Client money - bank and currency risks

Overview

This notice is addressed to any client, or third party, for whom we receive from, hold for or make available client money (as defined below). This notice applies to all offices of Bird & Bird which accept client money.

Legal Notices

The Legal Notices should be read as a whole. Certain words as used in the Legal Notices and elsewhere on this website, in emails and in other materials are to have the meanings assigned here.

Introduction - Warning - Bank and currency risks on client money

In relation to our receipt, holding of or payment of client money, we do not recommend or accept responsibility for the solvency of any particular bank, or any currency risks, and as lawyers it is not part of our duty to advise on these issues.  See below for limitations on our responsibilities in respect of such issues.

Meaning of client monies and client account

Where not restricted by Law, we may provide at our discretion facilities ("client account" facilities) in order to receive from, hold for and make available to a client or third party monies ("client money") related to a particular matter on which we provide our services.  

In this notice, "Law" means, in any jurisdiction, (a) any legislation, subordinate legislation and rules of law, (b) codes of conduct, regulations and rules which apply to solicitors and other lawyers and (c) any order of a court or arbitrator, or a direction of any Regulator, and includes a Law as amended from time to time.

Application

Not all offices of Bird & Bird receive or hold client money.  The following provisions may be disregarded in respect of any office which never does so.
In addition, the following provisions are subject to mandatory provisions of Law to the contrary and any express agreement in writing of a partner to the contrary.

Use of our bank account

Where we notify you of our client account, or other bank account, details you must keep them confidential in order to protect against abuse.  

Our client account must not be used in lieu of banking services.  We may decline to make payments from our client account unless we are satisfied that they are duly authorised.  

You must only use our bank account details for payments which we request or which are arranged between us.  

Generally, we only accept payments to us of client money by bank transfer and not by cheque.  We do not accept payments in the form of bank notes or other valuables.  

Source of money

We ask you to give us advance notice of all receipts to our client account on your behalf  and the reasons for such receipts.  For the purpose of compliance with Law we may ask for details of the source of any money paid, or to be paid, to client account.  If you are not the source of the money we reserve the right to request evidence of the identity of the payer.  We may be restricted in returning to you or dealing with such money until all such enquiries are completed.  Any receipts which are not expected and/or are not identifiable may be returned to the sender or held pending investigation. 

Client accounts

Client money will generally be placed in a general client account, deposit account or money market account with a financial institution of our choice authorised to carry on banking business with which we have general arrangements.  In some jurisdictions client money is required by Law to be held under the control of the relevant bar association.

Risks and limitations on our responsibilities

We may request that you pay us client money, or if you so request we may agree to your doing so, whether to complete a matter or otherwise; if we do so, we do not recommend or accept responsibility for the solvency of any particular bank, or any currency risks, and as lawyers it is not part of our duty to advise on these issues.  If you desire such advice please approach a financial adviser.  If you wish to transfer funds to us, you may, by arrangement, transfer them to our client account, details of which we will provide, or we may arrange with you for us to use or set up some other account at your expense, on the understanding that in either case the solvency risk of the bank and currency risks rest with you rather than us.    

Generally we will place client money in a client account in the same jurisdiction as the Bird & Bird office to which the client money is paid.   Payment to such client account will generally be denominated in the currency in which the money is received by us. Any obligation which we have to you in respect of the return of the client money shall be satisfied by our return to you (or paying to a third party on your request) of such amount as is made available to us by the relevant bank in respect of the client money (the "return funds") and in the currency in which the return funds are made available to us by the bank, even if (for example, by virtue of any insolvency of the bank or change in the national currency of any state) the amount and/or currency of the return funds is different from the currency of the original client money. 

Additionally, we will not be responsible for any failure or delay in effecting any payment if this results from (a) the failure or malfunction of a payments system in any country, (b) the imposition of any form of exchange controls or similar regulations in any country or (c) any other matter or occurrence beyond our control which renders it unlawful or impracticable for the necessary client money transfer to be made. In such an event, and subject to the matters noted above, we will instruct our bank to make the required payment available as soon as it becomes reasonably practicable to do so.

The same principles shall apply to any client money held under the control of the relevant bar association and to any obligation we have to pay interest to you on the funds.  

If you wish to make special arrangements we will be happy to discuss these with you.

As a client or third party, in making a payment of client money to us, or entering into arrangements with us to hold client money for you, or make available client money to you, you are deemed to agree to the risks and limitations on our responsibility as set out above.   The scope of our duties and our obligations and liabilities to you, shall be limited accordingly.

As mentioned, the above provisions are subject to mandatory provisions of Law to the contrary and any express agreement in writing of a partner to the contrary.

Invoice payment terms

We reserve the right to charge you for any losses incurred on foreign currency expenses as a result of changes in the exchange rates between the date of our rendering our invoices and the date of payment.

Governing law and regulation

The terms of this notice shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, English law, except, where the relevant client money is paid to an office of Bird & Bird in some other jurisdiction than England and Wales or the United Arab Emirates, in which case they shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the Law of that jurisdiction, with the further exception that in relation to any client money paid to Bird & Bird in both the People's Republic of China and Hong Kong such terms shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the Law of Hong Kong.

With lawyers, patent attorneys and tax advisers drawn from a variety of jurisdictions, Bird & Bird and its partners, consultants and employees are subject to professional regulations applicable in the jurisdictions in which Bird & Bird practices and, if different, the jurisdictions in which individuals are admitted to practice. Such professional regulations may have provisions which apply to client money. Links to the regulatory position around the world are set out in the pages linked from here.

Client money interest policy

For other terms on which we pay an amount representing interest on client money held by our London office click here.


Questions

If as a client or third party, for whom it is proposed that, or from whom, we receive from, hold for or make available client money you have any queries, please contact the partner with whom you are dealing on the relevant transaction or case.