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TERMS AND CONDITIONS
NATURE OF SERVICES
Debt Adjusting and Debt Counselling Services (collectively called the Debt Negotiation Services or DNS)
Anti money laundering legislation All debt intermediaries must comply with onerous duties imposed by the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, the Terrorism Act 2000 and the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 (the “Anti Money Laundering Legislation”), which are intended to inhibit the activities of terrorists and other criminals by denying them access to technical expertise. If we fail to perform these duties, we risk imprisonment.
Before we accept your instructions, we may need to obtain ‘satisfactory evidence’ to confirm your identity. In certain circumstances, we may need to obtain evidence confirming the identities of third parties, the source of any funds or other property, the purpose of any instructions or any other matter. We may also need to obtain such evidence after we have begun to act on your instructions.
We assume that our clients are honest and law abiding. However, if at any time, there appear to be grounds to suspect (even if we do not actually suspect) that your instructions relate to ‘criminal property’, we are obliged to make a report to the National Crime Agency (“NCA”), but we are prohibited from telling you that we have done so.
In such circumstances, we must not act on your instructions without consent from NCA. If NCA do not refuse consent within 7 working days we may continue to act. If NCA issue a refusal within that time, we must not act for a further 31 days from the date of the refusal.
‘Criminal property’ is property in any legal form, whether money, real property, rights or any benefit derived from criminal activity. It does not matter who carried out the criminal activity or how removed the property is from the original crime. Even if you are honest in your dealings, if your property represents a benefit from someone else’s crime, we must still make a report.
Activity is considered ‘criminal’ if it is a crime under UK law, no matter how trivial For example, tax evasion is a criminal offence but an honest mistake is not. We will assume that all discrepancies are mistakes unless there is contrary evidence.
We do not hold money on your behalf. We can only accept monies for fees payable in relation to an issued quote and/or invoice.
Our fees are computed on the basis of time spent on your affairs and the responsibility and skill involved by the Directors and staff of this firm. Unless otherwise agreed as per Our Quote/Invoice, our fees will be charged separately for each main class of work mentioned above and will be billed at appropriate intervals during the course of the year.
Unless specifically agreed, payment of our invoices is due within 7 days from the date of the invoice.
Our terms relating to payment of amounts invoiced and not covered by standing orders, where appropriate, are strictly 7 days. Interest will be charged on all overdue debts at the rate for the time being applicable under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998.
In the event that the company is unable to meet its liability in respect of our outstanding fees as and when they fall due then the company’s directors would be personally, jointly and severally liable in respect of our outstanding fees.
COMMISSIONS OR OTHER BENEFITS
In some circumstances, commissions or other benefits may become payable to us in respect of introductions to other professionals or transactions we arrange for you, in which case you will be notified in writing of the amount, the terms of payment and receipt of any such commissions or benefits.
Any commission received will be paid to you unless we specifically agree a different basis of accounting for such commissions as appropriate to reflect charges for the relevant services provided by us.
OWNERSHIP OF RECORDS
In the event of non-payment of our fees for services rendered, we may exercise a particular right of lien over the books and records in our possession and withhold the documents until such time as payment of our invoice is received in full.
Whilst certain documents may legally belong to you, unless you tell us not to, we intend to destroy correspondence and other papers that we store which are more than six years old, other than documents which we think may be of continuing significance. If you require the retention of any document, you must notify us of that fact in writing.
We are committed to providing a high standard of customer service. If you have any ideas as to how our service to you could be improved, or if you are dissatisfied with the service you are receiving, please let us know. In the event that you have a complaint, we will look into this carefully and promptly and do all we can to explain the position to you or address your concerns. If you are still not satisfied you may of course make a complaint to the FCA.
All accounts, statements and reports prepared by us are for your exclusive use within your business or to meet specific statutory responsibilities. They should not be shown to any other party without our prior consent.
No third party shall acquire any rights pursuant to our agreement to provide professional services. Limitation of liability We will be liable to you for net losses, damages, costs or expenses (losses) caused by our gross negligence or willful default, except:
- we will not be liable if such losses are due to the provision of false, misleading, incorrect or incomplete information or documentation by you, our reliance on instructions provided by you, or due to any acts or omissions of any person other than Bell & Company;
- we will not be liable to you for accidental, incidental, indirect, special, punitive or consequential damages or for loss of profits or savings, even if Bell & Company has been advised of, knew or should have known of the possibility of such damage or loss;
- we will have no liability for any statements, representations, guarantees, conditions or warranties (together representations) arising from communications (oral or written) which are not expressly contained in this Agreement. All representations to exercise reasonable care or render our Services with due care and skill which may otherwise be implied by statute, common law or custom are expressly excluded; and
- the aggregate liability of Bell & Company, whether to you or any third party, of whatever nature, whether in contract, tort or otherwise, for any losses (including interest) whatsoever and howsoever caused arising from or in any way connected with this engagement shall not exceed 3 (three) times the fees invoiced under the engagement letter.
We will have no other liability of any nature, whether in contract, tort or otherwise, for any losses, caused, arising from or in any way connected with our engagement.
You agree that our liability for any and all loss or damage suffered by you (in aggregate) (whether direct, indirect or special) in connection with our engagement will be limited to the amount of professional fees paid to us for the Services or such other maximum amount as stated in our Engagement Letter. You agree to release us from all claims arising in connection with the Services to the extent that our liability in respect of such claims would exceed this amount.
If the Services were provided in respect of more than one financial year the fee on which the liability amount is based will be the fee paid in respect of the financial year in respect of which the act or omission occurred.
You agree that all claims against us, whether in contract, tort, negligence, equity or otherwise, must be formally commenced within two years after the party bringing the claim becomes aware (or ought reasonably to have become aware) of the fact which gave rise to the action and in any event no later than three years after any alleged breach of contract, tort, negligence, equity or other cause of action arises.
Where the Agreement applies to more than one Client, the limitation of liability contained in this clause must be allocated among these Clients. Such allocation is a matter to be resolved by those Clients.
NATURE OF SERVICES
A. DEBT ADJUSTING AND DEBT COUNSELLING SERVICES, COLLECTIVELY CALLED DEBT NEGOTIATION SERVICES (DNS)
Introduction These terms and conditions, together with the Letter of Engagement, constitute a binding contract between You and Us. Please read the terms before signing the Letter of Engagement. Bell & Company aims to ensure We are completely transparent in all of our dealings with You and Your Creditors.
1. Appointment and terms
1.1 You appoint Us and We agree to act on Your behalf, as debt advisers, to provide the Services to negotiate ‘Full and Final Settlements,’ ‘Short Settlements’ or ‘Partial Settlements.’
1.2 This Agreement will start when You return the completed Authority to Act Form, signed Letter of Engagement and the day when We receive the Initial Fee from You in Cleared funds.
1.3 This Agreement will continue for the Term, unless terminated earlier by You in accordance with clause 7 or by Us in accordance with clause 8 of these terms and conditions.
2. What We will do
2.1 Once this Agreement starts, based upon information provided by You, We will review Your income and expenditure and issue to You and Your Creditors a draft financial statement which We believe You can afford based upon the information that You have provided. We will endeavour to help You understand all of the options available to You and offer our Best Advice for Your circumstances.
2.2 Once We have received Your acceptance per 1.2, We will notify Your Creditors of our involvement and We will attempt to agree with them the following: We will in particular, attempt to persuade Your Creditors to accept a Full and Final Settlement, Short Settlement or Partial Settlement for Your debt.
2.3 You must notify Us immediately if Your circumstances change and You are unable to meet the agreed Payments set out in the DSP. In those circumstances We shall attempt to re-negotiate with Your Creditors and arrange with You a revised DSP.
2.4 You will pay Your Creditors within the terms of any Agreement reached.
2.5 If You fail to make Your Payment within the terms of a DSP agreement with Your Creditors, the DSP will be terminated in accordance with clause 8 of these terms and conditions. We will make all reasonable attempts to contact You via e-mail, phone and post before terminating the DSP.
2.6 We will provide the Service with reasonable skill, within a reasonable time scale, and We will use our skill and expertise to negotiate Full and Final Settlements, Short Settlements or ‘Partial Settlements on Your behalf. Despite our best endeavours, We cannot guarantee that Your Creditors will accept Settlements.
2.7 By entering into this Agreement, You agree that if We can arrange a Settlement, We will agree it on Your behalf.
3. What You will pay
3.1 We will charge You the amount stated on Our Quote for Services as an Initial Fee with the exception of clause 3.4 of these terms and conditions.
3.2 Where We successfully reduce a Debt, We will charge You 10% of the amount of the reduction agreed by Your Creditors or the agreed amount stated on Our Quote. We will be entitled to our Settlement Fee as long as it is not greater than the money We have saved You. If We are unable to agree a Settlement on a Debt, We will not charge You a Settlement Fee on that Debt. This does not include where an agreement has been rejected by You. Additional fees for work completed may be payable.
3.3 If a Full and Final Settlement, Short Settlement or Partial Settlement is agreed directly with a Creditor for any Enrolled Debt, You accept that our Services have led to that outcome and that You are still liable for our Settlement Fee.
3.4 All Fees are exclusive of value added tax (VAT). The provision of debt services where a fee is contingent on success are currently VAT exempt – though this position could change in the future. In that event We will notify You and amend Your DSP accordingly. All other fees are subject to VAT.
3.5 There is an Annual Maintenance Fee of £500. This will be invoiced twelve months from the date appoint Us if no Settlement has been agreed with Your Creditors. If You or Us chose to terminate Your DSP, You will not be entitled to a refund of Your last Annual Maintenance Fee.
3.6 If You chose to terminate the DSP within eighteen months from the signed date of the Letter of Engagement, there is a Cancellation Fee which is equal to the Initial fee.
4. How We handle Your money
4.1 All Payments will be for fees invoiced. We do not accept or hold money on your behalf.
5. What We won’t do
5.1 We will not lend You money or offer You any credit facilities.
5.2 We will not provide our Services in relation to rent (including rent arrears), utility bill payments (including arrears), council tax payments (including arrears), any other tax payments (including arrears), any fines (court appointed or otherwise), child support payments or any other Creditor that is not included in the DSP. Failure to maintain these payments could result in loss of access to essential goods or services and repossession, or eviction from Your home.
5.3 We do not give You any legal advice.
5.4 Whilst We will attempt to agree Payments with Your Creditors in accordance with clause 2 of these terms and conditions, We cannot stop Your Creditors from continuing to charge You interest, or applying any other related charges.
5.5 We will request that Your Creditors suspend any current recovery or legal action, or stop any future action, but We cannot guarantee that they will do so. Enforcement proceedings may include, but are not limited to, default notices and court action to recover the Debt. You may occur additional costs if Your Creditors chose to commence court action.
6. What You will do
6.1 You must provide Us with full and accurate information on the form that We provide to You. This should include, but is not limited to, Your income and outgoings, all Creditor details and details of all dependents. You must also provide Us with details of any outstanding judgments against You or any actual or threatened court action or proceedings.
6.2 You must make the agreed Payments in accordance with the DSP.
6.3 You must allow Us to negotiate on Your behalf with Your Creditors.
6.4 You must send Us originals or copies of all correspondence You receive from Your Creditors so that We can deal with them on Your behalf. Your correspondence will be scanned and stored by Us as an electronic image. The original paperwork will be destroyed. If originals are provided We can only return them to You if You request this prior to posting. If You ignore correspondence from Your Creditors it will likely result in an escalation of collection tactics including, but not limited to, increased contact and potential litigation.
6.5 During the DSP You should not make any payments directly to Your Creditors unless You have notified Us in advance. Nothing in this Agreement will stop You from communicating directly with Your Creditors.
6.6 You must send Us proof of your incoming and outgoings detailing the last 3 consecutive months, either as pay slips, or bank statements, at the earliest possibly opportunity.
6.7 You must inform Us if Your circumstances change. We will then contact Your Creditors and inform them of any changes to the DSP. If You are unable to maintain the Payments because of a change in your circumstances – or if there has been an improvement in Your circumstances that means you are able to increase Your Payments – you must inform us of any changes right away. We will then advise you of any changes to the DSP.
6.8 We will carry out a review of Your circumstances. We will contact You by phone, e-mail and post but if We are not able to contact You within the month We will notify Your creditors that We were not able to carry out a review and they may contact You directly for this information.
6.9 During the Term You do not incur any further Debts.
7. How You may end this Agreement
7.1 You will be given the opportunity to terminate the Agreement when You are informed of the total cost of the Services.
7.2 In the event that You agree to instruct Us to act for You, You are entitled to a fourteen day cooling off period from signing the Letter Of Engagement. If You pay over the telephone and make a Payment without seeing the Agreement, You are entitled to a fourteen day cooling off period from the date of first Payment.
8. How We may end this Agreement
8.1 We may terminate this Agreement by giving You written notice if You become bankrupt, file a bankruptcy petition or make an arrangement with Your Creditors generally including entering into an Individual Voluntary Agreement or a Debt Relief Order. In the event of termination under this clause We reserve the right to retain the Initial Fee and any other Fees as per clause 3 to 3.6 inclusive of these terms and conditions.
8.2 In the event of cancellation under this section We reserve the right to charge You any outstanding Fees, as if You had given notice of termination under clause 7 of these terms and conditions.
8.3 If We find that any of the information supplied by You to Us is, or is suspected to be, fraudulent or intentionally incorrect or incomplete, We will terminate Your DSP.
9. Effect of ending this Agreement
9.1 When this Agreement ends,
(a) Our duties and obligations under this Agreement will come to an end;
(b) Your liability to Your Creditors will continue to the extent that any amounts You owe to Your Creditors will remain outstanding over and above the Nominal Monthly Payments made to them under the DSP; and
(c) You may within 30 days of the end of this Agreement request Us to send You copies of all paperwork received from You or Your Creditors that has been retained by Us as a scanned image.
10. Other terms
10.1 We may assign, transfer or deal in any other manner within Our rights and obligations under this Agreement by giving You written notice. You may not assign, transfer or deal in any other manner within Your rights and obligations unless We consent in writing.
10.2 All notices sent under this Agreement are valid if sent by post to the address set out in the Agreement or to a valid email address supplied by You or Us. We will aim to respond within 7 working days. We will deem that You have received our communication if it is sent two days after posting or if sent by e-mail by 9am on the following day.
10.3 This Agreement sets out the entire Agreement and understanding between You and Us and supersedes all prior Agreements, understandings or arrangements (whether oral or written) relating to the provision of the Services.
10.4 We shall not be deemed in breach of this Agreement or otherwise liable to You if We are prevented or hindered from performing our obligations under this Agreement due to any reason or event beyond our reasonable control.
10.5 From time to time We may offer You an incentive for the referral of a new customer. This will be credited to Your Account if the referral is successful. The new customer must make their Initial fee payment. Any sums due to You under this clause will be credited to Your Account. This is not refundable and cannot be used to pay Your Creditors as a substitute for Your normal Payment.
10.6 If any part of these Terms of Business is found to be invalid or unenforceable, that part shall be deemed severed from our Agreement which will otherwise remain in full force and effect.
11.1 Any variation to this Agreement must be in writing between You and Us and will be valid if sent by post and will be deemed to be received two working days after posting.
11.2 We may vary Our terms and conditions from time to time. We will write to You and inform You of any changes with a minimum of thirty days’ notice.
12. What to do if You have a complaint
12.1 If You wish to register a complaint please contact Us either in writing to: The Complaints Manager, Bell and Company, 11 Rosemary Street, Belfast, BT1 1QF, by Phone: 028 9051 7047 or by e-mail to [email protected].
DEFINITION OF TERMS
“Agreement” the principle that both parties accept their responsibilities and duties under these terms of business.
“Annual Maintenance Fee” covers the cost of administering your financial statement, sending payment proposals to Your creditors, negotiating Payments, requesting that Your creditors freeze interest & charges, allocation of case adviser and client liaison officer.
“Best Advice” information and advice given that We believe will result in a Full and Final Settlement, Short Settlement, or ‘Partial Settlement.
“Cancellation Fee” is defined as one Monthly Payment.
“Cleared Funds” monies in the Client Account that can be drawn upon.
“Client Account” the account where monies are held on behalf of our clients, which is legally separate from, and is not used for, the purpose of our own business activities.
“Creditor” an individual or a businesses with whom You have a debt. “Debt” money owed to a person or business. “Debt Settlement Plan” referred to as “DSP”, any plan presented to Creditors. “Enrolled Debt” the total amount of money owed to all Creditors when You engage our Services or the highest figure if interest and charges are still being applied.
“Initial Fee” is to cover creating Your financial statement, sending payment proposals to Your creditors, negotiating Payments, requesting that Your creditors freeze interest & charges, allocation of case adviser and client liaison officer.
“Fees” means the Initial Fee, Settlement Fee or the Annual Maintenance Fee.
“Letter of Authority” refers to the document which gives authority for B&C to contact Your Creditors and discuss financial information on Your behalf.
“Letter of Engagement” means the document confirming that You have agreed to our Terms of Conditions of business.
“Payment Details” the method by which You choose to make Your Payment.
“Services” the services B&C provide under this Agreement.
“Settlement” is any Creditor accepting a reduced amount of money to clear the obligation in full. This is also known as “Short Settlement,” “Full and Final Settlement”, “Partial Settlement.”
“Settlement Fee” the fee taken from the Client Account when We agree a reduction to a Debt.
“Summary of Advice Letter” a document explaining why You have entered into this Agreement with Bell & Company, the likely cost and timescales. “Term” is the estimated likely period of the Agreement.
“Terms of Business” the terms and conditions of our service.
Definition of terms (continued)
“Us” and “We” and “Our” means Bell & Company which is a trading name of Solvendo Limited, whose registered address is 20-22 Wenlock Road, London, N1 7GU, Company Registration No 09448820, any third party company We nominate, any company within the group or anyone to whom We transfer our obligations and rights under this Agreement. “You” or “Your” is the person or persons entering into the Agreement named on the Letter of Engagement.