TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT
These are the standard terms on which we (Reeves Lawyers Ltd) provide legal and related services to our clients. If these terms are not acceptable and the services outlined are not in accordance with your requirements, please contact us immediately.
Our duties are owed to you. Unless otherwise agreed in writing or required by law, those duties will not extend to others, including, for example, associated parties such as shareholders or related companies, directors or employees, or parents or other family members. If any other parties wish to retain us, they should do so by separate agreement.
Our advice is given solely for your benefit and in your interests. If any other parties wish to rely on the advice we give you, they can only do so if both you and we agree in writing. Similarly, our name and opinions may not be used in connection with any prospectus, financial statement or other public document without our written consent. Unless required by law, you may not provide our advice to any third party or file our advice with any governmental agency without our agreement.
Our advice is strictly limited to the matters stated in it and does not apply by implication to any other matters.
Client care and service information
Whatever legal services we provide you with, 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 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; and
Let you know how to make a complaint and deal with any complaint properly and fairly.
The obligations lawyers owe to clients are described in the Rules of Conduct & 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 go to the Law Society website [www.lawsociety.org.nz] or call 0800 261801.
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.
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 email communications.
Fees and disbursements
What we charge you reflects the amount of time we spend on a matter, charged at our hourly rates and adjusted where appropriate to reflect other factors such as specialised knowledge, skills or responsibility, the amounts involved, the importance of the matter, urgency and the results achieved (as permitted by the Law Society Rules of Conduct).
Time spent includes:
Personal and telephone attendances on you
Correspondence with you
Considering the law and the facts of your matter
Reading and considering incoming letters, papers and documents
Correspondence with solicitors and third parties
Instructing inquiry agents and experts
Attendances on your behalf; and
We also charge for general office services and any disbursements:
General office services include photocopying, facsimiles, telephone communications, deliveries, routine on-line searches and inquiries and similar.
Disbursements include expenses such as registration and filing costs, toll calls, faxes, photocopying, travel expenses, couriers, the fees of agents who serve documents and who conduct investigations, searches and registrations. We may need to obtain funds from you in advance for significant disbursements.
We can give you an estimate of likely fees based on our past experience with similar matters. We can also advise you when our fees reach a specified level.
By instructing Reeves Lawyers Ltd you accept liability to pay the account that the firm will render for work done together with all disbursements incurred in respect of such instructions. You also authorise us to deduct our fees, expenses and disbursements from any funds held in our trust account on your behalf where we have provided an invoice.
Our accounts are due for payment within 14 days of the account date unless you make a prior arrangement with us in writing. If you have any queries about an account, please raise this with us within 14 days of receiving this account.
If your account is not paid within 30 days, we reserve the right to charge interest at up to 12% p.a. from the account payment date on any money outstanding. You will be responsible for any reasonable debt collection costs that we incur in recovering outstanding amounts due to us.
If your account remains outstanding after 60 days, we will not undertake any further work on your behalf and will retain custody of your papers or files until you have made arrangements to bring the account back into good standing.
For property and financing transactions where payment of monies is due by you, we require cleared funds for the correct amount to be deposited with us no later than the morning of the settlement.
Files and documents
We retain the files on a matter and any documents you leave with us for at least six years after completion of that matter. We may then destroy these files and documents. You are welcome to uplift the information on your file to which you are entitled, provided that all fees and costs have been paid. If so, please give us reasonable notice before collecting your file.
If you ask us to or if we are obliged to, we will destroy any matter-related files and other documents to the extent it is reasonably practicable for us to do so and we are not otherwise obliged to retain them. In this case, any liability we may have in relation to the matter, files and/or documents however arising will be deemed to have been waived and will end, and you will indemnify and hold us harmless against any such liability to a third party.
External information and public records
In advising you we may rely on, or provide you with, information obtained from third parties (e.g., experts or witnesses or government agencies or registers). This information may not always be accurate and complete. We do not accept responsibility and will not be liable for any damage or loss caused by errors or omissions in information obtained from third parties.
Our liability to you will be subject to any limitations or exclusions which we agree with you.
Conflicts of interest
We may accept instructions from other clients or potential clients operating in the same or competing markets and whose commercial interests conflict with your own, provided those instructions do not involve the use of confidential information we have obtained from you.
If a legal conflict of interest arises, in relation to any matter on which you have instructed us, between your interests and those of any other client for whom we are also acting, we will inform you as soon as possible.
If you have agreed to engage us on a non-exclusive basis in relation to a matter, we will establish an information barrier around the relevant legal service team and keep information in respect of your affairs confidential to that team. Similarly, we will not be permitted to provide you with access to information which is held by us as a result of a separate legal services team acting for another party or parties. If, in the course of acting for you or any other party, a dispute arises or matters otherwise become contentious between you and that other party, we will comply with the Rules of Conduct.
If we cease to act for you or have not been instructed by you on a matter, we may act for other clients whose interests are adverse to your own, provided either:
We do not hold confidential information belonging to you that is relevant to the matter; or
We have taken steps to maintain the confidentiality of information which is relevant to you.
This will involve the establishment of an information barrier similar to that set up when we are engaged on a non-exclusive basis in relation to a matter.
Professional indemnity insurance
We hold current professional indemnity insurance which exceeds the minimum standards from time to time specified by the New Zealand Law Society. As with all insurances this cover has limitations and is subject to certain exclusions, terms and conditions.
If you have any complaints about our services, please let us know immediately and we will attempt to resolve this with you promptly and fairly. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you have the right to take the matter up with the New Zealand Law Society’s complaints service.
Termination of legal services and retention of files
You have the right to terminate our services at any time 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, except in litigation matters, 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.
Reeves Lawyers Ltd
Effective from January 2011