Our standard terms and conditions
We are regulated by the Claims Management Regulator in respect of regulated claims management activities. We are completely independent. This means that we have no relationship with any firm of solicitors, barristers’ chambers or any other business or company that would in any way restrict or influence our management of your claim or its outcome. We look forward to working with you to achieve a successful outcome for you.
Scope of work
The scope of our work is one of these three options.
- A meeting to give you your legal position and a strategy for the way forward, for which we will charge £150, payable in advance;
- If your situation is to complex or far-advanced for that option, we will quote you a bespoke option over the phone and confirm it with an email; or
- If you have been given a draft settlement agreement by your employer, we will meet with you, advise you on what it says and means and counter-sign it. There is no initial charge to you. We will be reimbursed by the employer (after the work is complete) for the amount they are reasonably willing to pay. If you choose not to proceed after the initial meeting, we will charge you £150.
Should you instruct us to act for you further then these terms of business shall also apply to that additional work and we will agree a fee and scope of work in writing with you. The scope of the work can increase as we obtain further information on your matter. For example, it may be that in obtaining documents, we uncover further grounds for complaint against your employer. However, there is no value to you in altering position unless it improves your position and so we shall discuss developments with you at the relevant time so that you are clear about the way any new information affects you. NB: Once we have notified the other party that we represent you, you should not make or receive any direct communications with him/her/it thereafter. Moreover, if the other party contacts you, it is imperative that you say that you have a representative and give him/her our contact details. Please also tell us about this immediately using any reasonable means. In the meantime, please keep our working relationship confidential.
Working relationship… the need for co-operation
.…the need for prompt, full and frank instructions
We take our instructions from you alone. If a relative or friend assists you, we must have your written permission each time to act on that person’s instruction. Work in employment law is fast-paced and there are often short deadlines to be met. There are also short time limits for commencing each type of case and, in general the time limit is 3 months from the last act of discrimination or 3 months less a day from the termination of your contract of employment. We have a duty to the Employment Tribunal to abide by the Employment Judge’s timetable of events (called Tribunal Orders) unless there are cogent reasons for any delay or failure in which case we must write to the Tribunal before the expiry of the deadline to explain the difficulty and seek to agree an alternative timing. Therefore, you are required to provide all information and documents as requested by us promptly. Further, all information you give us must be full and frank. This includes your providing copies of all documents that relate to your claim even if you think the document favours the other party. In over twenty years of appearing before Employment Tribunals, we have never presented a case that was without its own problems and so we want to know your case “warts and all” so that there is nothing misleading about your claim. If your case proceeds to a hearing, witness statements will be prepared and you will be asked to verify the accuracy of the information therein and the authenticity of documents you provide that form part of the bundle used at the hearing. It is not possible to say in advance what documents we require but when we enter into litigation on your behalf, you must supply us with all documents in your possession that relate to the matter we are pursuing on your behalf. We will advise you on this when we take your proof of evidence i.e. your statement of what happened during your employment. We shall advise you of every development and its consequences by e-mail, fax, post or telephone. Moreover, it may be necessary to meet with you at short notice to discuss the matter and you are required to use your best endeavours to attend promptly. We shall use our best endeavours to meet at a time and place suitable to you.
Outcome and expenses
We will discuss with you the possible outcomes in this matter and, in particular, whether this matter is likely to justify the expense and risk involved to you. Care and attention at the investigatory stage is critical so that if your employer makes an unfair decision against your interests, you are able to support any challenge you wish to make. So, for example, if after the investigation there is a disciplinary hearing that results in a warning, you will have the relevant evidence upon which to appeal against the warning. The standard hourly rate for the partner representing you is £200 per hour + vat. These hourly rates are subject to annual review on 1 January and you will be notified in writing of any changes. If you have any issues in regards to fees please speak to Mr. Jaspal Singh who will be happy to answer your queries. The firm will maintain a detailed record of time spent on your matter because our charges are primarily based on time spent on advising you, meeting with you and others, drafting and negotiating documents, drafting and dictating letters/e-mails, file notes, research, correspondence, telephone calls, travelling time, waiting time and attendance at Employment Tribunals. It is our usual practice to ask for a payment on account of fees so that we can begin the work you have asked us to do. At the outset on taking your instructions, you will appreciate that changing circumstances and facts which are unknown to us are likely to affect the final cost of the work done on your case and so we cannot give you an accurate estimate of your fees. However, if your situation were to proceed to a hearing, we would give you a “case outline and advanced costs estimate” for the likely outcomes based on our current understanding and experience of the work involved and past cases. As your case progresses, we can provide further estimates and aim to keep you informed. If you instruct us further, in addition to our fees you may incur other charges usually known as “disbursements”. Examples of fees include tribunal fees (typically £250 at the start of a case and £950 towards the end) and the fee for obtaining a medical report in a disability discrimination case), the cost of travel, parking etc. You are primarily responsible for these costs, though you may have legal expenses insurance which may cover them. Other than the time spent, you are not separately charged for telephone calls to landlines or for postage on letters. Wherever possible, we will provide you in advance with an estimate of the likely cost of obtaining a report etc. As regards the timing and payment of bills, generally, bills are rendered at the end of each calendar month and payment is required within 21 days of the date of the bill unless we have agreed an alternative arrangement which will be recorded in writing at the time. At the end of the matter, we shall deduct all outstanding charges from the compensation obtained on your behalf and pay you the balance.
Settlements and ACAS
Before a tribunal claim is brought, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) (an independent non-departmental public body that seeks to assist both sides in a dispute to arrive at a settlement) must be informed and they will offer a conciliation service aimed at brokering a settlement between employer and employee. This is a process we are happy to guide you through though it is open to you to navigate that procedure without incurring legal fees. If you proceed to a claim to an Employment Tribunal, a copy of every claim is sent to Acas. Subject to your instructions, we work with that officer throughout the conciliation period to attempt to settle your claim at a level of compensation that is acceptable to you. Early in your instructions to us, we will produce a provisional schedule of your losses for the purposes of estimating the compensation you could be awarded at an Employment Tribunal if you are successful in your claim. This becomes the basis for our attempt, with the help of ACAS, to achieve a settlement without the need to attend a Tribunal Hearing. Almost always, there will be little point pressing on to a hearing if you are offered a settlement out of court that is reasonably close to the sums you likely to be awarded by a Tribunal because it would be an exceptional case that had little or no “litigation risk.” With a settlement “out of court” not only do you receive your compensation sooner than if you attended a hearing, but also it is common to ask for an employment reference as part of the agreement and, in a potentially high-profile case, to agree a Press Statement. If you are covered by legal services insurance, your Insurer is likely to withdraw financial support from you if you unreasonably refuse an offer of settlement. However, we would hope that you will develop sufficient confidence in our judgement of your chances of success and the likely compensation you could receive to be guided by us on any offer to settle your claim.
Costs in employment tribunals
The general rule is that each party pays his own costs whether they win or lose, except for tribunal fees, which are generally awarded to the winner. However, there are circumstances where an Employment Tribunal can make an award of costs against a party if it considers that a party has brought or conducted a hopeless (i.e. “Misconceived”) case or a party has behaved “vexatiously, abusively, disruptively or otherwise unreasonably.” No partner has ever had an award of costs made against a client and you will be advised of any possible risk. Unfortunately, it is sometimes the case that threats of applications for costs are used to intimidate and have no prospect of success.
You may have legal expenses insurance and you can make an application for it if it is apparent from the disclosure later in the case that your claim has prospects. Most Insurers have their own panel of approved solicitors and will seek to insist that you instruct one of these firms. However, you have a legal right by virtue of Regulation 6(1) of the Insurance Companies (Legal Expenses Insurance) Regulations 1990 SI 1159, to choose your representative so long as that person has the necessary qualifications. Your right to be reimbursed by your insurer normally commences from when a claim is issued but it may not cover all the fees that are incurred in dealing with your claim. Typically your policy will not cover our time in dealing with the insurer, on research and on routine work, time spent on matters that turn out not to have progressed the claim and so on. The insurer may also challenge the amount of time spent on various parts of the case. In that event, the insurer normally seeks to negotiate with us to reduce the invoice. We may in that case accept some commercial discount on our invoice and if so we will pass to you any discount negotiated by your insurer with us but if there is a shortfall beyond that you remain primarily liable for it. We will assist you in dealing with your insurer to minimise any shortfall and expect your co-operation doing this.
Hatton James Legal Ltd complies with the obligations imposed by legislation. When we carry out your instructions, we are responsible for the processing of your personal information with which you provide us and, under the DPA there are eight data protection principles that apply. In summary, these require that data shall be:-
- fairly and lawfully processed
- processed for limited purposes
- adequate, relevant and not excessive
- not kept longer than necessary
- processed in accordance with the your rights
- secure and
- not transferred to countries outside the EEA without adequate protection
Your documents on conclusion of your case
At the conclusion of your case, we shall return all original documents to you in a face-to-face meeting to ensure confidentiality. If you have not collected your documents within 6 months of the termination of your case, we reserve the right to send these to you by courier at your expense. We will retain copies of your documents on our files for six years after termination of your case, after which they will be destroyed.
When we receive money from any source which is to be applied or held on your behalf, this will be held in a separate client bank account which is subject to a separate Code of Conduct – The Client Account Rules 2006.
We extend to you a further period of 14 days from the date of signature to reflect on this arrangement. In this time, you are free to withdraw without incurring any penalty. In turn, we shall take no action until you have had this time. If you have paid money on account, this will be returned to you.
Our complaints procedure
We aim to provide excellent service but if there is anything you are not happy with, this is how we will deal with it: In the first instance, please raise the matter, in any convenient way, with the person nominated to handle your case (your representative) so that every effort can be made to resolve the problem to your satisfaction. However, if you are still dissatisfied or if you do not want to raise it with the person handling your case, you should raise the matter, promptly and in writing to the partners. You will receive a written acknowledgement of your complaint as soon as reasonably practical but in any event within 5 working days of receipt. Within 14 working days of a complaint the alternative partner will contact you. It may be that the matter can be quickly resolved by telephone or in writing or it may be that you are asked to provide additional information and attend a meeting with the alternative partner. In any event, we undertake to provide you with a final response within 8 weeks of receipt of your complaint. If you remain dissatisfied then you can refer the matter to the Legal Ombudsman, which can investigate complaints up to six years from the date of the problem happening or within three years of when you found out about the problem, if later. You must do this within six months of our final response to your complaint.
Their contact details are: www.legalombudsman.org.uk/cmc | firstname.lastname@example.org |: 0300 555 0333. Their address is Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6804, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WG Client Money When we receive money from any source which is to be applied or held on your behalf, this will be held in a separate client bank account which is subject to a separate Code of Conduct – The Client Account Rules 2006.
If we consider that any client appears to be having any difficulty in communicating or understanding with us, we may take the following steps: Make a note of your needs on our file; Confirm our advice in writing; Ask you to confirm your understanding of our advice; Invite you to bring a friend or family member to meetings; Dial in a friend or family member into phone calls with us; Spend longer with you to ensure that your needs are met (at no extra charge); and Invite you to let us know how else we can help you. If you think you would benefit from adjustments then please let us know and we will take extra care.
Cooling off period
You have signed this agreement. Nevertheless, we extend to you a further period of 14 days from the date of signature to reflect on this arrangement. You may cancel by telephone or email or by sending this slip. In this time, you are free to withdraw without incurring any penalty. If we start work at your request on your case in this time and you cancel, we will charge a fair amount for the work done up to that point and return the rest of your payment on account. The fee for this work is calculated by dividing the number of hours of work done by the number of hours we estimated that work would take. To accept these terms, type your name into the box. Underneath it, add your signature with your mouse.