Our Equality and Diversity policy
The firm’s statement of principle on equal opportunities is:
The firm is committed to a policy of treating all employees, job applicants, clients, professional advisers and associated third parties equally. No individual shall receive less favourable treatment on the grounds of:
(a) Race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins
(b) Religion or belief
(c) Sex or marital/civil partner status
(d) Sexual orientation
(e) Gender reassignment
(f) Age (or perceived age)
(g) Disability (past or present)
(h) Trade union membership (or non-membership)
(i) Part-time or fixed term status
(j) No employee or potential employee shall be disadvantaged by any conditions of employment that cannot be justified as necessary on operational grounds.
(k) The firm aims to encourage, value and manage diversity and is committed to equality for its entire staff. The firm wishes to attain a workforce which is representative of the communities from which it is drawn.”
Firms regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority(SRA) are required to collect, report & publish workforce diversity data. A summary of our annual data is available free of charge on request. Please address your requests, by email, to Terry Bastyan,
Our client account interest policy
Policy for payment of interest on funds held on client account
1. Rules 22 and 23 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011
We are required to pay interest on funds in client account “when it is fair and reasonable to do so in all the circumstances” (Rule 22(1)) and to have “a written policy on the payment of interest, which seeks to provide a fair outcome” (Rule 22(3)). “The interest paid must be a fair and reasonable sum calculated over the whole period for which the money is held” (Rule 23). Our policy is based on client funds being held in an instant access account with our bank to facilitate the transaction for which the funds are held, and seeks to match the level of interest which our clients would receive on funds placed in an instant access account with the bank. This policy must be brought to the notice of our clients at the start of their retainer (eg: as part of our Terms of Business).
2. General client account
We will normally pay interest (where appropriate) within 28 days of completion of the matter or other termination of the retainer on funds held in our general client account. We will apply a de minimis figure of £30.00 below which no interest will be paid and any interest earned will be retained by the firm. If funds are held at the same time on separate matters for the same client such funds will normally be treated separately for interest purposes, but they may be aggregated where the matters are so closely related that it is fair and reasonable to do so.
3. Clearance periods
We will operate a clearance for interest purposes period of 3 working days on incoming and outgoing payments by cheque, however the period for fate/clearance is 7 working days. Receipts and payments by electronic bank transfer (including CHAPS) or banker’s draft will be treated as cleared on receipt or payment for interest purposes.
We will review this policy and publish any changes not less than 12 monthly or whenever there is a significant change in the bank base rate.
Gilbert Stephens LLP is committed to providing high quality legal advice and client care. If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service you have received please contact Terry Bastyan on 01392 42 42 42 or by post to our office at 17 Southernhay East, Exeter EX1 1QE. A copy of our complaints policy is available on request.
If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider the complaint. Normally, you will need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within twelve months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint or within six years of the act or omission about which you are complaining occurring (or if outside of this period, within three years of when you should reasonably have been aware of it). For further information please refer to their website – legalombudsman.org.uk or contact their helpline 0300 555 0333.