We are committed to complying with the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers of the New Zealand Law Society. To assist you, the following information describes some key elements of those rules and explains some recourse you have as a consumer of legal services.
Client care and service
Whatever legal services we are providing, 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. Those obligations are subject to other overriding duties, including duties to the courts and to the justice system.
Persons Responsible for the Work
The names and position of the person or persons who will have the general carriage of or overall responsibility for the services we provide for you are set out in our letter of engagement. We will advise you if they change from time to time. If we have not advised you in writing of the person or persons who will have overall responsibility for the services we provide for you then that person will be the person that you have instructed to do the work.
We maintain a procedure for handling any complaints by clients, designed to ensure that a complaint is dealt with promptly and fairly.
If you have a complaint about our services or charges, you may refer your complaint to the person in our firm who has overall responsibility for your work.
If you do not wish to refer your complaint to that person, or you are not satisfied with that person’s response to your complaint, you may refer your complaint to our General Manager who may be contacted as follows:
The New Zealand Law Society operates the Lawyers Complaints Service and you are able to make a complaint to that service. To do so, phone 0800 261 801 and you will be connected to the nearest Complaints Service Office, which can provide information and advice about making a complaint.
Professional Indemnity Insurance
We hold professional indemnity insurance that meets or exceeds the minimum standards specified by the Law Society. We will provide you with particulars of the minimum standards upon request.
Lawyers' Fidelity Fund
The Law Society maintains the Lawyers' Fidelity Fund for the purpose 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 and 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.
Limitations on the extent of our Obligations or Liability
Our services to you will not include investment, financial or tax advice. Any other limitations on the extent of our obligations to you or any limitation or exclusion of liability will be set out in our letter of engagement and our Client Engagement Agreement.
- These terms and conditions of engagement (“terms”) apply to our current services for you unless we otherwise agree with you in writing. All future services are governed by our then-current terms which are on our website. We can change our terms from time to time.
- We have started work for you on the basis of these Terms. If you do not agree with them please tell us immediately.
- Our relationship with you is governed by New Zealand law and New Zealand courts have non-exclusive jurisdiction.
- Services we do not provide
- We do not give investment, accounting or tax advice, or advice about foreign laws. If you would like such advice we likely are able to suggest an advisor who can provide that service to you.
- Conflicts of Interest
- We have procedures in place to identify and respond to potential and actual conflicts of interest (“conflict”). If a conflict arises we will advise you of this and follow the requirements and procedures set out in the New Zealand Law Society's (NZLS) Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
- Duty of Care
- Our duty of care is to you and not to any other person. No other person may rely on our advice unless we expressly agree.
- If we ask you will produce documents and other evidence necessary to verify your identity and address.
- 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 unless authorised by you, or required by the law, or the NZLS’s rules of conduct and client care for lawyers and only to the extent necessary.
- We are entitled to obtain, use, process and disclose your personal data to enable us to discharge the services which we have agreed to provide, and for other related purposes including carrying out credit checks in relation to you, updating client records, analysis for management purposes, crime prevention and legal and regulatory compliance. Our time incurred in checking and maintaining this information is chargeable to you.
- We may use your personal data for the purpose of notifying you of changes in the law and for other marketing purposes. Please notify us if you would rather not receive this material.
- Use of external records
- In the course of providing services to you, we may rely upon the information provided to us by third parties, such as government agencies, public registries, witnesses or experts. It is possible that some information provided by such sources may be inaccurate or incomplete. We are not responsible for any such errors or omissions.
- As a matter of course we will communicate with you and other parties by electronic means. Such communications can be subject to interception or contain viruses or other defects. We do not accept responsibility and will not be liable for any damage or loss caused in connection with the corruption of an electronic communication. We have virus protection software and security protocols in place, however, we cannot guarantee that electronic communications will always be free from viruses or other defects and are secure or will be received.
- Where you give us any instructions and we rely on that instruction (for example by giving an undertaking to a third party) you may not revoke that instruction. Otherwise, you may terminate our engagement at any time.
- We may terminate our engagement in any of the circumstances set out in NZLS’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
- If our engagement is terminated you must pay us all fees due up to the date of termination and all expenses incurred up to that date.
- Ownership of Files and Documents
- You will own all documents we create on your behalf. We will own all documents we have created for our own use in undertaking our services.
- We own copyright and all intellectual property in all documents or works we create in the course of our engagement but grant you a non-exclusive licence to use and copy the documents as you see fit for your own personal or commercial use. However, you may not permit any third party to copy, adapt or use the documents without our written permission.
- Storing records of legal work/trust account transactions
- We may destroy your hard copy file as soon as:
a)We convert it to an electronic format, or
b)Seven years from the date of the last invoice for that file
- We will not destroy any documents we agree to hold for you.
- You agree to pay our reasonable costs of records retrieval and transportation should you require the transfer of these records to yourself or other parties. We may make copies of these before they are transferred.
- If you require us or we are obliged to, destroy any files earlier than our usual destruction date, then any liability we may have in relation to the matter and documents will be deemed to have been waived and will end and you will indemnify and hold us harmless against any such liability to a third party.
- Records of all investment money and investment property will be kept in accordance with the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Trust Account) Regulations 2008 and the Privacy Act 2020. Records of your transactions through our trust account are stored in electronic form.
- Unless you instruct otherwise we will retain original Wills, Deeds of Trust, Lease Agreements and Enduring Powers of Attorney. We may take and retain electronic copies of other original documents for our records but will return the originals to your custody once our services have finished.
- We may destroy your hard copy file as soon as:
- Fees: Unless we agree with you otherwise, the manner in which our fees will be arrived at are set out in our letter of engagement. Our fees will be calculated in accordance with New Zealand Law Society requirements for calculating a reasonable fee. A major factor will be the time we spend in providing our Services to you. Other factors may also be taken into account including the complexity, urgency and value of the matter and an additional charge may be made as a result.
- If we give you a written estimate of our fees it is provided to you only as a guide to assist you in budgeting and should not be regarded as a fixed quotation unless otherwise agreed in writing. We reserve the right to vary our estimate if any unforeseen but significant additional work becomes necessary (for example, due to unexpected difficulties, or if your requirements or the circumstances significantly change or the basis on which our estimate is given changes during the course of the matter). We will inform you as soon as possible if we become aware that any significant extra charges or expenses are likely to be incurred.
- If we agree on a fixed fee, we will record this in a letter which sets out the scope of the services to be provided for that fee. Work which falls outside that scope will be calculated in accordance with NZLS requirements for calculating a reasonable fee. We will advise you as soon as reasonably practicable if it becomes necessary for us to provide services outside the agreed scope and, if requested, give you an estimate of the likely amount of the further costs.
- We may ask you to pre-pay amounts to us or to provide security for our fees, disbursements and expenses. We may require an advance payment for the disbursements or expenses which we will be incurring on your behalf.
- We may deduct our accounts from any money we hold for you and may also use that money to meet payments we have made or which are payable by us on your behalf.
- Disbursements and Office expenses: In providing our services we may incur disbursements or other expenses or have to make payments to third parties on your behalf. These will be included in our invoice to you when the expense is incurred. We will charge you the actual cost of disbursements incurred on your behalf and we will charge you a fee for office expenses calculated at 3.5% of our invoiced fees.
- We may require an advance payment for the disbursements or expenses which we will be incurring on your behalf. On request, you must immediately pay us for all disbursements and expenses incurred by us on your behalf.
- GST: Is payable by you on our fees and charges and on expenses and disbursements. All estimates or fixed fee quotes given by us are plus GST unless specified otherwise.
- Invoices: We will send interim invoices to you, usually monthly and on completion of the matter, or termination of our engagement.
- Terms of payment: All fees rendered are payable within 14 days following the date of the invoice with the exception of property sales and purchases where fees are to be paid on the date the sale/purchase is settled.
- If you have difficulty paying any account, please discuss this with us. We reserve the right to stop working on your behalf where accounts are overdue. Where we have agreed to extend the time for payment of an account interest at 14% per annum may be charged on the amount payable (compounding monthly).
- Overdue accounts: As we do not offer credit facilities, interest of 14% per annum may be charged on all accounts remaining unpaid one month after the date of the account. This is without prejudice to our other rights.
- Recovery of fees and expenses: If we take any action to receive payment of our accounts you are liable to pay all costs including debt collectors and legal fees (on a solicitor/client basis) incurred in taking action to have our account paid.
- We may assign any amount you owe us to a third party.
- Third Parties
- Although you may expect to be reimbursed by a third party for our fees and expenses, and although our invoices may at your request or with your approval be directed to a third party, nevertheless you remain responsible for payment to us of our fees and expenses.
- Trust Account
- We maintain a trust account with ANZ Bank for all funds which we receive from clients (including monies received for payment of our invoices).
- We are obliged under Section 114 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act, 2006 where practicable to place client monies, held on behalf, on interest-bearing deposit. With the additional FATCA\CRS compliance obligations our terms of engagement now provide that our clients agree that money will not be placed on deposit as a matter of course. If monies are placed on deposit by us through our bank that can only be done so once the appropriate bank self-certification forms have been properly completed, signed and returned to us. Clients also irrevocably consent as part of their engagement with us, to the disclosure of their information relating to those funds that are or will be held on IBD to the IRD and bank maintaining those funds.
- If monies are placed on deposit you agree that we will charge an administration fee of 5% on the gross interest. We are not responsible for obtaining the best interest rate available when placing your funds on IBD or for any loss of interest you may suffer as a result of any delay in placing your funds on deposit. You also agree we will have no liability arising from the loss of any amounts deposited by us on your behalf in accordance with these payments procedures and conditions where the loss results from the act, neglect or default of a financial institution.
- If you transfer funds to our trust account in a foreign currency, we will convert those funds into New Zealand dollars at the prevailing exchange rate offered by our bank. We are not responsible for seeking or obtaining a better exchange rate from any other bank or financial institution.
- If we hold any funds in credit that remain for a period of 3 months or more after a matter is completed and belongs to you we will generally make reasonable efforts to locate you to arrange for the amount to be paid to you.
- We may deduct our reasonable costs of trying to locate you to pay those monies in credit. If the amount is small (under $10), it is not economic for us to try to locate you and we are not holding current contact details for you, we may not attempt to locate you. For any other amounts, funds will be refunded to you, or, where your contact details or bank account details are not available, credited to the Inland Revenue Department’s unclaimed monies account within a period of 6 months after the completion of a matter.
- Liability for Payment
- Each person or entity named in our letter of engagement is jointly and severally liable to us for the accounts we render.
New international tax rules known as “FATCA” and “CRS” require that New Zealand disclose information to other countries about income earned by taxpayers who may have potential liability to pay tax outside New Zealand.
The net result of these arrangements is that New Zealand Banks and other financial institutions are obliged to collect information about their customers. This means that we have to provide information about clients who have money on interest-bearing deposit (“IBD”) and provide that to our bank (“ANZ’) who we place those monies through. Therefore from 1 July 2017, no new money may be placed on IBD unless clients have completed an ANZ self-certification form.
Our terms of engagement now provide that our clients agree that money will not be placed on deposit as a matter of course. If monies are placed on deposit that can only be done so once the appropriate self-certification forms have been properly completed, signed and return to us.
Forms may be downloaded below. Please note you require the Acrobat Reader to view PDF documents, if you don’t have Adobe Reader, click here to download this for free.