Terms of business

Introduction

All work carried out by DLG Legal Services Limited trading as DLG Legal Services, ‘we’ or ‘us’) for you as our client is subject to these Terms and Conditions of Business and the terms of the Client Care letter which you will receive at the same time. Any material changes to these standard Terms of Business or the Client Care letter will be communicated to you in writing.

1. DLG Legal Services

We are a Law Firm, authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) under licence number 611455. DLG Legal Services is a limited company. Our registered number is 08302561 and our registered office is at The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds, LS1 4AZ.

2. Access and Communication

If you have any special needs or requirements, please let us know so that we can find the most appropriate way in

which to assist you. For example, we may be able to:

  • provide documents or correspondence in a larger font size or on coloured paper;
  • use e-mail or the telephone, in preference to hard copy letters or vice versa;
  • provide information in audio format; or
  • translate documents or correspondence into Braille.

Telephone calls and emails may be monitored and recorded in order to improve our service, to investigate complaints, for training and for regulatory purposes.

3. Contract Terms

When you instruct us on a new matter we will send you a Client Care letter setting out the services which we will provide and the terms that apply to the work you have asked us to do. The Client Care letter, these Terms of Business and any separate funding agreement (where relevant) are the terms of the contract between us.

4. Your Responsibilities

We need your help to provide a good service. You need to tell us what to do and to give us information and documents for this. Your responsibilities are:

  • to provide us with clear, timely and accurate instructions.
  • to safeguard any documents that are likely to be required for the claim or in litigation. That includes any document that helps your claim or is damaging to it and includes e-mails and other documents stored in electronic form.

5. Fees and Other Charges

You have the right to end our agreement at any time. If you choose to terminate the contract between us within 14 days of receiving these terms you do not have to pay anything – unless you have already told us to start work for you. After 14 days – or if you have told us to start work - you will have to pay for the work we have done and any expenses we have incurred by that time, subject to the terms of any other funding agreement we may have agreed with you.

The amount of fees we charge and the way in which they are calculated are contained in the Client Care Letter and any separate funding agreement which we may have agreed with you.

If you wish to discuss your right to cancel or to cancel the agreement within the 14 day period please contact us on 0344 8928000.

6. Billing and Payments

Our billing procedures and terms concerning payments are set out in Schedule 2.

7. Interest

It is our policy not to pay interest on client money held by us unless the amount of interest due would exceed £20.

8. Client Money

Unless we agree otherwise with you, any money that DLG Legal Services holds for you will be deposited in a client bank account in a clearing bank in accordance with the requirements of the SRA Accounts Rules. We will not be responsible for any loss due to any mistake or failure by the relevant institution, or by reason of the insolvency of the relevant institution and/or the loss by the relevant institution of any necessary licence, authorisation or permission required to carry on banking or deposit taking activities under applicable law. We may apply any money that we hold for you towards the discharge of our outstanding fees and costs, provided the money is not held for a specific purpose.

9. Money Laundering, Proceeds of Crime and Combating the Financing of Terrorism

We will keep your affairs confidential. Solicitors may, however, be required by law to disclose information to the National Crime Agency if we know or suspect that a transaction may involve money laundering or terrorist financing. If we make a disclosure in relation to your affairs we may not be able to tell you and may have to stop working on your matter without being able to tell you why. We cannot accept liability for any loss arising as a result of our compliance with legal obligations and our costs may include a charge for complying with those obligations.

10. Electronic Communication

All our employees have e-mail addresses. Unless otherwise directed by you, we may correspond by means of electronic mail. We each agree to accept the risks of using electronic mail, including but not limited to the risks of viruses, interception and unauthorised access. We each agree to use reasonable procedures to check for commonly known viruses in information sent and received electronically, but we recognise that such procedures cannot be a guarantee that transmissions will be virus free.

11. Confidentiality and Disclosure

We will keep confidential information received from you while acting in connection with any matter unless:

  • we have your authority to disclose it; or
  • it ceases to be confidential; or
  • we are required to disclose it by law, in which case we will endeavour to give you as much notice as possible.

If your claim is funded by a legal expenses policy then it will be a term of your policy that you will provide your authority to us sharing information about your claim with the legal expenses insurer.  As such, you agree that if your insurer contacts us to request details of the information you have provided us or the legal advice we have given you, we can disclose this to them if it is necessary for the administration of the policy.

We may in the past have advised, or may now or in the future advise, other clients whose interests differ from yours. In addition, confidential information we hold about you may be material to such other clients. You agree that our duty of confidentiality to you will be satisfied by putting appropriate safeguards in place, in accordance with applicable rules, to ensure that access to your relevant confidential information within DLG Legal Services is restricted. Where such measures are in place, you agree that you will not seek to prevent us from acting for other clients by reason of our holding your confidential information.

From time to time other areas of the Direct Line Group or external specialists may audit client files to comply with our legal or contractual duties and/or to ensure that Group wide minimum standards in areas including but not restricted to data protection, anti-money laundering, sanctions compliance, information security and risk management, are being maintained. By instructing us you agree that your files may be audited.

We will require any part of the Direct Line Group or external provider who may audit client files to comply with our confidentiality procedures in respect of information of which it becomes aware.  We will not allow any part of the Direct Line Group or external provider with a direct contrary interest to our client to audit any of their files. 

Also, legal expenses insurers who provide cover for our clients may audit relevant files of claims that they are funding or have funded from time to time to ensure that the work is being handled in accordance with their service levels.

In addition, we may obtain some services from another SRA regulated law firm to assist with the legal work we do for you. Any such law firm would have obligations as to the standards of service it provides. We may need to give them some information about your file in the event that there are concerns that such service levels have fallen or may fall below the required standards.  Any such information would be provided on a strictly confidential basis. We will ensure that access to it is controlled, only used for above reasons and the other law firm complies with all legal and regulatory requirements. 

12. Questions, Complaints and Suggestions

Our Complaints Policy is set out in full in Schedule 1 to these Terms and Conditions of Business. If you have any questions or suggestions you can contact DLG Legal Services on the Contact us page.

13. Insurance

For the purposes of the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules, our qualifying insurers are Lloyd’s Underwriter Syndicates 386 DCH & 1886 QBE and Endurance Worldwide Insurance all of whom can be contacted via Marsh Ltd, Tower Place, London, EC3R 5BU. The appropriate policy number is FINPL2350062.

The insurance covers our practice carried out from offices in England and Wales and will extend to acts or omissions wherever in the world they occur.

14. Limitation of Liability

Your relationship is solely with DLG Legal Services. We have sole legal liability for the work done for you. No director or member of staff working as an employee or in any other capacity at DLG Legal Services will have legal liability for that work whether in contract, tort or on any other basis.

15. Financial Services

We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). However, we are included on the register maintained by the FCA which can be accessed at www.fca.org.uk. We are registered so that we can carry on insurance mediation activity which is broadly the advising on, and administration of insurance contracts.

16. Intellectual Property Rights

You will have the full right and licence to use copies of materials we create for you for the particular purpose for which they were prepared. However, all copyright and other intellectual property rights in all documents, reports, written or electronic advice or other materials provided by us to you remains with us. If you wish to use copies of these materials for purposes other than those for which they were prepared, this will require our permission.

17. Papers, Documents’ Electronic Communication

You agree that we may store documents and papers electronically.

It is important that you keep all documents that relate in any way to the matter in respect of which you have instructed us. This includes electronic data such as emails and archive data.

After completing any matter on your behalf we are entitled to retain all your papers and documents while there is money owing to us for our charges and expenses. Subject to this we will retain our files of papers (except for any of your papers which you ask to be returned to you, and any original papers which we will return to you) for a minimum of 7 years from the completion of the matter, after which they may be destroyed. It is unusual for us to be asked to keep original papers for clients. In the event that we are, we will not destroy such documents but we will make a charge to cover our costs of keeping them. Please be aware that third party information may be excluded or retracted from the file to comply with legal and regulatory requirements. We will not charge for retrieving papers or documents from storage in relation to continuing or new instructions for us to act on your behalf, however, in other circumstances we may make a charge based on time spent producing stored papers or documents to you or to another at your request. We may also charge for reviewing papers in order to comply with your instructions on storage.

18. Instructions to other professionals and lawyers overseas/in other jurisdictions

Should we need to instruct other lawyers or professionals (expert witnesses, accountants, counsel and so on) we do so, unless otherwise agreed, on your behalf and as your agent. They will be responsible to you for the quality and accuracy of the advice they provide and you may be directly responsible for payment of their fees and expenses. Before making any such appointment on your behalf, if you do not have insurance in place to cover the fees and expenses, we will consult with you and seek your agreement to the appointment.

We may utilise the services of a specialist firm to assist in the quantification, negotiation and recovery of legal costs and disbursements. If this service is utilised on your claim then we may receive a financial benefit as they may charge us less than we can legitimately recover from the paying party for those services. In continuing to instruct us under these terms of business you are consenting to this arrangement.

19. Data Protection

All information we hold for you as an individual will be held and processed in accordance with the current data protection legislation and regulations. Please refer to our Privacy Notice which tells you what we do with the information we collect about you.

If, as set out in our Privacy Notice, you withdraw your consent to our processing your personal data to the extent that this prevents us from being able to fulfil our obligations to you as set out in the Client Care Letter and these Terms and Conditions of Business, this will constitute a termination of this agreement by you.  The effect of such a termination will be that you will have to pay for the work we have done and any expenses we have incurred in relation to your claim up to that time, or as stipulated in any other funding agreement which may be in place.

20. Outsourcing

We currently outsource the initial handling of some claims, before litigation commences, to an external provider based in South Africa. If you do not wish your data to be transferred to South Africa you may instruct us to undertake the work in the UK. We also outsource some ‘back-office’ functions such as information technology services. We comply, at all times, with the requirements of the SRA Standards and Regulations (including the SRA Code of Conduct) and the current requirements of data protection legislation and regulation. In particular, we take rigorous care to preserve client confidentiality.

21. Termination

You may end your instructions to us in writing at any time, but we can keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses. We may stop acting for you only with good reason after giving you reasonable notice. If you or we decide that we should stop acting, you will pay our charges up until that point. These are calculated as set out in these terms of business, the Client Care Letter, and any separate funding agreement which we may have agreed with you. Good reason to stop acting may include, but not be limited to where:

  • there is a risk that we will not be paid; or
  • there is a reputational risk to us; or
  • a conflict of interest arises; or
  • you do not give us the help we need or you do not accept our advice
  • we are required by law to cease working for you.

22. Severance

If any provision of our agreement with you is invalid or unenforceable for any reason, it will not affect the remainder of our agreement with you.

23. Application and Prevailing Terms

These Terms and Conditions of Business supersede any earlier terms of business we may have agreed with you. If there is a conflict between these Terms and Conditions of Business and any specific terms agreed with you in relation to an individual matter (for example, any terms set out in a Client Care Letter) then the specific terms will prevail. It may be necessary to amend these Terms and Conditions of Business from time to time. We will notify you of any material changes and, unless we hear from you to the contrary within 14 days following such notification, the amendments and/or new terms will come into effect from the end of that period.

24. Regulatory Information

We have set out on our website details of certain regulatory information which we need to bring to your attention. This forms part of and is incorporated into the contract between you and DLG Legal Services. It can be found at www.dlglegalservices.com (Legal Notices).

25. Force Majeure

Neither of us will be liable to the other for any delay or failure to fulfil obligations caused by circumstances outside our reasonable control.

26. Governing Law and Disputes

The contract between you and DLG Legal Services is deemed to be made in England and is governed by English law. Unless any alternative dispute resolution procedure is agreed with you from time to time, any dispute between DLG Legal Services and you shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.

SCHEDULE 1 - COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE

We aim to provide high quality advice and excellent client care but we recognise that, on occasion, things can go wrong. To raise a concern or make a complaint about our services or a bill, please (in the first instance) raise it with the person handling your claim.

If you do not consider this appropriate, or they are not able to resolve the problem to your satisfaction, please ask to be referred to the appropriate Team Leader, or thereafter, the designated Complaints Manager who can be contacted at PO Box 1195, Churchill Court, Westmoreland Road, Bromley, Kent, BR1 9YG.

We want the opportunity to put the matter right; we hope and expect to be able to reach a satisfactory solution with you. In the initial contact, you will be sent a copy of our Complaints Handling Procedure and your complaint will be dealt with in accordance with that procedure. We have 8 weeks to try to resolve your complaint under our procedure. However, if you are still not satisfied then you have a right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ or on 0300 555 0333 or email [email protected].

Please be aware that you have 6 months from the date when you receive your final written response from us to raise your complaint with the Legal Ombudsman and you will need to bring the complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within 1 year of the act or omission about which you are concerned or within a year of you realising there was a concern. After this time the Legal Ombudsman may not be able to deal with your complaint. For further information, please contact the Legal Ombudsman directly or refer to: www.legalombudsman.org.uk

If your complaint is not about our service to you but is about our behaviour then you should refer your complaint to our regulator, the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority).  The SRA can help you with concerns with things like dishonesty, taking or losing your money or treating you unfairly because of your age, a disability or other characteristic.  You can raise any such concerns with www.sra.org.uk/consumers/problems/report-solicitor/

A copy of our Complaints Handling Procedure is available on request.

SCHEDULE 2 - BILLING AND PAYMENT TERMS

Unless we have entered a funding agreement with you which provides otherwise, it is our standard practice to bill all outstanding fees and disbursements/expenses on a regular basis as the matter progresses. This will usually be monthly or 3 monthly unless otherwise agreed with you. A breakdown of any invoice will be provided on request. If an invoice or part thereof remains outstanding after 30 days from the date of delivery, we reserve the right to charge interest and/or suspend work on all matters on which we are advising you and/or terminate our retainer. In addition, all our invoices will become immediately due and payable.

If we need to take further action to enforce payment of our invoices, we will seek to recover the costs we incur in doing so from you at the same rate as set out in our Client Care Letter.

During the retainer, our invoices will be interim and on account invoices. At the end of our retainer we will issue a Final Statute Bill and credit all previous on account payments that have been made. Our invoices must be paid without any deduction or withholding on account of taxes or other charges. You have a right to object to any bill using our complaints procedure; by making a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman; and by applying to the court for an assessment of the bill under the Solicitors Act 1974.

We can not accept cash from clients. If you deposit cash directly with our bank we may have to charge for any checks we deem necessary to prove the source of the cash. If we pay money to you, it will be by cheque or bank transfer payable to you. It will not be paid in cash or to a third party.