Standard Terms of Engagement
These standard Terms of Engagement (“Terms”) apply in respect of all work carried out by us for you, except to the extent that we otherwise agree with you in writing.
1.1 The services which we are to provide for you are outlined in our engagement letter.
- The fees which we will charge or the manner in which they will be arrived at, are set out in our engagement letter.
- If the engagement letter specifies a fixed fee, we will charge this for the agreed scope of our services. Work which falls outside that scope will generally be charged on an hourly rate basis. We will advise you as soon as reasonably practicable if it becomes necessary for us to provide services outside the agreed scope and if requested, give you an estimate of the likely amount of these further costs.
- Where our fees are calculated on an hourly basis, the hourly rates are set out in our engagement letter. The differences in those rates reflect the experience and specialisation of our professional staff. Time spent is recorded in six minute units with time rounded up to the next unit of six minutes.
- In the circumstances where, after commencement of our services you nominate another party to complete the matter (including but not limited to a limited liability company or trust) these Terms shall also apply in respect of all work carried out by us for your nominee provided that you shall at all times remain personally liable to meet your nominee’s obligations pursuant to these Terms.
- Where the instructing client is a limited liability company or trust, the directors of the company or the trustees of the trust who sign (or where the client is bound to meet the obligations of the client company pursuant to these terms) are jointly and severally personally liable to meet the client’s obligations pursuant to these terms. This provision shall not apply to independent trustees who have no beneficial interest in the trust whose liability shall be limited to the assets of the trust for the time being.
2.2 Disbursements and Expenses: In providing services we may incur disbursements or have to make payments to third parties on your behalf. Generally we require that payment of external disbursements be made as they fall due. We may require an advance payment for the disbursements or expenses which we will be incurring on your behalf. Disbursements are charged to you at cost and include, but are not limited to; Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) title searches and registration fees, Land Information Memorandum (LIM) fees charged by territorial authorities, Personal Property Security Register (PPSR) search fees, ADLS form fees, bank charges, court filing fees, process server fees and file archiving and retrieval fees.
2.3 GST (if any): Is payable by you on our fees and charges.
2.4 Invoices: May be sent to you on an interim basis (e.g. monthly), on completion of the matter, or termination of our engagement. We may also send you an invoice when we incur a significant expense.
- Payment: Invoices are payable within 14 days of the date of the invoice, unless alternative arrangements have been made with us. We may require interest to be paid on any amount which is more than 7 days overdue. Interest will be calculated at the ASB Bank Limited commercial overdraft rate applicable on the date the account becomes overdue. We may also cease providing our services to you in respect of any current matter or not accept instructions to act on any new matter during such time as any of our invoices payable by you are more than 7 days overdue for payment.
2.6 Security: We may ask you to pre-pay amounts to us, or to provide security for our fees and expenses. You authorise us:
- To debit against amounts pre-paid by you; and
- To deduct from any funds held on your behalf in our trust account;
any fees, expenses or disbursements for which we have provided an invoice. Signing the letter of engagement is your written authority to us to deduct our fees and disbursements and expenses from any funds held on your behalf in our trust account.
2.7 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, nevertheless you remain responsible for payment to us if the third party fails to pay us.
3.1 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:
- To the extent necessary or desirable to enable us to carry out your instructions; or
- To the extent required by law or by the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
- Confidential information concerning you will as far as practicable be made available only to those within our firm who are providing legal services for you.
- We will of course, not disclose to you confidential information which we have in relation to any other client without that client’s consent.
- You may terminate our retainer at any time.
- We may terminate our retainer in any of the circumstances set out in the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
- If our retainer is terminated you must pay us all fees due up to the date of termination and all expenses incurred up to that date.
5.0 Retention of Files and Documents
5.1 You authorise us (without further reference to you) to destroy all files and documents for any matter (other than any documents that we hold in safe custody for you) 7 years after our engagement ends or earlier if we have converted those files and documents to an electronic format. Upon completion of your matter, our file relating to it shall be archived in a secure offsite storage facility by a provider of offsite document management services. A one off storage fee per matter shall be charged as a disbursement.
5.2 If you require us to provide you with a file or any copies of material or other information from a file of yours which is held at an offsite storage facility, or if we require to retrieve our archived file for any reason we may charge you the costs of retrieving the file from the offsite storage facility.
6.0 Conflicts of Interest
6.1 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.
7.0 Duty of Care
7.1 Our duty of care is to you and not to any other person. Before any other person may rely on our advice, we must expressly agree to this.
8.0 Trust Account
- We maintain a trust account for all funds which we receive from clients (except monies received for payment of our invoices). If we are holding significant funds on your behalf, we will normally lodge those funds on interest bearing deposit with a bank. In that case we will charge an administration fee of 5% of the interest derived. You will be required to sign a consent to release of information concerning your tax status to our bank before we are able to place any funds on interest bearing deposit on your behalf.
9.1 These Terms apply to any current engagement and also to any future engagement, whether or not we send you another copy of them.
9.2 We are entitled to change these terms from time to time, in which case we will send you amended terms.
9.3 Our relationship with you is governed by New Zealand law and New Zealand courts have non-exclusive jurisdiction.