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.

Client Care Information

The New Zealand Law Society client care and service information is set out below.
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 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 promptly and fairly.

The obligations lawyers owe to clients are described in the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.  Those obligations are subject to other overriding duties, including duties to the courts and to the justice system.
If you have any questions, please visit www.lawyers.org.nz.

  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 We will send you an invoice on completion of the matter, or termination of our engagement. We may also send you an interim invoice.
    3.2 Invoices, whether interim or final, are payable within 14 days of the date of the invoice, unless alternative arrangements have been made with us.
    3.3 You authorise us to deduct against amounts pre-paid by you; and 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.
    3.4 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. Disbursements are to be paid by you immediately upon request but substantial disbursements will be asked for in advance.
    3.5 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 remain responsible for payment if the third party fails to pay us.
  4. The Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund
    4.1 The New Zealand 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 & 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.
  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. We will provide you with the particulars of the minimum standards upon request.
  6. Limitation of Liability
    6.1 Any limitations on the extent of our obligations to you or any limitation or exclusion of liability, are set out in our letter of engagement, or as from time to time is set out in our correspondence to you.
    6.2 We do not accept liability for any loss arising from non receipt of any communication including email communications.
  7. 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.
  8. Suspension of Service
    8.1 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.
  9. Privacy and Confidentiality
    9.1 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.
    9.2 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.
    9.3 We will not disclose to you confidential information which we have in relation to any other client.
  10. Files and Documents
    10.1 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, or earlier if we have converted those files and documents to an electronic format.
    10.2 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.
  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 We maintain a procedure for handling any complaints by clients, designed to ensure that a complaint is dealt with promptly and fairly.
    If you have a complaint about our services or charges, you may refer your complaint to the person in our firm who has overall responsibility for your work.
    If you do not wish to refer your complaint to that person, or you are not satisfied with that person’s response to your complaint, you may refer your complaint by letter, email or telephone to:
    Ron Williams, Partner                                                         Tania McKenzie, Partner
    ron@williamsmckenzie.co.nz                                             tania@williamsmckenzie.co.nz
    (03) 311 8145                                                                         (03) 311 8142
    The New Zealand Law Society also maintains a complaints service and you are able to make a complaint to that service. To do so you should contact the Law Society on 0800 261 801.
  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.