TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT AND CLIENT CARE INFORMATION
This document sets out the standard terms and conditions that apply when I provide legal services. These terms apply subject to any specific additional or alternative terms that are agreed in writing with my client (“you”).
This document also includes the information I am required to provide under the New Zealand Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers (Rules of Conduct and Client Care).
My Services and Client Care
The Rules of Conduct and Client Care require that all lawyers must:
Act competently, in a timely way, and in accordance with the 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.
These obligations are subject to any overriding duties, including to the courts and justice system. Details about how I will meet these obligations to you are set out in this document and in my Letter of Engagement.
My services are provided to you and not to any other person and may not be used or relied upon by any other person. I retain ownership in any intellectual property of any kind that I create for you and you may not reproduce or provide it to any other person or third party without my consent.
The work I do for you will be based on the information and instructions you provide. It will help me if you ensure that you:
give me clear and detailed instructions
let me know if there are particular time considerations
tell me if there are any relevant details that you are not entirely sure about
update any changes in your contact details
let me know if anything changes that is relevant to the work I am doing
respond promptly to any questions I have
keep in touch if you have any questions or if you haven’t heard from me as you expected.
Unless agreed otherwise my fee will be based on the time spent, charged at my hourly rate. I may also take into account other factors as allowed including the urgency of the work, the complexity or specialised skill required.
My fees will be charged in accordance with the Rules of Conduct and Client Care and will always be fair and reasonable for the work I have done.
I will provide an estimate of fees on request and special fee arrangements (including fixed or capped fees) may be appropriate for particular types of work. Where we agree such an arrangement it will be set out in the Letter of Engagement.
My fee will usually cover standard mobile phone calls and photocopying. Where there are other external costs such as couriers or travel costs, or there are substantial photocopying costs, these will be charged as disbursements.
Goods and Services (GST) is charged on fees and disbursements and unless otherwise stated, estimates and agreed fees are provided exclusive of GST.
Confidentiality and Privacy
Keeping your information and business confidential is fundamental to providing legal services. I will not disclose any confidential information I receive from you to any person and nor will I disclose any confidential information to you that I receive from another client or prospective client, unless you or that client has authorised that disclosure or disclosure is required by law or by the Rules of Conduct and Client Care.
In the course of acting for you I may collect and hold personal information about you. Personal information is information about an identifiable individual and includes information such as your name and address. In managing personal information, I will comply with the Privacy Act 2020 and specifically the Information Privacy Principles the Act sets out.
I will store personal information in any format that I consider appropriate at my offices or at premises outside my offices as necessary (particularly if required to work at home given COVID-19 or similar situations). I will not transfer your information outside New Zealand.
The personal information I collect and hold will be used to represent and advise you, identify and manage conflicts and comply with my legal obligations. This includes administrative and business purposes such as invoicing. When you sign or otherwise agree to my terms of engagement to consent to the collection and use of your information on this basis.
I may on rare occasions need to disclose personal information to third parties in the course of representing or advising you. I may disclose personal information where you have authorised the disclosure, disclosure is required by law or it required by the Law Society.
Unless you have instructed me otherwise, I will usually correspond with you by electronic communications (i.e. email). This form of communication is not always secure. Emails may be read, copied or interfered with in transit. I do not take responsibility for any of the risks associated with electronic communications.
If you have a concern or complaint about my services or charges, please contact me straight away so I can address it promptly. If you do not wish to refer your complaint to me, the Law Society operates a complaints service. You can call 0800 261 801 for information and advice about this service. You can also find information at www.lawsociety.org.nz or write to the New Zealand Law Society, PO Box 5041, Lambton Quay, Wellington 6145.
Professional Indemnity Insurance
I hold professional indemnity insurance that meets or exceeds the minimum standards specified by the New Zealand Law Society. I will provide details on request.
Lawyers Fidelity Fund
The New Zealand Law Society operates a Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund to protect clients of lawyers from pecuniary loss resulting from theft by lawyers. The maximum amount of compensation payable to an individual claimant is $100,000. Except in very specific circumstances the Fidelity Fund does not cover money that a client has asked a lawyer to invest on their behalf.
You may terminate your instructions to me at any time. I may also terminate your retainer in any of the circumstances set out in the Rules of Conduct and Client Care. If the retainer is terminated, then you must pay all fees and disbursements due and incurred up to the date of the termination.
You authorise me to destroy all files and documents relating to your instruction (other than documents held in safe keeping) seven years after my engagement ends or earlier in the case of electronically stored records.
Conflicts of Interest
I will always protect your interests and before accepting an instruction will do my best to find out whether any conflict of interest exists. If a conflict arises at any time when I am engaged to carry out work for you I will immediately advise you and work with you to resolve it in accordance with the Rules of Conduct and Client Care.
There may be circumstances where I am required by law to verify your identity. In this event you authorise me to conduct such verification as the relevant law requires.
Accounts and Payments
Unless otherwise agreed I will send you an account each month for work that has been completed and when a matter is concluded. Accounts are due for payment within fourteen days of the date of the invoice. Details of how payments can be made, including details of my account for direct credit, will be included on the invoice.
You are liable to pay my accounts whether or not you may have a right to recover these costs from another party. If you do not pay an account, I may choose not to do any further work and I may retain custody of your file until payment or an arrangement for payment is made. I may also charge reasonable interest (in accordance with the current practice of the profession) on any amount outstanding. I may refer unpaid accounts to a collection agency for recovery and you agree that in such circumstances you are liable to meet the reasonable costs of recovery.
Limitations on Liability or Obligations
I am not liable for any loss or liability caused or contributed to by incomplete or inaccurate information provided by you or by third parties (including public records) or that arises as a result of you not receiving or reading a communication I sent you.
Any other limitations on the extent of my obligations or any exclusion of liability will be set out in the Letter of Engagement.
These Terms of Engagement and Client Care Information apply to any current engagement and also to any future engagement, whether or not I send you another copy of them. I am entitled to change them and when I do, I will publish the changes on my website and also endeavour to send you a copy.
Our relationship is governed by New Zealand law and New Zealand courts have non-exclusive jurisdiction.
If you have any questions about anything in this document, you should contact me.