Terms and Conditions

Terms and conditions

Set out below is the information required by the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers of the New Zealand Law Society (“Law Society”).

Fees

The basis on which fees will be charged is set out in our letter of engagement. When payment of fees is to be made is set out in our Standard Terms of Engagement.

If any other solicitor or firm of solicitors holds funds on your behalf in their trust account for the purpose of payment of our fees, you authorise us to invoice that solicitor or firm of solicitors for payment of any fees, expenses or disbursements for which we have provided an invoice.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

We hold professional indemnity insurance that meets or exceeds the minimum standards specified by the Law Society. We will provide you with particulars of the minimum standards upon request.

Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund

The Law Society maintains the Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund for the purpose of providing clients of lawyers with protection against pecuniary loss arising from theft by lawyers. The maximum amount payable by the Fidelity Fund by way of compensation to an individual claimant is limited to $100,000. Except in certain circumstances specified in the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006, the Fidelity Fund does not cover a client for any loss relating to money that a lawyer is instructed to invest on behalf of the client.

Complaints

We maintain a procedure for handling any complaints by clients, designed to ensure that a complaint is dealt with promptly and fairly.

If you have a complaint about our services or charges, you may refer your complaint to Mary Nelson, Director.

She may be contacted as follows:

by letter;

by email at mary@crawfordnelson.nz;

by telephoning her on 0275677588.

The Law Society operates the Lawyers Complaints Service and you are able to make a complaint to that service. To do so, phone 0800 261 801 for information and advice about making a complaint.

Persons Responsible for the Work

The names and status of the person or persons who will have the general carriage of or overall responsibility for the services we provide for you are set out in our letter of engagement.

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 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 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.

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 to the justice system.

If you have any questions, please visit www.lawsociety.org.nz or call 0800 261 801.

Limitations on extent of our Obligations or Liability

Any limitations on the extent of our obligations to you or any limitation or exclusion of liability are set out in our letter of engagement.

Services

Unless we otherwise agree with you, these terms and our Letter of Engagement (if any) will govern the relationship between us (subject to 1.3 below) and apply in respect of the services we are to provide for you. 

We are required to make certain information available to you about us and our services. This information is contained in our Crawford Nelson Legal Client Care and service information. This includes information about our professional indemnity insurance, the Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund, how we calculate our fees, the Law Society’s Client Care and Service Information and our complaints procedure. 

We can change the terms of this agreement and our Client Care and Service Information by writing to you.

The new terms will apply in respect of our past, current and future services from the date we write to you. 

Nature of Work

We will undertake only the legal work involving the transaction and not any non legal work such as accounting, taxation or general business advice.

Fees

The fees we will charge or the manner in which they will be arrived at, are set out in our engagement letter. 

If the engagement letter specifies a fixed fee, we will charge this for the agreed scope of our services. Work which falls outside that scope will be charged on an hourly rate basis. We will advise you as soon as reasonably practicable if it becomes necessary for us to provide services outside the agreed scope and, if requested, give you an estimate of the likely amount of the further costs. 

If you request an estimate of fees, we will provide you with one. Any estimate we provide in the engagement letter will be a guide only (based on our experience in similar matters) and is not a fixed fee. The actual fee may be less than, or greater than, the estimate. We will give you a revised estimate if it becomes apparent that at any point the actual fee is likely to significantly exceed the estimate. If we provide you with an estimate of fees, it is given on the basis that (in addition to any further assumptions that may be set out in the engagement letter): 

Your instructions are complete;

No unforeseen circumstances arise which require additional work; 

You respond to our requests for information or instructions in a timely manner; 

Third parties and other lawyers, accountants, business advisers (and the like) involved in the matter are co-operative and reasonable; 

Consents and approvals from third parties are given promptly and do not involve protracted negotiations; and 

No proceedings, objections or applications are brought that have not already been anticipated by you or us on your behalf. 

Where our fees are calculated on an hourly basis, the hourly rates are set out in our engagement letter. The differences in those rates reflect the experience and specialisation of our professional staff. 

Disbursements and expenses

In providing services we may incur disbursements or have to make payments to third parties on your behalf. These will be included in our invoice to you when the expense is incurred. We may require an advance payment for the disbursements or expenses which we will be incurring on your behalf. 

We will also charge you fees for office expenses or estimated office expenses. 

GST (if any) 

Is payable by you on our fees and charges. 

Invoices

We will send interim invoices to you, usually fortnightly and on completion of the matter, or termination of our engagement. We may also send you an invoice when we incur a significant expense. 

Payment

Invoices are payable within 14 days of the date of the invoice, unless alternative arrangements have been made with us. 

If payment is not made on time, then, without prejudice to our other rights, we may: 

Charge interest on the outstanding amount at the rate of 12% pa (calculated daily) until payment is made; and/or 

Charge you collection costs on a solicitor/own client basis; and/or 

Stop our work for you immediately. 

Fee dispute

If you wish to dispute any invoice of ours you must do so in writing to us before the due date for payment of the invoice, specifying the grounds for the dispute in reasonable detail and setting out the amount you consider is due. 

On the due date for the invoice you must pay us the amount you have stated that you consider is due, and must pay into the trust account of another solicitor the balance of the invoice. 

That solicitor will hold the funds for you on trust and will provide an engagement letter to you in respect of those funds. 

The balance will be applied in accordance with the resolution of the dispute over the invoice. 

If you do not follow the above steps you are deemed to have accepted that the invoice is payable in full.

Any dispute will be dealt with as a complaint using the procedure described in clause 4 of our Information for Clients. 

Liability for payment

Each client named in this agreement is jointly and severally liable to us under this agreement. If a client is a company, then each person who signs this agreement on the company’s behalf acknowledges that he or she has asked us to supply services to the company, and, in consideration of us supplying services to that company, agrees: 

To guarantee the company’s payment to us of all money it (from time to time) owes, 

That he or she can be treated by us as a principal debtor for that money, and 

To indemnify us against all costs, losses, and liabilities we incur or suffer because the company fails to pay us that money. 

Security

We may ask you to pre-pay amounts to a trust account of another firm of solicitors, or to provide security for our fees and expenses. You authorise us: 

to debit against amounts pre-paid by you to that firm of solicitors; and 

require a deduction from any funds held on your behalf in the trust account of that firm of solicitors any fees, expenses or disbursements for which we have provided an invoice. 

Where you deposit amounts into another solicitors trust account, that solicitor will issue you with an engagement letter dealing with their engagement in regard to those funds. 

In those circumstances, we do not hold (nor are we deemed to hold) any funds on trust for you. 

Third Parties

Although you may expect to be reimbursed by a third party for our fees and expenses, and although our invoices may at your request or with your approval be directed to a third party, nevertheless you remain responsible for payment to us if the third party fails to pay us. 

Confidentiality

We will hold in confidence all information concerning you or your affairs that we acquire during the course of acting for you. We will not disclose any of this information to any other person except: 

to the extent necessary or desirable to enable us to carry out your instructions; or 

to the extent required by law or by the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. 

Confidential information concerning you will as far as practicable be made available only to those within our firm who are providing legal services for you. 

We will of course, not disclose to you confidential information which we have in relation to any other client. 

Electronic communication

Unless otherwise agreed with you, we may communicate with you at times by electronic means. 

Although we will take reasonable precautions we cannot and do not warrant that these communications will be complete, secure and free from viruses or other defects and will not be delayed or fail to be received. 

Termination

Where you give us any instruction and we rely on that instruction (for example, by giving an undertaking to a third party), you may not revoke that instruction. Otherwise, you may terminate our retainer at any time. 

We may terminate our retainer in any of the circumstances set out in the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers 

If our retainer is terminated you must pay us all fees due up to the date of termination and all expenses incurred up to that date. 

Retention of files and documents

You authorise us (without further reference to you) to destroy all files and documents for this matter (other than any documents that we hold in safe custody for you) 7 years after our engagement ends, or earlier if we have converted those files and documents to an electronic format. 

Conflicts of Interest

We have procedures in place to identify and respond to conflicts of interest. If a conflict of interest arises we will advise you of this and follow the requirements and procedures set out in the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. 

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. 

General

These Terms apply to any current engagement and also to any future engagement, whether or not we send you another copy of them. 

We are entitled to change these Terms from time to time, in which case we will send you amended Terms. 

Our relationship with you is governed by New Zealand law and New Zealand courts have nonexclusive jurisdiction