responsible and the name of any other person who will also work on the matter on your behalf. If a change of personnel who work on your matter is necessary, we will inform you promptly of who will be now handling the matter and why the change was necessary.
We aim to offer you a friendly and efficient service. We will exercise reasonable skill, care and diligence in carrying out your instructions. You agree that you will give us clear and prompt instructions and keep us informed of developments in your matter.
4. Fees and disbursements
The level of our fees is calculated by monitoring the time spent dealing with your case, the complexity, importance and value involved and the level of urgency and skill required.
We generally calculate our fees on the basis of the time spent on the matter by individuals at specific hourly rates. If we agree a different arrangement, this will be documented in our Engagement Letter. VAT is added at the standard rate prevailing on the invoice date. We review our hourly rates annually and we will write to notify you of any changes in hourly rates.
We will ask you to pay certain other expenses (sometimes referred to as disbursements) incurred on your behalf. This would include items of expenditure paid by us on your behalf such as barrister’s fees, court fees, expert fees and similar expenditure. They also include miscellaneous office expenses such as photocopying, fax, telephone, travelling expenses, courier fees and other out – of – pocket expenses If these sums are likely to be significant, we will either ask you to provide money on account before they are incurred, or ask you to pay them as soon as they arise.
5. Payments on account
We may also ask you for money on account of fees and/or disbursements, either incurred or anticipated. This money will be applied against the next bill issued in the relevant matter. If our request is not met, we may cease to act in any matter and may apply, where necessary, to be taken off the record as solicitor acting in the matter.
You may set a limit on the charges and expenses to be incurred without further authority from you. We will inform you as soon as it appears that the limit may be exceeded and will not exceed the limit without first obtaining your consent.
When we hold any money on your behalf, we pay interest on the outstanding credit balance, subject to a de minimis rule, made by the Law Society, which means that no interest will be payable if the amount involved is less than £20.
In many cases we should be able to give you an indication of the likely cost of a matter at the outset. An estimate should not be regarded as a firm quotation, unless we specifically say it is. If a case proves substantially more complex or time consuming than expected we reserve the right to increase an estimate previously given, and we will notify you promptly of the revised figure.
Our bills are usually delivered monthly (unless otherwise agreed) and are payable in full upon receipt. If a bill is not paid within 30 days of issue, we may charge you interest on the outstanding amount. Interest will be calculated at a rate equivalent to that payable from time to time on judgment debts on any outstanding amount of the bill.
If a bill is unpaid after 30 days, we have a right to suspend work on the matter to which the bill relates. We also have the right to cease to act on any other matter for you and may apply, where necessary, to be taken off the record as solicitor acting in the matter. We would, however, inform you before taking such a step.
8. Costs and opposing parties
If the work that we undertake for you involves court proceedings including work undertaken before and after proceedings have been issued, you should be aware that:
(a) If you succeed in the litigation you may obtain an order that your opponents pay your costs. We shall use our best endeavours to maximise the recovery of your fees and disbursements under any such order. However, you should be aware that any such order is at the discretion of the Court and, in any event, will only generally cover a proportion of the fees and disbursements actually incurred by you. It is also always possible that you may be unable to enforce a costs order against your opponents;
(b) you will remain responsible for full payment of our bills when you receive them, both during and at the end of the litigation whether or not you have any costs orders against your opponents; and
(c) if you lose the litigation, you are at risk of paying the fees and disbursements (together with VAT where applicable) of your opponents in addition to this firm’s bills.
If you believe that you would be eligible for public funding, or that your costs may be paid by another person (e.g. an employer) or if you have legal costs indemnity insurance, please let us know.
9. Complaints and the client relationship
If you have any query or problem with the service that has been provided to you then please contact the partner or other fee – earner responsible for your case (who will be named in the Engagement Letter), or if you prefer the partner with overall responsibility for client complaints, our senior partner, Matthew Frankland. We will try to address any problem quickly and operate an internal complaints handling system to help us resolve the matter between ourselves. If for any reason we are unable to resolve the problem between us, there is a complaints and redress scheme provided through the Legal Ombudsman at PO Box 15870, Birmingham B30 9EB who will consider the complaint. Normally, you will need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint. Further details can be provided to you upon request.
You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time, but we will be entitled (pursuant to a solicitor’s lien) to retain possession of your deeds, documents, monies and other items held for you until our bills are paid in full.
If we agree to use email to communicate, we will take every precaution to ensure that email communications are virus free, although thus cannot be guaranteed. We may not allow certain types of documents into our environment, although we would seek to resolve any difficulties that may arise. Under the Telecommunications (Lawful Business Practice) (Interception of Communications) Regulations 2000 we reserve the right to monitor email correspondence.
10. Quality of service
We monitor the professional standards of our work and it may be necessary for a small number of our files to be audited confidentially by external examiners to ensure that we maintain our quality systems. Please let us know if you object to your file being examined. Our work for you will not be affected, whether or not you allow us to make your file available for audit.
11. Storage of documents
Any papers that we hold relating to a matter will be destroyed after a reasonable time unless otherwise agreed with you. This will include any papers that legally belong to you. Following Law Society guidelines, papers will not normally be destroyed until at least six years after we complete a matter. We will not destroy documents you ask us to deposit in safe custody.
Copyright in any documents prepared on your behalf will not pass to you unless we have specifically agreed otherwise.
We can provide arrangements for storage of your own personal documents and can advise you on the terms on which we can do this. We cannot accept responsibility for the loss or damage of any documents so held.
12. Limitation of liability
Our total aggregate liability (including liability for interest) whether in contract, tort (including negligence), under statute or otherwise arising from or in connection with the services we agree to provide to you pursuant to the Engagement Letter (including any addition or variation to that document) shall be limited to the amount specified in the Engagement Letter and if no amount is specified there, to the sum of £5 million (five million pounds sterling). This limitation is subject to the following:
(a) It does not affect our liability for fraud or reckless disregard of professional obligations which cannot be excluded;
(b) You acknowledge that we have drawn this limitation clause specifically to your attention and explained the clause to you so that you have appreciated the limitation of liability and you acknowledge that you have been advised to seek (if you wish) separate and independent legal advice concerning the limitation generally. Notwithstanding the above you have decided to retain us to act for you subject to such limitations and exclusions.
You shall not bring any claim personally against any individual partner or employee of Byrne and Partners LLP in respect of any loss or damage suffered by you arising out of or in connection with the services that we provide to you pursuant to the Engagement Letter. This restriction shall not operate to limit or exclude the liability of Byrne and Partners LLP as a firm for the acts or omissions of its partners or employees.
Where our dealings with you pursuant to the Engagement Letter may involve us dealing with third parties on your behalf who are not our clients or for whom we are not acting in connection with the relevant matter or any aspect of it, we exclude any liabilities to such third parties and you agree to this.
The limitations and terms of these Terms of Business generally apply not only to you personally but also to those on whose behalf we may accept instructions including any partners that you may have or companies, businesses or other organisations for which you may work.
13. Money laundering Regulations
We must comply with the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (“POCA”) and the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 (“the Regulations”). The Regulations require that we should be able to identify our clients. Depending on your status, you will be requested to provide certain documents that will prove your identity (we will detail these documents in our Engagement Letter). We will keep copies of such documents as we are required to do so by law.
Under POCA and the Regulations we may also have a legal obligation in certain circumstances to disclose information to the Serious Organised Crime Agency (“SOCA”) without reference to you. If so we may not be permitted to inform you or anyone else that we have made such a report and may be ordered by SOCA to stop working on the matter on which you have instructed us. In these circumstances, we will not be able to inform you or anybody else why we have stopped work.
Pursuant to the Regulations, we cannot accept cash payments in excess of £500.00 except by special arrangement.
Subject to POCA and the Regulations, we will keep all information of the personal and business affairs of our clients confidential and will complete your instructions with due diligence and speed. We cannot, however, accept any liability or responsibility whatsoever for any losses, expenses, liabilities or other detriment that you may suffer or incur as a result of or in connection with our compliance with POCA and the Regulations.
14. Equality and Diversity
Byrne and Partners LLP has formal procedures in place to ensure equal opportunities. We view diversity as critical to our business and have created a working environment where people from different backgrounds can thrive. We are committed to treating all prospective and existing employees, partners, clients and third parties equally and without regard to gender, marital status, ethnic origin, age, disability, sexual orientation or religious belief.
15. Legal formalities
Unless expressly stated, nothing in these Terms of Business confers any rights on any person pursuant to the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999.
Under the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998, you are entitled to know how personal information which we hold about you may be used, and exercise certain options over that use. We will only use the information for the purposes of providing legal services, to improve our marketing and internal management and administration. As part of our instructions from you it may be necessary to release certain information on a strictly confidential basis to other advisers such as accountants and counsel. Our data controller for the purposes of the DPA 1998 is David Byrne and you are asked to contact him/her if you do not wish to receive any invitations or if you do not wish us to release your personal details to other advisers.
These Terms of Business and the services we provide to you, are governed by, and interpreted and construed in accordance with English Law and you agree to submit irrevocably to the jurisdiction of the English Courts in the event of any dispute arising from the services we provide to you.