Terms of Engagement
If you instruct us to act for you we will send you a tailored letter of engagement setting out all Client Care and Service Information applicable to the instructions you have given us. Our letter of engagement will form the core basis of our relationship and our commitment to you to attend to your affairs diligently, with an efficient, effective and professional service.
Client Care and Service Information – Our Commitment To You
We are committed to doing our best to ensure that your legal needs are met. 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.
The obligations lawyers owe to clients are described in the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. They are subject to other overriding duties including our duties to the courts and the justice system.
If you would like a copy of these rules please advise. Alternatively you may obtain a copy from the New Zealand Law Society on 0800 261 801 or www.lawsociety.org.nz.
We will advise you of any matters that are excluded from the work we will be carrying out for you. We may also limit the extent of our obligations to you in relation to your specific circumstances in our reporting letters to you.
The Basis of our Charges
Our fees are based on the range of factors described in the Rules of Conduct & Client Care for Lawyers issued by the New Zealand Law Society. These factors include time and labour expended, expertise, importance, urgency, risk, complexity.
We will endeavour to provide you with an estimate of fees. However please bear in mind that no two transactions are exactly the same and any estimate is based on past experience of the relevant type of instruction. If the work does not proceed as expected or if complications arise the fee may increase.
In calculating our fee we add 3% to cover internal disbursements such as photocopying, scanning, faxing, and tolls. Any disbursements and third party expenses incurred will be itemised and charged to you separately, and we will notify you if any fees or disbursements need to be paid for in advance. Where applicable a fee of $25.00 including GST per person for client onboarding is payable in order for us to effect compliance with the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (“AML Act”).
From time to time we may be requested by you to invest your funds on interest bearing deposit or term deposit. We charge a commission fee on the collection of bank interest earned on these term deposits at 5% of the gross interest.
We further note that where work involves court proceedings or you are based overseas and in some cases in relation to other work we may ask you to pay in advance money to us on account of fees and/or other charges yet to be incurred.
We are happy to discuss our fees and charging arrangements with you at any time. We will inform you if there are any material or unexpected delays or it is likely that our fee estimate is insufficient to cover our fees in the relevant matter.
Please note the following:
- We may deduct from funds held on your behalf any fees, disbursements or expenses for which we have provided an invoice.
- In respect of any fee which is not deducted as set out above such fee is due for payment within 7 days following the issue of the invoice. Our payment terms are set out on our invoice. If you do not pay a fee on time we may charge you interest on a calendar monthly basis on the outstanding balance of the account. Interest will be charged at the current ASB Bank Card rate and will accrue from the twentieth of the month following the date of issue of our invoice.
- We may ask you to pre-pay amounts to us or to provide security for our fees and expenses. You authorise us to deduct from such funds held on your behalf in our trust account any fees, expenses or disbursements for which we have provided an invoice.
- In respect of ongoing matters we issue interim accounts, usually monthly, while work is in progress, with a final bill on completion. Current payment terms are set out on our invoices and unless otherwise stated are due for payment within seven (7) days following the issue of the invoice.
Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and Common Reporting Standards (CRS)
FATCA and CRS are global initiatives designed to detect and deter tax evasion globally. Both apply under New Zealand law. As a result, we are required to collect certain information from you if we need to open an Interest Bearing Deposit (IBD) for you.
Lawyers operate a trust account which is used for the receipt and payment of funds on your behalf, but by law the account does not earn any interest. If we hold funds on your behalf for any length of time we place them into an IBD so they earn interest for you.
It is important to note that by law we cannot open an IBD for you unless you have first completed our banks FATCA/CRS self-certification form. It is a form prepared by the ASB.
If we do need to open an IBD for you we will send you our bank’s FATCA/CRS self-certification form to be completed and returned promptly. If you do not do this then we cannot put any of your money on IBD, which means any funds we hold will be placed in our trust account and will not earn interest.
Once you complete the form, if our bankers request it, we are required by law to pass it on to the bank. If you are a foreign tax resident or a US person, they may have an obligation to provide information to the IRD, who then may have an obligation to share that information with the relevant foreign tax department.
If your circumstances or the information you provide changes for any reason you must notify us immediately.
For the avoidance of doubt we are not advising you of any of your own independent FATCA and/or CRS obligation, if any.
Email Security and Payments to Us
While we operate through a secure email server there is always a potential security risk. We are not liable for any loss that may occur to you from the interception of emails by an unauthorised third party.
If you have received our trust account details by email you should telephone us to verbally confirm our account number before making payment.
Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (“AML Act”)
New Zealand has passed the AML Act for the purpose of recognising New Zealand’s commitment to the international initiative to counter the impact that criminal activity has on people and economies within the global community.
From 1 July 2018, we are required to comply with the requirements of the AML Act. The AML Act requires lawyers to do a number of things to help detect and counter the impact of money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The AML Act applies to lawyers because we offer legal services that may be misused by people involved in criminal activity. We are required to report any suspicious activity to the Financial Intelligence Unit of the NZ Police.
To comply with the AML Act we must have measures in place to assess the risk that a client and the associated transaction may pose of illegal activity. In order to make that assessment we must obtain and verify information from new and existing clients. This is known as “customer due diligence” (‘CDD’).
CDD requires a law firm to undertake certain background checks before providing certain legal services. We will need to obtain and verify certain information from you to meet these legal requirements. This information includes:
- your full name; and
- your date of birth; and
- your address.
We are required to take reasonable steps to make sure the information we receive from our clients is correct and therefore we will need to have original forms of identification and address verification.
If you are seeing us about company or trust business, we will need information about the company or trust including the people associated with it (such as directors and shareholders, trustees and beneficiaries).
Depending on the nature of the transaction we may also need to ask you for further information. We will need to ask you about the nature and purpose of the proposed work you are asking us to do for you. Information confirming the source of funds for a transaction may also be necessary to meet our legal requirements.
If we are not able to obtain the required information from you, it is likely we will not be able to act for you.
Identification and Proof of Address
Acceptable forms of identification are: your passport, or if you do not hold a current passport, your drivers licence and any one of your full birth certificate, or credit card (with your name embossed) or debit card (with your name embossed) or a Bank Statement or SuperGold card or approved electronic biometric verification.
In order to verify your address we will require a utility bill, rates bill, bank statement or government issued notice or letter any of which must be dated within the last three months.
We may also complete all AML compliance requirements even though the instruction may not trigger the AML Act. This policy is in place to ensure that we are prepared to continue acting for you in the event that there is a material change in your instructions which triggers the AML Act.
Please contact us if you are not able to satisfy the identity requirements or if have any queries or concerns.
Professional Indemnity Insurance and Fidelity Fund
We hold professional indemnity insurance that meets the minimum standards specified by the New Zealand Law Society. We are happy to provide you with particulars of the minimum standards on request.
The Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund also provides a limited form of cover up to specified maximums in certain circumstances but generally excluding investment moneys.
This is an overview and summary of the major provisions in the Lawyers & Conveyancers Act 2006 relating to the fidelity fund. If you would like further information please do not hesitate to ask us.
Limitation of Liability and Costs
To the extent permitted by law, our total liability to you in connection with any matter (or series of related matters) on which you engage us will not exceed the lesser of NZ$1,000,000.00 or the amount of ten times our applicable fee (excluding disbursements and GST).
This limitation applies to liability of all kinds, whether in contract, tort (including negligence), equity or otherwise.
If we are required to bring or defend proceedings with you then you agree that our internal legal costs (an amount of money assessed as reflecting the time expended at our standard hourly rates) and disbursements will be payable by you.
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:
(a) To the extent necessary or desirable to carry out your instructions; or
(b) 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 to you.
We will of course not disclose to you confidential information which we have in relation to any other client.
We are committed to our service to you but if you have a complaint please raise it with us in the first instance.
You can also contact the New Zealand Law Society’s Complaint Service at
26 Waring Taylor Street,
PO Box 5041,
telephone 04 472 7837 or 0800 261 801 or 04 473 7909.
When this matter is completed we will advise you accordingly and provide a brief summary of the work undertaken if we have not already done so.
We will retain the file for this matter (in either hard copy or electronic form) for at least seven years from completion. While in many cases files may be held for ten years, under these terms and conditions (and unless you expressly instruct us otherwise) you permit us to destroy the file after the minimum seven year retention period. Longer retention periods may apply to documents that we store in our Deeds system – please contact us if you would like to discuss details.
You may terminate your instructions (retainer) to us at any time. We may terminate our retainer in any of the circumstances set out in the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. If our retainer is terminated you must pay us for all fees for work done up to the date of termination and all disbursements and expense incurred up to that date.
These terms apply to any current engagement and also to any future engagement whether or not we send you another copy of them. We are entitled to change these terms from time to time.
Our relationship with you is governed by New Zealand law and New Zealand Courts have non-exclusive jurisdiction.
We value your instructions and look forward to a successful completion of your legal matters.