Terms of Engagement
We will record your instructions to us in writing. Subject to this Client Care and Service Information, we shall perform those instructions only.
Our firm is committed to serving you professionally and ethically. We are regulated by the Lawyers & Conveyancers Act 2006 and the rules made under that Act which state that in providing our service to you we 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.
Our fees are based on the relevant factors specified by the Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care Rules 2008, which are:-
- the time and labour expended;
- the skill, specialised knowledge, and responsibility required to perform the services properly;
- the importance of the matter to the client and the results achieved;
- the urgency and circumstances in which the matter is undertaken and any time limitations imposed, including those imposed by the client;
- the degree of risk assumed by the lawyer in undertaking the services, including the amount or 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 the particular retainer will preclude engagement of the lawyer by other clients;
- whether the fee is fixed or conditional (whether in litigation or otherwise);
- any quote or estimate of fees given by the lawyer;
- any fee agreement (including a conditional fee agreement) entered into between the lawyer and client;
- the reasonable costs of running a practice;
- the fee customarily charged in the market and locality for similar legal services.
You acknowledge that, before we are able to conduct a trust account transaction for you, we may be required by law to obtain information about you (for example, to verify your identity and/or the identity of the persons who own or control a non personal entity) and to pass that information to other parties. In addition, our bank is required by law to obtain certain information about you if you conduct a trust account transaction with us (including in connection with the requirements of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (USA) and/or the OECD’s Common Reporting Standard). You must provide all such information on request. We will have no liability to you if we cannot conduct a trust account transaction because you have not provided us with the required information to our satisfaction.
If we hold funds on your behalf in our Trust Account and we hold a completed FATCA/CRS compliance form, it may, at our discretion, be placed on interest bearing deposit at call with our trading bank. You will not be advised of changes in the interest rate paid.
If you are involved in a property transaction we are now required to provide to Land Information New Zealand the IRD number of the person/entity that is buying or selling the property, unless you have confirmed with us that you qualify for an exemption. It is your responsibility to obtain that IRD number and to provide it to us.
Our accounts are due for payment on the 20th day of the month following receipt of invoice unless prior arrangements are made with us in writing.
You authorise us to deduct our fees, expenses or disbursements from any funds held in our trust account on your behalf where we have provided an invoice.
Interim fees will be rendered monthly and a final account forwarded promptly on completion of the instructions.
If any account is not paid within 30 days, interest will be charged on the outstanding balance at the rate of 15% per annum from the date upon which payment was due, and you will be responsible for any reasonable debt collection costs that we incur in recovering outstanding amounts due to us.
If your accounts remain outstanding after 60 days, no further work will be undertaken by any lawyer of the firm until appropriate arrangements are made to bring the account back into good standing. You will be informed that work has ceased.
Disbursements include expenses such as court filing fees, barristers fees, travel expenses, Land Information New Zealand registration and search fees, Companies Office and Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment fees, and the fees of agents who serve documents and who conduct investigations. You are responsible for reimbursing our firm for disbursements. Disbursements may be included with our accounts or may be billed separately. Firm policy requires us to obtain from you funds in advance for significant disbursements.
Office expenses include such items as photocopying, phone calls, faxing, form fees and electronic usage fees. These will be included as a separate section in our account to you.
For property and financing transactions where payment of monies is due by you, we require cleared funds for the correct amount to be deposited with us no later than the morning of the settlement.
Termination of Legal Services
At all times you have the right to terminate our services upon giving us reasonable written notice to that effect.
We may terminate the retainer if there is good cause, such as you not providing us with instructions in a sufficiently timely manner or your unwillingness, inability or failure to pay our fee on an agreed basis, or, except in litigation matters your adopting against our advice a course of action which we believe is highly imprudent. 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.
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. While fees remain unpaid the firm has right to a lien over the file and if exercised, entitles us to retain the file until payment of our fees.
Privacy of Information
Over the course of your involvement with us, we may collect and hold personal information concerning you. Failure to provide us with information may preclude us from providing services to you or limit the quality of the services provided.
Information concerning you will be used by us to provide legal services, to obtain credit or other references, to undertake credit management and to inform you of issues and developments that may be of interest to you. You authorise us to obtain from any person, or release to any person, any information necessary for those purposes and you authorise any person to release information to us that we require for those purposes.
Subject to the above we will treat all information we hold about you as private and confidential and will not disclose any information we hold on your behalf or about you unless we are required to do so by law or when requested by you or with your consent.
Information concerning you will be held at our office. Under the Privacy Act 1993 you have the right of access to, and correction of, your personal information held by us.
The Financial Transactions Reporting Act 1996 requires us to collect from you and retain information required to verify your identity.
If you have a preferred method of our firm communicating with you, please let us know.
We do not accept any liability for loss arising from non-receipt of any communication, including computer email communications.
Files and Documents
At the end of your matter your file will be scanned and stored electronically. This electronic copy will be retained for at least 15 years.
The Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund (the Fund)
The Fund exists to provide compensation of up to $100,000.00 per claimant for clients who suffer a pecuniary loss in certain circumstances. These circumstances are the theft by a lawyer of money or other valuable property entrusted to that lawyer while they are providing legal services to the public or while they are acting as a solicitor-trustee.
It should be noted though that the Fund will not pay compensation in respect of loss of moneys instructed to be invested unless they are funds invested in a bank in New Zealand, or in some private loans such as family loans.
Where your money has been paid to us with instructions to invest, it will not be subject to compensation from the Fund.
This is only a short summary of the major provisions in the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 relating to the Fund. If you would like further information please ask us.
Professional Indemnity Insurance
We hold current professional indemnity insurance which meets/exceeds the minimum standards from time to time specified by the New Zealand Law Society.
If you have a Complaint
We will provide you with a competent, timely service following your instructions, but if you have any complaint at all about our service please raise it with the partner responsible for your matter, or, if you prefer, any other partner in our firm.
If it cannot be resolved immediately to your satisfaction we shall appoint a partner who has not been involved in your matter to deal with it promptly and fairly.
If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you have the right to take the matter up with the New Zealand Law Society (www.lawsociety.org.nz or phone 0800 261 801).
If we do not hear to the contrary by return mail, we will assume that you agree with all of the above terms and will proceed accordingly. If you conclude that you do not want our firm to act on your behalf, please inform us promptly.
Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns relating to any matters outlined in this letter. We value our relationship with you and encourage you to talk to us with any queries you may have.
We look forward to working with you and shall use our best efforts on your behalf.
Please read the separate document regarding AML/CFT compliance requirements by us if we are to act for you.