Terms of Engagement
Working for you
We greatly value your business. We also look forward to an ongoing relationship with you, so please retain these terms of engagement as the basis of our relationship and our commitment to you to attend to your affairs diligently, with an efficient, effective and professional service.
The services we are to provide for you are outlined in the attached 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.
What we will charge
We usually charge on a range of factors adopted by the New Zealand Law Society, including time at an hourly rate, expertise, importance, urgency and results achieved. These rates may change from time to time, and a full list of the rates of any lawyers working for you is available at any time.
We will try and give an estimate of our fees for our services. It is not always possible to advise you if it appears we will exceed our estimated fee due to unforeseen complications or additional services required. However, we will normally advise you in advance of rendering our invoice.
All fees estimated are plus GST, expenses and disbursements.
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 for funds from you in advance to pay for disbursements (eg Court filing fees) or for our 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, cheque (payable to Bannister & von Dadelszen Trust Account), credit card (Visa or MasterCard), or electronically into Bannister & von Dadelszen 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. Monthly statements will be sent for any overdue invoices.
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, or our Practice Manager.
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 the 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 any documents belonging to you.
By engaging us, you authorise us to make reasonable credit enquiries of Veda Advantage based on the information you provide to us (eg current address) which may then be used by the Veda Advantage to update its credit reporting database, and to provide information to Veda Advantage 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
Whenever it is reasonable and practicable to do so, we will lodge funds greater than $5,000 (which we expect to be held for more than two weeks) in our trust account, on your behalf, in an interest-bearing bank deposit account (“IBD”). Withholding tax will be deducted and paid to the Inland Revenue Department on the interest you earn. If we have your IRD number, you can elect to have withholding tax deducted at your tax rate. If we do not have your IRD number, it will be deducted at 38 percent as required by the IRD.
If we place any of your funds on IBD, we will charge 7.5 percent commission on the gross interest earned for administering the deposit.
Conflicts of interest
From time to time a conflict of interest may arise. If this occurs we will contact you to discuss.
Information we hold about you
In accordance with the Privacy Act 1993, you have a right to view and access any information that we hold about you, and ask for incorrect information to be corrected. All information about you that we collect and store, will always remain confidential and will only be used for the purposes outlined in these terms of engagement or in carrying out your instructions to us (unless disclosure is required by law or is necessary for debt collection purposes).
Verifying your identity
Please do not be offended if we ask for verification of your identity. Under the Financial Transactions Reporting Act 1996 and the procedures for electronic registration of land transactions, we are legally required to have a copy of identification or documentation verifying the identity of every client.
Storing of records
We will retain your physical file for the minimum period required by law after which it will be destroyed. This does not include any documents we agree to hold for you in safe custody, ie deeds, wills etc, which will be destroyed at a later date. The papers or documentation produced by us in the course of acting on your instructions are the property of Bannister & von Dadelszen.
If you have any concerns or complaints that you prefer not to raise with the partner named in the attached letter with overall responsibility for this matter, then please refer your complaint to our Practice Manager. They may be contacted by letter, by email email@example.com 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 Area, PO Box 341, Napier 4140, phone 0800 261 801 or 06 833 6435, email HBDLS@xtra.co.nz or fax 06 835 1254.
Professional Indemnity Insurance
We hold Professional Indemnity Insurance cover that exceeds the minimum standards as specified 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 prescribes client care and service obligations which require that, 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, subject to other overriding 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.