Terms of Engagement

MY COMMITMENT

1.    I will undertake the work you have entrusted to me promptly and efficiently, and with reasonable care and skill on the basis of these Terms of Engagement.  These terms form the contract of engagement between you and me.

CLIENT CARE AND SERVICE INFORMATION

2.    I am committed to doing my best to ensure that your legal needs are met in this matter.  I will:

  • 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.
  • Act competently, in a timely way, and in accordance with instructions received and arrangements made.
  • Provide you with information about the work to be done, who will do it and the way the services will be provided.
  • Protect your privacy and ensure appropriate confidentiality.
  • Treat you fairly, respectfully and without discrimination.
  • Give you clear information and advice.
  • Keep you informed about the work being done and advise you when it is completed.
  • Charge you a fee that is fair and reasonable and let you know how and when you will be billed.
  • 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 the justice system.

CHARGES

3.    My fees are charged in accordance with the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006.  In determining an appropriate fee I take into account, among other factors:

  • skill, specialised knowledge and responsibility required
  • complexity, novelty and difficulty of the matter
  • results achieved and importance of matter to you and value given
  • degree of risk assumed by me
  • time and labour expended
  • urgency and priority given to matter
  • my experience, reputation and ability
  • reasonable costs of running a practice.

My time is currently charged at between $345 and $370 per hour plus GST.  The time of other professional staff is charged at between $200 and $280 per hour plus GST for Law Clerks and Legal Executives, depending on the skill, experience and expertise of the person and the work being done.  Time is merely one factor of several.  For some work, though, there is a standard charge provided the transaction remains straightforward or a minimum charge or a charge based on the documentation perused or prepared.  It is important to note that my fees are not based solely on time and emphasis is placed on the value of the services provided.

4.    In some circumstances, I am prepared to give you an estimate for your work, and will keep to that estimate but it will be a “best guess”.  Please note that it is not possible to give quotations for most kinds of work particularly relationship matters and most commercial transactions.

5.    Secretarial time and the time of other support staff is generally included in the hourly rates for   professional staff.

6.    The expression “Disbursements” means money paid on your behalf by me, eg search and registration fees; service costs; courier charges.  For larger disbursements, you will be asked to fund these in advance, eg. LIM and court filing fees.  The expression “Expenses” means internally generated charges, eg. photocopying; postage; travel; toll and cell phone charges.

7.    In general, my charges are fee based, but in a few instances, they are commission based.  I charge commission when I make investments (currently 6% of gross interest on money placed on call deposit) on your behalf or arrange finance, financial advice, funeral trust or insurance cover.

PAYMENT

8.    My accounts are payable on receipt though charges for property and business sales and purchases and some other transactions are payable at settlement.  Interest is payable on any account not paid promptly, and will be calculated from the date of the account at 2% per calendar month compounded.

9.    All costs related to the recovery of money owing are payable by you on a solicitor/client basis on demand and otherwise shall be added to the amount owing.

10.    Pending payment of my account, I will not usually cease work on your file, but I reserve the right to do so, and I will tell you first if I intend to do so.  I will, though, claim a lien over your file and papers and documents if payment in full of my charges is not made when due.

11.    Should I have to take proceedings against you to recover costs, those proceedings shall be commenced in the Court or Tribunal nearest my place of business.

12.    Payment on account of my charges may be required before I commence your work or continue to work on an ongoing matter.

13.    Where you engage me in your capacity as a director or shareholder of a company or settlor or trustee of a trust or executor or administrator of an estate, your instructions are accepted by  me on the basis that you remain at all times personally liable (together with the company, trust or estate) to pay my charges.

14.    Should I be holding funds on your behalf I am authorised (by accepting engagement by you) to deduct any charges owing to me from those funds at the time you are given an account.  Payment in this manner shall be treated for the purposes of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 as if you had paid by cash, cheque or money transfer without reservation.

LIABILITY

15.    My liability to you is limited to the value of my fees exclusive of GST for the work completed.

16.    The provisions of the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993 are excluded if you are a business.

TIME

17.    I try to schedule my work several days ahead so that it can be carried out promptly and efficiently.  Please try to keep appointments and meet my deadlines, etc, as failure to do so may mean your work becomes urgent, requiring additional attention, possibly resulting in higher charges.

18.    Unless I specifically agree, I do not undertake to do work by a particular date or time but I will do my best to meet your requirements in this regard.

19.    I will endeavour to action your work promptly.  But there are times where I am delayed by other people, including other professionals, Government agencies, and the Courts.

URGENCY

20.    If you ask me to undertake your work on an urgent basis, I will tell you whether or not this is appropriate, and whether or not I am able to do so.

21.    Doing work urgently means more than doing that work in priority to other work.  It means also (where appropriate) allocating additional staff, personal delivery of communications and documents, attending at public offices to personally file documents, etc, weekend work, meetings with interested parties rather than writing, and following up with personal attendances.  This may substantially increase the time taken, and consequently my charges to you will increase.

22.    I reserve the right to treat certain parts of your work as urgent without necessarily advising you, if in my judgment this is in your best interest, and you will be charged accordingly.  This will arise only in exceptional circumstances; in most cases I expect to be able to confer with you in advance.

PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE

23.    My practice holds indemnity insurance that meets or exceeds the minimum standards from time to time specified by the New Zealand Law Society.

INSURANCE AND FIDELITY

24.    The Law Society maintains the Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund for the purposes of providing clients of lawyers with protection against any pecuniary loss they suffer by reason of the theft of their money or property by a lawyer.  The maximum amount payable by the Fund by way of compensation to an individual claimant is $100,000.  Except in certain circumstances specified in the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 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.

FILES

25.    As required by my Professional Rules I will retain the file for your work for ten (10) years from the date the work was completed and then I will arrange for the file to be destroyed.  At any time after the work is completed, before the file is destroyed, you may uplift the file.

DOCUMENTS AND COPYRIGHT

26.    I will retain ownership of copyright and all other intellectual property rights in the papers and documents that I produce for you in the course of carrying out our engagement.  However, you will be entitled to use the documents for the purposes for which they were provided subject to payment of my fees.

COMPLAINTS

27.    If you are dissatisfied with the way I or any member of my firm is doing your work, or with any other aspect of the service I give you, please talk to me.  I will do my best to resolve the matter.  At any time, you may submit a complaint to the Complaints Service operated by the New Zealand Law Society (“Law Society”) at PO Box 5041, Lambton Quay, Wellington 6145.

CONTENTIOUS BUSINESS AND LITIGATION

28.    Where you engage me for court work or contentious business, or if in the course of conducting a matter on your behalf the business becomes contentious, I do not guarantee I can achieve any particular result.

TERMINATION

29.    You may terminate my engagement in writing at any time.

30.    I may stop working for you if:

  • I have a conflict of interest;
  • you do not pay my invoices promptly;
  • there is other good reason for me not to complete your instructions.

31.    If either of us terminates the engagement these terms will survive the termination and you must pay me for all work I have done and all expenses I have incurred to the date of termination.

JURISDICTION

32.    These terms of engagement and any other agreement I have with you are governed by the laws of New Zealand and are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the New Zealand Courts.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

33.    Should a conflict of interest arise while I am performing your work, I will explain it to you and advise how I intend to resolve it.  I reserve the right to cease acting for you or arrange for you to receive independent advice.

VARIATIONS

34.    I may at any time vary these terms.  The varied terms will be posted on my website www.wiltshirestonelawyers.co.nz, and will apply from the time of publication on my website.

MONEY-HANDLING PROCEDURES – DISCLOSURE STATEMENT

35.    The following statement is required by the Securities Markets Act 1988 which requires persons receiving investment money as defined in that Act to disclose their money-handling procedures.

Procedures for dealing with investment money

Monies that you have paid or that have been paid on your behalf to Wiltshire Stone Lawyers Limited that are not required to satisfy the payment of outstanding invoices will be held on trust in the Wiltshire Stone Lawyers Limited trust account.  Wiltshire Stone Lawyers Limited Trust Account is held at East Tamaki Commercial Banking Branch of ASB Bank Ltd under account number 12-3237-0084816-02.  Payments may be made by way of cheque, electronic transfer or telegraphic transfer.  Funds will be held until an authorised person instructs Wiltshire Stone Lawyers Limited to distribute or disburse the funds or until they are applied in payment of fees in accordance with Regulation 9 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Trust Account) Regulations 2008 (“Regulation 9”).

Funds in the trust account may be placed on deposit and earn interest at ASB Bank Ltd call deposit rate, which changes from time to time.  Wiltshire Stone Lawyers Limited deducts commission at 5% of the gross interest earned.

Computerised records are kept of the amounts and dates of all deposits and withdrawals and the net balance, and the interest earned and commission deducted.  You will be entitled to a statement of that information on request.

The receipt, holding and disbursement of monies in the trust account may be audited from time to time at the request of the New Zealand Law Society by an auditor nominated by the Society.
I will not use any monies held in my trust account for my own or any other person’s purposes except upon an authorised person’s instructions or in payment of my fees upon the issue of an invoice in accordance with Regulation 9.

PERFORMANCE

36.    I will do my very best for you.  In doing so I will use my judgment, experience, and specialised knowledge and skill to protect and advance your interests in all matters you entrust to me.  My goal is to complete your instructions on time, at a fair cost, in a professional manner, and to your satisfaction.

WILTSHIRE STONE LAWYERS LIMITED