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.

1.             Services

1.1          The services which we are to provide for you are outlined in our engagement letter

 

2.             Financial

2.1  Fees: The basis upon which we will charge our fees is set out in our engagement letter.

 

i.    If the engagement letter specifies a fixed fee, we will charge for this for the agreed scope of our service. Work which falls outside that scope will be charged on an hourly basis. We will advise you 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.

 

ii.    Where our fees are calculated on an hourly basis, the hourly rates of the people we expect to undertake the work are set out in our engagement letter.  Any differences in those rates reflect the different levels of experience and specialisation of our professional staff.  Time spent is recorded in six-minute units.

 

iii.   Hourly fees may be adjusted (upwards or downwards) to ensure the fee is fair and reasonable to take into account matters such as the complexity, urgency, value, and importance of the Services.  Full details of the relevant fee factors are set out in Rule 9 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008 (Rules).

 

2.2          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.

 

2.3          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.

 

2.4          Office Service Charge Fee (Administration expenses)

In addition to disbursements, we may charge a fee of $20.00 to cover out of pocket costs which are not included in our fee and which are not recorded as disbursements.  These include items such as photocopying and printing, postage and phone calls.

 

2.3          GST (if any)

Is payable by you on our fees and charges.

 

2.4          Invoices

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.

 

2.5          Payment

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 15% 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.

 

2.6          Security

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.

 

3.            Confidentiality

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

4.1          You may terminate our retainer at any time.

 

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.

 

5.            Retention of files and documents

5.1          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.

 

6.            Conflicts of Interest

6.1          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.

 

7.            Duty of Care

7.1          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.

 

8.            Trust Account

8.1          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 with a bank.  In that case, we will charge an administration fee of 6% of the interest derived.

 

9.            Compliance

9.1          We are obliged to comply with all laws applicable to us in all jurisdictions, including (but not limited to):

a)    anti-money laundering (AML) and countering financing of terrorism (CFT) laws; and

b)    laws relating to tax and client reporting and withholdings.

 

9.2          We may be required to undertake customer due diligence on you, persons acting on your behalf and other relevant persons such as beneficial owners and controlling persons. We may not be able to begin acting or to continue acting, for you until that is completed.

 

9.3          To ensure our compliance and yours, we may be required to provide information about you, persons acting on your behalf or other relevant persons to third parties (such as government agencies). There may be circumstances where we are not able to tell you or such persons if we do provide information.

 

9.4          Please ensure that you and/or any of the persons described previously are aware of and consent to this. It is important to ensure that all information provided to us is accurate. If the information required is not provided, or considered by us to be potentially inaccurate, misleading, or in contravention of any law, we may terminate or refuse to enter into an engagement.

 

10.          General

10.1        These Terms apply to any current engagement and also to any future engagement, whether or not we send you another copy of them.

 

10.2        We are entitled to change these Terms from time to time, in which case we will send you amended Terms.

 

10.3        Our relationship with you is governed by New Zealand law and New Zealand courts have non-exclusive jurisdiction

 

11.          Communications

11.1        We will obtain your contact details, including email address, postal address, and telephone numbers.  We will report to you periodically on the process of any engagement and will inform you of any material and unexpected delay or significant changes or complications in the work being undertaken. Please ensure you advise us of any of your contact details change.

 

 

12.          Conveyancing Services and Investment Advice

12.1        In providing conveyancing service to our clients the Firm does not carry out valuations of the property or business, nor determine whether the property or the business meets the investment of the Client.  We recommend the Client should consult a suitably qualified professional such as a Registered Valuer, Financial Adviser and/or Accountant in relation to these issues.

 

12.2        The Firm does not provide investment advice in respect of financial products.  We recommend a Client always obtains appropriate advice from a suitably qualified Financial Adviser or Accountant in relation to specific financial products.

 

INFORMATION FOR CLIENTS

Set out below is the information required by the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers of New Zealand Law Society (“Law Society”).

1.             Fees

The basis on which fees will be charged is set out in our letter of engagement.  When payment of fees is to be made 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.

 

2.             Professional Indemnity Insurance:

We hold professional indemnity insurance for $1,500,000.00 which is less than the cover specified by the Law Society.  The Law Society specifies a minimum cover of $2,250,000.00 for a three partner firm.

 

3.             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.

 

4.             Complaints

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 charge, 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 Roger Gerard Downey, Thomas Charles Montague or Daniel Patrick O’Neill.

 

They may be contacted as follows:

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 on: 0800 261 801 or Email: complaints@lawsociety.org.nz.

 

5.             Person 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:

 

6.             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 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.

 

7.             Limitation on extent of our 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.