Terms & Conditions

printTerms of Business

Individual & Company

Thank you for choosing Harmans Lawyers to act on your behalf in relation to your transaction.

We commit to provide you with these legal services in accordance with our Terms of Engagement set out below.  At the beginning of each assignment we will send you an engagement letter describing the work to be done and referring to these terms.  By signing the copy of the engagement letter and/or continuing to instruct us after the receipt of that letter, you will be taken to have accepted them. If you are an incorporated company, at least one officer of the company should complete and sign the separate guarantee form.

Terms of Engagement

(current as at 8 June 2017)

1. INTRODUCTION 

1.1

We commit to provide you with legal services in accordance with these Terms of Engagement which will apply every time that you engage us unless we have agreed on an alternative arrangement with you in writing.

1.2

Please keep a copy of these terms for your records.  By continuing to instruct us after receipt of our engagement letter you are deemed to accept the terms which will form the basis of our retainer unless varied in writing. 

1.3 You may terminate our contract of retainer at any time. We may terminate our contract of retainer in any of the circumstances set out in the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. If our contract of retainer is terminated you must pay us all of the fees due and all of the expenses incurred up to the date of termination. 

 
2. OUR COMMITMENT TO YOU 

2.1

We are committed to doing our best to ensure that your legal needs are met. Subject only to any other overriding duties owed by all lawyers (including duties to the courts and justice system), our obligations are to you as our client. We will: 

  • Protect and promote your interests, and act for you without compromising influences or loyalties. 
  • Discuss with you your objectives and how they should best be achieved. 
  • Act competently, in a timely way, and in accordance with instructions received and arrangements made.
  • Provide you with information about the work to be done, who will do it and the way the services will be provided. 
  • Protect your privacy and ensure appropriate confidentiality.
  • Treat you fairly, respectfully and without discrimination. 
  • Give you clear information and advice. 
  • Keep you regularly informed about the work being done and advise you when it is completed. 
  • Charge you a fee that is fair and reasonable and let you know how and when you will be billed. 
  • Let you know how to make a complaint, and deal with any complaint promptly and fairly. 
 2.2

We provide legal advice. We do not advise on commercial, financial or other non-legal matters. In acting for you in relation to conveyancing transactions we are not providing you with any advice relating to the quality of your investment. 

 2.3

Our duty of care is to the client instructing us and not to any other person. No other person is entitled to rely on our advice without our express agreement.  

 2.4

We have procedures in place to identify and respond to conflicts of interest. If a conflict does arise we will advise you of this and will follow the requirements and procedures set out in the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. 

3. YOUR COMMITMENT TO US 

3.1

In return for the commitments that we have made, you will: 

  • Provide all information required to facilitate our acting on your behalf. 
  • Advise us if anything changes with respect to your instructions to us. 
  • Agree to pay our fees, expenses and any disbursements we have paid out on your behalf. 
  • Advise us if you wish us to stop working on your behalf at which point you will be liable only for the fees, disbursements and expenses incurred on your behalf to date. 

4. OUR FEES

4.1

Unless agreed otherwise our fees are based on the range of factors applied by the NZ Law Society including: 

  • the time and labour expended. Time spent is recorded in 6 minute units with time rounded up to the next unit of 6 minutes;
  • the expertise, specialised knowledge and responsibility required; 
  • the importance of the matter to you and the results achieved; 
  • the degree of urgency and any time limits imposed;
  • the complexity of the matter and the difficulty or novelty of the transaction; 
  • the degree of risk assumed by us in undertaking the services including the amount and value of the property involved; 
  • the experience, reputation and ability of the person that acts for you; 
  • the possibility that the acceptance of the particular retainer will preclude employment of that person by other clients; 
  • whether the fee is fixed or conditional (whether in litigation or otherwise);
  • any quote or estimate of fees given by us to you; 
  • any fee agreement entered into by us with you; 
  • the reasonable costs of running a practice; 
  • the fee customarily charged in the market and locality for similar legal services. 
4.2 Any estimate of our fee will normally be given as a range. Unless stated otherwise any estimate will not include expenses and disbursements incurred on your behalf. Any estimate provided by us is not a quote and is intended as a guideline only. The final fee may be more or less as the circumstances dictate. If the final fee is going to significantly exceed any estimate given then we will contact you to discuss a revised estimate and the reasons for that. 

 
5. EXPENSES AND DISBURSEMENTS 

5.1

Separate charges will be made for expenses including courier fees, toll and mobile phone call charges together with a standard charge of 6% of the fee rendered to cover office expenses and incidental charges, such as photocopying, printing, facsimiles, postage, forms, local phone calls, stationery, software, library costs, subscriptions and other incidentals. 

5.2 You will also be charged separately for out of pocket disbursements (court filing fees, local body fees, registration and search fees, duties/levies etc.), file or document retrieval fees and travel expenses incurred on your behalf. These will be itemised separately. 


6. BILLING ARRANGEMENTS
 

6.1

To help you budget where practicable we will issue interim accounts, usually monthly, while work is in progress, with a final bill on completion.

6.2 We will notify you if any fees or disbursements need to be paid for in advance. 


7. PAYMENT OF ACCOUNT
 

7.1

Current payment terms are set out on invoices from time to time, and unless otherwise stated are due for payment within 14 days of being rendered. 

7.2

You authorise us to deduct payments for fees and disbursements from funds held on your behalf in our trust account (unless you have paid us those funds for a specific purpose). In all circumstances where legal fees and disbursements are taken by deduction an account itemising these will be provided to you. 

7.3

Any payment of our fees and disbursements made by credit card will incur an additional merchant service charge equivalent to 2% of the amount of the payment being made. 

7.4

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, nevertheless you remain responsible for payment to us if the third party fails to pay us. 

7.5

For all matters we reserve the right to require payment of fees and disbursements in advance or at any time during the course of the matter.  For litigation matters payment of a retainer in advance to cover fees and disbursements will be required unless otherwise agreed. 

7.6

For conveyancing matters, payment of the balance of our fees and disbursements is required on settlement of the transaction. 

7.7

If you have difficulty paying any account, please discuss this with us. 

7.8

If you do not pay your account by the due date and have not entered into any payment arrangement with us, we reserve the right to stop working for you immediately and we will not be liable to you for any loss that you may suffer as a result of such discontinuance. 

7.9

As we do not offer credit facilities, interest at the rate of 14% per annum, calculated on a daily basis,will be charged on all accounts, fees, disbursements and charges remaining unpaid twenty eight (28) days after the date of issue of the account. 

7.10

By signing the copy of the letter of engagement you authorise us to make reasonable and confidential credit enquiries from an appropriate information provider at your expense. If we need to take any action to obtain payment of our fees, disbursements or expenses, we are authorised to use, only to the extent necessary to receive such payment, your private information as that term is used in the Privacy Act 1993.  You shall also be liable to pay all costs including debt collectors and legal fees on a solicitor/client basis incurred in taking action. 

7.11 In any litigation if you succeed in obtaining an order for costs payable by other parties in the litigation it is likely to be for an amount substantially less than the full amount of fees and disbursements payable to us and you remain liable to pay us the full amount owed. If the Court makes an order that you must pay another party’s legal costs you also have to pay our fees. 


8. FUNDS IN OUR TRUST ACCOUNT
 

8.1

Unless we are instructed otherwise, funds held in a client trust account may be placed on interest bearing call deposit. You acknowledge that in certain circumstances monies placed on call may not be covered by the Lawyers Fidelity Fund, nor are they guaranteed by Harmans Lawyers. 

8.2

Due to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (‘FATCA’) we are unable to place funds on interest bearing deposit (‘IBD’) for you unless you have first signed a declaration as to your FATCA status. There is a cost in generating the necessary documents, having them executed by you and liaising with our bank. This cost may make it uneconomic to place funds on IBD. Therefore, you acknowledge that we need only consider placing funds in IBD for you where the net interest to be earned will likely exceed $150, the sum we estimate it will cost to complete the FATCA process.

8.3

From time to time at the conclusion of the retainer there may be funds held to your credit in the trust account. These will be remitted to you or transferred to another ongoing file if one exists. Due to the administrative costs in dealing with small balances, credit balances of less than $20 will not be refunded and may be used to cover administration costs unless you specifically direct us to pay these funds back to you. 


9. DOCUMENTS AND FILES
 

9.1

Unless otherwise agreed, Harmans retains the copyright in all documents prepared on your behalf in the performance of our professional services.  While you will be entitled to use the documents and any copies for the purpose for which they were intended, you (or any other person) are not permitted to make use of, or modify any document for any other purpose without our agreement in writing. 

9.2

We reserve the right to exercise a general lien over any files and documents that we hold on your behalf while you have any unpaid accounts with us.  This means we can retain these until we have received payment in full. 

9.3

We will scan your important documents and store these in a secure electronic data storage media for you without charge for 10 years following completion of the matter.  We will also store the physical file for 10 years following the completion of the matter.  After that time we may destroy files and documents except documents we have agreed with you to keep in safe custody. 

9.4

Original documents (except for documents of the types listed in clause 9.5) will be returned to you at the conclusion of the matter unless you specifically ask us to store these.  If you ask us to store original documents we will charge you an initial storage charge of $30.00 together with reimbursement of any retrieval charge that we may later incur. 

9.5

Documents that we will store on your behalf without charge are: 

  • Wills, codicils and related documents 
  • Enduring Powers of Attorney 
  • Leases of commercial premises including associated documents such as deeds of assignment, renewal and variations. 

10. COMMUNICATIONS AND PRIVACY

10.1

In the course of acting for you we will collect and hold personal information about you. We may use that information to contact you in the future about issues we believe will be of interest to you. We may disclose your name and address to a credit agency to perform a credit reference or to undertake credit management processes if we deem it necessary to do so. Under the Privacy Act 1993 if you are an individual you have the right of access to and correction of the personal information we hold.

10.2 We will report to you periodically on the progress of any matter on which we are acting and will try to keep you informed of unexpected delays or changes in the nature of the work required.  Please feel free to contact us at any time for a progress report. If you provide us with a facsimile number or e-mail address then information may be relayed to you by those means. We may from time to time send you information such as client newsletters, updates and other material that may be of interest to you. These may be sent by e-mail and we assume that you agree to receive this information. If you would prefer not to receive such information or would prefer that it is posted to you please let us know. 
10.3

Where you have provided us with an email address, then unless you otherwise request it, we reserve the right to send correspondence to you by email only.


11. PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE & FIDELITY FUND
 

11.1 We hold professional indemnity insurance that meets or exceeds the standards specified by the Law Society. The Law Society also operates a Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund which provides protection up to specified maximums (currently $100,000) for clients who suffer financial loss by theft in certain circumstances, excluding investment monies.

 
12. COMPLAINTS

12.1

We are committed to resolving any complaints in a prompt and fair manner. 

12.2

If you have any concerns or complaints please first raise those with the partner representing you. If you are not comfortable doing that or continue to be dissatisfied please contact our Managing Partner, Graeme Riach, personally. He can be contacted by letter, by email at graeme.riach@harmans.co.nz  or by telephone on 03 962 2800. 

12.3 The NZ Law Society also maintains a complaints service. For more information on this service you should contact the Law Society on 0800 261 801 or refer to its website at www.lawsociety.org.nz.
© Copyright Harmans Lawyers 2017