INFORMATION FOR CLIENTS

Below is the information we must give to you as required by the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers of the New Zealand Law Society (“NZLS”).

Fees

Our Terms of Business & letter of engagement set out the basis on which fees are charged and when payment of fees needs to be made.

Once we have provided you with an invoice, we may automatically deduct any fees, costs or disbursements from any funds held on your behalf in our trust account.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

We hold professional indemnity insurance that exceeds the minimum standards specified by the NZLS. Please ask us if you would like details of the minimum standards.

Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund

The NZLS maintains the Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund for the purpose of providing lawyers’ clients with protection against theft of money by lawyers. The maximum amount payable by the Fund is limited to $100,000 to any claimant. Except in certain circumstances, the 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 which is designed to ensure that a complaint is dealt with promptly and fairly. If you are unhappy with any aspect of our service, please tell us.

In the first instance, we encourage you to talk to the person in our firm who has responsibility for your work. If however, you do not wish to refer your complaint to that person or you are not satisfied with that person’s response to your complaint, you may refer your complaint to either of the following senior persons in our firm:

Felicity Grey
Ph: (09) 972 9237
Email: felicity@propertypractice.co.nz
Role: Director

Stacey Tolhoek
Ph: (09) 972 9239
Email: stacey@propertypractice.co.nz
Role: Lawyer

Or by letter:

PO Box 26291, Epsom, Auckland 1344

The NZLS operates the Lawyers Complaints Service and you can make a complaint to that service. Phone 0800 261 801 and you will be connected to the nearest Complaints Service Office, which can provide you with more information and advice about making a complaint.

Persons Responsible for your Work

The names and status of the person or persons who will carry out and be responsible for the services we provide to you will be set out in the letter of engagement that we provide to you at the beginning of your transaction.

Client Care and Service

Below is the NZLS’s client care and service information.

Whatever legal services your lawyer is providing, they 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 the Extent of our Obligations or Liability

Any limitations on the extent of our obligations to you or any limitation or exclusion of liability will be set out in our letter of engagement to you.

TERMS OF BUSINESS

These standard Terms of Business (“Terms”) apply in respect of all work carried out by us for you except if we agree different terms with you in writing.

1. Services

1.1 The services that we will provide to you will be outlined in our engagement letter that we send you at the beginning of the transaction.

1.2 We can only act if you give us clear instructions to do so and once we have all of the relevant information that we need in order to give you effective advice. If you are organised in terms of providing the necessary information to us, it is likely to save you money.

2. Instructions to Perform Work

2.1 You agree that when we act for you, we may accept instructions from any of the following unless you advise us otherwise in writing:

  • For a company, any director or officer of that company/employee that you have authorised to work with us;
  • For a trust, any trustee of that trust;
  • For a partnership, any partner of officer (if applicable) of that partnership;
  • For a couple, either party comprising the couple.

3. Financial Aspects

3.1 Fees:
(i)  The fees we will charge or the manner in which they will be arrived at, are set out in our engagement letter.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Where our fees for certain services are intended to be a fixed sum and pre-paid, we have the discretion to advise you where the actual work (or disbursement cost) involved in your particular matter will be more than that anticipated by the fixed fee. In this case, we will discuss with you as soon as possible the additional likely fees and in the event that you do not wish us to proceed, we will refund any amount that you have pre-paid.

3.2 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 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.

3.3 GST (if any): Is payable by you on our fees and charges.

3.4 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.

3.5 Payment: Invoices are payable within 14 days of the date of the invoice, unless alternative arrangements have been made with us.  We may require interest to be paid on any amount which is more than 7 days overdue.  Interest will be calculated at the rate of 5% above our firm's main trading bank’s 90-day bank bill buy rate as at the close of business on the date payment became due.

3.6 Security: We may ask you to pre-pay amounts to us, or to provide security for our fees and expenses.  You authorise us: (i) to debit against amounts pre-paid by you; and (ii) 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.

3.7 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.

3.8 Costs of Recovery: In the event that any invoices remain unpaid for 14 days from the invoice date we may commence debt collection action against you. In that event you will be liable to pay all  costs associated with recovering or attempting to recover the debt from you on a fully indemnity basis.

4. Confidentiality

  • 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 (i) to the extent necessary or desirable to enable us to carry out your instructions; or (ii) to the extent required by law or by the NZLS’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
  • 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.
  • We will of course, not disclose to you confidential information which we have in relation to any other client.

5. Termination

  • You may terminate our services at any time.
  • We may terminate our services in any of the circumstances given in the NZLS 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.

6. 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.

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 NZLS Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.

8. 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.

9. Trust Account

9.1 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 a bank.  In that case we will charge an administration fee of 5% of the interest derived.

10. General

10.1 These Terms apply to any current engagement and also to any future engagement, whether or not we send you another copy of them.
10.2 We are entitled to change these Terms from time to time, in which case we will send you amended Terms.
10.3 Our relationship with you is governed by New Zealand law and New Zealand courts have non-exclusive jurisdiction.


If you have any questions or concerns at this point, please feel free to contact us to discuss these. Otherwise, please indicate your acceptance to these terms by ticking the box on the appropriate form(s) on our website. We will then proceed to act for you on the understanding that you have accepted our Terms of Business.

Terms of Use last updated: September 2013

DISCLAIMER: This information is given as a guide only. All information in this website is to author’s knowledge true and accurate. No liability is assumed by the authors, or publishers, for any losses suffered by any person relying directly or indirectly upon the information contained in this website. It is recommended that you consult a representative of The Property Practice Ltd before acting upon this information.