Questions About Briefing Geoff Clews

65. Is it easy to get an appointment to see Geoff?

Like any busy professional Geoff may not be able to see you right away. However, every effort will be made to ensure that an appointment with him, or one of his colleagues in chambers, is available within 3 working days of your inquiry.

66. If I contact Geoff through this site, when can I expect a response?

A general website inquiry will be acknowledged within 24 hours. A website inquiry is not usually a substitute for full instructions. You will normally be given some impressions relating to your inquiry and invited to instruct Geoff formally if you require more. If full instructions are sent by website inquiry, they will be confirmed within 48 hours.

67. How does Geoff charge for his services?

Normally Geoff’s charges are by way of an hourly rate of NZ$750 plus GST (reducible for prompt payment) and office expenses. In some cases he is prepared to negotiate a flat fee and in others to negotiate a blended hourly rate reflecting the work done on a matter by him and by other counsel at lower hourly rates. Geoff will always try to give an estimate of his likely costs on request.

Clients must confirm their instructions by placing a sum in trust with their solicitors to cover Geoff’s initial fees. This is called a "retainer" and is usually no less than $8,500 for anything but a very minor matter. In debt cases, which involve the risk of a client being bankrupted or placed in liquidation by the IRD, the retainer is likely to be $10,000 or more and a guarantor of payment or security may also be sought before instructions are accepted. A larger retainer will be sought for more complicated work. For current terms on which instructions are accepted, click here.

68. Why do I need a solicitor to brief Geoff?

Geoff practices as a barrister sole. Legal ethics require that in most cases he not accept instructions directly from the public, but through a solicitor. The closest analogy is the medical profession where you cannot normally see a medical specialist without your GP’s referral. Your solicitor is expected to work with your barrister to be sure that your brief is properly fulfilled. Often an instructing solicitor is able to deal with matters at much less cost than your counsel and so can make matters more efficient for you. Your solicitor must also hold funds on account for Geoff’s fees and handle payment unless arrangements are made for you to pay Geoff directly.

69. How long will it take to get my job done?

This depends on the type of job. If you seek an opinion, Geoff will try to achieve any reasonable deadline. However, most clients seek Geoff’s advice because they want him to take the time to consider their position carefully. At the time of taking instructions an estimate of completion time will be given. If that changes, you will be told ahead of time. There are occasions where unforeseen events such as urgent Court commitments mean that time commitments have to be altered. We try to avoid that as much as possible.

70. When do I have to pay and can I take time to do so?

Accounts are usually rendered for all attendances every month. They are due for payment immediately. We expect payment within one month of the date of invoice. If that is done, fees are normally subject to a 10% discount unless other payment arrangements apply. Legal costs can be high, especially in tax disputes and litigation. It is not always feasible to pay fees in one sum. It is our preference that you make arrangements elsewhere to raise funds to meet your costs, but fee arrangements are possible as a last resort.

These normally involve a client commitment to part-payment (at least half) of each monthly account and the deferral of the balance for payment within an agreed time. Interest will normally be charged on the balance at our practice overdraft rate plus 2% and security over assets may also be sought. If it is apparent that fees cannot be paid as they fall due, alternative arrangements must be made immediately and adhered to, or the brief will be terminated. For current terms on which instructions are accepted, click here.

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