“UK Immigration Solicitors” “we”, “us”, “our” “the firm” means Sabz Solicitors LLP. By contacting us or otherwise using our service, websites, or accessing any content or material that is made available by UK Immigration Solicitors through the Internet or via telephone (the “Content”) you are entering into a binding contract with UK Immigration Solicitors.
STANDARD TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT – IMMIGRATION MATTERS
- About UK Immigration Solicitors
1.1. This document covers our Standard Terms of Engagement regarding the work we will provide in relation to this matter.
1.2. UK Immigration Solicitors specialise in all areas and aspects of immigration from business immigration law through to refugee law, nationality and human rights law. Any person acting on our behalf does so in their capacity as a partner or employee of ours, and not in any personal capacity. Any action by them, any communication from them, or any so from them, is taken, sent or given on our behalf.
1.3. In the interests of our clients, we maintain compulsory professional indemnity insurance the full details of which are displayed in our head office in Manchester.
1.4. Please note that these terms of engagement cover instructions to act in matters concerning, immigration, asylum and / or human rights law. For matters unrelated to immigration, please call our head office. Any delay or failure in the performance by us hereunder shall be excused if and to the extent caused by the occurrence of a Force Majeure. We are also not liable in the event of death, refusal of application and / or appeals, and in cases of undisclosed criminality we reserve the right to cease to act. We will also not be liable for the act and / or advice given by third parties, such as experts, agents, barristers and / or other representatives.
1.5. The work on the file will be either carried out or supervised by the Director. Should your allocated legal representative not be available when you contact the office, you can contact a solicitor, either Sarfraz Roy or Muhammed Bilal Babar. If they cannot help then please leave a message and we will return your call as possible. Once a file has been created, your matter will be allocated a reference number which will be provided to you. Please quote this reference when you telephone the office or in correspondence with us.
- What we will do
2.1. We will handle your affairs on a confidential basis, with due skill, care and diligence and in a timely manner.
2.2. Our Directors and employees will only undertake work within their competence. We will work with you with the aim of obtaining a favourable outcome in any matters that we handle for you but success cannot be guaranteed.
2.3. UK Immigration Solicitors aim to offer all our clients an efficient and effective service but should there be any aspect of our service with which you are unhappy then you may raise the matter with the Director directly.
- Agreed Fixed Fees and Disbursements
3.1. In certain cases, we may be prepared to work to an agreed fixed fee for a matter. Where this is the case, we will confirm this to you verbally at the time of taking your instruction. Once you have instructed the firm by accepting our quotation and making payment, this will also later be confirmed in writing in an email and / or a letter summarising the tasks undertaken up to the point of instruction and furthermore will confirm the next steps going forward.It should be noted that we are deemed to have been formally instructed at the stage at which you have made a payment for service to the firm. Where an agreed fixed fee quotation has been accepted, it cannot be varied in retrospect subject to to the following exception:
We reserve the right to vary such a fee in the event of a material change in circumstances and or instructions such that the quote would have to be exceeded for the matter to be concluded; we will seek your consent in advance before costs are incurred exceeding the agreed fixed fee. We may also request a payment on account which will be set out in an email and / or letter.
3.2. Your client care letter will confirm the fees and charges we have agreed for the work we will carry out on your behalf along with the basis of the fee taken and your attention will be drawn to the firms standard terms of engagement and our privacy policies.
3.3. It must be understood that an ‘Agreed fixed Fee’ is one that is absolutely fixed in all possible eventualities.
Not only is an ‘Agreed fixed Fee’ one that cannot be varied upwards, equally, it is a fee that is not capable of being varied downwards. Accordingly,the agreed fixed fee is non-refundable regardless of which stage the matter has reached and it is not dependent on tasks completed or case outcome. Once a payment is taken we are considered to have been formally instructed to progress the matter to conclusion and work carried out/planned by us will be carried out with a view to reach the desired objective namely a positive outcome.
3.4. Disbursements will be charged in addition to our professional fees.
3.5. Where applicable, fees and disbursements are (where liable) subject to VAT or similar taxes in addition.
3.6. Any disbursement fees (e.g. Home Office fees, courier fees, Entry Clearance fees, translation fees, interpreting fees) are excluded from our fees. Any postage costs incurred for overseas mail that requiring a UK courier or exceptionally heavy items will also attract an additional fee.
3.7 Although the firm will always endeavour to make clients aware of payment deadlines for Government fees, it remains the responsibility of the client to ensure that they comply with any such requests at all times. No responsibility will be accepted by the firm for any applications which have been denied/deferred/rejected due to non-payment of Government fees.
3.8. Where, after consultation with you, other advisers or service providers are engaged (such as expert witnesses, interpreter fees, postage fees, expert fees etc.) They will be engaged by us acting as your agent and you will be responsible for their fees in addition to our own.
3.9. Please note, if disbursements increase for any reason between the date of advice and the date of submission, you will be responsible for the increase in payment.
3.10. To assist us in carrying out the work as efficiently as possible, you must ensure that all information provided is to the best of your knowledge complete, accurate and up to date. You must also notify us of any changes or variations to that information which may arise after the date it is passed to us and of any new circumstances that might be relevant to the work we are undertaking.
3.11. Notwithstanding any estimates which we provide, in matters where an hourly rate has been offered, our final bill will be a product of the amount of time our legal representatives spend on the transaction and our fee rates as set out below.
3.12. Should an instruction be accepted and then subsequently be withdrawn for any reason following the provision of service including, but not limited to planning, legal strategy, legal advice, confirmation of documentary requirements, administration by way of calls, emails and/or bespoke correspondence, all work carried out will be billed at our minimum standard hourly rate of £250 +VAT.
For matters accepted on an agreed fixed fee basis, the fee agreed between the firm and the client is fixed and therefore, both parties enter into a contractual agreement. Accordingly, agreed fixed fees are no refundable irrespective of stage reached, work carried out or outcome of representation.
- Basis of the agreed fixed fee
4.1. In relation to the agreed fixed fee, it is based on the following assumptions:
4.1.1. The ambit of work and true intention of the applicant/sponsor will not be materially different to that discussed during your free needs assessment ;
4.1.2. The matter will proceed without undue difficulty;
4.1.3. No significant new issues will arise nor will the matter extend to any significant areas of work not contemplated when the instruction was accepted;
4.1.4. Meetings/telephone appointments with the client will not exceed thirty minutes on average; the matter will be capable of being carried out by designated legal representative and senior solicitor/director involvement will not be required;
4.1.5. The indicative agreed fixed fee quoted relates only to English Law advice to be given.
4.1.6. The fee does not include any non-standard steps including unexpected problems, instructions or complexities, further representations, a further application, an appeal and / or a challenge of the application should it be refused or rejected for any reason. The fee does not also include any material changes in instructions, circumstances or delays resulting in unforeseen work.
4.2. Following the conclusion of your matter, we are entitled to retain your file of papers and documents while there is money owing to us for fees.
4.3. In cases where an instruction has been accepted on an agreed fixed fee basis but subsequently withdrawn, the agreed fixed fee will be retained in its entirety as the agreed fixed fee is non-refundable regardless of which stage the matter has reached and it is not dependent on tasks completed or case outcome.
4.3.1 Where an instruction is withdrawn prior to services being provided and a full refund is requested, a minimum administration fee of £75.00 will be applied in all cases to cover the administrative costs of setting up the file, administrating the refund and covering merchant refund fees. Agreed fixed fees are no refundable.
4.3.2 For non agreed fixed fee matters, a minimum standard hourly rate of £250.00(+vat) will apply for each hour of work billed on all withdrawn instructions.
4.3.3 For non agreed fixed fee matters,if,following a legal consultation, a bespoke document list and client care pack is produced for the client, a minimum fee of £500.00 (+vat) will be applied.
4.3.4 All telephone calls (in & out), emails and letters will be billed at a flat rate of £25.00 per item if the instruction is withdrawn by the client.
4.3.5 All legal consultations will be billed at a minimum flat rate of £250 + vat regardless of method of delivery or duration.
4.3.6 All consultations are offered on a strictly by appointment only basis and once booked, any consultations unable to take place as scheduled due to the client failing to present without a minimum of four hours advance notice in writing will remain billable at the flat rate of £250 + vat.
4.3.7 Instructions accepted on an agreed fixed fee basis that compromise of more than than one clearly defined task/application offer a discounted rate strictly on the basis that the firm has been retained to pursue all components to conclusion.
If the basis of instructions subsequently change prior to conclusion, the work already completed will not benefit from any agreed fixed fee discount and thus will be billed for at a pre-discounted standard rate of £250 + vat per hour in line with time spent on the file.
- Hourly Rate
5.1. If the fees for our services have not been agreed, as set out above, we will charge our work on an hourly basis. The hourly rates for a particular matter should be discussed with the person supervising the matter.The firm charges a minimum hourly rate of £250 + vat in all matters.
5.2. Where applicable, we will add VAT to our fees and disbursements. All fees and disbursements are payable in pounds sterling unless otherwise agreed and confirmed by us to you in writing.
5.3. Should the matter not be carried through to completion then a charge will be made in respect of the work that has already been completed. VAT or similar taxes will be payable on that amount and you will also be billed for any disbursements incurred.
5.4. Unless otherwise agreed in writing, our fees are payable irrespective of the outcome achieved or at which stage a matter has reached. If instructions are taken on an hourly rate basis, (which is not an agreed fixed fee basis), any matter that does not proceed to completion for any reason during the period in which we are instructed, then we will be entitled to charge for work done on an hourly rate of £250.00 + vat per hour for the work incurred from time of file opening (£25.00 per standard letter/email, standard telephone calls in and out, consideration, attendances, research, drafting, preparation and perusal).
5.5. Following the conclusion of your matter, we are entitled to retain your file of papers and documents while there is money owing to us for fees.
6.1. There may be circumstances where it is difficult to predict exactly how much professional time will be required to complete a matter. We will provide you with an estimate of the likely costs and we will advise you as we progress if the original estimate is likely to be materially exceeded. We will base our estimate on our appraisal of the facts and our experience of similar cases but we cannot guarantee that the work will be completed within any given estimate.
6.2. Any estimate is not an agreed fee, is given only as a guide, and should not be regarded as a firm quote.
6.3. Any expenses incurred by us on your behalf will be charged in addition to our fees. If we have provided an estimate or an agreed fee quote, this will exclude any expected disbursements but these may vary for reasons beyond our control.
6.4. Unless stated to the contrary, any estimate or agreed fee quote is in pounds sterling and is exclusive of VAT.
6.5. If any of the facts relating to and supporting your instructions are incorrect, please let us know as soon as possible as we may need to revise our fee. Similarly, should you obtain further information during the course of the matter, or should your circumstances change, please let us know as we may need to change our agreed fee.
- Payment of our invoices
7.1. Unless otherwise agreed in writing, our invoices are payable in pounds sterling within thirty days of date of invoice. Failure by you to pay one or more invoices by the due date in cleared funds may result in us suspending further work on any matters that we are handling on your behalf. This may lead to additional costs being incurred or rights being lost.
7.2. Please ensure that all payments made to us are accompanied by an identification of the payer. You must ensure that we are notified if funds are being transferred to our bank account, and that the name of the applicant (or appellant) is clearly identified.
7.3. If we have asked for a payment prior to commencing work, we will require confirmation from our bank that the payment has been credited to our account in cleared funds. If funds are transferred to our bank account in such circumstances but we do not receive advice of payment from our bank, there is a risk that additional charges will be incurred or rights lost.
7.4. We reserve the right to refuse payment in cash of sums exceeding £1,000.00.
7.5. If available at the time of writing, we may accept payment by credit card or debit card. If we accept payment by credit card, a surcharge may be added to the sum payable to cover our costs in providing the credit card facility.
If applicable, you will be notified in advance of this surcharge, and typically it would be 2.5% of the total invoice value or amount paid inclusive of VAT.
7.6. We reserve the right to charge interest on any amount that is overdue for payment as well as any costs or expenses incurred in recovering such amount. The rate of interest shall be 2% per annum above Barclays Bank Plc.’s base lending rate from time to time in force. Such interest shall accrue on a daily basis from the due date until the date of actual payment of the overdue amount, whether or not we start proceedings for recovery of the amount due and before or after judgment in the event of such proceedings.
7.7. We are entitled to charge interest on unpaid bills at the rate payable on judgment debts from one month after delivery of the bill in accordance with Article 5 of the Solicitors’ (Non-Contentious Business) Remuneration Order 2009.
7.8. Notwithstanding clauses below, we may in the alternative claim interest at our discretion under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 (as amended). We are entitled to use the statutory rate of interest that applies for the time being. As at 1 January 2010 the statutory rate of interest payable is 8% above the statutory reference rate, which is set twice a year on 31 December and 30 June as the Bank of England Base Rate. In the event that these provisions do not apply by statute to our dealings with you, they shall be deemed to apply and to be incorporated into these Terms of Engagement.
7.9. In the event of a payment not being made either in respect of a bill or on account on time we reserve the right to decline to act any further and/or to exercise a lien for unpaid costs. In the event we are not paid our costs on time, we may seek to issue proceedings to recover the same.
- Confidentiality and money laundering
8.1. In some cases, a matter that we are handling for a client is of such a nature that we must comply with the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, the Terrorism Act 2000, the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 and similar legislation.
8.2. In such cases, we may need to carry out checks on the identity of individuals, companies or the owners of companies, even if we have acted for the client before or the client is known to us personally. If funds are to be transferred we may need to investigate the source or destination of those funds. Where it is appropriate to return funds that we have previously received, either from you or from another source on your behalf, we may refuse to return these to a destination that is different from the source from which they were received. Any costs incurred by us in making such investigations may be charged to you.
8.3. We are under a professional and legal obligation to keep the affairs of clients confidential. This obligation, however, is subject to a statutory exception: recent legislation on money laundering and terrorist financing has placed solicitors under a legal duty in certain circumstances to disclose information to the Serious and Organised Crime Agency. Where we know or suspect that a transaction on behalf of a client involves money laundering, we may be required to make a money laundering disclosure.
8.4. If we need to make a report to a relevant authority to comply with our statutory obligations, we may be required to do this without notifying you.
- Funds held on your behalf
9.1. We do not normally hold money provided by a client or on behalf of a client, other than by way of payment of fees or disbursements or money paid in advance on account for fees or disbursements to be incurred and such will be held in a separate Client Account.
- Scope of our advice
10.1. Please note that our advice and the action agreed is limited to the matters on which you have specifically instructed us as recorded above. Any other issues, whether or not directly related to the subject matter of your instructions are not covered. If there is anything else on which you would like our advice you must let us know.
- Identification documents
11.1. We also require proof of your identification. This should be in the form of your current passport or a certified copy of it and/or a recent utility bill with proof of your address. Documents used for the purpose of identification include a valid passport, ARC card or driving licence.
- Your obligations
12.1. As our client, you are responsible for payment of all costs in respect of work carried out on your instructions, including our fees and any disbursements incurred by us. Your responsibility extends to ensuring that we are paid on time in cleared funds. If there is any error, theft or fraud that results in the means of payment not coming into our possession, you remain liable even if, as a result, you suffer loss.
12.2. Your responsibility for payment of all costs applies even if you, in turn, have a client or third party who does not provide you with funds to pay these costs. If we agree to invoice a third party in respect of work done on your instructions, you will remain liable for all costs in the event of default by the third party.
12.3. You are responsible for any instructions that are sent to us by an employee, partner or officer of yours, or by any consultant, agent or other person from whom we have been authorised to accept instructions on your behalf, unless we have received prior written notice not to accept such instructions. If costs are incurred as a result of us acting in good faith on unauthorised instructions, you will remain liable for such costs. We shall not be liable for any loss you may suffer as a result.
12.4. If you wish to abandon a case or to transfer instructions from us to yourself or to another representative, you must inform us in writing as soon as possible. This is particularly important if we have been requested to keep a case open and we carry out continued or repeat work such as the payment of renewal fees in the absence of instructions from you. You will remain liable for all costs and disbursements until we have received instructions in writing that you wish to abandon or transfer the matter and we have had a reasonable period to implement them.
12.5. You cannot transfer responsibility for payment of our charges to another party, and you will remain liable for our charges regardless of what you may decide to do with any rights we have acquired for you.
12.6. We do not operate conditional fee arrangements. Your responsibility for payment of all costs applies even if the outcome of a particular matter is unfavourable to you.
12.7. Additionally, you are responsible for providing us with all the necessary documents that we may from time to time request.
12.8. Should it become apparent at any time during the course of the matter that significant further work is required in addition to that mentioned above we shall inform you and / or your appointed agent.
- Precautions you should take
13.1. It is your responsibility to check that instructions or other material sent to us by any means, including fax, e-mail, courier and post, has been received and are being acted upon, particularly where deadlines are imminent. You should bear in mind that public holidays may result in disruption to delivery of items by post or by courier or us being able to act on your behalf. We endeavour to divert incoming business e-mails where the person dealing with your matter is absent, but you should request an acknowledgement and monitor the receipt of any communication sent to check that your instructions are being carried out. You should confirm all oral instructions in writing to avoid any misunderstandings. If we communicate by e-mail you accept that e-mail is not a secure form of communication and the contents of an e-mail could be intercepted and read by a third party.
13.2. For so long as we continue to be instructed by you, we will advise you of any due dates for action to be taken. We will endeavour to remind you of these dates but you should keep a record of them yourself. If we have asked you for instructions, information, documents or other material required for action to be taken by a due date, we rely upon you to provide this in a timely manner. If you do not provide the full and correct material in reasonable time for us to comply with a due date, then you will be liable for any additional costs incurred by us for urgent handling of the matter or for obtaining an extension of time if that is possible. We accept no responsibility for the consequences if material is not received or is received so late or is incorrect or insufficient so that we are unable to take the appropriate action before a due date, which may lead to a loss of rights or to surcharges or other fees being levied for late compliance.
13.3. Please notify us promptly if there is any change of name, address, telephone number, fax number, email address or similar information, or if there is a change in the person from whom we should seek instructions. If communications from us do not reach you, rights may be lost and we cannot accept responsibility for any such loss. Please also advise us promptly of any change of ownership of rights. It may be important to record a change of ownership by a due date to ensure that rights can be enforced properly.
- Our files
14.1 Our files in respect of cases that we handle on your behalf are our property. However, we are willing at your expense and on your written instruction to provide you, or somebody acting on your behalf, with access to the files and/or copies of papers from the files, subject to removal of any information that may be confidential, covered by professional privilege, or contains personal data that cannot be disclosed. If it is necessary for original documents to be taken from our files, we reserve the right to take copies at your expense for retention in our files.
14.2. Access to the contents of our files in the above ways is conditional on your account with us being up to date. We are entitled to keep all your papers and documents whilst there is money owed to us on any account. We shall have a lien over all papers as a matter of law, documents, money or other property held on your behalf until all sums due to us are paid in cleared funds.
14.3. We have a file destruction policy which is available to you on request. Unless specific terms are agreed with you regarding the retention of files when cases are no longer current, your files in our possession may be destroyed, in accordance with our policy, without reference to you.
- Transfer of representation
15.1. You are at liberty at any time to transfer responsibility for a matter to yourself or to another professional representative. Additionally, circumstances may arise in which we find ourselves unable or unwilling to act for you, and we will then ask you to take on responsibility for the matter yourself or to nominate another representative. In either case we shall cooperate with you and any replacement representative in order to preserve your interests.
15.2. We reserve the right to charge you for any work we are asked to carry out in connection with transferring responsibility, such as providing schedules and status information and bringing attention to due dates. We also reserve the right to charge you for any work we need to do after the transfer of responsibility, such as forwarding correspondence received by us after the transfer.
15.3. In the event of a transfer of responsibility the provision of files or copies of papers shall be in accordance with Section 26, “Our Files”. In the event that your account with us is outstanding at the time of the transfer, if we are asked to carry out work in accordance with Clause26.2 we shall nevertheless endeavour to advise you or your chosen representative about any critical due dates or other critical information that is not available readily from other sources. However, we cannot accept responsibility if you do not meet any critical due date.
16.1. We are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. We are committed to high quality legal advice and client care and aim to offer all our clients an efficient and effective service. However, if you would like to discuss how the service to you could be improved, the level of your bill, or should there be any aspect of our service with which you are not satisfied, please contact the head of immigration, Mr Bilal Babar on 0161 872 6655, email him on email@example.com or write to him at UK Immigration Solicitors, 615-617 Stretford Rd, Manchester, Lancashire M16 0QA. We will then investigate your complaint. If you would like to see a copy of our complaints procedure at any time, please let us know and we will arrange for a copy of our complaints procedure to be sent to you.
16.2. We have eight weeks to consider your complaint. If for any reason we are unable to resolve the problem between us within that timeframe, then you may ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider the complaint. The Legal Ombudsman may be contacted at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ.
16.3. Please be aware that any complaint to the Legal Ombudsman must usually be made within six months of your having received a final written response from us about your complaint. Complaints to the Legal Ombudsman must usually be made within six years of the act or omission about which you are complaining occurred; or within three years from when you should have known about or become aware that there were grounds for complaint if that is later. However, the Legal Ombudsman will not accept complaints where the act or date of awareness was before 6th October 2010. For further information, you should contact the Legal Ombudsman on 0300 555 0333 or visit www.legalombudsman.org.uk
- Data protection
17.1. We are registered under the Data Protection Act 1998.
17.2. In order to deal with your affairs, we may store and process information comprising personal data. This personal data will concern you as our client if you are an individual. The personal data will be entered into our database and/or written records. By accepting these Engagement Terms you are giving consent for us to obtain, store and process information about you as our client and are agreeing that we may use the information we hold about you to contact you from time to time to bring to your attention services which may be of benefit to you or to advise you of information such as developments in the law or other news. You have the right to object to direct mailing and you may withhold (or at any future time withdraw) any consent given by you for this purpose by contacting us in writing. We will inform you and seek your prior consent if it becomes necessary for us to supply such personal data to any third parties in connection with our service.
18.1. Occasionally, our files may need to be examined by our insurers, external auditors (for quality purposes) or external advisers (who assist the firm in maintaining quality and risk). In particular, our files may need to be assessed for quality purposes by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. They are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files. Your file may be one of a sample which is to be assessed.
19.1. Advice that we provide to you is for your use only and should not be disclosed to or relied upon by a third party without our prior written approval. We accept no liability to third parties who rely upon advice that we have given to you.
19.2. No employee, associate or consultant of UK Immigration Solicitors will have any personal liability for work undertaken for you.
- Conflicts of interest
20.1. At present there is no evidence that there is any conflict in us acting for you.
20.2. Except with the approval of the parties concerned, we shall not act for a client on a particular matter if, having acted for another client on a conflicting matter, our professional duty to either client may be compromised.
20.3. We do not undertake not to work for another client whose general interests may conflict with yours.
20.4. If in the course of acting for you, or in the course of discussions in the context of prospectively acting for you on a matter, we acquire knowledge of you, your affairs or your technology which is confidential or at least has not been widely disseminated to the public, we shall not disclose that knowledge to any other client and we shall not rely upon that knowledge in acting for any other client without your express consent.
- Acceptance of terms
21.1. Your continuing instructions amount to your acceptance of these Terms of Engagement. All instructions are governed by our standard terms of engagement and notification of this, along with a link to the same can be found at the bottom of emails sent out by the firms authorised representatives.