What are these Terms?
They set out the basis of our professional relationship with you in accepting and actioning your instructions.
When do these Terms apply?
Unless we agree different terms in writing, these terms apply whenever you instruct us to act for you.
What is our role in acting for you?
We will provide you with the legal services you request or we agree on, unless a conflict of interest or other factors prevent us from providing the legal services to you.
We will use due care and skill and will act in accordance with your instructions, subject to any ethical and/or legal duties we may have.
We are not qualified, nor will we provide you with investment or taxation advice.
Who will work with you?
The Director or staff member you ask to be responsible for your matter will work with you. That person may also work with other Directors and staff on your matter.
Do we provide fee estimates?
Yes. We will give you a fee estimate on request. This will be a guide only and is not a fixed quote, unless expressly stated so. We will advise you if it becomes apparent that the fee estimate will be exceeded, and obtain your approval before incurring any additional fees.
How are our fees calculated?
In setting our fees we take into account a number of factors, including the following*:
- the skill, specialised knowledge, and responsibility required;
- the importance of the matter to you and the results achieved;
- the urgency and circumstances in which your matter is carried out;
- the degree of risk assumed by us in undertaking the services, including the value of any property involved;
- the complexity of the matter and the difficulty or novelty of the questions involved;
- the experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer;
- the possibility that the acceptance of your instructions will preclude engagement of the lawyer by other clients;
- whether the fee is fixed or conditional;
- any quote or estimate of fees given to you;
- any fee agreement (including a conditional fee agreement) between you and us;
- the reasonable costs of running a practice; and
- the fee customarily charged in the market and locality for similar services.
* These factors are based on Rule 9.1 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008 (Client Care Rules).
These charges may include expenses such as travel and accommodation costs, searching, registration and filing costs, court charges, document production, delivery and telephone calls, and also includes payments made on your behalf, such as fees of agents, experts, and other professionals. Where you have requested us to instruct outside counsel, then you will, on demand, pay to us the fees billed to us by that outside counsel.
You will also be charged GST at the current rate as required by law unless you are, or the matter is, zero-rated or exempt for the purposes of GST.
Funds held on interest earning deposit through our trust account
If funds are lodged on interest earning deposit on your behalf, we will need your IRD number or a copy of your Resident Withholding Tax (RWT) Exemption Certificate. If you do not provide one, RWT will be deducted by the bank at the non-declaration rate. We will charge you an administration fee of 5% of the gross interest earned while these funds are held and managed by us.
How do we bill you?
You will receive regular bills of costs (usually monthly) or an account when the matter is completed unless otherwise agreed. Payment is due on receipt or as otherwise arranged with us. If you do not pay within 30 days, we reserve the right to charge you interest on any unpaid amount at the rate of 5% per annum above our principal banker's usual lending rate, compounding monthly.
If your account remains unpaid and there is no satisfactory explanation for non-payment we:
- May start proceedings to recover the amount owed, plus interest at the rate of 5% per annum above our principal banker's usual lending rate, compounding monthly, and any collection costs and/or
- May do no further work for you, and will not release your papers and files until all accounts are paid
Even if you expect another party to reimburse you for our fees and/or charges, we have no recourse to any person other than you. Accordingly, we look to you for payment, even if reimbursement is delayed or you fail to get reimbursed.
Please contact us immediately if you have any concerns about our accounts.
Do we require payment in advance?
We may ask you for a payment in advance for expenses payable to third parties on your behalf and/or as security for our fees.
This money will be held in our trust account on your behalf and will be used to pay:
- Any charges as they are due; and/or
- Ourselves, immediately after sending you our account.
You will receive a statement showing you how this money has been spent.
How will we use your personal information?
Any information that you give us will be treated as confidential by the firm.
We may also need to disclose this information to:
- our contractors or agents; and
- other organisations, including other parties in the matter, and government agencies responsible for processing transactions, but only as needed to carry out your instructions and to fulfill our professional duties or as required by law.
We comply with the information privacy principles set out in the Privacy Act 1993 when we collect, use and disclose information about you (Personal Information) and if the circumstances require, about people who are your employees, directors or principals. In such circumstances, we ask that you help us to make sure that these people are aware that our acting for you may involve collection of Personal Information about them.
If we do not collect this Personal Information, we may not be able to carry out your instructions. In most cases anyone can request access to the Personal Information we hold about them.
We may also use contact details and other information to keep you informed about developments in relevant areas of law, other legal services, or seminars we offer. Please let us know if you do not want your Personal Information used for this purpose.
How do we deal with conflicts?
We have procedures to deal with issues that arise if the interest of two or more clients conflict.
We may accept instructions from other clients or potential clients working in the same and competing markets and whose commercial interests conflict with your own, as long as those instructions:
- are not substantially related to any active matter on which we are acting for you; and
- do not involve us using confidential information we have obtained from you; or
- where you agree.
A legal conflict may arise on a matter which you have instructed us. If this happens, we will contact you as soon as possible.
If we stop acting for you or have not been instructed by you on a matter, we may act for other clients whose interests are adverse to your own, as long as we:
- do not hold confidential information belonging to you that is relevant to the matter; or
- have taken steps to keep your information confidential.
During the course of matters, we will usually and frequently communicate with you by email. Please let us know if you prefer us not to communicate with you by email.
As emails are not always secure, or may have defects (such as viruses), we do not accept responsibility and will not be liable for any direct or indirect damage or loss caused by an email that is intercepted, or has a virus or other defect.
What happens if we rely on external information and public records?
We often have to obtain and rely on external information or public records (e.g. from a government agency or registry) to carry out your instructions. This information may not always be accurate or complete. We do not accept responsibility and will not be liable for any direct or indirect damage or loss caused by errors or omissions in external information or public records.
How does our engagement end?
Subject to the Client Care Rules, you may end our engagement by giving us written notice at any time. You must pay our fees for work done and for other charges incurred up to the end of our engagement.
We may end our engagement on reasonable notice at any time. For example, we may cease to act if our fees and charges are not paid when due.
If we end our engagement, all outstanding fees and other charges (up to the time of termination) will be billed to you. When you pay your account, you have a right to uplift your file. Until your account is paid, we have a right to keep any of your property in our possession.
What do we do with your file and documents?
At the end of your matter, we will keep your file and documents for the minimum period required by law. At the end of this period, we may destroy your file and documents. All files and documents will be destroyed in a confidential manner.
What law governs these terms?
These terms and any other agreement we have with you are:
- governed by New Zealand law;
- subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the New Zealand courts; and
- binding on you, your executors, administrators, and successors.
You may not assign or transfer any rights or obligations under these terms or any other agreement that we have with you.
Acceptance of terms
By instructing us to provide you with legal services, you are deemed to have accepted these terms
Other information we are required to give you
We are required to provide to clients with the following information under the Client Care Rules of the New Zealand Law Society (Law Society):
The basis on which fees will be charged and payment is to be made is set out in our Terms above.
We may deduct, from any funds held on your behalf in our trust account, any fees, expenses and other charges 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 on request.
Lawyers' Fidelity Fund
The Law Society maintains the Lawyers' Fidelity Fund to provide clients with protection against pecuniary loss arising from theft by lawyers. The maximum amount payable by the Fidelity Fund as 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.
Persons Responsible for Your Work
The names and status of the person or persons who will have overall responsibility for your work are set out in our email or letter of engagement.
We maintain a procedure for handling any complaints by clients. Any complaint will be dealt with promptly and fairly. You may refer any complaint either to the person who has overall responsibility for your work or to our Quality Manager, who will be one of our Directors, by:
- Letter: PO Box 1559, Waikato Mail Centre, Hamilton 3240;
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; or
- Telephone: (07) 970 0000.
The Law Society operates the Lawyers Complaints Service and you are able to make a complaint to that service. To do so, phone 0800 261 801 and you will be connected to the nearest Complaints Service Office, which can provide information and advice about making a complaint
Client Care and Service
The Law Society client care and service information is set out below. Whatever legal services your lawyer provides, 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 that lawyers owe to clients are described in the Client Care Rules. 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.
Any limitations on the extent of our obligations to you or any limitation or exclusion of liability are set out in our email or letter of engagement.