Terms & Conditions
You must read these terms and conditions. Seeking advice from us is acceptance of all terms and conditions.
My School Appeal is part of the practice of J. A. Walker, Solicitor.
You must read these terms and conditions and indicate your agreement to them on the client enquiry form.
Charging and billing
Our charges, like those of all solicitors, are based on a number of factors such as:
- The time spent
- The skills, specialised knowledge and responsibility required of the members of the firm handling the matter.
- The complexities and difficulty or novelty of legal questions involved
- The circumstances in which the business involved is transacted (for instance, if due to the urgency, evening or weekend work is required or if any unusually large amount of documents needs to be considered).
Our standard rate hourly rate is currently £200.00 per hour if instructed on our standard retainer. If the advice is provided on an urgent basis there may be an increase in the fees charged, however this will be explained and agreed before any work is undertaken.
Please note we offer some Agreed Fixed Fee packages. The scope of the work is set out in the Client Care letter. Once work has begun there are no refunds paid to yourself, and you will not have to make any further payment. We will not undertake any work without payment being received into the account of J. A. Walker, Solicitor.
The initial fixed fee will be confirmed in our client care letter sent to you at the outset of your case. If you request us to carry out work which is beyond the initial fixed fee we will decide whether or not to act for you on a further fixed fee basis.
Subject to meeting the above qualifying criteria we will confirm in writing the new total amount of the fixed fees.
If at any time we decide we cannot act for you on a fixed fee basis we may be able to offer to continue to act for you at our hourly rates.
If at anytime you request us to undertake work that is not expressly set out in our “Schedule Fixed Price Services” then such work will be undertaken at our discretion but will be confirmed by us in writing.
We will contact you when we require information and/or your instructions or if we need to meet with you. Our fixed fee service expressly excludes telephone calls, emails, or meeting time.
Each fixed fee arrangement does include one 20 minute appointment once we have concluded the agreed fixed fee work on your behalf.
All representaion at Tribunal, in Court or other such fomral meeting expected to last in excess of two hours will be the busject on an Agreed Fixed Fee and not part of any standard solicitor retaineer agreement
These charges are subject of an annual review on 7 April each year. Any changes to the rates will be notified directly to you at that time.
.Work done on a standard solicitor's retainer will be billed as each item is completed. We will not undertake any additional work until invoices are fully settled. Documents prepared following consultation may be held back pending settlement of the outstanding account.
Our charges are set out in the 'Costs' section of the site. We shall advise you how much time we believe each transaction will take by email. Should you wish to continue to accept our service, you pay the outstanding fixed fee.
Disbursements will be discussed separately and confirmed in writing.
Our service to you
- We will advise you of a cost estimate when we receive your completed client questionnaire.
- We will update you by telephone and email with progress of your matter after every piece of work has been completed.
- We will communicate with you in plain language.
- We will explain to you by email the legal work required as your matter progresses, and will advise you of the cost for the next piece of work.
- We will update you on the next level of costs for your matter and advise you of what money needs to be paid on account.
- We will update you on whether the likely outcomes still justify the likely costs and risks associated with your matter whenever there is a material change in circumstances.
- We will update you on the likely timescales for each stage of this matter and any important changes in those estimates.
Our responsibilities to you include:
- Reviewing your matter at the conclusion of each piece of work.
- Advising you of any relevant changes in the law.
We will advise you of any circumstances and risks of which we are aware or consider to be reasonably foreseeable that could affect the outcome of your matter.
Your responsibilities to us are:
- You will complete our client enquiry form prior to our initial telephone discussion. Completion and submission of that questionnaire by email to us indicates that you have read these terms and conditions and agree to be bound by them.
- You will provide us with clear, timely and accurate instructions.
- You will notify us of any appeal date when you become aware of such date.
- You will provide a scanned copy of the school case as soon as you receive it.
- You will pay any Agreed Fixed Fee prior to any work being undertaken by J. A. Walker Solicitor.
- You will provide all documentation required to complete the transaction in a timely manner.
- You will safeguard any documents which are likely to be required for discovery.
- You will settle invoices promptly and within the time period specified.
Hours of Business
Our standard office hours are 9.30 am until 4.30pm Monday to Friday. However we arrange appointments for telephone discussions outside of these times to suit individual client requirements. This can be in the evening or at weekends.
It is common for telephone calls and emails to be sent outside office hours. During the school appeals time John Walker is often unavailable in the day and so an immediate response may not be forthcoming.
Equality and Diversity
J. A. Walker, Solicitors are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of its dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our equality and diversity policy
Data Protection Act
We use the information you provide primarily for the provision of legal services to you and for related purposes including:
- Updating and enhancing client records
- Analysis to help us manage our practice
- Statutory returns
- Legal and Statutory Compliance
Our use of that information is subject to your instructions, the Data Protection Act 1998 and our duty of confidentiality. Please note that our work for you may require us to give information to third parties such as expert witnesses and other professional advisers. You have a right of access under data protection legislation to the personal data that we hold about you.
We may from time to time send you information which we think might be of interest to you. If you do not wish to receive that information, please tell us by email.
Please note that we use email as our principal method of communication for your convenience and to ensure a prompt service. Our data centres are in the UK.
You have the option to choose to receive encrypted emails from us. This may require you installing 3rdparty software. J. A. Walker Solicitor accepts no responsibility for the installation, working or management of this software. The submission of the necessary privacy key will be discussed with you if you choose to have encrypted emails sent to you.
Please note that any emails you send that are not encrypted will be subject to Googles own procedures so if you are sending sensitive information it is your responsibility to password protect or encrypt.
Storage of documents
We will retain electronic copies of your file for a period of 6 years from the date of conclusion of our professional relationship, unless an alternative is agreed in writing or by email. You are responsible for keeping original documents. Any original document sent to us will be scanned and stored electronically, the original document shall be returned by post, should you wish a secure form of postage or courier delivery you agree to pay the cost of postage or delivery in addition to the fees for legal services. Documents shall be returned when any outstanding charges or fees have been settled to our satisfaction. We shall use our best endeavours to ensure that data is backed up and stored in at least two locations.
As our storage is purely electronic there are no costs for retrieving files at a later date if you instruct us again. A charge will be made if you require paper or electronic copies of any file to be forwarded to yourself or a third party on your instructions. We will store your records on CD and on external hard drive. We accept no responsibility for any loss - you are urged to make suitable arrangements for storage independently of J. A. Walker, Solicitor.
Outsourcing of work
Sometimes we ask other companies or people to do typing, photocopying or other work on our files to ensure this is done promptly. We will always seek a confidentiality agreement with these outsourced providers. If you do not want your file to be outsourced, please tell us as soon as possible.
Vetting of files and confidentiality
External firms or organizations may conduct audit or quality checks on our practice. These external firms or organizations are required to maintain confidentiality in relation to your files.
Any dispute or legal issue arising from our terms of business will be determined by the law of England and Wales, and considered exclusively by the English and Welsh Courts
Unless otherwise expressly agreed all fixed fee services are to be paid by you within seven days of confirmation of your instructions for us to act for you under the requested fixed fee service. Work will not start on your matter until payment has been recieved. If you wish me to begin work more quickly I will do so on recipt of your payment.
All invoices for work done on the standard hourly rate basis are also to be setteld within 7 dates of delivery of the invoice.
We may at our discretion allow payments by instalments other than by the usual payment instalments as set out above so as to assist you and make the payment of your fees more manageable and convenient for you. Payment by instalments, however, will not affect the total amount of your fixed fees or costs on an hourly rate that are ultimately payable. Instalments paid other than under the usual payment instalments will in every case be payable by standing order.
Upon confirmation of your instructions to undertake work for you under any fixed fee or standard arrangement we will write to you acknowledging such instructions and will confirm dates and amounts for usual payment instalments for all fixed fee arrangements being undertaken on your behalf. We will write to you to update usual payment instalment schedules every time you instruct us to undertake new fixed fee work.
Time charged on an hourly rate will be billed on at least a monrthly basis, unless there is an express agreement to vary this.
Disbursements or expenses may be payable to third parties to enable us to complete the work required under the fixed fee arrangements. It is at all times your responsibility to pay all such disbursements and expenses and these are not included in the fixed fees or houlry rates. We will write to you detailing usual disbursements and possible additional disbursements as they may arise. No disbursement or expense will be incurred without your express approval.
Please make sure you pay in good time to allow clearance of funds when a matter is urgent.
If you fail to pay funds to us within a requested time period (or in any event within 14 days) whether it be a payable as part of the usual payment instalment, a standing order instalment or funds to meet usual or additional disbursements, then we reserve the right to immediately suspend work on your behalf until payment is received. If you fail to make any payment for 28 days or more then at our discretion we can terminate the fixed fee arrangement at which point all outstanding fixed fees under all ongoing arrangements then become due and immediately payable by you.
Terminating the retainer
You may end your instructions to us in writing or by email at any time. We may keep all papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses.
If there are outstanding invoices, or if a payment plan has not been adhered to we reserve the right to terminate any retainer and to cease to act as soon as we have served notice on you.
Should we be on record for any proceedings we shall notify the tribunal or court as soon as the retainer is terminated. We reserve thee right to apply to the court to be removed from the court record and in those circumstances our haourly rate costs will be incurred.
We may refuse further instructions, not take telephone calls or respond to emails and letters and cease acting for you only for good reason, e.g. if you do not pay a bill, or if a conflict of interest arises, or if there is an irretrievable breakdown in the client /solicitor relationship.
If you or we decide that we should stop acting for you, you will pay our charges up until that point. These will be submitted again in writing or by email.
We will write to you confirming the termination of our retainer.
Money Laundering and Client Due Diligence
As we do not engage in providing advice that is regulated by anti-money laundering practice we can represent you in children and education matters without meeting you face to face. The provision of legal advice is not regulated for anti money laundering purposes. However in the course of our dealing with you it may be necessary to confirm your identity and if you are required to do so no work will be undertaken on your matter until the appropriate checks are in place.
We are professionally and legally obliged to keep your affairs confidential. However, solicitors may be required by statute to make a disclosure to the Serious Organised Crime Agency where they know or suspect that a transaction may involve money laundering or terrorist financing. If we make a disclosure in relation to your matter, we may not be able to tell you that a disclosure has been made. We may have to stop working on your matter for a period of time and may not be able to tell you why.
Distance Selling Regulations 2013
As we have not met and this contract is being conducted at a distance you are protected by the Distance Selling Regulations 2013. This means that you have a right to cancel this agreement within 14 days of the date of this communication, and if you do so then you cannot be charged for the provision of any service by me. There is no charge for the cancellation of the contract. You do not have to give a reason for this. I will then refund any monies paid within 14 days of your email or letter confirming the cancellation.
If you requested to begin the performance of services during the cancellation period, you shall pay us an amount which is in proportion to what has been performed until you have communicated us your cancellation from this contract, in comparison with the full coverage of the contract.
However, I will not begin work until the 14 day period expires. For many clients this would cause a significant delay to their case preparation. If you wish to instruct me to begin work on your case you must specify this in writing, either by email or letter. This means that you are then liable for any costs incurred over the duration of the cancellation period, and of course beyond that time.
Full details of the Distance Selling Regulations can be found here:
Financial arrangements with clients
We take payment by debit or credit card only. We use PayPal or SumUp payment services, which are encrypted for client financial security. In exceptional cases we may agree to payment by cheque, however the funds must be cleared before we would undertake that specific piece of work on a case.
If counsel is instructed we will agree a separate method of payment in writing with you..
We are not authorized by the Financial ConductAuthority. If, while we are acting for you, you need advice on investments, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorized to provide the necessary advice.
However, we may provide certain limited investment advice services where these are closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you. This is because we are members of the Law Society of England and Wales , which is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.
The Solicitors Regulations Authority is the independent regulatory arm of the Law Society. The Legal Complaints Service is the independent complaints-handling arm of the Law Society. If you are unhappy with any investment advice you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with either of those bodies.
If you have a complaint about any aspect of the service you have received, we do try to deal with any problem informally. If the issue arises with anyone other than John Walker, he will deal with that complaint. Any complaint about John Walker will be delegated to a named individual. Any complaint must be made in writing and on receipt of any complaint we will then forward a copy of our complaints policy.
If you remain unsatisfied with the outcome, you should contact the Legal Ombudsman. You can do this by calling 0300 555 0333, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or writing to: Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ.