TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT
NZ LAW SOCIETY CLIENT CARE & SERVICE INFORMATION
LAWYERS MUST FOLLOW CERTAIN STANDARDS OF PROFESSIONAL BEHAVIOUR. THESE ARE SET OUT IN THE RULES OF CONDUCT AND CLIENT CARE FOR LAWYERS, AND CAME INTO EFFECT WITH THE LAWYERS AND CONVEYANCERS ACT 2006.
UNDER THESE RULES, YOU CAN EXPECT THAT, WHATEVER LEGAL SERVICES YOUR LAWYER IS PROVIDING, HE OR SHE MUST:
Act competently, in a timely way, and in accordance with any 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 you when it is completed
Let you know how to make a complaint and deal with any complaint promptly and fairly
All lawyers must have a practising certificate issued by the NZ Law society [NZLS]. From 21 Nov 2008, you will be able to look up the NZLS register to find out if the person you plan to consult holds a current practising certificate. More information about what you can expect from a lawyer is available from NZLS.
TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT:
GENERAL TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF INSTRUCTION
This page sets out the terms on which I accept instructions, and information on fees. I do not carry professional indemnity insurance.
Instructions must be received through a solicitor, ("the instructing solicitor") unless one of the recognised exceptions to this requirement applies. I am authorised to deal directly with you (“the client”) and/or your solicitor at any time regarding your matter . Unless otherwise decided, my instructions authorise me to deal direct in correspondence and calls with any government department or statutory body, its officers, advisers and/ or counsel. These terms of engagement can be modified from time to time, to apply to any current instructions and to any future instructions. Any dispute concerning these terms of engagement or work undertaken for my clients is to be resolved in the New Zealand Courts under New Zealand law.
Calculation and payment of fees
The instructing solicitor is responsible for my fees and other costs unless alternative arrangements are made for the client to pay those fees and costs directly to me. I will normally require that the instructing solicitor hold funds on account of part if not all my fees (typically, an estimate of the next month’s costs).Even if such alternative arrangements are made, the instructing solicitor accepts a responsibility to pursue payment of my fees and costs by the client, if they are not paid directly and in accordance with these terms, unless alternative arrangements are made.
The client accepts responsibility for the instructing solicitor’s actual and reasonable costs in undertaking such debt collection work. My fee will usually reflect an hourly rate for time and attendances involved in dealing with the instructions.
I am currently involved in travelling and do take cases in New Zealand and abroad. For New Zealand, work will only be taken on the basis of my availability and commitment therein.
Hourly rates may change from time to time and any change will be notified before it applies. In addition to my fee, all direct disbursements and out of pocket expenses will be charged accordingly. My fee and costs will normally be billed monthly in an itemised account, and each account is payable within 7 days. Unless prior arrangements for payment over time have been made, I reserve the right to adjust any fee that has not been paid within one month of the date of invoice for an interest charge. That charge will not exceed the unauthorised overdraft interest rate applicable to my practice account plus a margin of 5%, compounding monthly. If an account remains unpaid beyond one month from the date of issue I may terminate the brief and seek leave to withdraw from any proceedings then being undertaken, without affecting the obligation of the client and Solicitor to meet my fee.
In most cases my account will be sent to the instructing solicitor even when the client has agreed to pay directly with a copy to the client. These terms are necessary because as a barrister I cannot sue to recover unpaid fees, nor do I have the ability to absorb bad debts. I consider that my time is better spent on productive work for my clients than chasing bad debts.
Document destruction/File retention/Intellectual property
I will retain the file that I create for a client’s work on any one matter for a minimum of seven years after I finish working on that matter. I may hold that file electronically rather than physically. After that time, I may destroy the file without contacting the client or instructing solicitor. If the client and/or instructing solicitor wish to retain all or part of the paper file (where I have held one), I must be advised in writing before the matter is completed. Provided all my invoices are paid on all matters, I will (on request) provide to the client and/or instructing solicitor all the documents I have obtained or created through working on the matter or matters in question. Before I provide those documents, I may take a complete copy of them. Unless otherwise agreed, I retain the copyright in all documents prepared. The client is entitled to use such documents and retain copies of documents for the purposes for which they were prepared, but not otherwise, without my consent.
Any complaints will first be considered by me, and I will usually endeavour to discuss them with other members of the profession whose judgement and probity I respect on a "no-names" basis, and respond to a client regarding a complaint within a week. The New Zealand Law Society has a complaints service, details of which are available on its web page.
Work Undertaken Personally
I will have general carriage of, or overall responsibility for, any work on which I am instructed. On occasions I will contract out research to more junior lawyers, where I judge that that would be more cost-effective for the client.