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Terms of Business

Section 1 - Introduction

Equivo Limited is a company registered in England and Wales (registered number 12058753). Our registered office is at Abbots House, Abbey Street, Reading, RG1 3BD. We are authorised and regulated by:

(collectively, “our regulators”).

Equivo is a trading name of Equivo Limited. References to “Equivo”, “we”, “our” or “us” are to Equivo Limited and any other legal entity owned or controlled by Equivo Limited (“Equivo entity” (which term, for avoidance of doubt, excludes Equivo Limited) and to “you” and “your” means the person, persons or organisation to whom we are providing the services as identified in our client care and welcome letter or our service level agreement when you instruct us.

This agreement is between you and Equivo even if the service is supplied by people employed through another Equivo entity or sub-contractor. The agreement comprises these terms, our client care and welcome letters or our service level agreement with you and any other document incorporated by reference into those letters or service level agreement.

You agree that we shall be entitled to assign, transfer, novate or sub-contract our rights or obligations under this agreement to any third party without your prior written consent.

Our approach to working with clients

Equivo is a multi-disciplinary practice providing collections, legal and enforcement services to a wide range of clients. This document sets out the formalities of working with us and should be read in conjunction with our client care and welcome letters or our service level agreement with you. If there is any conflict between our client care and welcome letters or our service level agreement and this document, then our client care and welcome letters or our service level agreement with you will take priority. These terms will apply to everything we do for you now and in the future. If this changes, we will inform you in writing. This agreement is subject to English Law and the Courts in England and Wales shall have exclusive jurisdiction over any dispute relating to its terms.

When you first instruct us

We want to understand as fully as possible what you are trying to achieve to determine the exact nature of the service you require. We operate different instruction processes depending on the services you require. For legal services and collections services, we will usually discuss your requirements with you initially by email or telephone. For enforcement services you can instruct us online. To assist you properly and fully, please tell us everything relevant to your matter. We will let you know immediately if we are unable to take on the work. This may be because there is a conflict with an existing client but we will ask you for information to ensure this is not the case as soon as possible.

Who will do the work?

Every client is allocated one main point of contact for their matter. Where you instruct us on a number of matters, we may allocate a relationship manager to you who will agree who within our teams will work with you, depending on the expertise required. The relationship manager is responsible for ensuring that you are satisfied with the service that we provide. Day to day contact may well be with the Equivo team member responsible for the matter in question.

Confidentiality

Information received as a result of your instructions will be treated in confidence in accordance with our professional conduct rules. However under this agreement, you agree to the release of confidential and where appropriate, privileged information to other Equivo entities, to our insurers and brokers (for the purposes of our professional indemnity insurance and in the context of notifications under our policy), to our auditors, to regulators, to take advice from external counsel and to any other third party to the extent required by law or regulation, or where we consider it appropriate to ensure the successful implementation of your instructions. This term will continue in force beyond the termination or expiry of this agreement.

Communication and reporting

Your preferred method for reporting and communication will be agreed at the start of the relationship. Unless you tell us otherwise, we will assume that you are happy for us to communicate by email, even though we cannot guarantee that it is completely secure or confidential. We monitor emails for internal policy reasons and may record or monitor telephone calls for future reference and training purposes. For certain services you may also be granted access to our online communications portal where you can review the progress of your matter at any time.

Information transmitted electronically may not be secure or error free, because it will be transmitted over a public network. Consequently, there is a risk that the information could be intercepted, corrupted, destroyed, lost, arrive late or incomplete or in some other way be unsafe to use or adversely affected.

You and we will each take reasonable precautions to check for viruses before sending information electronically but recognise that undertaking those checks will not guarantee that transmissions will be virus free. We do not accept responsibility or liability for any loss or damage which may arise through your use of a cloud storage solution. Neither you, nor we, nor any other Equivo entity nor any member, partner, director, officer, employee or consultant of Equivo or any Equivo entity ("Equivo Individual") shall be liable to the other on any basis, whether in contract, tort (including negligence) or otherwise, in respect of any damage or loss arising from or in connection with the electronic communication of information between us.

We have no control over websites operated by third parties and therefore we cannot be responsible for the privacy, protection or access to any information you have provided using a cloud solution. You should exercise caution and ensure any information provided is protected and look at the privacy statement applicable to the website in question.

Meeting deadlines

Before we start work, we will clarify any deadlines and, where appropriate, agree a timetable with you. We will do our best to meet this timetable as efficiently as possible. We would like you to be aware that sometimes this is not within our control and will depend on the degree of co-operation we get from you, other parties involved on the matter or their advisers. If there is an issue, we will inform you and agree the best course of action. Any service levels specific to your matter and relevant services hours will be set out in our client care and welcome letters or our service level agreement with you.

Scope of instructions

We will agree the scope of our instructions with you, but unless we expressly state to the contrary, we will not provide tax advice. We will not be responsible for any failure to advise or provide services relating to matters outside the scope of our engagement. Unless specifically agreed in our client care and welcome letter or our service level agreement our advice and services will be based on the law of England & Wales.

Liability

Our liability for any loss or damage caused in the course of providing our services to you including by our negligence will be limited to the amount agreed with you and specified in our client care and welcome letter or our service level agreement. If no amount is specified, the maximum amount of our liability for any claim will be:

  • For legal services: £3million
  • For collections services: The value of the asset in line with insurance policies where either we have recovered that asset or it has not been recovered due to our negligence. We shall not be liable for any failure to recover the assets in any other circumstance.
  • For enforcement services: A sum equivalent to ten (10) times the value of statutory or agreed fees for those services, where the damage or loss is caused by our negligence. We shall not be liable for any unsuccessful enforcement action in any other circumstance.

Any claim will include those arising from one act, error or omission, one series of related acts, errors or omissions, the same act, error or omission in a series of related matters or transactions, similar acts, errors or omissions in a series of related matters or transactions and all claims arising from one matter or transaction. Any liability will also be limited to a just and equitable proportion of the total loss having regard to the extent of your own responsibility and that of any other party, regardless of ability to pay. In no event will we be liable for any indirect or consequential loss, or for any loss of profits or opportunities.

Where other advisers are involved in any particular matter and an agreement to limit liability has been reached with one or more of them, our liability will be limited to an amount which would have applied had the other not so limited their liability.

Where due to an event, circumstance or sequence of events beyond our reasonable control, including any consequence of epidemic or pandemic, we are prevented or delayed in or from performing our obligations under this agreement we shall not be liable to you but shall notify you as soon as practicable of the delay and any proposed alternative solution.

Nothing in these terms shall exclude or limit our liability for death or personal injury caused by our negligence, fraud or reckless disregard of professional obligations.

Advice given and services provided by us in the course of acting for you is provided to you and you alone and only in relation to the particular circumstances of your instructions. We do not accept any liability for the use of such advice by any other person or organisation without our express prior written consent.

We accept that when advising you or providing services we must take reasonable care; however, we are dependent on you providing us with accurate instructions and complete documentation in good time. In the event that you fail to do this, we will not be held responsible for losses caused as a result.

When involved in court proceedings you must provide us with information and/or documentation in good time to enable deadlines and court orders to be met. Failure to do so could lead to sanctions such as the dismissal of your case and, potentially, costs awards against you. We will not be held responsible for losses caused as a result.

Our advice may involve us in expressing an opinion as to accepting a commercial or legal risk or recommend approach to or likelihood of success in your matter. Where this is the case you accept that this is an expression of opinion and not a statement of fact. Any subsequent decision made by you must remain your responsibility.

You acknowledge that you are instructing Equivo and Equivo alone will provide services to you. Accordingly, Equivo shall be solely liable to you for any wrongful and/or negligent acts or omissions of any Equivo Individuals in the course of their acting as agents for Equivo, subject always to any and all exclusions and limitations expressly detailed in this agreement. No Equivo Individual assumes any personal responsibility to you and, accordingly, no Equivo Individual shall owe you a personal duty of care. Nor will any Equivo entity be under any liability to you whatsoever. You agree that you will not bring any claim whether in contract, tort, under statute or otherwise against any Equivo entity and/or any Equivo Individual, your sole right of action being against Equivo.

Where in this agreement, a cap on or exclusion of liability is drafted for the benefit of Equivo Individuals and/or Equivo entities, you agree that such Equivo Individuals and Equivo entities shall be entitled to rely on and enforce such clauses as if they were a party to this contract, pursuant to the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999.

You agree to indemnify us against any claims, liability or expense which we incur or are legally obliged to pay as a result of acting for you, except to the extent that such liability or expense is caused by our negligence, fraud or reckless disregard of our professional obligations or is prevented or capped by statutory fees or rules imposed by our regulators, and limited to the extent of that bar or cap.

Equivo maintains professional indemnity insurance for all services, and further specific insurances in relation to asset recovery (including goods in transit and motor repossession) and enforcement activities, in accordance with the rules of our regulators. Details of our insurer and the territorial coverage for mandatory insurances are available on our website at www.equivo.com/policies/insurance.

Satisfaction

We hope that our relationship with you will be smooth and trouble free but we recognise that sometimes, misunderstandings and problems may occur. If you have any concerns about either our services or our bills please raise them with the team member handling your matter or their supervisor or the relationship manager named in your client care and welcome letters or our service level agreement with you. If your problem remains unresolved, you can escalate the matter by following our complaints process. On conclusion of our complaints process you may also have the right to refer the matter to the Legal Ombudsman or another independent body. Further details of these processes are set out below under the specific terms for each of our services and in our complaints statement at www.equivo.com/complaints.

Termination of service

You may terminate your instructions to us in writing at any time. Where you instruct us as an individual consumer for purposes which are wholly or mainly outside of your trade, business, craft or profession, you may also have the right to cancel your instruction within 14 days of your instruction under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. Further details are set out www.equivo.com/privacy-notice.

We can only decide to stop acting for you if we have reasonable grounds to do so. Examples of reasonable grounds include: a conflict of interest with another client, failing to provide adequate and timely instructions, providing instructions which we are unable to fulfil, failing to pay any of our invoices or make payments on account of costs within the agreed timescale or the breakdown of the relationship between us and you. If we decide to cease acting for you, we will inform you in writing and provide an explanation for our decision. Unless specifically agreed otherwise, following termination we will send you a final invoice. Some of our services may be subject to cancellation fees as set out in our client care and welcome letter or our service level agreement. We reserve the right to charge expenses for services and resources which have been commissioned in relation to your matter if we are unable to redeploy those services and resources. We will be entitled to retain your documents while fees or expenses remain unpaid.

Section 2 - Financial matters

How we calculate our charges

We will advise you of our approach to charges and billing at an early stage to ensure we are confident that you understand how fees and expenses are calculated and charged. In many cases we are happy to agree a fixed fee or our services may be subject to statutory fees.

Where a fixed fee has not been agreed, we will try to give you an estimate of how much the work is likely to cost, based on our understanding of the facts known at that time. Where this is difficult to do because of the nature of the work, we will try to give you an indication of how much to budget for, based on our experience of similar matters. We will let you know as soon as we can, if this changes. We are also happy to advise when fees reach a certain level or, if you prefer, you can set a limit on the level of charges which may be incurred without further reference to you. Any estimate for work to be carried out is not intended to be fixed unless we expressly say so. We will ensure that the difference between an estimate and a fixed fee is made clear to you.

Unless we agree otherwise or statutory fees apply, our fees are usually calculated on the basis of time spent on the matter at the hourly rates of the people involved. Time will include: all time spent on your matter including meetings with you and perhaps others, any time spent travelling, considering and preparing documents, preparation of any detailed costs calculations, correspondence and making and receiving telephone calls. Time will be charged in minimum units of 1/10th of an hour based on the hourly rate(s) which have been agreed with you. Sometimes other factors in addition to the time spent have to be considered. This may be taking account of the complexity of the job, the specialised knowledge and the degree of responsibility involved the importance to you and your business, the speed with which it was dealt with and the results achieved. We will discuss this with you if this applies.

Our fees may also include payments which involve us in providing additional facilities or administration, for example bank transfers, multi-party legal conference calls and interactive web based products for on-line reporting and document/deeds storage.

Our fees are payable in GBP sterling. Where we incur disbursements or expenses on your behalf in another currency you agree to pay us in GBP sterling such sums as are necessary to cover the cost of our payment to the relevant third party, including transaction costs, at the conversion rates applied by with our nominated bank at the time we settle the third party’s invoice.

Our rates will be reviewed from time to time to take account of changes in our overhead costs. We will generally discuss any proposed increases with you and we will always formally notify you in writing of any increased rate.

Value Added Tax (VAT) will, where applicable, be added to our fees at the prevailing rate. Our VAT registration number is GB 332 2612 41

Expenses

Unless otherwise stated in our agreement with you, we will charge you for any disbursements and expenses which we incur in carrying out your instructions. We will always try to seek your approval before incurring any significant amounts. We also reserve the right to charge you at our standard rate for photocopying, volume printing, the production of both CD and ordinary bibles, and other office expenses incurred specifically on your behalf. We are happy to provide information on our current rates on request. Expenses will be invoiced at cost (together with VAT where applicable) and are payable on receipt. Our policy is not to let outstanding disbursements and expenses exceed £150 (plus VAT) and accordingly once they reach this limit we may issue a disbursements only invoice to you.

Billing and payment

We reserve the right to request payment on account of our fees or expenses both when we start to work for you and on other occasions during the time that we provide services to you. Where a payment on account is requested, payment of the requested amount is a condition of our working for you. Our billing intervals may vary according to the services we provide, but unless otherwise agreed, we will bill monthly in GPB sterling. Any interim invoice will not be a request for payment on account but will be the only and final invoice for our fees and expenses incurred for that matter during the period to which it relates. Payment is due immediately upon delivery of an invoice. If the invoice remains outstanding for more than 30 days we reserve the right to charge interest at the rate payable on judgment debts (currently 8% per annum above the Bank of England base rate) from the date of issue until payment.

If a bill remains unpaid after 30 days or you fail to make a payment on account within 14 days of our request to do so, we reserve the right to suspend the provision of our services to you on this and other matters until payment has been received and/or terminate our contract with you.

If you have any concerns in respect of your bill please raise this with us in accordance with our complaints process set out below for the relevant service we are providing to you. If we agree to send you bills electronically, it is on the basis that you waive any right you may have to receive a signed hard copy bill under s 69(2) of the Solicitors Act 1974.

You remain liable for payment of our fees and expenses whatever the outcome of your matter. Also, if a specific matter aborts, then we reserve the right to bill you for any fees and expenses incurred up until that point, unless we have agreed otherwise in advance.

We are required by law to issue all of our VAT invoices to the client for whom we have provided the service. If a third party has agreed to pay our fees, they will not usually be able to recover the VAT element. If you are based outside of the UK but within the EU and provide us with your VAT number, we may submit your bills to you zero-rated for VAT, depending on current VAT regulations

When we receive instructions from, or on behalf of, more than one person or company to deal with any particular matter, each person or company for whom we are acting will be separately responsible for payment of the full amount of our fees and expenses regardless of to whom the bill is addressed.

When accepting instructions to act on behalf of a limited company, we may require a director and /or controlling shareholder to sign a form of personal guarantee in respect of the fees and expenses of Equivo. If such a request is refused, we will be entitled to stop acting and to send you an invoice for the work carried out by us to date.

Any money held by us on your behalf may be taken in payment or part payment of any invoices on this or any other matter upon which we are instructed by you whether overdue or not without further notification or consent.

The law entitles us to retain any money, papers or other property belonging to you, which properly come into our possession pending payment of our costs, whether or not the property is acquired in connection with the matter for which costs are incurred. This is known as a “general lien”. We are not entitled to sell property held under a lien but we are entitled to hold property, even if the value of it greatly exceeds the amount due to us in respect of fees and expenses.

If we are conducting litigation for you, we have additional rights over any property recovered or preserved for you, whether it is in our possession or not, and in respect of all costs incurred, whether billed or unbilled. We also have the right to ask the Court to make a charging order in our favour for any costs assessed by the Court to be reasonable.

Receipt of funds and assets

Funds held by us on your behalf may be subject to interest provisions relating to “client money” under the SRA Accounts Rules. Where appropriate we will account to you for a sum in lieu of interest on any money held on your behalf in accordance with our Interest Policy. A copy of our Interest Policy is available on our website at www.equivo.com/policies/interest.

Whilst we will always use reasonable endeavours to ensure that client money held by us in connection with collections, legal and enforcement services is invested in appropriate banks or other financial institutions we do not accept any liability for any losses or associated costs which may arise as a result of any failure, restructuring or insolvency of any financial institution used. Where we receive funds on your behalf in the course of enforcement services we will transfer this to you as soon as possible, subject to any agreed or permitted deductions for our costs and subject to our obligation to retain any sums recovered under a Writ of Control for a period of 14 days under the Insolvency Act 1986.

It is Equivo’s policy not to accept cash. This policy also applies to cash paid direct into our bank account. Where such an event takes place, we reserve the right to charge for any additional checks we deem necessary regarding the source of the funds. If we receive money from you which needs to be returned, we reserve the right to return the monies to the same account from which it came.

Whilst providing our services to you, we may receive payments from third parties on your behalf. Where we provide collections or enforcement services to you we are subject to an obligation to pay such payments received to you as soon as possible. We can usually only pay such funds to you or a named beneficiary on whose behalf you have instructed us. Sometimes clearing these payments can be a lengthy process. Where we agree to make payment to you after a specified clearance period and the payment is subsequently unsuccessful, you agree to reimburse us for any sums due together with any costs incurred.

Where we receive monies through a bank transfer system we reserve the right not to use such monies until we have sufficient information and allocate the payment to a client and a specific matter.

If you receive payment or recover an asset, either in full or in part, directly from a debtor or relevant third party, in relation to a collections or enforcement matter on which you have instructed us, you agree to pay to us a sum equivalent to any corresponding successful recovery fee, statutory fee or fixed fee to which we would have been entitled had the payment been made to us, as set out in our client care and welcome letters or our service level agreement with you.

Where we receive or physically recover assets on your behalf in the course of collections or enforcement services, we will arrange for security, safe storage and insurance of these assets whilst they are in our physical possession. We reserve the right to charge you for storage, insurance and/or security services where these charges are not recoverable from the debtor. You have the right to inspect assets held by us on your behalf during normal service hours and on reasonable notice.

Section 3 - General Terms of Business

Equality and diversity

We are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of our dealings with clients, third parties and employees and are happy to explain our policy to you, a copy of which is available at www.equivo.com/policies/equality.

Accessibility

If you require a copy of these terms or any document referred to it in in an alternative format, please contact the team member allocated to your matter.

Storage of documents and papers relating to you

We do not have paper files for some of the work that we do. Where this is the case, incoming post is scanned on to our system and the file is stored on our computer system in electronic format. This includes all hard copy papers relating to legal services. Electronic matter related information will normally be retained for a minimum of six years (although we reserve the right to change our storage arrangements at any time and to apply different storage arrangements to different services). Where you request a copy of an electronically held file, we will usually charge for printing and any time spent reviewing the papers to find out which documents belong to you and any third party.

Any paper files will normally be retained in storage according to their subject matter which will usually be for a minimum of six years. Any papers belonging to you which remain in our possession at the end of your matter which you have not specifically asked us to return to you will be stored with our papers. We keep files on the understanding that we can destroy them at the end of our appropriate storage period. This does not apply to documents or deeds deposited with us for safe custody.

We may archive our files off site with a storage company at no additional cost to you. We do not normally charge you for retrieving papers or documents from storage during a transaction or matter. However, we reserve the right to make a charge at all other times. The charge would be based upon the time and cost of retrieving the stored papers or documents together with any time spent reviewing the files to find out which documents belong to you and any third party. Papers will be made available for collection or can be sent to you at your cost.

External assessment

Equivo will be certificated to the International Quality Standard BS EN ISO 27001 and other standards for which we apply. To achieve and maintain this certification, we need to disclose some of our files to outside assessors from the British Standards Institution so that they can check that quality control procedures are being followed. This process is confidential and the assessors are not permitted to take copies of files or disclose the contents. The assessors’ role is solely designed to ensure that our procedures are being followed. In addition, we may sometimes use external agencies to carry out file reviews. This is on the same confidential basis and again is to ensure that our internal control procedures are being followed. Please let us know immediately if you would object to your file being disclosed to assessors as part of this process.

Data protection

We will always treat your personal data with respect. For more information about how we use your personal data, please visit our Privacy Notice which can be found on our website at www.equivo.com/privacy-notice. The Privacy Notice complies with the General Data Protection Regulation as retained under UK law, and related domestic legislation. Please read it carefully as it contains details of:

  • how we collect your personal data,
  • types of personal data we process about you,
  • how and why we use your personal data,
  • others who may receive or have access to your personal data,
  • our data retention and storage policies,
  • your rights,
  • the security we put in place to protect your personal data, and
  • marketing, communications and “cookies”.

Money laundering prevention

Current anti-money laundering legislation requires us to obtain satisfactory evidence of a new client’s identity which may include verification of the beneficial owner(s) of corporate entities and trusts. We will need to understand the purpose of your matter and the source of any funds being used. If we are not satisfied regarding the source and legitimacy of funds we may have to refuse or cease to act for you.

We may use an electronic verification service to confirm an individual’s identity in which case the check will leave a footprint on the credit file but does not have an effect on credit rating. If the electronic check on an individual does not provide sufficient evidence of identity, we may have to ask for further evidence e.g. a passport/driving licence. All personal data remains subject to the Privacy Notice.

We are professionally and legally obliged to keep your affairs confidential. However, we may be required by statute or our regulators to make a disclosure to the National Crime Agency where we 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 (and cannot be required) to tell you that a disclosure has been made or to provide you with any details. We may have to stop working on your matter for a period of time and may not be able to tell you why.

We do not accept any liability for consequential damages arising from compliance with the appropriate legislation if we have to make such a disclosure.

Copyright

We retain copyright in all documents prepared by us but, where documents are prepared for your use, we grant you an irrevocable, royalty free licence to use those documents for the purpose for which they were prepared.

Third party rights

Except as expressly provided in this agreement under the heading “Liability” in Section 1, third party rights to enforce any of our terms under the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 are excluded. The rights of you and Equivo, to terminate, rescind or agree any variation, waiver or settlement under this agreement is not subject to the consent of any person that is not a party to this agreement.

Working with lawyers and officers in other jurisdictions on your behalf

If you need advice regarding the laws of another jurisdiction or services of authorised officers outside of the United Kingdom we are happy to instruct or assist you in identifying appropriate foreign qualified lawyers or authorised officers and to maintain a co-ordinating project management role in relation to the involvement of those parties. We do not accept any liability in respect of the advice or services provided by those parties.

We will usually only instruct a foreign lawyer or officer on your behalf after we have discussed the basis of appointment with you. Unless otherwise agreed, the payment of the fees of those parties will be your responsibility and not the responsibility of Equivo.

Cyber crime

Cybercrime, particularly crime relating to the transfer of money, is on the increase. To reduce the risk of cybercrime and the possible interception of emails, we recommend that if you need to send us your bank details you do so securely. If this is not feasible and you use email to send us your bank details please telephone us to confirm the details. If we have supplied you with our bank details and you receive a subsequent email about a change to these details, please telephone us immediately.

Notices

Any notice we give to you under this agreement shall be sent to your address set out at the head of our client care and welcome letter or our service level agreement. Any notice you send to us should be sent to the Equivo address stated in our client care and welcome letter or our service level agreement and marked for the attention of the team member assigned to your matter or your relationship manager.

Variation

We may vary our terms set out in this document from time to time without notice. No variation of the agreement shall be valid or effective unless it is in writing, refers to the agreement and is duly signed or executed by, or on behalf of, each party.

Section 4 – Our services: Specific Terms of Business

Collections services

Our collections services include consumer credit debt collection, mortgage recoveries, field collections and asset recovery and are regulated by the FCA. In providing these services, we comply with the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) rules operating as a multi-disciplinary practice.

Financial matters

For most fixed fee collections services we bill on conclusion of your matter. Other collections services may be billed monthly and on conclusion or your matter, or in accordance with agreed milestones. Our client care and welcome letters or our service level agreement with you will confirm billing frequency and any milestones.

Complaints – collections services

If you wish to escalate a complaint you have already raised with the team member handling your matter or their supervisor or the relationship manager named in your client care and welcome letters or our service level agreement with you please contact Managing Director, Andy Thomas, quoting your matter reference number at: Equivo Limited, The Lakes, Northampton, NN4 7HD or on telephone number 0343 290 0005 or by email to customer.relations@equivo.co.uk. Your complaint will be handled in accordance with our complaints statement, which is available at www.equivo.com/complaints or in another format at your request.

If we are unable to resolve your complaint within 8 weeks of receiving full details, you may have the right to refer it to the Financial Ombudsman Service which is an out of court complaints and redress scheme. Further details are available in our complaints statement and will also be provided in our final response to you.

Enforcement services

Our enforcement services include High Court Enforcement activity, Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (“CRAR”), recovery under common law, and related services, which we provide as authorised Certificated Enforcement Agents or High Court Enforcement Officers and under common law. We act under Writs of Execution or under common law or by way of execution of High Court and County Court possession orders. In providing these services, we comply with the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) rules operating as a multi-disciplinary practice.

When you instruct us to act in enforcement matters to apply for a transfer up of proceedings from the County Court or to issue a High Court Writ of Execution, our services are regulated by the SRA until such time as the Writ of Execution is delivered to us. Once we have received the Writ of Execution our services are also regulated by the Ministry of Justice in accordance with the High Court Enforcement Officers Regulations 2004, Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, The Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 and/or The Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014. At this point we act either as authorised High Court Enforcement Officers or as Certificated Enforcement Agents. CRAR instructions are also regulated by the Ministry of Justice in this way.

All Writs of Execution should be directed to one of our principal High Court Enforcement Officers who are authorised by the Lord Chancellor pursuant to paragraph 2 (1) of Schedule 7 of the Courts Act 2003 and Regulation 6 of the High Court Enforcement Officers Regulations 2004 to execute judgment orders of the High Court and County Court of England and Wales.

As High Court Enforcement Officers and members of the High Court Enforcement Officers Association (HCEOA), we are committed to following their standards of Best Practice and delivering the highest standards of enforcement. We operate within and comply with the Ministry of Justice’s Taking Control of Goods: National Standards and the High Court Enforcement Officers Regulations 2004.

Financial matters

Where you instruct us to provide enforcement services you agree to pay any applicable statutory compliance fee of £75 plus VAT per instruction, even if no monies are recovered from the debtor. We also reserve the right to charge you our fees as well as costs, expenses, disbursements and court fees that are actually and properly incurred by us, even if these sums are not recoverable from the debtor or any creditor for whom you act.

You agree to pay all costs, expenses, disbursements and court fees above prior to any split of funds or recovery fee calculation agreed in relation to your matter. If you receive payment or recover an asset or possession of real estate directly from a debtor or otherwise in relation to an enforcement services matter for which you have instructed us and we have agreed a recovery fee, you agree to pay to us as if such we had achieved such payment, recovery or possession on your behalf.

If the judgment to which your enforcement instruction relates is set aside (pursuant to Civil Procedure Rules 1998 CPR Part 13) and our enforcement power ceases, then, we reserve the right to charge you for our enforcement fees, costs and expenses relating to your instruction in full. This includes any sums that we would have been eligible to recover from any judgment debtor in respect of enforcement activities undertaken on your behalf before we knew the judgment had been set aside and our enforcement power ceased. Such fees, costs and expenses will be based on the original sum outstanding and calculated by reference to the sums chargeable for the enforcement stage reached in accordance with the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014. This applies whether or not the value of any goods taken control of is sufficient to cover those sums.

All fees for Writs of Control and Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (enforceable under Tribunals, Courts & Enforcement Act 2007 and Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013) are payable in accordance with Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014. In the event that you receive payment directly from any debtor you shall immediately inform us and any disbursements and/or fees due in accordance with Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014 shall be immediately payable. We will retain any sums recovered under a Writ of Control for at least 14 days, to comply with the requirements of the Insolvency Act 1986.

All fees for executing Writs of Possession, Writs of Delivery or Writs of Assistance are charged in accordance with the High Court Enforcement Regulations 2004 and/or hourly rates or agreed fees.

If you terminate your instruction for any enforcement instruction prior to its conclusion we reserve the right to charge you any fees to which we would have been entitled had the instruction been executed successfully, together with any expenses, disbursements and court fees we may have incurred as at the date of termination.

If you or any other relevant party postpone or cancel a proposed eviction within 24 hours of the proposed eviction, we reserve the right to charge 50% of any agreed fee or a minimum attendance fee equivalent to one hour per enforcement officer.

We reserve the right to charge for more than one attendance if deemed necessary by us whether for reasons of Health and Safety or situations outside our control.

Where you instruct us to provide third party security services, a minimum fee equivalent to 12 hours per officer will be chargeable.

Payment and costs in court proceedings

Payment of our account is your responsibility even if the Court orders another party to contribute to your legal costs. The amount of recoverable costs is a matter for argument and the Court's discretion. In many cases there is a delay between the order being made and the costs actually recovered.

The Court can make a costs order against any party at any stage of the proceedings. It is usual for a successful party to obtain a costs order against an unsuccessful litigant, but it must be appreciated that it is possible the Court will not make an order, or the other party may not be able to pay the costs awarded.

Even where a costs order is made, a successful enforcement creditor is likely to be left with a residual liability for costs. It is not correct to assume that if your action is successful, you will be relieved from all costs liability.

If action is needed to recover any costs, you will be responsible for our fees and expenses in respect of such recovery.

Complaints – enforcement services

Equivo sets the highest of standards for its enforcement services, whether we are recovering money or property. As High Court Enforcement Officers and Certificated Enforcement Agents we accept instructions from you as our client in your capacity as the claimant or creditor but we have a duty to maintain a position of neutrality.

If you wish to escalate a complaint you have already raised with the team member handling your matter or their supervisor or the relationship manager named in your client care and welcome letters or our service level agreement with you please contact Managing Director, Jonathan Chatfield, quoting your matter reference number at: Equivo Limited, The Lakes, Northampton, NN4 7HD or on telephone number 0343 290 0005 or by email to customer.relations@equivo.co.uk. Your complaint will be handled in accordance with our complaints statement, which is available at www.equivo.com/complaints or in another format at your request.

If we are unable to resolve your complaint within 8 weeks of receiving full details, you may have the right to refer it to either the High Court Enforcement Officers Association or to the Civil Enforcement Association or the courts as the governing bodies for High Court Enforcement Officers and Certificated Enforcement Agents. Further details are available in our complaints statement and will also be provided in our final response to you.

Legal Services

Our legal services include consumer finance debt litigation and recoveries, commercial debt litigation, debt recovery, asset backed lending litigation, mortgage recoveries and associated professional advisory services and are regulated by the SRA.

When we confirm specific instructions, we will ensure you are aware who will carry out the work, their level or status and hourly rate if applicable and who will supervise the work.

Complaints – legal services

If you wish to escalate a complaint you have already raised with the team member handling your matter or their supervisor or the relationship manager named in your client care and welcome letters or our service level agreement with you please contact Managing Director and Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP), James Taylor, quoting your matter reference number at: Equivo Limited, The Lakes, Northampton, NN4 7HD or on telephone number 0343 290 0005 or by email to customer.relations@equivo.co.uk. Your complaint will be handled in accordance with our complaints statement, which is available at www.equivo.com/complaints or in another format at your request.

If we are unable to resolve your complaint within 8 weeks of receiving full details, you may have the right to refer it to the Legal Ombudsman, which is an out of court complaints and redress scheme. Further details are available in our complaints statement and will also be provided in our final response to you.

In addition, you may have a right to object to a bill by applying to the court for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. The procedure for this is set out in sections 70, 71 and 72 of the Solicitors Act 1974.

Dispute Resolution Protocol

This section applies where we are providing legal services to you relating to litigation.

The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) define the duties that exist between the Court, lawyers, their clients and all those involved in litigation. The emphasis of the rules is to resolve the dispute wherever possible, with a trial being the last resort. If negotiations or other alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes fail, the Court has the overriding objective to deal with cases justly and at proportionate cost by:

  • ensuring that the parties are on an equal
  • saving
  • dealing with the case in ways which are proportionate to the:
    • amount of money involved;
    • importance of the case;
    • complexity of the issues;
    • financial position of each
  • ensuring a case is dealt with expeditiously and
  • allotting to a case an appropriate share of the court’s resources whilst taking into account the need to allot resources to other cases.
  • enforcing compliance with rules, Practice Directions and We need to work together when dealing with cases to ensure that the CPR are followed, and that we can achieve the best possible outcome. Failure to follow the CPR may result in costs, or other, sanctions being imposed, including the dismissal of your case.

In summary:

We must

You must

  • Work in your best interests to obtain the best result for you, whilst complying with the duties we owe to the Court and our professional conduct rules.
  • Advise as to the availability of alternatives to litigation, where appropriate.
  • Advise as to the appropriate way of funding litigation.
  • Advise about the consequences of litigation or any step in the proceedings, including as to costs.
  • Advise about offers of settlement and whether to make/accept them.
  • Give you the best information we can about the likely cost of proceedings, which will include provision for a costs budget, if applicable, and update you periodically.
  • Cooperate with the other party to the dispute in order to deal with the case at proportionate cost in line with the overriding objective.
  • Advise you of the result of Court hearings as soon as practicable, and within 7 days of an adverse cost order being made against you.
  • Provide details of the timetable laid down by the Court and any directions the Court requires you to comply with and explain in practical terms what you need to do.
  • Tell us what you want to achieve in the case and give us instructions as required throughout.
  • Provide us with all material information and documents, including electronic documents or other evidence, about the dispute.
  • Make enquiries within your organisation, or ask us to do so, so that the truth and accuracy of your claim can be verified.
  • Preserve all records of whatever nature relating to any issues in the case and take whatever action we advise is required to meet your disclosure obligations.
  • Help us obtain the co-operation and support of others who may have information or documents that are necessary for the case.
  • Provide us with whatever information, materials or instructions we require in time to enable us to meet the deadlines which are agreed between the parties or ordered by the Court.
  • Attend with us at Court proceedings or at a mediation or other form of dispute resolution process if requested.
  • Let us know your availability when fixing Court hearings and let us know if you or anyone upon whom your case depends is no longer available.

 

Payment and costs in court proceedings

Payment of our account is your responsibility even if the Court orders another party to contribute to your legal costs. The amount of recoverable costs is a matter for argument and the Court's discretion. In many cases there is a delay between the order being made and the costs actually recovered.

The Court can make a costs order against any party at any stage of the proceedings. It is usual for a successful party to obtain a costs order against an unsuccessful litigant, but it must be appreciated that it is possible the Court will not make an order, or the other party may not be able to pay the costs awarded.

Even where a costs order is made, a successful litigant is likely to be left with a residual liability for costs. It is not correct to assume that if your action is successful, you will be relieved from all costs liability.

If action is needed to recover any costs, you will be responsible for our fees and expenses in respect of such recovery.

If you have legal expenses insurance, you must claim against your insurer immediately as insurers will not usually cover our fees until they have accepted your claim and agreed to nominate us as their solicitors. You will still be responsible for our costs in any event and, if for any reason your insurer refuses to pay our costs, we will look to you for settlement. Please note that insurers rarely pay bills before completion of the case. Whilst we will try to agree interim payments with your insurer, if they refuse we must reserve the right to send interim invoices to you direct.

If you withdraw from an action, your opponent is usually entitled to an order from the Court for you to pay costs. You may be entitled to have those costs assessed. Only in exceptional cases will costs orders be made against unsuccessful parties in proceedings before tribunals and in these cases you should assume there will be no recovery of your costs, even if you are successful.

Duty of disclosure

In any action you have a duty of disclosure, which involves identifying and making available documents in your control which are relevant to the issues in the case. The precise disclosure obligation will depend on the type of proceedings and the orders made by the Court. It is very important, however, that as soon as litigation is in prospect, steps are taken to ensure that potentially disclosable documents are not destroyed. You should note that:

  • The meaning of documents is wide and includes anything in which information of any kind is recorded, such as emails, text messages, and computer files.
  • The disclosure obligation includes documents which might be damaging to your case.
  • The obligation continues until the end of the case.
  • You must not use any information disclosed to you in an action for any purpose outside of the action.