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.
1.1 The services which we are to provide for you are outlined in our engagement letter.
(a) We will charge a fee which is fair and reasonable for the services provided having regard to your interests and our interests. In determining the fee, the following may be taken into account.
- The skill, specialised knowledge, and responsibility required to perform the services properly.
- The importance of the matter to you and the results achieved.
- The urgency and circumstances in which the matter is undertaken and any time limitations imposed, including those imposed by you.
- The degree of risk assumed by us in undertaking the services including the amount or value of the property involved.
- The complexity of the matter and the difficulty or novelty of the questions involved.
- The experience, reputation and ability of the members of our firm working on your matter.
- The possibility that the acceptance of the particular instructions will preclude employment of us by other clients.
- Whether the fee is fixed or conditional.
- Any quote or estimate of fees given by us.
- Any fee agreement entered into between you and us.
- The reasonable costs of running our firm.
- The fee customarily charged in the market and locality for work similar to yours.
- If a conveyancing matter does not proceed, we will still charge a fee in accordance with the above factors.
(b) We will provide for you an estimate upon request. If that estimate is likely to be exceeded we shall let you know.
(c) There are circumstances where you may be entitled to apply for legal aid if your matter is in the Family Court or is likely to proceed to the Family Court and you are eligible for a grant of legal aid. Legal aid is governed by the Legal Services Act 2011 and the associated regulations. Legal Aid is administered through the Ministry of Justice by the Legal Services Commissioner. We will submit invoices in relation to your grant of aid to the Legal Services Commissioner and provide you with copies. The Legal Services Commissioner will write to you about any conditions or repayment obligations that you may have in relation to the grant of legal aid and your rights as an applicant or recipient of legal aid. You should be aware at this time that legal aid is not always free. You should read these letters carefully and keep them for later reference. You must let the Legal Services Commissioner know if there is any change in your and your partner’s contact details, employment status, family circumstances or financial details.
2.2 GST (if any): Our fees include GST.
2.3 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.
2.4 Office Service Charge Fee (Administrative expenses): In addition to disbursements, we may charge a fee of [$70.00 + GST/ or 7% of our invoice] 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/courier and phone calls.
2.5 Payment of Fees:
- Our fees are to be paid upon your receipt of our account except on conveyancing matters where fees are payable immediately prior to settlement.
- Our final account will be sent to you shortly after we have completed your matter.
- We do however issue interim accounts where that is appropriate.
- Our fees may be deducted from funds held in our trust account on your behalf.
- We may ask you to pay fees in advance, but in those instances your payment will be held in our trust account and only paid to us by deduction when an account has been forwarded to you.
- Out of pocket expenses are to be paid by you immediately upon request but substantial out of pocket expenses will be asked for in advance.
- Interest will accrue on unpaid accounts at the rate of 4% per month as from the due date until payment. Other action to recover unpaid fees may also be taken and the cost of such recovery may be added to the account due by you.
2.6 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.
3. Files and Documents:
When your instructions have been completed we shall keep your file for a period of 10 years from completion and then destroy it unless during the period you choose to uplift the file or direct us to send it to another lawyer. You are welcome to uplift your file provided that all fees and expenses have been paid. Please give us reasonable notice before collecting your file should you wish to do so.
4. Limitation of Liability
We do not accept liability for any loss arising from non receipt of any communication including email communications.
5.1 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.
5.2 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.
5.3 We will of course, not disclose to you confidential information which we have in relation to any other client.
6. Suspension of Service:
6.1 We reserve the right to stop work on our retainer if interim accounts are not paid on time or a request for information or action remains unsatisfied.
7.1 You may terminate our retainer at any time.
7.2 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.
7.3 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.
8. Conflicts of Interest
8.1 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.
9. Duty of Care
9.1 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.
10. Trust Account
10.1 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 can lodge those funds on interest bearing deposit with a bank upon your instructions.
11.1 These terms apply to any current engagement and also to any future engagement, whether or not we send you another copy of them.
11.2 We are entitled to change these Terms from time to time, in which case we will send you amended Terms.
11.3 Our relationship with you is governed by New Zealand law and New Zealand courts have non-exclusive jurisdiction.