SRA Transparency Rules
We are required by new regulations to set out our complaints procedure on this website. Hopefully, you will never need the complaints procedure. Indeed, since setting up practice in June 2010, we have never actually used this complaints procedure because we have never received a complaint from a client. There have been NO complaints about service and NO complaints about pricing. There have been rare occasions (two we believe) when our opponents in litigation have chosen to complain about the good work that we do, but more frequently our opponents simply instruct us to represent them in their next dispute
I am sorry you have found it necessary to complain about the level of service that you have received from MJD Solicitors. We are committed to providing a high quality service and take complaints very seriously. We do have a formal complaints handling procedure which is set out below:
1. I will deal with your complaint in the first instance.
2. I will send you a letter acknowledging your complaint and, if necessary, ask you to confirm or expand upon the details of your complaint. You can expect to receive my letter within five working days of me receiving your complaint.
3. I will investigate your complaint within 10 working days of my above letter at which point I will write inviting you to meet me and discuss and hopefully resolve your complaint.
4. Within 2 working days of the above meeting I will write to you confirming what took place and any solutions I have agreed with you. If you do not want a meeting or it is not possible, I will send you a detailed reply to your complaint. This will include my suggestion for resolving your complaint.
5. If you remain dissatisfied I will review my above decision and confirm the outcome of my review within 10 working days of your request for me to review my decision.
6. If you are still not satisfied I will, with your consent, ask a member of the Solicitors Sole Practitioners Group or my local Law Society to review your complaint and respond to me within 20 working days.
7. I will let you know the result of the review within 5 working days of the end of the review. At this time I will write to you confirming my final position on your complaint and explain my reasons.
8 If you are still concerned, you may be able to ask the Legal Ombudsman to investigate your complaint and his address is PO Box 6806 Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ. Alternatively, if your complaint relates to an invoice you may be entitled to apply to the court to have our charges assessed pursuant Part iii of the Solicitors Act 1974. 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
If you have any queries, please let me know.
We are required by new regulations to provide details of typical prices for debt recovery work up to £100,000. The regulations do not actually state what debt recovery work is or whether such includes disputed debt recovery work, such as disputed litigation, adjudication, arbitration, expert determination or indeed mediation. Neither do regulations state whether we are required to give costings for enforcing debt recovery work, for example appointing high court bailiffs, charging orders against property. The consensus is that the regulations are talking about undisputed debt recovery work (excluding enforcement) so that is what we shall confine this article to.
We provide a bespoke service because every client’s problem is unique. If you are after a simple seven day debt recovery letter then, unless, you are an existing client of our firm, we would probably suggest you to do such work yourself. Most clients are capable of writing a letter suggesting that “if the debt is not paid within seven days then legal proceedings will be commenced and in which case a further claim will be made for interest, court fees and legal costs”.
If you do instruct us to act for you your work will be undertaken by Matthew Dillon who is a solicitor who qualified January 1997 and prior to setting up MJD solicitors in June 2010 spent several years in private practice and nine years working as in-house counsel for FTSE quoted construction, facilities management and PFI companies undertaking dispute resolution work ranging in value from a few thousand pounds to in excess of £1M. Matthew has experience of insolvency work, adjudication, arbitration, mediation, litigation, High Court litigation, foreign proceedings and experience of being up against some of the leading London based law firms in addition to dealing with more local opponents.
When undertaking debt recovery work of any sort, regard always needs to be given as to the likely recovery of the principal amount, interest and debt recovery costs. It may well be that what we can recover in costs means that at the conclusion of your matter, your opponent has paid all of our fees.
Typical costs below:
Work Typical Cost exc vat (Typical Disbursement)
Simple Letter of Claim pursuant to pre-action protocol £150 – £500.00 (0)
Detailed Letter of Claim pursuant to pre-action protocol for construction and engineering disputes £500 – £2,500 (0)
Statutory Demand – undisputed £200 (£60)
Letter threatening Winding up petition £200- £500 (0)
Winding up Petition – undisputed £1,000 – £3,500 (£350 – £2,000)
Litigation – undisputed and not requiring detailed pleadings. If the debt is disputed or a defence is entered then these costs do not provide a reliable estimate. £300 – £1,000 (5% of claim)
The above costs are not binding quotations but typical costs based on work that we have undertaken recently. Timescales: work can usually be commenced within three days of us accepting instructions (earlier if we agree it is urgent). Typical timescales to resolve undisputed issues vary from, say 3 days to 3 months.
For the vast majority of clients the above information is largely meaningless and we would urge any client of any firm to speak with their solicitor to get a proper understanding of their options, likely costs and likely outcomes. The information that firms provide and are required to provide by regulations for undisputed claims only tell a very small part of the story. Government websites may encourage you to issue court proceedings online or to issue statutory demands, but the same website do not explain the risks or consequences should you get matters wrong or should the claim have no merit. What this information possibly does is demonstrate that whilst legal services supplied by regulated and insured fully qualified solicitors are not cheap, the costs of using a solicitor can actually be less than anticipated and less than organisations that call themselves “debt recovery agencies” who seek inflated commissions for writing if you letters or making personal visits (which are rarely justified).
Terms and Conditions of Service
We are required by new regulations to set out on this website our terms and conditions of business which we set out below.
Unlike some firms, we do not routinely offer an initial free consultation. The reason for this is that we consider such short consultations, typically no more than 30 minutes, to be pointless. In our opinion the potential client does not receive adequate advice and does not get a feel for whether or not it wishes to instruct the solicitor it is seeing. From our point of view, like the majority of our clients we are a business, and whilst we are confident we provide an excellent service and value for money, the burden of seeing too many entities seeking free advice can be overwhelming.
For all new clients therefore we offer a fixed fee initial meeting, up to 90 minutes, for £100 plus VAT. We ask you to bring to that meeting relevant paperwork so that we can get a feel for your dispute. The purpose of the meeting is to provide you with an initial view of the merits of your case, some legal guidance, and details of how your matter can proceed and the likely costs thereof. We can also discuss funding options with you.
If you have a piece of transactional work, such as a requirement to draft new contracts, then we are happy to see you for an initial consultation without charge. The purpose of this meeting is not for us to give you advice but to understand your business, your needs and to discuss potential prices for future work; you also get to decide whether you want to work with us.
Due to regulations we must set out hourly rates below. We believe the hourly rate to be comparable if not lower than our competitors. However, the hourly rate in our opinion is misleading. Of far more important is the experience and capability of the lawyer being instructed and whether there is scope to agree fixed, capped, discounted, conditional, or deferred fees and indeed what the practice of the firm is in respect of invoicing. The simple fact is this: since setting up practice in June 2010 MJD solicitors has received NO complaints from clients about the level of their fees. The below terms therefore provide information about our charges, but for a proper bespoke arrangement we would always suggest that you contact us.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS
1.1 This document sets out MJD Solicitors terms and conditions of business and will apply to all matters handled by us on your behalf.
1.2 The engagement letter (sent with this document) together with these terms and conditions of business constitutes the agreement between us.
2 Service Standards
2.1 We want you to be entirely satisfied with the service that we provide and therefore make the following commitments:
• Our charges will always be highly competitive and totally transparent
• We will keep you informed of developments at agreed regular intervals
• We will update costs estimates at least every three months
• We will communicate with you in plain English
• We will explain to you by telephone or in writing the legal work required as your matter progresses
• We will make ourselves reasonably available by telephone outside of normal office hours
3 Your Responsibilities
3.1 You will provide us with timely and complete instructions both at the outset and in response to any requests that we make to you.
3.2 You are responsible for ensuring that the information that you provide us and upon which we act is accurate.
4 Our Fees
4.1 Unless otherwise agreed by us in writing, our fees will be assessed by reference to the time we spend on the matter on the basis of the hourly charging rates which are set out below:
Fee Earner Hourly Rate
Matthew Dillon £240 – £260.00
Senior Solicitors (over 8yrs pqe) £200.00
4.2 The above rates may be uplifted in the event that work undertaken is particularly complex, requires specialist skills or is exceptionally urgent. We will always advise you of any fee uplift prior to undertaking any such work.
4.3 Our rates are reviewed annually on the 1st April to reflect increases in overhead costs and inflation. We will notify you in writing no later than 30 days prior to any increases taking effect.
4.4 We will add the following to our fees:-
• Disbursements such as barristers and other agency fees, search fees, Court fees
• Expenses including travelling costs, including mileage which is charged at 50p per mile, copying (charged at 20p per sheet (40p colour), binding charges and couriers.
4.5 Any estimate of fees that we provide is a guide to likely costs and not a fixed quote. Any agreement on fixed fees or other fee arrangement will be set out within our engagement letter.
4.6 Our vat registration number is 973 7952 62
5 Invoices and Payment
5.1 We will send you an interim bill for our fees and any disbursements incurred at the beginning of each month in respect of work undertaken during the previous month. We will send you a final bill after completion of the work.
5.2 Invoices become due for payment 5 days after issue to you. If you do not pay your invoice by the due date then we may charge you interest at a rate which is 10% above the base rate of Natwest Bank plc.
5.3 If we agree that an invoice may be paid by a third party on your behalf and the third party does not pay the invoice within 30 days, you will immediately be liable to discharge the invoice. You will be directly liable for VAT in all cases.
5.4 Where we accept instructions from a corporate entity, we reserve the right to require personal guarantees in relation to our fees and disbursements from appropriate persons at any stage in the transaction or proceedings unless we have adequate funds on account of costs.
5.5 Where a client consists of two or more persons, each of those persons shall be jointly and severally liable to us for the discharge of our fees and disbursements.
5.6 In litigation cases, you are primarily liable to us for payment of all charges in full, regardless of any order for costs that we may obtain against your opponent.
5.7 We do frequently request money on account of our charges and expenses. This money will be held in our Client Account and used to discharge fees and disbursements as they are incurred. We reserve the right to request further monies on account to cover on-going works which have not yet been invoiced to you.
6 Other Parties’ Charges and Expenses
6.1 A court or other tribunal may order you to pay your opponents legal costs in certain circumstances, such as where you lose your case or any part thereof or where you fail to recover a sum of money in excess of any offer made by the other party. In such circumstances you will be liable to the other party to make such payment to them.
7 Financial Arrangements
7.1 Our policy is not to accept cash in excess of £500 from clients.
7.2 Where we have to pay money to you, it will be paid by cheque or bank transfer. It will not be paid in cash. We reserve the right to refuse to make payment to a third party of any sum due to you or to accept payment from a third party.
7.3 Any money received on your behalf will be held in our client account. Interest will be calculated and paid to you at the rate set by the bank holding the relevant client account. The period for which interest will be paid normally runs from the date(s) when funds are received by us until the date(s) on the cheque(s) issued to you. The payment of interest is subject to certain minimum amounts and periods of time set out in the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules 2011 and in any event we will not pay you interest if the amount we receive from the bank holding your monies is less than £25 per annum.
7.4 Credits to our client account should be made in sufficient time to allow for bank clearance before funds are required. We will not accept any liability for any failure on your part to provide cleared funds in time to meet deadlines such as completion dates. We will not accept any liability for any loss or damage arising from any insolvency, failure or default of any bank or of any other person, firm, company or institution.
8 Client care and complaints procedure
8.1 We are committed to client care and are confident of providing a high quality service. If however, you have any queries or concerns about the work or any invoice rendered to you please raise them in the first instance with the fee earner with day to day responsibility for your files. If that does not resolve the problem to your satisfaction or you prefer not to speak to the fee earner, then please contact Matthew Dillon.
8.2 If you are still concerned, you may be able to ask the Legal Ombudsman to investigate your complaint and his address is PO Box 6806 Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ. Alternatively, if your complaint relates to an invoice you may be entitled to apply to the court to have our charges assessed pursuant Part iii of the Solicitors Act 1974. 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.
9 Our Liability
9.1 We hold professional indemnity insurance at two million pounds per claim or series of claims with Endurance Worldwide Insurance Limited. If you require further information about our insurance please contact us.
9.2 We can only limit our liability to the extent the law allows. In particular, we cannot limit our liability for death or personal injury caused by our negligence. Subject to that, our entire liability to you for any claim or claims (including legal costs) shall be limited to two million pounds . We will not be liable for any consequential, special, indirect or exemplary damages, costs or losses or any damages, costs or losses attributable to lost profits or opportunities.
9.2 We have no expertise in any of the specialist subjects listed below and unless specifically stated to the contrary in the engagement letter, we will not be responsible for advising or commenting in any way on any of the following:
• The laws of any legal jurisdiction other than England and Wales;
• Any accounting or tax consequences of any transaction that you are to enter into and the general taxation implications of any advice given;
• The commercial or financial viability of any contracts or arrangements entered or to be entered into by you;
• Matters of business efficacy.
10 Terminating our Instructions
10.1 You may end your instructions to us at any time by providing written notice, but please note that we are entitled to keep your papers and documents in the event that there is any money owed to us.
10.2 We are only entitled to stop acting for you only with good reason (e.g. if you fail to provide us with instructions, if you do not pay an interim invoice or if there is a conflict of interest). You must pay our charges up until the point that we stop acting for you.
11.1 We are professionally and legally obliged to keep your affairs confidential, however we will assume that we are authorised by you to discuss relevant confidential information with your other advisors and any other person whom we may need to contact in the performance of our services unless you tell us otherwise.
11.2 We are required for regulatory and auditing purposes to make certain disclosures, on a confidential basis, to bodies such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority and our professional indemnity insurers and you consent to such disclosures being made.
12 Data Protection
12.1 We are bound by the Data Protection Act 1998. Your personal data may be used and disclosed by us to third parties in the course of providing services to you and marketing those and other services provided by us to you (eg seminar invitations and newsletters) and for regulatory purposes. We are required to maintain personal data for regulatory and insurance purposes for a period of time after conclusion of provision of services to clients. If you do not wish personal data to be used for marketing purposes as mentioned above, you should notify us in writing.
12.2 We will be entitled to carry out such electronic credit or other searches in respect of clients or prospective clients as we consider appropriate.
13 Distance Selling
13.1 If we accept instructions without meeting you the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 apply to our relationship. This means you have the right to cancel your instructions to us within seven working days of receiving these Terms and Conditions. You can cancel your instructions by contacting us by post or by fax to this office.
13.2 Once we have started work on your file, you may be charged if you then cancel your instructions notwithstanding the fact you cancel within 7 days of receiving these Terms and Conditions.
14 Money Laundering
14.1 We are required by law to obtain satisfactory evidence of your identity. You may be asked to provide identification and information or evidence as to the source or destination of funding. If you cannot provide us with the specific information that we request, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss others ways to verify your identity.
14.2 We may be required by law to make a disclosure to the Serious Organised Crime Agency where we know or suspect that a transaction involves money laundering or terrorist financing. Such disclosures may be made without notice to you, and we may cease to act for you without giving any reason. Time spent by us in complying with our legal obligations in this respect will be chargeable to you.
15 Storage of files, deeds and documents
15.1 After completing our work for you we will usually keep our file of papers for no more than 6 years after which they will usually be destroyed without notice. We will not destroy documents you ask us to deposit in safe custody although we may charge you for this service.
16 Equality and Diversity
16.1 We are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of our dealings with clients, third parties and employees and are required to produce a copy of our policy upon request. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our equality and diversity policy.
17 Financial Services
17.1 We are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority. If, while we are acting for you, you need advice on investments, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised to provide the necessary advice.
17.2 However, we may provide certain limited investment advice services where these are closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you. This is because we are members of the Law Society of England and Wales , which is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.
17.3 The Solicitors Regulations Authority is the independent regulatory arm of the Law Society. The Legal Complaints Service is the independent complaints-handling arm of the Law Society. If you are unhappy with any investment advice you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with either of those bodies.
18 Insurance Mediation
18.1 We are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority. However, we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Services Authority so that we can carry on insurance mediation 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 the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Services Authority website at www.fsa.gov.uk/register.
18.2 The Law Society of England and Wales is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, but the responsibility for regulation and complaints handling has been separated from the Law Society’s representative functions. The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory body of the Law Society and the Legal Services Ombudsman is an independent complaints handling body.
19 Force majeure
19.1 We will not be liable for any loss or damage arising as a direct or indirect result of the provision of services being prevented, hindered, delayed or rendered uneconomic by reason of circumstances beyond our control, including but not limited to Act of God, government action, war, riot, acts of terrorism, strike, lock out, trade dispute or labour disturbance, accident, breakdown of machinery, fire, flood, storm or difficulty or increased expense in obtaining information or services of any description.
20.1 Failure or delay by us in enforcing or partially enforcing any provision of these Terms and Conditions or our engagement letter shall not be construed as a waiver of any of our rights.
20.2 If any provision of these Terms and Conditions or our engagement letter is held by any court or other competent authority to be void or unenforceable in whole or in part, then such provision shall be severed to the extent necessary so to render the rest of our agreement enforceable.
20.3 Unless otherwise agreed in writing these terms apply to any future instructions you give to us. Your continuing instructions in this matter will amount to acceptance of these terms and conditions of business even if you fail to return the enclosed copy of this agreement endorsed with your signature.
20.4 These Terms and Conditions and the engagement letter are governed by and construed in accordance with English law and the English Courts shall have exclusive jurisdiction in respect of any dispute between us.
I confirm that I have read, understood and accept these terms and conditions of business
Name: ..……………………………… Date: ………………………………