Our commitment to you

We are committed to doing our best to ensure that your legal needs are met in this matter.

1. General

1.1. These Standard Terms of Engagement (Terms) apply to any current engagement and 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 exclusive jurisdiction.

2. Services

2.1. The services we are to provide for you (the Services) are outlined in our letter of engagement along with any further instructions you provide to us in writing (or that we record in writing).

2.2. To provide you with efficient advice and services and to provide the most cost-effective service, it may be that part, or all of, your instructions will be delegated to other professionals in our firm.

3. Our Duty to You

3.1. We are committed to doing our best to ensure that your legal needs are met in this matter. When we are undertaking work for you, we will:
(a) act competently, in a timely way, and in accordance with instructions received and arrangements made;
(b) protect and promote your interests and act for you free from compromising influences or loyalties;
(c) discuss with you your objectives and how they should best be achieved;
(d) provide you with information about the work to be done, who will do it, and the way in which the services will be provided;
(e) charge you a fee that is fair and reasonable, and let you know how and when you will be billed;
(f) give you clear information and advice;
(g) protect your privacy and ensure appropriate confidentiality;
(h) treat you fairly, respectfully, and without discrimination;
(i) keep you informed about the work being done and advise you when it is completed; and
(j) let you know how to make a complaint, and deal with any complaint promptly and fairly.

3.2. The obligations lawyers owe to clients are further 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 the justice system.at any information that you supply to us as confidential. We may need to disclose your information to our agents or other organisations, but only as needed to carry out your instructions and our professional duties, or as required by law.

4. Communications

4.1. We will obtain your contact details, including email address, postal address and telephone numbers. We may provide documents and other communications to you by email (or other electronic means). You will advise us if any of your contact details change.

4.2. We will report to you periodically on the progress of any engagement and will inform you of any material and unexpected delays, significant changes or complications in the work being undertaken. You may request a progress report at any time.

4.3. You agree that we may provide you from time to time with other information that may be relevant to you, such as newsletters and information bulletins. At any time, you may request that this not be sent to you.

5. Financial

5.1. The basis upon which we will charge our fees is set out below and in our letter of engagement.
(a) Any estimate provided in the letter of engagement is subject to change and is not a quote. We will advise you as soon as reasonably practicable if an estimate is likely to be exceeded.
(b) Where our fees are calculated on an hourly basis, the hourly rates of the people we expect to undertake the work are set out in our letter of engagement. Any differences in those rates reflect our team’s different levels of experience and specialisation. Our hourly rates may change as of 1 April each year, or if one of our team members changes their role during the year, without notice to you.
(c) Hourly fees may be adjusted (upwards or downwards) to ensure the fee is fair and reasonable to take into account matters such as the complexity, urgency, value and importance of the Services. Full details of the relevant fee factors are set out in Rule 9 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008 (the Rules).

5.2. In providing the Services, we may incur disbursements and payments to third parties on your behalf. You authorise us to incur these disbursements (which may include items such as search fees, court filing fees, registration fees and travel and courier charges) which are reasonably necessary to provide the Services. You also authorise us to make payments to third parties on your behalf, which are reasonably required to undertake the Services (which may include items such as experts’ costs or counsel’s fees). These will be included in our invoice to you, shown as “disbursements” when the expenses are incurred (or in advance when we know we will be incurring them on your behalf).

5.3. In addition to disbursements, we may charge a fee of $55.00 plus GST to cover out of pocket costs that are not included in our fee, and which are not recorded as disbursements. These include items such as photocopying and printing, postage and phone calls.

5.4. GST is payable by you on our fees and charges.

6. Invoices

6.1. We will send interim invoices to you, usually monthly, and on completion of the matter, or on termination of our engagement. We may send you invoices more frequently when we incur a significant expense or undertake a significant amount of work over a shorter period of time.

6.2. Invoices are due for payment seven days after the invoice date unless alternative arrangements have been made with us.
(a) You authorise us to deduct our fees and other expenses from funds held in our trust account on your behalf on provision of an invoice to you, unless those funds are held for a particular purpose.
(b) If you have difficulty in paying any of our accounts, please contact us promptly so that we may discuss payment arrangements.
(c) If your account is overdue, we may:
(i) require interest to be paid on any amount that is not settled in full by the due date of the invoice, calculated at the rate of 2% per month for the period that the invoice is outstanding;
(ii) stop work on any matters in respect of which we are providing services to you;
(iii) require an additional payment of fees in advance or other security before recommencing work;
(iv) recover from you in full any costs we incur (including on a solicitor/client basis) in seeking to recover the amounts from you, including our own fees and the fees of any collection agency.
(d) Payment may be made by direct credit to our trust bank account, via our online payment portal and EFTPOS/credit card facilities which are available at both our Hastings and Napier offices if you wish to pay in person.

6.3. We may ask you to pre-pay amounts to us, or to provide security for our fees and expenses. We may do this, on reasonable notice, at any time.

6.4. 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 in accordance with these Terms if the third party fails to pay us.

7. Trust Account

7.1. We operate a trust account. All money received from you or on your behalf will be held to your credit in our trust account (except monies received for payment of our invoices).

7.2. Payments out of the trust account will be made either to you or to others with your authority. Written authorisation from you (and if we are acting for more than one of you, from all of you) will be required when payment is to be made to a third party. Before making a payment to another account we will require verification of the account details by provision of (for example) a copy of a deposit slip, cheque or bank statement showing the account number, a signed authority from you including the bank account details, or a signed letter from the relevant financial institution providing bank account details. If the account details are provided to us by email, we will also require confirmation of the account number from you by phone.

7.3. A full record of our trust account is kept at all times. A statement of trust account transactions detailing funds received, and payments made on your behalf, will be provided to you periodically and at any time upon your request.

7.4. If we need to hold significant amounts on your behalf, we may lodge those funds on interest bearing deposit with a bank. In that case, we may charge an administration fee of 7.5% of the interest derived. If we deposit funds on your behalf, we will need your IRD number, your RWT rate and a completed Tax Residency Self-Certification form.

7.5. Our trust account number is 12 3197 0005000 02. Please note that our bank details will not change. It may be a scam if you receive a request to pay us funds to any other bank account. You should not act on that request but contact us as a matter of urgency.

8. Confidentiality and Personal Information

8.1. 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:
(a) to the extent necessary or desirable to enable us to carry out your instructions; or
(b) as expressly or impliedly agreed by you; or
(c) as necessary to protect our interests in respect of any complaint or dispute; or
(d) to the extent required or permitted by law.

8.2. 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.

8.3. In our dealings with you, we will collect and hold personal information about you. We will use that information to carry out the Services and to make contact with you about issues we believe may be of interest to you. Provision of personal information is voluntary but if you do not provide full information this may impact on our ability to provide the Services.

8.4. Subject to clause 8.1, you authorise us to disclose, in the normal course of performing the Services, such personal information to third parties for the purpose of providing the Services and any other purposes set out in these Terms.

8.5. We may disclose your name and address to third parties such as credit agencies to perform a credit reference, to undertake credit management or for collection processes if it is reasonable to do so.

8.6. The information we collect and hold about you will be kept securely at our offices and/or at secure file storage sites (including electronic file storage sites) elsewhere. If you are an individual, you have the right to access and correct this information. If you require access, please contact our General Manager.

8.7. Please refer to Section 10 Compliance regarding information that may be required to be provided to third parties.

9. Documents, Records and Information

9.1. We will keep a record of all important documents which we receive or create on your behalf on the following basis:
(a) We may keep a record electronically and destroy originals (except where the existence of an original is legally important such as in the case of Wills).
(b) At any time, we may dispose of documents which are duplicates, or which are trivial (such as emails which do not contain substantive information), or documents which belong to us.
(c) We are not obliged to retain documents or copies where you have requested that we provide them to you or to another person and we have done so, although we are entitled to retain copies for our own records if we wish to do so.

9.2. We will provide to you on request copies or originals (at our option) of all documents to which you are entitled under the Privacy Act 1993 or any other law. We may charge you our reasonable costs for doing this.

9.3. Where we hold documents that belong to a third party you will need to provide us with that party’s written authority to uplift or obtain a copy of that document.

9.4. Unless you instruct us in writing otherwise, you authorise us and consent to us (without further reference to you) to destroy (or delete in the case of electronic records) all files and documents in respect of the Services seven years after our engagement ends (other than any documents that we hold in safe custody for you or are otherwise obliged by law to retain for longer). We may retain documents for longer at our option.

9.5. We may, at our option, return documents (either in hard or electronic form) to you rather than retain them. If we choose to do this, we will do so at our expense.

9.6. We own copyright in all documents or work we create in the course of performing the Services but grant you a non-exclusive licence to use and copy the documents as you see fit for your own personal or commercial use. However, you may not permit any third party to copy, adapt or use the documents without our written permission.

10. Compliance

10.1. We are obliged to comply with all laws applicable to us in all jurisdictions, including (but not limited to)
(a) anti-money laundering (AML) and countering financing of terrorism (CFT) laws; and
(b) laws relating to tax and client reporting and withholdings.

10.2. The AML and CFT laws require us to collect from you, persons acting on your behalf and other relevant persons such as beneficial owners and controlling persons, and to retain information required to verify your identity. We may therefore ask you to show us documents verifying your identity (such as a passport or driver licence and proof of address). We may also use a third party to verify your identity on our behalf. We may retain copies of any documents obtained or reports received. We may perform such other customer verification checks as to your identity as we consider to be required by law.

10.3. We may be required to undertake customer due diligence on you, persons acting on your behalf and other relevant persons such as beneficial owners and controlling persons. This may include information about your assets, financial arrangements and ownership. We may not be able to begin acting, or to continue acting, for you until that is completed.

10.4. To ensure our compliance and yours, we may be required to provide information about you, persons acting on your behalf or other relevant persons, to third parties (such as government agencies). There may be circumstances where we are not able to tell you or such persons if we do provide information.

10.5. Please ensure that you and/or any of the persons described previously are aware of and consent to this. It is important to ensure that all information provided to us is accurate. If the information required is not provided, or considered by us to be potentially inaccurate, misleading, or in contravention of any law, we may terminate or refuse to enter into an engagement.

11. Conflicts of Interest

11.1. We are obliged to protect and promote your interests to the exclusion of the interests of third parties and ourselves as set out in the Rules. This may result in a situation where we have a conflict of interest.

11.2. We have procedures in place to identify and respond to conflicts of interest or potential 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 Rules. This may mean we cannot act for you further in a particular matter and we may terminate our engagement.

12. Duty of Care

12.1. Our duty of care is to you and not to any other person. We owe no liability to any other person, including for example any directors, shareholders, associated companies, employees or family members unless we expressly agree in writing. We do not accept any responsibility or liability whatsoever to any third parties who may be affected by our performance of the Services or who may rely on any advice we give, except as expressly agreed by us in writing.

12.2. Our advice is not to be referred to in connection with any prospectus, financial statement, or public document without our written consent.

12.3. Our advice is opinion only, based on the facts known to us and on our professional judgement, and is subject to any changes in the law after the date on which the advice is given. We are not liable for errors in, or omissions from, any information provided by third parties.

12.4. Our advice relates only to each particular matter in respect of which you engage us. Once that matter is at an end, we will not owe you any duty or liability in respect of any related or other matters unless you specifically engage us in respect of those related or other matters.

12.5. Unless otherwise agreed, we may communicate with you and with others by electronic means. We cannot guarantee that these communications will not be lost or affected for some reason beyond our reasonable control, and we will not be liable for any damage or loss caused thereby.

13. Limitations on our Obligations or Liability

13.1. To the extent allowed by law, our aggregate liability to you (whether in contract, tort, equity or otherwise) in connection with our Services is limited to the amount available to be payable under the Professional Indemnity Insurance held by the firm.

14. Insurance

14.1. We hold Professional Indemnity Insurance which exceeds the minimum standards set by the New Zealand Law Society.

15. Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund coverage

15.1. The New Zealand Law Society maintains the Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund for the purpose of providing clients of lawyers with protection against loss arising from theft by lawyers. The maximum amount to an individual claimant is limited to $100,000. Except in certain circumstances specified in theLawyers 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.

16. Termination

16.1. You may terminate our retainer at any time.

16.2. We may terminate our retainer in any of the circumstances set out in the Rules including the existence of a conflict of interest, non-payment of fees, and failure to provide instructions.

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

17. Feedback and Complaints

17.1. Client satisfaction is one of our primary objectives and feedback from clients is helpful to us. If you would like to comment on an aspect of the service provided by us, including how we can improve our service, please contact the Partner responsible for your business or our General Manager, Alison Donovan at adonovan@willislegal.co.nz.

17.2. If you have any concerns or complaints about our services, please raise them as soon as possible with the person to whom they relate. They will respond to your concerns as soon as possible. If you are not satisfied with the way that that person has dealt with your complaint, please raise the matter with the Partner responsible for your business or with our General Manager, Alison Donovan at adonovan@willislegal.co.nz. We will inquire into your complaint and endeavour in good faith to resolve the matter with you in a way that is fair to all concerned.

17.3. If you are not satisfied with the way we have dealt with your complaint, the New Zealand Law Society has a complaints service to which you may refer the issue. You can call the 0800 number for guidance, lodge a concern or make a formal complaint. Matters may be directed to:

Lawyers Complaints Service
PO Box 5041
Wellington 6140
New Zealand
Phone: 0800 261 801

To lodge a concern: www.lawsociety.org.nz/for-the-community/lawyers-complaints-service/concerns-form

To make a formal complaint: www.lawsociety.org.nz/for-the-community/lawyers-complaints-service/how-to-make-a-complaint
Email: complaints@lawsociety.org.nz