James B Joyce & Co Solicitors Standard Terms & Conditions
These terms and conditions (the “Conditions”), together with the Letter of Engagement providing professional fee hourly rate(s) and/or estimates, govern the basis of our contractual relationship with you. In these terms we have used the expressions “we”, “us” and “the firm” to refer to James B. Joyce & Co. Solicitors and “you” and “your” refer to you, our client.
2. The Client
It is important that you are kept informed of progress and that in handling your work, we endeavour to meet your instructions. We shall report to you at such intervals and by such means as required.
We have set out the agreed scope and objectives of your instructions in the Letter of Engagement. Any subsequent change will be discussed with you and where appropriate, a new Letter of Engagement will be agreed. We shall proceed on the basis of the instructions we have received from you and rely upon you to tell us as soon as possible if anything occurs which renders any information previously given to us incorrect or inaccurate.
We shall not be responsible for any failure to advise or comment on any matter, which falls outside the scope of your instructions. We cannot accept any responsibility for any event, loss or situation unless it is one against which it is the express purpose of those instructions to provide protection. Advice given by us is provided in light of the instructions to which it relates and for your benefit only, it may not be used or relied upon for any other purpose or by any person other than you without our prior written consent.
4. Anti Money Laundering Legislation (AML)
Our policy is one of strict compliance with any applicable anti-money laundering regulations in force from time to time and therefore we shall not be able to act upon your instructions until we have completed those procedures we deem necessary to satisfy the legislation and regulations to which we are subject. We shall communicate with you separately in respect of the procedures referred to. We shall only be able to accept instructions, once these procedures have been completed. lf we are able to accept your instructions, we reserve the right to recover fees (calculated on a time basis), expenses and disbursements which accrue or which we incur in complying with the legislation and regulations to which we are subject.
5. Standard Fee Basis
Our fees are calculated by taking into account a series of factors. Unless otherwise agreed and varied in writing, these include the amount of time we spend, the complexity and/or urgency of the matter and the level of skill and specialised knowledge involved and the requirement to work unsociable hours. In addition, we take into account the value of the matter and its importance to you. Time spent may include but not necessarily be limited to:
i) perusing and working on papers and correspondence;
ii) telephone calls;
iii) time spent with you on the telephone or in face to face meetings;
iv) time spent dealing with other parties involved in the matter;
v) travelling and waiting time;
vi) attendance at court hearings and consultations with counsel.
Time is recorded and charged for on a task-related basis in single units of six minutes. As our time and expertise are the core elements of our service, our fees are normally calculated by reference to the advised current hourly rates and applicable at the time that the work is carried out for you. We do review our charge-out rates from time to time. Those hourly rates are set out in the Letter of Engagement, are reviewed on a yearly basis and may be subject to an annual increase equivalent to the Retail Prices Index/rise in inflation for the previous year. We shall, however, notify you in writing of any alterations. We reserve the right to charge a mark up of 50% on our standard rates if the work is unavoidably undertaken during unsociable hours. Our intention is that our fees should be fair and reasonable having regard to all the circumstances. Our aim is to be as flexible as is commercially sensible in our approach to fees and we are prepared to consider alternatives to hourly rates, including by way of example, fixed fees, blended rates, percentage fees based on specific criteria or retainers. The Letter of Engagement sets out the agreement we have reached on fees. VAT is payable on all fees and charges. All figures in our Letter of Engagement or any other correspondence with you are exclusive of VAT unless otherwise stated.
Our charges will normally be calculated by the time expended costed at the hourly rates quoted in the Engagement Letter but in an appropriate case such as one of unusual complexity, difficulty, importance or high value the charge for time may be augmented by an additional charge.
6. Estimate of Fees
Any estimate provided as to fees is only a guide and must not be taken as a firm quotation, unless we have confirmed it in writing that we shall charge a fixed fee. Our estimate will aim to give you a breakdown between likely fees, disbursements and VAT. In respect of a matter in which our fees are calculated primarily by the time expended we will try to give you as accurate an estimate as possible of the time likely to be expended but you must bear in mind that in legal transactions and litigation matters it can be very difficult to be precise as to the time that will be expended as there can be many unforeseen circumstances that will only come to light as the matter progresses. We will try to keep you informed as to the likely impact on time recording of such unforeseen circumstances but it will be up to you to draw the attention of the relevant fee-earner to the fact that any estimate given has been or is likely to be exceeded. It is likely that our estimate will be expressed as a range. Our estimate will include, where possible, details of any third parties to whom you will need to make payments and when those payments are likely to be needed.
Where, in our judgment, it is not possible to provide you with a fixed or realistic estimate of fees and disbursements, we shall, at your request, give you the best information about the total cost of the next stage of the matter. We shall review the original estimate regularly and provide you with written revised estimates, where applicable, giving the reasons for any changes made.
7. Cap on Fees
If a limit is agreed on the level of our fees then our fees will not exceed the amount specified in the Letter of Engagement. However, the application of the limit is agreed on the basis of the instructions and information supplied to us and is subject to no unforeseen extra work becoming necessary.
8. Fixed Fees
If we have agreed a fixed fee with you, then the Letter of Engagement will include a detailed description of what we have agreed to do for that fee and a summary of the information which you have given us. In order to provide that description, we must have as much information as possible about the work which you want us to do, so that we can estimate the time it will take. Expenses and disbursements shall be payable in addition to any fixed fee. Provided the scope of your instructions does not change and the information in the summary is accurate, we will complete your instructions for the fixed fee. lf the scope of your original instructions change, or the information in the summary proves inaccurate, we shall advise you that in our view the fixed fee agreement should cease to have effect. lf you agree our view, we shall seek a new agreement with you for a new/ revised fixed fee, or agree a different method of charging fees. lf you do not agree with our view, then the Complaints Handling Procedure set out in the Engagement Letter will operate.
9. Expenses and Disbursements
Your instructions authorise us, unless you instruct us to the contrary, to incur such disbursements and expenses as we consider necessary to comply with your instructions. You will be required to reimburse them to us on request either by payment on account or against submission of a bill. Examples of common disbursements and expenses are Company, Land Registry and other search and registration fees, stamp duty, stamp duty land tax, accountants’ and expert’s fees, Court fees and Counsel’s fees. Disbursements and expenses are charged at cost. We reserve the right to charge you for:
i) expenses of travel, accommodation and meals when travelling away from the office (and exceptional costs of in-house provision of food, subsistence items, or other amenities) in fulfilling your instructions;
ii) photocopying and scanning expenses incurred on your behalf;
iii) transfer charges on your behalf by our Bank.
The above list should not be regarded as exhaustive. Unless you instruct us otherwise we will assume that we have your authority to incur this expenditure. There may be additional expenses such as retaining Junior and/or Senior Counsel or retaining expert witnesses such as an engineer, valuer, forensic accountant or pension actuary but we will not incur such expenditure without first obtaining your authority to do so.
10. Payments on Account
We may ask you to provide sums in advance to cover costs, disbursements and expenses. If we do, any payment will be held generally on account of costs and expenses which we are likely to incur on your behalf. We will discuss the amount which is appropriate with you at the outset of any new matter. It will be helpful if you could please meet any requests for payment promptly. However, if there is any difficulty in this respect please contact xxxx. The money will be retained until completion of the matter although, at our discretion, some or all of it may be applied towards any bill which has remained unpaid for more than 30 days. If part or all of the money is used in this way, or if for any reason it is reasonable to review the amount held by us, we may ask you to provide a further sum to cover future costs, disbursements and expenses.
11. Interim Bills
We will bill fees, disbursements and expenses on the basis set out in the Letter of Engagement. We may ask that you agree to an interim billing structure whereby we invoice outstanding work in progress and disbursements on a monthly or quarterly basis. We may on occasion as for payment by way of direct debit mandate.
12. General Provisions about Bills
Bills will contain a brief description of the work performed during each billable period but not a detailed narrative. Bills are due for payment upon delivery and must be paid within 14 days of delivery, unless that period is extended, in writing, by us. lf you wish to make payment by way of Bank Transfer or direct debit mandate, we will provide you with our bank details with each bill or at your request.
Unless waived by us interest on any sum which remains outstanding for more than 14 days after delivery of the bill will be charged at the rate of 8% per annum. Any costs, which remain unpaid, shall be a first charge on any money or property recovered or preserved for you. This is known as the solicitor’s lien. lf a third party undertakes responsibility for payment of some or all of our charges and expenses on your behalf, and payment is not made as set out above, then you will be responsible for settling any outstanding amount. In the unlikely event that a bill remains unpaid for more than 30 days, or if you decline or fail within 14 days to meet a request for a payment on account of costs, we must reserve the right to decline to act any further. lf our instructions are given by, or on behalf of, more than one person or company each person or company for whom we are acting will be responsible for the payment of the full amount of our fees, disbursements and expenses regardless of whether our bills are addressed only to one or some of such parties.
13. Recovery of costs from another Party
If you are successful in any litigation undertaken on your behalf on the conclusion of the proceedings the Court may order that the other party pay your costs of the proceedings. This is not an absolute right as the decision whether or not to award costs is a matter for the discretion of the Court but normally such costs are awarded on the basis that costs follow the event i.e. the losing party should pay the winning party’s costs in whole or in part. If awarded, such costs are known as “Party and Party” costs and do not relieve you of your contractual obligation to pay our bills. They are awarded to compensate or reimburse you for what you must pay and unfortunately there may be a shortfall between what we might bill you and what you might recover from the losing party. In particular the costs payable to you may not be calculated at the hourly charging rate set out in the Engagement Letter but at a lower rate of charge.
14. Termination of Instructions
You may terminate our instructions at anytime by giving us written notice. In some circumstances, for good reason, we may decide to cease acting for you. Examples of this include:
i) a failure on your part to provide us with adequate instructions or when we find ourselves unable to comply with your instructions; or
ii) When our invoice remains unpaid outside an agreed payment timetable or
iii) when a payment on account is not made in accordance with these Conditions and our Letter of Engagement.
We will give you reasonable prior written notice if we decide for whatever reason that we are no longer willing or able to act for you. In circumstances where our instructions are terminated or we cease to act for you, we will be entitled to receive payment for our reasonable fees and disbursements and expenses incurred. In the case of a fixed fee, please refer to Condition 8.
15. Third Parties
Except as expressly provided in the Letter of Engagement and as set out in these Conditions, no person other than a party to the agreement established by the Letter of Engagement and these Conditions may enforce any terms of such agreement.
16. Data Protection
The information which you provide to us is confidential. It is also likely to be covered by the Data Protection Acts 1988 and Data Protection (Amendment) Act 2003 and GDPR. Inevitably we may have to disclose some information to third parties and we accept instructions only on the understanding that we have the authority to do so when reasonable and necessary for the purposes of dealing with this matter. lf we have any doubt as to whether you might object to the disclosure of any information we will seek to obtain your consent before doing so unless disclosure is required as a matter of law. If we instruct Counsel on your behalf, we may keep a copy of an opinion given by Counsel in electronic form for internal know-how purposes but we will ensure that client confidentiality is observed.
17. Storage of Papers and Deeds
Upon completion of any matter for you we are entitled to retain your papers, documents or other property held by us if there is any money owing to us in respect of our charges, disbursements and expenses until you have paid any outstanding amount, including interest. We shall keep our file of papers (except for any of your papers which you ask to be returned to you) in storage but on the understanding that we have your authority to destroy the file six years from the date of delivery of our final invoice in respect of the matter. We shall not, however, destroy documents, which you specifically ask us to deposit in safe custody. We do not normally make a charge for retrieving stored papers or deeds in respect of continuing or new instructions to act for you. However, we reserve the right to make a charge based on the time we spend reading papers, writing letters and other work necessary to comply with your instructions.
18. Electronic Communication
We are able to communicate electronically with our clients and other parties using electronic mail (both direct and via the internet) and using computer disks. lf we communicate electronically with or for you, you acknowledge and agree as follows:
i) There are some delivery risks in using electronic mail and you accept the risk of interception by third parties or of non-receipt or delayed receipt of the message.
ii) Computer viruses and similar damaging items can be transmitted through e-mails and by introducing computer disks into your system; we use virus scanning software to reduce these risks and ask that you do the same; however, it is not possible completely to eliminate the risk of introducing viruses.
lf we communicate electronically with or for you, you release us from all claims, losses, expenses and liabilities caused by any of the risks referred to above and arising directly or indirectly out of that communication.
19. Complaints Handling Procedure
As a valued client, you should know that we take every care in providing the service that you are entitled to expect. We recognize however that occasionally things can go wrong, and you may wish to complain about the service you have received. We have a formal complaints handling procedure and we want you to understand how that works. The procedure is intended to ensure that:
i) any complaint is taken seriously;
ii) any complaint gets a prompt response;
iii) anyone who makes a complaint knows as soon as possible whether or not we agree that the complaint is justified.
If you wish to make a complaint, then in our view it is best if you discuss it with xxx
Although we would always hope to deal with and resolve any complaints satisfactorily, you should understand that our complaints handling procedure does not in any way restrict your right to pursue your complaint through other channels.
20. Risk Assessment
Litigation is a risky and uncertain course of action. Wherever possible, we shall endeavour to resolve a dispute without reverting to litigation. Should litigation prove necessary, we shall discuss with you whether the likely outcome in the matter justifies the expense and risk involved, including, where relevant, the potential liability for an opponent’s cost. We shall explain to you the cost consequences of pursuing litigation. We shall also explain to you the various approaches a Court takes in assessing costs. In any event, you will be liable to pay our bills in full, regardless of any costs made against any other party. Similarly, you will be liable for any costs of enforcing any order of costs against any other party if enforcement measures prove necessary.
It is probable, as the matter progresses, that we shall need to review all the documents which are relevant to it (please note that documents includes electronically generated documents) as well as audio and video tapes and computer records. In any event, in normal course of litigation, the parties may be obliged to disclose to each other all documents which they have or have had at any time relating in any way to the issues between them. For those reasons, it is extremely important that any documents which you may already have are carefully preserved. This means keeping them safe and ensuring that they are not marked, altered or otherwise tampered with.
A party to litigation may have a duty to provide discovery. Discovery is the process whereby documents which are in your possession are disclosed to other parties. Other parties may be under the same duty to you. We shall explain to you in writing your rights and obligations under disclosure.
23. Order of Costs Payable
The Court differentiates between costs which have been incurred simply to progress litigation (which will generally be payable by the losing party) and those costs which are incurred entirely for your benefit (for example regular updates and including telephone advices for your benefit). Should Court proceedings prove necessary, then at the conclusion of those proceedings, costs will normally be awarded to the successful party. The payment amount may be assessed by the Court. Even if you are successful in your claim, it is unlikely that you will recover all of the costs you had paid or had become liable to pay. You will be liable for any shortfall due to this firm. lf you are ultimately unsuccessful, it is equally important for you to note that you may be responsible for the costs incurred by the other party in defending the action in addition to the costs of this firm.
24. Our Liability to You
In order that our liability to you arising from our negligence or wilful default shall be fair and proportionate we may include provisions in the Letter of Engagement which limit our liability in certain circumstances, In any event, please note carefully the exclusion of liability (contained in Condition 3) in circumstances where matters fall outside our instructions. Nothing in this condition shall be construed as purporting to exclude, as opposed to limit, our liability for negligence.
25. Variations to these Conditions
These Conditions apply to any instructions which you provide to us. We may change these Conditions from time to time but if we do so we will notify you of any changes in writing. Together with the Letter of Engagement, they comprise the whole contract between you and us and no variation shall be binding on us unless in writing, In the event of any inconsistency between the provisions of these standard terms and conditions and the Letter of Engagement the latter shall prevail.
26. Jurisdiction and Applicable law
These standard terms and conditions shall be construed in accordance with the law of the Republic of Ireland.
Last updated: 1st March 2021