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Terms of Engagement and Client Care and Service Information

We are pleased that you have chosen Holland Beckett Law and look forward to working with you. The following terms and information may be of assistance in our continuing relationship.

In this document “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Holland Beckett Law and “you” and “your” refer to our client.

Client Care and Service

The Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008 (“NZLS Rules”) 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 involved in 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, 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.

Unless otherwise agreed in writing, if we assist you in relation to matters that are governed by laws other than New Zealand law, we accept no responsibility for your position under foreign law.

Fees and Disbursements

In accordance with Rule 9 of the NZLS Rules 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.

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.

Invoicing

Our usual practice is to render monthly accounts for costs incurred to that time. Invoices are to be paid within 14 days of issuance. If we are holding funds for you in trust we may deduct the amount invoiced from these funds.

Bay Online Services Limited is an associated entity to Holland Beckett Law 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

Payment can be made by cash, direct credit, 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.

If you fail to make payments to us when due, we reserve the right to decline to carry out any further services for you until payments are brought up to date or to withdraw from acting for you all together. We also reserve the right to charge interest at 2% per month (accrued monthly) on overdue amounts.

If you do not make payment on time, we may undertake a credit check or register a default with a credit reporting bureau and you consent to this.

You will be liable for our legal or debt recovery costs (on an indemnity basis) incurred as a result of your failure to pay any outstanding amounts to us.

Funds on Deposit

We are registered as an Active Non-Financial Foreign Entity (NFFE) for the purposes of the United States Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). Before we can place your funds on interest bearing deposit we will require further information from you to establish if you are a specified US Person. This information may also be provided to banks with which deposits are placed and this may, in turn, be provided by such banks to tax or regulatory authorities in New Zealand or overseas. For this reason we will not invest funds on interest bearing deposit until we receive your instructions to do so along with the completed self-certification form. Interest on invested money at normal bank rates will accrue to your credit after deduction of withholding tax. We are required to pay the withholding tax to the Inland Revenue Department and also to file a return at the end of the year. We deduct a charge of 5% of the gross interest received for this service.

Confidentiality; Collection and Use of Information

We will not disclose confidential information that we obtain as a result of acting as your lawyers except where you authorise us to do so or to the extent permitted or required by law, regulations or the NZLS Rules.

You agree that we may collect personal and other information from any source, and use and disclose such information, as required or permitted in connection with our obligations under law and regulations (including under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 and our anti-money laundering compliance programme). We may not be able to act for you (or continue to act for you) or to complete trust account transactions for you if we do not, at any time, hold the required information. If we are required to disclose any such information to government agencies, we may not be able to tell you we have done so.

Files and Information

We may retain your files and any other information you provide to us for at least seven years from completion or termination of the matter and thereafter we may destroy the files and information. We may retain your files and other information for a longer period if required by law or regulations or if we determine that they may be useful in the provision of further legal services to you.

We will destroy any files or information related to a matter on which you have instructed us upon your request so long as it is practicable to do so and we are not required by law or regulations to retain them. If we do so, you waive any liability we may have in relation to such matter, files or information and you agree to indemnify and hold us harmless against any such liability to any third party.

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 you do so, we may make copies of that information before you uplift it. Please give us reasonable notice before collecting your file should you wish to do so.

Professional Indemnity

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.

We 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 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 that client. The Fidelity Fund is also only related to dishonesty and does not cover claims other than theft by lawyers.

Termination of Retainer

You may terminate your instructions at any time, other than where we rely on that instruction (for example, by giving an undertaking to a third party). We may terminate your instructions in accordance with the NZLS Rules or any other applicable law. 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.

Complaints

We hope you will not have any complaints 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 are not satisfied after a discussion with us, the Law Society maintains a complaints service and clients can use that service. The Law Society can be contacted at:

NZ Law Society, PO Box 5041, Lambton Quay, Wellington 6145
Phone:      0800 261 801
Email:        complaints@lawsociety.org.nz
Website:   https://www.lawsociety.org.nz/for-the-community/lawyers-complaints-service