Terms of Engagement

Working for you

We greatly value your business and wish to have an ongoing relationship with you. We aim to provide you with an efficient, effective and professional service. Please retain  this document which set out the basis of our relationship and commitment to you.

Services

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. 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 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. The current hourly rate of personnel working on your matter is detailed in the attached letter. 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, but this will be an estimate and not a quotation.  If it appears we will exceed our estimated fee (including a fixed fee estimate) due to unforeseen complications or additional services required it is not always possible to advise you before the additional work is done.  However, we will advise you as soon as reasonably practicable if it becomes necessary for us to provide services outside the agreed scope and, normally, before rendering our invoice.

All fees estimated are plus GST, expenses and disbursements.  We normally charge an amount for “Office expenses” on each invoice to cover expenses not billed individually (such as copying, printing, postage, phone calls, and faxes) and for the storage of your file for the minimum period required by New Zealand Law Society rules.

If you expect to be reimbursed by a third party for our fees, disbursements and expenses (and our invoices may be directed to a third party), if the third party fails to pay us you remain responsible for payment of our invoices.

Billing

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, cheque (payable to Bannister & von Dadelszen’s Trust Account), 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.  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.

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

Where we consider it reasonable and practicable to do so, we may lodge funds 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 as required by the IRD at 28% for companies and 33% for individuals.

If we place any of your funds on IBD, we will charge 7.5% commission on the gross interest earned for administering the deposit.

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

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 the New Zealand Law Society, or is necessary for debt collection purposes).

Verifying your identity

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 have a copy of identification or documentation verifying the identity of every client, and for certain transactions 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.

Storing of records

We will retain your physical file for the minimum period required by law after which it will be destroyed.  Any documents we agree to hold for you in safe custody, e.g. Deeds, Wills etc, which may be destroyed at a later date.  Our precedent documents and the papers or documentation produced by us while acting for you remain the property of Bannister & von Dadelszen.

Termination

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.

Complaints

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 with another partner.  They may be contacted by letter, by email bvond@bvond.co.nz 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 hawkesbay@lawsociety.org.nz 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.