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STANDARD TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT

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 in writing.

1. Services

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

1.2 Client Care and Service

As members of the Law Society, Macalister Todd Phillips is committed to ensuring that our client’s expectations of how we will provide our services are met. How we will do this is detailed below. Whatever legal service 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 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 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.lawyers.org.nz or call 0800 261 801

2. Partner Responsibilities

1.1 The partner who will assume overall responsibility for the services we undertake and carry out on your behalf will be specified in the Engagement Letter. That letter will also disclose persons who may assist and be involved in work with your file.

3. Finances

3.1 Fees
(a) The fees which we will charge may be set out in our engagement letter.
(b) If the engagement letter specified 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.
(c) 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.
(d) We will charge a fee which is fair and reasonable for the services provided having regard to your interests and our interests. In determining the fee, the following may be taken into account:

  • the time and labour expended
  • the skill, specialised knowledge, and responsibility required to perform the services properly
  • the importance of the matter to you and the results achieved
  • the urgency and circumstances in which the matter is undertaken and any time limitations imposed, including those imposed by you
  • the degree of risk assumed by us in undertaking the services including the amount or value of the property involved
  • the complexity of the matter and the difficulty or novelty of the questions involved
  • the experience, reputation and ability of the members of our firm working on your matter
  • the possibility that the acceptance of the particular instructions will preclude employment of us by other clients
  • whether the Fee is fixed or conditional
  • any quote or estimate given by us
  • any Fee agreement entered into between you and us
  • the reasonable costs of running our firm
  • the Fee customarily charged in the market and locality for work similar to yours.

(e) The relative importance of the factors set out above will vary according to the particular circumstances of each transaction.
(f) The hourly rate varies from the partner or staff member dealing with your file. We endeavour to delegate work to people best able to complete a given task at the most appropriate rate. This keeps your fees to a minimum whilst maintaining the quality of service provided.
(g) GST is payable by you on our fees and charges.
(h) When we receive funds on your behalf, such as in a standard conveyancing transaction, our fees and expenses are generally deducted upon receipt. If this arrangement does not suit your specific circumstances, it is important that you discuss this with us as soon as possible, so that an alternative arrangement can be made.
(i) Although you may expect to be reimbursed by a third party for our fees and expenses, and although our Invoices may be 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.
(j) Where funds held in our Trust Account on behalf of yourself or a third party are of sufficient amount and required to be held for sufficient time, those funds may be placed on interest earning deposit. The interest earned net of withholding tax will be paid out less a small commission deducted for our administration involved.
(k) We render interim Invoices on a monthly basis. This keeps you informed as to progress to date and fees incurred, as well as spreading payments over time.

3.2 Disbursements and Expenses

(a) Disbursements are payments that may have to be paid to any other person for work to be done, for example, filing fees, search fees, agency fees. Disbursements may be included in your account or may be billed separately, in advance, to cover these costs.
(b) An office expense fee of 6% is included to cover photocopying, phone calls, fax, postage and other incidental office expenses

3.3 Payment Terms

(a) Invoices are payable within 14 days of the date of the invoice.
(b) Interest is charged on overdue accounts at the rate of 15% per annum.
(c) If your invoice remains unpaid (and we have not made other arrangements with you), steps may be taken to recover monies owing. Should such steps be necessary, all debt collection fees including any solicitor’s costs as charged at our usual rates are also payable by you. Please note that this is our last resort to recover debts – we would generally prefer to come to an arrangement with you without having to take such steps.
(d) We reserve the right to stop work if any invoice remains outstanding after 60 days and/or if we have reasonable cause to believe that you will not meet the costs of ongoing work being undertaken, or a request for information or action remains unsatisfied.

3.4 Security

(a) 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; and
  • Deduct from any funds held on your behalf in our trust account

any fees, expenses or disbursements for which we have provided an invoice.
(b) Guarantee. We may require a guarantee from a corporate client’s shareholders.
(c) Credit Checking. All new clients may be required to give us permission to obtain any private information from any source relating to financial and other details, for credit reference purposes.

4. Privacy & Confidentiality

4.1 We will treat all information we hold about you as private and confidential and will not disclose any information we hold on your behalf or about you unless we are required to do so by law or where it is necessary to do so to provide our services to you or when requested by you or with your consent.
4.2 Information concerning you will be held at our office. Under the Privacy Act 1993 you have the right to access to, and correction of, your personal information held by us.
4.3 The Financial Transitions Reporting Act 1996 requires us to collect from you and retain information required to verify your identity.
4.4 We would appreciate it if you would complete the enclosed Database Update Form to ensure our records are correct.

5. Conflicts

5.1 Conflicts may arise after we take initial instructions from you – we reserve the right to require either or both clients to be separately advised.  If a conflict of interest arises we will advise you of this and follow the requirements and procedures set out in Law Society’s Rules.

6. Termination

6.1 At all times you have the right to terminate our services upon giving us reasonable written notice to that effect.

6.2 We may terminate our retainer in any of the circumstances set out in the Law Society’s Rules.

6.3 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.

7. Client fees and documents

7.1 Most client files will be confidentially destroyed seven years after we have closed them in accordance with New Zealand Law Society regulations.  If you do not wish your files to be destroyed after that time, please contact us to make alternative arrangements.  To cover our costs we charge a small fee of $30.00 for file management and storage.

8. The Lawyers' Fidelity Fund

8.1 This Fund exists to provide compensation for clients who suffer a pecuniary loss in certain circumstances. These circumstances are the theft by a lawyer of money or other valuable property entrusted to that lawyer while they are providing legal services to the public or while they are acting as a solicitor-trustee. It should be noted though that the Fund will not pay compensation in respect of money instructed to be invested in a Bank in New Zealand, or in some private loans such as family loans.

8.2 This is only a short summary of the major provisions in the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 relating to the Fidelity Fund. If you would like further information please ask us.