Client Care Statement and Terms of Engagement
WHAT IS THE ENGAGEMENT?
This is where you instruct us to act for you. Before we agree to act for you we must be sure that we can carry out your instructions and that there is no conflict between you and another client of the firm that prevents us from acting.
When we act for you, we will:
- 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 lawyers owe to clients are described in the rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. Those obligations are subject to other overriding duties, including duties to the courts and the justice system. If you have any questions please ask us or visit www.lawsociety.org.nz or call 0800 261 801.
We need clear instructions from you before we can act. Please make sure that we have contact telephone numbers for you, especially if you are at another address during the course of a matter. On days when deadlines expire (such as when a condition of the contract is due to confirm, settlement is to take place or court papers must be filed) please ensure you are contactable.
On completion of your matter key documents from your file may be scanned and retained in our electronic records. The paper file can be returned to you once payment of our fees has been made. Files not uplifted will be destroyed. Please note that the Inland Revenue Department ('IRD') requires accounting and tax records to be retained for seven (7) years and you are responsible for that.
PRIVACY ACT I ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING
When you instruct us to act for you it will be necessary for us to hold certain personal information about you. It is a condition of our acting for you that we are authorised to obtain and hold this information.
It may also be necessary for us to disclose information about you to other persons or organisations, including the IRD and the Financial Investigation Unit under Anti-money Laundering / Countering Financing of Terrorism legislation. You authorise us to do this provided it is necessary for your matter, or where disclosure is a regulatory requirement. If you have reservations about any personal information we may hold please discuss this with us.
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.
We will not disclose to you confidential information which we have in relation to any other client.
Our time - which includes telephone as well as personal attendances, consideration of legal issues, correspondence and all preparation and research - is recorded and the fee is arrived at in accordance with the Law Society's costing guide. This means that the fee must be fair and reasonable and time recorded is only one consideration. In addition, factors such as urgency, the importance, or novelty of the matter and its outcome will be taken into account.
Our aim is to provide good service with value for money. The risk and costs of not receiving the proper advice far outweigh the costs of a professional adviser. We are happy to discuss any aspect of our fees and charges with you at any time.
In order to ensure an efficient use of our time you should promptly attend to any requests for information required to complete the transaction. In addition, when attending an interview you could bring with you a reminder list of those matters you want to discuss or wish to have clarified.
We also charge for general offices services and for disbursements incurred on your behalf.
- General office services include photocopying, facsimiles, telephone communications, postage and routine New Zealand-based deliveries and similar. These are charged at a standard rate equal to 2.5% of our professional fees plus GST.
- Disbursements include out-of-pocket expenses such as travel and accommodation costs, registration and filing costs, court charges, fees of agents, experts and other professionals, land information memoranda and similar. These are charged on at the amount charged to us.
Unless we state otherwise, our stated rates and any estimates of cost do not include goods and services tax (GST), general office services and disbursements.
For a variety of reasons, some instructions are not completed. If this occurs, we will charge you for the work undertaken and costs incurred up to the time of termination.
In some circumstances, we may be required to incur additional time or expense following completion or termination of a matter. We will charge for this in the normal way.
TERMS OF PAYMENT
For matters that are likely to be completed within a short period a fee will usually be rendered at the end of the matter, and may be deducted from funds in hand. For more lengthy matters monthly "interim" bills are usually sent. We will discuss this with you and we can make an arrangement to suit your circumstances.
Fees are due for payment on the 20th of the month following the account subject to any special arrangements that may be made.
We reserve the right to charge interest on accounts that remain unpaid after the due date at the rate of 2% per month. In addition, accounts that remain unpaid without prior arrangement will be the subject of debt collection procedures which may include the listing of the debt with Baycorp (NZ) Limited.
You may terminate our retainer at any time. 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.
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.
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 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. In that case we will charge an administration fee of 5% of the interest derived.
PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE
We hold professional indemnity insurance that exceeds the requirements of the New Zealand Law Society. We will provide you with particulars of the minimum standards upon request.
LAWYERS FIDELITY FUND
The 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 a client.
We maintain a procedure for handling any complaints by clients, designed to ensure that a complaint is dealt with promptly and fairly. If you have concerns regarding the handling of your case we encourage you to discuss this with the partner who has responsibility for your matter. However, if you are not comfortable with this or feel that the partner has not resolved the matter to your satisfaction then please contact our Office Manager, Beryl Hamilton, who will refer those concerns to the partners as a whole.
We advise that the New Zealand Law Society also has a complaints service and should you wish to discuss any concerns with them, they may be contacted by telephoning 0800 261 801.
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 non-exclusive jurisdiction.
If you have any questions either now or at any time during your matter please contact the person handling your matter or our Office Manager, Beryl Hamilton.