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terms of engagement.

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”).


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.


1. Services

1.1  The services we are to provide for you are outlined in our engagement letter.

2. Communications

2.1  We will obtain from you contact details, including email address, postal address and telephone numbers.  We may provide documents and other communications to you by email (or other electronic means).  You will advise us if any of your contact details change.

2.2 We will report to you periodically on the progress of any engagement and will inform you of any material and unexpected delays, significant changes or complications in the work being undertaken.  You may request a progress report at any time.

3. Financial

3.1  Fees:

  • 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 1 minute units, with a minimum attendance being rounded up to 6 minutes.

  • You authorise us to deduct our fees and other expenses from funds held in our trust account on your behalf on provision of an invoice to you, unless those funds are held for a particular purpose.

3.2 Disbursements and expenses

In providing services we may incur disbursements or have to make payments to third parties on your behalf.  These may include such items as search fees, court filing fees, registration fees, travel and courier charges and file recall fees. 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 2% 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 to debit against amounts pre-paid by you.

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 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 may charge an administration fee of 5% of the interest derived.

3.9 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.

3.10 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 $100,000.00.  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.

3.11 Barristers: 

Where we instruct a barrister on your behalf you authorise us to pay the barrister’s invoices from money paid to us by you or any other party for that purpose.

4. Confidentiality and Personal Information

4.1 Verification of Identity:  The Financial Transactions Reporting Act 1996 requires us to collect from you and to retain information required to verify your identity.  We may therefore ask you to show us documents verifying your identity (such as a passport or driver’s licence).  We may retain copies of these documents.  We may perform such other customer verification checks as to your identity and checks as to the source of any funds associated with any transaction to which the Services relate as we consider to be required by law.

4.2 Confidence:  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.

4.3 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.

4.4 We will of course, not disclose to you confidential information which we have in relation to any other client.

5. Retention of files and documents

5.1 We will retain all files while a matter is current.  We may convert the file to an electronic format upon completion of the matter.  We may, at our option, return documents (either in hard or electronic form) to you rather than retain them.  If we choose to do this, we will do so at our expense.  After the earlier of 7 years of our last attendance or following the conversion to electronic format, you authorise us (without further reference to you) to destroy all files and documents for such a matter (other than any documents that we hold in safe custody for you, such as wills or deeds) where we have not returned documents (either in hand or electronic form) to you.

6. Conflicts of Interest

6.1  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.

7. Termination

7.1 You may terminate our retainer at any time.

7.2 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.

7.3 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.

8. Persons Responsible for the Work

8.1 The names and status of the person or persons who will have the general carriage of or overall responsibility for the service we provide for you are set out in our letter of engagement.

9. 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 any concerns or complaints about our services or charges, please raise them as soon as possible with the person in our firm who has overall responsibility for your work.

If 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 Bill Patterson.

He may be contacted as follows:

We will endeavour in good faith to resolve the matter with you in a way that is fair to all concerned.  If you are not satisfied with the way we have dealt with your complaint, the New Zealand 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 and you will be connected to the nearest Complaints Service Office, which can provide information and advice about making a complaint.

10.   Duty of Care

10.1       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.

11.     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 question, please visit or call 0800 261 801.

12.    Limitations on extent of our Obligations or Liability

12.1        To the extent allowed by law, our aggregate liability to you (whether in contract, tort, equity or otherwise) in connection with our Services is limited to the amount available to be payable under the Professional Indemnity Insurance held by the firm.

13.    General

13.1        These Terms apply to any current engagement and also to any future engagement, whether or not we send you another copy of them.

13.2        We are entitled to change these Terms from time to time, in which case we will send you amended Terms.

13.3        Our relation with you is governed by New Zealand law and New Zealand courts have non-exclusive jurisdiction.

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