Terms of Engagement
Fees and Charges
A fee estimate and/or the basis upon which fees will be charged will be set out in our letter of engagement.
Where an estimate of legal fees has been provided to you we will endeavour to charge you the amount estimated. Should the scope of our attendances be in excess of what we estimated to you, we may increase our legal fees to reflect those unanticipated attendances which will be charged at the applicable hourly rate. Unless we tell you otherwise, no fee amount we indicate to you is a fixed fee.
If a fixed fee is specified we will charge this for the agreed scope of our services. Work which falls outside of that scope will be charged on an hourly 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 further costs.
If work is to be charged on an hourly rate basis, the then current hourly rate of the lawyers and staff involved will apply. This hourly rate is subject to review at least annually. Time is recorded in units of six minutes, with time rounded up to the nearest unit of six minutes.
Fees are calculated in accordance with the New Zealand Law Society Guidelines including skill, specialised knowledge and responsibility, time involved, complexity, urgency, importance of the work and results achieved, risk, experience, reputation and ability of the lawyer involved, the possibility that the acceptance of your instruction will preclude engagement of your lawyer by other clients, fixed or conditional fees, any quote or estimate of fees given by the lawyer, any fee agreement entered into between the lawyer and client, the reasonable costs of running a practice and the fee customarily charged in the market and locality for similar legal services.
A file handling and administration fee is charged to cover ordinary expenses. Any additional charges will appear on the invoice for the period in which they are incurred. Payment in advance may be requested for disbursements.
Payment of Accounts
Accounts are due for payment either on settlement of transactions or otherwise on the 20th day of the month following the date of the tax invoice (due date). If you have difficulty meeting any account please let us know. An account will be sent on completion of your instructions or interim accounts will be sent monthly.
Outstanding accounts will incur interest at the rate of 1.5% per month charged at our discretion.
Accounts which have not been paid by the 20th of the month following the due date may be referred to a debt collection agency without notice. We reserve the right to cease working on your legal business if your accounts are unpaid. You will be liable for all our collection costs (including legal costs).
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. We may ask you to prepay amounts to us or to provide security for our fees and expenses.
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 still remain responsible for payment to us if the third party fails to pay us.
We 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 this information will only be made available to those within our firm who are providing legal services for you. We will not disclose to you confidential information which we have concerning any other client.
We may retain copies of your documents and records should you provide us with the original of those.
If we receive a request for information from your auditor or accountant, you authorise us to supply the requested information and you agree to pay us our usual fee for doing so.
Generally files will be destroyed seven (7) years after file closure.
Conflicts of Interest
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.
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.
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 normally lodge those funds on interest bearing deposit with the bank. In that case we will charge an administration fee of 5% of the interest derived.
Acknowledgement of Terms of Engagement
These terms outline the terms upon which instructions are accepted. They apply to any current engagement and any future engagement whether or not we send you another copy of them.
Your instructions represent acceptance of these terms. We may unilaterally change these terms over time. You will be notified of any such changes.
Our relationship with you is governed by New Zealand law and the New Zealand Courts have exclusive jurisdiction.
Our Promise To You:
We will carry out legal work for you -
• in a timely way
• in accordance with the instructions you give us and the
arrangements you make with us.
We will protect and promote your interests and will act for you free from compromising influences or loyalties. If in the course of our work for you any such compromising influence or conflict arises we will immediately report this to you.
We will discuss with you your objectives in relation to the legal services you are asking us to provide and how those objectives may best be achieved for you.
We will provide you with information about the work that we will do for you. We will let you know those people in our office who will be doing this work and the way in which our legal services will be provided to you.
We will keep you informed on a regular basis about the work we have done for you and advise you when it is completed.
We will endeavour at all times to give you clear information and advice.
We will charge you fees that are fair and reasonable in relation to the nature of the work being done. We will let you know how and when our bills will be delivered to you.
We will protect your privacy and ensure confidentiality in relation to your affairs. We will not disclose any information concerning you or your affairs that we acquire during the course of acting for you except as may be necessary or desirable to enable us to carry out your instructions, or to the extent required by law.
Confidential information concerning you and your affairs, will, as far as practicable, be made available only to those within the firm who are providing the legal services for you.
We will treat you fairly, respectfully and without discrimination.
If you have any complaint about our legal services, or charges, we will deal with that complaint promptly and fairly.
Any complaints should be made to the solicitor or partner who has overall responsibility for your work.
The New Zealand Law Society also maintains a complaints service and you may make a complaint to that service by contacting the Waikato Bay of Plenty District branch of the New Zealand Law Society, PO Box 180, Waikato Mail Centre, Hamilton 3240 or by telephone 07 838 0264.
Professional Indemnity Insurance
Gallie Miles currently maintains a professional indemnity insurance which exceeds the minimum standards specified by the New Zealand Law Society. Particulars of the minimum standards will be provided on request.
Lawyers Fidelity Fund
The New Zealand Law Society maintains a 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 $100,000.00.
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.
As members of the New Zealand Law Society our partners make an annual payment towards the upkeep of the fidelity fund.