Terms & Conditions

Standard Information

It is important that you understand my full terms as they will form a contract between us. It is also important that you understand that I cannot do legal aid work unless I have been instructed by a solicitor.

If you wish to discuss legal aid further before making a decision about whether to instruct me, please let me know. I would strongly recommend that you read the Bar Standards Board’s Guidance for Lay Clients at the following link:

https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/media/1666529/2._the_public_access_scheme_guidance_for_lay_clients.pdf

If you are instructing me to represent you at a remote court hearing, you will need to send the court my contact details for the hearing (email address and phone number). Please contact me to confirm the contact details to use if you are unsure.

If subsequent work is needed on your matter once the initial instructions have been fulfilled, there will be another letter of agreement between us. Because I undertake all of my work personally and cannot predict what other professional responsibilities they may have in the future, I cannot confirm that I will be able to accept instructions for all subsequent work that may be required by your case.

Fees:

Any fees paid to me will be fixed and non-refundable fee and will apply specifically to the scope of work detailed in the client care letter. If your instructions relate to a hearing, please note that if the hearing takes less time than expected or is vacated or adjourned after I have been instructed, no re-fund of the fee will be due or offered, due to me having committed the preparation time and hearing commitment in their schedule. This is standard and typical of barristers. Sometimes the court can vacate (i.e., the hearing does not go ahead) at the very last moment which can be very disappointing.

If your hearing is vacated or adjourned by the court at short notice for any reason, you may be able to make a complaint to the HMCTS and seek compensation wasted legal fees. The details of the HMCTS complaints procedure can be accessed via this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-courts-and-tribunals- service/about/complaints-procedure

If your instructions relate to a hearing, if the hearing extends beyond the dates specified in your instructions and my attendance is required on any additional days, a further fee will become payable. As the instructing client, it is your responsibility to ensure that any hearing dates provided at the time of instruction are correct. Failure to do so may result in me not being able to attend court.

As the instructing client, it is your responsibility to ensure that you provide me with copies of all of the paperwork you need me to review in order to fulfil your instructions. I might need to ask you for further documentation and or to clarify matters.

Fees are calculated and agreed based on the documentation that is provided to me at the time of formal instruction. If you provide further documentation relating to your instructions after the point of instruction, I reserve the right to review the fee and, if appropriate, request an additional fee to be paid to cover the time spent considering any additional documentation provide. If you refuse to meet any additional payment requested in such circumstances, I have the right to decline your instructions.

Fees are paid by bank transfer, the details of which I will give to you.

If you are dissatisfied:

If, for any reason, you are unhappy with the service you receive, I have a complaints process that you may follow. Further details about what to do if you have a complaint are set out in the terms below. I am required to comply with the Bar Standards Board Handbook which can be found at the following address:

https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/media/1667376/2nd_edition_of_the_bsb_handbook_-_new_provisions.docx

Please read this letter and my full terms carefully. If you are happy for me to accept your instructions and you agree with their terms, advance payment of the associated fee will be required. Upon receipt of payment, I will send you a confirmation email. The terms of the client care letter attached to that email will show as agreed by you. If you do not understand any of my terms, you should ask me to clarify or explain them.

Right to cancel

You have the right to cancel any instructions within 14 days without giving any reason, provided work has not commenced on the instructions by the time you notify me of your intention to cancel.

The cancellation period will expire after 14 days from the day on which the contract is entered into.

To exercise the right to cancel, you must inform me barrister of your decision to cancel the contract by a clear statement (e.g., an e-mail sent to me on the email address provided in the confirmation email).

To meet the cancellation deadline, it is sufficient for you to send your communication concerning your exercise of the right to cancel before the cancellation period has expired.

Please note: This cancellation clause only applies if you are a consumer as per the definition of the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

Effects of cancellation

If you cancel instructions within 14 days of payment being made, the fee paid will be reimbursed less a cancellation charge.

I will make the reimbursement without undue delay, and not later than 14 days after the day on which I was informed about your decision to cancel the instructions.

I will make the reimbursement by transferring to the bank account you paid me from. I may need you to provide your bank details to me. In any event, you will not incur any fees as a result of the reimbursement (save for the aforementioned cancellation charge).

If I have undertaken work on your instructions by the time you notify them that you wish to cancel, the level of any reimbursement due to you (if any) will be entirely at my discretion. For the avoidance of doubt, reviewing any documents provided in relation to the matter and/or contacting you to discuss the case constitutes undertaking work.

My Terms of Engagement:

1. I am a self-employed barrister, I am the only person you are instructing, and I will personally do all the work needed under this arrangement. If I wish to use any other lawyer to assist me in carrying out your work I will obtain your prior written consent.

2. I have carefully considered the instructions and confirm that I have sufficient experience and competence to undertake the work.

3. If for any reason I cannot carry out all the work you are instructing me to do, or if I want to suggest that another barrister (instead of me, or as well as me) carries out the work for you, I may propose this and explain why I have made this suggestion. However, another barrister will not carry out work for you unless and until you have agreed to this.

4. There may be times when my professional commitments clash. If I identify a possible clash of commitments and I am unable to work on your case I will do my best to warn you as soon as possible, ask you how you would prefer to continue, and suggest the name of another barrister (of a suitable level of seniority and expertise), who is willing to accept your case on the same terms if possible. You would then need to decide whether you want to instruct that barrister.

5. The work you are instructing me to carry out is set out in your barrister’s cover letter.

6. If subsequent work is needed on this matter, and I am available to do the extra work, there will need to be another letter of agreement between us. That means another fee will become payable.

The range of work I can carry out

7. Barristers advise on the law, draft documents for clients to use and appear on behalf of their client before courts or other organisations. Barristers do not handle client money or undertake the organisation or management of a case proceeding through a court. This means that my service is not a ‘one stop shop’ like a solicitor might be. You will have to take an active role in the management of your case.

8. Here are some examples of work I can carry out.

  1. I can draft letters on your behalf.
  2. I can appear on your behalf to argue your case at court.
  3. If a witness statement is needed from you, I can draft it from what you tell me. I may also be able to help finalise a witness statement from another person based on the information that person has provided.
  4. I can advise you on the need for expert evidence and on the choice of a suitable expert. However, I may not instruct an expert on your behalf. Expert evidence is evidence about a professional, scientific, or technical matter provided by an individual with expertise in that area.
  5. I can draft formal court documents for you. However, I cannot serve court documents on other parties or file them at court on your behalf. You will need to take responsibility for serving formal court documents on other parties and filing them at court. Serving court documents is the process by which papers relating to a case are put before the court or tribunal and the parties, e.g. individuals or organisations, involved in the case. This usually signals the start of formal proceedings.
  6. I cannot go on the court record or provide my address to the court as the ‘address for service’ of documents (that is, the address which you are required to provide to the court for receipt by you of formal court documents sent by the court or other parties). You will be listed on the court record as a litigant in person. You will need to provide your own address as the ‘address for service’ of documents sent to you by the court and other parties.

9. As you are instructing me without a solicitor, you must be sure that:

  1. You can do whatever is necessary for those matters that I cannot deal with; or
  2. You have arranged with another person of suitable competence and experience to provide these services for you.

Circumstances when I may not be able to act for you

10. As a barrister, I must follow the Bar Code of Conduct. That code of conduct requires me to consider whether a solicitor needs to be instructed in your own interests. If there comes a point at which I consider you need a solicitor I will no longer be able to act for you without the involvement of a solicitor. If I foresee that situation arising, I will give you as much notice as possible.

Legal Aid

11. It is possible that you may be eligible for public funding or “legal aid” as it is usually referred to. However, as a barrister I cannot do legal aid work unless I have been instructed by a solicitor. If you want to talk to someone in more detail about getting legal aid, you should contact a solicitor who does legal aid work. They will be able to advise you about legal aid arrangements relating to civil cases e.g. where you are in dispute with another individual or organisation and criminal cases e.g. where a crime may have been committed.

12. You can find out more information on the www.gov.uk website: https://www.gov.uk/community-legal-advice

13. If you wish to be assessed for legal aid for a civil case, you can contact Community Legal Advice. This is a service which provides advice about family, debt, benefits, housing, education or employment problems. You can call them on: 0845 345 4345. You can also use their online legal aid calculator. This is a tool which allows you to check whether you can get legal aid for your case, if it is a civil case. This tool allows you to get online advice and can help you find a legal adviser near you:

http://legalaidcalculator.justice.gov.uk/calculators/eligiCalc?execution=e2s1

14. If you do not qualify for legal aid, you might like to consider whether you have any insurance policies that might cover your legal fees, or if the fees may be paid by someone else, for example a trade union.

15. I can advise and represent you if:

You make an informed decision not to seek public funding;
You make a public funding application, e.g. you have applied to get legal aid to help fund your case, that is rejected;
You do not wish to take up an offer of public funding (perhaps because you consider that the level of contribution you will be required to make is too much).

16. In signing these terms, you confirm that you have been informed that you may be eligible for public funding and where you can find further information. You are choosing to instruct me without the benefit of any public funding that may be available to you.

My availability

17. As I carry out all my professional work personally, there may be times when I am not available to you. For example, if I am in court for a day or for several days in a row. I may be totally unavailable to all other clients during that time. I will respond as soon as possible but there may be a delay. Unless expressly agreed between us at the point of instruction, I will not read any emails or instructions or hold any conferences outside normal working hours (8.30am – 6.00pm Monday to Friday).

Fees

18. The fees for any work you instruct me to undertake will be set out in the client care letter.

19. Under these terms, you are responsible for paying the fees set out in your barrister’s cover letter in advance of any work being undertaken by me.

20. If you owe me any fees or disbursements and do not pay them for more than 30 days after I give you a fee note, interest will be payable at 2% above the Barclays Bank base rate from 28 days of the date of the fee note.

Waiver of right to cancel

21. Due to the nature of the work required you are being asked by this agreement to waive the right to cancel this agreement within 14 days. This is because either I will be carrying out the work prior to the expiry of 14 days or because I have booked your case in my diary thereby making myself unavailable for other work.

Documents

22. You and I agree that:

1.  I am entitled to keep copies of any documents you give me for my own professional records for 7 years in accordance with rule C129 of the BSB Handbook; and
2. I will return all your original documents to you when I have carried out the work you have instructed me to do in accordance with rule C131 of the BSB Handbook.

23. I would prefer that you give me copies of documents rather than originals. However, if this is not possible, I may make a reasonable charge to you for producing photocopies. I may also make a reasonable charge to you for the cost of returning documents to you or the cost of any other disbursement requested by you.

Confidentiality

24. The information which you give me will be received in professional confidence. This means that I must maintain the confidentiality of any information you have shared with me and can only tell others about it if you give your consent for me to do so. The only exception is that statutory and other legal requirements may mean that I have to disclose (i.e. reveal) your information to governmental or other regulatory authorities, e.g. organisations, whose rules I must meet, without your consent and without telling you that I have made the disclosure. Statutory and legal requirements are rules or regulations that an individual must, by law, follow.

Disputes

25. This contract will be governed by English law, and any dispute will be subject to the jurisdiction of the English courts. Jurisdiction means the power and authority of a court or tribunal to determine the outcome of a case and impose sanctions or penalties on those involved.

Complaints

26. I hope you will be happy with the professional services I provide. However, if you are not satisfied, you should refer the matter either to me. A copy of my complaints procedure can be found on my website. If you require a printed copy, I would be happy to provide it.

27. If you are not happy with my reply then you can contact the Legal Ombudsman. The Legal Ombudsman is a free, impartial and independent service set up by the Government which deals with complaints about the service you have received.

28. You must complain to the Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final response to your complaint from myself (provided the response specifically notifies you of your right to complain to the Ombudsman and of the six-month time limit). A complaint to the Ombudsman must also be made not more than six years after the act or omission complained about or not more than three years from the date when you should reasonably have known that there were grounds for complaint.

29. For further details about how to make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman, including guidance about the new scheme rules that came into effect on 1 February 2013, please contact the Legal Ombudsman directly at:

Legal Ombudsman
PO Box 6806
Wolverhampton
WV1 9WJ

Phone: 0300 555 0333
Email: enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk
Website: www.legalombudsman.org.uk

A guide to the new scheme rules that came into effect on 1 February 2013 can be found on the Legal Ombudsman’s website at:

http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/downloads/documents/A-guide-to-our-revised-Scheme-Rules.pdf

Frequently Asked Questions concerning the new Legal Ombudsman can be found on the BSB’s website:

https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/complaints-and-professional-conduct/concerns-about-a-barrister

Thank you.

Ashley Blood-Halvorsen