These Standard Terms of Engagement (“Terms”) apply in respect of all work carried out by us for you, except to the extent that we otherwise agree with you in writing.
If you continue to instruct us after receipt of these Terms of Engagement you are acknowledging your acceptance of these terms.
1.1 The services we are to provide for you are outlined in our engagement letter.
2.1.1 We will charge a fee which is fair and reasonable for the services provided having regard to your interest and our interests. In determining the fee, the following will, when applicable, be taken into account:
- The time spent (we will provide you with the hourly rates of our qualified employees, on request)
- The skill, specialised knowledge and responsibility required to perform the services properly.
- The importance of the matter to you, the result achieved and value of the transaction.
- The urgency and circumstances in which the matter is undertaken and any time limitations imposed, including those imposed by you.
- The degree and risk assumed by us in undertaking the services including the amount or value of the property involved.
- The complexity of the matter and the difficulty or novelty of the questions involved.
- The experience, reputation and ability of the members of our firm working on your matter.
- The possibility that the acceptance of the particular instructions will preclude employment of us by other clients.
- Whether the fee is fixed or conditional.
- Any quote or estimate of fees given by us
- Any fee agreement entered into between you and us.
- The reasonable costs of running our firm.
- The fee customarily charged in the market and locality for work similar to yours.
2.1.2 Unless otherwise stated all fees are plus GST.
2.1.3 We will provide for you an estimate upon request. If that estimate is likely to be exceeded we shall let you know.
2.1.4 There are other methods of charging, which suit certain types of work, and we shall discuss those with you where they are appropriate.
2.1.5 Where it is applicable, you may wish to apply for legal aid. In the event that legal aid is not granted, you will be liable for our account charged in accordance with the above clauses.
2.2 Office Services
We will charge an Office Services Charge to recover some of our office overheads. We will separately charge an additional amount to recoup some of the LINZ licensing levies and additional work to comply with AML rules for customer due diligence (CDD).
2.3 Disbursements and expenses
In providing services we may incur disbursements or have to make payments to third parties on your behalf. We will charge for these as Disbursements in addition to our fee and these will be included in our invoice to you when the expense is incurred. For example, if we incur charges for searches, registration or legal forms we will itemise and bill you the actual costs. We may require an advance payment for the disbursements or expenses which we will be incurring on your behalf.
2.4 GST (if any)
Is payable by you on our fees and charges and unless otherwise stated all fees are plus GST.
We will send interim invoices to you, usually monthly and on completion of the matter, or termination of our engagement. We may also send you an invoice when we incur a significant expense.
2.6 Payment of accounts
Invoices are payable within 14 days of the date of the invoice, unless alternative arrangements have been made with us. We may require interest to be paid on any amount which is more than 7 days overdue. Interest will be calculated at the rate of [12.5]% above our firm’s main trading bank’s 90-day bank bill buy rate as at the close of business on the date payment became due.
We may ask you to pre-pay amounts to us, or to provide security for our fees and expenses. You authorise us:
(a) To debit against amounts pre-paid by you; and
(b) To deduct from any funds held on your behalf in our trust account any fees, expenses or disbursements for which we have provided an invoice.
2.8 Third Parties
Although you may expect to be reimbursed by a third party for our fees and expenses, and although our invoices may at your request or with your approval be directed to a third party, nevertheless you remain responsible for payment to us if the third party fails to pay us.
2.9 Personal Guarantees
If you are instructing the firm in your capacity as a Director or Shareholder of a Company, or as a Settlor or Trustee of a Trust or Executor or Administrator of a Trust, then you remain, at all times, personally liable (along with the Company, Trust or Estate) to pay the firms fees and disbursements.
3.1 We will hold in confidence all information concerning you or your affairs that we acquire during the course of acting for you. We will not disclose any of this information to any other person except:
(a) To the extent necessary or desirable to enable us to carry out your instructions; or
(b) To the extent required by law or by the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
3.2 Confidential information concerning you will as far as practicable be made available only to those within our firm who are providing legal services for you.
3.3 We will of course, not disclose to you confidential information which we have in relation to any other client.
4 Termination of your retainer
4.1 You may terminate our retainer at any time upon giving us reasonable notice.
4.2 We may terminate our retainer in any of the circumstances set out in the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
4.3 If our retainer is terminated you must pay us all fees due up to the date of termination and all expenses incurred up to that date.
4.4 If we terminate the retainer we will give you reasonable notice so that you can arrange alternative representation and we shall give you reasonable assistance to find another lawyer.
5. Suspension of service
We reserve the right to stop work on your retainer if interim accounts are not paid on time or a request for information or action remains unsatisfied.
6 Retention of files and documents
You authorise us (without further reference to you) to destroy all files and documents for this matter (other than any documents that we hold in safe custody for you) 7 years after our engagement ends or earlier if we have converted those files and documents to an electronic format. You are welcome to uplift your file if you wish.
7 Conflicts of Interest
We have procedures in place to identify and respond to conflicts of interest. If a conflict of interest arises we will advise you of this and follow the requirements and procedures set out in the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
8 Duty of Care
Our duty of care is to you and not to any other person. Before any other person may rely on our advice, we must expressly agree to this.
9 Trust Account
9.1 We maintain a trust account for all funds which we receive from clients (except monies received for payment of our invoices). If we are holding significant funds on your behalf we will normally lodge those funds on interest bearing deposit with a bank. In that case we will charge an administration fee of  % of the interest derived.
9.2 Should we hold any funds on your behalf, those funds will not be placed on interest earning deposit if, in our view, it is uneconomic to do so. We determine that is uneconomic to do so if the gross interest expected to be earned while the funds are on deposit will be less than $100.
9.3 We will not be able to place any funds on interest bearing deposit through our trust account (except in the case of estates, charitable trusts or escrow purposes) without you first completing a Foreign Tax Residence Form as a requirement under the Automatic Exchange of Information/Common Reporting Standards (AEOI/CRS) regime. We will supply you with such forms when required. When we hold funds on deposit on your behalf we will be required to pass on that information to the Inland Revenue Department or our bank under the AEOI/CRS regime. If you have any questions about this matter, please contact the writer.
10 Professional Indemnity Insurance
We hold professional indemnity insurance that meets or exceeds the minimum standards specified by the Law Society. We will provide you with particulars of the minimum standards upon request.
11 Lawyers Fidelity Fund
11.1 The Law Society maintains the Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund to provide clients of lawyers with protection against pecuniary loss arising from theft by lawyers. The maximum amount payable by the Fidelity Fund by way of compensation to an individual claimant is limited to $100,000. Except in certain circumstances specified in the Lawyers & Conveyancers Act 2006 the Fidelity Fund does not cover a client for any loss relating to money that a lawyer is instructed to invest on behalf of the client.
11.2 This is only a short summary of the major provisions in the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 relating to the Fidelity Fund. If you would like further information, please ask us.
12. Limitation of liability and responsibility
12.1 When conveying property, we do not give advice in relation to the quality of the investment, tax obligations/liabilities, suitability of agreement for your purposes and non-disclosure of relevant information.
12.2 We may correspond with you and others by electronic communication (generally email), unless you instruct us not to do so. As you are aware, electronic communications cannot be guaranteed to be secure. We check all e-mails with anti-virus software. We operate a firewall and automatic spam filter which may block a small number of genuine e-mails so that they do not reach the intended recipient in our company. We shall not be liable for any loss, costs or damage you may incur directly or indirectly as a consequence of us communicating by electronic means.
12.3 We shall not be liable for any loss arising from non-receipt by any party of any communication including electronic communications.
12.4 Work for which we undertake for you is solely for your use and is not to be relied upon by any other party.
13.1 We maintain a procedure for handling any complaints by clients, designed to ensure that a complaint is dealt with promptly and fairly.
If you have a complaint about our services or charges, you may refer your complaint to the person in our firm who has overall responsibility for your work.
13.2 If you do not wish to refer your complaint to that person, or you are not satisfied with that person’s response to your complaint, you may refer your complaint to the principal of the firm Mark Bullock.
13.3 If you are not satisfied with the outcome the Law Society also maintains a complaints service and you are able to make a complaint to that service. To do so you should contact the Law Society at 0800 261 801 or www.Lawsociety.org.nz.
14. Persons Responsible for Work
The names and status of the person or persons who will have the general conduct of or overall responsibility for the services we provide for you are set out in our Letter of Engagement.
15.1 These Terms apply to any current engagement and also to any future engagement, whether or not we send you another copy of them.
15.2 We are entitled to change these Terms from time to time, in which case we will send you amended Terms.
15.3 Our relationship with you is governed by New Zealand law and New Zealand courts have nonexclusive jurisdiction.
Client care and service information
Set out below is the information required by the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers of the New Zealand Law Society (Law Society)
Whatever legal services your lawyer is providing, he or she must:
- Act competently, in a timely way, and in accordance with instructions received and arrangements made.
- Protect and promote your interests and act for you free from compromising influences or loyalties.
- Discuss with you your objectives and how they should best be achieved.
- Provide you with information about the work to be done, who will do it, and the way the services will be provided.
- Charge you a fee that is fair and reasonable and let you know how and when you will be billed.
- Give you clear information and advice.
- Protect your privacy and ensure appropriate confidentiality.
- Treat you fairly, respectfully and without discrimination.
- Keep you informed about the work being done and advise you when it is completed.
- Let you know how to make a complaint and deal with any complaint promptly and fairly.
The obligations lawyers owe to clients are described in the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. Those obligations are subject to other overriding duties, including duties to the courts and to the justice system.
If you have any questions, please visit www.lawyers.org.nz or call 0800 261 801.