Skip to main

Sterling de Zuk Terms of Business



1 Introduction

  • Our professional rules of conduct require us to set out the basis on which we, Sterling de Zuk Divorce & Finance Specialist Limited, will do business with you, the client.
  • In order to do this we provide you with:

1.1.1 a letter of engagement setting out the services we have agreed to provide for you; and

1.1.2  our terms of business, which provide much more detail about the terms on which we provide our services.

1.2 Both documents should be read carefully and in conjunction with one another. Collectively they form the agreement between us and in the case of conflict, our letter of engagement will override our standard terms of business.

1.3 Unless otherwise agreed in writing, our terms of business apply to any instructions you give us, including any future instructions. We may change our terms and conditions of business from time to time and these will be updated on our website.

1.4 We require you to sign and return the ‘Confirmation of Instructions’ sheet before we are able to act on your behalf. By signing it, you are agreeing to be bound by these terms of business and the letter of engagement.

1.5 Should you not return a signed Confirmation of Instructions your continuing instructions will in any event indicate your agreement to be bound by the terms of business and the letter of engagement.

2 Sterling de Zuk Divorce & Finance Specialist Limited

2.1 Any references to ‘the firm’, ‘we’, ‘our’ or ‘us’ in the letter of engagement or these terms of business is a reference to Sterling de Zuk Divorce & Finance Specialist Limited.

2.2 Sterling de Zuk Divorce & Finance Specialist Limited (Sterling de Zuk) is a limited company registered at Companies House, company number 15366224 and registered address First Floor Office, 3 Horton Place, London W8 4LZ . Sterling de Zuk place of business is The Colony, Altrincham Road, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 4LY. This means that your agreement for the provision of legal services is with Sterling de Zuk.

2.3 Mark Thomson is the sole Director of Sterling de Zuk and he is a solicitor and registered to practice as a solicitor by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). Mark Thomson’s SRA number is 145705. Mark Thomson is required to act in accordance with the SRA Standards and Regulations which can be found at Sterling de Zuk is not registered with the SRA and is not a regulated law firm. Sterling de Zuk is the trading name of Mark Thomson.

2.4 All opinions, advice and services provided to you are provided by Sterling de Zuk, and all liability is the sole responsibility of the firm.

3 Sterling de Zuk 

3.1 Mark Thomson is a fully qualified practicing solicitor and registered with the SRA. However, Sterling de Zuk is not regulated by the SRA. This is because Sterling de Zuk provides services to clients which are unregulated services.

3.2 A benefit of not being regulated by the SRA is that Sterling de Zuk does not need to have Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) cover and Sterling de Zuk does not have PII cover. PII is an expensive cost to the business and without it Sterling de Zuk is able to provide legal services at a competitive price.

3.3 To find a law firm which is regulated by the SRA contact the SRA on 0370 606 2555 (from 8.00am to 5.00pm).

4 Our services

4.1 We are committed to providing you with an effective and personal service that enables us to meet your objectives. Whenever we receive a communication from you, we will aim to respond as soon as possible. Our standard of service is to respond to your communication by close of business the same day if possible even if it is just to acknowledge receipt and to arrange for a follow up call or email.

4.2 We realise that a legal relationship is a two-way process. We would ask you to provide us with any information that we request as soon as you are able, and if it is likely that you will be unavailable for a period of time, please let us know. We also require your most up-to-date contact details, so that we can contact you urgently if needed.

4.3 We would ask that you respect our staff and treat them with courtesy at all times, just as we will treat you with courtesy and respect.

4.4 Our usual office hours are between 9.30am and 5.30pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

5 Exclusion of liability

5.1 We assume no liability to any third party that may use, rely upon or be given access to the advice provided to you by us or any documents created by us on your behalf.

5.2 Equally, we accept no liability for the acts or omissions of third parties who we may instruct on your behalf or otherwise or to whom we may refer you.

5.3 If we are prevented by circumstances beyond our reasonable control from providing our services, we will immediately notify you of the nature and extent of such circumstances. If, as a result of those circumstances, we are unable to meet any deadline or complete the services by any estimated completion date, or at all:

5.3.1 such failure on our part will not constitute a breach of the agreement between us;
5.3.2 we will not be otherwise liable to you for any such failure to the extent that it is attributable to any such circumstances notified to you; and
5.3.3 any estimated date for completion of the services may be extended accordingly.

5.4 We shall not be responsible for any failure to provide services on any matter that falls outside the scope of our engagement and shall have no responsibility to notify you of, or the consequence of, any event or change in the law (or its interpretation) that occurs after the date on which the relevant service has been provided

5.5 We shall not be liable for any:

5.5.1 indirect loss;
5.5.2 damage;
5.5.3 loss of profit;
5.5.4 loss of income;
5.5.5 loss of anticipated savings;
5.5.6 loss of production or accruals arising under any circumstances whatsoever, whether in contract, tort, negligence, for breach of statutory duty or otherwise and howsoever caused.

6 Charges and expenses

6.1 The fees and costs given in our letter of engagement are based on our experience of dealing with similar matters, or are based on our best estimate of the likely amount of professional time incurred. In some circumstances we may need to revise our estimate, for example, if your instructions change, matters become complex, we enter into prolonged correspondence, or unforeseen or exceptional circumstances arise. We will discuss and agree in advance any proposed variation to our fees with you. If we cannot agree a revised figure or you then do not wish us to continue working for you, we will invoice you for the work and disbursements to that date.

6.2 Unless we agree a fixed fee for specified work, our fees (plus VAT) are calculated by hourly rates. Time is charged to the nearest minute. We may also charge (as a profit cost as opposed to a disbursement) for copying, printing and media production, conference call facilities, money laundering checks and handling bank transfer fees. We will charge for all expenses e.g. court fees and counsel’s fees we incur. You will be charged for all time spent on the file (including telephone calls, emails and travelling).

6.3 If you are not on a fixed fee for specified work, the hourly rate you are charged will be as follows:

Please note the first meeting (limited to one hour) in person at our Wilmslow office or remotely is FREE.

Sterling de Zuk runs a paperless office where possible. Letters will be delivered to clients by email unless prior arrangements have been made for a client to receive letters by post.


i) Hourly charging rate for work carried out by a Principal Lawyer on your case: £350 per hour + vat
ii) Cost for drafting a letter (one page): £35.00 + vat
iii). Cost of a telephone call (10 minutes maximum): £35.00 + vat
iv) Cost of an email (short email 10 minutes maximum time spent drafting): £35.00 + vat
v) Hourly charging rate for attending court: £350 + vat
vi) Hourly charging rate for travel: £175 + vat
vii) Travel expenses: £0.45 + vat per mile


6.4 Our hourly rates are reviewed from time to time and you will be notified of any revised rate in advance of it being applicable to your instructions. If you have a query about the rates involved, please contact the person with overall responsibility for your matter.

6.5 Without limitation, our fees may be based on:

6.5.1 how much time we spend dealing with a case;
6.5.2 the amount or value of any money or property involved;
6.5.3 the particular complexity of the matter or the difficulty or novelty of the questions raised;
6.5.4 the skill, effort, specialised knowledge and responsibility involved;
6.5.5 the urgency of the work undertaken.

6.6 We require you to provide us with money on account of costs prior to any work being undertaken or disbursements incurred on your behalf. Any money we hold on your behalf will be placed in our client bank account and may be used to discharge any future invoices we raise or to pay disbursements which have been incurred on your behalf.

6.7 Unfortunately, we cannot accept any cash payments.

6.8 Please note that, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, we cannot receive any funds from you until such point as we are satisfied as to your identity.

6.9 If a third party undertakes, guarantees or indemnifies us to pay fees and expenses on your behalf and the third party fails to make payment in full for any reason, without prejudice to any claim we have against that third party, you will be responsible for paying any and all sums outstanding.

6.10 You must inform us immediately if you are made subject to a bankruptcy or insolvency proceedings or declared bankrupt or you are looking to enter into an Individual Voluntary Arrangement or a Company Voluntary Arrangement with creditors.

7 Payment of our invoices

7.1 Without prejudice to any alternative arrangement, payment of our invoices is your responsibility.

8 Invoicing arrangements

8.1 On taking your instructions we will confirm in writing what your instructions are. We will estimate the cost of delivering the legal services regarding those instructions and we will estimate the cost to you. We will issue a proforma invoice and request payment. Upon receipt of payment the monies will be paid into client account with Tide Bank sort code 04-06-05 account number 21654702. Once the work has been completed we will send to you a further invoice and the monies on account in client account will be transferred to our office account at Tide Bank sort code 04-06-05 account number 22520338.

8.2 Payment of our proforma invoice is due on delivery and is not conditional upon any event or outcome. Should your matter not proceed, we reserve the right to render an invoice for the time incurred on the matter, plus VAT and any disbursements. You remain responsible for our fees even if you have an agreement or court order that someone else is to pay your costs.

8.3 You can pay our invoices by credit card (not American Express), debit card or bank transfer. Please ensure that all payments are marked with the invoice number.

8.4 Should you fail to pay any of our proforma invoice, we not carry out any of the work constating your instructions. This applies equally where an important court date is forthcoming and failure to comply with the court date may prejudice your case.

9 Holding client money

9.1 We pay interest on money we hold for you in accordance with our policy on client interest. A copy of this policy is available on request or alternately is available on our website.

10 Counsel

10.1 The firm may, in consultation with you, instruct counsel for advocacy and specialist advice if we consider it appropriate. Counsel’s fees plus any VAT will be invoiced to you, but we will require money on account of counsel’s fees before counsel can be instructed.

11 Conflict of interests

11.1 As far as we are aware, there is no conflict of interest to prevent us from acting for you. If such a conflict arises or we become aware of a conflict we will contact you to discuss this. If a conflict does arise then we may have to cease acting for you.

12 Joint instructions

12.1 Where we provide services to two or more persons jointly each agrees (unless and until specific written notification is given to us to the contrary) we may rely and act upon the instructions of one only of these persons. If joint instructions are provided to us all persons instructing us will be jointly and severally liable for our fees.


13 Third party disclosure

13.1 We are required to keep your matters confidential. External organisations such the SRA may conduct audit or quality checks on the firm from time to time. Such organisations may wish to audit or quality check the file and related papers in connection with your matter for these purposes. We will require that these external organisations maintain confidentiality in relation to any files and papers which they audit or check. In certain circumstances we may be required to disclose matters to third parties authorised under the Solicitors Act 1974 or other statute, or pursuant to a court order.

14 Communications

14.1 We will keep you informed of progress on your matter by making regular contact with you or by any other means as agreed with you from time to time. This may include sending you copies of relevant correspondence, or sending you copies of attendance notes of conversations or meetings.

14.2 As part of managing our client relationships, we may also wish to meet with you (or contact you by telephone) from time to time to review the work that we are doing on your behalf.

15 Email

15.1 We will use email in connection with your affairs. Although every effort is made to ensure that emails only go to the correct addressee and all emails carry the appropriate security notices, email is not a secure medium and it is possible that confidential information may pass to people for whom it was not intended. If you provide us with an email address or communicate with us by email we will take this to mean that you are happy for us to communicate with you in this medium and accept the risks that this may pose. If you do not wish us to use email in connection with your affairs, please inform the person conducting your matter.

16 Money laundering

16.1 We are professionally and legally obliged to keep your affairs confidential. However, solicitors are be required by statute to make a disclosure to the National Crime Agency where they know or suspect that a transaction may involve money laundering or terrorist financing. If we make a disclosure in relation to your matter, we may not be able to tell you that a disclosure has been made. We may have to stop working on your matter for a period of time and may not be able to tell you why.

16.2 It is a condition of your retainer with the firm, both in relation to your current instructions and any future instructions, that you assist us as far as you are able to comply with our duties under the legislation and that you agree to meet all the costs and disbursements incurred thereby. We also reserve the right to refuse to act for you, or to cease acting for you, if our Money Laundering Reporting Officer determines that we have not been provided with sufficient information to be satisfied about the integrity of a person or transaction.

16.3 If we feel that it is appropriate to report the matter to the authorities we may have to stop work on the matter immediately. You agree to waive any losses.

16.4 You should not send any funds to us until you have provided us with evidence (to our satisfaction) of your identity, nor pass our bank account details to any third party without our prior written approval. If you do, we may have to cease work.

17 Identification (for regulatory purposes)

17.1 All law firms in England and Wales are subject to stringent regulations concerned with the prevention of money laundering. We are required to identify all new clients, even those introduced by people already known to us. We are also required to renew the identity documents of existing clients every three years, unless a matter is ongoing.

17.2 Under the money laundering regulations, the type of identity verification documents we are required to obtain are as follows:

  • photographic ID such as a passport or photocard driving licence
  • proof of residence, such as a recent utility bill or bank statement (issued within the past three months)

17.3 We reserve the right to charge for any searches required to confirm your identity. Our charges vary depending the particular search that is being conducted. We will advise you in advance if we propose to undertake such a search and its related charge.

18 Data protection

18.1 We use your personal data primarily to provide legal services to you, but also for related purposes as described in our Privacy Policy available on request or on our website.

18.2 Our use of your personal data is subject to your instructions, the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR), other relevant UK legislation and our professional duty of confidentiality.

18.3 Sterling de Zuk is a data controller for the purpose of the UK GDPR and other relevant data protection legislation. We have nominated Mark Thomson as the firm’s representative for the purpose of the UK GDPR.

18.4 We take your privacy very seriously. Please read our Client Privacy Notice carefully as it contains important information on:

18.4.1 what personal data we collect about you and how that data is collected;
18.4.2 how, why and on what grounds we use your personal data;
18.4.3 who we share your personal data with;
18.4.4 where your personal data is held and how long it will be kept;
18.4.5 whether your personal data may be transferred out of the European Economic area and, if , the measures taken to protect that data;
18.4.6 your rights in relation to the personal data we hold or use;
18.4.7 the steps we take to secure your personal data;
18.4.8 how to make a complaint in relation to our use of your personal data; and
18.4.9 how to contact us with any queries or concerns in relation to your personal data.

19 Intellectual property and copyright

19.1 During the course of our retainer we may pass documentation or other materials to you in connection with the services being provided to you. These documents or materials may carry intellectual property rights owned or licenced by this firm and under no circumstances shall any intellectual property rights be transferred to you.

19.2 The copyright in any documents drafted by us on your behalf belongs to us and will not be transferred to you without an agreement in writing. Nothing in this clause shall affect your right to control the documents drafted for you

19.3 From time to time, we may use the documents created in relation to your matter as a template for later documents (“precedents”). Precedents may be stored in paper form or as part of an electronic system to which all staff have access. Before any documents are kept as precedents, they are edited to ensure that they do not include any private or confidential information

20 Waiver

20.1 If we fail or delay to exercise any right or remedy in respect of this agreement or our retainer, that shall not constitute a waiver of that or any other right or remedy, nor shall it prevent or restrict any further exercise of that or any other right or remedy.

21 Severance

21.1 If any provision or part-provision of our agreement is or becomes invalid, illegal or unenforceable, it shall be deemed modified to the minimum extent necessary to make it valid, legal and enforceable. If such modification is not possible, the relevant provision or part-provision shall be deemed deleted. Any modification to or deletion of a provision or part-provision under this clause shall not affect the validity and enforceability of the rest of this agreement.

22 Relationships with third parties

22.1 It is sometimes necessary for us to ask parties outside the firm for advice in connection with your instructions. We will notify you if this occurs and tell you about the advice or information being sought as well as any charges (if applicable). If you have any preference for a particular third party please notify us. Whilst we take care in the appointment of third parties we cannot be 24.2responsible for the contents of their reports, advice or their performance.

23 Complaints

23.1 We understand that occasionally issues may arise with communication and mistakes can be made. If at any time you are not happy with the service provided to you we refer you to the firm’s complaints procedure a copy of which will have been sent to you at the beginning of your case and also can be viewed on the firm’s website

24 Storage of papers and documents

24.1 Sterling de Zuk operates where possible a paperless office and once a matter is complete we will store your file electronically.Once a matter is completed, it is the firm’s policy to retain the file in hard copy . Retained files in electronic form are kept for at least six years from the date your matter or matters are finalised. The file will be kept on the understanding that we have the authority to destroy it following the expiry of six years.

Note that there is no charge for the retrieval of a file in connection with a subject access request under UK GDPR/Data Protection Act 2018.

25 Banks and other financial institutions

25.1 We are not and shall not be liable to you or to any other person for any:

25.1.1 loss;
25.1.2 costs; or
25.1.3 liability,
whatsoever caused by the:
25.1.4 act;
25.1.5 omission;
25.1.6 fraud;
25.1.7 delay;
25.1.8 negligence;
25.1.9 insolvency; or
25.1.10 default,
of any:
25.1.11 bank;
25.1 12 financial institution; or
25.1.13 clearing or payments system or of any regulatory, governmental, or supra-national body or authority or of their directors, officers, employees, agents or representatives.

26 Tax avoidance schemes

26.1 If you inform us of or we become aware of a tax avoidance scheme, we may be required by law to notify this to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). In order to comply with our obligations we reserve the right to notify HMRC if we believe it appropriate. We will not advise you in relation to any course of action which could be regarded as being abusive within the meaning of the Finance Act 2013.

27 Assignment

27.1 You may not assign, transfer or charge any rights or obligations created under, or in connection with, this agreement without our prior written consent.

28 Statutory right to cancel

28.1 The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Changes) Regulations 2013 may apply to your instructions. If these regulations do apply, you have the right to cancel this contract within 14 days from the date of signing the Confirmation of Instructions form without giving us any reason. To exercise your right to cancel, you must inform us of your decision by letter, fax or e-mail. You may use the Cancellation Form we provide, but you do not have to do so.

28.2 If you cancel this agreement, we will reimburse to you all payments received from you, less the costs of work we have already commenced during the cancellation period (see clause 33.5).

28.3 Following cancellation we will make any reimbursement due to you no later than 14 days after the date which we are informed about your decision to cancel this agreement and by using the same means of payment you used to make the initial payment (unless you have expressly agreed otherwise). You will not incur any fees as a result of the reimbursement.

28.4  If, subsequent to making such a request to commence work, you do cancel during the cancellation period we can charge you for the work we have done on a pro-rata basis. This will be an amount which is in proportion to the work that has been undertaken up to the date you notified us you wished to cancel, in comparison with the full extent of our instructions.

28.5 Payment in full will be required if we completed the work, even if you cancel within the cancellation period.

28.6 By signing the Confirmation of Instructions form, or providing us with other written or verbal forms of approval, you are instructing us to start work during the cancellation period.

29 Termination

29.1 In addition to any statutory right to cancel as set out in clause 33, you are entitled at any time to cancel your instructions by providing us with written notice. When we receive notice of your decision to cancel we will stop working on your matter and will raise an invoice for the work carried out to date, unless we have agreed otherwise with you.

29.2 We may decide to stop acting for you only with good reason and upon reasonable notice. A good reason may include a failure by you to provide us with proper instructions, or as explained in clause 8.2, a failure to pay our invoices in full.

30 Entire agreement

30.1 The letter of engagement together with these standard terms of business form the entirety of the agreement between us and you.

31 Governing law

31.1 This agreement and any dispute or claim (including non-contractual disputes or claims) arising out of or in connection with it or its subject matter or formation shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England.

32 Jurisdiction

32.1 The courts of England shall have exclusive jurisdiction over any dispute or claim (including non-contractual disputes or claims) arising out of or in connection with this agreement, our contractual retainer, our professional duties to you or its subject matter or formation. Nothing in this clause shall limit our right to take proceedings against you in any other court of competent jurisdiction, nor shall the taking of proceedings in any one or more jurisdictions preclude the taking of proceedings in any other jurisdictions, whether concurrently or not, to the extent permitted by the law of such other jurisdiction.


Schedule a 15 minute introductory call