These are our Letter and Standard Terms of Engagement as your solicitors. They apply to all services that we provide unless varied by written agreement. We will take your continued instructions as your acceptance of these terms so please ask us if you have any questions about them.
LETTER OF ENGAGEMENT
1. SERVICES TO BE PROVIDED
The following is the summary of the legal services we expect to be providing you:
• Acting for you in respect of:
Note: The contents of this letter together with our attached Standard Terms and Conditions shall apply to all services we provide, both now and subsequently, unless varied by written agreement. We will take your continued instructions as your acceptance of these Terms so please ask if you have any questions.
2. OUR PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIP
Your relationship with your lawyer needs to be one of trust, transparency and confidence. You are entitled to expect a high level of professional service from Polson McMillan. In turn, we need you to be clear and prompt with your instructions to and communication with us, and to honour the terms of our retainer. We have a “no surprises” approach in regard to our work for you, our communication, and our fees. We ask that you adopt the same approach, and be open and transparent with us in all respects – if you have a problem, tell us; if you have a question, ask us.
The hourly rates (plus GST) charged by the person or persons who have the general carriage of or overall responsibility for the service we provide you are as follows:
Sally McMillan $350
Simon Milne $350
Helen Davidson $350
Val Farrow $300
Pamela Walker $250
Katherine Neville-Lamb $200
Amy Pearce $160
Rochelle Parry $140
Theresa Leyden $140
Libby Parsons $140
Wendy Smith $140
Charlotte Hickmott $140
4. RESPONSIBILITY FOR SERVICES
The names and status of the person or persons who will have the general carriage of or overall responsibility for the services we provide for you are:
Sally McMillan, Principal
Simon Milne, Partner & Notary Public
Helen Davidson, Consultant
Val Farrow, Associate
Pamela Walker, Solicitor
Katherine Neville-Lamb, Solicitor
Amy Pearce, Registered Legal Executive
Rochelle Parry, Legal PA
Theresa Leyden, Legal PA
Libby Parsons, Legal PA
Wendy Smith, Accounts Administrator
Charlotte Hickmott, Receptionist/Typist
5. PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE
We hold professional indemnity insurance that meets or exceeds the minimum standards specified by the New Zealand Law Society.
6. CLIENT DUE DILIGENCE
New Zealand’s Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 applies to lawyers, and may require us to undertake a “client due diligence” process before undertaking work for you. The Act requires us to verify your identity (regardless of how long we have acted for you or known you). If a Client Information Form is attached to this letter; please complete it and return it promptly together with any documents requested. See further information under “Statutory Compliance” in our Standard Terms and Conditions.
If you have a complaint about our services or charges, you may refer your complaint to Sally McMillan, who as the Firm’s Principal has overall responsibility for your work.
If we have been unable to resolve a complaint or concern you may contact:
The Lawyers Complaints Service; Phone: 0800 261 801; Website: www.lawsociety.org.nz/for-the-community/lawyers-complaints-service/concerns-form; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
8. CLIENT CARE AND SERVICE
The Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008 specify:
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 comprising 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 promptly and fairly.
The rules also require us to provide information about the Lawyers Fidelity Fund:
The Law Society maintains the Lawyers 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 Conveyances 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.
9. LIMITATIONS ON OUR OBLIGATIONS OR LIABILITY
If the information in this letter and the accompanying material is acceptable, please sign the attached copy of this letter where indicated and return it to us. You will be bound by these terms if after receipt of this letter you sign and return it to us, you orally advise us of your acceptance, or if you instruct us to proceed/continue to act for you.
STANDARD TERMS AND CONDITIONS
1.1. The services which we are to provide for you are outlined in our engagement letter.
(a) The fees which we will charge or the manner in which they will be arrived at, are set out in our engagement letter.
(b) Our fees are calculated on an hourly basis. The hourly rates are set out in our engagement letter. The differences in those rates reflect the experience and specialisation of our professional staff. Time spent is recorded in 6 minute units, with time rounded up to the next unit of 6 minutes.
(c) If the engagement letter specifies a fixed fee, we will charge this for the agreed scope of our service. Work which falls outside that scope will be charged on an hourly rate basis. We will advise you as soon as reasonably practicable if it becomes necessary for us to provide services outside the agreed scope and if requested, give you an estimate of the likely amount of the further costs.
(d) In accordance with the NZ Law Society Client Care Rules, we reserve the right to charge a premium over and above the fee calculated on an hourly rate, in cases of particular complexity, where matters are required to be dealt with urgently, or where there is a degree of risk assumed by us in undertaking the work for you.
2.2. 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 an advance payment for the disbursements or expenses which we will be incurring on your behalf.
2.3. GST (if any)
Is payable by you on our fees and charges.
We will send interim invoices to you, usually monthly and on completion of the matter, or termination of our engagement. We may also send you an invoice when we incur a significant expense.
Invoices are payable by 20th of the month following date of the invoice, unless alternative arrangements have been made with us. If you do not pay an invoice by the due date, we reserve the right to stop doing any further work for you and you agree that we may charge you daily interest at 15% pa on the amount owing until it is paid and our actual costs, on a solicitor-client basis, of any debt recovery proceedings.
You authorise us:
(a) to debit against amounts pre-paid by you; and
(b) 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 or statement.
2.6. Costs of Recovery
In the event that we have to refer an unpaid account to a credit controller for recovery, we may add the recovery costs to the amount of your unpaid account.
We may ask you to pre pay amounts to us, or to provide security for our fees and expenses.
2.8. Third parties
Although you may expect to be reimbursed by a third party for our fees and expense, and although our invoices may at your request or with your approval be directed to a third party, nevertheless you remain responsible for payment to us if the third party fails to pay us.
3.1. 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) To the extent required by law or by the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
3.2. 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.
3.3. We will of course, not disclose to you confidential information which we have in relation to any other client.
4.1. You may terminate our retainer at any time.
4.2. We may terminate our retainer in any of the circumstances set out in the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
4.3. 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.
5. Retention of files and documents
5.1. You authorize us (without further reference to you) to destroy all files and documents for this matter (other than any documents we hold in safe custody for you) 7 years after our engagement ends, or earlier if we have converted those files and documents to an electronic format.
6. Conflicts of interest
6.1. We have procedures in place to identify and respond to 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 Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
7. Duty of Care
7.1. 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.
8. Statutory Compliance
8.1. We are required by law to meet various statutory obligations which impact on our professional relationship with you, including under the Privacy Act, Income Tax legislation, and under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (“AML/CFT Act”). Under the AML/CFT Act we are required to obtain information about your identity (and where an entity is instructing us the identity of individuals associated with that entity) including of your full name and date of birth (passport, driver’s license, birth certificate), and your address (copy of a utility or rates bill addressed to you).
8.2. If we are not able to collect and verify the required information we will not be able to act for you.
9. Trust Account
9.1. We maintain a trust account for all funds which we receive from clients (except monies received for payment of our invoices). If we are holding significant funds on your behalf we will normally lodge those funds on interest bearing deposit with a bank. In that case we will charge an administration fee of 10% of the interest derived.
10.1. These Terms apply to any current engagement and also to any future engagement, whether or not we send you another copy of them.
10.2. We are entitled to change these Terms from time to time, in which case we will send you amended Terms.
10.3. Our relationship with you is governed by New Zealand law and New Zealand courts have non-exclusive jurisdiction.