These terms govern our supply of legal services to you, subject to any differing terms we might accept by specific agreement in writing. We may review our terms of engagement on an annual or project-by-project basis.
Our Service Commitment
We are committed to service satisfaction. If you are not completely satisfied with our efforts in providing services, please contact the Principal/Partner who has overall responsibility for the service provided to you. Unless we have previously agreed a fee between us, you are welcome to suggest the appropriate fee. If we have previously agreed a fee between us, but you do not regard the work described in the estimate as complete, we are happy to review this with you.
You may also contact the NZ Law Society's Lawyers' Complaints Service, at 26 Waring Taylor Street, P O Box 5041, Wellington 6145, Tel (04) 472 7837 or (0800) 261 801, Fax (04) 473 7909.
Our Client Charter
As a client you are a purchaser of our legal services.
To serve you, we:
- 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.
- Act competently, in a timely way, and in accordance with instructions received and arrangements made.
- Promptly communicate project events to you throughout the project, through emails and regular Project Reports.
- 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.
- 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.
- Work as a team to ensure that you have more than one point of contact and to remove bottlenecks.
- If we handle trust monies on your behalf, provide you with a statement of account at the end of the project.
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, in general, about the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers, please visit www.lawsociety.org.nz or call 0800 261 801.
Placing Orders For Our Services
An instruction is an order by you for us to provide legal advice. We do not, therefore, accept instructions to guarantee a particular outcome from that advice. This is because you may choose not to adopt our advice or the outcome may depend on factors which are not related to our advice. Our commitment to you is that we will apply our best efforts and skills as lawyers to complete the work.
We understand that prompt delivery of legal services is important to you. We are committed to delivering our services by the agreed milestones.
Advice and Services
Any advice given by us is:
(a) solely for your benefit. It may not to be relied on by any other person unless we agree in writing;
(b) not to be disclosed, referred to or used other than for the purpose for which it was sought;
(c) not to be made public or published, without our written consent;
(d) limited to the matters stated in it;
(e) governed by New Zealand law; and
(f) subject to changes in the law after the date it is given.
We are not responsible for advising you as to taxation issues unless you specifically request us to do so.
Our name and advice may not be used in connection with any offering document, financial statement, report, or other public document without our written consent.
When our instructions are completed, we are not obliged to notify you of any subsequent change of law, or to provide any further services related to that project.
Factors That Influence Cost
A number of factors influence the cost of our services. These are:
- The degree of skill and specialised knowledge required.
- Your project delivery requirements, including urgency and meeting/achieving milestones.
- Events or considerations that change the scope or nature of your initial instructions.
- The efficiency with which other parties whom we deal with on your behalf in turn deliver their services.
- The prompt and complete delivery from you of all information you possess which is relevant to the project, and the accuracy and reliability of that information.
Reporting and Payment
To enable you to track project status we will usually report to you either monthly or at the completion of each milestone, by an electronic Project Report. Each Project Report contains an outline of the milestones, deliverables and tasks we have completed for you.
An electronic invoice will be issued in respect of each Project Report. Payment is due on receipt of our invoice for a completed milestone. Where Project Reports are provided monthly, payment is due 10 days following the date of the invoice.
We may deduct from any funds held on your behalf in our trust account any fees, expenses or disbursements for which we have provided an invoice. In the event of late or non-payment, interest of 2% per month may be charged, together with all expenses (including legal fees) on an indemnity basis if recovery steps are needed.
Credit and Guarantees
We assess and establish credit limits for each client. If you require credit beyond the limits we establish we will need to discuss and agree that credit requirement with you. Our Principal/Partners are responsible for agreeing credit limits.
We may conduct a credit search at any time if we are extending credit to you. If you do not want to grant us authority to carry out any search, please advise us. If you default on payment without making arrangements with us, we reserve the right to advise our credit agency.
Please do not supply your creditors with our name as a credit reference. The reason for this is that we are bound to keep your affairs confidential. Giving a credit reference requires us to breach that duty. Even if you release us from our duty, there are still obstacles to us giving the creditors all the information they need. It is simpler for both of us not to be in this situation.
If you are a company or other incorporated entity we may require personal guarantees from your directors, shareholders or other officers.
We are not allowed at law to act for more than one client if there is a conflict of interest. Please ensure that we are advised of any concerns you may have as to any conflict as 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.
Our Quality Audits
We undertake a quality audit programme, which ensures our service delivery meets your expectations. Examples of quality audit points are:
- We have a formal programme for ensuring all original legal documents held on your behalf are recorded.
- All projects are reviewed by our Office Manager, Principal/Partners and relevant professional staff before closure, to ensure all requirements are met.
- On project files being closed you may be telephoned by our Office Manager and asked a few brief questions. We would appreciate your assistance in this quality audit.
- You may e-mail our Office Manager at any time with quality issues at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Professional Indemnity Insurance
We hold professional indemnity insurance that meets or exceeds the minimum standards specified by the New Zealand Law Society.
Barristers and Consultants
Where you instruct us to engage Barristers and Consultants we may require a deposit of funds to cover the expected costs.
Documents and Files
Physical and electronic files and documents are shared by the project team members and are accessible at all times.
We supply copies of documents and correspondence to you throughout each project, generally by email. On completion we check to ensure that you have everything you require and forward all original documents to you, unless these are to be retained in our Deeds facilities for safe keeping.
We also have our own project files where we keep our copies of documents and correspondence for each project. If you require a copy of that file, we will supply this to you at the cost of the administration time and disbursements. We usually destroy our project files 7 years after a matter is completed. If you do not request a copy within that period, we have your authority to destroy them.
The privacy and confidentiality of your business affairs is paramount.
A secure computer system ensures your information cannot be accessed by anyone other than our staff, and in some cases to the extent required by law or by the Law Society's Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
You have the right to access any personal information that we hold about you and to request us to correct this information if it is incorrect, in accordance with the Privacy Act.
Common Reporting Standards, Anti-Money Laundering, and Countering Financing of Terrorism
By law, we are required to collect, and in some circumstances, report certain information to relevant authorities to ensure that we are not enabling money laundering or the funding of terrorism.
We may require you to provide certain information and documentation about you, and certain persons within your entity or trust. These persons include, but are not limited to, directors and shareholders of a company, and trustees, beneficiaries and settlors of trusts.
If we request you to fill out self-certification forms and provide extra documentation to us, please be aware that we may be unable to provide services to you until we have received the forms and verified the information provided. We will also be unable to process money through our trust account until this verification process is complete. We reserve the right not to act on your behalf should the information provided cause concern around money laundering or terrorism funding.
The information that we collect may be provided, when required by law, to banks and other government agencies including the Police Intelligence Unit.
In our terms of engagement, we cannot accept any responsibility for advice on issues relating to compliance with foreign law requirements.
Our membership of Mackrell International provides efficient access to high quality legal advisors in 65 countries. Our clients are consistently complimentary of the professional working relationships and expertise accessible through our networks.
If you request and we agree to have the costs of foreign legal advice billed to us, the costs of such legal services are treated as a disbursement in the costs rendered by us to you.
Ending our Engagement
You may end our engagement at any time by giving us reasonable notice.
If we have good cause, we may decide to stop working for you, for example if you:
- do not provide us with instructions promptly;
- are unable to, or do not, pay our fees as agreed; or
- act against our advice or in a way we consider is inconsistent with our fundamental obligations as lawyers or highly imprudent.
If we decide to stop working for you, we will give you reasonable notice.
Before you take your records, you need to pay our fees for the work we have done for you. We may keep a copy of any records you take.
The enforceability of these terms is not affected by:
- the ending of our engagement; or
- any changes to our partners or the incorporation of our firm.
New Zealand Law applies
Our relationship is governed by New Zealand law and you submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of New Zealand courts.