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.
The services which we are to provide for you are outlined in our Engagement Letter.
2.1 Estimate of Costs:
We can provide you with an estimate of costs for your project, which will be based on the information you provide us at the time of initial instructions. However, we may not be able to assess with any certainty the amount of time, attendances, and costs which may be required. For that reason we reserve the right to review or amend our estimate if our services are likely to take more time, are more extensive, complex, or urgent than we have allowed for. We will contact you if it becomes apparent our estimate will be exceeded. Our estimates are exclusive of GST and disbursements.
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 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 the 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 6 minute units, with time rounded up to the next unit of 6 minutes.
2.3 Office Services Charge and Disbursements:
It is very likely that in undertaking your work we will incur costs such as office equipment rental, copying/printing, telephone/tolls/faxes, postage, stationery and library resources. We incorporate an office service charge into our charges to you at the rate of 7% of the fee amount being a percentage which historically reflects the average cost to us.
Other larger expenses such as search, registration and Court fees are disbursements. Disbursements are amounts charged to us by third parties for services provided on our clients’ behalf. These charges are then shown in our invoice to the appropriate client. Some disbursements (land title searching and registration) are paid to Le Pine Search Limited, a company in which the partners of Le Pine & Co have an interest. These disbursements include the particular fee charged by the registry on the relevant transaction plus a contribution to annual licence costs and a fee component to Le Pine Search Limited with the intention of maintaining charges in line with third party providers of these services. We are happy to provide a schedule of current Le Pine Search Limited charges upon request.
We may ask you at the outset of the project to pay us a deposit (usually $200) to meet these disbursements. These will be included in our invoice to you when the expense is incurred. We may require additional advance payments for the disbursements or expenses which we will be incurring on your behalf.
2.4 GST (if any):
Is payable by you on our fees and charges.
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.
2.6 Payment of Accounts:
We request payment of invoices immediately upon receipt.
We encourage open discussion of costs at the commencement of each project.
Should you anticipate any difficulty in being able to pay our costs, then we ask that you discuss the matter with us at the commencement of the project, as we may be able to help in arranging suitable finance facilities to assist you. Alternatively we will accept periodic payments in advance by way of Automatic Bank Authority.
We may cease work on your project if our invoices are not paid on time or in accordance with prior arrangements made with us.
In the event that our invoices are not paid within 7 days of receipt, then we may charge interest at 1.5% per month on all invoices for fees and disbursements remaining unpaid and we will recover from you any costs of collection (including legal costs on a solicitor client basis).
In addition, we may use an external account agency to collect unpaid invoices and they may contact you about payment.
Conveyancing costs will be deducted on settlement.
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.
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, 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 person outside of our firm except: (a) to the extent necessary or desirable to enable us to carry out our instructions; or (b) to the extent required by law or by the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
3.2 The information will be used to administer your legal affairs, and to obtain credit or other references and to undertake credit management, however, we will retain your personal details within our computer system. From time to time we may use these details to provide you with information on other services provided by Le Pine & Co. We may send you newsletter type emails from time to time on a range of legal topics which we hope you will find both interesting and informative. If you do not wish to continue receiving these emails from us please let us know by clicking firstname.lastname@example.org and typing remove me in the subject line. You will then be removed from our mailing list. If you have not already given us express consent to send you those emails, then we will infer from you continuing to trade with us on the basis of these terms of engagement that you have consented to us sending you these emails until you advise us to the contrary.
3.3 You may request access to all the information we receive and if at any time you consider the information to be incorrect, you may request us to correct same.
3.4 We will of course, not disclose to you confidential information which we have in relation to any other client.
4.1 You may terminate our retainer at any time.
4.2 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.
4.3 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.
Retention of files and documents:
5.1 You authorise us (without further reference to you) to destroy all files and documents for the 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.
5.2 Subject to paragraph 5.1, you authorise us to retain copies of your documents and records.
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.
Duty of Care and Scope of our Retainer:
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.
7.2 Our obligation to protect your interests does not extend to advice as to the quality of any investment you may be making.
8.1 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 on call deposit with a bank. Interest on this money is earned for you and is subject to RWT which is deducted by the Bank (or issuer) from the interest earned. Tax Certificates will be available on request after the 31st March each year. We will also place funds into such investments as you direct. In both instances, a small administration charge of 5% of gross interest received applies and we may receive commissions from the Bank or issuer.
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.
9 July 2010
INFORMATION FOR CLIENTS
Set out below is the information required by the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers of the New Zealand Law Society (“Law Society”).
The basis on which fees will be charged is set out in our Engagement Letter. When payment of fees is to be made is set out in our Standard Terms of Engagement. We may deduct from any funds held on your behalf in our trust account any fees, expenses or disbursements for which we have provided an invoice.
Professional Indemnity Insurance:
We hold professional indemnity insurance that meets or exceeds the minimum standards specified by the Law society. We will provide you with particulars of the minimum standards upon request.
Lawyers Fidelity Fund:
The Law Society maintains the Lawyers Fidelity 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 Fidelity Fund by way of compensation to an individual claimant is limited to $100,000. Except in certain circumstances specified in the Lawyers & Conveyancers Act 2006 the Fidelity Fund does not cover a client for any loss relating to money that a lawyer is instructed to invest on behalf of the client.
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 may refer your complaint to the person in our firm who has overall responsibility for your work.
If you do not wish to refer your complaint to that person, or you are not satisfied with the person’s response to your complaint, you may refer your complaint to Jackie Later who is the Business & Practice Manager responsible for administering our complaints procedures.
She may be contacted as follows:
by email at email@example.com
by telephoning her at (07) 378 5030
The Law Society also maintains a complaints service and you are able to make a complaint to that service. To do so you should contact the Law Society as follows:
by letter at PO Box 5041, Wellington 6145
by telephone at (04) 472 7837
Persons Responsible for the Work:
The names and status of the person or persons who will have the general carriage of or overall responsibility for the services we provide for you are set out in our Engagement Letter.
Client Care and Service:
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 any 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 duties to the Courts and to the justice system.
If you have any questions, please visit www.lawsociety.org.nz
Limitations on extent of our Obligations or Liability:
Any limitations on the extent of our obligations to you or any limitation or exclusion of liability are set out in our Engagement Letter.