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Terms and Conditions of Business

Contents

The following explains our terms and conditions of business while we are working for you. To prevent any misunderstandings at a later stage, it is important that you know what to expect and understand what our service involves. Please read the following terms and conditions carefully. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

We have added an explanation of some of the less common terms used in this document at the end. You may find this useful.

Discussing your expectations

We will discuss your expectations with you and tell you if we think they are realistic. It is important that you always understand what is happening in your case.

To help prevent any confusion or stress on your part, we will give you general information and explain any procedures to do with your case as it progresses. Our terms and conditions document gives general information about different types of cases. You should note the information which applies to your case.

Our terms and conditions also cover any extra work we do for you in relation to this case.

These terms and conditions will come into effect when we notify you in writing of our legal charges. This notification will be one of the following:

  • the actual amount we will charge you;
  • an estimate of how much we will charge you; or
  • an explanation of how we calculate how much we will charge you in your particular case.

We look forward to working with you. You should be aware that it may not be possible to achieve everything you wish. We may encounter difficulties during the transaction. We will try to overcome these as much as possible.

Once again, if you have any further questions, please contact us.

Cunningham Gilbourne
Solicitors

1. Information about our firm

Name of firm: Cunningham Gilbourne Solicitors
Legal status: we trade as a solicitors firm that provides legal services.
Address: Church Place, St. Ita’s Road, Newcastlewest, Co. Limerick
Phone number: 353 (0)69 77583
Fax: 353 (0)6977583
Email: info@mcgsolicitors.ie
Website: www.mcgsolicitors.ie

Our Qualifications

Each solicitor member of our firm, who provides legal services, has been admitted to the Roll of Solicitors held by the Law Society of Ireland and holds a current practising certificate, unless they have qualified abroad. We will give you information about the qualifications of other lawyers and support people on our staff, if you would like that information too.

How we are regulated

The Law Society of Ireland is the regulatory body for solicitors in the Republic of Ireland. It regulates solicitors as detailed in the Solicitors Acts 1954 to 2011 and in the regulations made under those acts. It is based in Blackhall Place, Dublin.

On the Law Society website www.lawsociety.ie you can access:

  • the Solicitors Acts;
  • the regulations made under those acts; and
  • The Law Society’s publication ‘A Guide to Professional Conduct of Solicitors in Ireland’.

Multi-disciplinary partnerships

Multi-disciplinary partnerships are partnerships with non-lawyers such as partnerships with auctioneers and accountants. If our firm is involved in these partnerships we list them in the section for details at the end of this document.

Professional insurance

We have the appropriate legal level of professional insurance in place. See the section for details at the end of this document.

2. Before you become our client

Money laundering

Assets

Under anti-money laundering regulations, we need to be sure of your identity and where you have got your assets from before we can take on your case.

Identity

You will need to give us evidence that proves your identity, like your driving licence or passport, even if we already know you. We will also need you to give us a document showing your permanent address, for example an electricity bill or a bank statement, which has been sent within the last three months.

Source of assets

If you ask us to deal with any funds or property, you must have obtained them legally. If we become aware or suspect that these assets come from an illegal source, we must notify the Gardaí and the Revenue Commissioners without telling you, except in limited circumstances. We will immediately stop acting for you if we have to report illegal assets.

Even if you have not done anything that we must report to the authorities, we cannot transfer any assets or property funded by the proceeds of crime. This includes funds that have not been declared for tax purposes or that have been obtained by false means. In this situation, you would have to legalise your position before we could act on your behalf.

Conflicts of interests

We may not be able to act for you if there is a conflict of interests, or potential conflict between us, or between you and another client of the firm. For example, if before we accepted your instructions, we found out that we also acted for a person that you now wanted us to sue, then we could not act for you.

We have internal procedures in place to make sure that we can identify a conflict before we accept your instructions.

We aim to always give you independent advice. If, during the course of your case or transaction, we become aware of a potential conflict of interests we will tell you about it. We can then agree whether or not it would be appropriate for us to continue to act on your behalf.

3. Our service to you

Duty of care

We agree to carry out the work on your case or transaction with care and skill, in line with good professional standards.

Confidentiality

We will always respect the confidentiality of your affairs.

However, in the normal course of running a solicitor’s practice, we must give access to bodies with legal powers, like:

  • the Revenue Commissioners;
  • the Law Society of Ireland; or
  • others.

We may also give limited access to quality control companies so they can inspect random files each year.

We also use professional and other services, which will involve some access to files, including:
accountants;

  • risk assessment auditors;
  • IT maintenance contractors; and
  • others.

This allows us to manage our firm properly. We always try to make sure that the provider of the services is reputable and, where appropriate, we will require them to sign letters of confidentiality.

Confidentiality – maintenance and offsite storage

When we store files offsite, whether electronic or hard copy, we will take all reasonable steps to make sure that we keep your information confidential.

How to instruct your solicitor

It is important that you give us clear and accurate instructions from the very beginning, and that you give us any new information as the case develops. We will do our best to carry out the agreed work and to give you a confidential and friendly service.

When you tell us what you need done, we will explain your options to you. If there is anything you do not understand, please tell us right away so that we can answer your questions. We will then agree with you the actions to take.

Updating your instructions

We may need to update your instructions from time to time, for example if:

  • new issues or information arise;
  • events take an unexpected turn;
  • we need more information from you; or
  • fees or expenses have not been paid.

It is important that you give us instructions when they are needed. If you fail to do this, we cannot make progress. This may affect the outcome and, in some cases, may mean we have no choice but to stop acting for you.

Timescale for your case

We will estimate how long your case or transaction is likely to continue. As your case proceeds we will let you know what stage we have reached and what and when the next steps will be. This will save you having to inquire about your case. If any event occurs that will delay your case, we will let you know and give you our best estimate of a new timescale.

Timescale for litigation cases

Please note that time limits may apply in the following two situations, so please make sure that we have all the correct information in good time to take any necessary actions.

Certain actions must be taken by you or by us within a particular period or else your case will fail.

Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004

If you are making a claim under this Act, you must write a letter outlining the details of your claim within two months of the date of the accident. If you fail to do this, it may have a bad impact on your case and may also lead the court to award you only part, or none, of your costs.

4. Your permissions

If we need you to give us specific permission to do something we will ask you to sign one of the relevant forms in the section for details at the end of this document.

Otherwise, when you give us instructions, you are giving us permission to take various actions on your behalf, as set out below.

Our professional promises or undertakings

If you instruct us to repay money to a bank or Building Society and we have promised them we will do so, you cannot change these instructions later. Likewise, if you instruct us to do any act on your behalf and we make a professional promise to a third party that we are going to do this, you cannot change your mind later.

Injuries Board

The Injuries Board is the independent government body which assesses the amount of compensation due to a person who has suffered a personal injury. By instructing us to handle an Injuries Board case and to deal with the Injuries Board for you, this means you are giving us permission to do this. You will be responsible for our fees and expenses, even if you are not successful.

Employing barristers and experts

We will only employ barristers and other experts if you give us permission to do so. We will select professionals who we believe are competent, but we are not responsible for the negligence of anyone we employ on your behalf.

Barristers’ fees

When you employ us to handle a litigation case, the case may be settled between the parties before it comes to court, on the basis that the other side will pay your legal fees and expenses. Another possibility is that your case will proceed to court and the court will order the other side to pay your legal fees and expenses. If the case proceeds in either of these ways, you are giving us permission to pay any barrister whom we employ on your behalf, from the money received from the other side for their fees.

Information from third parties

When you employ us to handle your case or transaction, you are giving us permission to get information from third parties to help us with your case or transaction, without asking for your permission again.

Data protection

When you employ us to handle your case or transaction, you are giving us permission to hold information for our records, including ‘sensitive data’ such as your;

  • Personal Public Service (PPS) number; or
  • medical reports.

We will only use any personal or ‘sensitive’ information to help your case. If you have any queries about how we retain, store or use your data, please contact us and we will give you further information.

Storing information in electronic format abroad

By asking us to handle your case or transaction, you are allowing us to store your data and other information abroad, for example, when we employ the services of electronic storage companies who use IT storage abroad. If you have any queries about how we retain, store or use your data, please contact us and we will give you further information.

By asking us to handle your case or transaction, you agree that we are not responsible for any loss of, or corruption of, information by any off-site electronic storage service that we use. We will try to make sure that the company we use is reputable.

The files

By asking us to handle your case or transaction, you are agreeing to accept a photocopy only of the correspondence file if you later want it. By law, we are entitled to keep a copy of the file, or the original, if you have agreed that we may have the original. We will charge you for each page of photocopying at the rate currently charged by the Law Society. See the section for details at the end of this document for the current rate.

Information from the file

If you want any information on your case from the file, we will charge you an administration fee. See the section for details at the end of this document for our current fee. There will also be a charge for each page of photocopying, based on the rate currently charged by the Law Society. See the section for details at the end of this document for the current rate.

If you are transferring to another solicitor, we will give you, or your new solicitor, the originals of all documents as well as the photocopied correspondence files.

Destroying the file

Usually we keep a client’s file for at least six years and then destroy it. However, we never destroy original documents or wills.

Your money

We will hold any money we receive on your behalf strictly in line with the Solicitors’ Accounts Regulations.

By asking us to handle your legal case, you agree that we may hold any money you give us, or which we receive on your behalf, in any bank, which is a bank approved by the Central Bank. We will just hold your money. We do not have any additional responsibilities around the protection of your money.

You also agree that we are not legally responsible for a loss or reduction in the value of the money because the bank at which the money is held becomes insolvent and does not have the money to pay back the full amount.

By asking us to handle your case or transaction, you agree that if we have given a professional promise or undertaking on your behalf, which, because of the insolvency of the bank at which we had placed the money, we cannot carry out, you will refund us in full any loss we suffer if we are forced to carry out our promise at our own expense.

Authority to endorse cheques

When we receive cheques made out in your name, we need your authority to sign the back of the cheques so that the bank will then accept these cheques for lodgement to our firm’s client account. The form giving us your authority that you have to sign is in the section for details at the end of this document.

Appointment and indemnity for payment of taxes

If we act for you in the sale of a property, and you are not resident in this country, because we handle the proceeds of the sale, we become legally responsible for the payment of capital gains tax. We will ask you to sign the authority in the section for details at the end of this document. By signing this form you are giving us permission to pay the tax on your behalf. We also need you to indemnify us. This means that you agree to pay us back in full for any loss we suffer due to something you do, or omit to do, or some wrong-doing on your part.

If we act for you in an application for a Grant of Probate/Administration and we are responsible for the payment of capital acquisitions tax, we will ask you to sign the authority in the section for details at the end of this document. By signing this form you are giving us permission to pay the tax for you. We also need you to indemnify us. This means that you agree to pay us back in full for any loss we suffer due to something you do, or omit to do, or some wrong-doing on your part.

Power to sign documents

When you employ us to handle your case or transaction, we may ask you to give us permission to re-sign documents already signed by you. This is just for convenience. It would happen if we needed to make typing or clerical amendments or other small changes, after you had signed the document. We would not make any changes that change the meaning of the document. If we need this permission, we will ask you to sign the form in the section for details at the end of this document.

5. Fees and expenses

It is important that we carefully explain to you how we calculate our fees and that you fully understand this.

Our solicitors and other staff may have to spend a considerable amount of time to provide you with the legal services you need. This is the service for which you pay.

Information about charges in your particular case

In the section for details at the end of this document, or in a separate letter, we will outline our fees and the other expenses that you may have to pay for your particular case or transaction. This is required by law. If we fail to agree the fees for our services to you, we will not act on your behalf.

If we agree to charge you based on the time spent on your case, remember that we will charge for everything we do for you, including letter writing, phone calls and so on. We will tell you if we believe that you could appropriately carry out some of these tasks yourself.

Fees and expenses in litigation cases

In litigation cases, as in any other case or transaction, when we send you a bill for fees and expenses, you are responsible for paying that bill. This is still the position if you are successful and win your case and the judge orders the other side to pay your legal costs. Likewise, if there is a settlement of the case in your favour, which includes an agreement that the other side will pay your costs, you will still be responsible in the first instance. We will try to get as much as possible from the other side. Sometimes, however, this may not be enough to cover our bill. You are responsible for paying the rest of the money you owe us.

In litigation cases, there is always a risk that, in addition to paying our fees and expenses, you will also have to pay the fees and expenses of the solicitors for the other party to the litigation. This might happen if, for instance, you lost the case or it was part of a settlement agreement. It is important that you fully understand this risk.

Payment in advance

We expect you to pay us a deposit towards our fees when we first start working on your behalf. We will agree this amount with you then.

Payment at intervals

We may bill you for costs at intervals during your case or transaction. We will usually do this when cases or transactions are likely to take a long time to finish.

Disagreements about bills

If there is a disagreement about any bill we send you, we will try to resolve the matter by agreement with you.

If the matter cannot be resolved, we may have to stop acting for you.

Fees and expenses for unexpected issues

In the course of a case or transaction, an unexpected issue may arise. This may mean we have to do considerable extra work on your behalf that is more than we expected when we first gave you information about our charges.

If this happens, you must pay extra fees for this work, and you may also have to pay more expenses. If this happens, we will give you new information in writing about the fees and expenses for the additional work. It is a good idea for you to budget for this possibility.

Final bill of costs

We will issue our final bill of costs to you without delay.

‘Solicitor’s lien’

The law allows us to keep your original file, and not to provide you with a copy, as security for any costs until we have been paid for our services. This is called the ‘Solicitor’s lien’.

Our credit terms

You must pay all our bills within 30 days. We will charge interest on overdue accounts at the rate of 8% each year.

Fees for property transactions

In relation to property transactions, you should pay our fees on the date the property changes hands.

Fees for dealing with wills

If we are dealing with a will for you after someone has died, we will send you bills at different points. For example, we will send you the first bill once the Grant of Probate/Administration has been issued.

6. Dispute resolution and complaints

Good communication between you and us will guarantee the best possible outcome. However, if you wish to make a complaint about any aspect of our service, please send it in writing to us. We have set out our internal complaints procedure in the section for details at the end of this document. We will review your file without delay. We will then send you a written reply within 14 days, including replies to any requests for information, and advising you of any actions that we will take in relation to your case.

We hope that any complaint made to us will be resolved. However, if you are not satisfied with our response, you can make a complaint to the Complaints and Client Relations Committee of the Law Society. You can get more details about making a complaint from the Law Society website www.lawsociety.ie.

If you decide to sue us

Please note that we do not claim to have any particular expertise outside of a solicitor’s general expertise.

Any advice we provide is confined to Irish Law unless we give details of a broader service in the section for details at the end of this document.

By asking us to handle your case or transaction, you are agreeing that if you later feel it is necessary to take a case against us, your claim will be limited to €1.5 million or the minimum amount of professional insurance cover, which solicitors’ firms are required from time to time to have.

Transferring to another solicitor

We hope to reach a successful result on your behalf. If you decide for any reason to transfer to another solicitor’s firm, you must pay us for any work done up to that point, together with any expenses we have paid on your behalf.

This requirement will apply even to litigation cases where we might have agreed to charge a fee only if your case was successful. If you change to another solicitor, this agreement automatically ends and we will require payment for the work we have actually done.

Ending our contract

You can end this contract at any time, but we must first carry out any professional promises we have made on your behalf to third parties. For instance, if we promised to pay money to a third party we must do this before the contract can end. You must pay our legal fees for doing this work.

We are also free to end the contract for a good reason, and on reasonable notice to you.

Enforcement of overall agreement

If a court decides that any part of this agreement between you and us is invalid, this will not affect the remaining terms of this agreement.

7. Your type of case

Litigation cases

A litigation case is where a person or group takes court proceedings against another person or group, to force them to give the first person or group what they believe to be their rights.

Financial risk

Litigation cases always involve a financial risk for the person involved. We will tell you if we think the possible benefit of taking a case is worth the time and money involved. We will also discuss with you the risks involved in any action being taken, including the risk that you could lose the case. As explained earlier, you could end up paying not only our fees and expenses, but also the fees and expenses of the solicitors for the other party to the litigation.

Court orders and settlements

If a case is heard in court, the judge will decide what should happen between the parties. If the judge decides that the person or group bringing the case is in the right, the judge may order the other side to pay compensation. Sometimes a case is settled between the parties before the court date.

If you are the person bringing the case to court, you should be aware that even if the judge makes an order in your favour, the judge may not award you the full amount you had claimed. Please bear this in mind particularly if we are discussing settling the case before the court date.

Often, the person you are opposing will not co-operate and will constantly raise difficulties. As your solicitor, we will try to overcome these difficulties as much as possible.

Family law cases

A family law case involves a dispute between family members, often between a husband and wife or between partners. In family law disputes, relations between each side can be difficult and traumatic. Our role is to help by advising you on the legal aspects of your case and to make progress towards a resolution.

The effective resolution of a family law dispute requires compromise and neither side is likely to get everything they wish for. The law states that the welfare and interests of the children, if any, must be the main concern.

We advise all our family law clients to make every effort during the dispute to agree practical arrangements concerning their children with their spouse or partner and to avoid rows. This will allow everyone involved in the case to focus on the main long-term issues that need to be settled.

Conveyancing cases – buying and selling property

Conveyancing involves the legal steps to buy or sell a property.

When acting for the buyer, we will investigate the property’s title (ownership) thoroughly and we will ask the seller’s solicitor all the necessary questions. If we are not satisfied with the answers to our questions, or with any other aspect of the sale, we may advise you not to buy the particular property.

When acting for the seller, we prepare all of the documents needed by the buyer’s solicitor.

Planning or engineering issues

In any property transaction, our job is only to transfer the legal title from the seller to the buyer.

Other matters which may arise include planning issues, drawing or checking maps or other engineering issues. If we are buying a property for you, we do not cover these issues. You may be able to deal with these issues yourself or with the help of an architect or other professional.

We strongly advise you to consult an architect to deal with any issues relating to planning permissions for any development:

  • that has taken place; or
  • may take place, during or following the sale.

You also need to check the planning issues for the surrounding areas, as these may affect the property being sold.

Likewise, if issues relating to engineering matters such as mapping or the laying of pipes arise, these should be dealt with by an engineer.

If permission to lay pipes across neighbouring land is needed, this can only be done if the neighbour agrees. If agreed, the agreement should be set out in a legal document. This will be extra legal work and additional fees will be charged.

The closing date

When you sign a contract for the sale or purchase of a property, we will give you a date for when the sale should be closed and the keys handed over. However, unavoidable delays often arise and the sale may not close on that date. When it gets nearer to the date stated in the contract, we will be able to give you an exact date when you can complete the sale or purchase so that you can make the final arrangements.

Money needed before the sale closes

If you are buying a property, you will need to give us the funds:
to pay Property Registration Authority (PRA) fees to register your property; and
funds for stamp duty, if it is due.

You must pay these amounts before the sale is completed. If you are getting a loan from a bank or building society, they will not issue the loan cheque unless we give them our professional promise to stamp and register your deeds after the sale closes. We cannot promise this unless we already have the funds needed.

Probate

If you are the executor of a will

‘Probate’ is a legal process involving the transfer of a deceased’s property and other assets. Usually, the person who has died will have appointed an ‘executor’ to deal with their estate when the time comes. If no executor has been appointed, you may be the person who is to be the administrator and you will have a role similar to an executor’s role.

The first step that you, the executor/administrator, must take is to give the Revenue Commissioners details of all of the estate’s assets, including the value of each asset mentioned in the will.

In many cases, the Revenue Commissioners will only accept a professional valuation, for instance, by an estate agent. You will have to pay for the valuation. We can only proceed with your business when we receive it.

You may also need to employ other professional advisors. For example, you may need specialist advice, such as tax advice, to sort out the deceased person’s estate. Once again, this will involve an extra cost, but these issues may need to be resolved for us to continue with your case.

8. Explanation of terms

Anti-money laundering regulations: A set of laws aimed at preventing and detecting money laundering by encouraging businesses to ‘know the customer’ before entering a business relationship with them. See ‘money laundering’.

Attorney: A person appointed to act for another in business or legal matters.

Civil law: An area of law which deals with rights between individuals or groups as distinct from criminal law where there will be an individual on one side and the State on the other.

Capital gains tax: A tax levied on profits on the sale of a property.

Capital acquisitions tax: A tax levied on inheritances received by individuals.

Client: A person or group receiving the services of a professional, in this case the services of a solicitor.

Estate: The total assets of a person who has died.

Executor: When someone makes a will, in the will they name someone who they would like to manage their estate after they die. This person is called the ‘executor’.

Files: These are made up of the letters, emails, notes and all legal documents relating to a client’s case or transaction.

Indemnity: An agreement to fully reimburse a person for any loss incurred.

Letter of disengagement: This is a letter the solicitor can send to the client telling them they no longer act for them.

Letter of engagement: This is a letter the solicitor sends to a client confirming that they agree to act for them. It also details the terms and conditions on which they will do the work for them.

Money laundering: Illegally hiding the true origin and ownership of the proceeds of a person’s or group’s activities.

Negligence: Causing loss or damage by:

  • failing to exercise the care towards people that would reasonably be expected if others were in the same circumstances; or
  • doing something that a reasonable person would not do.

Personal injuries claim: A case in which a person claims to have been harmed by the action or inaction of another person or an organisation.

Power of attorney: A document which gives power to the person appointed to act for the person who signed the document.

Property Registration Authority: A state body which manages and controls the Registry of Deeds and Land Registry and promotes the registration of land ownership.

Title: Ownership.