Divorce Advice



These Terms of Business and the accompanying letter set out the way in which we will carry out work on your behalf and are effective from 1st December 2008. Many of the provisions have been included to comply with the Solicitors Regulation Authority for the professional conduct for solicitors.

1. People responsible for your work

The letter accompanying these Terms of Business gives details of the solicitor who will be acting for you. If you have any query, please raise it with them.

When telephoning us, please ask for the solicitor dealing with your matter. If you are unable to contact that person, please leave a message with their secretary or on their voicemail. It greatly assists the service we provide to clients if you avoid leaving messages with our telephonist where possible. We would also encourage you to write to us where possible so that there is a record on the file.

We will try to avoid changing the people who handle your work but if this cannot be avoided, we will inform you promptly who will be handling the matter and why the change was necessary.

2. Our commitment to you

We are committed to providing a good legal service delivered in a timely manner. We will:

  • keep you informed of progress;

  • communicate in plain language;

  • explain the legal work that may be required and likely timescales

  • advise you and keep you uptodate with the costs/risk benefit of pursuing a matter

3. Hours of Business

Our office hours are from 9.30 am 5.30 pm Monday to Friday. Should you require appointments outside of the normal working hours, please contact us and we will try to accommodate your request.

4. Quality of Assurance

We are committed to providing an efficient and effective service of the highest standard.

To ensure we provide an efficient service we may outsource work such as typing of your letters or photocopying of your documents from time to time. If you object to this practice, please advise us.

5. Money Laundering Precautions

Like all firms of solicitors, we are now required by law to apply procedures to guard against the risk of money laundering. It will help us to avoid any problems with your legal work if you bear in mind the following points.

Identification checks: We may need to obtain formal evidence of your identity. This may be necessary even though we have acted for you before, or even if you are known personally to a member of staff. We will tell you if such evidence is necessary, but it may help us if you are able to bring evidence to our first meeting. Normally the evidence we would ask for is your passport, plus two or more documents to establish your address, such as recent (within the last 3 months) utility bills, council tax statements, or bank statements. We may use electronic identification service providers to confirm your identity and that of any beneficial owners. We are entitled to recover the reasonable cost of the search. If the amount is in excess of £10 plus vat per person we will seek your prior consent. It is a condition of our retainer that you consent to us doing so, on your behalf and that of any beneficial owners.

Source of funds: At the start of any matter we will normally ask you to tell us the source of any funds you will be using. It is simplest for us if the source is an account, in your name, in a UK bank or building society. If the source is an unusual one, such as an account in another country, or in the name of someone other than yourself, please tell us as early as possible, including the reason.

If insufficient evidence is provided to verify your identity and/or the source of your funds the Firm reserves the right not to accept or to terminate instructions.

Destination of funds. Where we are to pay money out to you, we will normally do so by cheque in your favour, or into an account in your name. Please note we will not pay out funds into the name of someone other than yourself.

Confidentiality: We always seek to keep our clients’ affairs confidential. However the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 can oblige us to report information about financial offences to the Serious Organised Crime Agency. In particular, if it seems that any assets involved in your matter were derived from a crime we may have to report it. This can include even small amounts of money, and covers all offences, including for example tax evasion and benefit fraud.

If we have to make a report we may not be able to tell you that we have done so. A report may result in an investigation by the police, the Inland Revenue or other authorities. The law contains exceptions. If you are concerned about how this may affect you, please ask us to clarify.

6. Charges and expenses


Our charges are generally based on the time we spend dealing with a case. Time spent on your affairs will include meetings with you and perhaps others; any time spent travelling; considering, preparing and working on papers; sending and receiving letters and other correspondence; and making and receiving telephone calls. Routine letters that we write and letters we receive will be charged as units of 1/10th of an hour, as will routine telephone calls that we make and receive. Other letters and calls will be charged on a time basis.

In matters where we are charging on an hourly basis, the accompanying letter will set out the hourly rates for the people who will be handling your work. These rates are subject to review periodically, usually in January of each year, and we will notify you in writing of any increased rate. Any increase will commence on 1 April. We reserve the right to increase the level of the hourly rates and to review any estimate given accordingly. You will be notified in writing of any increased rate. In addition, our rates will increase annually on 1 April in line with inflation (RPI) which will be rounded up to the nearest pound. You will be notified in writing of the increased rate.

In addition to the time spent, we may take into account a number of factors including the complexity of the issues, the speed at which action must be taken, the expertise or specialist knowledge that the case requires and, if appropriate, the value of the property or subject matter involved. If the matter becomes more complex than expected we may need to increase our charges, in which case we will notify you of this.

If you have any query about the level of any revised rates notified to you, please contact the solicitor handling your matter straight away.

The charging rates detailed above will apply to work carried out for you prior to signature and return of these terms and conditions of business and our attached client care letter.

7. Funding for Litigation Cases

There are several ways to fund a claim. In litigation matters we will enclose a leaflet entitled “Funding Your Case” giving details of how a litigation case maybe funded. This sets out a number of options for funding litigation cases and we will be pleased to discuss these further with you.

8. Conveyancing

In conveyancing matters, our charges will usually be based upon the work involved and a percentage of the value of the property concerned. We will generally provide an estimate of the likely costs at the outset of the matter.

In the event that the conveyance does not proceed, we will charge only for the amount of work carried out. If it is necessary to make additional charges as a result of the complexity or circumstances of a transaction, we will discuss this with you and agree any additional fee.

In the event that you are borrowing from a lender in a purchase transaction, we will require the lender to arrange for the borrowed funds to be received by us at least four working days prior to the completion date. In the event that the money is to be transferred to us electronically, the funds must be received by us on the day before completion to enable us to ensure that the necessary funds are available in time for completion. Your lender will charge interest from the date the funds were released to us. We are only able to complete your purchase transaction from cleared funds in our client account.

Where there are less than 10 working days between exchange and completion, there will be an early completion fee of £80 plus VAT for each transaction.

9. Administration of Estates Probate

In probate matters, our charges will usually be calculated solely on a percentage basis, as outlined in the accompanying letter for matters involving the administration of estates.

10. Expenses

There may be certain other expenses (often called “disbursements”), including payments we make on your behalf, such as court fees, search fees, fees for medical reports and barristers’ fees, which you will have to pay. VAT is payable on certain expenses. We will try to give you a guide to these as the matter progresses and would not incur substantial expenses without your prior knowledge. We will normally seek these sums from you before or as they are being incurred.

CHAPS transfers – the bank currently charges a fee of £15 plus VAT for each electronic transfer of funds.

11. Other Charging Information

You may set a limit on charges and expenses to be incurred. This means that you must pay the charges and expenses incurred up to that limit without our needing to refer back to you. We will inform you as soon as it appears that the limit may be exceeded and will not exceed the limit without first obtaining your consent.

It is normal practice to ask clients to pay sums of money from time to time on account of the charges and expenses which are expected in the following weeks or months. We find this helps clients in budgeting for costs as well as helping to avoid delay in the progress of your case. The accompanying letter will tell you how much, if anything, we require on account before we start work on your matter.

We may request further payments on account for charges and expenses to be incurred as the matter progresses. We will offset any such payments against your final bill, but please note that your total charges and expenses may be greater than any advance payments.

12. Estimate

The accompanying letter may give an estimate or forecast range of the likely charges and expenses in your matter. If it is not possible to do so at this stage, the letter will explain why. Please note that unless the accompanying letter specifies that the estimate is a fixed fee, all estimates are subject to revision should unforeseen additional work become necessary (for example, due to unexpected difficulties or if your requirements or the circumstances significantly change during the course of the matter). Should we need to increase the estimate we will inform you in writing of this as soon as possible.

If for any reason this matter does not proceed to completion, we will charge you for work done and expenses incurred.

13. Billing Arrangements

In all matters, we will send you a final bill towards the conclusion of the matter. We may also send interim bills at regular stages during the course of the matter. Payment is due to us within 14 days of our sending you a bill. Where payment is not made within this time, interest will be charged on a daily basis from the date of the bill at four per cent over Barclays plc’s base lending rate from time to time. If payment is not made within 28 days we reserve the right to decline to act further.

We operate a strict credit control policy and overdue invoices will be subject to recovery proceedings.

In all property transfers, we require our final bill to be paid before we complete the transaction. In the event we are holding monies on account, we will deduct our fees and disbursements from any money we are holding on your behalf before forwarding the monies on to you.

Payments can be made by the following methods:

1) Cheque

2) Cash (please note we only accept cash payments up to a maximum of £500)

3) Credit/debit card – all major credit cards are subject to a 2% surcharge. American Express is subject to a 4% surcharge

4) Bank Transfer

If you wish to pay be credit/debit card or bank transfer, please contact our Accounts Department on 0207 381 8311 and a member of our Client Services team will be available to help you.

14. Recovery of Legal Costs from the other party in your case.

You are primarily liable for the fees charged by this firm and any incidental expenses, no matter what the result and even if someone else is ordered to pay your costs in court proceedings. Even in this event, it is unlikely that the other party will be ordered to pay all of your costs and you will still have to pay any shortfall.

There can be additional problems with orders for costs for example:

    1. The person who has been ordered to pay the costs may not do so. If they do not pay, you will have to try to enforce the costs order (for example by sending in the bailiffs or obtaining a charge over the property owned by them) and this itself costs more money and takes time.
    2. The other person in your case may have very little or no money and the court may not order them to pay your costs for this reason.

    3. The person who has been ordered to pay your costs may not have any money or they may disappear.

In any event, no matter how successful you are at the final hearing of your case and no matter that the other person is able to pay the costs which they are ordered to pay, they will only have to pay those costs which the court assesses as reasonable and proportionate for them to pay. This will vary from case to case but may only amount to as little as 60% of your costs or less. You will still remain liable to pay the remainder of your costs and incidental expenses. You will also be obliged to pay our fees and disbursements for seeking to recover any legal costs that the court orders another party to pay you. If the other party is in receipt of public funding (legal aid), it is very unlikely he/she will be ordered to pay legal costs no matter what the outcome of the case.

In the event you are unsuccessful in your court case, you may be ordered to pay the other party’s legal costs in addition to your own legal costs and disbursements. You may be able to insure against liability of the other party’s legal fees. For further information, please discuss this with the solicitor dealing with your case.

15. Valuations

During the course of providing legal advice in any transaction, unless you advise us otherwise, we will assume that you have satisfied yourself that any transaction value/price is reasonable and appropriate.

16. Tax Advice

During the course of providing legal advice, there may arise tax implications that or require the consideration of tax planning strategy. The solicitor dealing with your case may not be qualified to advise on the tax implications. If you have any concerns over tax implications, please discuss them with the solicitor dealing with your matter and, if necessary, we will refer you on to a tax adviser. If you do not raise any concerns, we will assume that you have satisfied yourself of the taxation implications of the transaction.

17. Limited Companies

When accepting instructions to act on behalf of a limited company, we may require directors and/or major shareholders to sign a form of personal guarantee in respect of the charges and expenses of this firm. If such a request is refused, we will be entitled to stop acting and to require immediate payment of our charges up to that point and expenses as set out earlier.

18. Storage of papers and deeds

After completing the work, we are entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is money owing to us. We will keep our file of papers (except for any of your papers which you ask to be returned to you) for not less than one year. After that time, we keep the file on the understanding that we have your authority to destroy the file after such period as we consider reasonable. We will not destroy documents you ask us to deposit in safe custody. The Firm will keep evidence of your identity for at least 5 years.

We do not currently charge for the storage of documents but we may do so in the future, in which case we will notify you in writing.

We do not normally make a charge for retrieving stored papers or deeds in response to continuing or new instructions to act for you. However, we may make a charge for producing stored papers or documents to you or another at your request. We may also charge for reading papers, writing letters or other work necessary to comply with the instructions given by you or on your behalf.

We do not accept liability for loss of any items stored and it is, therefore, a requirement that you must ensure that you maintain an adequate level of insurance to cover any deeds, wills, documents, personal effects, securities or other items that are held by us on your behalf.

19. Termination

You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time but we are entitled to keep all your papers and documents while money is owing to us.

We will only decide to stop acting for you with good reason. Examples of when we might do this include if you do not pay an interim bill on time or if you fail to comply with our request for a payment on account. Alternatively where there is a breakdown in trust and of confidence between you and the Firm.

In litigation cases, we will require all clients to sign a “Notice of Acting in Person” which we can then send to the court and all other parties which will avoid having to attend court for this reason. We will let you know in advance if we have to make use of this.

If you or we decide that we will stop acting for you, you will pay our charges up to that point and expenses incurred as set out earlier.

20. Money held on your behalf

Money which we hold on your behalf will generally be held on our client account and under Law Society Rules we will account to you for interest over £20.00.

We are normally only able to accept cash up to a limit of £500 in any 28 day period.

Our clients’ money is currently held at Barclays Bank and not in any foreign bank accounts. We hold your money strictly in accordance with the Solicitors Accounts Rules and in normal circumstances it is fully protected.

In the event of a bank failure the upper limit of compensation payable from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme is £50,000 as at 1st November 2008. The £50,000 compensation limit applies to the individual, therefore if you hold other personal monies with Barclays Bank in addition to our Barclays client account the limit will remain £50,000 in total. For up to date information on the Financial Services Compensation Scheme see’s/DepositclaimsFAQ/.

21. Raising queries or concerns with us

We are confident that we will give you a high quality service in all respects. However, if you have any queries or concerns about our work for you, please take them up first with the solicitor handling your work. If that does not resolve the problem to your satisfaction or you would prefer not to speak to that solicitor, then please take it up with the solicitor’s supervisor or write to our Client Services Partner. Please raise immediately any concerns you may have with us in order that we may seek to resolve any problems quickly. We value you and would not wish to think you have any reason to be unhappy with our services. If for any reason we are unable to resolve the problem between us, then we are regulated by Solicitors Regulation Authority which also provides a complaint and redress scheme.

22. Professional Indemnity Insurance

We maintain Professional Indemnity insurance for the period 1st October 2008 to 30th September 2009 in the sum of £ 9,000,000 per claim. Please note we limit our liability to this amount for this period. We review the level of cover annually

23. Equality and Diversity

This firm is committed to promoting equality and diversity in all its dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us for a copy of our equality and diversity policy.

24. Data Protection Act

Parfitt Cresswell may use your personal information for the purposes of administration, advertising, marketing, keeping accounts and for the provision of legal services. We may communicate with you through any means of communication for which you have given us contact details. Please let us know if you do not wish to receive any marketing information from us. Your personal information will not be shared with any other organisation without your consent. By signing and returning these terms and conditions, you consent to processing your data (including any sensitive personal data as defined in the Data Protection Act 1998) for the above purposes. You are entitled to request a copy of your information, for which we will charge a fee of £10, and to correct any inaccuracies in your data. If you do not wish to receive marketing and other legal information from us, please advise us.

25. Insurance Mediation Services

This firm is 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 Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Services Authority Website at:

26. Legal Status

If at any time in the future Parfitt Cresswell converts into a Limited Liability Partnership these Terms of Business remain in full force and effect substituting Parfitt Cresswell LLP for Parfitt Cresswell throughout.

27. Jurisdiction

These Terms of Business and the accompanying letter shall be interpreted in accordance with the laws of England and Wales. The English Courts shall have exclusive jurisdiction in any dispute arising out of our acting for you.

Thank you for instructing us. We look forward to serving you and achieving a satisfactory outcome to your matter.