TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT
Our firm is committed to serving you professionally and ethically. We set out below our terms of engagement. These terms are the basis upon which you retain us and will apply, unless otherwise agreed in writing.
We will hold in strict confidence all information concerning you that we acquire during the course of acting for you. We will not disclose any confidential information obtained from you unless authorised by you or required by law. Similarly, we are not able to disclose to you the information that we obtain through acting for other clients.
Conflict of Interest
We have policies and procedures to deal with issues in accordance with the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers, if the interests of two or more clients conflict.
Our Duty of Care
Our duty of care is to you our client named in our confirmation of instruction. We do not owe any duty of care or liability to any other person, unless we expressly agree.
Our Professional Fees
Our fee will be based on the time spent by the lawyers in our firm on your behalf, and the criteria laid down by the New Zealand Law Society. The time spent by us on your behalf for which you will be charged will include:
- Personal and telephone attendances on you or third parties
- Correspondence with you or third parties
- Attendances upon Solicitors acting for the other party
- Considering the law and facts of your case
- Reading and considering incoming letters, emails, papers and documents in your case. Preparing papers for the Court
- Instructing inquiry agents and experts
- Attending Court on your behalf
- Time spent on traveling
- Our fees are calculated on a number of factors: hourly rate, level of skill and experience, specialization in training and practice, time spent, complexity, responsibility, the degree of urgency required, and other relevant matters.
Our firm’s hourly rate is $290.00 (plus GST) and to the extent that other solicitors and legal assistants are involved, their present rates will vary from $70 to $290 (plus GST) an hour. Hourly rates are subject to review and we reserve the right to change these rates without notice.
We will give you fee estimates upon request. Any estimate is given in good faith based upon the information we have received at that date, and our previous experience in such matters. These are a guide only and not a fixed cost quotation. We will advise you if it becomes apparent that the fee estimate will be exceeded.
Our invoices will include GST applicable to our supply of services. GST is payable by you on our fees and office expenses.
Disbursements and Office Expenses
In providing services we may incur disbursements which include expenses such as court filing fees, barristers fees, or making payments to third parties on your behalf to agents who serve documents and who conduct investigations, searches and registrations, experts and other professionals. You are responsible for reimbursing our firm for disbursements.Office expenses include toll calls, faxes, photocopying, postage, office stationery, travel expenses, courier and other costs.Disbursements may be included with our accounts or may be billed separately. Firm policy requires us to obtain from you funds in advance for significant disbursements and office expenses.
Retainer (When applicable)
Before commencing work on your behalf, we require a retainer as an advance against fees, disbursements and other charges. The retainer will be deposited in our trust account and used on account of fees and disbursements rendered by us or any disbursements on your behalf. Any unused portion of the retainer will be returned to you upon completion or termination of our services. Please provide this retainer to our office at your earliest convenience. Further retainers may be necessary as the matter progresses if the earlier retainer has been used.
Generally, unless agreed otherwise, accounts will be sent to you monthly or upon completion of a matter. Payment is due within 14 days of the account being rendered unless prior arrangements are made with us in writing.
If we do not receive payment by the due date we may charge you interest on the outstanding balance at the rate of 5% per annum above the firm’s bank overdraft rate applying at the date payment became due. Interest charged will be payable on demand.
If your account remains outstanding after 60 days, no further work will be undertaken by any lawyer of the firm until appropriate arrangements are made to bring the account back into good standing.
All collection costs incurred by us in recovery of our accounts rendered shall be payable by you, including our legal costs.
Lien Where work has been done by the Firm but the Firm has not been paid by the Client then as a general rule the Firm has the right to retain original documents and correspondence on the Client’s file until such time as the account is paid. This is known as a lien. This applies in circumstances where the Client decides for whatever reason to instruct another Firm. That other Firm may be obliged to give an undertaking to the Firm to pay all outstanding fees and disbursements before the Client’s file is released.GuarantorWhere the name of a guarantor is completed on this agreement, then that person personally guarantees full payment of the Client’s fees and disbursements in terms of this agreement.
Settlement Monies – Trust Account
We maintain a trust account for all funds which we receive from clients. If we are holding significant funds on your behalf we will normally lodge those funds on interest bearing deposit with our Bank. In that case we will charge an administration fee on the interest derived.
For property and financing transactions where payment of monies is due by you, we require clear funds for the correct amount to be deposited in our trust account on the day of settlement.
We will be entitled to deduct at any time our fees, disbursements and other charges from any money held or received on your behalf. The raising of the invoice to you is authority for such a deduction, and such invoices shall be forwarded to you.
Termination of Legal Services
At all times you have the right to terminate our services and representation upon written notice to us. We reserve the right to terminate our services at any time upon written notice (subject to our ethical obligations). Where you give us any instruction and we rely on that instruction (for example give an undertaking to a third party), you may not revoke that instruction.
In the event of termination, you are responsible for the value of recorded unbilled time plus disbursements to the date of termination. We will render our final account to you, and at all times we shall have a lien over your file until our account is paid.
Over the course of our services, we may collect and hold personal information concerning you.Information concerning you will be used by us to provide legal services, to obtain credit or other references, to undertake credit management and to inform you of issues and developments that may be of interest to you. You authorise us to obtain from any person, or release to any person, any information necessary for those purposes, and you authorise any person to release information to us that we require for those purposes.Information concerning you will be held at our office. Under the Privacy Act 1993 you have the right of access to, and correction of, your personal information held by us. Such personal information will only be disclosed when necessary in order to give effect to your instructions, or if otherwise required by law.
Where we communicate with you by electronic means we will take every reasonable precaution to ensure that those communications are accurate, reliable, adequate, complete, confidential and secure. However, we can not and do not accept any liability for loss arising from any communication by electronic means. We exclude all warranties to the extent permitted by law.
Files and Documents
At the end of your matter we will keep your file for a period of seven (7) years from completion and thereafter we will destroy that file(other than any documents in safe custody for you) without contacting you.
Legal Aid (If applicable) – Not a Lead Provider
You may wish to apply for a grant of Legal Aid. However we caution you that we do not undertake legal aid work as we are not registered lead providers. You will therefore be liable for our account charged at the private rates outlined above.
The above terms and any other agreement we have with you are governed by New Zealand law. If we assist you in respect of any matters governed by foreign law, we do so on the basis that we do not accept any responsibility to your legal position under that foreign law.
Acceptance of Terms of Engagement
By engaging our services or continuing to instruct us after receiving or being notified of these terms of engagement, and by us providing work, services or representation, you agree to and are deemed to have accepted these terms and conditions.
We may change these terms of engagement, in which case we will send an amended copy.
We value feedback. Please contact us if you have any comments or questions about these terms or any related matters to:
Norwest City Law, PO Box 225 Kumeu
Telephone: (09) 411 9133
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