Standard Terms of Engagement
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.
The services which we are to provide for you are outlined in our engagement letter.
The fees which we will charge or the manner in which they will be arrived at, are set out in our engagement letter.
If the engagement letter specifies a fixed fee, we will charge this for the agreed scope of our services. Work which falls outside that scope will be charged on an hourly rate basis. We will advise you as soon as reasonably practicable if it becomes necessary for us to provide services outside the agreed scope and if requested, give you an estimate of the likely amount of the further costs.
Where our fees are calculated on an hourly basis, the hourly rates are set out in our engagement letter. The differences in those rates reflect the experience and specialisation of our professional staff. Time spent is recorded in six minute units, with time rounded up to the next unit of six minutes.
Disbursements and Expenses
In providing services we may incur disbursements or have to make payments to third parties on your behalf. These will be included in our invoice to you when the expense is incurred. We may require an advance payment for the disbursements or expenses which we will be incurring on your behalf.
Is payable by you on our fees and charges.
Our practice is to send regular interim invoices in order to assist you in keeping track of your legal expenses. All accounts will be payable by the 20th of the month following unless another date is specified on the invoice.
· Invoices are payable by the 20th of the month following, or on the date specified on the invoice unless alternative arrangements have been made with us;
· Invoices unpaid after that time will be charged interest at the rate of 1.5% per month until paid;
· In the event that fees remain outstanding we reserve the right to take whatever steps are necessary to recover those fees. Any collection costs that we incur to collect payment of our fees are to be paid to us on a solicitor client basis, i.e. you indemnify us from any costs, fees or losses that we incur to collect payment of our fees;
· Such collection costs include, but are not limited to a monthly administration charge of $25.00 on any unpaid accounts together with interest as noted above;
· If you are unable to pay your invoice in full on the stipulated payment date the invoice is able to be paid in instalments over six (6) weeks. In the event that the invoice remains unpaid at the end of the six week period and satisfactory arrangements have not been made with us for the full payment of the invoice, we will cease work on your file until payment has been received.
Payment of our Costs from Funds Held on your Behalf
We will deduct our fees from any funds held on your behalf in our trust account in relation to conveyancing, relationship property and any other matters where funds are received on your behalf UNLESS YOU ADVISE OTHERWISE.
Where work carried out on your file is expected to be complex and/or protracted we may ask you to pre-pay amounts to us as a retainer, or to provide security for our fees and expenses: You authorise us:
· To debit against amounts pre-paid by you; and
· 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.
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.
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:
· To the extent necessary or desirable to enable us to carry out your instructions; or
· To the extent required by law or by the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
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.
We will of course not disclose to you confidential information which we have in relation to any other client.
You may terminate our retainer at any time. 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. 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.
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) seven years after our engagement ends, or earlier if we have converted those files and documents to an electronic format.
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.
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.
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.
These Terms apply to any current engagement and also to any future engagement, whether or not we send you another copy of them. We are entitled to change these Terms from time to time, in which case we will send you amended Terms. Our relationship with you is governed by New Zealand law and New Zealand courts have non-exclusive jurisdiction.
Information for Clients
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”).
The basis on which fees will be charged and the payment of those fees is set out in our Standard Terms of Engagement. We may deduct from any funds held on your behalf in our trust account any fees, expenses or disbursements for which we have provided an invoice.
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.
Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund
The Law Society maintains the Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund for the purposes of providing 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.
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. 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 either of the partners. They may be contacted as follows:
· By letter or by telephone; or
· By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 Manawatu branch of the New Zealand Law Society, PO Box 497, Palmerston North 4440 or (06) 356 2214.
We consider that client feedback is very important. If you are concerned about the quality of the service you have received, the timeliness of service, the advice provided or our advocacy then please do tell us. We take client concerns very seriously and wish to continue to improve our performance.
Persons Responsible for the Work
The names and status of the person or persons who will have the general carriage of or overall responsibility for the services we provide for you are set out in our letter of engagement.
Client Care and Service
The Law Society client care and service information is set out below.
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 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.lawsociety.org.nz or call 0800 261 801.
Limitations – Obligations or Liability
Any limitations on the extent of our obligations to you or any limitation or exclusion of liability are set out in our letter of engagement.