These 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.
CLIENT CARE INFORMATION
1.1 The legal services we will provide to you are outlined in our Letter of Engagement.
1.2 You should promptly discuss with the responsible person at Davidson Legal any questions you have about the scope of work we will be performing on your behalf.
2. TRUST ACCOUNT
2.1 We maintain a separate 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 registered bank. In that case we will charge an administration fee of 7% of the interest derived.
3.1 Fees: The fees which we will charge or the manner in which they will be arrived at, are set out in our engagement letter.
3.1.1 If the engagement letter specifies a fixed fee, we will charge this for the agreed scope of our services. However, we will often provide a fee estimate and reserve the right to charge for extra time if the transaction becomes more time consuming or complicated etc. In fixing this fee, we take into account matters such as:
(a) time spent;
(b) the skill and knowledge and responsibility required; (c) the value or stakes of the transaction;
(d) the complexity, novelty, importance and urgency of the matter; (e) the reasonable costs of running a practice; and
(f) the result.
3.1.2 Where our fees are calculated on an hourly basis, the hourly rates are set out in our letter of engagement. The differences in those rates reflect the experience and specialisation of our professional staff. Time spent is record in 6 minute units, with time rounded up to the next unit of 6 minutes. If you require clarification of these arrangements at any stage just let us know.
3.2 Disbursements and Expenses: In providing our services we may incur disbursements or have to make payments to third parties on your behalf.
3.2.1 We file away all client files for secure storage with File Saver on a 7-year basis to
which a fee of $58.50 will be charged to your account.
3.2.2 All other disbursements, expenses and/or payments will be included in our invoice to you when the expense is incurred. We normally require an advance payment for the disbursements or expenses which we will be incurring on your behalf. Our standard disbursement administration charges are $65.00 per invoice, but can change depending on the following disbursements set out below:
(a) courier charges;
(b) extensive photocopying;
(c) government filing and registration fees;
(d) court fees;
(e) service agents;
(f) travel expenses; and
(g) other costs relevant to your matter.
3.3 GST: GST (if any) will be added to our fee and charges, and calculated at the rate (15.0%) prescribed by the Goods and Services Tax Act 1985. We essentially collect this money from you and pay it on to the tax department. If we are being instructed by a company normally this GST can be claimed back. GST will be charged in all cases except where you are “zero rated” or “exempt” under the Act.
3.4 Invoices: We will send interim invoices to you, as necessary and on completion of the matter, or termination of our engagement. We may also send you an invoice when we incur a significant expense.
3.4.1 If you have a complaint or dispute with our invoice, the complaint or dispute must be raised within 28 days from the receipt of the invoice. If the invoice is not disputed within this period, you are deemed to have waived all rights to subsequently dispute the invoice. If you have provided us an email address for contact, then the email address will be deemed an acceptable method of serving the invoice.
3.4.2 If you fail to pay your invoices by the due date we reserve the rights to take legal action and upon your account being transferred to a debt collector, you agree that all associated costs shall be passed onto you.
3.5 Unless stated otherwise, all quotes, estimated fees and fee arrangements do not include
GST and disbursements.
3.6 Payment: Invoices are payable within 14 days of the date of the invoice, unless alternative arrangements have been made with us.
3.6.1 We may require interest to be paid on any amount which is more than 14 days overdue. Interest will be calculated at the rate of 15% as at the close of business on the date payment became due until the invoice has been paid in full without reduction.
3.6.2 Our firm policy is to stop all work with a right to retain original documents and correspondence on your file until such time as all outstanding fees, disbursements and other expenses have been paid, and we run a tight practice in that regard. If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact us.
3.7 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.
3.8 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.
4. PROFESSIONAL SERVICES
4.1 We are bound by the New Zealand Law Society’s Rules of Professional Conduct for Barristers and Solicitors. These rules list several types of conduct or circumstances that require or allow us to stop work on your current matter. They include:
(a) acting contrary to our advice or ignoring that advice; (b) conflict of interest;
(c) misrepresentation or not disclosing relevant facts; (d) non payment of fees or costs.
4.2 We try to identify potential issues in advance and discuss them with you. If we were to withdraw service, we will give you written notice whenever possible.
4.3 You may terminate our services at any time. If you terminate our services, you must pay all fees due up to the date of termination and all expenses incurred up to that date.
5.1 Once you have instructed us, you authorise us to collect information about you (including all personal information) and anything to do with the matter upon which you are instructing us.
5.2 We will follow the information privacy principles set out in the Privacy Act 1993 and/or the Law Society Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers in all dealings with your personal information. Therefore any information you give us regarding your matter will be treated with confidence and will only be known by:
(a) those working on your file;
(b) our service agents (where necessary);
(c) other organisations responsible for processing your matter; or
(d) where we are legally obliged to disclose specific information.
5.3 You may request to see the file that holds your personal information which will be held at the offices of Davidson Legal or at – take a minimum of 5 working days to process and be charged a processing fee of $ 10.25.
5.4 In some circumstances, access to information may be denied where the disclosure of your personal information breaches the confidential information of other clients or in relation to other matters.
5.5 You also authorise us to use your personal information, your contact details and those of
your employees for the circulation of material that is relevant to your matter or other material generated by us.
6. RETENTION OF FILES AND DOCUMENTS
6.1 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.
7. CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
7.1 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.
8. DUTY OF CARE
8.1 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.
9. LIMITATIONS ON OUR OBLIGATIONS OR LIABILITY
9.1 Our advice will frequently be given in reliance on information provided by you and other agencies such as public registry offices. We do not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in that information or in our advice given as a result of those errors or omissions.
9.2 Any opinions on our part about the outcome of any legal matters are expressions of our
best professional judgment. However, they are not guarantees. Such opinions are limited by a number of factors including our knowledge of the facts. They are also based on the state of the law at the time they are given.
9.3 Our advice will only be applicable to you and your situation. Should you want others to rely on such advice, you must inform us of who the other parties are immediately so that we can advise you and the other people or entities accordingly.
10. PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE
10.1 We hold professional indemnity insurance that meets or exceeds the minimum standards specified by the Law Society. I will provide you with particulars of the minimum standards upon request.
11. LAWYERS FIDELITY FUND
11.1 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 $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.
12.1 We maintain a procedure for handling any complaints by clients, designed to ensure that a complaint is dealt with promptly and fairly
12.2 If you have a complaint about our services or charges, I would be happy to meet with you to discuss the nature of the complaint so that we can attempt to resolve it between ourselves. If you do not wish to refer your complaint to us or you are not satisfied with our response then you may refer your complaint to Mr Peter Doody at P.J. Doody, Barrister & Solicitor. He may be contacted as follows:
(a) Telephone : (03) 365 2813
(b) Fax: (03) 366 5161
(c) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
12.3 The Law Society operates the Lawyers Complaints Service and you are able to make a
complaint to that service. To do so, please 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.
13. GENERAL INFORMATION FOR YOUR REFERENCE
13.1 The terms of engagement as set out in this document relate to any current and future engagement with you, whether or not another copy is sent. We are entitled to change these Terms from time to time, in which case we will send you amended Terms. Our relationship with you is governed by New Zealand law and New Zealand Courts have non- exclusive jurisdiction.
13.2 Achieving client satisfaction is a major priority at Davidson Legal. Feedback is taken very seriously and is considered to be extremely important in our pursuit of delivery excellent legal services. If you are not completely satisfied in any aspect of our work, please contact the responsible personnel at Davidson Legal.
13.3 For further information about us and our services, please visit our website at www.davidson.co.nz