These 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.
The services which we are to provide for you are outlined in our engagement letter.
2 Calculation of Fee
Our fees are calculated in accordance with guidelines laid down by the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers and take into account a number of factors including:
• The skill, experience, specialised knowledge and responsibility required to perform the work properly;
• The complexity of the matter and the difficulty or novelty of the legal issues involved;
• The urgency and circumstances in which the work is undertaken and any time limits imposed including those imposed by you;
• The degree of risk assumed by us in undertaking the work including the amount or value of the property involved;
• The importance of the matter to you the client and the results we achieve;
• The time spent on the matter;
• The fee customarily charged in the market and locality for similar legal work.
The fees which we will charge or the manner in which they will be arrived at, are set out in our engagement letter.
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 on an hourly rate basis. 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 the further costs.
If the engagement letter specifies that the fee is an estimate, this will be our “best guess” as to what the fee is likely to be based upon the information that you provide to us at the time your initial instructions on the matter are received. However we may not be able to assess with any certainty at that time the amount of time and attendances required and all the expenses that are likely to be incurred. As a result we reserve the right to review or amend our estimate to include all the additional work and expenses required if our services are likely to take more time or are more extensive, complicated or urgent than we originally allowed for. If it becomes apparent that the estimate will be exceeded, we will advise you of the reasons and obtain your further instructions.
Where our fees are calculated on an hourly basis, the hourly rates are set out in our engagement letter. Those rates reflect the experience, ability and specialisation of our principals and qualified staff. The hourly rates may be revised from time to time. We will advise you of any increase in those rates. Time spent is recorded in 6 minute units, with time rounded up to the next unit of 6 minutes.
Service fees may also be charged for the following:
• Landonline search services - $40 for the first document / $30 for the second document/ $20 for the third and subsequent documents.
• Landonline registration services - $60 per document.
• General office services (usually $103.50)
3.2 Disbursements and expenses:
In providing services we may incur expenses or have to make payments to third parties on your behalf (called “disbursements”). These will be included in our invoice to you. We may require an advance payment (usually $250.00) for the disbursements or expenses which we will be incurring on your behalf. In some cases disbursements may include a service or agency component.
3.3 GST (if any):
Is payable by you on our fees and charges.
We will send interim invoices to you at regular intervals 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 within 14 days of the date of the invoice, unless alternative arrangements have been made with us. We may require interest to be paid on any amount which is more than 7 days overdue. Interest will be calculated at the rate of 5% above our firm’s bank overdraft rate applying at the date payment became due. If you anticipate any difficulty in being able to pay our fees and expenses then you must contact us immediately on receipt of our invoice and discuss arrangements for payment. If we have not been paid by you by the due date, and we decide to refer the debt to a debt collection agency or take Court proceedings to recover the amount owing to us, then all the collection costs that we incur including full lawyer and client indemnity costs will also be recoverable from you.
We may 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.
3.7 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.
4 Guarantee by Director(s)
The director(s) of a company will be personally liable for and guarantee payment of fees due by the company notwithstanding that the company may be in receivership or in liqudation.
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 Sociey’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.
You may terminate our retainer at any time.
We may suspend or terminate our retainer in any of the circumstances set out in the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers including:
• your failure to provide further instructions to us when required in a sufficiently timely manner;
• your failure to pay any invoices for fees and disbursements rendered to you by the due date referred to in paragraph 3.5 above.
If our retainer is suspended or terminated you must pay us all fees due up to the date of suspension or termination and all expenses incurred up to that date.
Where work has been done by us but we have not been paid by you then as a general rule we have the right to retain original documents and correspondence on your file until such time as all outstanding fees, disbursements and other expenses have been paid. This is known as a lien. This will be particularly important in circumstances where you decide for whatever reason to instruct another lawyer. That lawyer may be obliged to give an undertaking to us to pay all outstanding fees and disbursements before your file is released.
8 Retention of Files and Documents
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.
9 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.
10 Duty of Care
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.
11 Limitations on Extent of our Obligations or Liability
If you are purchasing property we will not offer you advice on the quality of your investment as we are not qualified to do so. You must always exercise your own judgment in deciding to proceed with the purchase of property.
We disclaim any liability to you in this respect.
12 Trust Account
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 an on-call account. In that case we will charge an administration fee of 5% of the interest derived. The net interest earned will be credited to you in our trust account.
We may also place your funds into such investments as you may direct. In this instance we may receive commissions from the bank or other institution.
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 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 concerns about or do not understand any aspects of the above Terms please contact us to discuss your concerns.