Alston & Bird (City) LLP (“Alston & Bird UK”, “we”, “us” and “our”) is a limited liability partnership registered in the US, but which practices in the UK. A list of names of the members is available for inspection at Alston & Bird UK’s offices at Octagon Point, 5 Cheapside, London, EC2V 6AA. Alston & Bird UK is connected with its affiliate in the U.S., Alston & Bird LLP, although they are two separate legal entities. The word “partner” denotes a member of Alston & Bird UK or an employee or consultant with equivalent standing and qualifications.
Alston & Bird UK is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority of England and Wales (“SRA”) with the SRA number 658074. The SRA Handbook 2011 sets out our professional and ethical rules and obligations, including the SRA Code of Conduct and SRA Accounts Rules, and can be viewed at www.sra.org.uk.
Information for our clients
We have set out below some additional information which we are obliged to provide to clients (as provided for in our standard Terms of Business).
Professional Indemnity Insurance
Pursuant to the disclosure requirements of the Provision of Services Regulations 2009, our primary layer professional indemnity insurer is Paragon International Insurance Brokers Limited, 140 Leadenhall St, London EC3V 4QT.
Financial Services and Markets Act 2000
Any advice which we provide is restricted to legal advice. We do not advise on the merits of financial products or investment transactions. No communication from us should be considered to be an invitation for you to engage in any kind of regulated investment activity.
We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (the “FCA”) under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (the “FSMA”). However as above, Alston & Bird UK is authorised and regulated by the SRA. The Law Society is a designated professional body for the purposes of FSMA, but responsibility for regulation and complaints handling has been separated from the Law Society’s representative functions. The SRA is the independent regulatory body of the Law Society and the Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints about lawyers registered in England and Wales. In light of this, we can provide investment-related services (including insurance distribution activities) if they are an incidental part of the professional services we have been instructed to provide, if they can reasonably be regarded as a necessary part of our professional services or if we are otherwise permitted to provide them under FSMA.
For the purpose of insurance distribution activities (broadly, advising on, selling and the administration of insurance contracts), we are listed on a register maintained by the FCA and are permitted by the FCA to carry on insurance distribution activities. This register can be accessed via the FCA website at www.fca.org.uk/register.
We may require clients to provide documents and information concerning the contracting client entity and related persons, entities or affiliates as set out, in order to comply with relevant anti-money laundering laws and regulations. We may be prevented from carrying out your instructions if we are unable to meet our requirements, which often include verifying the identities of your ultimate beneficial owners.
Where we have reasonable evidence to know or suspect that a transaction involves criminal proceeds, we may be required by law to make a disclosure, of otherwise confidential information, to the National Crime Agency (“NCA”). In this event, and where we have determined that is necessary to make a disclosure, we may not be able to inform you that a disclosure has been made or the reasons for it, and we may in such circumstances have to cease acting for you. We will tell you about any potential money laundering problem and explain what actions we may need to take but only where the law permits us to do so. We shall have no liability to you in relation to our duties to comply with such legislation.
Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013
If you have instructed us as an individual to act for you in your personal capacity (not in any business or professional capacity), under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, you have a 14-day cooling-off period during which you may decide to cancel your contract with us. If you expect us to provide advice and services during that 14-day period but also wish to cancel your contract during that period, you agree that you will be liable for any fees or expenses chargeable for legal advice and services incurred up to and including the date of cancellation. If you would like further information, including a template cancellation form, please contact us. Alternatively, any request to cancel your contract for the supply of our legal services in respect of your matter should be provided to us clearly in writing to the attention of the person with whom you are working or corresponding without delay.
Anti-bribery and corruption
It is our policy to always act in accordance with the highest professional, ethical and business standards, and we expect the same from our clients and their related persons, entities or affiliates. We have a zero-tolerance approach to bribery or corruption and you agree not to expect or request any conduct from us that might bring our name into disrepute or compromise our integrity and independence and that you or your related persons, entities or affiliates will refrain from any practices involving bribery or any other corrupt activities.
You are responsible for notifying us if you are providing us with information, or if we will be acting for you on matters, which constitute “inside information” in relation to your business. Upon such notification, we will maintain a list of persons employed by us who are acting on your behalf in connection with such a matter and who have access to relevant inside information.
We will take measures to ensure that every person is aware of their duties and the sanctions relating to the misuse or improper disclosure of inside information. You may ask us for a copy of the list at any time within five years from the date upon which the information ceases to be inside information.
Client audit and reference requests
Whilst we are not obliged to, we may at our discretion, respond to reasonable requests for information from a corporate client’s auditors if the directors of the company authorise us in writing to do so.
Any response we provide will be in accordance with the Law Society’s guidelines for dealing with audit letters. We will confirm the amount of any costs and expenses which are due to us, whether we are holding documents and, if so, whether they are held by us as security for our own costs. Non-specific enquires as to our awareness or otherwise of contingent liabilities or litigation or breach or potential breach of regulations and rules relating to the client’s business will not be answered. Where the directors have in writing estimated the amount of such liabilities on a specific matter in respect of which we are instructed, we may be prepared to comment upon the directors’ estimate if the directors so request. The time we spend responding to an audit letter will be charged at the appropriate hourly rate. We do not provide bank or other references.
If you wish to make a complaint about Alston & Bird UK then, in the first instance, please contact the person with whom you are working or corresponding to set out your concerns. We will do our best to resolve any issues at this stage and, if applicable, will confirm our complaints handling procedure in writing (which is available to clients at any time on request).
If you are not satisfied with our attempt to handle and resolve matters, you may be able to ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider the issue (write to: PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org; or phone 0300 555 0333). Any such complaint to the Legal Ombudsman should be done within six months of our final response to your complaint and within six years of the act or omission that caused the complaint or, if outside this period, within three years of when you should reasonably have known about the relevant act or omission.
The Legal Ombudsman may refer your complaint to the SRA if they are not the correct body to consider the matter, as the Legal Ombudsman’s services are only available for certain types of complaints and complainants. For full details, please see: https://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/helping-the-public/make-a-complaint/ and https://www.sra.org.uk/consumers/problems/report-solicitor.page.
Note also that if you are a client and your complaint is about our invoices, you may also apply to the court for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors’ Act 1974. If all or part of any bill remains unpaid, we may be entitled to charge interest.