Terms of Engagement and Information for Clients
1. As required by the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers of the New Zealand Law Society (the “Rules”) we are required to provide you with our Terms of Engagement and Information for Clients.
2. A partner of the firm will be primarily responsible for all matters on your file. If you receive these Terms of Engagement and Information for Clients from a staff member, his or her supervising partner, will have primary responsibility for your file. Your file or tasks on your file may be delegated to other partners, solicitors and legal executives from time to time as appropriate.
3. We are committed to doing our best to ensure that your legal needs are met in this matter. We will:
- 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 any complaint promptly and fairly.
4. The obligations lawyers owe to clients are described in the Rules. Those obligations are subject to other overriding duties, including duties to the courts and the justice system. If you have any questions, please contact us on (04) 569 3997 or the Law Society on 0800 261 801 or www.lawyers.org.nz.
Professional Fees and Charges
5. Except where our Letter of Engagement provides for our fee to be charged in accordance with our Residential Conveyancing Schedule your fees will be charged as follows:
(a) The charge will be our assessment of a reasonable fee for the services we have provided. In setting the fee we will take into account a range of matters including the hourly rates which take account of the levels of experience of our lawyers and paralegal staff who have worked on the file. It will also take into account a range of factors applied by the Law Society which include the skill, specialist knowledge and responsibility required by the file, the amount of time taken to complete the file, the importance of the matter to you, complexity, urgency, the volume and complexity of documents prepared or reviewed, the consideration comprised in the transaction and the result achieved. Recorded time is used as an aid and base for calculating fees: total fees charged for any particular transaction may be more or less than the total time recorded applying the factors set out above. Our firm’s hourly rates for solicitors and other members of the professional staff are based on years of experience, specialisation, and level of professional attainment. Any variation in the hourly rates referred to in our Letter of Engagement will be advised to you before being applied.
(b) Where a file does not proceed to completion for any reason a fee will be payable for services provided up to the point our services end and disbursements incurred will be payable.
(c) Where moneys are lodged on short-term deposit with a trading bank then a commission of 5% of the gross interest
6. We may deduct from any funds held on your behalf in our trust account any fees, expenses and disbursements for which we have provided an invoice.
7. Accounts are payable as provided in our Letter of Engagement.
8. If any account is not paid within 30 days, interest may be charged on the outstanding balance at the rate of 12% per annum (calculated on a daily basis) from the date upon which payment was due, and you will be responsible for any reasonable debt collection costs that we incur (including the cost of preparing any proceedings) in recovering outstanding amounts due to us. Where accounts remain outstanding then, notwithstanding interest has not been added to previous statements we reserve the right to add interest calculated from the date 7 days after the account was rendered.
Disbursements and Office Services
9. Disbursement costs incurred with outside agencies such as searches, registration fees, electronic forms, courier charges and agency fees will be charged separately. The amounts charged for disbursements include only the costs we incur with outside agencies. Disbursements may be included with our accounts or may be billed separately. It is our policy to require payment in advance for significant disbursements. Where disbursements are included in an account these may not be paid by credit card unless an arrangement is made to include the administration charges which are incurred.
10. Office services (which include file opening fee, telephone charges, faxes and routine photocopying and printing) are charged at the rate provided in our Letter of Engagement. Large photocopying volumes will be charged on a per page basis. Additional internal administrative attendances are not charged in the hourly rates of our lawyers. Our administrative attendances in relation to disbursements e.g. obtaining a copy of the title through our Landonline licence are covered by our office services charge.
11. Where Counsel is to be instructed we may require you to lodge Counsel’s estimate of their fee prior to Counsel commencing work. We may require an instructed barrister to accept instructions from us on the basis that we have no responsibility for the barrister’s fee beyond funds held in our trust account for that purpose.
Communication, Files and Documents
12. Email is our preferred means of communication and will also be used for the delivery of accounts.
13. All files are scanned on completion and the hard copy destroyed.
14. We provide a complimentary storage service in respect of Wills, Enduring Powers of Attorney, Powers of Attorney and Deeds of Delegation, Memorandum of Wishes, Trust Deeds, Variations of Trust, Deeds of Retirement and Appointment of Trustees and Occupation Licences/Agreements.
15. We provide a document storage service for all other documents at an annual charge presently $50.00 plus GST.
The Lawyers Fidelity Fund (the “Fund”)
16. The Law Society maintains the Fund for the purposes of providing clients of lawyers with protection against pecuniary loss arising from theft by lawyers. The maximum amount payable by the 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 Fund does not cover a client for any loss relating to money that a lawyer is instructed to invest on behalf of the client.
Professional Indemnity Insurance
17. We hold current Professional Indemnity insurance which exceeds the minimum standards from time to time specified by the Law Society. We will provide you with particulars of the minimum standards on request.
Limitations on extent of our obligations or liability
18. Any limitations on the extent of our obligations to you or any limitation or exclusion of liability in respect of any particular file will be recorded in writing.
If you have a Complaint
19. If you have any complaint at all about our service please raise it with the partner responsible for your matter, or, if you prefer, any other partner in our firm.
20. If it cannot be resolved immediately to your satisfaction we shall appoint a partner who has not been involved in your matter to deal with it promptly and fairly.
21. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you have the right to take the matter up with the Law Society which runs a complaints service (0800 261 801 or www.lawyers.org.nz).
22. These Terms of Engagement and Information for Clients are subject to change from time to time. You will be advised of any change. The prevailing Terms of Engagement and Information for Clients document incorporating all amendments can be viewed on our websites www.gywlaw.co.nz or www.homelegal.co.nz.
We are providing legal services based on our Letter of Engagement and these Terms of Engagement and Information for Clients.
Effective 1 July 2016.
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