Client service information
Set out below is the information required by the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers of the New Zealand Law Society (“Law Society”).
- Fees: The basis on which fees will be charged is set out in the letter of engagement. When payment of fees is to be made is set out in the Standard Terms of Engagement.
- You agree that we may deduct from any funds held on your behalf in our trust account any fees, expenses or disbursements for which we have provided an invoice.
- 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.
- Complaints: 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, please refer your complaint to Isabel Blake by email to [email protected] in the first instance, providing full details of the complaint, and Isabel will endeavour to work with you to resolve the complaint.The 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 for information and advice about making a complaint.
- Persons Responsible for the Work: As sole director and principal of this firm, Isabel Blake, lawyer, will have the overall responsibility for the services provided to you. In addition, a staff lawyer and/or legal executive may be assisting with the general carriage and day-to-day care of your file and, from time to time, a legal assistant may also assist with your matter upon instructions from the lawyer or legal executive responsible for your file. We will keep you informed regarding who is assisting with your legal affairs.
- Client Care and Service: The Law Society client care and service information is set out below.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. Those obligations are subject to other overriding duties, including duties to the courts and to the justice system.
If you have any questions, please visit www.lawsociety.org.nz or call 0800 261 801.
- Limitations on extent of our Obligations or Liability: Any limitations on the extent of our obligations to you or any limitation or exclusion of liability are set out in the letter of engagement. In all situations, our liability in respect of tax advice is excluded and we recommend you obtain such advice from your accountant or a tax law specialist.Despite our efforts to ensure that our role is clear, clients sometimes make incorrect assumptions about what we are and are not going to do for them. To help avoid any such misunderstanding, we bring to your attention the fact that we am not providing you with any advice on any of the following:
- GST or other tax issues
- Asset valuation advice
- Financial services
- Anything else not specifically identified in the identified scope of work.
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.
- The services we are to provide for you are outlined in the engagement letter.
- The fees we will charge or the manner in which they will be arrived at, are set out in the engagement letter.
- If the engagement letter specifies a fixed fee, we will charge this for the agreed scope of 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.
- Where fees are calculated on an hourly basis, the hourly rate will be advised to you in our engagement letter. If no hourly rate is provided, the default hourly rate for all work will be $295 plus GST. Time spent is recorded in 6 minute units, with time rounded up to the next unit of 6 minutes.
- Disbursements and expenses: In providing services we may incur disbursements or have to make payments to third parties on your behalf. These will be included in our invoice(s) to you when the expense is incurred. We may require an advance payment for the disbursements or expenses which we will be incurring on your behalf.
- GST: Is payable by you on our fees and charges.
- Invoices: We will 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, reach a milestone in the work or if the matter becomes protracted or delayed.
- Payment: Invoices are payable within 7 days of the date of the invoice, unless alternative arrangements have been made with the director of the firm. We may charge you interest on any amount owing by you from the due date for payment until payment is made. Interest will be calculated at the rate of 12% per month. In the event that it becomes necessary for us to take recovery action you will be liable for all debt collection costs and disbursements.
- Fee advance: We require a retainer before proceeding with most legal matters, the details of which will be contained in our letter of engagement to you. By paying the retainer, you are indicating to us that you agree to our terms and conditions. We will ask for further fee advances as work progresses.
- Security: We may ask you to pre-pay amounts to us, or to provide security for our fees and expenses. You authorise us:
- to debit against amounts pre-paid by you; and
- 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. This may include internal journal of funds from one of our matters to another matter.
- 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.
- 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:
- to the extent necessary or desirable to enable us to carry out your instructions; or
- to the extent required by law or by the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
- to the extent necessary to collect any debts owed by you to us and enforce any other rights under these terms including such information required to support a claim against you or defend a claim by you (for example with the Disputes Tribunal or New Zealand Law Society), and to lodge any unpaid debts with a debt collection company and/or register the debt with a national credit check system (this will include such information as your full name, occupation, date of birth, address, instructions to us, invoice detailing work done, etc.
- We will of course, not disclose to you confidential information which we have in relation to any other client.
- You may terminate our retainer at any time.
- 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 must pay us all fees due up to the date of termination and all expenses incurred up to that date.
- Retention of files and documents
- You authorise us (without further reference to you) to destroy all files and documents 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 and documents to an electronic format.
- It is our intention to maintain a paperless/digital office as much as possible and therefore we will be seeking to only keep electronic copies of documents and correspondence. Our digital files are stored within our Actionstep system and backed up on New Zealand based servers.
- Originally signed Deeds will be held by on our premises in our dedicated Deeds storage area. Alternatively, you may store your Deeds yourself in which case we will return them to you.
- In the event you wish to uplift your files from us, you agree we can charge a fee for time spent in relation to preparing the files for transfer. The standard fee will be at our legal assistant’s hourly rate of $175 plus GST and disbursements and must be paid prior to release of files. Deeds will be released at no cost as very little time is needed.
- Conflicts of Interest
- 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.
- Duty of Care
- 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.
- Trust Account
- 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 a bank. In that case we will charge an administration fee of 5% of the gross interest earned.
- These Terms apply to any current engagement and also to any future engagement, whether or not we send you another copy of them at the start of each new matter.
- We are entitled to change these Terms from time to time, in which case we will notify you of the amended Terms.
- Our relationship with you is governed by New Zealand law and New Zealand courts have non-exclusive jurisdiction.