Terms of Engagement

Standard Terms of Engagement with Williams McKenzie

These Standard Terms of Engagement (‘Terms’) apply in respect of all work carried out by us for you, except to the extent that we otherwise agree with you in writing.


  1. Services
    1.1 The services which we are to provide for you are outlined in our Letter of Engagement.
  2. Fees
    2.1 We will charge a fee which is fair and reasonable for the services provided having regard to your interests and our interests. In determining the fee, the following may be taken into account:

    • The time and labour expended at an hourly rate.
    • The skill, specialised knowledge, and responsibility required to perform the services properly.
    • The importance of the matter to you and the 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 services including the amount or value of the property involved.
    • The complexity of the matter and the difficulty or novelty of the questions involved.
    • The experience, reputation and ability of the members of our firm working on your matter.
    • The possibility that the acceptance of the particular instructions will preclude employment of us by other clients.
    • Whether the fee is fixed or conditional.
    • Any quote or estimate of fees given by us.
    • Any fee agreement entered into between you and us.
    • The reasonable costs of running our firm.
    • The fee customarily charged in the market and locality for work similar to yours.

    2.2 Unless otherwise stated all fees are plus GST.
    2.3 In providing services we may incur disbursements or have to make payments to third parties on your behalf such as search and registration fees, valuation fees, tolls and photocopying. These will be included in our invoice to you when the expense is incurred.
    2.4 All work done by us is charged on a fees basis apart from a commission of 5% which is taken on all interest accruing on funds deposited with our bank through our Solicitors Deposit Scheme.
    2.5 Where it is applicable, you may wish to apply for legal aid. In the event that legal aid is not granted you will be liable for our account charged at the private rates referred to above.

  3. Payment of Fees
    3.1 Invoices, whether interim or final, are payable within 14 days of the date of the invoice, unless alternative arrangements have been made with us.
    3.2 We reserve the right to issue interim accounts where appropriate.
    3.3 Our final account will be sent to you shortly after we have completed your matter.
    3.4 You authorise us to deduct any fees, expenses or disbursements for which we have provided an invoice from funds held on your behalf in our trust account.
    3.5 We may ask you to pay fees in advance, but in those instances your payment will be held in our trust account and only paid to us by deduction when an account has been forwarded to you.
    3.6 Disbursements are to be paid by you immediately upon request but substantial disbursements will be asked for in advance.
    3.7 Interest will accrue on unpaid accounts at the rate of 15% per annum as from the due date until payment. Other action to recover unpaid fees may also be taken and the cost of such recovery may be added to the account due by you.
  4. The Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund
    4.1 Details of the Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund are set out in our¬†Information for Clients¬†document.
  5. Professional Indemnity Insurance
    5.1 We hold current Professional Indemnity Insurance which meets the minimum standards from time to time specified by the New Zealand Law Society.
  6. Limitation of Liability
    6.1 We do not accept liability for any loss arising from non receipt of any communication including email communications.
  7. Files and Documents
    7.1 You authorise us (without further reference to you) to destroy all files and documents for this matter (other than any documents that we hold in safe custody for you) 10 years after our engagement ends.
    7.2 You are welcome to uplift your file provided that all fees and expenses have been paid. Please give us reasonable notice before collecting your file should you wish to do so.
  8. Termination of Retainer
    8.1 You may terminate our retainer at any time.
    8.2 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.
    8.3 If our retainer is terminated you must pay us all fees due up to the date of termination and all disbursements incurred up to that date.
  9. Suspension of Service
    9.1 We reserve the right to stop work on your retainer if interim accounts are not paid on time or a request for information or action remains unsatisfied.
  10. Privacy and Confidentiality
    10.1 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:

    1. to the extent necessary or desirable to enable us to carry out your instructions; or
    2. to the extent required by law or by the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.

    10.2 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.
    10.3 We will not disclose to you confidential information which we have in relation to any other client.

  11. Conflicts of Interest
    11.1 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.
  12. Duty of Care
    12.1 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.
  13. Complaints
    13.1 Our complaints process is set out in our Information for Clients document.
  14. Trust Account
    14.1 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 lodge those funds on interest bearing on call deposit with a bank. In that case we will charge an administration fee of 5% of the interest derived.
  15. General
    15.1 These Terms apply to any current engagement and also to any future engagement, whether or not we send you another copy of them.
    15.2 We are entitled to change these Terms from time to time, in which case we will send you amended Terms.
    15.3 Our relationship with you is governed by New Zealand law and New Zealand courts have non-exclusive jurisdiction.