STANDARD TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT
These Standard Terms of Engagement (“Terms”) apply in respect of all work carried out by Wesley Jones Law (“we” or “us”) for the party identified in our engagement letter (“you”), except to the extent that we otherwise agree with you in writing. You do not need to sign to accept these Terms, you continuing to instruct us confirms your acceptance.
1. Scope of services
1.1 The services we are to provide for you are outlined in our engagement letter.
(a) The fees we will charge, or manner in which they will be arrived at, are set out in our engagement letter.
(b) If the engagement letter specifies a fixed fee, we will charge this for the agreed scope of services. Work falling outside that scope will be charged on an hourly rate basis. We will advise you as soon as practicable if it becomes necessary for us to provide services outside the agreed scope and, if requested, give you an estimate of the further costs.
(c) 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. Time spent is recorded in 6-minute units, with time rounded up to the next unit of 6 minutes.
(d) Should there be an increase to our hourly rates during the period in which we are acting for you, you will be notified in writing of the new hourly rate(s) at least 7 days before these rates will apply to future work undertaken on your behalf.
2.2 Disbursements and expenses: In providing services we may incur disbursements or make payments to third parties on your behalf. We may require payment upfront, otherwise these will be included in our invoice to you when the expense is incurred.
2.3 GST: Goods and services tax (“GST”) is usually incurred on our fees and charges and if this is the case, GST is payable by you.
2.4 Invoices: We will send interim invoices to you, usually monthly, and on completion of the matter, or termination of our engagement. We may also send you an invoice when we incur a significant expense.
2.5 Payment: Invoices are payable within 7 days of the date of the invoice unless alternative arrangements have been made with us. We may require interest to be paid on any amount which is more than 7 days overdue. Interest will be calculated at the rate of 4% above our main trading bank’s 90-day bank bill rate as at the close of business on the date payment became due.
2.6 Security: We may ask you to pre-pay amounts to us, or to provide security for our fees and expenses. You authorise us to:
(a) debit against amounts pre-paid by you; and
(b) deduct from any funds held on your behalf in our trust account, any fees, expenses, or disbursements, for which we have provided an invoice. For residential property transactions, you authorise us to deduct the fees and disbursements as detailed in our invoice on settlement.
2.7 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, you remain responsible for payment to us if the third party fails to pay us.
3. Confidentiality and privacy
3.1 We will hold in confidence all information concerning you or your affairs that we acquire while acting for you. We will not disclose any of this information to any other person except to the extent:
(a) necessary to enable us to carry out your instructions or where you have agreed or asked us to; or
(b) required by law or by the New Zealand Law Society’s (“Law Society”) Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers (“Rules”).
3.2 Confidential information concerning you will as far as practicable be made available only to those within our firm who are providing legal services to you.
4.1 You may terminate our engagement at any time.
4.2 We may terminate our engagement in any of the circumstances set out in the Rules.
4.3 If our engagement is terminated, you must pay us all fees due, and expenses incurred up to the date of termination. You must make all payments before you are entitled to receive your records and we may keep a copy of the records you take.
4.4 If we have good cause, we may decide to stop working for you, if it is determined that any of the following have occurred:
· You have not given proper instructions;
· You are unable or unwilling to pay our fees;
· You have misled us;
· You ask us to breach any professional rules;
1. We will communicate with you by email about your matter.
2. We may sometimes email information to you that we think is useful. If you do not want this information, let us know.
3. We have security protocols and virus protection software. Some communications may still be subject to interference or be ‘corrupt’.
4. We do not accept responsibility for corruption and will not be liable for any loss or damage arising.
5. You agree to inform us, without delay, if you become aware of any security breach involving your own email or passwords.
6. How you can help us
6.1 It would be helpful if you could:
· Give clear instructions;
· Ask if there is anything you do not understand;
· Tell us if there are any time frames we should know about;
· Answer any questions we have in a timely manner;
· Inform us if your contact details change.
7. Retention of files and documents
7.1 You authorise us (without further reference to you) to destroy all files and documents for all matters you have engaged us on (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.
8. Anti-money laundering and other laws
8.1 We are required to comply with applicable laws including the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009, Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”) and Common Reporting Standard (“CRS”).
8.2 As part of our obligations, we must carry out certain checks and due diligence on you, persons acting on your behalf, having effective control of you (for companies) or beneficiaries (for trusts). This may need to occur before we can start or continue acting for you.
8.3 You authorise any person (including credit reporters) to disclose information to us in response to such due diligence checks and authorise us to hold and use such information to comply with our relevant legal obligations.
8.4 We may be required to provide certain information about you to government agencies or our bank and we may not be permitted to tell you that we have done so.
8.5 If we hold funds in our trust account on your behalf, you authorise us to provide information relating to your FATCA or CRS status or other related matters to Inland Revenue and our bank when required. If you do not provide the information we request, you authorise us to report your non-response, identity and reportable balance to Inland Revenue and our bank (as applicable), who may pass this to tax and other regulatory authorities in New Zealand and overseas.
8.6 Please ensure all information you provide to us is correct. We are not responsible to you for anything done or not done by us in complying with our legal obligations.
9. Conflicts of interest
9.1 We have procedures in place to identify and respond to conflicts of interest. If a conflict of interest arises, we will inform you and follow the requirements and procedures set out in the Rules.
10. Duty of care
10.1 Our duty of care is to you only and our advice is provided solely for your benefit. If any associated parties, such as shareholders, directors, employees, or family members, wish to engage us, they must do so by separate agreement. Before any other person may rely on our advice, we must expressly agree to this in writing.
11. Trust account
11.1 We maintain a trust account for all funds that we receive from clients (except funds received for payment of our
invoices). If we are holding significant funds on your behalf, we will normally lodge those funds on interest bearing deposit (“IBD”) with a bank. You must provide us with information relating to your FATCA and CRS status before we can lodge funds on IBD.
11.2 Where funds are placed on IBD, we will charge an administration fee of 5% of the gross interest derived. Withholding tax will be deducted on interest earned and paid to Inland Revenue. If we do not have your IRD number, withholding tax will be deducted at the default rate. We are not obliged to obtain the best interest rate available or responsible for any loss of interest you suffer due to a failure or delay in placing your funds on IBD.
11.3 Where you transfer funds to our trust account in a foreign currency, we will convert those funds into New Zealand dollars at the prevailing exchange rate offered by our bank. We are not responsible for seeking or obtaining a better exchange rate.
12.1 If you feel that your matter is urgent, we will tell you if it is necessary or possible
12.2 Urgent work may require more staff and resources, consequently your fee may increase
12.3 In unusual cases we may treat your matter as urgent without advising you, if we think it is in your best interest. You will be charged appropriately.
13.1 Unless otherwise agreed, we retain ownership of all opinions, documents, and other intellectual property we create, and you must not provide our advice to others (such as using our opinions in a public document).
13.2 These Terms apply to any current engagement and to any future engagement, whether we send you another copy of them or not.
13.3 We are entitled to change these Terms from time to time, in which case we will send you amended Terms.
13.4 Our relationship with you is governed by New Zealand law and New Zealand courts have exclusive jurisdiction.
INFORMATION FOR CLIENTS
Set out below is the information required by the Rules.
1. Fees: Information on fees is set out above.
2. Professional indemnity insurance: We hold professional Indemnity Insurance which exceeds the minimum standards set by the Law Society.
3. Lawyer’s Fidelity Fund: The Law Society maintains the Lawyer’s Fidelity Fund to provide you with some protection against theft of your money, up to $100,000 compensation, if it is held by us in our trust account or (subject to the below) in an IBD account. Except in certain circumstances, the Fidelity Fund will not cover loss where we are instructed to invest on your behalf.
4. Complaints: If you have a complaint about our services or charges, you may refer your complaint to the person in our firm who has overall responsibility for your work. If you do not wish to refer your complaint to them, or you are not satisfied with their response, you may refer your complaint to Katharine Wesley-Jones (Principal). She can be contacted by letter, email – email@example.com or telephone – 03 477 7780.
The Law Society operates the Lawyers Complaints Service, and you can make a complaint to that service. To do so, phone 0800 261 801 for information and advice.
Persons responsible for work: The names and status of the person(s) who will have the general carriage of or overall responsibility for the services we provide for you are set out in our engagement letter.
Client care and service: In providing legal services to you, we 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 how
- Charge you a fee that is fair and reasonable and let you know 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
- We reserve the right to terminate your contract if you display prohibited behaviour – bullying, discrimination, harassment, racial or sexual harassment, threatening behaviour or violence
- 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 their clients are set out in the Rules. 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.
Limits on our obligations or liability:
We do not provide tax or investment advice or advice on foreign laws. Other limitations on our obligations are set out in our engagement letter. To the extent permitted by law, our total liability to you (whether in contract, equity, tort or otherwise) in relation to the matter (or series of matters) you have engaged us on is limited to:
(a) where covered by our insurance, the amount available to be paid out under the relevant insurance policy up to a maximum of $6 million; or
(b) where not covered by our insurance, five times our fee (excluding disbursements and GST).
(c) No claim may be made against us later than either
i) Time permitted by law or
ii) Four years after the date on which the actuals facts of the claim are based, whichever comes first.