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Information for Clients
Set out below is the information required by the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers of the New Zealand Law Society (“Law Society”).
The basis on which fees will be charged is set out in our letter of engagement. When payment of fees is to be made is set out in our Standard Terms of Engagement.
If we hold funds on your behalf you authorise us to deduct our fees from those funds (unless they have been provided for a particular purpose) and send you an invoice as required by the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Trust Account) Regulations 2008.
- Professional Indemnity Insurance:
We hold professional indemnity insurance that meets or exceeds the minimum standards specified by the 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 the 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 a complaint about our services or charges, you may refer your complaint to the person in our firm who has overall responsibility for your work.
If you do not wish to refer your complaint to that person, or you are not satisfied with that person’s response to your complaint, you may refer your complaint to Benjamin McCorkindale – Partner.
He/she may be contacted as follows:
- by letter;
- by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- by telephoning him/her at 07 888 8152
The Law Society also maintains a complaints service and you are able to make a complaint to that service. If we have been unable to resolve a complaint or concern you may contact:
The Lawyers Complaints Service
Phone: 0800 261 801
- Persons Responsible for the Work:
The names and status of the person or persons who will have the general carriage of or overall responsibility for the services we provide for you are set out in our letter of engagement.
- Client Care and Service:
The Law Society client care and service information is set out below.
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 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 to the justice system.
If you have any questions, please visit www.lawyers.org.nz
- Limitations on extent of our Obligations or Liability:
Any limitations on the extent of our obligations to you or any limitation or exclusion of liability are set out in our letter of engagement.
Standard Terms of Engagement
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. The fees which we will charge or the manner in which they will be arrived at, are set out in our engagement letter.
b. If the engagement letter specifies a fixed fee, we will charge this for the agreed scope of our services. Work which falls outside that scope will be charged in terms of our engagement letter. 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 further costs.
c. Where our fees are calculated on an hourly basis, the partners’ hourly rates are set out in our engagement letter. Time spent is recorded in 6 minute units.
2.2 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.
2.3 Office Service Charge Fee (Office Expenses)
In addition to disbursements, we may charge a fee 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 and phone calls.
2.4 GST (if any)
Is payable by you on our fees and charges.
We will send interim invoices to you, usually monthly and on completion of the matter, or termination of our engagement. We may also send you an invoice when we incur a significant expense.
Invoices are payable on the 20th day of the month following the month of the invoice, unless alternative arrangements have been made with us. However, on conveyancing transactions, accounts are paid on the date the transaction is settled unless otherwise arranged with a partner of the firm. We may require interest to be paid on any amount which is more than 14 days overdue. Interest may be charged on any amount overdue at the rate of no more than 5%pa above the prevailing indicator Lending Rate of the firm’s bankers. If your accounts remain outstanding after 60 days, we reserve the right to do no further work for you until appropriate arrangements are made to bring the account back into good standing.
If your accounts remain outstanding after 90 days without arrangement we may request a Debt Collection Agency to recover the debt owed to our firm. All costs and disbursements charged to us by the Debt Collection Agency will be payable by you.
We accept your instructions to act on the basis that you hereby authorise us 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.
We may also ask you to prepay amounts to us, or to provide security for our fees and expenses. You authorise us:
a. to debit against amounts prepaid 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.
2.8 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.
3.1 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.
3.2 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.
3.3 We will of course, not disclose to you confidential information which we have in relation to any other client.
4.1 You may terminate our retainer at any time.
4.2 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.
4.3 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.
5. RETENTION OF FILES AND DOCUMENTS
5.1 You authorise us (without further reference to you) to destroy all files and documents for this matter (other than any documents that we hold in safe custody for you) 7 years after our engagement ends, or earlier if we have converted those files and documents to an electronic format.
6. CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
6.1 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.
7. DUTY OF CARE
7.1 Our duty of care is to you and not to any other person. Before any other person may rely on our advice, you must obtain our consent in writing to this.
8. TRUST ACCOUNT
8.1 We operate a trust account. All money received from you or on your behalf will be held to your credit in our trust account.
8.2 Payments out of the trust account will be made either to you or to others with your authority. Written authorisation from you (and if we are acting for more than one of you, from all of you) will be required when payment is to be made to a third party. Before making a payment to another account we may require verification of the account details by provision of (for example) a copy of a deposit slip, cheque or bank statement showing the account number, a signed authority from you including the bank account details, or a signed letter from the relevant financial institution providing bank account details.
8.2 A full record of our trust account is kept at all times. A statement of trust account transactions detailing funds received and payments made on your behalf will be provided to you periodically and at any time upon your request.
8.3 Unless it is not reasonable or practicable to do so, when we hold significant funds for you for more than a short period of time we will place them on call deposit with a bank registered under section 69 of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act 1989, subject to your having completed to the bank’s satisfaction any request for information relating to the deposit or certification required by the bank. Interest earned from call deposits, less withholding tax and an interest administration fee payable to us of 5% of the interest, will be credited to you.
9. SETTLEMENT MONIES
9.1 For property and financing transactions where payment of monies is due by you, we require cleared funds for the correct amount to be deposited with us no later than the morning of the settlement. Cleared funds are to be in the form of a bank cheque (not personal cheque), or direct credit by your Bank with faxed confirmation from your Bank that such funds are cleared. New Zealand Law Society requirements dictate that we can only settle transactions using cleared funds.
10.1 We do not accept any liability for loss arising from non-receipt of any communication, including computer e-mail communications.
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.