Terms and Condition of Business
Issue Date: 11th of September 2019
Provided by TESS Paralegal Services Ltd [TESS Law] whose registered office is located at 28 Orchard Rd, Lytham St Anne’s, Lancashire, England FY8 1PF. TESS Law is a limited company registered in England and Wales: No. 09372001.
TESS Law are a company of paralegals who provide consumers with assistance with timeshare related matters. We are not solicitors.
Scope of our work
The work we will do for you in any timeshare related matter will be identified in a letter of engagement, engagement booklet or relevant client letter (unless otherwise agreed in writing between us and you) [engagement letter]. We are not responsible for or liable to you when advising you on matters not directly related to that work.
People responsible for your work
You will be advised in your engagement letter, the name of the person dealing with your work and, where appropriate, who will be supervising them. Changing the people who handle client cases may become necessary, however we will notify you should a change occur.
If for any reason the person assisting you is unavailable, please leave a message and they will call you back. Should you want a meeting please telephone for an appointment, as the person handling your case will not be available should you call at the office unexpectedly.
If you make a reasonable method of communication request, we will comply with the request. Unless you insist otherwise, we will only communicate with you and others by email or letter. We will not and cannot be responsible for the security of correspondence and documents sent.
Where we act for two or more clients i.e. married, civil partners, couples etc, jointly it is on the understanding that we are authorised to act on instructions from either party. However, should any conflict or uncertainty exist, we are entitled to insist upon agreed joint instructions thereafter.
If requested in writing, we may disclose details of your matter and accept instructions (in relation to your matter) from a third party, however we are not obliged to do so and may stop accepting third party instructions at any time.
Necessary steps to verify or confirm any third party instructions may be required. This may increase costs and expenses we charge to you. The work that you request us to perform relies upon the instructions and information you provided to us (and/or others who have authorised to instruct us on your behalf). We cannot and will not be accountable for any costs which may arise from a delay or failure by you/or them, to give us timely/full and/or accurate instructions and information.
Charges and expenses
Unless otherwise set out in any engagement booklet/letter provided, our invoices will be based on the time we spend dealing with your matter. The time spent will include such costs as meetings; travelling expenses; preparing and working on papers; correspondence including letters and emails, both sent or received; making and receiving telephone calls; and making appropriate file and attendance notes.
We can also assist you on a ‘fixed fee’ or ‘contingency fee basis’. In either case the details will be clarified in any accompanying engagement booklet/letter.
Please note expenses and costs of letters received will not be recoverable from another party on an assessment, they do form part of our charges.
It is explained in your engagement booklet/letter what the current hourly rate of the paralegal dealing with your case is, also any other rate for other people who may assist them. To avoid any waisted costs or delays, you are required to consent to all the work carried out on occasions by a more experienced paralegal/ solicitor and without us having to ask for your authority (for example during the absence or holiday of the person working for you).
All time-based work will be recorded in units of a minimum of 1/10th of an hour and rounded up to the next whole unit i.e. correspondence and telephone. By way of example work that does not involve more than one unit will be charged as one unit. Work that involves more than one unit will be charged on a time basis in units of 1/10th of an hour, rounded up as previously exampled.
Please remember after any meeting or telephone call, any file or attendance note will involve chargeable time.
TESS Law reserves the right and from time to time to review and increase the hourly rates it charges. Should rates increase before a matter is concluded, TESS Law will notify you of the variation and before it takes effect.
In addition to the time spent, we may take into account other factors like complexity of the issues, the speed of which the service has to be undertaken and the skill or knowledge which the case requires.
The rates charged may also increase should, for example, the matter becomes more complex or urgent other than expected, TESS Law will notify you in advance if higher rates are to be charged.
If you have a query about the level of the higher rates which are to be charged, please contact the person dealing with your case straight away.
The amount we charge and you pay, may be greater than the sums you can recover from another party so, unless otherwise agreed you will be liable for all our charges regardless of any right of contribution or payment from another party.
TESS Law will add VAT (if applicable) to our invoices and at the appropriate rate. Our VAT registration number is 204 872 417.
There could be other expenses, including payments that you want us to make on your behalf, examples are apostilles, hauge stamps, search fees, court fees, expert fees, advices and other solicitors’ and barristers’ fees. You are required to pay these disbursement costs as well. It is normal to ask for and receive payment on account for work and costs yet to be rendered. On matters of fixed fee work we will ask that you do put us in funds. Therefore, unless we are in receipt of cleared funds from you, the work you instruct will not be begin. Thus all the predicted costs noted above as an estimate will include costs of instructing solicitors, abogardos, procadors, lawyers, barristers or other experts.
VAT is payable on certain expenses.
TESS Law will provide estimates of costs based on information available to us at the time. We will inform you if any unforeseen additional work becomes necessary.
We will also inform you of the estimated cost in writing and before any extra costs are incurred.
You may set a limit on costs and expenses to be incurred or can agree a series of interim budget limits. This means you have agreed to the costs up to the agreed limit and without us needing to refer back to you.
TESS Law will inform you should it appear the limit could be exceeded. As TESS Law will not exceed the limit (without first obtaining your consent) we will not be obliged to carry out any work beyond any agreed limit set, despite the matter not reaching its ultimate or interim conclusion.
If, for any reason, your matter does not proceed to completion, TESS Law will charge you for work done and expenses incurred.
As normal practice in professional circles dictates, clients are required to pay sums of money from time to time and on account of the charges and expenses yet to be incurred. Thus, TESS Law will require money on account and for services yet to be rendered. This helps in avoiding delay in the progression of your case. TESS Law will advise you of the level of any initial payment in a separate letter. TESS Law may request further payments as your matter progresses, either by way of a payment on account or in satisfaction of an invoice. When TESS Law payments are made, we will send you a receipted invoice. In the event TESS Law holds funds we will apply any balance of any such payments against your final invoice, but it is important that you understand that should your total charges and expenses be greater than a credit balance held you are required to pay the deficit. We reserve the right to cease work on your file if any request for a payment on account or invoice is not settled within 14 days and you accept that some circumstances may dictate a payment on account must be made immediately.
If you are due to receive money from another party (whether on a completion of a matter), we reserve the right to have that money made payable to us and you irrevocably agree that the other party are required to deduct any balance TESS Law is owed and from any money they hold and before forwarding the balance to you.
Confidentiality and proof of identity
To comply with the law on money laundering, you are required to provide us with documents to verify your identity and your present address before we can work for you. If you cannot provide these, we reserve the right to discontinue acting for you.
You agree TESS Law can use your personal information in order to conduct appropriate anti-fraud checks.
Personal information that you do provide may also be disclosed in order to complete a credit reference check or to satisfy the fraud prevention agency. Both may keep the information we provide them. TESS Law are under a professional and legal obligation to keep the affairs of clients confidential and the confidentially agreement can be found in the engagement booklet. This obligation, however, is subject to a statutory exception.
TESS Law is obliged to operate an anti-money laundering reporting procedure so, if we know or suspect that you (or any other party in the matter) is involved in money laundering or hold the proceeds of crime, TESS Law is required by law to make a report to the National Crime Agency (NCA) without advising you that it is doing so.
We are also prohibited from confirming or denying that a report has been made. These requirements override the duty of confidentiality TESS Law has to you.
Proceeds of income, benefits, monitory or otherwise that TESS Law suspects are as a result of some illegal activity, (examples drug-trafficking, non-payment of tax or fraudulently obtaining benefits), TESS Law is also required to make a report to NCA and we must stop work on the matter until we are authorised by NCA to continue.
Any costs, disbursements and expenses incurred by TESS Law in complying with the above will be charged to you. There may in certain circumstances when we consider it prudent (in order to protect our own position), to make a report to NCA which later turns out not to have been required by law.
By instructing TESS Law, you agree that such reports can be made and fully understand that TESS Law does not accept any liability direct or otherwise for any consequential, anticipated or otherwise any loss, damage or disruption to you, a co client, a third party in respect to this matter, reputation, goodwill, loss of business or anticipated business, damages, costs, shackles or expenses incurred or payable to any third party arising from any delay or otherwise incurred as a result of any reports made to NCA or any steps necessary to ensure compliance with TESS’s statutory obligations.
TESS Law has the right to send you an interim application for payment at what we consider to be a suitable amount, at intervals we set and while the work is progressing. We will issue a final invoice with a tax point at or after completion of the work.
Unless a bill is payable on completion or out of monies held on account, payment is due to us within 14 days after the tax point date on the invoice. TESS Law will charge you interest on any unpaid amounts at the rate of 8% above the Bank of England’s base rate or payable on judgment debts from 14 days from the date of the invoice and the interest will be charged on a daily basis.
If you have any issue regarding your invoice you should contact the person dealing with your case within 14 days. If this does not resolve the matter, you have the right to complain as mentioned below.
Our firm’s policy is not to accept cash. Funds must be paid by way of cheque or bank transfer and into a nominated TESS Law bank account. If by depositing cash or funds direct with our bank, any client circumvents this term TESS Law reserves the right to charge for any additional work involved including any checks we deem necessary regarding the source of funds.
Please quote our file reference when making a payment to us.
Any refund due to you will be made when all necessary checking procedures have been completed and where the original payment has cleared through our bank and that bank shows we are holding cleared funds in our account.
We reserve the right to apply a credit limit to you. An additional credit limit may be applied to you and your associates together. Where a credit limit applies, we reserve the right to suspend all further work on your behalf, (including the incurring of expenses) until the aggregate value of uninvoiced work and expenses and unpaid invoices for you and your associates is reduced below the applicable credit limit, and/or all requested payments on account have been received.
Costs contributions from other parties
It is important you understand you will be responsible for paying our invoices. Where appropriate, we will discuss with you whether all or part of our charges and expenses might be recovered by you from another person. Even if you are successful your opponent may not be ordered to pay any or all your charges and expenses, also you may be unable to recover the costs you pay to us in full or at all.
If you are successful and the court does order the other party to pay some or all of your costs, interest may be claimed from the other party. We will account for any such interest inadvertently received by us, to the extent that you have paid our charges or expenses on account, but we are entitled to the rest of that interest.
You will also be responsible for paying the charges and expenses of seeking to recover any charges and expenses that the court orders the other party to pay.
Other party’s charges and expenses
In some circumstances, the court may order you to pay your opponent’s legal costs. For example, if you lose the case. This money is payable by you in addition to your obligations to us. You should be aware that there are alternative methods of funding and you should consider whether our costs and the potential of your opponent’s costs may be covered by an insurance you currently have (example: legal indemnity insurance, household insurance, professional or business insurance). Further, if you do not have any such insurance cover, you may need to consider taking out an ‘after the event insurance policy’ which may cover another party’s costs and/or third-party funding. We will discuss funding options with you.
Where our engagement booklet/letter and terms of business is addressed to more than one person (and in the absence of any contrary indication in the letter) your liability to us will be joint and several.
The Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 shall not apply to these terms of business or the accompanying letter, except to the extent that the letter expressly provides otherwise. All our invoices are payable by you, whether or not you have an agreement or arrangement with a third party for their payment.
Legal aid funding
No legal aid funding is available for our service to you.
Any money inadvertently received on your behalf will be held in a non-office account. Interest will not be earned or payable. Every effort will be made to ensure that all monies are paid to yourself and we are not permitted to hold client monies.
TESS Law operate a non-office bank account and in the unlikely event of a bank’s failure and inadvertent payments have been made you will not be covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
Equality and diversity
TESS Law is a small organisation but committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of its dealings with clients, third parties and employees.
Foreign jurisdictions and laws
We can only advise you in relation to matters where the laws of England and Wales apply. In all other cases (unless otherwise agreed in writing), we will prepare advice and assist in any instruction you give to instruct a lawyer outside the jurisdiction, who displays relevant experience in the matter you want to advance. However, we are not responsible, in any way to you for any liability relevant to any issue in that jurisdiction and or occasioned by the contractual relationship or any other relationship you have with the lawyer, solicitor, abogardo, procador etc.
Storage of papers and documents
After completing the work asked of us, TESS Law is entitled to keep all your papers, data created, documents and copies of such, while you owe TESS Law money on account of invoices, or pending invoices. TESS Law will keep your file of papers (except for any of your papers which are returned to you) for no less than 6 years. We retain your file on the understanding we have your authority to destroy it after 6 years from the date of the instruction.
We will not destroy any documents that you have instructed us to preserve if those instructions are in writing and you clearly identify what you want preserving and you agree to the fees for the preservation of your file as we reserve the right to charge a fee for archiving papers on your behalf.
If we retrieve papers or documents from storage in relation to continuing, or new instructions to act in connection with your affairs, or if you request them, we will make a charge based on the cost of retrieving them and time spent producing stored papers or documents to you or another at your request. We may also charge for reading, correspondence or other work necessary to comply with instructions given by you or on your behalf.
If you are a consumer client (defined as instructions outside your trade, business, craft or profession) the Consumer Contracts (information, cancellation and additional charges) Regulations 2013 apply and these regulations convey rights to cancel in certain situations.
a) You confirm your instructions to us at our offices – if you instruct us to deal with your matter at a meeting at our offices no cancellation provision applies.
b) You confirm your instructions to us at other premises – where you instruct us at a meeting at premises other than our offices, you have the right to cancel your agreement with us within 14 days of the date of receiving these terms and conditions of business. Should you wish to cancel this agreement you must give us notice to that effect in accordance with the notice of the right to cancel.
c) You confirm your instructions to us without any meeting – where you instruct us without a meeting you have the right to cancel your agreement with us within 14 days of the date of receiving these terms and conditions of business. If you wish to cancel your agreement you must give us notice to that effect in accordance with the note of the right to cancel attached in the document engagement booklet.
In situations b or c above you can instruct us to commence work for you without waiting for the period of 14 days for cancellation to expire. In that situation you must expressly confirm such instructions to us in writing by completing a form in the engagement booklet to commence work before the end of the cancellation period.
You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time, but we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is money owing to us for our charges and expenses.
In some circumstances, and for good reason, we may stop acting for you. Circumstances include, but are not limited to, where you do not/cannot give clear or proper instructions to us, or if it is clear that you have lost confidence in how we are carrying out your work, or if you do not pay an interim bill or comply promptly with a request for a payment on account. We must and will give you reasonable notice that we will stop acting for you.
If you or we decide that we will no longer act for you, you will pay our charges on a time spent basis and expenses (including time and expenses which we are obliged to incur as a result of ceasing to act) or in proportion to the fixed fee payment schedule agreed. In the case of any matter being dealt with on a ‘No Win – No Fee’ or similar agreement, the terms of that agreement will apply.
We are confident of providing a quality paralegal service in every respect. If however, you have any queries or concerns about the work carried out for you or an invoice you have received, please raise it in the first instance with the person dealing with your case. If that does not resolve the problem to your satisfaction, then please contact the relevant director named in your initial engagement booklet.
We will try to resolve any problem quickly and we operate a client complaints procedure – a copy of which is contained in the engagement booklet. If for any reason we are unable to resolve the problem between us, then you can ask the Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ about your complaint. For further information, you should contact them on 0300 555 0333 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. In certain circumstances, if your complaint concerns a bill you have received, you may have the right to have the bill assessed by the court. The Legal Ombudsman may not consider a complaint about a bill if an application for assessment has been made to the court. TESS Law are not solicitors nor authorised or regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
TESS Law is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority website at www.fca.org.uk/register.
Audit and assessment
The firm is not registered under the ISO 9001:2015 quality standard. As a result, we are not subject to audit and assessment by external assessment bodies.
Unless otherwise agreed, the terms of business apply to any future instructions you give us. Your continuing instructions will be deemed to constitute your acceptance of the terms and conditions of business. Even so, we ask you to please sign, date and return the engagement booklet before we act on your behalf.
The terms of any engagement booklet/letter sent to you regarding a specific matter will apply and will take priority over these general terms and conditions.
Unless otherwise agreed in writing to the contrary, the advice provided and the work carried out by us in relation to any matter is intended to be relied on only by you and no other person, and we accept no liability to third parties.
Last modified: 28th August 2020