Terms of business
What you can expect from us
We aim to give you a high-quality legal service. To do this, we will:
- work with you to understand what you want to achieve and help you to identify your options;
- work quickly and efficiently, in a professional way;
- tell you about our progress regularly and also tell you about any likely delays;
- get back to you quickly when you have a question; and
- give you first-class advice in clear English.
What we advise on
We give advice on the laws of Scotland and England and Wales.
We are members of Interlaw, an international association of law firms. If we need to get advice about the laws of any other country, we may get this advice from a local lawyer. We will tell you if we need to do this and agree the costs with you beforehand.
We only give tax advice when we specifically agree to do so in writing. We do not give accountancy advice.
How we will contact you
We may contact you by letter, e-mail, phone or fax. If you do not want us to use one of these methods, please let us know.
If your contact details change, you must tell us in writing as soon as possible.
We keep any information you give us confidential. We will not give this information to any other people or organisations unless you give us permission or we must do so by law.
If, for marketing purposes, we want to talk about the work we have done for you, we will ask for your permission first. This permission would apply to future marketing as well.
Holding your money
We will hold any funds we receive from you in our client account which earns interest. We will only pay interest to you if the interest is more than £50. As we invest other clients’ money together with your own, we may earn higher rates of interest than the rate we pay you. We will keep any difference to cover administrative and accounting costs. If we pay you interest, it will be paid gross which means that you may have to pay tax on this amount.
If we receive funds in a foreign currency, we will convert them into pounds sterling at the bank’s current exchange rate, unless you tell us not to beforehand.
If we receive funds from an account other than the one you have told us about, your work may be delayed.
We will not be responsible for any losses caused if a bank collapses. This does not affect any rights you may have under a Government protection scheme.
If you are not happy with our service
If you are not happy with the quality of the service we have given you, or the amount of our fees, please discuss your concerns first with the partner responsible for your work. If you are still not happy, or if you prefer to do so, please raise the matter with our Client Relations Partner, David Hossack who is based at our Edinburgh office. He will make sure that any complaint you make is fully investigated and that you get a detailed response, normally within 10 working days.
If you are still not satisfied, you have the right to take the matter up with the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) at The Stamp Office, 10-14 Waterloo Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3EG. For English work, you should contact the Legal Ombudsman at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ. You must make your complaint to the SLCC or the Legal Ombudsman within six months of the date of our final decision on your complaint.
If your complaint relates to advice on financial services, you can refer the matter to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) free of charge. They provide a way of sorting out disputes if you’re unhappy with something we've done. You must make your complaint to FOS within six months of the date of our final decision on your complaint. You can ask us for details or you can get more information at www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk.
What we ask of you
To help us deliver our best service to you, please:
- give us all relevant details of the work you want us to do for you;
- tell us about any developments when they happen; and
- give us your instructions when we need them to move on with your work.
If you don’t do this, your work may be delayed or it could affect your position (for example, if you miss a deadline you could lose your right to make a claim). We will not be responsible for anything that happens as a result of these delays, and we may have to stop working for you if we cannot get instructions from you.
Fees and other charges
Our approach to fees
We want you to be clear about how we will charge you for the work we do for you.
When we begin working for you, we will discuss with you how you want to be charged. For example, we may work for a fixed fee, or you may prefer that we charge you for the actual time we spend doing the work. Sometimes it will not be clear at the beginning of a matter what work we will need to carry out for you. This might be because certain information is not yet known. In this case, we may not be able to work for a fixed fee and may instead need to charge you for the time spent doing the work. If we are charging for the actual time, we charge in units of six minutes and normally round up to the next unit.
We will agree with you beforehand how we will charge you for the work, and if we are working to a fixed fee, what your fee will be. We will confirm these details in writing. We guarantee that our fees will always be clear.
If any invoice that we send you is not the fee you expect, please tell us why. We will not expect you to pay any fees which we did not make clear to you.
Outlays, also called disbursements, are necessary expenses that we must pay to other people or organisations on your behalf. These are charges for things such as registry searches, experts’ fees (for example, surveyors) or registration charges.
Normally, we only pay outlays after we receive the funds from you. If we have to pay before getting the funds from you, you must pay us back when we ask you to.
Any reference to paying our fees also includes paying any outlays which you may owe.
You must pay our fees as soon as you get our bill. You can pay by cheque, debit or credit card, or by paying funds into our bank account direct.
If you do not pay our fees, we have the right to stop or suspend further work on the matter in question and any other work we are doing for you. In these cases, we will not be responsible for any delays or losses which may result from this. If we hold money that belongs to you, we will have the right to take our fees from that money before sending you the balance.
We also have a legal right to hold deeds, documents or any other papers until you pay the fees you owe.
If someone else agrees to pay our fees and then fails to do so, you will have to pay our fees yourself.
If we carry out work for a company or a limited liability partnership (LLP) and it does not pay our fees, we may require any of the principals to pay all or part of those fees (‘principals’ means the directors of the company, or the members of the LLP, at the time we issue our bill).
We have the right to charge interest on overdue amounts at the rate which is 3% over the Royal Bank of Scotland base rate.
How we use your personal information
When you ask us to do work for you, we may check your details with fraud prevention agencies (FPAs) or credit reference agencies (CRAs). We will use this information to check your identity and to prevent fraud and money laundering.
If we are working for an organisation, we may use FPAs and CRAs to check the details of the people who own or control the organisation. If we are working for a trust, we may check the details of the person who created the trust (called the settlor), trustees or beneficiaries. Please make sure that they are all aware that we may use their details in this way.
The FPAs and CRAs give us both public (including the electoral register) and shared information to prevent fraud. They will record the details of our search whether or not we provide you with our services. Other organisations may see and use the information these agencies have recorded. Please write to or phone us if you want details of the CRAs and FPAs we use. You have a legal right to these details.
Keeping you informed
From time to time we may provide you with information such as news about legal issues which may interest you, and details of our services and events by post, phone or e-mail. If you no longer want to receive this, please let us know.
Access to information
You have the right to ask for a copy of any personal information we hold about you if you apply to us in writing. You may have to pay a fee for this.
Our working practices
Managing our files
We may scan files or papers and destroy the originals after 28 days unless we have to keep them by law. If you want us to return any document rather than destroy it, please let us know when you send that document to us. You should be aware that a copy of a document may not be as good as the original if it is later needed in court as evidence.
We will store files relating to your work for as long as we think is reasonable or as long as the law says is necessary. We cannot promise that files will always be held on our premises.
If you ask us for a paper copy of an electronic file, we may charge you for printing and postage costs.
We will not destroy documents you ask us to keep (for example, title deeds, wills, and so on), but we cannot promise they will always be held on our premises.
We own the copyright in any materials we produce for you. The advice we give and the documents we prepare are for your use only, and you must not allow anyone to copy or use them without our written permission.
Relevant laws and regulations
These Terms of Business apply to all work that we do for you. Any Schedule of Work also applies to the work it was issued for. Together these documents make up our contract with you.
Our contract is governed by Scots law, unless you live in England or have your place of business there, in which case English law applies.
Any legal action relating to our contract may be brought in the country whose law applies, or in any other country whose courts may have authority under general law.
Under UK anti-money-laundering law, we must:
- gather information about your identity and check that information;
- gather information about the identities of people who are related to you, if relevant, and possibly check that information; and
- continue to monitor the transaction and keep all the information up to date.
If we do not receive satisfactory evidence of your identity, we will not be able to work for you.
We also have a duty to report to the National Crime Agency (NCA) if we know or suspect that any funds or assets involved in a matter were made through criminal activity. This duty may take priority over our duty to keep your information confidential.
It is an offence to tell someone that a report has been filed to NCA and that they may be investigated. If we make a report to NCA, we cannot carry on with your work without NCA approval and we will not be responsible for the effects of any delay which may occur as a result.
Anti-bribery and corruption
We are committed to the highest standards of professional behaviour in our business. We will not accept any form of bribery or corruption. We will be happy to send you a copy of our full anti-bribery and corruption policy if you want to see it.
Conflicts of interest
In most cases, we cannot act for you if your interests conflict with the interests of any of our clients, or of the firm itself. If we become aware of a conflict of interest or think that one may arise, we will discuss with you about how we will proceed.
For Scottish work, we are regulated by The Law Society of Scotland.
For English work, we are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.