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Standard Terms of Engagement
These Standard Terms of Engagement (“Terms”) apply in respect of all work carried out by us for you, except to the extent that we otherwise agree with you in writing.
1.1 The services we are to provide for you are outlined in our engagement letter.
a) The fees we will charge or the manner in which they will be arrived at, are set out in our engagement letter.
b) If the engagement letter specifies a fixed fee, we will charge this for the agreed scope of our services. Work which falls outside that scope will be charged on an hourly rate basis. 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.
c) Where our fees are calculated on an hourly basis, the hourly rates are set out in our engagement letter. The differences in those rates reflect the experience and specialisation of our professional staff. Time spent is recorded in 6 minute units, with time rounded up to the next unit of 6 minutes.
2.2 Disbursements and Office Services: We also charge for disbursements and an office services fee. Disbursements are payments to third parties on your behalf such as Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) fees. There is a separate charge for office services to recover our costs for files, stationery, photocopying and general office expenses. The office service fee is the higher of $25 or 3% of the legal fee charged.
2.3 Registration. The registration of land transactions was previously a function of LINZ. Most of the LINZ offices have been closed as transactions are now electronically registered by conveyancing lawyers. There are certain additional costs and obligations now imposed on conveyancing lawyers and to deal with these obligations we have an “in house” service company known as Eight EMZ Ltd which makes an e/dealing charge of $25.00 per document to recover part of these additional expenses.
2.4 GST (if any): Is payable by you on our fees and charges.
2.5 Invoices: We may send interim invoices to you, usually monthly and on completion of the matter, or termination of our engagement. We may also send you an invoice when we incur a significant expense.
2.6 Payment: Invoices for property and business purchases are payable on settlement and financing transactions and business and property sales are payable by deduction on settlement/drawdown. Unless alternative arrangements have been made with us, other invoices are payable within 14 days of the date of the invoice. We may require interest to be paid on any amount which is more than 30 days overdue. Interest will be calculated at the rate of 15% per annum.
2.7 For business, property and financing transactions where payment of monies is due by you, we require clear funds for the correct amount to be deposited with us no later than the business day prior to settlement.
2.8 Security: We may ask you to pre-pay amounts to us, or to provide security for our fees and expenses. You authorise us:
a) to debit against amounts pre-paid by you; and
b) to deduct from any funds held on your behalf in our trust account any fees, expenses or disbursements for which we have provided an invoice.
2.9 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 if the third party fails to pay us.
2.10 Estimate: Unless specifically agreed to by us in writing any estimate of our fees does not amount to a firm quotation and our fees and expenses may exceed the estimate.
3.1 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 to any other person except:
a) to the extent necessary or desirable to enable us to carry out your instructions; or
b) to the extent required by law or by the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
3.2 Confidential information concerning you will as far as practicable be made available only to those within our firm who are providing legal services for you.
3.3 We will, of course, not disclose to you confidential information which we have in relation to any other client.
3.4 You authorise us to collect, hold and disclose such information as the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 requires.
4.1 You may terminate our retainer at any time upon reasonable written notice.
4.2 If our retainer is terminated you must pay us all fees, disbursements and office expenses due up to the date of termination.
4.3 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 or if we are required so to do under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 . We will give you reasonable notice so you can arrange alternative representation.
4.4 You agree to provide any information we require to carry out our Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism obligations. You agree we may stop or suspend providing our services if you fail to provide this information in a timely fashion.
5 Retention of files and documents
5.1 At the conclusion of this matter we will store your file off site (at your risk) for a one off file fee of $40.00. However, there will be a small recovery fee payable (approx $25.00) if you subsequently wish to uplift your file from the storage facility. Please give us reasonable advance notice if you wish to uplift your file. Neither we nor the storage facility will have any liability to you in respect of damage or destruction of your file.
If you wish to uplift your file at any time we may photocopy your file at your cost.
You authorise us (without further reference to you) to destroy all your files for this matter (other than any documents that we hold in safe custody for you) 7 years after our engagement ends, or earlier if we have converted those files to an electronic format. Documents we hold in safe custody for you are on the same basis as your file except we will not destroy your documents unless requested by you or they are rendered obsolete.
6 Conflicts of Interest
6.1 We have procedures in place to identify and respond to conflicts of interest. If a conflict of interest arises we will advise you of this and follow the requirements and procedures set out in the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
7 Duty of Care
7.1 Our duty of care is to you and not to any other person. Before any other person may rely on our advice, we must expressly agree to this.
7.2 We are not responsible for advising you as to taxation issues.
8 Trust Account
8.1 We maintain a trust account for all funds which we receive from clients (except monies received for payment of our invoices). If we are holding significant funds on your behalf we will normally lodge those funds on interest bearing deposit with our trading Bank. In that case we will charge an administration fee of 7.5% of the interest derived.
If we are holding significant funds on your behalf please supply your IRD number to enable us to see the correct Resident Withholding Tax rate is used by our Bank.
9 Investment Advice
9.1 We are not qualified to give you investment advice. You must seek that from a qualified financial adviser.
10 Electronic communications
10.1 Any electronic communications with you may contain viruses or be subject to interference or interception. Under no circumstances will we be liable to you (directly or indirectly) for any damage or loss resulting from corruption of an electronic communication.
11.1 These Terms apply to any current engagement and also to any future engagement, whether or not we send you another copy of them.
11.2 Telephone requests or receipt of documents from you or from another party on your behalf are sufficient authority for us to act on your behalf unless we advise you otherwise. Once we have received and accepted your instructions either directly or indirectly we are entitled to charge you for our services.
11.3 We are entitled to change these Terms from time to time. We will publish such changed terms on our website and you will be bound after publication of the changes on our website.
11.4 Our relationship with you is governed by New Zealand law and New Zealand courts have non-exclusive jurisdiction.