Terms of Engagement
Unless we agree in writing to any other terms, these terms will apply whenever you ask us to act for you. You do not need to sign any document to indicate your acceptance of these terms, but your acceptance will be assumed from you engaging us to act for you. If we vary our terms of business at any time in the future, we will send you a copy of our amended terms.
Our relationship with you is governed by New Zealand law and New Zealand courts have exclusive jurisdiction.
We will provide you with the legal services that you request or that we agree on, unless a conflict of interest or other factors prevent us from doing so, in which case we will contact you immediately.
We will record our understanding of your instructions in an initial letter to you. If this letter does not reflect your instructions please let us know immediately. It is important that good communication, and a shared understanding of your instructions and expectations, is established at the outset.
We provide our advice to you and only you. Other people or entities (including those closely associated with you) who want to rely or act on our advice can do so only if we both agree in writing. Our advice is strictly limited to the matters stated in it and does not apply by implication to any other matters.
We do not provide you with any advice as to the profitability, prudence or desirability of completing the transaction, nor as to the tax effects or implications of it. This advice should be obtained by you from your accountant or other tax specialists.
Client Care and Service
At all times we will:
- Act competently, in a timely way, and in accordance with instructions received and arrangements made with you.
- Protect and promote your interests and act for you free from compromising influences or loyalties.
- Discuss with you your objectives and how they should 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.lawsociety.org.nz or call 0800 261 801.
Personal Responsible for Your File
In our initial letter to you, we will advise you of the person or persons responsible for the overall conduct of your file.
Your Personal Information
Client confidentiality is of paramount importance. We will hold in confidence all information concerning you and your affairs that we acquire while acting for you. We will not disclose any of this information to any other person except to the extent that is necessary or desirable to carry out your instructions or to the extent required by law or by the New Zealand Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
Your confidential information will only be made available, as far as is practicable, to such persons within our firm who are providing legal services to you.
We will not disclose to you confidential information which we have relating to any other client.
Common Reporting Standards / Anti-money Laundering & Countering the Financing of Terrorism Reporting
Where we hold moneys for you on interest-bearing deposit through our trust account, you authorise us to disclose to the Bank of New Zealand and/or Inland Revenue, your personal information as required by the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and the Double Tax Agreements (United States of America – FACTA) Order 2014.
We are not able to commence acting for you until such time as we have completed client due diligence and/or enhanced due diligence where required, in compliance with the Anti Money Laundering and Countering of Financing of Terrorism legislation. We reserve the right to terminate our retainer where we have been unable to complete such due diligence.
In the event that we lodge a suspicious activity report or a prescribed transaction report with the Police Financial Intelligence Unit or where the Department of Internal Affairs undertakes an audit pursuant to the Anti Money Laundering and Countering of the Financing of Terrorism Act 2009, you authorise us to disclose to such agencies such of your personal information in such reports and audits as is required for us to meet our obligations as a reporting entity under such legislation.
For conveyancing transactions, we will generally charge a fixed fee which we will agree upon at the outset.
For non-fixed fee matters, we have a standard hourly fee rate which forms the basis of our fees charged. In addition to our standard hourly rate, our fees charged will take into account:
- the skill and responsibility required;
- the results achieved;
- the urgency and circumstances in which the transaction is carried out;
- the value or amount of any property or money involved;
- the complexity of the matter;
- the time spent
For non-fixed fee matters, we will give you an estimate of what the fees are likely to be. This will be a guide only and is not a fixed quote. At your request, we will tell you the amount of fees incurred to date, or we can let you know when fees reach a certain level.
We also charge for general office services and for disbursements incurred on your behalf.
Any disbursements we incur on your behalf, such as Land Information New Zealand search and registration fees, Companies Office registration fees, courier fees and local authority land information fees will be charged on to you at the amount charged to us. We reserve the right to request you to pay us in advance the cost of any such disbursements, in particular LIM fees, before we lodge the order with the local authority.
If we hold clients’ funds on interest-bearing deposit pending settlement of a transaction, an administration fee of 5% of the gross interest earned will be charged.
Unless we state otherwise, our rates and any estimates of cost do not include goods and services tax. GST is charged as and when required by law.
We will generally render you an invoice at the conclusion of your transaction for fixed fee matters. For non-fixed fee matters, we will invoice you at regular intervals (usually three monthly unless otherwise agreed).
Payment of our invoices is required within 14 days of the date of the invoice.
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.If our invoice is not paid by the due date we reserve the right to stop work on your file until payment is received.
If payment in full is not received with three months from date of invoice then we reserve the right to instruct a Collection Agency and any collection costs will be added to the amount owing.
If you 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, you remain responsible for payment to us if the third party fails to pay us.
Payment in Advance
We may ask you for a payment in advance for out-of-pocket expenses payable to third parties on your behalf and/or as security for professional fees. This money will be held in our trust account on your behalf and will be used to pay any charges as they become due. We will provide you with a statement setting out how this money has been spent. Where we request a Land Information Memorandum (LIM) from a local authority on your behalf, we will require payment of the fee prior to making the request.
Conflicts of Interest
We have procedures in place to identify a potential conflict of interest, either between you and ourselves or between you and another client of ours. We will advise you of if a conflict of interest arises and will abide by the requirements and procedures set out in the New Zealand Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
If we cease to act for you or have not been instructed by you on a matter, we may act for other clients whose interests are adverse to your own, provided we do not hold confidential information belonging to you that is relevant to the matter, or we have taken steps to maintain the confidentiality of information which is relevant to you.
External Information and Public Records
We may obtain and rely on external information or public records (eg, government agencies or registers) in the course of carrying out your instructions. This information may not always be accurate or complete. We do not accept responsibility and will not be liable for any direct or indirect damage or loss caused by errors or omissions in such external information.
Your Files and Documents
You authorise us, without further reference to you, to destroy all files and documents (other than any documents that we hold in safe custody for you) ten years after the file has been concluded, or earlier if we have converted those files and documents to an electronic format.
Termination of Our Services
You may terminate our services by giving us written notice at any time. You must pay our fees for work done and for other charges incurred up to the time of termination.
We may end our engagement with you in any of the circumstances set out in the Law Society's Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers, including if our fees and charges are not paid when due.
If we become unable to act for you, we will render an invoice to you for our fees and disbursements up to the time of termination.
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.
Lawyer's Fidelity Fund
The Law Society maintains the Lawyers' Fidelity Fund for the purpose 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 and 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 either Naahi Taiaroa or Ngaire Smith. If you do not wish to refer your complaint to Naahi or Ngaire, or you are not satisfied with their response to your complaint, you may refer your complaint to the New Zealand Law Society which operates a complaints service. To do so, phone 0800 261 801 and you will be connected to the nearest Complaints Service Office, which can provide information and advice about making a complaint or write to the New Zealand Law Society at PO Box 5041, Lambton Quay, Wellington 6145.