STANDARD TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT
These Standard Terms of Engagement (“Terms”) apply in respect of all work carried out by McHardy Parbery Lawyers for you, except to the extent that we otherwise agree with you in writing.
1. Client Care and Service
1.1. The services which we are to provide for you are outlined in our engagement letter. 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 a 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 duty to the courts and to the justice system. If you have any questions, please visit www.lawsociety.org.nz.
2.1. Fees The services which we are to provide for you are outlined in our engagement letter. The Law Society client care and service information is set out below. The Law Society’s principles of charging are:
• The time and labour engaged.
• The skills, specialised knowledge and responsibility required.
• The importance of the matter to the client, and the results achieved.
• The urgency and circumstances in which the work is undertaken and any time limits, including time limits imposed by the client.
• The degree of risk assumed by the lawyer in undertaking the services, including the amount or value of any property involved.
• The complexity of the matter and the difficulty or novelty of the questions involved.
• The experience, reputation and ability of the lawyer carrying out the work.
• The possibility that the acceptance of the instructions will preclude engagement of the lawyer by other clients.
• The reasonable costs of running a practice.
• Whether the fee is fixed or conditional (whether in litigation or otherwise).
• Any quote or estimate of fee given.
• Any fee agreement (including conditional fee agreement) entered into between the lawyer and the client.
• The fee customarily charged in the market and locality for similar legal services.
2.2. Disbursements and Expenses In providing these 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. GST This is payable by you on our fees and charges.
2.4. Invoices 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.
2.5. Payment Invoices are payable within 7 days of the date of the invoice, unless alternative arrangements have been made with us. Interest will accrue on any amount which is more than 14 days overdue, calculated at 12% per annum on all amounts unpaid following the 14 day period. It is our policy to issue monthly statements at the end of each month following the 14 day period for all unpaid accounts. Any such statement will include the calculated interest for late payment together with an administration fee of $50.00 plus GST payable on every such statement issued. Should accounts not be settled within 14 days of the date of the invoice we also reserve the right to disengage in carrying out further work, regardless of imposed deadlines, and place the account with a Collection Agency, in which case you will be responsible for all costs relating to the collection of the account.
2.6. Funds held in Trust may be applied to Fees and Disbursements If we are holding funds in Trust on your behalf, whether received from you or any third party, you authorise us to deduct from any such funds any fees, expenses or disbursements for which we have provided an invoice.
2.7. Security We may ask you to prepay amounts to us or provide security for our fees and expenses. If such a request is made, payment will be made to our solicitor’s trust account. You authorise us: a) To debit against amounts prepaid by you; and b) To deduct from any funds held on your behalf any fair and reasonable 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, you remain responsible for payment to us if the third party fails to pay us.
3. Professional Indemnity Insurance
We hold professional indemnity insurance that exceeds the minimum standards specified by the New Zealand Law Society. We will provide you with particulars of the minimum standards upon request.
4. Fidelity Fund
The Solicitors’ Fidelity Guarantee Fund is established under the Law Practitioners Act 1982. Clients who have suffered financial loss because of theft by a solicitor or a solicitor’s employee or agent, and who cannot recover the money through other avenues, may claim reimbursement from the fidelity fund. With certain exceptions specified in the Act, the fidelity fund does not cover any losses relating to money given to a solicitor for investment purposes. All solicitors who are sole practitioners or partners in law firms in New Zealand contribute to the fidelity fund, which is administered by the New Zealand Law Society through a committee of practising lawyers. The fidelity fund adds to the confidence clients may have in entrusting their money or property to solicitors in order to buy or sell a home, raise mortgage finance, administer estates, form trusts, and other tasks that might require solicitors to handle clients’ money. Clients who are concerned about the security of their money (such as unexplained or unreasonable delays) should take any or all of the following steps:
• Make an inquiry of, or complain to, the district law society to which the lawyer belongs.
• Phone the New Zealand Law Society toll-free number (0800 261 801) for reporting concern involving client money.
• Report the matter to the Police.
• Get advice on how to recover the money, including, if necessary, the possibility of a claim to the fidelity fund.
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 should refer your complaint to the writer in the first instance. The Law Society also maintains a complaint service and you are able to make a complaint to that service. To do so, you should contact the Auckland Office of the New Zealand Law Society, P.O. Box 4417, Shortland Street, Auckland, or telephone the New Zealand Law Society’s Complaints Service on 0800 261 801, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
6.1. 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 Rule of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
6.2. Confidential information concerning you will, as far as practicable, be made available only to our staff.
6.3. We will not disclose to you confidential information that we have in relation to any other client.
7.1. You may terminate our engagement at any time.
7.2. We may terminate our arrangement if our accounts are unpaid for more than 7 days beyond the due date for payment, unless an alternative arrangement has been reached.
7.3. We may terminate our arrangement in any of the circumstances set out in the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
7.4. If our arrangement is terminated, you must pay us all fees due up to the date of termination and all expenses incurred up to that date.
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 the documents we hold in safe custody for you or documents that we are legally obligated to hold for longer periods) six 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 person may rely on our advice, we must expressly agree to this.
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.