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Terms of Engagement, Conduct and Client Care 

 Effective from 3 March 2017
 

1. Scope

1.1    When you instruct us to undertake work for you, we will send you an engagement letter which will detail:

(a) The legal services we have been instructed to provide to you, and the person who will be supervising the work, where applicable.

(b) Our estimated fees for the services (where specified) or any other method used for the basis for calculating our fees.

2. Fees

2.1    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 hourly rate specified in the letter of engagement for your matter.
  • The skills, 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 engagement of us by other clients.
  • Whether the fee is fixed or conditional.
  • Any quote or estimate of fees 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.

2.2    Unless otherwise stated all fees are plus GST.

2.3    Out of pocket expenses such as search, registration fees, valuation fees, agency fees, tolls, faxes, photocopying, printing, forms and bureau will be charged as disbursements.

2.4    We will provide for you an estimate upon request.  If that estimate is likely to be exceeded we will let you know.

2.5    There are other methods of charging which suit certain types of work and we will discuss those with you where they are appropriate.

2.6    All work done by us is charged on a fees basis apart from a commission of 7.5%, which is taken on all interest accruing on funds deposited with our bank through our bulk deposit scheme.

2.7    The Directors of Layburn Hodgins Ltd are associated with e-search Bureau.  e-search Bureau owns the software and equipment to provide title searches, registration and other services to Layburn Hodgins Ltd.  An agency fee may be incurred in addition to the actual cost, which will be itemised on your next invoice.

3.0 Payment of Fees 

3.1    Our fees are to be paid by the 20th of the month following the date of invoice, except on conveyancing matters where fees are payable by deduction.

3.2    Our final account will be sent to you shortly after we have completed your matter.

3.3    We issue monthly interim accounts where that is appropriate.

3.4    Our fees may be deducted from funds held in our trust account on your behalf.

3.5    We may ask you to pay fees in advance, but in those instances your payment will be held in our trust account and only paid to us by deduction when an account has been forwarded to you.

3.6    Out of pocket expenses (disbursements) are to be paid by you immediately upon request.  Substantial out of pocket expenses will be asked for in advance.

3.7    Interest will accrue on unpaid accounts at the rate of 15% per annum commencing from the due date and charged to your account on a monthly basis until payment is made in full.  If we are required to take recovery action against you all collection costs will be payable by you. 

3.8    If an invoice is unpaid after the due date (overdue), we reserve the right to suspend our services until the invoice is paid in full, to require future fees in advance, and to terminate the relationship.

3.9    Where you expect to be reimbursed by a third party for our fees and disbursements, although our invoices may at your request or with your approval be directed to a third party, you remain responsible for payment to us if the third party fails to pay us in full by the due date.

4. Guarantee 

4.1    It is acknowledged by you that where the client is a company or other separate legal entity, we require the client’s obligations to be guaranteed by a natural person.

4.2    Where the name of a guarantor is completed in the Schedule to this agreement, then that person guarantees full payment of the client’s fees and disbursements in terms of this agreement.

5. Files and Documents 

5.1    We shall endeavour to store your file, including documents belonging to you, for at least 7 years following the completion of our engagement.  This does not include original documents that we have agreed to keep in safe custody.

5.2    You grant us permission to destroy your file and all documents belonging to you after 7 years, or earlier if we have converted those files and documents to an electronic format.

5.3    We reserve the right to retain all documents held on your behalf for as long as there are no amounts outstanding to us, we will provide all documents held on your behalf to you upon request.

5.4    A collection and handling fee is payable upon uplift of your documents or part thereof.  We may also intentionally provide you with copies or originals of our documents at our sole discretion.

5.5    You grant us permission to make a copy of any of your documents and hold them as our property for an indefinite time period for the sole purpose of our protection in the event of a legal claim.  A photocopying fee is payable upon uplift of your documents or part thereof.

6. Residential Land Sale Proceeds (RLWT)

6.1    You acknowledge that we may be required by law to withhold residential land withholding tax (RLWT) from your residential sale proceeds, and remit the RLTW to the Inland Revenue Department.

6.2    You agree to provide us with all information we reasonably request to assess whether you are liable to pay RLWT.  If you withhold providing us with such information, then you acknowledge we may assume that RLWT is payable and withhold the same.

7. Your Personal Information

7.1    We will treat your personal information as confidential, however there may be occasions when we need to disclose your personal information to third parties to comply with the law, or to comply with your instructions, or to exercise our rights as set out in these Terms of Engagement, and you authorise us to do this.

7.2    We will comply with our obligations under the Privacy Act 1993 in relation to our collection, use and disclosure of your personal information.

7.3    We will comply with our obligation under the Financial Transactions Reporting Act 1996, which requires us to collect from you and retain information verifying your identity. You agree to provide us with documents verifying your identity and any other information we request from you in compliance with our obligations under the Law.

7.4    We are required to comply with the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009, the United States Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (2010) and the Tax Administration Act 1994.  Where required by law we will carry out due diligence and account monitoring on you and report any unusual or suspicious transactions.

8. Conflicts of Interest 

8.1    We may act for other clients who compete with, or are involved in your business or personal affairs.  We will continue to act for those clients where no conflict of interest arises between your interests and the interests of the other client.

8.2    We have procedures in place to identify and respond to conflicts of interest.  If a conflict of interest arises, we will observe our legal and ethical requirements as set out in the Law Society’s Code of Professional conduct.  We may terminate our relationship and refer you to another law firm where we believe a conflict of interest situation has arisen or potential for a conflict of situation occurs.

9. 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.

10. Professional Indemnity Insurance 

We hold current Professional Indemnity Insurance which meets or exceeds the minimum standards specified by the New Zealand Law Society.  We will provide you with particulars of the minimum standards upon request.

11. Limitation of Liability 

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

We do not accept liability for any loss arising from non-receipt of any communication, including email communications.

You acknowledge that any external information we receive which relates to the services we provide to you may not be accurate, complete, or current and we do not accept liability for any loss caused as a result.

12. 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 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.

13. Dormant Balances

If we are holding a dormant balance for you, we will make reasonable efforts to locate you and to arrange for the dormant balance to be paid to you.  We may deduct our reasonable costs of trying to locate you.  If the dormant balance is small and it is not economic for us to try to locate you, we may take that dormant balance by deduction.

14. Email Communication 

If you ask us to transmit any document or communication to you or any other party electronically, you agree to indemnify us in respect of any claim you may have as a result of any unauthorised copying, recording, reading or interface with that document after transmission, for any delay or non-delivery of any document and for any damage caused to your system or any files by the transmission (including by a computer virus).

15. Right to Terminate Your Retainer 

You are entitled to terminate your instructions to us upon giving us reasonable notice in writing.  Our fees for services reasonably and properly provided to you until the point of termination of retainer shall be paid by you prior to uplifting your records and we may retain copies of your documents and records.

We may terminate the retainer if there is good cause, such as you not providing us with instructions in a sufficiently timely way or in your inability or failure to pay our fee on an agreed basis, or except in litigation matters, you’re adopting against our advice a course of action which we believe is highly imprudent.

If we terminate the retainer we will give you reasonable notice so that you can arrange alternative representation and we shall give you reasonable assistance to find another lawyer and our fees for services reasonably and properly provided to you up until the point of termination of retainer shall be paid by you.

16. Suspension of Service

We reserve the right to stop work on your retainer if your accounts are not paid on time or request for information or action remains unsatisfied.

17. If You Have a Complaint 

We will provide you with a competent, timely service following your instructions.  If you have any concerns or complaints about or services or charges, please raise them with the staff member or partner responsible for the matter. 

If it cannot be resolved immediately to your satisfaction we shall appoint a partner who has not been involved in your matter to deal with it promptly and fairly. 

If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you have the right to take the matter up with the New Zealand Law Society complaints service (0800 261 801).

 

SCHEDULE

GUARANTOR (Clause 4)

 

Name:    _______________________________________________________________________

 

Address: ______________________________________________________________________

 

Phone:   _______________________________________________________________________

 

Mobile:   ______________________________________________________________________

 

Email:    ________________________________________________________________________

 

Signed by the Guarantor: ______________________________________________________

 

in the presence of: ____________________________________________________________

Name:

Address:

Occupation:

 

Date: __________________________________________________________________________