INFORMATION FOR CLIENTS
How we charge you Fees is set out in our Terms of Engagement
If we have provided you with an invoice we may deduct Fees, expenses or disbursements from funds we hold on your behalf in our Trust Account. You will be provided with a statement reflecting this.
- PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE (PI):
We hold PI insurance that meets or exceeds the minimum standards as specified by the New Zealand Law Society (NZLS). We can provide details of the standards on request.
- LAWYERS FIDELITY FUND:
NZLS maintains the Lawyer’s Fidelity Fund for the purpose of providing clients of lawyers with protection against loss arising from theft from lawyers. The maximum amount payable by the Fidelity Fund to an individual claimant is limited to $100,000. Except in certain circumstances the Fidelity Fund does not cover a client for any loss relating to money a lawyer is instructed to invest on behalf of clients. Refer to www.nzls.org.nz
We take complaints very seriously and ensure they are dealt with promptly and fairly through our procedures.
- If you have a complaint in the first instance refer that complaint to the person in the firm who has been handling your work.
- If you do not wish to complain to that person or are not satisfied with the response contact Neil Dickson (General Manager) or Quentin Hix (Director).
- If you wish to complain to the NZ Law Society they can be contacted on 0800 261 801 (Complaints Service) or PO Box 5041, Wellington 6140.
- HANDLING YOUR WORK:
You will be told the name of the person handling your work at the time we make you engage us to work for you. This may change as your matter progresses, but we will let you know at the time and explain the reasons.
- YOUR CARE AND SERVICE
Whatever legal service is provided to you the person responsible for that must:
- Act competently, in a timely way and in accordance with instructions received from you and arrangements made.
- Protect and promote your interests and act for you free of compromising influences or loyalties.
- Discuss with you your objectives and how they should best be achieved.
- Provide you with information about work to be done, who will do it and the way the service 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 when it is completed.
- Let you know how to make a complaint and deal with any complaint promptly and fairly.
- The obligations lawyers have to clients as described in the rules of conduct and client care for lawyers. These obligations are subject to other overiding duties, including duties to the courts and to the justice system.
For more information visit www.lawyers.org.nz or call 0800 261 801
- LIMITATIONS ON OBLIGATIONS OR LIABILITY:
See our Terms of Engagement
TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT
These Terms of Engagement (Terms) apply to all work carried out by us for you.
The services we provide for you are as discussed with you at the time you engage us. They may be altered from time to time as your matter progresses.
- There are a variety of ways Fees can be charged. This section sets out the options.
- We will provide an estimate of likely costs as requested. If possible, we will provide you with a Fixed Fee. Otherwise costs will be based on a number of factors including time spent on the file, the urgency and expertise required and the overall value of the transaction.
If we agree a Fixed Fee it will be based on an agreed scope of our services. If work falls outside that scope, we will advise you as soon as reasonably practicable and if requested give you an estimate for the additional work.
- Our hourly rates are available on request.
- Time spent is recorded in 6-minute units, with time rounded up to the next unit of 6 minutes.
- With the exception of Fixed Fees, we charge separately for significant out of pocket expenses such as Court Fees, Central and Local Government fees and outside research fees.
- For transactions taking a relatively short time to resolve we will render accounts at the end of the transaction. Otherwise we will send monthly interim accounts.
- Payment is due 14 days following the date of invoice.
- If we receive funds to hold on your behalf we will deduct fees and costs as appropriate and after rendering an invoice. You can advise us otherwise in writing not to deduct fees and costs.
- If accounts are overdue we may (at our discretion) charge interest at the rate of 2% per month. You will also be responsible for any debt collection costs including legal fees incurred in collecting any overdue amounts.
- GST (if any) is payable by you on our Fees and charges.
- If you are receiving Legal Aid your fees will be as outlined by the Legal Aid section of the Ministry of Justice.
- At our sole discretion we may charge a cancellation fee. For fixed fee matters the cancellation fee will be $300.00 (incl GST). For other matters the fee will be 50% of time recorded at the appropriate billing rate.
For dispute related matters other than Legal Aid we require pre-paid amounts for our estimated Fees and expenses. Such pre-payments will be held in our Trust account.
You authorise us:
- Debit against any amount pre-paid by you.
- Take payment from any funds held on your behalf in our Trust account.
- THIRD PARTIES
Although you may expect to be reimbursed by a third party for our fees and expenses and although our invoices may request or with approval be directed to a third party, nevertheless you remain responsible for the debt until it is paid.
We will hold in confidence all information concerning you and your affairs that we acquire while 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.
- To the extent required by law or by the NZLS rules of Conduct and Client care.
- As far as practicable confidential information will only be made available to those within our firm who are providing legal services to you.
You may terminate your relationship with us at any time. We may terminate our professional relationship in any of the circumstances set out in the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. In the event of termination, you must pay us all fees and expenses due and incurred up the date of termination.
- RETENTION OF FILES AND DOCUMENTS
- You may uplift your file or ask us to transfer it to another firm at any time providing all outstanding costs have been paid. We reserve the right to retain a copy of the file and to charge you for making that copy.
- You authorise us (without further reference to you) to destroy all files and documents for all matters including previous and future matters (other than documents we hold in safe custody for you) 7 years after our engagement ends or at any time, if we have converted those files and documents to an electronic format.
- CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
We have procedures in place to identify and respond to Conflicts of Interest.
In particular if we are being asked to represent both sides of one transaction we will need both parties to agree in writing before we can act.
- DUTY OF CARE
Our duty of care is to you and no one else. 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 received from clients. If we are holding funds on your behalf we will lodge those funds on interest bearing deposit with our bank if in our opinion the interest accrued will exceed our administration fee.
Our administration fee for depositing funds to interest bearing deposit is 10% of the Gross Interest earned.
- VERIFYING YOUR IDENTITY/SOURCE OF FUNDS, AND CREDIT CHECKS
We are obliged to ask for identification from you even if have known you in the past. This is to satisfy the following:
- We may at our discretion need to verify your identity to confirm the source of funds for a transaction or carry out a credit check.
- You authorize us to collect information about you and to obtain, hold and use such information, and to make any enquiries we think appropriate to:
i. Undertake client due diligence in accordance with the Anti-Money Laundering and countering Financing of Terrorism Act (AML/CFT Act)
ii. Enforce debt obligations (including recovery of money owed to us)
- You agree we may use Electronic verification services from a third party to verify your identity and proof of address and any other customer due diligence monitoring required under the AML/CFT act.
- If you default on your payment obligations to us, information about that default may be given to credit reports and potentially given by credit reports to their other customers.
- These Terms apply to any current engagement and to any future engagement, whether or not we send you another copy of them.
- We are entitled to change these Terms from time to time, in which case we will publish the amended Terms on our website. New Zealand Law governs our relationship with you and New Zealand Courts have non-exclusive jurisdiction.
- If you any have concerns about our Terms & Conditions we recommend you seek independent legal advice before engaging us.
INFORMATION ON LEGAL AID
- Family/Civil Legal Aid
Legal aid is governed by the Legal Services Act 2011 and the associated regulations and is administered through the Ministry of Justice by the Legal Services Commissioner.Once Legal Aid has been granted we will submit invoices in relation to your grant of aid to the Legal Services Commissioner and provide you with copies. The Legal Services Commissioner will write to you about any conditions or repayment obligations that you may have in relation to the grant of legal aid and your rights as an applicant or recipient of legal aid. You should be aware at this time that legal aid is not always free. You should read these letters carefully and keep them for later reference.The Ministry of Justice may require you to repay your grant of legal aid and, based on your income, will calculate your prescribed repayment, if any. This is a theoretical maximum; you will only have to repay the actual cost of the proceedings, or the maximum, whichever is the lower.The Ministry of Justice may require you to start making interim weekly payments. They will send you an automatic payment authority to take to your bank. You can also set up your repayments by internet banking using the details supplied on the automatic payment form. If repayments are not received by the ministry, they may consider withdrawing your grant of aid.You may also be required to contribute towards the cost of your legal aid by way of a legal aid user charge of $50.00 (GST inclusive). This charge is due now and is payable to our office, not the Ministry of Justice. Payment can be made directly into our bank account at the ASB bank, or alternatively by way of internet banking. Our account number is 12-3159-0049029-02 and you should remember to include your name as a reference so that we can identify your payment. Payment can also be made by eftpos, cash or cheque at our office, but we are unable to give change on cash payments. if we do not receive this payment, this may stop us from acting for you.You must let the Legal Services Commissioner know if there is any change in your contact details, employment status, family circumstances or financial details.
- Criminal Legal Aid
Legal aid is governed by the Legal Services Act 2011 and the associated regulations and is administered through the Ministry of Justice by the Legal Services Commissioner.Once Legal Aid has been granted we will submit invoices in relation to your grant of aid to the Legal Services Commissioner. The Legal Services Commissioner will write to you about any conditions or repayment obligations that you may have in relation to the grant of legal aid and your rights as an applicant or recipient of legal aid. You should be aware at this time that legal aid is not always free. You should read these letters carefully and keep them for later reference.The Ministry of Justice may require you to repay your grant of legal aid and, based on your income, will calculate your prescribed repayment, if any. This is a theoretical maximum; you will only have to repay the actual cost of the proceedings, or the maximum, whichever is the lower.You must let the Legal Services Commissioner know if there is any change in your contact details, employment status, family circumstances or financial details.
- Family/Civil Legal Aid
If you have any questions about your legal aid grant, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Revised December 2019
For information on family/civil or crimminal legal aid, contact Neil Dickson.