Terms upon which instructions are accepted
Effective for instructions in progress on, and new
instructions accepted on or after, 1 December 2019
1.1 I will deal with work on which I am instructed in accordance with my obligations under the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2008 (“Act”), the Rules of Conduct and Client Care (“Rules”) under that Act and these terms. These terms shall not contradict my obligations under the Act and the Rules.
1.2 Instructions must be received through a solicitor unless one of the recognised exceptions to this requirement applies and I elect not to seek a solicitor referral. Instructions that are accepted by me directly are by way of contractual retainer by the client and, in the event of non-payment, the client acknowledges and agrees that I may recover my fee as a debt due to me from the client.
1.3 Unless specific arrangements are made for any member of my staff to act, I will have principal responsibility for the conduct of work in relation to all instructions.
1.4 If I am instructed to provide further services beyond my initial instructions, these terms apply to such further work.
1.5 On a solicitor instruction I am authorised to deal directly with the solicitor’s client (“the client”), on the basis that the solicitor is kept informed of all material developments in the client’s case as they occur.
1.6 I am authorised to communicate by electronic mail (“email”) using commercially reasonable procedures to maintain security and protection of email. The risks of viruses, interception, delay and unauthorised access to email are accepted by the client and instructing solicitor.
1.7 In tax matters, unless otherwise decided, I am authorised to enter into correspondence with the Inland Revenue Department and its advisers or counsel on behalf of the client. Copies of all major correspondence on behalf of or with the client will be sent to the instructing solicitor and client as the correspondence occurs, or as soon thereafter as practicable, or upon request, depending on the client’s preference.
1.8 In all tax matters affecting a company, instructions will be treated as coming from that company and its shareholders and directors and I or the solicitor, as the case may be, may recover my fee from all and any of them.
1.9 The instructing solicitor will be responsible for taking all steps usually reserved to a solicitor in relation to the filing of proceedings, including the receipt of service of documents, unless arrangements have been made for me to attend to such matters.
2. CLIENT DUE DILIGENCE AND RETAINER REQUIRED
2.1 Instructions will not be confirmed until I have been able to undertake suitable inquiries about the client in order to meet obligations under laws against money laundering, the financing of terrorism and suspicious financial transactions. If permitted by law I may, as a precondition to accepting instructions, seek and rely upon information from the instructing solicitor to fulfill my obligations.
2.3 In tax debt cases involving the potential for the bankruptcy of an individual or the liquidation of a company, the retainer will not normally be less than $10,000 and could be more depending on the circumstances. In such a case the retainer and other fees should be paid by a person or through an entity not subject to the threat of bankruptcy or liquidation.
2.4 Once paid, the retainer must be held by the solicitor and may not be returned if the brief has not been completed or an account has been issued for my fees. The retainer may be held as a surety for the payment of my fees or may be applied in or towards payment of those fees upon an invoice being issued, at my option. By instructing me through its solicitor, the client authorises the solicitor, without need for further instructions, to apply the retainer in or towards payment of any fees that have been invoiced by me but not paid.
2.5 A fee for direct instructions will be charged and is payable in advance, based on a reasonable estimate of the attendances likely to be involved in the instruction. If that advance fee exceeds the charges that would apply based on actual attendances, the balance will promptly be refunded. Unless the advance fee is an agreed fixed fee, if the charges for actual attendances exceed the advance fee, the balance is recoverable under clauses 1.2 and 4.1.
3. PERFORMANCE OF WORK
3.1 I will exercise reasonable skill and care in fulfilling instructions. I acknowledge a duty of care to the client (but not otherwise), subject to my professional obligations to the Court and under the Act and Rules.
3.2 I will undertake instructions in a reasonably timely manner having regard to the nature of the instructions and my professional obligations to other clients.
3.3 I may delegate any part of the instructions to a member of my staff or to another lawyer but will remain responsible for that work and will advise the client and/or instructing solicitor of any delegation, either specifically or generally.
“Headline” hourly rates
4.3 If legal staff who are employed by or engaged through me undertake work on the instructions, a fee for their time and attendances will be charged, generally reflecting an hourly rate commensurate with their experience. Work delegated to any junior or assistant working on my staff, or with me will be charged at a rate between $250 and $475 per hour plus GST, depending on their experience.
4.4 These hourly rates are subject to a prompt payment discount (see 4.13).
4.5 Hourly rates may be changed during the course of an instruction. If a change in rates is published on my website as part of an update of the terms on which I accept instructions, then the change in rate applies to existing instructions from the date of the change is effective, unless other arrangements are made.
4.6 In some cases I may accept an instruction on the basis of a fixed fee. In such cases the agreed fee must be deposited in full with the instructing solicitor before work begins. It must be paid to meet interim invoices and must not otherwise be withdrawn from the solicitor while my attendances are continuing.
4.7 In some cases I may accept an instruction based on a negotiated blended hourly rate reflecting my own and that of any legal staff employed on the matter.
(a) Travel will be at economy rates;
(b) The client books and pays for this directly; or
(c) If the costs are incurred by my office, every reasonable effort will be made to keep them to a minimum; and
(d) When (c) applies and significant costs are incurred, the client will immediately reimburse such costs.
International Air Travel
Unless agreed otherwise, international air travel will be undertaken:
(e) At economy or premium economy class rates for flights to the Eastern seaboard of Australia and the Pacific Islands.
(f) Otherwise at business class rates.
(g) (c) and (d) apply to international travel.
4.11 On a solicitor instruction my account will be addressed and rendered to the instructing solicitor and to the client, even when the client has agreed to pay directly, unless I am requested by the instructing solicitor not to do this. If the client requires an account to be addressed to a specific entity or person, that should be arranged through the instructing solicitor. Unless alternative arrangements are agreed, my accounts will be rendered only in electronic form to the email addresses of the instructing solicitor and client and will not be mailed in paper form. On a direct instruction my account will be addressed to the client and otherwise in conformity with this clause.
4.12 Fees charged on the basis of the hourly rates cited at 4.2 and 4.3 above (or more), which are paid within 30 days of the account being rendered, qualify for a discount of 10% rounded to the nearest $5. As examples an hourly rate of $785 is reduced to $705 plus GST and a rate of $350 is reduced to $315 plus GST). All other charges are payable at face value. This discount for prompt payment does not apply to other payment arrangements such as fixed fees and blended hourly rates.
Termination of brief generally
4.18 If a client must deduct any sum from payment of my fee because of an obligation owed to any tax authority other than New Zealand Inland Revenue, my fee shall be increased without further invoice by a sum sufficient to ensure that the full amount of the fee as invoiced is paid to me after any such deduction and subject to any applicable discount for prompt payment.
5. DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT
“Cloud” based information storage
5.1 From August 2019 my electronic records, including records of email, correspondence, documents and proceedings (together “information”) are stored with Microsoft Corporation, using its Azure “cloud” storage system. Electronic records from before August 2019 are retained securely on a physical back-up drive. The cloud-based information is physically located on storage devices in Australia as part of Azure’s Australia Central Region. Microsoft advises this is IRAP (Security) assessed and approved for “official: sensitive” and “protected-level” data. Information can be migrated to another provider if required and current Cloud services can then be decommissioned and all migrated data will be deleted. I acknowledge professional obligations to maintain the confidentiality of client information while carrying out instructions and after their conclusion. I have taken all practical steps to ensure that these obligations are reflected in the contractual arrangements I have with my Cloud storage provider. By entering into these terms of practice, each instructing solicitor and ultimate client consents to information relating to or arising from their instructions being stored electronically in the manner described, accepts all risks associated with that, and indemnifies me against any liability, claim or loss that occurs because of that.
6. PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE
6.1 I hold professional indemnity insurance that exceeds the minimum standards specified by the New Zealand Law Society. That cover is with the New Zealand Bar Association Professional Liability Plan and is for up to $5 million in a claim year.
7. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY
7.1 If a matter on which I have been instructed gives rise to a claim of any sort whatsoever against me, I accept no liability of any kind for that claim which exceeds my actual professional indemnity insurance cover for the matter on which I have been instructed. By instructing me a solicitor and the client acknowledges this limitation of liability in relation to the brief and both agree to it.
7.2 Without limiting 7.1, I am not liable for:
8. LAWYERS' FIDELITY FUND
9.1 Any complaint about my service or that of any person working in my practice should be referred to me in the first instance and will be responded to urgently. If you would prefer the complaint to be referred to an independent lawyer, I will arrange for that to occur. If you wish to make a complaint to the Law Society you may do so by contacting 0800 261 801 or by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org or by using its website www.lawsociety.org.nz.