Terms of Engagement

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  1. Client Charter

    Please also see our firm’s Client Care Charter which sets out rights that you are entitled to whenever you receive legal services from us. When you instruct us on new matters we will each time supply to you a letter setting out more specific matters relating to your instructions to us (our Initial Engagement Letter). We will also refer you to the current version of these terms which will be updated on our website www.cslaw.co.nz from time to time.

  2. Our Services

    The services which we are to provide for you will be outlined in an Initial Engagement Letter sent to you on the commencement of any work which we are to complete for you. Our firm does not give taxation advice or advice on the quality of any conveyancing investment, and for any taxation or quality of investment matters we will refer you back to your own Chartered Accountant or Investment Advisor.

    • We will hold strictly confidential all communications with you, and all information that we receive from you during the course of our dealings.  We will not reveal your confidences without your agreement.
    • We will purse your work conscientiously.  In turn we will need your full and timely co-operation to help represent you.
    • We will work with you to develop an understanding of your expectations. We will work together to establish goals and deadlines that meet your needs.
    • We aim to provide you with quality legal advice and representation. We will answer your enquiries and listen carefully to any concerns you may have and action these appropriately.
    • We will ensure that your work is handled by the best person available and if an assignment falls outside our expertise we will refer you to a specialist.
    • We will communicate with you and keep you informed about the status of your work. Your telephone calls will be returned promptly. We will send to you copies of significant correspondence and other documents.
    •  If we are acting for another party to a property transaction we will obtain your consent to act for you too or we will refer you to another lawyer.
  3. Duty of care

    Our duty of care is to you and not to any other person. Before any person may rely on our advice we must expressly agree to this.

  4. Professional Fees

    Generally our fees are based on the time taken to complete the work and any other relevant factors specified by the New Zealand Law Society.
    Our firm’s schedule of hourly rates for solicitors and other members of the professional staff are based on years of experience, specialisation, and level of professional attainment. Where our fees are calculated on an hourly basis the hourly rates will be included in your initial letter of engagement. Our hourly rates are subject to review.
    The time spent by us on your behalf for which you will be charged may include:

    • Personal and telephone attendances on you;
    • Correspondence with you and third parties such as solicitors and Government departments;
    • Considering the law and facts of your matter and providing legal advice;
    • Reading and considering incoming letters, papers and documents;
    • Preparing documents;
    • Instructing Barristers;
    • Searching public registers; and
    • Time spent on travelling.

    Apart from time, other factors that may be taken into account in settling our fee include the urgency with which the matter is required to be completed, the degree of specialised knowledge required, the degree of risk assumed by us in undertaking the services including the value of any property involved, the results achieved and the complexity of the matter. In the case of estate administration the value and number of assets are taken into consideration.

    Whenever possible we will try to give you an accurate estimate of the work you wish us to carry out based on your instructions and facts known at the time. The original estimate could vary beyond our control if circumstances change – if the change is significant, we will advise you and ask for your instructions to proceed further.

  5. Legal Aid

    Our firm does provide limited Legal Aid services and we will advise you if you are entitled to legal aid and if so, whether or not our firm is able to assist you.

  6. Trust Account

    We maintain a Trust Account for all funds which we receive from clients (except moneys received for payment of our invoices). If we are holding significant funds on your behalf we will normally lodge these funds on interest bearing deposit with a Bank. In that case we will charge an administration fee of up to 7% of the interest derived.

  7. Accounts

    Our accounts are due for payment 30 days after the date of the account unless prior arrangements are made with us in writing.

    You authorise us to deduct our fees, expenses or disbursements from any funds held in our trust account on your behalf where we have provided an invoice.

    Interim fees may be rendered monthly and a final account forwarded promptly on completion of the instructions.

    If any account is not paid within 30 days, interest will be charged on the outstanding balance at the rate of 10% per annum from the date upon which payment was due, and you will be responsible for any reasonable debt collection costs that we incur in recovering outstanding amounts due to us.

    If your accounts remain outstanding after 30 days, no further work will be undertaken by any member of the firm until appropriate arrangements are made to bring the account back into good standing.

    If you instruct us to prepare legal documents on your behalf for which fees are intended to be paid by third parties, for example fees payable by Tenants when Leases are prepared for Landlords or fees payable by Borrowers when loan and security documents are prepared for Lenders, and those fees are unpaid, you will be responsible for payment. You will also be responsible for our costs and disbursements in uncompleted transactions such as Lease negotiations.

  8. Disbursements

    Disbursements include expenses such as court filing fees, Barristers fees, travel expenses, couriers and the fees of agents who serve documents and who conduct investigations, searches, registrations and fees for payment of other solicitors who provide services to you on referral from our firm such as providing Independent Legal Advice on Relationship Property Agreements. You are responsible for reimbursing our firm for disbursements. Disbursements may be included with our accounts or may be billed separately. Firm policy requires us to obtain from you funds in advance for significant disbursements.

    Our invoices also include an office expenses charge to cover the cost of photocopying, file set up, telephone, fax, postal and legal form expenses. This charge can vary depending on the complexity of the file.

  9. Settlement Moneys

    For property and financing transactions where payment of moneys is due by you, we require clear funds for the correct amount to be deposited with us no later than the morning of the settlement.

  10. Termination of Legal Services

    At all times you have the right to terminate our services upon giving us reasonable written notice to that effect.

    We may terminate the retainer if there is good cause, such as you not providing us with instructions in a sufficiently timely manner or in your unwillingness, inability or failure to pay our fee on an agreed basis, or, your adopting against our advice a course of action which we believe is highly imprudent and may be inconsistent with our fundamental obligations as lawyers. 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.

    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. On request we will transfer your file and documents to another lawyer once all our fees and disbursements have been paid. Please mote we are required to retain copies of all your documents for insurance purposes for up to 25 years.

  11. Privacy of Information

    Over the course of your involvement with us, we may collect and hold personal information concerning you. Failure to provide us with information may preclude us from providing services to you or limit the quality of the services provided.

    Information concerning you will be used by us to provide legal services, to obtain credit or other references, to undertake credit management and to inform you of issues and developments that may be of interest to you. You authorise us to obtain from any person, or release to any person, any information necessary for those purposes and you authorise any person to release information to us that we require for those purposes.

    Subject to the above we will treat all information we hold about you as private and confidential and will not disclose any information we hold on your behalf or about you unless we are required to do so by law or when requested by you or with your consent.

    Information concerning you will be held at our office. Under the Privacy Act 1993 you have the right of access to, and correction of, your personal information held by us.
    The Financial Transactions Reporting Act 1996 requires us to collect from you and retain information required to verify your identity.

    For a copy of our full privacy policy please email your request to [email protected]

  12. Communications

    If you have a preferred method of our firm communicating with you, please let us know.

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

  13. Files and Documents

    At the end of your matter we will convert your file to electronic format and keep your file for up to Twenty Five years from completion and thereafter we will destroy it. You are welcome to a copy of your file provided that all fees and costs have been paid. Please give us reasonable notice before collecting your file should you wish to do so.

    Your original deeds are held in our safe for your life time.

  14. Agreement

    Continuing to instruct us to complete your work is taken as your acceptance of the terms set out in the terms of engagement. If you conclude that you do not want our firm to act on your behalf please inform us promptly.

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

    We are entitled to change these terms from time to time and any changed terms will be updated on our website cslaw.co.nz.

    We hope that this information will be of help to you in understanding how our firm works and to avoid miscommunication in areas that clients are often reluctant to ask or we have not brought to your attention in the past. We continue to be committed to looking after you in the best way possible.