Terms of Trade
TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT
AND CLIENT CARE AND SERVICE INFORMATION
We are pleased that you have chosen Holland Beckett as your solicitors and look forward to working with you. The following points may be of assistance in our continuing relationship.
Client Care and Service
The Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008 provide that every lawyer when providing legal services 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.
- Let you know how to make a complaint and deal with any complaint confidentially and fairly.
These obligations are subject to other overriding duties, including duties to the Courts and the justice system.
Nature of Work
We will undertake only the legal work involving the transaction and not any non-legal work such as accounting, taxation or general business advice. As an example, if you are acquiring or selling a property or business it is up to you to make all inquiries concerning the suitability of the property and its physical condition. Because there is extra expense
involved, we will not request a Land Information Memorandum, builder's report, or any other matter not pertaining to the legal transaction unless you specifically ask us to.
Fees and Disbursements
In accordance with Rule 9 of the Lawyers & Conveyancers Act (Lawyers' Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008 our fees are calculated upon what is fair and reasonable for the services provided having regard to a number of relevant factors, including: time spent at our usual hourly rates, skill required, importance of the matter and results achieved, urgency, complexity, any estimates given and what is customarily charged in the market in the locality for similar legal services.
At the outset of instructions we are willing to discuss with you an alternative basis for charging fees. However, a written agreement will need to be obtained before this would apply.
Where practicable, we will provide you in advance with an estimate of fees and disbursements that will be involved with the carrying out of your legal work. As there are typically variable factors and outside parties involved, this will be a non binding estimate. Where appropriate, as work progresses we will provide you with an updated estimate.
We will sometimes ask for an initial payment “up front” to cover our costs. We will require that payment to be made before we take further steps on your behalf.
We are, by prior arrangement, prepared to accept payment by way of automatic bank payment. If you wish to use this option, please advise us in order for us to arrange the necessary authorities.
Any outstanding fees and disbursements may be deducted out of funds held in our trust account on your behalf.
We are often required to make payments on your behalf during the course of your work. You may be given an estimate of these expected expenses when your file is opened and may be asked, before we spend money on your behalf, to let us have sufficient funds to meet these expenses.
We hold indemnity insurance that meets or exceeds the minimum standards specified by the Law Society. We will provide you with particulars of the minimum standards if you wish.
Holland Beckett shall not, under any circumstances, be liable for any amount exceeding the amount actually paid out by our insurance company under the professional indemnity policy mentioned above.
Lawyer's Fidelity Fund
We subscribe to the Law Society Lawyers' Fidelity Fund for the purpose of providing clients of lawyers with protection against money loss arising from theft by lawyers. The maximum amount payable by the Fidelity Fund to an individual claimant is limited to $100,000.
Except in special circumstances (set out in the Lawyers & 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 that client. The Fidelity Fund is also only related to dishonesty and does not cover claims other than theft by lawyers.
Funds on Deposit
If you have funds with us pending or after a settlement for any meaningful time, we will place them on deposit at call through our trust account with our bankers BNZ. Interest on that money at normal bank rates will accrue to your credit after deduction of Resident Withholding Tax (RWT). We are required to pay the RWT to IRD and also to file a return at the end of the year. We deduct a charge of 5% of the interest received for this service. Holland Beckett is registered as an active NFFE (Non-Financial Foreign Entity) in accordance with the United States Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). If we place your funds on Interest Bearing Deposit we will require further information from you to establish if you are a specified US Person. If you fail to supply this information your details will be reported under the inter-governmental agreement.
Our usual practice is to render monthly accounts for costs incurred to that time. Invoices are to be paid by the 20th of the following month. If we are holding funds for you in trust we may deduct the amount invoiced from these funds.
Bay Online Services Limited
Bay Online Services Limited is an associated entity to Holland Beckett and undertakes the registration of property titles with Land Information New Zealand. This service is billed separately and included as a disbursement on property transactions.
Payment can be made by cash, cheque, EFTPOS or MasterCard/Visa.
If your invoice includes payments to third parties and you elect to pay the invoice by credit card then we reserve the right to on charge the credit card commission cost to you.
Please note that in the case of delinquent accounts we reserve the right to charge interest at 2% per month accrued monthly on accounts from a date one month after the date of the account.
In the case where you default in making payments to us, then we reserve the right to decline carrying out any further services for you until payments are brought up to date or withdrawing from acting for you all together.
If you do not make payment on time we reserve the right to undertake a credit check or register a default with a credit reporting bureau and your consent is given within these terms and the Privacy Act 1993.
You will be liable for Holland Beckett's legal or debt recovery costs (on an indemnity basis) incurred as a result of your failure or neglect to pay Holland Beckett any outstanding sum(s).
Files and Documents
At the end of your matter we will keep your file for at least seven years from completion and thereafter we will destroy it. You are welcome to uplift the information on your file to which you are entitled, provided that all fees and costs have been paid. Please give us reasonable notice before collecting your file should you wish to do so.
Termination of Retainer
You may terminate your instructions at any time. We may terminate your instructions in the circumstances set out in clause 4.2 of the Lawyers & Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008. If your instructions are terminated you must pay us all fees due up to the date of termination and all expenses incurred to date. Until that time we reserve the right to retain your files.
We hope you will have no complaints during our relationship, but we have set up a procedure to ensure that these can be satisfactorily resolved.
Initially you should contact the person carrying out your work and seek an explanation from them.
If you are not satisfied with that you should seek out and explain the complaint to the partner supervising that person, or to any other partner in the firm. We would be pleased to meet with you and discuss your concerns.
If you fail to be satisfied after this procedure, the Law Society also maintains a complaints service and clients can use that service. Initially you should contact:
NZ Law Society, PO Box 5041, Lambton Quay, Wellington 6145
(Ph: 04 472 7837)
(Fax: 04 473 7898)