1. Area of application
These General Terms of Business regulate SANDS Advokatfirma DA’s (hereinafter «SANDS») execution of assignments. SANDS is authorised to provide legal services pursuant to the licence issued by the Norwegian Supervisory Council for Legal Practice (“Tilsynsrådet for advokatvirksomhet”).
2. The Assignment
The Assignment is described in the Confirmation of Engagement. The Assignment may be modified or extended during execution. In the event of an assignment being significantly modified, an updated Confirmation of Engagement may be issued; otherwise, the terms in the original Confirmation of Engagement will apply. SANDS’ services does not include tax-related issues, unless otherwise specifically stated in the Confirmation of Engagement.
3. Outcome of the case and liability
We will seek to keep the client informed about important developments. In the event that we express our considered opinion regarding the possible outcome of the case, this does not lead to any legal liability on our part in the event of a different outcome arising.
In the event of our client losing a court case, the client may be ordered to pay the opposing party’s legal costs and court fees. Liability for these costs rests solely with the client.
We reserve the right to require that the client pay any fees and costs that are not paid by the opposing party, including in cases where the court decides that the full amount may not be claimed from the opposing party. Hence, we may also require that the client pay fees and costs not included in our statement of costs to the court, as indicated above. In such cases, these will be invoiced in accordance with the terms in the Confirmation of Engagement.
SANDS’ liability in connection with each assignment is limited as follows:
• Liability is limited to direct and documented financial losses. Thus, SANDS is not liable for any indirect losses or consequential loss, including operational loss, loss of profit or loss of goodwill, etc.
• Liability is, in all circumstances, limited to 20 times the size of the fee, though limited to NOK 20 million, or, if SANDS’ professional indemnity insurance is applicable, the amount SANDS’ professional indemnity insurance is able to offer the client in total for the relevant claim/claims.
4. Conflicts of Interests
SANDS complies with the Norwegian rules on conflict of interest, in accordance with the provisions of the Courts of Justice Act. Before accepting an assignment, we carry out investigations to identify any conflict of interest. In the event of a conflict of interest that results in SANDS having to decline the assignment, we will, in cooperation with the client, determine how to minimise the inconvenience for the client.
Attorneys are prohibited from unlawfully disclosing entrusted secrets, and are obliged to keep information confidential. In certain situations, there are statutory provisions giving exemptions from confidentiality. Our duty to maintain confidentiality and discretion is perpetual.
Unless otherwise agreed, the law firm’s attorneys may share the information with other employees in the firm as far as necessary. The law firm’s other employees are bounded by the same confidentiality rules as the attorneys.
6. Processing of personal data
SANDS acts as data controller for its clients’ personal data. The law firm is subject to the duties pursuant to the Norwegian Personal Data Act, as well as the Norwegian Court of Justice Act’s rules on legal practice with regulations. The data controller is the law firm by its general manager pursuant to the Norwegian Personal Data Act. If you have any questions on our processing of personal data, the partner responsible for the Assignment may be contacted.
We will only process personal data to the extent it is necessary for the Assignment. The personal data may include information on clients and their employees, opposite parties and others in connection with the Assignment, and may also contain sensitive personal data, e.g. health information. Case documents received from the client, public authorities or others may contain personal data.
The client has the right to access information on processed personal data, as well as the access to correct faulty personal data.
Upon completion of the Assignment, any original documents in the case will be returned to the client or shredded, upon further agreement. The law firm is ordered to save certain documents and information after the completion of the Assignment. The law firm may also keep copies of other case documents after the completion of the Assignment, within the frames of the legislation.
The calculation of our fee is described in detail in the Confirmation of Engagement. The Assignment may incur external costs for which the client will be liable. Please note that our invoicing of such disbursements will normally be subject to VAT.
SANDS may, upon request, require an advance payment for forthcoming work. The amount shall be paid to our client account and will be accounted for as set out in the Confirmation of Engagement, unless otherwise agreed. We reserve the right to settle amounts due in any of the client’s accounts that are held by us within the provisions of the Courts of Justice Act and associated regulations.
8. Intellectual property rights
SANDS retains all rights related to material developed or used by us. This also applies to opinions, working methods, agreements etc. used for or delivered to the client. The client is only entitled to use such material for the purpose for which it was created or delivered by us. Any such material may not be handed over to third parties without permission from SANDS.
9. Use of e-mail
Documents drafted by us or received from others in connection with the Assignment will, as a rule, be sent by e-mail, unless otherwise agreed in writing.
In the event that the client is not satisfied with the work carried out, the management of the case, invoices received, or other matters regarding the execution of the Assignment, a complaint shall in the first instance be addressed to the Managing Partner of SANDS. He/she will process the complaint without undue delay, and ensure that the client is kept informed.
If the matter is not resolved between the parties following a complaint to SANDS, the client may lodge a complaint with the disciplinary board of the Norwegian Bar Association. This gives the client the opportunity to have the case evaluated, to ascertain if it has been handled in accordance with the rules governing ethical and professional standards for lawyers. Furthermore, the client has the opportunity to have the level of the fees considered. The quality of the work carried out may not, as a rule, be considered by the disciplinary board.
The normal time limit for lodging a complaint with the Norwegian Bar Association is six months. This is calculated from the time the complainant became aware, or should have become aware, of the circumstances that form the basis for the complaint.
The complaint is heard by the Norwegian Bar Association’s disciplinary board in the first instance. The disciplinary board’s decision may be appealed to the disciplinary appeals committee.
11. Dispute resolution
The Assignment, the Confirmation of Engagement and the General Terms of Business are all subject to Norwegian law. Should any disagreement arise between SANDS and the client regarding invoicing or other questions related to the execution of the Assignment, the parties shall seek to resolve the disagreement by means of negotiation. If the parties do not agree on a solution within one month of the commencement of the negotiations, each of the parties may bring the case before the courts (Conciliation Board or District Court) by issuing a notice in writing in accordance with section 5-2 of the Norwegian Dispute Act. Each of the parties may then instead demand arbitration if such demand is submitted to the other party within two weeks of such notice being received. SANDS cannot unilaterally demand arbitration if the client is a consumer.
If the disputed amount subject to arbitration exceeds NOK 1 500 000, the court of arbitration shall consist of three arbitrators and, in the event of a smaller amount, only one arbitrator. The parties will seek to agree on the composition of the arbitration court. If agreement is not reached, each party shall nominate one arbitrator and these two shall jointly appoint the third arbitrator. In cases requiring only one arbitrator, the parties shall attempt to reach agreement. If agreement is not reached in the above-mentioned cases, the General Secretary of the Norwegian Bar Association shall appoint the arbitrator or arbitrators not appointed by the parties.
Mediation shall take place in Norway. The venue for the arbitration is subject to the regulations in the Dispute Act regarding legal venue, and Norwegian law applies.
Unless otherwise stated in these General Terms of Business, the Arbitration Act of 14 May 2004 applies, unless both parties agree otherwise. The mediation process and the outcome of the arbitration shall be kept confidential by both parties.
12. Amendment of the General Terms of Business
SANDS may amend these General Terms of Business at any time, with effect from the date of amendment. The currently applicable General Terms of Business will be provided on request.