My Divorce Barristers Terms of Business
The terms of business upon which My Divorce Barristers conduct our business affairs (this version updated November 2022).
DIRECT ACCESS CLIENTS – PERSONAL / BUSINESS
This is an important page which sets out the full terms of business and the conditions which apply if you instruct My Divorce Barristers under Direct Access for Divorce Services. Fees will be agreed by email once we agree the level of services required.
Click here for more information on our fees.
Specific terms will apply depending on whether My Divorce Barristers prepare your case and attending court, or if only attending court for you.
To instruct My Divorce Barristers on a case, we only accept instructions by meeting with you face to face or by email or by letter. My Divorce Barristers do not accept instructions by phone.
Ongoing instructions on a case must be by email only to email@example.com or by letter to My Divorce Barristers, Suite 113, Mile House, Bridge End, Chester Le-Street, County Durham, DH3 3RA.
My Divorce Barristers will not accept ongoing instructions on a case by text, by Whatsapp or by any other social media messaging platform sent to the office mobile number. Calling the office number 07511533838 is primarily for seeking updates on your case.
My Divorce Barristers will send you a letter of engagement setting out the work we will do and that will be either at an hourly rate or for an agreed fixed fee and that work may also be in stages e.g. pre court correspondence, then court applications, then attending court. That engagement letter will ask you to confirm you have read and agreed to these terms.
Each stage requires a new engagement letter. You accept that due to other commitments My Divorce Barristers may not be able to take your case on to the next stage.
Other terms may apply for written work or initial work on your case before further instruction.
My Divorce Barristers are not able to comply with unrealistic demands placed on employees’ time or unrealistic timelines. If such actions continues, My Divorce Barristers will terminate our agreement to act for you.
1.1 These terms of business apply to all work done by Dr John Brown of North East Barristers Chambers, trading as My Divorce Barristers.
1.2 You will have accepted these terms if you instruct My Divorce Barristers to do work for you.
1.3 References in these terms shall include any letter, document or email sent to you which sets out, amongst other things, the scope of the work My Divorce Barristers will be carrying out for you, any assumptions we have made about the scope of the work, any exclusions from the scope of the work, the anticipated timescale, and an estimate or proposal in respect of fees we will charge for the work undertaken on your behalf.
1.4 If you instruct My Divorce Barristers to attend a PM hearing in a civil court there is always a possibility that our Barristers have a morning hearing (specifically in the Crown Court), that the morning hearing may run into the afternoon. In such cases you agree that we may instruct another person who may be a litigation assistant/qualified solicitor to attend the hearing.
1.5 If you instruct My Divorce Barristers, we will not take instructions from a Third Party on your case.
1.6 If you instruct My Divorce Barristers to attend court, we will set a fee based on whether the hearing has been listed by the Court for less than 1/2 day, a 1/2 day, or a full day. We must be paid a non refundable deposit as a booking fee to put a matter in our diaries and the remaining fee for us to attend court MUST BE PAID in full at least 48 hours before any court hearing, failing which we will have no liability to attend Court to represent you and we will inform the Court accordingly.
1.7 If the case finishes early – even if we agree to settle the case at court without fighting it – no refund of fees will be available. This is because once we take your booking we then turn away anyone requiring a booking on the same date.
1.8 If you decide to take time considering instructing My Divorce Barristers after an initial phone call (maybe for a day or so) we am not obliged to keep your booking free. My Divorce Barristers only secure bookings when paid a RETAINER (if preparing a case) or a NON REFUNDABLE BOOKING FEE (if booked just to attend court).
2.1. Our Aim
In all dealings with clients My Divorce Barristers aim to provide a professional quality of service. We shall endeavour to meet your objectives within an agreed timescale, subject to external factors over which we may have little or no control.
The general timescales are that any emails sent to us shall be acknowledged and/or replied to within 72 hours (not including weekends). The only email you should use to correspond with us is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The office is open 9am to 5pm Mondays to Fridays and you can call us between 8am and 6pm Mondays to Fridays and 11am to 1pm on Saturdays. On occasions you may get through to our answering service and they will simply take a message and tell you I will contact you within 24-48 hours.
2.2 My Divorce Barristers’ Relationship with you
My Divorce Barristers’ advice is provided solely to you, the client. Without our prior written consent, our advice may not be used for any purpose other than the one for which it was given. You may not disclose our advice to any person other than those who normally have access to your records and papers, such as your employees, agent, and other professional advisers. You may not quote or refer to us or our advice in any public document or communication without our consent.
My Divorce Barristers’ duty of care is to you and not to any third parties. No third parties (unless we specifically agree) shall have the right to rely on or enforce any term of our agreement with you under the Contract (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 or otherwise.
2.3. Scope of our Advice
My Divorce Barristers do not give advice on taxation or accountancy matters. If we believe that you require such advice, we shall advise you to seek it from suitably qualified professionals. Similarly, we can only advise on the law in England and Wales and not in any other jurisdiction. If you require advice on the law of any other jurisdiction then we may, with your permission, seek advice from a suitably qualified legal adviser in the relevant jurisdiction. You will be responsible for their fees.
2.4. Use of Professional Third Parties
If a third party is needed (e.g., an expert) My Divorce Barristers will agree the expert with you, but you will have to appoint that third party and pay him/her. Services provided by any such third party will be subject to their terms of business (as provided to you).
From time to time, My Divorce Barristers may use temporary legal staff. Although they are not all our employees, we supervise such staff as if they were employees and place them under similar obligations as to confidentiality so to protect your confidential information and preserve your right to privilege. If practicable we will advise you of any such arrangements made in relation to your work
At the start of any new matter, it is important that My Divorce Barristers clearly understand what you want to achieve as well as the timescale in which you wish to achieve it and, if you have a budget in mind, your expectations in respect of legal costs. If your timescale later changes we may have to terminate the agreement for me to act for you.
Having taken your instructions, we will address the following matters and issues:
3.2.1 your requirements and objectives.
3.2.2 the scope of the work that we will be carrying out for you and any exclusions or assumptions to the work.
3.2.3 an explanation of the issues and an outline of your options.
3.2.4 what we will do and what we will not do for you.
3.2.5 we will identify any unusual level of risk or uncertainty in the proposed matter.
3.2.6 identify if you will act as a litigant in person or if you want us to come on the court record.
3.2.7 we will consider if we have any potential conflicts in carrying out the work for you.
3.2.8 we will, if appropriate, estimate the likely timescales of the matter and advise as to any specific issues which may affect timing; and
3.2.9 if possible, we will provide you with an estimate of the fees likely to be involved which will be updated from time to time as the matter progresses.
Our responsibilities to you are:
3.3.1. to act in accordance with your instructions.
3.3.2. to exercise a high degree of professional care in our dealings with you.
3.3.3. to be proactive in ensuring you meet your objectives.
3.3.4. to communicate with you at regular intervals by telephone and email.
3.3.5. to notify you of any material developments or occurrences.
3.3.6. (if agreed with you) provide you with a cost benefit analysis of the matter (i.e. our assessment as to whether the likely outcome of a disputed matter will justify the expense or risk involved, including, if relevant, the risk of having to bear an opponent’s costs);
3.3.7. to act in your best interests at all times; and
3.3.8. to ensure that you are advised of the legal issues arising in this matter and the options available to you in respect of these.
Your responsibilities to us are:
3.4.1. to inform My Divorce Barristers of all material factors of which you are aware which may affect the matter;
3.4.2. to be truthful about the facts, and if it transpires that a matter which has been signed with a statement of truth is later found to be not true, we may then be professionally embarrassed and so would have to stop acting as we could not then promote the claim for you in court as set out in the document you have signed with a statement of truth;
3.4.3. to provide My Divorce Barristers with appropriate evidence as to your identity and, where requested, that of your organisations;
3.4.4. to provide My Divorce Barristers with prompt, accurate and appropriate instructions when required.
3.4.5. to provide an appropriate level of funding as required by these terms.
3.4.6. to settle our bills promptly when delivered; and
3.4.7. if despite ongoing emails or calls you fail to keep in contact and update your instructions as matters move on, we will be entitled to withdraw the services and will be under no obligation to refund you any fees you have paid.
The decision as to whether to proceed to instruct us in relation to any matter (and the course to be taken in relation to that matter) will be made by you based upon your own commercial assessment.
Only in very rare situations, will My Divorce Barristers offer No Win No Fee Services (if I do agree such terms, I still require a £500 payment for incidentals and such an No Win No Fee Agreement does not include me paying for my own travel and accommodation costs to from court). All direct access work is private – I do not have a legal aid contract so we cannot offer Direct Access Clients legal aid services.
If you have an insurance policy you may find you have cover for legal costs, If so you should find out if you can claim on your policy.
If you are a litigant in person and are preparing your own case and are only wanting My Divorce Barristers to attend court and your hearing is more than 14 days away, we charge an additional £250 to cover time as clients will invariably seek to contact us on matters relating to the case before the hearing date.
If a Formal Legal Letter /Letter Before Action is needed (and then depending on the reply you will then decide if you should instruct us further) we charge a minimum of £350 to draft a legal letter, deal with the reply and then discuss the matter further.
When preparing a case with an hourly rate, Phone calls are charged at £10 and emails at £5. Unless they take more than 10 minutes and then they are charged pro-rata the hourly rate.
In the case of estimates, My Divorce Barristers reserve the right to change or amend the estimate at any time while we are carrying the work out for you. We will, however, notify you beforehand if we need to revise our estimate upwards.
You will always be liable to pay any court fees e.g. to submit a claim, or if obligated to pay a trial fee and you will also pay for any experts fees.
If you are only instructing My Divorce Barristers to attend a court/tribunal hearing, a booking fee is required for me to put the matter in the diary. The remaining balance for any hearing (whether only instructed for that or attending a hearing as part of a case in preparation) must be paid at least 48 hours before the hearing, failing which we will not be obliged to attend court.
Any booking fee is not refundable. If you contact us and then seek time to “consider” instruction, we will not hold a booking. You take a risk that when you call back we will be available to take on your case.
If My Divorce Barristers have to travel to court, we will have to charge additional travel or petrol costs.
4.2 Postage costs
Generally, we will agree any correspondence with you and will then put it into PDF format for you to post. If, however we post anything on your behalf you agree to meet the postage fees.
5. Lien and Set-off
My Divorce Barristers reserve the right to retain funds, correspondence, documents, records and title deeds belonging to you which have come into our possession until all our fees and disbursements owed to us by you have been paid. We shall be entitled to set off any amounts owed to us against any funds we are holding on your behalf.
6. Limitation of Liability
The following should be read carefully as it limits the extent of My Divorce Barristers’ liability to you. Any such liability arising from or in connection with the services provided to you by us is the liability only of Dr John Brown. Our partners, employees and contractors shall have no personal liability to you.
Our liability of for loss or damage cause by our negligence, breach of contract, misrepresentation, is limited to a maximum sum of £500,000 (five hundred thousand pounds) for each single originating cause, which amount includes all legal and other costs which we may incur in defending any actions against us.
Our liability is covered by Bar Mutual Insurance.
This limitation of liability provision shall apply to each and every matter we handle for you unless otherwise agreed with you in writing.
You also agree to indemnify us and hold us harmless against all losses, damages or costs howsoever caused which we may suffer in acting for you in this engagement (including, without limitation, our compliance with our statutory obligations), subject to the limitation in liability set out in the preceding paragraph.
7. Conflicts of Interest
We are not allowed to act for you if there is a conflict between your interests and ours. For example, we normally cannot act for you if the other party in the transaction is a regular client of ours. If in the course this engagement a conflict of interest arises, we will let you know as soon as we become aware of it and discuss with you the course of action required.
8. Money Laundering
My Divorce Barristers are required to comply with our statutory obligations under the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 (as amended by the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Amendment) Regulations 2019, otherwise known as the 5th Money Laundering Directive) (together “the Money Laundering Regulations), to carry out certain checks in order to verify identity and the source of funds supplied by a client.
If you instruct My Divorce Barristers, you must send proof of ID and proof of address.
We are also under a duty to report any suspicion that we have of money laundering and this duty may override our duty of client confidentiality. We shall not incur any liability to you for any loss you may suffer as a result of our compliance with the Money Laundering Regulations to include any delay in dealings with or concluding your matter. While this may seem excessive, we are required to adhere to the Money Laundering Regulations and may not be able to act for you if we cannot comply with these Money Laundering Regulations.
9. Communication by Email
My Divorce Barristers generally communicate with and send documents to clients by e-mail. You accept that the internet is not a secure medium and that electronic transmission of e-mail may become lost, delayed, intercepted, corrupted, delivered incomplete or fail to be delivered.
We shall use our reasonable endeavours to ensure that our e-mails are free from viruses and other obstructions and shall expect you to do the same. However, you should note that e-mail cannot be guaranteed to be secure, error-free or confidential and that we shall have no responsibility or liability for any error, omission, claim or loss arising from or in connection with any communication to you via email, in the absence of any bad faith or wilful default on our part.
Do not send us original documents unless we specifically ask for them (only send us photocopies). My Divorce Barristers hold no liability for original documents unless liability is agreed before they are sent to us. If you send original documents they will be scanned and you shall collect the originals from me.
10. Intellectual Property
All copyright and intellectual property rights in any work and materials that we develop or create for you shall be our property unless specifically agreed otherwise. You are, however, permitted to use any such materials for the purposes for which they were created.
For the purpose of advising you or other clients, and subject to our duties of confidentiality to you, we shall be entitled to use, analyse, share and develop the knowledge, experience or skills of general application gained through working for you.
11. Data Protection
As part of our engagement with you, we expect to receive personal data from you or from persons connected with your business. This could be personal data about you, people who work for or with your business, or third parties, including people at organisations you do business with or are in dispute with.
We are required under the Data Protection Act 2018 (“DPA”) and the General Data Protection Regulation (EU 2016/679) (“GDPR”) (the GDPR and the DPA collectively, “data protection law”) to inform you about the uses to which we put your personal data.
We will comply with the data protection law in our own handling of personal data (including any personal data we obtain from third parties for your engagement) but will not be responsible for any action taken by the Information Commissioner (or any other data protection regulator), data subjects or other persons arising from any transfer of personal data to us by you (or its processing in order to fulfil your instructions) contrary to data protection law.
We may use third parties to process your personal data for us in order to obtain goods and services related to your engagement or appropriate for the running of our firm. We do not sell personal data to third parties for marketing or other commercial purposes.
Data protection law requires that all personal data kept by us is accurate and up to date, so please keep us informed of any changes to personal data, including email and mobile phone numbers, which you supply to us in connection with our engagement.
As a Barristers Chambers, we are under strict rules of confidentiality and shall not disclose any confidential information received from you unless instructed by you or as required by law. Equally, we cannot use or pass on confidential information obtained from other clients for your benefit.
Occasionally, we may be requested to refer in general terms to work done for you. For example, we may be requested to give information for reports to be published in the legal or business press of transactions where we have acted for one of the parties, or we may wish to disclose that we have acted for you in a particular deal or matter. In such cases, we will ask for your consent before disclosing and, if given, this consent will also apply to future similar disclosures by us.
You may terminate your instructions in writing at any time, but any retainer paid is non-refundable and you will be liable to pay the fees due till the termination date.
We may stop acting for you where we believe that we have a good reason to do so, for example, if a conflict of interest arises, if you persistently refuse to provide information that we require, if you persistently refuse to take our advice, if you do not pay your invoices on time or do not provide an interim payment when requested.
Termination shall not affect any accrued rights of either party.
14. Complaints Policy
We are committed to providing a high-quality service to our clients. This includes a commitment to putting things right when they go wrong. Our objective at all times is to exceed your expectations. If you do not feel that we have fulfilled our responsibilities, or the standard of our service has been less then you expected, then please let us know in writing.
The Bar Standards Board will help you if you are concerned about our behaviour. This could be for things like dishonesty, taking or losing your money or treating you unfairly because of your age, a disability or other characteristic.
What to do if we cannot resolve your complaint.
The Legal Ombudsman can help you if we are unable to resolve your complaint ourselves. They will look at your complaint independently and it will not affect how we handle your case. Before accepting a complaint for investigation, the Legal Ombudsman will check that you have tried to resolve your complaint with us first. If you have, then you must take your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman:
- Within six months of receiving a final response to your complaint; and
- No more than six years from the date of act/omission; or
- No more than three years from when you should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint.
If you would like more information about the Legal Ombudsman, please contact them using one of the options:
15. Storage of your Documents
We shall keep our file of papers (except for any papers which you ask to be returned to you) for as long as we consider appropriate (see below) but for no more than 6 years.
15.1. Litigation Matters
At the end of your case, we will send you the original of all (i) pleadings (ii) orders (iii) witness statements (iv) affidavits (v) consent orders or settlement agreements. We will retain for 6 years an electronic copy of the entire file, but you agree we may destroy any paper copies. If you wish to keep the entire file you must collect it within 14 days of receiving from us a letter confirming that we are closing the file, otherwise you authorise us to destroy it.
From time to time, we amend our Terms of Business. These Terms will replace any previous Terms provided to you.
Our Scope of Works (including these Terms) shall form the entire agreement between us in relation to its subject matter. The terms and conditions of an agreed Scope of Works may not be modified or amended other than by written agreement between us.
17. Governing Law
These Terms are governed by the laws of England and Wales. You agree that the English courts shall have exclusive jurisdiction in any dispute that may arise between us.
18. The Bar Standards Board
We are authorised and regulated by the Bar Standards Board.