Serious Injury Law Limited Client Care Information Document and terms and conditions
This document is supplied to enable you to make an informed decision about how your case should proceed. Serious Injury Law Limited will be referred to as ‘Serious Injury Law Limited’, ‘us’ or ‘we’ in this document. The document sets out what is expected from you and what you can expect from us. As this document sets out the terms upon which we will act for you and forms the contract between you and us, it is important that you read and understand its contents, so that you can provide your instructions on how to deal with matters for you. Serious Injury Law Limited is a limited company registered in England and Wales with the number 05346674. We use the word ‘Partner’ to refer to a director of Serious Injury Law Limited – that partner may be a solicitor, lawyer or non-lawyer manager. You are not obliged to instruct us. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) regulates all solicitors and requires us to advise all clients on certain key areas. You can access their rules that apply to us at: https://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/standards-regulations/
A. Our responsibilities – This section explains what we will do for you and what you can expect from us.
A.1 Service standards
We will act with integrity and in your best interests at all times.
We will give you a case plan and a legal costs budget / estimate and details of the estimated timescales and costs. We will review your case on a regular basis and advise you of the next steps. We will analyse the balance of the risks / expense / outcomes in your case and keep this balance under review.
We will communicate with you on a regular basis to advise you of developments and to request any further information or documentation, which we require. If urgent action is required, or the nature of the case requires swift action, this will take place. Similarly, we will not send you unnecessary communications. When we communicate with you we will try to advise you of the next steps and when you can next expect to hear from us.
We will communicate with you in a method of your choice, such as by letter or email (both can be in large text), telephone or text message. Our office is normally open for personal visits between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday, and at other times by prior arrangement. Our telephone lines are available 24 hours a day. We are willing to communicate with somebody else on your behalf, if we have your written authority to do so.
We will ensure that an appropriately experienced legal team deals with your case and that they have relevant supervision. All our legal teams are supervised by Partners.
We will respond promptly to your communications. We always aim to have a person available to assist you. If a member of your legal team is not available, then our administration support team will be pleased to help. Where a return call, message or email is requested, we shall do our best to attend to this as soon as possible on the same day, or as soon as possible on the next working day where circumstances dictate. Please note that we may record and monitor telephone calls for training and client care purposes.
We will look to conclude your case in the most efficient manner. This may include litigation or alternative ways of dispute resolution. We will safeguard any documents/evidence that you send to us.
If you are not satisfied with these standards or you feel that they are not being met, please contact the Partner supervising your case to discuss.
B. Key information- This section provides key information relevant to your case and how it will proceed.
B.1 Contact details – these are the contact details for the person dealing with your case:
Legal team leader: To be confirmed
Supervisor: Mr. M. E. Dixon, Senior Solicitor and Partner, Grade: A
Address details: Serious Injury Law Limited, 66 Chorley Street, Bolton, BL1 4AL Telephone number: 0330 058 0377 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
B.2 Legal costs information – how we charge
B.2.1 How we charge
Our charges are known as ‘the legal costs you incur with us’ and will include ‘disbursements’ (which are any fees we pay or incur on your behalf such as court fees, medical and other experts’ fees etc. and it is implicit in your instructions to us that we have your authority to instruct such experts as we think will best assist you). The legal costs and disbursements you incur should form part of your claim against the other side. You will be charged for all the work we do from the time when you first contact us regarding your case, unless we tell you otherwise. We may charge interest on disbursements that we pay on your behalf. The interest rate is 4% over the Bank of England base rate for the time being. We may also require you to pay any or all of the disbursements at the time the invoice is due for payment. Our billing period starts when we first do work for you in relation to the subject matter of this contract and ends when the subject matter of this contract is concluded or this contract is terminated, whichever is the sooner.
The legal costs you incur with us are based upon the amount of time spent working on your case. Time spent may include meetings with you and perhaps others; considering documents and legal problems; advising you on the financial and liability aspects of your case; preparing and working on papers; receiving, making and handling telephone calls, emails and letters; any time travelling, preparing and sending copies of our file. Time is multiplied by an hourly charging rate. Each standard letter sent, standard telephone call made or up to a 6-minute block of time spent on your case is charged at 10% of the hourly charging rate for the grade of person who spends the time. Emails and messages are charged in the same way as letters. All other time will be charged to reflect the amount of time engaged in 6-minute blocks. The legal costs you incur with us are always subject to being considered by a court at the conclusion of the matter, or, when a bill is rendered. If the court limits the amount of the legal costs you incur with us that can be recovered from the other side, then you are liable for the difference (see D.6 Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 below for examples of the circumstances where you may become liable). The only cost of any means of distance communication for the conclusion of this contract are the costs of the method itself, for example the cost of postage or email.
We employ Senior Solicitors, Solicitors, Assistant Solicitors, Chartered Legal Executives, Senior Litigation Executives, Litigation Executives, Non-Lawyer Managers, Senior Associates, Associates, Senior Legal Assistants, Legal Assistants and Paralegals with varying degrees of seniority and experience. Some of them may also be owners and / or managers of Serious Injury Law Limited. Whoever deals with your case will be a sufficiently experienced person, and they will always be supervised by a Partner. Their status will be confirmed under their name on their communications with you.
B.2.2 Hourly charging rates
Grade A case handlers: £421
All Partners, Senior Associates, Senior Solicitors, Legal Executives and Senior Litigation Executives with 8+ years post qualification experience.
Grade B case handlers: £299
Solicitors, Legal Executives, Senior Litigation Executives with 4+ years’ experience.
Grade C case handlers: £231
Solicitors, Assistant Solicitors, Legal Executives, Senior Legal Assistants, Litigation Executives.
Grade D case handlers: £147
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
There may be circumstances that occur on a case which mean that a higher charging rate is warranted and so these rates may increase. This may be due to the complexity of the issues and or evidence, the need to carry out work outside of our normal working hours, the speed action needs to be taken etc. and in those circumstances we will notify you if our rates change.
We also charge for copying documents and providing data via electronic means. Value added tax (vat) is payable in respect of our services. Our vat registration number is 546432542.
B.2.3 Charging rate review
Our hourly charging rates are reviewed annually. On the first of January each year the rates may increase by an amount up to 5% on the previous year’s rates, unless we tell you otherwise.
B.2.4 Legal costs updates
We can supply you with a regular update on the amount of your legal costs. We provide a general estimate below and a specific budget/estimate when we receive a signed Form of Authority from you. We will normally copy you into the legal costs budget / estimate we are required to give to the court when it first reviews you case after court action has commenced (known as ‘allocation’). If you require any other updates on the legal costs you incur with us, then please confirm your request in writing.
B.2.5 How much?
The contract between us is likely to be of indeterminate duration. In other words, there is unlikely to be a fixed date by which the services to you will be completed. When we receive a signed Form of Authority from you giving us your instructions to act for you, we will then give you a specific case and time plan and an estimate of legal costs you will incur with us. At that time, we will also advise you as to the risks and potential outcomes relevant to your case. Until we have your instructions it is difficult to give an accurate estimate of the legal costs that may be incurred in the case. For example, the amount of legal costs will depend upon several factors, e.g. whether liability is admitted, any issues raised by the other side in respect of your claim, etc. Our best estimate is that if the claim results in a straightforward uncontested case, with a claim for compensation for personal injury, then legal costs in the region of £3,000 plus vat may be expected, with an additional £750 in disbursements, plus any success fees. In a contested matter of the highest value, then legal costs in the region of £500,000 plus vat may be expected, with an additional £75,000 in disbursements, plus any success fees. Please note that this is not a fixed estimation, nor do the examples represent the lower or upper limits.
B.2.6 Fixed legal costs
The rules that may apply to your claim may determine that one of several fixed legal costs regimes may apply. If rules in existence at the time you instruct us to act determine that a fixed legal costs regime applies, then we offer to accept the amount of legal costs, at the level fixed by the rules existing at the time you instruct us, in full and final settlement of all of the legal costs that you incurred with us, even if these fall short of or exceed the amount of the legal costs you had incurred at the time of settlement (if we are representing you at the time of settlement) and so long as they are paid to us direct. Excluded from this offer are the costs of any work you instruct us to do which fall outside the remit of the work provided for under the fixed legal costs regime. Examples are obtaining a second opinion from another expert; obtaining a second opinion from another firm of solicitors; costs incurred because of you failing to attend a medical appointment or court hearing; costs incurred by you not co-operating with us; costs incurred by you becoming bankrupt during the life of the claim. This is a non-exhaustive list. We will make you aware if there is a risk of you becoming personally liable to pay legal costs which are outside of the fixed legal costs regime.
B.2.7 Termination of instructions, time for payment and liens
As you have freedom of choice in instructing a firm of solicitors, you do not need to instruct our firm and you may end your instructions to us in writing at any time. We can keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for legal costs and / or expenses. If you are required to meet any of the legal costs you incur with us, payment is due to us within 28 days of our sending you our formal ‘Statute Bill of Costs’. We may send you interim Statute Bills of Costs on account before the conclusion of your case which may not include all the costs incurred during the period covered by the Bill of Costs. We will charge interest on the total amount of the Statute Bill of Costs at 4% over the Bank of England base rate for the time being per annum, from the date of the Statute Bill of Costs if it is not settled within 28 days of that date. Interest will be calculated on a daily basis. We are entitled to exercise a lien (a right to keep possession of property belonging to another until a debt is settled) until any of the legal costs you incurred with us that remain outstanding are discharged or provided for. This means that we will not release your file, papers, money etc. to you or other solicitors until we are paid.
We may decide to stop acting for you only with good reason. Examples include: there is a conflict of interest, you refuse to disclose material information, you are dishonest, non-payment of sums required on account, not accepting reasonable advice, giving instructions inconsistent with the law or our duty to the court and or others, not co-operating with our reasonable requests, not providing timely instructions, if there is a breakdown in the relationship between us. We will give you reasonable notice that we will stop acting for you. If you or we decide that we should stop acting for you, you will be liable to pay all the legal costs up until that point. They must be paid within 28 days. Any termination of our contract with you may result in us asserting our right to be paid all of the legal costs you have incurred with us irrespective of the reasonableness of the termination.
If you receive interim damages, we may require you to pay the legal costs incurred with us and any disbursements at that point, plus a reasonable amount for future legal costs and disbursements. If you receive provisional damages, we are entitled to payment of the legal costs and disbursements at that point. If on the way to winning or losing you are awarded any legal costs and disbursements, by agreement or court order, then we are entitled to payment of those legal costs and disbursements.
B.2.8 Part 36 offers
In the course of any claim offers may be made on your behalf. These may include offers that are known as ‘a Part 36 offer’. We will give you more detail if they become relevant to your claim. We do need to inform you that in connection with any Part 36 offer, if your opponent pays any extra legal costs under a court order or without a court order, those additional costs that relate to the work we have undertaken will be kept by us.
B.3 Legal costs information – how to pay or cover the legal costs you incur with us
The legal costs you incur with us are included as part of your claim against the party or parties you are holding responsible. If your claim is successful, we should be able to reach agreement or obtain a court order that some or all of the legal costs you incur with us and disbursements are paid by the other side. You remain liable for any shortfall.
B.3.2 Protection against the risk of having to pay legal costs
Without some protection for legal costs, if you lose your claim then you are responsible for your own, and maybe some or all of the others side’s legal costs. There can also be situations when you will be at risk of not being able to recover the legal costs and disbursements incurred with us. Some examples are: if your claim is unsuccessful, you would have to pay the legal costs incurred with us and disbursements, and maybe some or all of the other side’s legal costs and disbursements; or even if your claim is successful, you could still be ordered by a court to pay some or all of the legal costs incurred with us and disbursements (we would of course discuss these risks with you); or there may be a shortfall in what the other side will pay. At other stages, the court may order you to pay legal costs to the other side. It is advisable to have in place some form of protection against this risk. The main protection options are:-
B.3.2a Legal Expenses Insurance
In much the same way as you can insure your car or home against damage, you can insure yourself against the risk of being left with a bill for legal costs at the end of your case. You can buy this insurance after your claim begins. The legal expenses insurers would, subject to their terms, pay any of the legal costs incurred with us and the disbursements that the other side do not pay. They may also pay any legal costs and disbursements that you must pay to the other side.
Many motor insurance policies may include legal expenses cover. They usually limit the amount of cover to £50,000. Similarly, if you are a member of a Trade Union, you are likely to be insured for legal costs – if either of these situations applies to you, please inform us and we will make enquiries with them. It is possible that you or a family member or someone connected to you will already have some legal expenses insurance that covers you, perhaps without realising it. Even seemingly unrelated policies can include it, such as home/contents insurance; credit cards; car breakdown policies; travel or life insurance amongst others. If you, a family member or someone you are connected with has any of these policies, please send the policy documents to us and we will check them for you.
Any legal expenses insurance policy that covers you is likely to include provisions that: –
There must be reasonable prospects of success in pursuing your claim;
You must co-operate in the pursuit of the claim and the recovery of legal costs from the other side;
You must follow advice given by your legal representatives;
You must not communicate with the other side or their representatives;
Any breaches of policy conditions can lead to cover for your legal costs being withdraw;
You must notify them of a potential claim on the insurance within a set number of days. You should now notify them that you may wish to use the policy at some time in the future in any event.
Please tell us the name of any legal expenses insurer you think may cover you. We may offer cover through any appropriate legal expenses insurance that we may have arranged from time to time to cover your own and the other side(s) legal costs.
B.3.2b Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA)
These are often referred to as “No Win, No Fee” agreements and are common if a claimant does not already have legal expenses insurance. A CFA is a written contract between you and us. The CFA states that if the claim is successful you agree to reward us for our success – this is known as a ‘success fee’ and is payable at the end of the case. At the outset we agree what the success fee will be. It is usually a % of the total amount of the legal costs you incur with us.
If the claim is unsuccessful the CFA states that we could not ask you to pay the legal costs you incur with us (subject to you complying with the terms of the CFA) but we may require you to pay our expenses and disbursements. As the CFA only covers the legal costs you incur with us, we will advise you on a separate policy of insurance to cover you for your disbursements, and for the other side’s legal costs and disbursements. Payment of the insurance premium may be deferred until the end of the case. If you win your claim, you pay our basic charges, our expenses and disbursements, any success fee as may have been agreed, together with the premium for any insurance you may have taken out. You are entitled to seek recovery from the other side of part or all our basic charges and our expenses and disbursements, but not the insurance premium (in clinical negligence cases a part of the premium may be paid by the other side).
B.3.2c Private funding
If you do not have legal expenses insurance or if a CFA is not appropriate, then you would need to pay the legal costs and disbursements you incur with us as the case progresses, with a view to some or all of these being paid back to you by the other side, if and when your case is successful. This could involve a significant outlay on your part and usually requires a payment to us at the outset and possibly during the time that we act for you.
B.3.2d Damages Based Fee Agreement
We can agree to be paid only a % of any amount we recover for you. In other words, if we do not get any money for you, we do not get paid anything. The % amount is paid by you, usually from the damages you recover. The Damages-Based Agreements Regulations 2013 limit the amount that can be paid under this type of agreement.
We deal with several after-the-event legal expenses insurers, although we are not contractually obliged to send business to any of them. We may agree to deal with your case under our firm’s own legal expenses insurance policy. Please note, we are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. However, we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority so that we can carry on insurance distribution activity, which is broadly the advising on, selling and administration of insurance contracts. This part of our business, including arrangements for complaints or redress if something goes wrong, is regulated by Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority website at www.fca.org.uk/firms/financial-services-register. You may ask us for a list of insurers who we transact after-the-event legal expenses insurance business with or you may source and recommend your own choice. We are obliged to tell you that we are an insurance intermediary, not an insurer, and that we cannot manufacture insurance products. We act for you not the insurer.
B.4 Electronic communications
Unless otherwise instructed, we may communicate with you, and others relevant to your case, electronically (e.g. email). When possible and necessary, such as with the transmission of sensitive information, these communications will be encrypted to prevent eavesdropping in transit. The electronic transmission of information offers no guarantee of delivery or timely arrival. In some circumstances we may need to send communications / documents to the court without encryption if the court insists and it is in your interest for us to do so. We each agree to take reasonable steps to ensure any data sent is free from viruses. However, this cannot constitute a guarantee that such data will be free from viruses. By participating in electronic communication with us you accept these risks and authorise electronic communication between us. We are each responsible for protecting our own systems and interests in relation to electronic communication. Neither you nor we will have any liability to the other on any basis, whether in contract, tort (including negligence) or otherwise in respect of any error, damage, loss or omission arising from or in connection with the electronic communication of information.
We may ask you to sign some documents electronically. You must only sign them electronically if you accept that your electronic signature will have the same binding effect as a handwritten signature and that you intend your electronic signature conclusively to indicate an intention to be bound by the contents of what is being signed or confirmed.
B.5 Identity, Confidentiality, Conflicts
B.5.1 Proof of identity – why?
The law now requires solicitors, as well as banks, building societies, accountants and others, to obtain satisfactory evidence of the identity of their clients. This is because solicitors who deal with money and property on behalf of their clients can be used by criminals wishing to launder money. To comply with the Money Laundering Regulations, we may need to obtain evidence of your identity. Being asked for identification (known as ‘client due diligence’ under the Regulations) does not mean that you are under suspicion. The identification requirements mean that we may need to see personal documentation to establish your identity and your address. This documentation can include two or more of, amongst others: a current signed passport; photo card driving licence; birth certificate; a recent Gas, Electricity or other household bill. One of the documents must include your photograph. Please see below for how long we will retain the documentation.
B.5.2 Confidentiality; Money laundering
We are under a professional and legal obligation to keep the affairs of clients confidential. This obligation is subject to some statutory and regulatory exceptions e.g. legislation on money laundering and terrorist financing has placed solicitors under a legal duty in certain circumstances to disclose any information, knowledge or suspicion of money laundering (or other crime) to the National Crime Agency. You need to be aware that the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (as amended) creates a number of offences relating to the proceeds of crime. The ‘proceeds of crime’ are any monies/property/assets that have arisen because of any crime. These include, for example, monies (however low in value) saved because of tax evasion or benefit fraud, whether that money has been saved or spent. We comply with the money laundering legislation in all respects, in good faith, including its reporting obligations which override our duty of confidentiality to you. If, while we are acting for you, it becomes necessary to make a money laundering disclosure, we may not be able to inform you that a disclosure has been made or of the reasons for it. Where law permits us to do, we will tell you about any potential money laundering problem and explain what action we may need to take. If you have any concerns about irregularities in your financial position, you may wish to seek specialist advice to correct those irregularities. We strongly recommend that you do this before instructing us.
We shall not be liable for any loss or damage arising from or connected with our compliance with any statutory or regulatory obligation which we may have, or honestly believe we may have, to report matters to the relevant authorities under the legislation or regulation. If we have notified the relevant authorities, you must agree that we may provide such further information as they may require. The requirements of the legislation may either prevent us from taking steps on your behalf or from acting further at all and we may be prohibited by law from informing you of these matters. In these circumstances we reserve the right to cease acting and to charge you for our work done to that date. We shall not be liable for any loss or damage caused by our failure to take steps or ceasing to act where this is, or we reasonably believe it to be, in compliance with our obligations under the legislation or regulation. You must accept that our compliance with the legislation, regulations, or guidance issued by the courts or the SRA may prevent us from informing you of all relevant matters. We reserve the right to charge you in respect of any compliance work we do which is connected to you or your case.
B.5.3 Conflicts of interests
When we initially receive your instructions to act, we will check that those instructions do not cause a conflict with other interests we must protect. For instance, if we have acted for your proposed opponent as our client in the past, we may have some of their information that could now benefit your case. To protect the confidentiality of that information and that client, we would decline to act on your behalf. You would then need to consider seeking alternative representatives.
We only accept sterling cash to a value of £200. If you circumvent this policy by depositing cash direct with our bank, we reserve the right to charge for any additional checks we deem necessary regarding the source of the funds.
B.7 Privacy Notice – Data, Privacy and Information to others
You are protected by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Data Protection legislation and our duty of confidentiality. We will collect your personal data directly from you or from others you direct to give us your data. We will control and process your data limited to what is necessary to meet our obligations in the contract between us, what is included in this Notice and with the consents and authority that you provide to us. We may receive information about you from other sources, including third parties that help us update, expand, and analyse our records, or to prevent or detect money laundering and fraud.
The data that we collect or receive may include:
Information to confirm your identity; basic personal information; financial information; information about your family, education, employment and benefits history; information necessary to enable us to meet our obligations in the contract between us.
How we use your data
Data records can be held on a variety of physical or electronic media and formats. We use the information you provide:
to enable us to provide the contracted legal services to you and for related purposes;
to protect our staff and premises;
for updating, conflict checking and enhancing client records;
to comply with anti-money laundering legislation and regulation;
to help us monitor, manage and improve our firm;
for any statutory or regulatory returns;
to protect your, our, or others’ rights;
for legal and regulatory compliance;
for network and information security;
sharing data with third-party service providers that perform services on our behalf, such as web-hosting companies, mailing vendors, analytics providers, event hosting services, and information technology providers;
to enable a sale, reorganisation or transfer of our business;
to help us demonstrate that we are meeting our responsibilities and to keep as evidence of our business activities;
as we believe reasonably necessary or appropriate to respond to legal process or requests for information issued by government authorities or other third parties.
In dealing with your case it may be necessary for us to supply your information and your data to others. Examples include sending personal information and your medical records to medical experts, case managers, non-medical experts such as experts in nursing care, accommodation etc.; providing details of your case to the organisation that referred you to us, to witnesses, experts, barristers etc.; placing information in court documents which then enter the public domain; claim information via web portals prescribed by court protocols. We will only pass on your information and your data if: we feel that it is relevant to the pursuit of matters that are part of the contract between us; you tell us specifically on any given occasion; any contract binds you to do so; legislation provides for the release of your information or your data. We cannot guarantee the security of the web portals that we are obliged to use by court protocols. We cannot guarantee that any recipient of your data will comply with Data Protection legislation. We may keep a copy of your data in a secure data centre. It will only ever be stored in an encrypted format.
Our firm has been awarded the Lexcel accreditation, the Law Society quality kite mark. We may, from time to time, seek other professional accreditations. There may be occasions when the SRA wish to audit our firm; from time to time we may wish to tender for portfolios of work; suppliers of legal expenses insurance to you may wish to audit the work they are connected to. All these circumstances may require an audit of our procedures and the data we hold, including your information and your data. We will ensure that the detailed contents of your data are not examined and that both they and we are bound by strict rules of confidentiality. If you do not wish your data to be inspected, please advise us.
From time to time we may send you information which we think might be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive that information, then please notify us in writing. The Data section of our Form of Authority gives you the ability consent (or not) to us handling your data as detailed above. You can withdraw your consent at any time.
We will retain your data after our contract ends, for a period of 7 years, starting when a client reaches the age of 18 and or regains capacity, or for so long as any regulatory or legally stipulated period requires. We may retain your data for longer periods, particularly where we need to withhold destruction or disposal of data based on an order from the courts, during or in contemplation of litigation or an investigation by law enforcement agencies or our regulators. This is intended to make sure that we will be able to produce records as evidence, if they are needed.
You have a right to access or request a copy of the personal data we hold about you, the right to amend inaccurate personal data, the right to request us to delete your data, the right to request a restriction on or object to the processing of personal data. Further information regarding your rights can be found at www.ico.org.uk. Our Managing Partner is our Data Officer.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority requires us to tell you we operate a complaint handling procedure. If you have any concerns about the way your instructions are being handled, you should firstly discuss them with the person dealing with your claim, or their supervisor. If the problem cannot be resolved at that stage, please ask for a copy of our written complaints procedure which will advise you as to how our Managing Partner will deal with your complaint and assist you in presenting it. You are entitled to complain about any bill for legal costs we ask you to pay. You can do this by applying to the court for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. As solicitors, we are subject to non-judicial means of dispute resolution – you can contact the Legal Ombudsman who investigates complaints against solicitors (the Ombudsman may not deal with a complaint about a bill if you have applied to the court for assessment of that bill). Contact details are – email: email@example.com, web: www.legalombudsman.org.uk, tel: 0300 555 0333, post: Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ. There are some relevant time limits: generally speaking, your complaint should be brought to the Ombudsman no later than six years from the act or omission or three years from when you should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint; and the ‘6-month rule’, you should contact the Ombudsman within 6 months of receiving a final response from us after complaining to us.
B.9 Storage of case documents
We keep many of your case documents (these may include notes, memos, messages, drafts, copies etc. that you send to us, that we receive whilst acting for you, that we create) in electronic format only. At the end of your case, we will tell you how long we intend to keep them for. At that time, we will offer you the option of requesting the immediate return of any document / evidence you gave us. We will charge you at the same rate as detailed in the ‘How we charge’ section above for all the work connected with your instructions on retrieval and / or reproduction of any case documents.
B.10 Holding your money
We may be required to hold your money for you, such as in a bank account or similar, in certain circumstances. Examples include holding your money on your behalf because you have instructed us to; whilst we await payment of our bill; waiting to pay a bill on your behalf or pending direction or approval from the court regarding investment etc. We will hold any of your money subject to Solicitors Regulation Authority Accounts rules. You may instruct us where to hold your money and we will comply with reasonable instructions if any required action is compliant with Solicitors Regulation Authority Accounts rules.
We are required to pay interest on client money held in a client account when it is fair and reasonable to do so in all circumstances. When we hold monies in our general client account on your behalf, we will calculate interest from the date that the funds have cleared in our client account. When calculating the interest, we will take into account the amount held, the length of time the cleared funds were held and the current rate of interest payable by our bank. In accordance with Solicitors Regulation Authority Accounts rules, if the total interest accrued on any monies held is less than £20.00, we are not obliged to pay this to you, unless, it is deemed fair and reasonable to do so. If monies are held in a separate designated client account, we will account to you for all interest earned on the account from the date of opening until the date of closure in accordance with the current interest rate at our bank. If we act for you in more than one matter, we will treat all your matters separately when calculating any interest due. Please note that after six months we will cancel any cheques that you have not presented for payment. To take into account the cost of cancelling the original cheque and reissuing a new cheque in its place, we will not account to you for any interest that may have accrued. Any client money held in this way is classified as belonging to you, not us, for most third party purposes, including tax and state benefit responsibilities.
If the place where your money is held (i.e., a bank) fails to meet its liability to repay, release or otherwise make good your money, we will not be liable to you for any shortfall beyond the extent of the minimum amount of professional indemnity insurance we are obliged to hold. This restriction of our liability to you is irrespective of whether you, we, or both of us selected the failed holding organisation.
We will hold your money in NatWest plc, HSBC plc or Handelsbanken. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) limit of £85,000 applies to individuals, so even if you hold other personal monies with the same bank the limit total will not exceed £85,000. NatWest plc, HSBC plc, and Handelsbanken may have several brands and/or trading names. You should check your position with your bank and/or financial advisers. In instructing us to act for you, you consent to us disclosing your details to the FSCS in the event of a bank failure. If you are a corporate body client and are not considered a small company by the FSCS, then you will not be eligible for compensation under the scheme.
B.11 Professional indemnity insurance (PII)
We hold PII with W R Berkley Limited of WRB Legal Solutions, 70 St Mary Axe, London, EC3A 8BE to a limit of £20 million for any one claim.
B.12 Our liability to you
This document sets out the terms upon which we will act for you and forms the contract between you and us. Your agreement is with Serious Injury Law Limited and any individual who is acting on behalf of Serious Injury Law Limited, whether they are one of its partners, shareholders, directors, members or employees or someone we wish to regard as such, will not be personally liable at all for any act, omission or negligence whilst we act for you. Any advice given to you is for and on behalf of Serious Injury Law Limited and not in a person’s individual capacity. By signing our Form of Authority you agree that you will not bring any claim in respect of any loss or damage against any of our partners, shareholders, directors, consultants, members or employees and you agree that each and every partner, director, consultant, member and employee of Serious Injury Law Limited shall be entitled to the benefit of this provision under the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999. We will not be liable to you for any delay in performing or failure to perform any of our obligations to you if the delay and / or failure is because of circumstances beyond our reasonable control.
We will not be liable to you and or any third party for any losses caused due to the provision by other parties of false, misleading or incomplete information or documentation and or due to the acts or omissions of any other party. The aggregate liability over Serious Injury Law Limited, its partners, directors, shareholders, consultants, members and employees to you or any third party for any reason whatsoever shall not exceed to £3 million and any indirect or consequential loss or damage is excluded. If we are jointly, or jointly and severally, liable to you with any other party we shall only be liable to pay you the proportion of your losses that is found to be fairly and reasonably due to our fault. We shall not be liable to pay you the proportion that is fairly and reasonably due to the fault of another party. No liability will apply in respect of any incidental, indirect, special or consequential damages, including but not limited to loss of revenue. Nothing in this section imposes any liability that Serious Injury Law Limited, its partners, shareholders, directors, shareholders, consultants, members and employees would not have or stops any defence they might have, nor does it reduce any loss, damage or liability which cannot be excluded or limited by English Law. Each of the above limitations constitutes a separate and independent limitation so that if one or more are held to be invalid for any reason or to any extent whatever or does not accord with any professional obligation, then the remaining limitations or the limitations as varied shall be valid to the extent they are not held to be invalid or incompatible with any professional obligation.
Any failure by us to insist upon the strict performance of any term of the contract, or any failure or delay by us to exercise rights or remedies (whether under the contract or at law) shall not be or be deemed to be a waiver of any right which we may have to insist upon the strict performance of, the terms of the contract, or of any of its rights or remedies in respect of any default under the terms of the contract.
B.13 Our interests
Individual partners, shareholders, directors, consultants, members or employees of Serious Injury Law Limited or the firm itself may hold shares in, interests in or have commercial relationships with companies or organisations. We will notify you of anything other than a minor non-controlling interest in any company that provides services to you or is linked to the matter we are assisting you with. We support a number of charities and organisations with links to the work we do, in monetary and non-monetary ways. Some of those charities and organisations may select our firm to be recommended to their contacts who may require our expert assistance.
We retain copyright and all other intellectual property rights in all documents and other works we develop or generate for you whilst we act for you (including know-how and working materials as well as final documents). We now grant you a non-exclusive, non-transferable, non-sub licensable licence to use such documents or other works solely for the matters to which the services of developing or generating them relate and not otherwise. If you do not pay our legal costs in full in relation to that matter that we act for you on, we may, on giving you notice, revoke that licence and only re-grant it to you once full payment has been made.
This agreement does not end if you die before your case / claim / claim for damages is concluded. If your personal representatives do not wish to continue your case / claim /claim for damages, then they may elect to terminate this agreement and we will be entitled to recover our charges up to the date of termination, from your estate.
This agreement does not end if you lose your capacity (permanently, temporarily, or intermittently) to manage your litigation and or manage your property and affairs before your case / claim / claim for damages is concluded. If your litigation friend and or deputy of the Court of Protection do not wish to continue your case / claim / claim for damages, then they may elect to terminate this agreement and we will be entitled to recover our charges up to the date of termination, from you and or your representatives.
We may assign our rights and / or obligations under our agreement with you to any business which is a successor to our business or part of it. The terms and conditions in the contract supersede any previous agreement with you.
C. Client’s responsibilities
C.1 What we expect from you
You instruct us to help you with your case. Knowing what we expect from you will help us to help you. These responsibilities last all the time you instruct us:
Be truthful and co-operative with us. You must only sign a statement of truth on a document if you can verify that all the contents of the documents are true. Please let us know, by recorded post, if your personal information changes.
Please ensure that you reply promptly to our requests for information or documentation to avoid delays. Please quote our reference in any communications with us. Please note that it is your responsibility to provide us with an up to date address and contact details.
Please do not contact your opponent or their representatives unless we agree.
Please attend all medical, court and other appointments we arrange for you. You must safeguard all evidence, data, documents and other matter, held on paper, electronically or otherwise, that is any way connected to your case (please ask us if you are in any doubt about discarding anything).
You must tell us regarding any earlier court action regarding the claim that you instruct us on, that has been started prior to, or during the time, that we are acting for you. If you fail to do so we will not be able to ensure that your position is protected and by failing to inform us, you may lose your legal right to bring a claim.
You must not ask us to act in a way that would breach our equality and diversity policy (you may ask us for written details of our policy). We apply the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 and will not tolerate any harassment of our employees.
You must inform us if you have ever been declared, or are currently, bankrupt and provide us with full details of the date you were declared bankrupt and the date your bankruptcy was discharged as applicable. You must inform us immediately, in writing, if you become involved in any financial action involving your debts and assets, such as bankruptcy, debt relief orders, informal arrangements, administration orders, and individual voluntary arrangements. Your notification will help us to help you to attempt to continue any action you have retained us to assist with.
C.2 Capacity to litigate
A claimant may at the outset of a case, or during the life of their case, lack capacity to manage their litigation (as defined by legislation). This lack of capacity may be obvious, for instance where a claimant has suffered a brain injury. The lack of capacity may be temporary or subtle, for instance where a claimant suffers an illness. Whenever a claimant is without capacity, they cannot provide proper instructions to us and so we will need to be formally retained to act for and be instructed by a suitable person (known as a ‘litigation friend’) who is responsible for protecting the interests of the person lacking capacity, before the case can proceed any further. We can advise on the best person to be a litigation friend. It is usually a close family member, but it could be the Official Solicitor or a deputy of the Court of Protection.
D.1 Mitigation of losses
A claimant (a person making a claim) wishing to make a claim for compensation for injury and / or losses must keep their losses to an absolute minimum. Any expense, cost or liability you incur will always be your responsibility to pay regardless of who you think is to blame or how successful you feel a claim will be.
D.2 Proof of losses
A claimant must provide proof to justify the amount of any losses claimed. Both the courts and the other side are unlikely to accept a claim without supporting documentary evidence. For instance, copy wage slips to help prove a claim for loss of earnings; or receipts for the money spent on hiring a replacement car. To be able to recover compensation for any loss the law requires that a claimant provide documentation that proves that it was more likely than not that the loss was suffered.
If you are unable to provide sufficient documentary evidence in support of a loss, then that claim is likely to fail. Additionally, the legal costs you incur pursuing a loss you cannot document will not be recoverable from the other side or any legal expenses insurer. Accordingly, you should only ask us to pursue a claim where you are satisfied you will be able to provide evidence to prove that loss. If we send you a schedule or list of the losses we are claiming for you, please make sure that it is complete, and that there are no similar or other losses that you have. Your claim will be settled fully and finally, with no prospect of making further claims after settlement.
D.3 Physical and psychological injuries
When an accident occurs, people can suffer both physical and psychological effects. In these cases, it is proper that a claim for compensation should be made against the other side. If physical or traumatic effects have been sustained, no matter how slight, the injury sections of any attached questionnaire should be completed in order that we may consider a claim on your behalf, or you should contact the person dealing with your case to discuss. In more serious injury cases, a claimant is advised to keep a diary of symptoms, appointments with physicians, treatments and expenses, and copies of the diary entries should be provided to us as the claim progresses.
The advice given to a claimant to minimise their loss applies to claims for personal injuries. Urgent advice should be sought from your General Practitioner and recommended treatment should be undertaken as soon as possible, to keep the levels of pain and suffering to a minimum, and to minimise the effect on your day-to-day life. If you do not have enough money to pay for any treatment recommended, please ask us to make an interim payment request to the other side on your behalf.
It is the duty of every claimant’s solicitor to consider, from the earliest practicable stage, and in consultation with the claimant and / or the claimant’s family, whether it is likely or possible that early intervention, rehabilitation or medical treatment would improve their present and/or long-term physical or mental well-being. This duty is ongoing throughout the life of the claim, but is of most importance in the early stages.
It is also the duty of a claimant’s solicitor to consider, with the claimant and/or the claimant’s family, whether there is an immediate need for aids, adaptations or other matters that would seek to alleviate problems caused by disability, and then to communicate with the other side’s insurers as soon as practicable about any rehabilitation needs, to establish if funds will be made available by the insurers. Please notify us immediately of any early intervention, rehabilitation or medical treatment that would improve your present and/or long-term physical or mental well-being, or of any immediate need for aids, adaptations or other matters that would seek to alleviate problems caused by disability.
Please be aware that it is the general practice of all defendant insurers, compensators and their solicitors to investigate claimants and to seek out possible fraudulent claims and dishonesty. They may access media sites, such as Facebook, and may undertake video surveillance etc. as part of investigations into your claim. Clearly, it is wholly wrong for a claimant to deliberately exaggerate their claim and any exaggeration could lead to the claim failing and the claimant being found in contempt of court.
If your claim arises out of a road traffic accident, and we consider that it will be worth less than £25,000, we are required to submit your details to askCUE PI via their website at http://www.askcue.co.uk in order to obtain your record of personal injury/industrial illness incidents reported to insurance companies, regardless of whether they may or may not have given rise to a claim.
It is crucial that you provide a full history of any previous injuries to any medical or other expert who assesses you in connection with your claim, otherwise the other side could allege that you have been fundamentally dishonest (see section D.6 for a further explanation and the potential implications for your claim). Where there is any discrepancy between your medical records and what you tell us, or a medical expert, we may choose to cease acting for you.
D.6 Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015
The Government has been concerned at the increase in the number of fraudulent and grossly exaggerated personal injury claims and the effect that this has on motor insurance premiums and the resources of local and public authorities and employers. The Government wishes to act to deter dishonest behaviour and give a greater incentive to defendants and their insurers to investigate and challenge dubious claims for compensation. Clauses in the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 provide that in any personal injury claim or related claim where the court finds that the claimant is entitled to damages, but is satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the claimant has been fundamentally dishonest in relation to any part of the claim, it must dismiss the claim entirely unless it is satisfied that the claimant would suffer substantial injustice as a result. There may be criminal sanctions too, including imprisonment. Examples include: where the claimant exaggerates his own claim or any part of it, perhaps by overstating the extent of symptoms suffered or by suggesting the lost earnings were greater than an amount they can prove; where the claimant colludes in a fraudulent claim brought by another person in connection with the same incident or series of incidents in connection with the primary claim.
If the Court finds the claimant’s conduct to be fundamentally dishonest, or if they exaggerate any part of the claim they make, the Court may require the claimant to pay all or some of the other side’s legal costs, and a claimant is likely to have to pay his own legal costs. It could also invalidate legal expenses insurance and / or a CFA Agreement, so that cover for the other side’s legal costs and the CFA insurance premium must be paid by the claimant, in addition to him not being paid anything by the negligent other side. Consequently, it is crucial for a claimant to be satisfied that the claim they present is reasonable and not overstated in any way.
D.7 Criminal Finances Act 2017
We comply with Criminal Finances Act 2017 and we are seek to ensure we do not facilitate tax evasion and or cheating of the public revenue.
D.8 State benefits and compensation
Any person who receives benefits or other means-tested support, for example from the government / DWP, local authority or other body, must inform that body / organisation that they have received compensation, and they may have their benefits reduced or completely withdrawn following receipt of the compensation. As the law currently stands, if any compensation, interim or final, is paid directly into a Personal Injury Trust, it is ring-fenced from means testing, with the result that a person can use the compensation as it was intended and not simply use it as a substitute for the benefits until the compensation has been spent. If you are in receipt of benefits etc. (or may be in the future) but have yet to set up a Personal Injury Trust and wish to consider doing so to protect your finances, you should set a Personal Injury Trust up or contact us and request a ‘Personal Injury Trust Questionnaire’. The questionnaire should be completed and returned to our offices so that the viability of setting up the appropriate trust can be analysed, and you can then be further advised. It should be noted that a criminal offence may be committed if you continue to receive benefits etc. and fail to declare to the DWP or others the fact that you have received compensation. There is a limited time after receiving compensation to set up and obtain protection from a Personal Injury Trust. Any compensation that does not get paid directly to a Personal Injury Trust from the compensator or via our offices, is not likely to get Personal Injury Trust protection. Even if you currently do not claim state or other benefits, but may in the future, you should not accept compensation until you are sure that you will not be affected.
If you have any issues with your employers after your injury, in particular if they suggest redundancy or terminate your employment in some other way, we strongly advise you to seek specialist employment law advice. There are very short timeframes to take action against employers. We are not employment law specialists and the contract between us does not cover employment law advice. We may be able to signpost you to a suitable expert.
Copyright 2022 Serious Injury Law Limited
Version SILL v1 16.10.2022
IMPORTANT INFORMATION WE ARE OBLIGED TO GIVE YOU UNDER THE CONSUMER CONTRACTS (INFORMATION, CANCELLATION AND ADDITIONAL CHARGES) REGULATIONS 2013 (AS AMENDED)
The main characteristic of the contract between Serious Injury Law Limited and you (now referred to as “our contract”) is the provision of legal services which are likely to be those involved in the pursuit of a personal injury claim or related matters.
Serious Injury Law Limited trades as “Serious”, “Serious Injury Law”, “Serious Law” and “Helping to rebuild lives”. Serious Injury Law Limited can be contacted at 66 Chorley Street, Bolton BL1 4AL, which is their registered office. The telephone number for both is 0330 058 0377. Their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you may use any direct email address that you have been provided with to contact the fee earners dealing with your matter.
Serious Injury Law Limited also trades from 1010 Cambourne Business Park, Cambourne, Cambridge CB23 6DP.
The manner in which the price of the services being provided to you is to be calculated or the total price of those services, inclusive of taxes, is set out in our contract above.
Details of any other costs or additional charges are set out in our contract above.
The total costs per billing period and any monthly costs are set out in our contract above.
The only cost of any means of distance communication for the conclusion of our contract are the costs of the method itself, for example the cost of postage or email.
The arrangements for payment, delivery, performance and the time by which we undertake to perform our services are set out in our contract above.
You have a right to cancel our contract.
If you expressly request us to commence work during the 14-day cancellation period and then exercise your right to cancel, you are liable to pay our reasonable costs incurred until we received notice your cancellation.
Serious Injury Law Limited adhere to the Solicitors’ Standards and Regulations, including the Solicitors’ Code of Conduct available at https://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/standards-regulations/.
Our contract is likely to be of indeterminate duration. In other words, there is unlikely to be a fixed date by which the services to you will be completed. You should refer to the terms of our contract above for the full terms and contact us if you have any questions. Our contract above sets out the conditions for terminating it.
There is no minimum duration of your obligations under our contract.
The complaint handling policy of Serious Injury Law Limited is set out in writing and will be provided to you upon request made by email to email@example.com.
If you complain but we do not respond within 8 weeks, or if you are not satisfied with our final written response, you can contact the Legal Ombudsman about your complaint. The Legal Ombudsman is an independent complaints body established by the Legal Services Act to deal with complaints about legal services. The address is: Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ; telephone: 0300 555 0333; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: www.legalombudsman.org.uk. The Legal Ombudsman can investigate complaints up to six years from the date of the problem happening or within three years of when you should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint. If you wish to refer your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman this must be done within six months of the date of our final written response. For further information, you should contact the Legal Ombudsman or consult their website. You can also make certain, but not all, complaints to the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority, our regulator. For details of the sort of complaints you can make and how to do so, please see www.sra.org.uk/consumers/problems/ and www.sra.org.uk/consumers/problems/report-solicitor/
There are alternative complaints bodies that are competent to deal with complaints about legal services that you can use instead of the Legal Ombudsman, for example Pro Mediate UK Limited (www.promediate.co.uk), but the consent of both parties is required to use their services. If you prefer to use Pro Mediate’s alternative dispute resolution service, please let us know as we may agree to use that scheme. For further information, you should consult their website.
Serious Injury Law Limited holds a policy of professional liability insurance with WR Berkley with a limit of indemnity of £20 million. The contact details of the insurer are: WRB Legal Solutions, 70 St Mary Axe, London, EC3A 8BE. The territorial coverage of the insurance is worldwide.
We take the following measures to avoid conflicts of interest. When we initially receive your instructions to act, we will check that those instructions do not cause a conflict with other interests we must protect. For instance, if we have acted for your proposed opponent as our client in the past, we may have some of their information that could now benefit your case. To protect the confidentiality of that information and that client, we would decline to act on your behalf.
Right to cancel
We give you the right to cancel our contract with Serious Injury Law Limited within 14 days without giving any reason. The cancellation period will expire after 14 days from the day of the conclusion of the contact. To exercise the right to cancel, you must inform us Serious Injury Law Limited of 66 Chorley Street, Bolton, BL1 4AL telephone: 0330 058 0377, email: email@example.com of your decision to cancel this contract by a clear statement (e.g. a letter sent by post, fax or e-mail). 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 your contract we will reimburse all payments received by Serious Injury Law Limited from you. Serious Injury Law Limited 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. Serious Injury Law Limited will make the reimbursement using the same means of payment as you used to make it, 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 is an amount which is in proportion to what has been performed until you have communicated us your cancellation from this contract, in comparison with the full coverage of the contract.
To Serious Injury Law Limited 66 Chorley Street, Bolton, BL1 4AL
I hereby give notice that I cancel my agreement with Serious Injury Law Limited
Name of client:
Address of client:
Signature of client (only If this form is notified on paper):
Version SILL v1 09.11.2022