Terms of Engagement
Working for you
We value your business, and aim to provide you with an efficient, effective and professional service. Please retain this document which sets out the basis of our relationship and commitment to you.
Our services to you are outlined in the letter of engagement. Also detailed in that letter, are any limitations on the extent of our obligations to you or any other limitation or exclusion of liability. Our duty of care is to you and no-one else, and before any other person relies on our advice, we must expressly agree to this.
What we will charge
We charge on a range of factors adopted by the New Zealand Law Society, including time, expertise, importance, urgency and results achieved. If requested we will provide an estimate of our fees for our services, or details of the hourly rate charged by the BvD personnel working on your file, but this will not be a quotation.
If due to unforeseen complications extra work is required from that anticipated when an estimate is given, we will let you know if we are likely to exceed any estimated fee by more than 20%. All fees estimated are plus GST, expenses and disbursements.
We charge an amount for “office expenses” on each invoice to cover expenses not billed individually (e.g. copying, printing, postage) and for the storage of your file. If you expect to be reimbursed by a third party for our fees, disbursements and expenses, you are responsible for our invoices in full, and you must seek the reimbursement from the third party (unless we otherwise agree).
Ongoing work will usually be invoiced monthly. Transactional work will usually be invoiced upon completion. You will be provided with a trust account statement if we have handled any funds on your behalf.
We may ask you for funds in advance to meet our fees and/or to pay disbursements for you (e.g. registration and filing fees). Where we hold or receive funds on your behalf, you authorise us to deduct invoices owing to us from those funds.
Payment of our invoices
You can pay our invoices by cash, EFTPOS, credit card (Visa or MasterCard), or electronically into Bannister & von Dadelszen’s Trust Account, Westpac, Napier, account number 03 0698 0562266 01, quoting your account number in the reference field.
Unless otherwise agreed, our invoices are payable within 14 days from the date of receipt of the invoice. For transactional work such as sales and purchases, usually our fees are payable on the settlement date, unless we have otherwise agreed.
Delay or difficulty in paying our invoice
If you are unable to pay our invoice on time or you have any questions about an invoice, you must raise this within seven days from the date the invoice is received with the partner or solicitor responsible for the work undertaken.
We reserve the right to charge interest on any invoice remaining unpaid after the due date unless prior arrangements have been made. Interest is calculated at Westpac’s commercial base rate for lending plus 4 percent per annum as at the date of invoice. If any invoice remains unpaid, we reserve the right to cease doing any further work until the invoice is paid, we may ask for funds on account of future work, and we have the right to retain possession of your file and documents.
By engaging us, you authorise us to make reasonable credit enquiries based on the information you provide to us (e.g. current address) which may then be used by a credit reporting agency to update its credit reporting database, and to provide information to credit reporting agencies on any amount owed to us which is overdue for payment. We may also refer your account to a debt collection service if unpaid by the due date (and any costs associated with debt collection will be passed on to you), and this may impair your credit rating.
Interest on money we hold in trust for you
Where reasonable and practicable to do so, you can ask us to lodge funds on your behalf, in a Westpac interest-bearing bank deposit account (“IBD”). Withholding tax will be deducted and paid to the Inland Revenue Department on the interest you earn. You should provide us with your IRD number, as if you do not, then RWT will be deducted as required by the IRD at 45%. You will also be required to complete a Foreign Tax Residency statement before money can be placed on IBD. We will charge 7.5% commission on the gross interest earned for administering any IBD account.
Conflicts of interest
If at any time a conflict of interest arises, we will contact you to discuss the conflict and will follow the requirements and processes in the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
Information we hold about you
Verifying your identity and personal information
Under Trust Account regulations, the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering of Financing of Terrorism Act and the procedures for electronic registration of land transactions, we are legally required to verify your identity. For some work we may require your IRD number and other personal information such as address verification. Please do not be offended if we ask for verification of your identity or other information.
Files, records and documents
We will retain your physical file for the minimum period required by law (7 years) after which it will be destroyed. Any documents we hold for you in our Deeds system which we consider redundant may also be destroyed. Our precedent documents and the papers or documentation produced by us while acting for you remain our property.
You may terminate our retainer at any time, and 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 are required to pay us all fees due up to the date of termination and all expenses incurred up to that date, and we may retain your documents until payment is made.
If you have any concerns or complaints that you prefer not to raise with the partner doing or supervising your file with overall responsibility for this matter, then please refer your complaint to another partner. They may be contacted by letter, by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephoning 06 870 7820. We are committed to resolving any issues as soon as possible and complaints will be dealt with at no cost to you.
You can also contact the New Zealand Law Society Lawyers’ Complaints Service, Hawke’s Bay Branch, PO Box 341, Napier 4140, phone 06 835 1254, email email@example.com or fax 06 835 1257, or the national office on 0800 261 801.
Professional Indemnity Insurance
We hold Professional Indemnity Insurance cover exceeding the minimum required by the New Zealand Law Society.
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.
Client care and service
The Law Society’s prescribed client care and service obligations require that, whatever legal services we provide to you, we 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, subject to other over-riding duties, including duties to the Courts and to the justice system. If you have any questions about these client care and service obligations, please visit www.lawsociety.org.nz or telephone 0800 261 801.