Terms and Conditions

1. Places and hours of business

Comptons offices are located at 90-92 Parkway, Regents Park, London, NW1 7AN.  The normal hours of opening are between 9.15 am and 5.15 pm on week days.  Appointments can be arranged outside these hours when essential to the interests of a client.

2. Conduct of your legal work

The person dealing with the matter on your behalf will carry out most of the work personally, but you could also contact that person’s secretary or assistant who will be familiar with your file.  If they are unable to help you then they will be pleased to take a message for you.

If your work is carried out on a day to day basis by an Assistant Solicitor or a Legal Executive, a Partner of this firm will ultimately be responsible for your case.

We aim to offer all our clients an efficient and effective service and we are more than confident that we will do so in your case.  Should there be any aspect of our service with which you are unhappy and which you feel cannot be resolved you may raise the matter with the Senior Partner Stephen Compton.

You must appreciate that the person dealing with your matter may have a heavy case load and  will often be out of the office at Court or otherwise engaged with other clients.  We will endeavour to respond to your letters and telephone enquiries as expeditiously as possible. 

3. Fees

3.1 Under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 this contract will commence as soon as you instruct us and whether or not you have signed and/or returned our Client Information Guide  you will then lose your rights of cancellation. The contract will last as long as our retainer is in place and/or a final invoice is delivered and paid by you which ever is the later. Further details of the services provided to you may be set out in a letter which accompanies this guide.

3.2 Unless and until either an alternative fee arrangement has been agreed and confirmed in writing by us the basis for the calculation of our fees is described below and is mainly by reference to the time spent by the Partner and other staff dealing with the transaction or case; the time charged being all time spent on your affairs.  This includes attendances upon you and others; travelling and waiting time; considering, preparing and working on papers and correspondence; making and receiving telephone calls; preparing for Court or Tribunal hearings; instructing and attending on Counsel; instructing agents or experts on your behalf; legal and factual research.   There may be other factors which will increase our charges such as exceptional urgency, value, complexity, or the need to work unsocial hours.

3.3 The time of the persons set out in paragraph 3.4 below is charged at an hourly rate which reflects overhead costs.  Letters and telephone calls are charged in six minute units. 

3.4 The current hourly rates are set out below.  These rates do not include Value Added Tax which will be added when an invoice is prepared.

Partners (Senior) £250
Partners £230
Solicitors £200
Executives £200
Trainee Solicitors
 
£180
 

3.5 Where the instructions of the client require that interviews take place, or other work is carried out, necessarily outside of Comptons’ normal office hours, Comptons reserve the right to increase the level of the hourly rate. 

3.6 The hourly rates set out above are reviewed from time to time to take account of changes in salary and other overhead costs.  Details of any revision of the rates occurring during the continuance of a case or transaction will be supplied to a client on request.  These rates may not be appropriate in cases of exceptional complexity or urgency.  Where it becomes apparent that such circumstances exist, Comptons reserve the right to terminate the retainer unless revised rates are agreed in substitution. 

3.7 In property transactions, the administration of estates and in transactions involving a substantial financial consideration or benefit to the client, fees may be calculated both  by reference to the time spent and also by reference to a value element based for example on the price of the property, the size of the estate, or the value of the financial benefit.  The value element reflects the importance of the transaction and consequent responsibility falling on the firm. 

3.8 Disbursements include payments made by Comptons on behalf of the client for example, Court fees, Counsel’s fees, fees for medical reports, search fees, Land or Probate Registry fees etc.  Comptons have no obligation to effect such payments unless funds have been provided by the client for that purpose.  VAT is payable on certain disbursements. 

3.9 Fees are payable whether or not cases are successfully concluded or a transaction completed.  If any case or transaction does not proceed to a completion for any reason during the period in which Comptons are instructed, then Comptons should be entitled to a charge for work done on the basis set out above but, in its absolute discretion the firm may waive part of all such entitlement to fees without obligation.

3.10 If a conveyancing transaction becomes abortive for any reason, the level of our fees will depend upon the stage  the transaction has  reached and will be based upon the hourly rate of the fee earner concerned. Such abortive fees are subject to a minimum of £100 plus VAT. If the matter becomes abortive at the stage of exchange of contracts, then it is likely that fees will be at or close to the figure quoted for the full transaction. We will also charge you for any disbursements (searches etc) which we have paid out on your behalf. We record on our computer all work done for you and so you may at any time ask us to inform you of the current level of fees and disbursements.

3.11 If an indication of charges is given in advance, please note that this is an estimate and is approximately only.  Estimates are given on the assumption that the matter is not, or does not become, unusually urgent, complicated or time consuming.

3.12 If requested Comptons will give you an estimate of what our fees are likely to amount to, based on available information and will also seek to estimate your prospects for success in your case.  It is not possible to know at the outset of contentious mattershow they will develop or how much time will be spent and therefore exactly what our fees will be.  An estimate is not a fixed fee agreement.If you subsequently ask us to undertake additional work or change your mind and alter earlier instructions this will increase our work and therefore our fees.  As the matter progresses we will let you know upon request if it becomes apparent that an estimate will be greatly exceeded for any reason, or if our advice as to the basis of our charges will be affected by any review of our charged rate.  If at any stage you are concerned about costs, please consult us. 

3.13 In some cases e.g. those allocated to the small claims track or the fast track the recovery of costs against your opponent may be fixed by the Court at a relatively small sum, or in the case of proceedings allocated to the small claims track, the Court has very limited jurisdiction to order any costs to be paid by your opponent even if you win. In all cases there is a risk that you will not recover all of your legal costs. You agree by signing these terms and conditions that if appropriate we may charge you a greater sum than you are able to recover against your opponent.

3.14 We may pay agents commission to any solicitor who refers work to us. If we do so we confirm that such fee sharing arrangement will not in any way increase the amount of costs payable by you to us in respect of  your case.

4. Payment of Accounts

Comptons’ invoices should be settled straightaway.  If the invoice is not paid in full within 28 days of receipt, interest will be charged at the rate of 3% over the bank base rate then enforced until payment is made.

Under the Solicitors (Non-Contentious Business) Remuneration Order 1994, if you are not satisfied with the amount of our fees relating to work done on a non-contentious matter you have the right to ask us to obtain a Remuneration Certificate from the Law Society.  The certificate will either say that our fees are fair and reasonable or it will substitute a lower fee.  If you wish us to obtain a certificate you must ask us to do so within one month of receipt of the bill. 

If you ask us to obtain a remuneration certificate, then unless we already hold the money to cover these, you must pay:-

a)  half of our fee shown in the bill;
b)  all the VAT shown in the bill;
c)  all the expenses we have incurred shown in the bill - sometimes called “disbursements”.

However, you may ask the Law Society to waive these requirements so that you do no have to pay anything for the time being.  You would need to show that exceptional circumstances apply in your case. 

Furthermore, there are provisions in Sections 70, 71 and 72 of the Solicitors Act 1974  concerning the detailed assessment of costs which may give you the right to have the bill checked by an Officer of the High Court. 

5. Arrangements for payment of fees

5.1 Conditional fee agreement: if so requested we will consider entering into a conditional fee agreement with you in respect of these areas of work where such agreements are permitted.  Special terms will then be agreed with you in respect of the basis on which our fees are charged and disbursements are incurred and we will advise you as to insurance and other related issues.

5.2 Property transactions: an account would normally be rendered following exchange of contracts and payment is required prior to or upon completion.  If sufficient funds are payable to the client upon completion, amounts due to Comptons will be deducted from such funds unless otherwise agreed.

5.3 Administration of estates: it is our usual practice to deliver interim accounts at intervals during the administration.  An interim bill will normally be submitted when the grant has been obtained.  If it then transpires that it will take some time to complete the administration, further interim accounts would be rendered periodically and the final account will be presented when the estate accounts are delivered for approval.

5.4 Other cases: it is normal practice to ask clients to pay sums of money from time to time on account of the fees and disbursements which are anticipated in the following weeks or months.  It is helpful if clients meet such requests with prompt payment to avoid any delay in the progress of their case.  In transactions or cases likely to continue for more than one month, interim accounts covering the work already carried out will normally be rendered quarterly.  In some cases accounts may be rendered more frequently when a considerable amount of time is spent within a short period.  This procedure enables clients to budget for costs as the matter progresses.  In the event of any such account or request for payment on account not being paid, Comptons reserve the right to decline to act further in the case.  The full amount of work done up to that date will be the subject of a final account rendered and will be a debt due from the client.  Interest will be charged at 3% over Allied Irish Bank’s base rate from time to time from the date of delivery of an account in cases of payment not made within the 28 days of such delivery. 

5.5 In the event of payment not being made in the terms set out in this paragraph (5) Comptons reserve the right to suspend work on your matter for which the account is unpaid and/or on any other matters being dealt with for you, and ultimately, to decline to represent you further.  In these circumstances Comptons will bill you for any expenses that Comptons have to incur in the collection of any amount due from you. 

5.6 Unless other arrangements are specifically made, the persons signing this agreement on behalf of private limited companies shall be responsible for the payment of all bills rendered to their company. 

5.7 In cases of transactions continuing for some period of time, we may ask you to make regular  payments on account by way of bank standing orders. If this method of payment  is required you will need to provide us with your bank details and complete a bank standing order mandate in the agreed amount.

5.8 Comptons usually ask clients to deposit an advance payment on account of fees and disbursements.  Comptons will reserve their right to make the receipt of such payment a condition of accepting instructions.

5.9 Where interim bills are rendered Comptons confirm that such bills will not necessarily cover all work done but this will be made clear to you.  When sending an interim account any payment made on account will be shown, Comptons may ask for further funds on account so that we can continue to work on the matter. In all cases the payment of an interim bill will constitute a payment on account of our total costs and disbursements incurred in that matter.

5.10 Debit/Credit/Switch Card Payments: Comptons will accept the payment of fees by credit, debit or switch cards on the basis that a fee is paid by you in addition to the value of the transaction. The said fee is calculated as follows:-

(a) 2.25% on the value of credit card transactions
(b) 25 pence per debit card transaction
(c) 25 pence per switch card transaction

5.11 Some types of work, eg. property purchases or settlement of large claims, may involve us making substantial payments to third parties from the monies which Comptons hold in our client bank account.  Comptons client account is operated in accordance with professional rules which govern payments against uncleared funds.  When monies are paid to a third party, at least four working days must be allowed for the clearance of any cheques deposited with us for the purpose of making such payments.  If possible substantial funds should be sent to us by telegraphic transfer.  Any bank charges which arise as a result of requesting special clearance of cheques  and for the telegraphic transfer of funds will be billed to you. 

5.12 We do not have a contract for Legal Services Funding (formerly Legal Aid).

6. Receipt of cash

6.1 As a result of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and Money Laundering Regulations, Comptons cannot accept payments in cash for any sum exceeding £500. All payments should be made by cheque and if cleared funds are required by inter bank transfer or banker’s draft.

6.2 Comptons require a certified copy of your passport, driving licence or other form of photographic identification together with copies of two of your utility bills not more than three months old when returning the duplicate copy of these terms and conditions. Comptons will further require details of your bank account.

6.3 In the case of companies Comptons’ terms and conditions of business should be signed by two directors and/or director and company secretary who should provide the identification requested in 6.2 above.

7. Insurance Policies

Comptons would advise you to check whether you have any insurance policies (including household or motor insurance) in your possession.  These can include legal expenses insurance.  You should check this out as soon as possible as there are usually time limits for notifying insurers of a potential claim. After the event insurance may be available to you and we will discuss this potential area of funding and the likely premium levels with you.

8. Professional Agents

During the conduct of your matter we may be required to instruct other professionals (e.g. surveyors) on your behalf. In all such cases those professionals will render their invoices direct to you and you will be  responsible for payment of the same on the timescale referred to in 4 above.

9. Costs recovered

9.1 In some litigation cases a successful client may be entitled to the payment of costs by some other party to the proceedings.  However, it is rare for the system of “assessment” of costs, as it is known, to result in the other party having to pay the full amount of the costs incurred by the client with their own Solicitor.  Further if the other party is in receipt of Legal Aid no costs are likely to be recovered. 

9.2 It is important to be aware that Comptons is employed by the client and that the client is personally responsible for the payment of Comptons’ fees regardless of any order for costs made against opponents.  In addition if your case is unsuccessful, you will probably have to pay your opponent’s costs as well as your own.  If you are successful in your case then the other party may be ordered to pay your costs. There are however circumstances in which you will still have to pay some or all of Comptons’ fees including for example:-

i)   where the other parties do not pay promptly, or at all,
ii)  the Court orders for the other party to pay you less than our fees, leaving a balance which you will need to pay to settle our account,
iii)  where the other person’s contributions cannot be recovered, for instance when they are incapable of paying or are legally aided. 

In such situations you may like to consider employing Comptons to recover the debt owed to you and we shall be pleased to discuss this when appropriate. 

9.3 In the event that a client is successful and costs are payable by the other party, interest may be claimed on those costs against the other party as from the date on which the order for costs was made.  To the extent that any of the fees and disbursements of Comptons have been paid on account by the client, Comptons will account to the client for such interest but will otherwise be entitled to retain it.

10. Keeping fees under control

If you have not used a Solicitor before it may be useful to know that you can help to limit the time Comptons need to spend on your case and, therefore, the charges by:-

i) bringing to the first interview any relevant papers, letters, documents and in most cases a brief statement of facts;
ii) telling us if you have any important time limits or dates of which we should be aware for example, holidays;
iii) dealing properly with our queries, telephone messages and letters;
iv) making an appointment if you want to see someone.  If you call in to see somebody urgently without an appointment we will ensure that you are seen as soon as possible, but you may not be able to see the person whom you would like or at that time;
v) arriving promptly for appointments and letting us know in advance if you are unable to keep an appointment;
vi) telephoning us with urgent queries or information.  If your Solicitor is unavailable please talk to his or her Secretary who will be able to help or to ensure that your call is dealt with as soon as possible and asking if you are not sure about anything.

11.  Interest payment

The Solicitors Accounts (Deposit Interest) Rules govern the conditions under which Comptons pay interest on money which we are holding for you.  When required by these rules, we shall account to you for interest  less any administration charge.  We also maintain records in respect of interest earned as required by the Inland Revenue and our professional rules.  Interest will be paid or credited to you gross of tax and  you will be responsible for declaring this interest to the Inland Revenue and paying any tax due.

12. Storage of papers, Wills and deeds

12.1 Following the conclusion of a transaction or case, Comptons will retain the file of papers for such period as they shall deem appropriate in their absolute discretion.  If you require such papers, including pre-registration deeds and documents (where the title to property has been registered with H M Land Registry) to be kept for any specific period you must give notice in writing to Comptons to that effect but Comptons then reserve the right to require the you to take personal custody of the papers.  This provision does not apply to current deeds, Wills and securities.

12.2 Comptons provide a safe custody service to clients in respect of Wills, deeds and other securities and no charge will be made to you for such storage unless prior notice in writing is given to you of a charge to be made.  Comptons do not accept any liability in the event of loss and you should ensure that you have adequate insurance cover of your own and that it will extend to storage at our premises of the items concerned. 

12.3 Where stored papers, Wills, deeds or securities are retrieved from storage by Comptons in connection with continuing or new instructions to Comptons to act in connection with the client’s affairs, a charge of £75 plus VAT will be made for such retrieval.  Comptons also reserve the right to make an administration charge based on time spent on perusal, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions.

13. Future Instructions

Unless otherwise agreed, and subject to the application of then current hourly rates, these terms and conditions of business shall apply to any future instructions given by you to Comptons.

14. Complaints Handling Procedure

We aim to provide an excellent service.  The Partners and Staff of Comptons are always keen to ensure that you are happy and satisfied with the service which we have provided.  However, we also appreciate that from time to time clients may feel grievance or wish to lodge a complaint.  Accordingly we have set up an in-house complaints handling procedure which is to operate in such situations.  The procedure is as follows:-

i) A complaint should initially be raised with the fee earner involved, preferably in writing and setting out the nature of your complaint or grievance.  The fee earner will record your complaint in a central register and acknowledge your complaint within seven days. The fee earner will then investigate your complaint and reply to it.

ii) If the initial reference to the fee earner does not resolve the complaint within 14 days then the problem should be referred to the Partner with ultimate responsibility for your case. The fee earner will inform you of the name of the Partner if you do not know it. The Partner will review your file and will seek to answer and address your complaint and may ask you to attend to discuss your complaint and your matter generally. You should allow a further period of 14 days for this process.

iii) If you are still dissatisfied, then please address your complaint to the Senior Partner, Stephen Compton. Mr Compton will then provide a final decision within 14 days.

15. Professional Indemnity     

In the interest of clients, Comptons maintain professional indemnity insurance and any liability of the firm to you or those claiming through you shall be limited to £2,000,000 (two million pounds)

16.  Conclusion

The purpose of this guide is to tell you more about us and the way we operate.  Your instructions in this matter will amount to an acceptance of these terms and conditions of business and we do hope that we will be able to help you achieve a successful conclusion to your transaction or case.

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Comptons Solicitors LLP is registered at Companies House under number OC352969. Our registered office is situated at 90-92 Parkway, Regents Park, London NW1 7AN. Comptons is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Our SRA number is 533923. A list of Members of Comptons Solicitors LLP is open to inspection at its registered office. Individuals referred to in this website and elsewhere as "Partners" are Members of Comptons Solicitors LLP (VAT Reg No 455 1989 14)