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This policy sets out how Shoosmiths LLP and Shoosmiths (Northern Ireland) LLP (Shoosmiths) applies interest in relation to funds held in our client bank account, in accordance with regulatory requirements. Shoosmiths is committed to compliance with its obligations under the SRA Standards and Regulations, the Law Society of Scotland Practice Rules 2011 and the Law Society of Northern Ireland Solicitors Accounts Regulations 2014.
Our interest policy seeks to provide a fair outcome for clients whilst recognising that money must be immediately available, unless clear instructions are received to the contrary.
As required under the regulations, Shoosmiths has to ensure that client money is kept safe and available for the purpose for which it is provided and separate from funds belonging to the firm.
Client money must be held in a client account as defined by the Banking Act. In doing this, funds are protected from being used to cover any liability to the bank by the firm.
There are two types of client account:
2.1 A general client account where the majority of client money is held. This is on an instant access basis to ensure immediate access to funds and means it is unlikely you will receive as much interest on money held as might have been obtained had you held and invested the funds yourself.
2.2 A designated client account. This account is set up specifically for an individual client and will include in its title a reference to your identity. These are sometimes set up when there are specific contractual requirements to do so.
3.1 Money held in a designated client account - we will account to you for all the interest earned on that account (net of any tax deducted at source).
3.2 Money held in a general client account (or money under our control which should have been held in a client account but was not) - we will account to you for interest when it is fair and reasonable to do so in all the circumstances having regard to the principles and practices as detailed below.
3.2.1 We will compound interest quarterly.
3.2.2 We will normally calculate and pay interest once your matter has been concluded, however there may be instances where it might be more appropriate to account for interest at intervals throughout the matter.
3.2.3 Due to regulatory requirements and administrative costs involved we will not pay interest if the sum calculated is less than £50 in total for the full period during which we hold your money in client account (less than £20 for cases falling under the Law Society of Northern Ireland jurisdiction).
3.2.4 We will retain interest paid to us by the bank on the aggregate of all client money held in the general client account.
3.2.5 We will not pay interest on money held:
a) For payment of a professional disbursement once counsel or other professional has requested a delay in settlement.
b) For the Legal Aid Agency.
c) On an advance from us into our general client account to fund a payment on your behalf in excess of funds already held for you in that account.
d) If there is an agreement to contract out of the provisions of this policy.
This policy will be reviewed from time to time to ensure that it continues to deliver a fair outcome to clients.
Interest will be calculated and paid by reference to applicable rates over the period for which we hold cleared funds.
Unless otherwise agreed, where we are conducting more than one matter for you, balances will not be aggregated for calculation purposes.