- Terms of Engagement
These 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. You agree that if you do not wish to engage us under these Terms you will immediately notify us in writing of that.
The legal services which we are to provide for you are outlined in our letter of engagement and pursuant to instructions provided by you. We will carry out the work upon your instructions as understood by us. You should immediately contact us if we appear to have misunderstood your instructions. In the event you require other specialist advice, for example, accounting, taxation, financial or business advice, we can arrange a suitable referral to an appropriately qualified specialist advisor.
In relation to any investment, property or business transaction we do not provide any advice in relation to the quality of the investment, the property or business that you are purchasing. Further, we shall have no liability in relation to any liability arising in relation to the quality of the investment, the property or business. Our role and the ambit of our service is to complete the transaction on your behalf.
You are responsible for providing full, complete and honest instructions, information and the facts to us. We reserve the right to cease to act where you cannot or will not provide instructions required or where there is not full, complete and honest disclosure of all relevant information and facts. You will provide us, as soon as possible, with all documents and information that are or come into your possession relating to the work that are necessary for us to be able to perform the work or comply with the rules relating to disclosure of documentation in connection with any proceedings in which we are acting for you.
If the letter of engagement 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.
Our fees are calculated principally on the basis of time involved. To ensure that our clients obtain the best possible value from our fees, factors are also considered such as:
- the skill, specialised knowledge and responsibility involved; and
- the importance and complexity of the matter and the results achieved; and
- the urgency and circumstances in which the matter is handed.
Disbursements and Expenses
In providing services we 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.
GST is payable by you on our fees and charges.
We may send interim invoices to you, or invoice you on completion of the matter, or termination of our engagement.
Invoices are payable within 14 days of the date of the invoice. We require interest to be paid on any amount which is more than 14 days overdue. Interest will be calculated at the rate of 15% per annum.
You will be liable for all legal and debt collection costs that we incur, including solicitor/client costs, in enforcing, or attempting to enforce our rights under these Terms.
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.
Although you may have an arrangement to be reimbursed by a third party for our fees and expenses, and although our invoices may, at your request, be directed to a third party, you remain responsible for payment to us if the third party fails to pay us.
For property and financing transactions where payment of monies is due by you, we require cleared funds for the full amount to be deposited with us no later than the morning of settlement.
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.
You may terminate our engagement at any time.
We may terminate our engagement in any of the circumstances set out in the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers
We may terminate our engagement if we are unable to obtain full instructions from you.
If our engagement 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
Once your matter is completed we will close the matter in our system and store the hard copies of any Deeds or Wills relating to the matter on your behalf. In accordance with the provisions of the Electronic Transactions Act 2002, or any subsequent legislation or regulations, we will hold electronic copies of all documents, including electronic communications, relating to the matter but will not hold physical copies of any of these documents. You authorise us (without further reference to you) to destroy all files and documents (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.
We may charge a fee for recovery of a file, that is older than three years, from our offsite storage facilities.
- 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.
We do not accept any liability for loss arising from non-receipt of any communication, including computer email communications.
- Trust Account
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, if we expect to generate more than $200.00 net interest. In that case we will charge an administration fee calculated at 7.5% of the gross interest earned from the interest earned.
- Anti-Money Laundering, Counter Financing of Terrorism and other Laws
10.1 The legal profession is now subject to the laws regarding anti-money laundering, counter financing of terrorism, and tax reporting and withholding (especially FATCA).
10.2 We are required to comply with those laws. As a consequence, we will need to verify your identity and we may need to conduct customer due diligence on you and those acting on your behalf as well as on beneficial owners or (in the case of a trust or a company) persons who have effective control. Beneficiaries of trusts may also need to be checked. Generally, we will not be able to act or complete trust account transactions until this due diligence process has been completed.
10.3 We engage the services of First AML to collect information from individual clients and entities that are required for us to conduct legal services. The compliance costs associated with the collection of this information will be charged to you as a disbursement in accordance with clause 3 above.
10.4 Our legal obligations may require us to provide information about you, persons acting on your behalf and others as described in clause 10.2 to government agencies. We will not be permitted to tell you or such persons if that information is provided. We may also be required to provide that information to banks with which your funds are placed through our trust account and they may pass that information on to government and regulatory authorities in New Zealand and overseas.
10.5 Because of the matters outlined above you need to ensure that all information provided to us is accurate. Please also ensure that all persons who may be impacted by our disclosure obligations are aware of our legal duty to disclose.
10.6 We are not responsible to you or anyone else for anything we do, or do not do, in order to comply with our legal obligations.
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 exclusive jurisdiction.