Terms of Engagement
Working with us
We are excited to be working together. As your lawyers, we work for you. And that means getting to know you and fostering a relationship where you can always trust us with the things that are most important to you.
Not surprisingly our relationship is a legal one (governed by NZ law) and that means there are some terms and conditions you need to be aware of before we start working together.
If anything in our terms of engagement is not clear, or not aligned with how you’d like the relationship to work, please let us know and we can work through the detail together.
There is no need to sign these terms in order to accept them. Your continued instruction to us means you are happy to keep working with us under these terms.
We are totally committed to doing our best to ensure that your legal needs are met. We will:
Protect and promote your interests and act for you free from compromising influences or loyalties.
Discuss with you your objectives and how they can best be achieved.
Act competently, in a timely way, and in accordance with instructions received and arrangements made.
Provide you with information about the work to be done, who will do it and the way the services will be provided.
Protect your privacy and ensure appropriate confidentiality.
Treat you fairly, respectfully and without discrimination.
Give you clear information and advice.
Keep you informed about the work being performed and advise you when it is completed.
Charge you a fee that is fair and reasonable and let you know how and when you will be billed.
Let you know how to make a complaint and deal with any complaint promptly and fairly.
All lawyers have obligations to their clients and these are described in the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. We take these obligations very seriously and always act in accordance with them unless other overriding duties like our duties to the courts and to the justice system prevail.
Fee for service and disbursements
We are happy to provide you with an estimate for any work you instruct us to undertake on your behalf.
Unless we agree something different with you, you will be charged an hourly rate for all work we do. Our rates are based on a range of factors determined by the New Zealand Law Society, including time, expertise, importance, urgency and results achieved.
We also charge for disbursements. First, a service fee of 2.25 per cent of the amount of our fee for services to cover such things as couriers, telecommunications and form fees. Secondly, the actual disbursements we incur on your behalf for such things as search and registration fees, land information memoranda, travel costs and agency fees. GST is charged on our fees and disbursements.
We typically review all our rates in July each year. If your rates change we will notify you.
Unless otherwise agreed, invoices are due for payment by the 20th of the month following the date of invoice.
We hold all money which we receive from you (except moneys received for payment of our invoices) in a non-interest bearing trust account for your benefit. If we are holding a significant amount on your behalf we may lodge these funds in an interest bearing deposit (IBD) account with a bank. In these cases, you get the interest earned but we do charge an administration fee of five per cent of the interest you earn. We bank with ASB so their interest rates will apply.
If you would like your money put on IBD we may require some additional information from you.
We may deduct our fee from funds we are holding for you in our trust account.
Your files and documents
You may leave documents with us after we’ve finished working on a matter together. We will hold your files for six years after a matter is completed. If you do not retrieve your documents in that time, we are authorised to destroy them.
Of course this does not apply to documents you have entrusted to us for safekeeping, such as original deeds of lease, wills and enduring power of attorneys. We’ll keep these safe until you need them.
Under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (AML), we are required to carry out ‘customer due diligence’ (CDD). Mostly this means we see and verify your ID. In certain circumstances we are required to see evidence of the source of your wealth or the source of your funds.
We are unable to proceed on your instructions until we have completed the required CDD.
If we already hold the information that satisfies the CDD requirements, we won’t ask for it again but only seek any additional information needed.
We will hold all information concerning you, or your affairs, in complete confidence. We will not disclose this information to any other person except when:
(a) it’s necessary to allow us to do the job you’ve instructed us to do; or
(b) it’s required by law or by the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
Some of the information we collect about you is required by law while other information is for commercial purposes. All personal information we hold is stored securely, either on servers at our offices or with third party service providers in or outside New Zealand, such as the cloud. Access to your personal information can only happen with your written or verbal consent.
We won’t, unless specifically agreed, provide advice on tax, accounting or on the quality of any investment asset you are acquiring or selling. We always work on the understanding that you will obtain separate advice on these matters.
Advice to others
Our advice is for your benefit only based on our understanding of your specific situation. It may not be right for others. If associated parties like shareholders, related companies, directors, employees, parents or other family members want to rely on the advice we gave you, let us know and we can agree to it in writing.
We actively look to identify, manage and respond to all situations that may create a conflict of interest. If a conflict does arise we’ll let you know immediately and follow the requirements and steps set out in the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
For your protection
We hold professional indemnity insurance meets standards that specified by the Law Society.
The Law Society runs the Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund to provide clients with protection against a financial loss directly resulting from misuse of your funds by lawyers. The maximum amount of compensation payable for an individual claim is $100,000. Except in a few situations (outlined in the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006) the Fidelity Fund doesn’t cover you for any loss relating to money that a lawyer is instructed to invest on your behalf.
Limitation of liability
In the unlikely event that our actions (or inactions) cause you to suffer loss or we are liable to you in some other way, our total liability to you in relation to the matter (or series of matters) you’ve engaged us on is the greater of:
(a) where the liability is covered by our insurance, the amount paid out under our insurance up to a maximum of NZ$20 million (including interest and costs);
(b) NZ$2 million; and
(c) five times the fees you paid us (excluding disbursements and GST), up to a maximum of NZ$10 million (including interest and costs).
This maximum applies to any liability that may arise in any way.
If you have any concerns or complaints that you feel you can’t discuss with the partner you are working with, please contact our Chief People and Capability Officer, Andy Smith. Andy can be contacted at PO Box 90750, Victoria Street West, Auckland 1142, +64 9 336 7500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are committed to resolving any issues you have as soon as possible. If however you are still not satisfied with the way we’ve resolved your complaint you can contact the Law Society’s Lawyers Complaints Service, at 26 Waring Taylor Street, PO Box 5041, Wellington 6145 or 0800 261 801.
Ending the relationship
We’d hate to lose you as a client but you can choose to terminate our services at any time. If you do, you must pay any fees and expenses incurred up to the date you terminate.
In very rare cases, we may make the decision to withdraw our services. These circumstances are set out in the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. If you’d like a hard copy please let us know.
When your instructions on a particular matter are completed, our relationship will end and we will only advise you further on issues if you specifically engage us to do so.
What happens if things change?
From time to time, we may need to change some of our terms of engagement. If that happens, we will publish the changed terms on our website.
Again, if anything’s not clear on how you’d like us to work together, please let us know and we can discuss your specific questions or concerns. Otherwise, let’s get started on working on the things that matter to you.