Terms of engagement

TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT

All services offered by Davidson Twaddle Isaac Lawyers are subject to these Terms of Engagement (Terms), except to the extent that we otherwise agree with you in writing. The Terms include information which we are required to provide under the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers issued by the New Zealand Law Society.
You do not need to sign any formal documentation to indicate your acceptance of these Terms. Acceptance will be assumed from your continuing instructions to us.

SERVICES

We will represent and advise you on legal matters within the scope of your instructions. Your instructions will ordinarily be recorded in a Letter of Engagement at the outset of a matter. We are not qualified, nor will we provide you with investment or taxation advice.

In acting for you, we may accept instructions from any of the following, unless you expressly advise us otherwise in writing:

  • If we act for a company, we can accept instructions from any director or officer of that company, or any employee or other person whom you have authorised to work with us;
  • If we act for a trust, we can accept instructions from any trustee or officer (if applicable) of that trust;
  • If we act for a partnership we can accept any instructions from any partner or officer (if applicable) of that partnership;
  • If we act for a couple in a transaction, we can accept instructions from either party.

Our Letter of Engagement to you will set out the name(s) and status of the person(s) who will carry out or be responsible for the services we provide you. We will arrange for each aspect of your work by the person with the most appropriate level of skill and experience.

FEES AND CHARGES

Our fees are based on what is fair and reasonable for the work undertaken for you. Subject to any arrangements set out in a Letter of Engagement, the factors we may take into account in determining the fees we will charge are:

  • The time and labour involved;
  • The skill, specialised knowledge and responsibility required to perform the work;
  • The importance of the matter to you and results achieved;
  • The urgency and circumstances in which the matter is undertaken and any time limitations imposed, including those imposed by you;
  • The degree of risk assumed by us in undertaking the work including the amount or value of any property involved;
  • The complexity of the matter and difficulty or novelty of the issues involved;
  • The experience, reputation and ability of the lawyer(s) involved;
  • The possibility that acceptance of the required work will preclude our engagement by other clients;
  • Whether the fee is fixed or conditional (whether in litigation or otherwise);
  • Any quote or estimate of fees given by us;
  • Any fee agreement you have entered into between you and us;
  • The reasonable costs of running our practice; and
  • The fee customarily charged in the market and locality for similar legal services.

Fee estimates are based on our experience with similar matters. Estimates are a guide only and not a fixed fee.

Where our fees are calculated on a time basis, the current hourly rate of the lawyer(s) involved will apply. Those rates will be set out in the Letter of Engagement. Lawyer rates are subject to review, at least annually. Time spent is recorded is recorded in 6 minute units, with time rounded up to the nearest unit of 6 minutes.

We will advise you as soon as reasonably practicable where work falls outside the scope of an initial estimate. In those circumstances we will clarify the revised scope of the work and if requested, an estimate of the further fees.

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 advance payment for disbursements or expenses which we will be incurring on your behalf. We may also request payment in advance for disbursements.

GST

GST is payable by you on our fees and charges.

INVOICES

An account will be issued on completion of your instructions. Interim accounts will ordinarily be sent monthly. Where we incur a significant expense, we may also send you an invoice.

PAYMENT OF ACCOUNTS

Accounts are due for payment either on settlement of transactions, or otherwise within 14 days following 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 seven days overdue. Interest will be calculated at the rate of 1% per month.

We are happy to talk to you about payment of an overdue invoice. If an invoice remains unpaid within 14 days of the date of the invoice, we reserve the right to start proceedings to recover the overdue amount plus the interest, cease to act for you and retain your files until the overdue amount is paid.

We may ask you to pre-pay amounts to us, or to provide security for our fees and expenses. You authorise us to deduct from any funds held on your behalf in our trust account any fees, expenses or disbursements for which we have provided an invoice.

Where you 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 the invoice. Where the third party has not paid us within the time frames set out in these Terms for payment, we reserve the right to issue you an invoice for the outstanding amount. You must then pay the invoice in accordance with these Terms

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

As far as practicable, confidential information will only be made available 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.
If legal requirements require proof of identity, a drivers licence, passport, firearms licence or other government issued photo ID are acceptable. We may retain copies of your documents and records should we provide you with the original.
If we receive a request from your auditor, you authorise us to supply the requested information and you agree to pay us our ordinary fee for doing so.

TERMINATION

You may terminate our retainer at any time.
In accordance with the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers, we may terminate our retainer in circumstances where there is good cause and after giving reasonable notice to you, specifying the grounds for termination. Good cause includes:

  • Instructions that require us/the lawyer to breach any professional obligations;
  • Your inability or failure to pay a fee on the agreed basis, or, in the absence of an agreed basis, a reasonable fee at the appropriate time;
  • You misled or deceived us/the lawyer in a material respect;
  • You failed to provide instructions to us in a sufficiently timely way;
  • Except in litigation matters, the adoption by you against our advice of a course of action that we believe is highly imprudent and may be inconsistent with the lawyer’s fundamental obligations.

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 AND DESTRUCTION OF FILES AND DOCUMENTS

You authorise us, without further reference to you, to destroy all files and documents for this matter (other than those 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 into an electronic format.

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

We have procedures in place to identify and respond to legal conflicts of interest. If a conflict of interest arises we will advise you and discuss how to proceed.
We may accept instructions from other persons operating in the same or competing sectors and whose commercial or other non-legal interests conflict with your own, provided that we will not use confidential information we have obtained from you in undertaking those instructions.

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 in writing.

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 ordinarily lodge those funds on interest bearing deposit with a bank. In that case, we may charge an administration fee of up to 5% of the gross interest derived.
You can pay your funds to us by direct credit or by cheque (including bank cheque) made payable to “Davidson Twaddle Isaac Lawyers Trust Account.”
All payments of funds, other than to you, will only be made with your prior written authority. Written authority means a letter or fax signed by you and does not include an email. Any funds that are paid to you will be paid by trust account cheque.
If your payment to us is not made in cleared funds (for example, by personal cheque) then we may wait until the funds have cleared before disbursing the funds in accordance with your instructions.
If we receive funds for you, we will (subject to any other obligations we have) pay them to you once we are satisfied that those funds have been cleared through the banking system. This may mean that if funds are paid to us electronically, you may not receive them until the next banking day.
We will not issue you with a receipt unless you request one.
We may lawfully claim a set off against, or lien over, all or part of your funds (including their proceeds) for any of your debts due to us.

GENERAL

These Terms apply to the current engagement and 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 the amended Terms will apply from the date they are published on our website. You may peruse the Terms at any time at www.dtilawyers.co.nz.
Our relationship with you is governed by New Zealand law and the New Zealand courts have exclusive jurisdiction.
We may from time to time send you material that we believe is relevant to you or your relationship with us.

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 (“Fidelity Fund”) for the purposes 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.

INFORMATION FOR CLIENTS

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”).

1. 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 the person in our firm who has overall responsibility for your work.
If you do not wish to refer your complaint to that person, or you are not satisfied with that person’s response to your complaint, you may refer your complaint to another Director of the firm.
Directors may be contacted by the following methods:

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 and you will be connected to the nearest Complaints Service Office, which can provide information and advice about making a complaint.

2. Client Care and Service

The Law Society client care and service information is set out following. 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.
  • Provide you with 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.

3. 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.