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Terms of Engagement

The following are our standard Terms of Business upon which we shall carry out all professional work on your behalf. These provisions are designed to assist us in providing you with an efficient and effective service and will form the basis of our on-going relationship.


This statement sets out our standard terms of business for providing legal services and is in addition to any engagement letter that we may have sent to you.  Unless otherwise agreed in writing, these terms represent our agreement with you.  We ask that you review this statement carefully and contact us promptly should you have any questions.

Elkington and Fife LLP aims to provide a high quality and reliable service and to comply with the requirements of our regulators, the Intellectual Property Regulation Board (“IPREG”).  

Our Principal:

If we receive instructions from you, we will treat you as our principal and you will be responsible for the payment of all of our fees, even if you represent a third party.  By agreement, we may accept instructions from another party, for example a related company, but unless we agree otherwise you will remain wholly responsible for our charges.

How we charge:

We charge on the basis of standard service charges for specified actions combined with a time charge based upon the hourly rate of the fee earner handling the work.  We will attempt to allocate work to an appropriate fee earner according to the complexity of the matter in question, but we reserve the right to have work conducted by another fee earner with a higher charging rate, dependent upon availability or absence of other fee earners from the office.  Further information about our fees is set out in our Schedule of Fees, which is available upon request.

You are responsible for the payment of all costs incurred in pursuance of your instructions.  These may include our charges (both charges for time taken by professional staff and standard charges), Intellectual Property Office fees, foreign attorneys’ fees, search costs, translation costs, travel expenses, photocopying, telephone and facsimile costs, and courier charges.  Where required, VAT will be added at the prevailing rate.  In relation to work conducted other than before the UK Intellectual Property Office, European Patent Office, or Community Trade Marks Office, we will instruct such work though foreign attorneys and you will be liable for the fees and any relevant national offices official fees in relation to such work.

Payments in Advance:

You may be asked to deposit funds with us as an advance payment for work to be undertaken.  In the event that it appears that our fees and other charges will exceed the balance of the amount deposited with us, then we may request an additional advance.  Unused balances of any advance payments will be refunded to you when the relevant matter has been concluded. 

In the normal course of events, any funds held by us on your account will be held in a current account which will not pay interest.  However, in the event that any interest is paid, we are not liable for payment of such interest to you.


On request, we may provide an estimate of likely costs.  However, such estimates are for guidance only and final charges may be higher or lower than the estimates.  We will inform you if we become aware that such estimates are likely to be inaccurate.


Please take careful note of any deadlines given in our correspondence.  Failure to meet such deadlines may result in loss of rights or incur additional costs.  If we do not receive written instructions in good time we shall take the absence of these instructions as an implicit instruction not to take action.  

Instructions to us should be in writing.  We may accept oral or emailed instructions, but clients should ensure that we have received and understood such instructions in good time before any due dates.  If we receive oral instructions, we will send to you a written note confirming the instructions received or make a note of the instructions for our file to avoid any potential confusion for the future.  We reserve the right to charge on a time basis for the preparation of such communications / notes.

We cannot accept responsibility for acting on instructions sent by e-mail or other means that fail to arrive.  We shall have no liability for any misunderstanding or misinterpretation on either side resulting from oral instructions.  Oral advice or views expressed by us by telephone should be regarded as being only a preliminary opinion.  No action should be taken without obtaining a written opinion from us after a full consideration of the facts.

Our offices are open from 9.15am to 5pm Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays.  Mail, faxes and e-mail received after these hours will not, without prior arrangement, receive attention until the next working day.

Instruction of Third Parties to act on your Behalf:

In carrying out your instructions, it may be necessary for us to instruct third parties (e.g. foreign attorneys, solicitors, search firms) to act on your behalf.  You are entitled to select such third parties or you may allow us to select them.  In either case, you accept that such third parties are not part of this firm and that we are not liable for any losses or costs arising as a result of any default or negligence on the part of such third parties.  Invoices from foreign attorneys are likely to be in a currency other than Pounds Sterling.  To meet our costs in processing foreign currency payments, we apply a 6% uplift to the midrate between the NatWest Commercial Bank buy and sell rates of the day where the invoice is not in the same currency as our costs, except for conversions between Pounds Sterling and Euros.


Any information given to us that might reasonably be expected to be of a confidential nature, or that you inform us is confidential, will be treated as such except where disclosure is required and permitted by law or by you.  Information and materials given to us will be kept under conditions of normal office security.

Terms of Payment:

Payment of our invoices is due within thirty days of the date of the invoice, unless otherwise agreed in writing.  We reserve the right to charge interest on any amount not settled within thirty days (at a rate no higher than that set by the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act of 1998, as amended or superseded).  We may agree a credit limit with you.  In the event of you having an overdue account, or an account which exceeds the credit limit, we have the right to cease any further work for you even if this results in the loss of your rights.


Our services may be terminated either by you or by us by sending notice in writing, such termination to become operative from the date of receipt of that notice.  A fee note will be rendered for any outstanding charges.  In the event of termination, we reserve the right to cease sending third party communications to you as a former client upon written reasonable notice.


We expect our business relationship with you to run smoothly but if any problems arise which cannot be resolved between you and your usual contact at Elkington and Fife LLP we have a written complaints procedure which we can forward to you upon request.  If after this you remain dissatisfied, our firm is subject to the rules of conduct of IPREG which can be accessed from that organisation’s website.  A complaint can be made to IPREG.  There is also a right to make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman, if you are (1) an individual or, in certain circumstances, the personal representative or residual beneficiary of the estate of an individual or (2) an enterprise with fewer than 10 staff and a turnover or balance sheet value not exceeding €2 million or (3) ;a Charity, club, association or society whose annual income is less than £1 million or a trust whose net asset value is less than £1 million.  A complaint to the Legal Ombudsman needs to be made within one year of the act or omission or the date when you reasonably would have become aware of this. .

Retention of information:

Our files both in paper and electronic form and their contents will remain our property at all times.  Copies may be provided, but we reserve the right to make a charge for copying and to withhold any documents that we regard as being confidential.  Following the closure of a file, it may be destroyed after an appropriate period.  Our written file retention / destruction policy can be forwarded to you upon request.  We retain copyright and other rights in documentation prepared by us.

Exclusion of Liability:

The performance of its obligations to you is the responsibility of Elkington and Fife LLP alone and you agree that no liability whatsoever shall attach to the members of the firm, its employees or its consultants.

Receipt of Consent Requests and other third party correspondence:

From time to time, we may receive unsolicited correspondence from third parties relating to any applications or registrations or other matters that we are handling on your behalf.  Such correspondence may include for instance requests from third parties for the provision of consent to a later filed trade mark application where you have a prior conflicting trade mark application or registration.  We will forward copies of this correspondence to you.

Where appropriate, we will forward the correspondence to you without charge.  However, we may receive communications where, because of the urgency of the matter or otherwise, for example relating to oppositions against your own registered rights, we need to advise you and, unless we have agreed to the contrary, you will be responsible for all our fees and costs incurred in the forwarding of such correspondence and any advice given in relation to the same.


Any searches that you request may be carried out by us, by national offices, or by an independent specialist searching firm.  You will be liable for any disbursements incurred.  Due to the limitations and occasional errors in classification, indices, computer databases and official records, no search can be guaranteed for comprehensiveness or accuracy.  We shall endeavour to point out any particular limitation when reporting the search results and may recommend extending the search.  An explanation of the limitations to our trade mark searches is provided on our website.

Patent, Design and Trade Mark Renewal Services:

Unless you instruct us to the contrary, any renewals of patents, design or trade mark registrations will be handled for you through CPA Global (CPA), which is the largest intellectual property renewals service in the world.  Further information about the renewal of such rights through CPA is set out on CPA’s website.  Please note that we are not liable for any action conducted by CPA on your behalf.

Transfer of Work:

If instructed to transfer work to another firm, we are normally willing to make the contents of our files available to the new firm, but always provided that no payments are outstanding.  We reserve the right to make a charge for copying the contents of files and to withhold any documents that we regard as being confidential.