1. Introduction

These Terms and Conditions of Business, accompanied by our client engagement letter govern the lawyer-client relationship, which will exist between us. Our ‘Terms and Conditions of Business’ document is found at our website www.madden-finucane.com. If you prefer or do not have easy access to the Internet, we could send them to you, or you can collect a copy of these from our office at any time. Please read through them carefully. By continuing to instruct this firm we shall be entitled to assume you have agreed to the terms and conditions therein. If you do not agree to our Terms of Business, please contact us in writing within 7 days outlining the areas you do not accept. We will then arrange a meeting with you and attempt to agree terms with you. If we do not hear from you, you will be deemed to have accepted our terms of engagement and these terms shall apply to any future instructions given by you to this firm. Nobody is authorised to alter these terms other than in writing.

2. Acceptance of Instructions

Instructions will be accepted or declined in accordance with the Solicitors’ Practice Regulation 1987 (as amended), and the Solicitors (Client Communication) Practice Regulations 20081. You have been informed of the details of the solicitor with overall responsibility for your case. We will consult with you, where appropriate, on the use of our staff, counsel or experts in connection with your business.

You will notify us in writing if communications are to be sent to you other than at the address – fax or email you have provided, and whether particular advice is to remain undisclosed to other persons associated with you. Unless you tell us not to do so we may communicate to you by email and do not accept responsibility for any breach of confidentiality which may occur, whether because of a fault or omission on your part or by any of your agents or the result of any action of a third party. You will provide us with sufficient information to enable us to carry out our work on your case. This will include relevant documents, notes, agreements, emails, correspondence and personal statements.

On occasions we may be asked to advise a client in a similar line of business. In accepting these Terms of Business you agree that we will not be precluded from acting on behalf of other clients, whether current of future, who are in a similar line of business to you either during the conduct of this matter or after our retainer has been completed, unless there is a clear conflict of interest arising from the specific work that we do for you. Unless otherwise agreed, we shall not be under any continuing obligation to advise you of changes in the law, which may affect advice previously given.

3. Conduct of Proceedings

We will not institute legal proceedings without first obtaining your express authority, but once legal proceedings have been instituted it is important that you understand that we are entitled to take steps which are usually taken in proceedings of this nature. Apart from our duty to you, we have obligations to the Court as Officers of the Court. It is important that you respond promptly to request for information or instructions as failure to do so could harm your case. It is also important that you abide by any advice given by us or by your barrister.

We shall assume that we have your authority to incur routine expenditure e.g. police and medical reports as necessary. We will, however, revert to you as regards incurring any expenditure of an unusual nature such as retaining junior and senior counsel or the services of an expert or specialist.

4. Who to Contact

You have been advised of your nominated solicitor. From time to time other members of staff may/will deal with some aspects of the work as appropriate. If it is necessary to reallocate your work to another member of staff you will be advised accordingly.

It is important that you keep your contact details up-to-date. Please therefore notify us of changes to telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and postal addresses. Again we think as a precaution, you should follow up any telephone calls about these changes in writing.

5. Concerns and Complaints

At all times we try to deliver a high quality, client focussed service and we are governed by the Solicitors Practice Regulations 1987 as amended. If at any time you are worried about how your case is being processed, please contact the solicitor primarily responsible for dealing with you. If you do not get a satisfactory explanation, then you may invoke our formal complaints procedure. In the event that you need to complain, please write to the Practice Manager of the Company setting out your concerns and you will receive a reply as soon as practicable. We anticipate that we will be able to resolve your concerns through our internal procedures.

Please note that in addition we are subject to the Solicitors (Client Communication) Practice Regulations 2008 the details of which may be found on www.lawsoc-ni.org/making-a-complaint.

6. Costs and Disbursements

Subject to the certain exceptions e.g. where your case is covered by legal aid or where we have agreed a fixed/scale fee, our professional fees are based on the time we spend dealing with your instructions. Chargeable time will include all work reasonably done in your case. If possible, upon receiving your instructions, we will provide you with an estimate of the likely costs involved and an estimate of any disbursements likely to be incurred.

The hourly rate will depend upon the complexity of the matter, the volume of documentation involved, the value of the subject matter, and also the specialised knowledge required. The hourly charging rates are as set out in our engagement letter. In addition, VAT will, if applicable, be added to our charge. Expenses such as Counsel’s fees and/or Expert’s fees which are incurred will also attract VAT which will be payable by you. Incidental disbursements are included in our costs. Unless otherwise agreed, our charges will be payable whether or not any particular matter proceeds to completion.

7. Payment

Our payment policy is that we require payment of costs and outlay in advance of any work done. Any bill of costs or disbursements raised by us is due for payment on delivery.

8. Legal Aid

You agree that you will keep us and the Legal Aid Agency informed of any change in your financial circumstances once in receipt of legal aid. Please note that although your own costs will be covered by legal aid, if you lose your case you could be ordered to pay the other side’s legal costs. If you are financially eligible for legal aid and we feel having considered the case that there are merits in applying, we will apply for legal aid on your behalf. Please note we do not automatically apply for legal aid. If you require legal aid to remove all risk of costs being awarded against you please serve written notice on the practice.

In any case where you gain or keep money or property with the help of legal aid in a civil case you may have to repay all or some of your legal costs out of that money or property. In this way legal aid acts as a loan. The money you repay will be put towards what the Legal Services Commission has spent on your case. This is known as the statutory charge.

9. Legal Expenses Insurance

You may find that your Home Insurance Policy provides Legal Expenses Insurance cover. In that event, we can write to your Home Insurance providers, seeking authority to act on your behalf under the Legal Expenses Cover they provide. If you are unsure as to whether your policy provides Legal Expenses Cover, we can examine your policy and advise as to whether the cover is available. If you are prosecuted for road traffic offences involving a collision or accident which you are disputing, your car insurance provider may consider covering your court expenses. We can contact your insurance provider to check whether such expenses may be covered.

10. VAT

Our V.A.T. Registration number is 782 7684 76

11. How We Handle Data and Records in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018

It may be necessary for us to retain personal data about you on our files and/or computer records. Examples can include financial information, bank details, sensitive personal data and medical records/reports. In accepting these Terms of Engagement you confirm that we may receive and hold confidential and/or sensitive personal data in relation to you and that, where appropriate, this may need to be disclosed to others, such as counsel/solicitor advocates, experts and other parties. If you have a concern about disclosure of any particular sensitive personal or commercial data please raise this with us at an early stage.

We will communicate with you by the most effective means but we shall not be responsible for the security of correspondence and documents sent by fax, e-mail or other electronic means. If you have concerns about the confidentially of any information sent by such electronic means, please let us know so we can arrange for secure transmission.

In order to ensure that the firm offers top quality service to all our clients, we comply with the Law Society Lexcel quality standard. As a result we are subject to periodic checks by Law Society assessors. This could mean that your file is selected for checking, in which case we would need your consent for inspection to occur. All inspections are conducted in confidence. If you prefer to withhold consent, work on your file will not be affected. As very few of our clients do object to this I propose to assume that we do have your consent unless you notify us to the contrary. We will also assume that consent on this occasion will extend to all future matters which we conduct on your behalf. Please contact me if you require further explanation or if you would like me to mark your file as not to be inspected.

12. Termination: Ending The Solicitor Client Relationship

  • On giving reasonable notice, we will be free to refuse to act or continue to act in the following circumstances:-
  • any bill of costs raised by us in respect of fees or disbursements has not been paid
  • any request for an interim bill of costs or disbursements incurred or to be incurred has not been complied with
  • we are or may be in breach of the law or professional conduct by accepting or continuing to accept instructions we consider there is or may be a conflict of interest or risk of a conflict of interest between you and any of our other clients
  • you did not respond to any requests for information
  • you did not abide by or accept any advice given.
  • We may also discontinue acting on other reasonable grounds or where the solicitor/client relationship is broken down.

You may terminate our engagement on this matter in writing at any time. However, If you or we decide that we can no longer act for you, you are liable for our charges down to the date of termination. You shall pay all outstanding fees, expenses and disbursements incurred up to the date of termination. We may retain all documents, deeds and other securities until payment of all monies due to us. We may retain any monies standing to any account you have with us until payment has been made of all outstanding costs and disbursements together with VAT and costs and disbursements incurred in connection with the termination. On the termination of the retainer we will notify all relevant parties accordingly and if appropriate, apply to the court to come off record on your behalf.

Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013, you have the right to cancel this contract within 14 days without giving any reason. This only applies where contracts are agreed away from our premises or where we are not both physically present. To exercise the right to cancel, you must inform us of your decision to cancel this contract by a clear statement (e.g. a letter sent by post, fax or e-mail). 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. Please note that should you exercise your right to cancel, reapplying for legal aid for the same issue might be difficult if our retainer is terminated.

13. Limitation of Liability

We, like all solicitors, have the benefit of Professional Indemnity insurance. That insurance is provided under a block policy organised by the Law Society of Northern Ireland with Marsh Limited, Bedford House, Bedford Street, Belfast. This policy covers all claims brought against the firm arising out of legal work undertaken in Northern Ireland. We shall not be liable for an indirect consequential loss or for loss arising out an action necessary for us to take to comply with Money Laundering Regulations.

14. Jurisdiction

These terms of Business are governed by and construed in accordance with laws of Northern Ireland.

15. Money Laundering

We abide by the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 and the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

16. File Destruction Policy

Our File Destruction Policy concurs with The Law Society of Northern Ireland guidelines.

17. General

As your solicitors it is our duty to use our professional skills and expertise to advance your case. We will use our professional judgement to take steps to protect your interests. This means that we will receive letters, e-mails and phone calls which we will be obliged to consider and respond to if it is in your interests.

We will also have to write to and make telephone calls to try and advance your case. We cannot contact you for instructions every time we receive communication or we need to make an enquiry, as this will unnecessarily increase the costs of your case. We assure you that every effort will be made to keep you informed about the main developments in your case and will contact you immediately for your instructions if anything significant or unusual occurs. We will also contact you if we receive information that affects your current views. We will seek your instructions and give you a review on the issues at that point. You should bear in mind that as a case develops the length of time it takes to resolve and the way in which it is progressed, is influenced not just by what we decide to do together but also how others decide to deal with your case.

If there is any new information that might affect your instructions, it is important that you tell us about it as soon as possible. It is useful to receive written confirmation of that information, either by letter or electronic means.

In the event that any of these Terms of Engagement should become invalid, illegal or unenforceable then any remaining terms and clauses shall survive unaffected.

We will not be liable to you or any third party if we are unable to perform our services as a result of any cause beyond our reasonable control.