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Code of Practice

With every member bound by the Interleges Code of Practice, you will receive the same care and attention to your legal issues as the Interleges member gives to its local clients.

1. Background

1.1. Interleges was one of the original networks of its kind.

1.2. The following are the standards or practice code to which members are committed. These standards are intended to apply to

1.2.1. services provided to clients referred to another Member, whether or not they apply to that Member’s own clients. (Please note that another Member may be a client).

1.2.2. services provided to another Member, and

1.2.3. obligations by Members to other Members, the Executive Committee, and the Administrator.

2. Basic Standards

2.1. Legal services should be provided efficiently, economically and speedily.

2.2. The affairs of the referred client should be regarded as important as the affairs of the Member’s own clients and the affairs of the referred client shall be given the same priority by their own clients without any discrimination.

2.3. Unless the referred matter is dealt with by a partner or senior lawyer referred clients’ matters will always be supervised by a partner, even when another member of staff is handling them.

3. Dealing with the Client

3.1. The referred client will be informed of the name of the lawyer dealing with the matter. If the lawyer is not a partner, the client will be informed of the name of the partner with supervisory responsibility. The client will be advised of any changes and the reason for the change, should any change take place.

3.2. The referred client will, wherever possible, be provided with full information of the likely cost of their matter and will be told how payment will have to be made. Particular attention should be given to any estimates of costs and disbursements, and to keeping the referred client informed of any revisions.

3.3. Where two Members are collaborating together on the same matter, then the fee structure will be agreed and discussed before the collaboration commences. Prior to any fee or retainer being requested of a client, the fee structure for the matter will be discussed between the Referror and the Referee.

3.4. The referred client shall be informed, where appropriate, whether the anticipated outcome of their matter is likely to justify the legal costs involved.

3.5. The referred client will be provided with an estimate of how long their matter is likely to take to be completed, with updates and reasons for any updates. When first receiving instructions, the Member should inform the referred client of when they will next be in touch with the client.

3.6. The referred client shall be informed at all relevant times on all questions raised in their matters and how they are proposed to be dealt with.

3.7. The referred client will at regular intervals (at least three monthly) be informed of the progress of his matter or reasons for the lack of progress, and of the action being taken, and copies will be provided to the referror Member.

3.8. The referred client should at all times be informed of the action that the clients themselves should be taking.

3.9. The referred client should be informed when their matter has been completed and a report shall be provided to the client.

3.10. Telephone calls received from referred clients should be returned within no more than 24 hours; if the lawyer who has been telephoned is not himself/herself available to return the call, then the call shall be returned by an individual in the firm on his/her behalf informing the client of when the lawyer will be able to speak to the client.

3.11. Letters, faxes and e-mails received from referred clients shall be replied to within forty eight hours; again, if the lawyer in question is not available to deal with the letter/fax or e-mail, an acknowledgement should be sent by the firm informing the referred client when the lawyer will be providing a definitive response.

3.12. With regard to telephone calls, letters, faxes and e-mails from one Member of Interleges to another Member, the same times of response as in 3.10 and 3.11 above shall apply. In addition, if a request for general assistance or information is received by a named lawyer in one of the Member firms from another, and that named lawyer is not available to deal with the request, the other lawyers in the receiving Member’s firm have an obligation to deal with the request (in the absence of the named lawyer) as far as they are able. Requests for general assistance shall not be abused, ie unreasonable and excessive demands of the person making the request who shall consider the cost of providing that information.

3.13. Where a lawyer in a referee Member firm is dealing with a matter and for any reason is then absent from his/her office (whether for vacation, illness or otherwise), it is the responsibility of a referee Member to ensure that the matter continues to be dealt with by another lawyer in the referee firm unless the client otherwise requests.

3.14. If a conflict of interest arises or the referee Member does not have competence in the particular matter, he has a duty to inform the client immediately and wherever possible to recommend alternative legal assistance.

4. Complaints

4.1. Referred clients should be advised that in the unlikely event of any complaint they have about the services of the referee firm, the client should inform the referring Member firm; furthermore, in such cases, the referee firm also has an obligation to inform the referrer firm of the complaint.

4.2. If a referrer Member or client of a referrer Member has a complaint about a referee Member, the referrer Member shall notify the referee Member as soon as practicable. The referee Member shall answer such complaint within seven days.

4.3. If a referrer Member or client of a referrer Member has an unresolved complaint about a referee Member, the referrer Member has an obligation to advise the President or the Administrator of the complaint as soon as practical and (if the complaint is then resolved) the manner in which it was resolved.

5. Referrals

5.1. If a Member receives instructions from a foreign client who has not been directly referred by another Member, he shall have an obligation to ask the client the source of introduction. If it should have resulted from the client having received a brochure, or other Interleges marketing material, then this will be regarded as a referral and shall be recorded accordingly.

5.2. The referrer and referee Members shall both provide to the Administrator (in whatever form and with such frequency as the Administrator may require) referral reports on all cases referred.

6. Monitoring and Sanctions

6.1. The referee and referrer member shall procure the issue of a client satisfaction survey report at the conclusion of a matter to the Administrator wherever possible.

6.2. If there is a complaint, the President or Administrator on his/her behalf may, with the client’s consent and on a confidential basis, call for the file and the referee Member will be obliged (if requested) to provide a report to the Executive Committee.

6.3. The matter would be then considered on a confidential basis by the Executive Committee who would invite the referee member to answer any complaint orally or in writing.

6.4. The Executive Committee may by majority decide on the complaint and has power to issue a warning to the referee Member or to terminate the referee Member’s membership if it considers that the breaches of standards justify such action, taking into account any prior warnings if considered relevant. Any Member whose membership shall have been terminated under this provision may appeal to the next Annual Meeting of Members, which meeting may confirm or cancel the decision of the Executive Committee.

6.5. The Executive Committee may delegate to one of its members the right to monitor a Member’s procedures and that Member shall afford full facilities for this to be done.

6.6. Each member firm shall nominate a person within that firm as being responsible for Interleges matters, together with a deputy, and will promptly notify the Administrator of such nominations and any changes.