INFORMATION FOR CLIENTS AND OUR BUSINESS TERMS
1. The purpose of this document
1.1 We value our relationship with our clients. The purpose of this document is to help you understand what
you can expect from us when carrying out your work. If you have any questions, please contact the
partner responsible for your work.
1.2 This document:
(a) sets out the standard terms on which we do work for you. It explains what you can expect fromus and what you agree to when we work for you;
(b) includes information we are required to tell you under the New Zealand Law Society’s Rules of
Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers;
(c) applies to your current work and to any future work that we do for you, unless we agree in
writing to change these terms.
1.3 We may change these terms at times. If we make changes, we will send you the updated version of this document, if we are currently underway with any work for you.
2. Our letter of engagement
2.1 Every time we start a new piece of work for you, we will give you a letter of engagement. This letter will
(a) what we will do for you including (where possible) a scope of your work;
(b) the person who will have overall responsibility for your work; and
(c) where possible our fee estimate, otherwise the current hourly rates of the person or people
responsible for your work.
2.2 The person with overall responsibility for your work is who we believe is most suited to your work and to
our relationship with you. Where appropriate, other members of our staff may also be involved, under
that person’s supervision.
3. Our duties to you
3.1 Our duties are owed to you, the client named in our letter of engagement. Nobody else (such as family
members, shareholders, directors, or related companies) can rely on our advice without our written
3.2 When we do work for you, subject to any overriding duties we have (eg to the Courts and the justice
system), we will:
(a) protect your privacy and confidentiality;
(b) act competently, promptly, and according to your instructions;
(c) protect and promote your interests;
(d) give you clear information and advice;
(e) keep you informed about progress;
(f) treat you fairly and respectfully;
(g) charge you a fee that is fair and reasonable.
3.3 Our obligations to you are described in these terms and in the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for
Lawyers. See our website www.thelawyers.nz and www.lawsociety.org.nz for further information.
4. Who we can accept instructions from
4.1 Unless you let us know differently, you agree that we can accept instructions from any of the following:
(a) if you are a company, from any of your directors or employees or any other person you have
authorised to instruct us;
(b) if you are a trust, from any of the trustees or officers of that trust;
(c) if you are a partnership, from any of your partners or officers of that partnership;
(d) if you are a couple, from either of you.
5.1 If you are a company or other incorporated entity, we may need personal guarantees from your directors
or shareholders. If this applies, we will raise this with you directly.
6. How you can help us
6.1 You can help us by:
(a) giving us clear instructions and full information;
(b) asking if there is anything you are not sure of;
(c) telling us if you have any important time limits;
(d) dealing promptly with any questions we have;
(e) telling us if your contact details change; and
(f) keeping in touch.
6.2 Please ask if you are concerned about anything or do not hear from us when expected.
7. Verifying your identity and conducting credit checks
7.1 In some circumstances, we are required by law to verify your identity. We must do this by sighting either
a driver’s licence, passport, or some other form of current government issued photographic ID of you.
We will hold an electronic copy of this ID in our system for future reference.
7.2 We may carry out reasonable credit checks on you. You authorise anyone we contact to provide us with
information we request as part of our credit enquiries.
7.3 We may provide information to credit agencies about any account you have failed to pay by the due
8. Our legal costs
8.1 We will always charge you a fair and reasonable fee.
8.2 Unless we agree with you otherwise, we will calculate our fee based on the time we spend on a job.
The calculation will be based on our hourly rates, adjusted where appropriate for other factors permitted
by the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. Such factors include the complexity, urgency,
importance, specialised knowledge, responsibility and risks involved, and the results achieved.
8.3 If you have any questions about our fee, please ask.
8.4 Unless we state otherwise, our fee, estimates and hourly rates do not include GST or expenses and
disbursements, which are payable by you.
8.5 We will charge you an amount to cover general office expenses (such as photocopying, standard
postage, printing and file storage). This expense is shown separately as a general office expense in our
account to you.
8.6 When we do work for you, we may have to cover some expenses or make other payments on your
behalf (such as searches, registration, toll calls, travel, court charges, couriers and agency). These
expenses will be shown separately in our account to you. We may at times ask you to pay funds into
our trust account before we incur these expenses.
8.7 Our hourly fee rates, office expenses and disbursements may change from time to time.
9. Paying our account
9.1 We issue accounts as seems appropriate during the progress of your work. This could include:
(b) on completion of a job or the ending of our engagement; and
(c) when we incur a significant expense.
9.2 You agree to pay our account on receipt, unless we have agreed alternative arrangements.
9.3 For property transactions and other transactions with specific settlement dates, our account:
(a) for a purchase, refinance or other settlement is payable on settlement;
(b) for a sale will be deducted from the sale proceeds.
However, if appropriate, we may invoice you monthly, in which case our account is payable on receipt.
9.4 If you have any questions about an account, please contact us straight away.
9.5 Sometimes we may need you to pay the legal costs in advance. If we do, we will hold your payment in
our trust account and only deduct our legal costs when we issue you an account.
9.6 If we hold funds in our trust account on your behalf, we may deduct from these funds any legal costs for
which we have issued you an account. “Funds” means money from any source, including any judgment,
sale proceeds, or settlement amount.
9.7 We will charge interest on overdue accounts at the rate of 1.5% a month. We will take action to recover
overdue accounts and charge you the cost of that recovery. These charges must be paid by you.
9.8 Any failure or delay on our part to charge interest on an unpaid account or to exercise any of our other
rights will not operate as a waiver of those rights.
9.9 At your request or with your approval, we may send our account to a third party to pay on your behalf.
You are still responsible for payment by the due date if the third party does not pay us.
10. How we maintain your privacy and confidentiality
10.1 We consider client confidentiality to be extremely important. We will treat all information we hold about
you as private and confidential and will not use it or share it unless:
(a) you agree, or ask us to;
(b) we need to so that we can carry out our work for you; or
(c) the law requires us to, or the Rules of Conduct and Client care for Lawyers allow us to.
11. How we avoid conflicts of interest
11.1 ‘Conflict of interest’ means that we have duties to someone else that might lessen our ability to act
wholly in your best interests.
11.2 If we find a conflict at any time, we will immediately let you know and tell you how we plan to deal with
the conflict. That may mean we stop working for you, the other client, or both.
11.3 Before we agree to do any work for you, we will do our best to find out if any conflict of interest exists.
12. Scope of our work
12.1 We will provide the services set out in our letter of engagement or as subsequently agreed and set out
in any replacement or supplementary letter of engagement.
12.2 Unless we confirm in writing otherwise, we are not qualified to give:
(a) investment advice: you should get that advice from a qualified financial advisor;
(b) tax advice: you should get that advice from your accountant or tax advisor; or
(c) advice about foreign laws: we can help you to contact a lawyer in the other country.
12.3 Unless we agree to do so in writing, we will not remind you about dates (eg PPSR, lease or consent
expiry dates) or update our advice after it is given.
13. Our intellectual property
13.1 Unless we agree otherwise:
(a) we retain ownership of all opinions, documents (including deeds) and other intellectual property
created by us;
(b) you must not provide our advice to others (such as using our opinions in any public document
13.2 You indemnify us against any third party claims arising from a release of our advice to third parties.
14. Our email correspondence with you
14.1 You authorise us to use any email address that you give us to communicate with you about the work we
do for you.
14.2 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, are secure, or will be
received. If you have any concerns about the authenticity of an email purportedly sent by us, please
contact us immediately.
14.3 We may occasionally email you information we feel is relevant and useful to you. If you do not want to
receive that information, please let us know.
15. Our money handling procedures
15.1 We maintain a trust account for all funds we hold on behalf of clients (except funds we receive for
payment of accounts).
15.2 If we hold funds for you of more than $10,000.00 and will hold them for more than one week, we will
place them in an interest-bearing deposit with our bank. We will not put a lesser amount of funds in an
interest-bearing deposit with our bank unless you ask us to. We are not responsible for obtaining the
best interest rate available. We are not responsible for any loss of interest you suffer as a result of
delay in placing your funds in an interest-bearing deposit account.
15.3 We charge an interest commission, at a rate of 5% of the interest being held on interest-bearing deposit.
15.4 Withholding tax will be deducted on the interest earned and paid to the IRD. If we have your IRD
number, you can elect to have withholding tax deducted at your applicable rate. If we do not have your
IRD number, we are required to deduct tax at the default rate (which may be higher than your actual
15.5 We will automatically send out an annual Withholding Tax Certificate where the gross interest earned is
greater than $50.00. We will not send a certificate for lesser amounts of interest unless you ask us to do
15.6 Where 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.
16. Professional Indemnity Insurance and the Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund
16.1 We hold professional indemnity insurance that exceeds the New Zealand Law Society’s minimum
standards. If you would like further information about our insurance, please ask.
16.2 The New Zealand Law Society operates a Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund to compensate clients who suffer theft
of money or property entrusted to lawyers. The Fund covers losses of up to $100,000.00 per individual
claimant. It does not cover loss where you have instructed us to invest money on your behalf (subject to
limited exceptions set out in the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act).
17. The limits of our liability to you
17.1 Except where otherwise provided by law, the maximum amount that we have to pay you if we are found
liable for any loss or damage is the greater of:
(a) $1 million; or
(b) $0.75 million for each partner in our firm.
This limit meets the New Zealand Law Society minimum standard. The limit applies whatever you are
claiming for, and however the liability arises.
17.2 If you are more than one person (such as a couple or partnership), this maximum is the maximum
combined amount that we have to pay you together.
17.3 If you engage us to do work for the purposes of a business, you agree the Consumer Guarantees Act
does not apply. Otherwise, nothing in this paragraph 17 limits any rights you may have under that Act.
17.4 We are not liable for any loss or liability because:
(a) we relied on information provided by you or a third party (including public records and expert
(b) you did not provide us with all information required for your instructions or the scope of our
(c) you did not receive or read a communication we sent you.
17.5 In the event we become involved in any claim (including actual or threatened litigation of whatever form)
in relation to our services, we will immediately notify you. You agree, to the extent permitted by law, to
indemnify us, our partners and employees in all respects including our reasonable costs and expenses
involved in defending any actual or threatened litigation. Where legal counsel is retained for these
purposes, those costs, will be met by you. We will use our best endeavours to agree the amount of any
such costs recognising the need to respond to litigation promptly and reasonably. You agree to meet
our costs for reasonable time incurred by our partners and employees and any other reasonable costs
and expenses in relation to any inquiry or proceedings initiated by any person.
18. How we handle complaints
18.1 We will respond to any complaints promptly and fairly.
18.2 Please contact us straight away if you have a question about an account or if you are unhappy with any
other aspect of our work. You may contact:
(a) the partner responsible for your work; or
(b) our CEO by phone, post or email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
18.3 The New Zealand Law Society also has a complaints service. Please telephone 0800 261 801 or visit
www.lawsociety.org.nz for information and advice about making a complaint.
19. Ending our engagement
19.1 You may end our engagement at any time by giving us reasonable notice.
19.2 If we have good cause, we may decide to stop working for you, such as if you:
(a) do not provide us with instructions promptly;
(b) are unable to, or do not, pay our fee as agreed; or
(c) against our advice, act in a way we believe is inconsistent with our fundamental obligations as
lawyers, or highly imprudent. This does not apply to litigation.
19.3 If we decide to stop working for you, we will give you reasonable notice and help you find another
19.4 Before you take your documents, you must pay our fee (including office expenses and disbursements)
for work we have done for you. We may keep a copy of any documents you take.
19.5 These terms will continue to be enforceable after:
(a) the end of our engagement; and
(b) any changes to our partnership or the incorporation of our firm.
20. Destroying files
20.1 You authorise us to destroy all files and documents about a piece of work (other than estates) seven
years after that work has been completed. We will destroy paper files or documents earlier if we have
an electronic copy of them. We will not destroy any documents we have agreed to hold in safe custody
for you (such as Wills).
21. Health and Safety
21.1 The Health and Safety at Work Act obliges us to take all practicable steps to ensure the health and
safety of our employees engaged on any assignment. We both agree to be mutually responsible to
ensure the safety of our employees and to see that no harm is caused to them in your workplace. You
will ensure that the Act is fully complied with when our personnel visit your sites. Contact with your
health and safety representative could involve a safety briefing at the beginning of the assignment,
regarding work hazards which our staff may be exposed to on your site, management of the hazards,
provision of any appropriate safety equipment and awareness of the accident reporting procedures and
22. New Zealand law applies
22.1 Our relationship is governed by New Zealand law and the New Zealand Courts have exclusive
23. Entire agreement
23.1 The terms set out in this document together with our letter of engagement, subject to any qualification,
conditions, assumptions and reservations set out in our letter of engagement, forms the entire
agreement between us and you. No previous discussions, proposals, correspondence, understandings
or other communications, whether written or oral, will have contractual effect subsequent to our letter of
engagement. Only written variations signed on behalf of us will have effect to vary this agreement.