Status

Charlotte Montague Solicitor is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) number 573823.  I am a solicitor and member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners and I will be responsible for the conduct of your matter.

I am bound by the Solicitors Regulation Authority Code of Conduct 2011 which is available on the Solicitors Regulation Authority website (www.sra.org.uk).

My responsibilities:

  • I will reply to your correspondence within seven days of receipt. If I am not able to give a substantive reply within seven days, I will acknowledge your correspondence and give you a date by which you will receive a substantive reply.
  • I will return telephone calls within 24 hours or by the following Monday if your call is received on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, unless I notify you in advance of my non-availability.
  • I will update you regularly on progress with your matter by telephone, email or in writing.
  • I will communicate with you in plain language.
  • I will explain to you by telephone, email or in writing the legal work required as your matter progresses.
  • I will explain to you at the outset how much your matter will cost and I will update you on the cost of your matter every three months.
  • I will update you on whether the likely outcomes still justify the likely costs and risks associated with your matter whenever there is a material change in circumstances.
  • I will update you on the likely timescales for each stage of this matter and any important changes in those timescales.
  • I will continue to review whether there are alternative methods by which your matter can be funded
  • I will review your matter regularly.
  • I will advise you of any changes in the law.
  • I will advise you of any circumstances and risks of which I am aware or consider reasonably foreseeable that could affect the outcome of your matter.

Your responsibilities:

  • You will provide me with evidence of your identity and of the source of your funds, on request.
  • You will provide me with clear, timely and accurate instructions.
  • You will provide all documentation required to complete the matter in a timely manner.
  • You will safeguard any documents that are likely to be required for discovery.
  • You will put me in funds for any disbursements which may be required to progress your matter in a timely manner.
  • You will make a payment on account of costs if requested.

Evidence of identity

The law requires solicitors to get satisfactory evidence of the identity of their clients and sometimes people associated with them. This is because solicitors who deal with money and property on behalf of their client can be used by criminals wanting to launder money.

To comply with the law, I need to get evidence of your identity as soon as possible.  My practice is to see your passport or photo-card driving licence.  If you cannot provide the specific identification requested, please contact me as soon as possible to discuss other ways to verify your identity.

Receiving and paying funds

The practice’s policy is only to accept cash up to £500 in any twenty-eight day period.  If you try to avoid this policy by depositing cash directly with the bank, I may decide to charge you for any additional checks I decide are necessary to prove the source of the funds.

Where I have to pay money to you, it will be paid by cheque or bank transfer. It will not be paid in cash or to a third party.  The firm’s charge for payment by bank transfer is £30 plus disbursements.  My bank’s current charge is £12 if you require the transfer to be made by BACS or CHAPS.

Costs

My costs will be calculated on either a fixed fee basis or at an hourly rate.  My hourly rate is currently £180 per hour and I review my hourly rate on 1 November each year.  If this review leads to an increase in my rates during the period of this retainer, I will notify you.

I will confirm in writing to you at the outset of the retainer whether the work is being carried out on a fixed fee or hourly rate.  If it is being carried out at an hourly rate, I will give you an estimate as to how many hours’ work I believe will be required to complete the matter.

Data protection and confidentiality

I am professionally and legally obliged to keep your affairs confidential.  Solicitors may, however, be required by statute to make a disclosure to the Serious Organised Crime Agency where they know or suspect that a transaction may involve money laundering or terrorist financing.  If I make a disclosure in relation to your matter, I may not be able to tell you that a disclosure has been made.  I may have to stop working on your matter for a period of time and may not be able to tell you why.

It is a principle of the Data Protection Act 1998 that data shall not be kept for longer than is necessary.  In pursuance of that principle documents will be destroyed once I have reasonable cause to believe that it is no longer necessary for the data to be kept.  You should therefore let me know at the outset if there are any documents which you wish to have returned to you.

I use the information you provide primarily for the provision of legal services to you and for related purposes including:

  • updating and enhancing client records
  • analysis to help me manage my practice
  • statutory returns
  • legal and regulatory compliance

My use of that information is subject to your instructions, the Data Protection Act 1998 and my duty of confidentiality. Please note that my work for you may require me to give information to third parties such as expert witnesses and other professional advisers.

External firms or organisations may conduct audit or quality checks on the practice. These external firms or organisations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files.

I may from time to time send you information that I think might be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive that information please notify me in writing.

You have a right of access under data protection legislation to the personal data that I hold about you.

Payment of interest

When I hold monies on your behalf in the firm’s client account, I must account to you for the interest earned on the money where it is fair and reasonable to do so in all the circumstances.  As monies held in client account must be immediately available, it is unlikely that the rate of interest will be as high as that which you could have obtained yourself.  No interest will be paid where the sum involved is less than £20.

Settling your account

Your account should be settled within 28 days.  Interest will be charged on a daily basis from the date of the bill on any amount outstanding after that time at the court rate for judgment debt.

After completing the work, I will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed for fees and expenses.

Storage of files and documents

I will keep the file of your papers for 12 years, except those papers that you ask to be returned to you, following which it will be confidentially destroyed.

If I take papers or documents out of storage in relation to continuing or new instructions to act for you, I will not normally charge for such retrieval.

I may, however, charge you both for:

  • time spent producing stored papers that are requested
  • reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with your instructions in relation to the retrieved papers

Professional indemnity insurance

Solicitors are obliged to have in place professional indemnity insurance to cover the cost of any civil liability claim.  My insurer is Travelers Insurance Company Limited, Professional Risks Claims Department, Exchequer Court, 33 St Mary Axe, London, EC3A 8AG telephone 020 3207 6000 and fax: 020 3166 2139.  The territorial coverage of the policy is worldwide.

SRA Financial Services (SCOPE) Rules 2001 and the SRA Financial Services (Conduct of Business) Rules 2001

Sometimes work for clients involve investments. The firm is not authorised by the Financial Services Authority to provide investment advice, but I can refer you to someone who is authorised to provide any necessary advice.   I can provide, however, certain limited services in relation to investments, provided they arise out of or are complementary to the legal services I am providing to you.

If you have a complaint about poor service arising from activities relating to financial services, you should contact the Legal Ombudsman (see below).  If your complaint relates to a breach of the SRA principles, you should contact the SRA direct at The Cube, 199 Wharfside Street, Birmingham B1 1RN telephone 0870 606 2555.

Complaints

I very much hope that you will not have cause to complain.  I am committed to high quality legal advice and client care and hope you will let me know if at any point you are concerned about the level of service being provided.

If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service you have received or about the bill, please contact me on 01943 874943 or email mail@cmontague.co.uk or by post to PO Box 332 Ilkley LS29 1GF.

I will consider your complaint and give you a full response within eight week.  If I have not resolved it within this time you may complain to the Legal Ombudsman.

The Legal Ombudsman can be contacted at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ telephone 0300 555 0333 email enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk to consider the complaint. Normally, you will need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final written response from me about your complaint and no more than six years from the date of the act or omission about which you are complaining occurring or no more than three years from when you should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint.

In addition to your right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman, you may have the right to apply for assessment of my bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority can help you if you are concerned about our behaviour.  This could be for things like dishonesty, taking or losing your money or treating you unfairly because of your age, a disability or other characteristic.

The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013

Because the agreement between us was not concluded on my business premises you have the right to cancel your instructions within fourteen working days of receiving the notice of your right to cancel.  You can cancel your instructions by contacting me by post or by email to this office.

Once I have started work on your file, you may be charged if you then cancel your instructions.  If you would like me to commence work on your file within the next fourteen working days, please therefore confirm that you are waiving your rights under the above Regulations.