Our Duty of Care
The following outlines our Business Terms and Conditions for doing business with us. We will protect and promote your interests and act for you, free from compromising influence or loyalties. We will discuss with you your objectives and how they can best be achieved and act competently, in a timely way, and in accordance with instructions received and arrangements made.
We will provide you with information about the work to be done, who will do it, and the way the services will be provided; protect your privacy and ensure appropriate confidentiality.
We will treat you fairly, respectfully, and without discrimination, give you clear information and advice; keep you informed about the work being done and advise you when it is completed.
We will charge you a fee that is fair and reasonable, and let you know how and when you will be billed. We will also advise you of how to make a complaint and deal with any such complaint promptly and fairly.
Our duty of care is to you and no other person.
Our Client Contract
We will hold in strict confidence all information that we acquire through our work for you and which concerns your business or personal information. The only exceptions are where you authorise us to disclose such information or where we must do so by law.
Our fees will be charged on the basis that they will be fair and reasonable, having regard to the circumstances of the matter and the nature of our work for you. While the time and resources involved will be important factors, we will also consider the results achieved and the urgency, level of skill, complexity, value of transaction, responsibility, and specialist knowledge involved.
Generally, our fees are based on the time taken to complete the work and calculated on an hourly basis with differences in those rates reflecting the experience and specialisation of our legal staff. The time spent by us on your behalf for which you will be charged could include some or all of the following:
- Telephone, online (such as Zoom) and face-to-face conversations.
- Correspondence with you including letters and emails.
- Applying relevant law to the facts of your situation.
- Reading and analysing incoming letters, papers, and documents.
- Correspondence and meeting with lawyers and third parties on your behalf.
- Instructing inquiry agents and experts.
- Time spent on travelling and visiting sites (if appropriate).
- Court and Tribunal appearances.
We review our hourly rates on April 1st each year. If there is to be any increase in our hourly rates over and above those quoted in our letter of engagement, we will advise you in writing before the increase is applied.
Whenever possible, we will try to give you a fixed fee or an accurate estimate of the work you wish us to carry out based on your instructions and facts known at the time. The original estimate could vary beyond our control if circumstances change. If the change is significant, we will advise you and ask for your instructions to proceed further.
Disbursements and Office Expenses
Disbursements include expenses such as court filing fees, barristers’ fees, travel expenses, couriers, local Council fees, Land Information NZ fees, and the fees of agents who serve documents and who conduct investigations, searches, and registration. Depending on the amount, we may ask you to pay in advance for significant disbursements — otherwise they will be itemised on your account for payment with our fee.
Our invoices also include an office service charge to cover the cost of photocopying, file set up, telephone, fax, postal, and form expenses. This charge can vary depending on the complexity of the file.
Our invoices are due for payment 14 days after the date of the invoice unless prior arrangements are made with us in writing. If an invoice is not paid within 30 days, we may charge interest calculated at the rate of 10% per annum. We will expect you to pay for any reasonable debt collection costs that we incur in recovering outstanding amounts due to us. If your invoice remains outstanding after 60 days, no further work will be undertaken by us until your account is paid.
Our invoices include GST applicable to our supply of services to you. Invoices will normally be sent to you at the completion of your matter unless the matter is ongoing and very complicated, in which case we will send you monthly or two-monthly interim invoices.
Any fee, expense, or disbursement for which we have provided an invoice, and which remains unpaid, may be deducted from any funds held in our Trust Account on your behalf (unless you have given us different instructions).
There may be times where you have instructed us to send an invoice to a third party for payment, however, you remain responsible for the debt should that third party fail to pay.
If we are holding significant funds on your behalf, at your request, we will place those funds on an interest-bearing account with the ANZ Bank. We cannot do this unless we have received the required completed bank forms from you. We charge an administration fee of 5% of the gross interest earned for this service.
Storage of Files & Documents
By law, we are required to keep your files on matters that are completed seven (7) years. After that time, we may destroy those files without contacting you. This does not include your valuable or important documents (such as your Will) that we hold on your behalf. These will be held in secure storage.
Termination of Legal Services
You have the right to terminate our services at any time on any matter. Provided that you have paid all of our invoices on all matters, we will (on request) provide to you all the documents and files we hold on your behalf. We may, on reasonable notice to you, end our engagement at any time should the client/lawyer relationship break down for any reason.
Not happy with our care?
If you’re not happy with our service, we have a procedure to ensure any problem is dealt with promptly and fairly. If you feel comfortable about this, please contact the person in our firm who you have been dealing with. If you feel awkward approaching this person, please contact our Practice Manager, Tracey Buxton, on 03 548 2269 or by emailing: email@example.com. Alternatively, you may wish to contact Director, Gerard Praat at firstname.lastname@example.org
The New Zealand Law Society also operates a Lawyers Complaints Service. You can receive assistance or make a complaint by ringing 0800 261 801. Alternatively click on this link https://www.lawsociety.org.nz/for-the-public/complaining-about-a-lawyer/
Professional Indemnity Insurance
The firm holds Professional Indemnity Insurance with AON New Zealand. The limit of indemnity cover for any one event is $3 million.
Lawyers Fidelity Fund
The New Zealand Law Society maintains the Lawyers Fidelity Fund for the purposes of providing clients of lawyers with protection against losses arising from theft by lawyers. The maximum the Fidelity Fund can compensate you is $100,000. The Fidelity Fund will not usually cover loss relating to money a lawyer is instructed to invest on behalf of a client.
AML (Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009)
We are required to have measures in place to help detect money laundering and the financing of terrorism. These measures include obtaining and verifying information from our clients before we are able to provide legal services. This is known as “client due diligence.” The information we are required to ask you for includes your full name, your date of birth, and your address. We are required to see documents that include photo identification such as your passport or drivers licence, as well as documents that show your address such as a bank statement or utility bill.
If you are consulting us about a trust or a company, we will need to collect information relating to the trust or company and the people associated with it (such as directors, shareholders, trustees, and beneficiaries). We will provide you with guidance on what we need.
In some cases, such as where we are acting for a trust, we will need to ask for information about the source of funds that are financing the transaction or the source of wealth of the trust. Again, we will provide you with guidance to assist you in providing that information. If you are unable to provide the information we require, it is likely that we will not be able to act for you. Even if you have been a client of ours for a long time, we are still required to gather this information.
We reserve the right to charge an additional fee for the time spent in undertaking due diligence based on the level of diligence required.
Our Client Care Contract apply to any current instructions for our services and to any future instructions. If we do not hear otherwise, we will assume that you agree with all of the above terms and we will proceed accordingly. Please contact us immediately if you do not wish us to proceed with your instructions.
We reserve the right to amend or change our Client Care Rules and, if so, the latest copy will always be on our website.
We hope that this information will be of help to you in understanding how our firm works and to avoid any miscommunication in areas that clients are often reluctant to ask.
We continue to be committed to caring for you and our many other clients.