TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT
Working for you
Please retain these terms of engagement as the basis of our relationship. By instructing us you are deemed to have accepted these terms. They will apply every time you ask us to act for you, unless we inform you otherwise in writing.
The particular services we will provide may be outlined in a separate engagement letter, along with any limits to our obligations or exclusions of liability. By instructing us you authorise us, at your cost, to make such enquiries and disclose such information provided by you as we may consider appropriate, and to engage such other professionals as we think necessary, to fulfill your instructions.
How we will charge
We usually charge on a range of factors adopted by the New Zealand Law Society. The time incurred is charged at $280 plus GST per hour for a legal executive and $380 plus GST per hour for a lawyer. Please note that time spent on your matter is only one factor and our fee may also take into account:
Complexity of the expertise required;
Importance of the matter to you and results achieved;
Risk and responsibility;
Market rates and reasonable costs of running a practice.
We will usually try and estimate for you, in advance, the likely cost of your job. However, because legal services are subject to significant variables (e.g. timely and expedient cooperation of third parties, ability to resolve outstanding issues with or without additional attendances and time) and our estimates are based on our professional judgment of similar, trouble-free transactions, any estimate will be a guide only and not a fixed quote.
We will try to advise you if it appears we will exceed our estimated fee, although sometimes additional work or unforeseen complications arise suddenly, or at the end of a job, which means that this is not always possible.
All fees estimated are plus GST, expenses and disbursements. Disbursements include costs we may have to incur on your behalf in carrying out your instructions. Some services charged to you may be contracted out by us to other service providers (such as valuation reports, title searches etc.). We may charge an office service fee for expenses such as internal photocopying, tolls, faxes etc.
Ongoing work is usually invoiced monthly. Transactional work will usually be invoiced upon completion. You will be provided with a trust account statement if we have handled any funds on your behalf.
We may ask for funds from you in advance to pay for disbursements (e.g. Court filing and registration fees) or for our fees. Where we hold or receive funds on your behalf, we will deduct invoices owing to us from those funds before disbursing the balance to you.
Payment of our invoices
Where we hold funds for you, payment of all outstanding invoices will normally be deducted from those. If we are not holding funds for you then our invoices can be paid by cash, cheque, or electronically into Cockcroft d’Young Moorhouse Trust Account, ASB, Devonport, account number 12 3109 0077400 02, quoting your name and the matter number in the reference.
Unless otherwise agreed, our invoices are payable within 14 days from the date of receipt of the invoice. Monthly statements will be sent for any overdue invoices. We sometimes offer instalment payments of our invoices – please ask us about details.
Delay or difficulty in paying our invoice
If you are unable to pay our invoice on time or you have any questions about an invoice, you must raise this within seven days from the date the invoice is received with the person responsible for your work, or our Accountant.
Unless prior arrangements have been made, we reserve the right to charge interest on any invoice remaining unpaid after the due date calculated from the date of the invoice, at the ASB Bank’s business lending base rate applying at the date of the invoice. If any invoice remains unpaid, we reserve the right to cease doing any further work until the invoice is paid.
We may ask for funds on account of future work, and by instructing us you authorise us to retain possession of your file and any documents belonging to you until we have been paid in full. We may refer your account to a debt collection service if unpaid by the due date. Any debt collection costs will be passed on to you and this may impair your credit rating.
Interest on money we hold in trust for you
We are required to place funds we hold for you on interest-bearing deposit ("IBD") unless this is not reasonable or practicable. Given the new requirements placed on us by the expansion of New Zealand’s international tax reporting obligations we will not generally consider it reasonable or practicable to do this where the estimated cost of compliance will exceed the estimated interest to be earned. If you wish us to place your funds on deposit you will need to instruct us specifically and comply with the requirements of the relevant tax legislation by completing and returning the self-certification forms we will send you on request. Withholding tax will be deducted by the bank at the tax rate you nominate. If we place funds on IBD, we charge 5% commission on the gross interest earned for administering the deposit.
Some services relevant to your instructions such as searching and registration may be provided by Codymo Agencies Limited, a company in which we have an interest. This company will charge for agency services as well as any direct costs it incurs.
Conflicts of interest
From time to time a conflict of interest may arise. If this occurs we will contact you to discuss and suggest what to do next.
Limitation of liability, duty of care and director personally responsible for fees when acting for a company
We do not accept liability for any loss arising from non receipt of any communication, including email communication.
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.
If you are a company, then the director from whom we take instructions personally guarantees payment by the company to us.
Information we hold about you
In accordance with the Privacy Act 1993, you have a right to view and access any information that we hold about you, and ask for incorrect information to be corrected. All information about you that we collect and store, will always remain confidential and will only be used for the purposes outlined in these terms of engagement or in carrying out your instructions to us (unless disclosure is required by law or is necessary for debt collection purposes).
Verifying your identity, financial information etc.
Under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 as well as FATCA and CRS rules and the procedures for electronic registration of land transactions, we are legally required to obtain and independently verify various personal information about you, others related to the transaction and your matter.
Our practices are regularly audited. Similarly, if your transaction is deemed suspicious or meets certain thresholds we will file reports to the relevant authorities. That information may be disclosed to the revenue authorities of other jurisdictions with which you are connected. Please do not be offended if we ask for verification of your identity, your banking details, source of your wealth or funds, your family circumstances, or similar.
Storing of records
We will retain your file in electronic form for at least the minimum period required by law. We will also retain any original documents we agree to hold for you in safe custody, i.e. deeds, wills etc. The papers or documentation produced by us in the course of acting on your instructions are the property of this firm.
If you have any concerns or complaints that you prefer not to raise with the partner named in the attached letter with overall responsibility for this matter, then please refer your complaint to our accountant, Barry Turner. He may be contacted by letter, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephoning 09 445 3058. We are committed to resolving any issues as soon as possible and complaints will be dealt with at no cost to you.
You can also contact the New Zealand Law Society Lawyers' Complaints Service, phone 0800 261 801.
Professional indemnity insurance
We hold Professional Indemnity Insurance cover that meets or exceeds the minimum standards as specified by the New Zealand Law Society.
Lawyers' Fidelity Fund
New Zealand 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.
Client care and service
New Zealand Law Society prescribes client care and service obligations which require that, 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 how 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, subject to other overriding duties, including duties to the courts and to the justice system.
If you have any questions about these client care and service obligations, please visit www.lawsociety.org.nz or telephone 0800 261 801.