Terms of Engagement
These terms apply to all services provided by White Fox & Jones Limited
1 Scope of Engagement
We will provide to you, in writing our understanding of the legal services you are requesting us to provide. These terms apply to our relationship with you. These terms apply to any current engagement and, to any future engagements. We may change these terms from time to time and will publish the latest version on our website. If you continue to engage us, then you accept the latest terms.
2 Privacy and Confidentiality
While providing legal services, we will collect and hold personal information about you and/or your business. The information we collect will be kept on our computer system within a secure Australasian based cloud storage facility or in files that are stored on our premises. We will always maintain lawyer/client confidentiality but reserve the right to disclose your name and address to a credit agency to perform a credit reference or for other credit management processes. There may be instances where anti-money laundering law requires us to report to authorities, without advising you. We will only do this where we are required by law and where client-lawyer privilege is lost or does not apply. You have the right to access and if necessary, correct any information we hold about you. If you require access, please contact our General Manager.
3 Electronic Communications
We may communicate with you and others by electronic means. As you are aware electronic communications can be subject to delays, non-delivery, or being read, copied, or interfered with in transit or contain viruses or other defects (together referred to as “the defects”). We will not be responsible for any of the risks associated with electronic communication including risks arising from the defects.
We will charge a fee that is fair and reasonable considering the factors specified from time to time by the New Zealand Law Society including:
- Time incurred on your behalf.
- Specialised knowledge, responsibility and skill required to perform the service.
- The outcome achieved.
- Urgency in which the matter is undertaken, and any time constraints involved.
- The degree of risk assumed by us including the amount or value of the transaction involved.
- The fee customarily charged in the market for similar work.
- The complexity of the matter and its importance to you.
We will provide an estimate of our fees if requested by you, and promptly advise if it becomes apparent the estimate is likely to be exceeded. The hourly rates of personnel undertaking your work may be adjusted (from time to time) to ensure the fee is fair and reasonable. Our fees and charges are plus GST (if any), which is payable by you.
5 Trust Account
We maintain a separate trust account for all funds which we receive from clients (except the funds which are for payment of our invoices). If we are holding funds on your behalf, we may lodge those funds on interest bearing deposit with the BNZ, but we must have signed, completed FATCA and AML/CFT forms in our possession first. We will charge commission of 5% of the gross interest derived. We must have your IRD number on record, as otherwise, the bank must deduct resident withholding tax at the non-declaration rate of 45%. We may deduct from funds held on your behalf in our trust account any fees, costs, or disbursements for which we have provided an invoice.
6 Payment Terms
We will charge you for payments we make on your behalf to third parties (e.g., Court Filing Fees, LIM costs). We may ask for payment in advance for these costs. We may issue interim accounts. Our final account will be sent to you at the completion of your matter. For some matters, we may require payment in advance. Our invoices are payable 7 days after the invoice date. We offer the option for invoices to be paid by credit or debit card. When you choose to pay by card, a transaction fee of 2% of the total amount is added at the time of processing the payment to cover our direct and indirect costs in providing a credit card facility.
7 Overdue Accounts
If an account is not paid on the due date, we reserve the right to charge interest (at the rate of 15% pa), to suspend the engagement until the account is brought up to date, or to terminate the engagement. You are liable for any other costs, including solicitor/client costs, we may incur in collecting an overdue amount.
8 Third Parties
Although you may expect to be reimbursed by a third party for our fees and charges, and although our invoices may be at your request or with your approval directed to a third party, nevertheless you remain responsible for the payment to us.
9 Personal Guarantee
If you are instructing us on behalf of or in relation to another entity, such as a company, trust, or incorporated society, you personally guarantee payment of our costs and disbursements if such entity defaults in payment.
10 Conflicts of Interest
If we believe we may be placed in a conflict-of-interest situation we may terminate the engagement and refer you to another lawyer.
11 Duty of Care
Our duty of care is to you and not to any other person. We owe no liability to any other person, including for example any directors, shareholders, associated companies, employees, or family members unless we expressly agree in writing. We do not accept any responsibility or liability whatsoever to any third parties who may be affected by our performance of the services or who may rely on any advice we give, except as expressly agreed by us in writing. Our advice relates only to each matter in respect of which you engage us. Once that matter is at an end, we will not owe you any duty or liability in respect of any related or other matters unless you specifically engage us in respect of those related or other matters.
12 Files and Documents
We will store Deeds, Wills, and Agreements etc. for you. Some documents may be stored electronically on our computer system within a secure Australasian based cloud storage facility as well as or instead of in hard copy. You own (although we own copyright) all documents we have created for you during the engagement (e.g., letters, agreements, deeds etc.). We own documents we have created for our own use in performing the engagement (e.g., File notes, drafts, research). We have your authority to destroy physical files and documents at the end of any engagement if we have converted those files and documents to an electronic format. You are welcome to uplift your file provided all fees and expenses have been paid. We reserve the right to exercise a general lien over any files and documents, we hold on your behalf while you owe us money.
13 Professional Indemnity Insurance
We hold current Professional Indemnity Insurance that exceeds the minimum standards specified by the New Zealand Law Society.
14 Limitation of Liability
To the extent permitted by law, our total aggregate liability to you (or any other persons) in connection with any matter (or series of related matters) on which you engage us, is limited to the greater of:
- The amount available to be paid out for that liability by our insurer under any relevant insurance held by us, up to a maximum of $10,000,000 (including interest or costs): or $2,000,000 or (if greater) the amount of five times our applicable fee (excluding disbursements and GST)
- This limitation applies to liability of all kinds, whether in contract, tort (including negligence), equity or otherwise.
15 Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund
The Law Society maintains the Lawyers Fidelity Fund for the purpose of providing clients of lawyers with protection against loss arising from theft by lawyers. A maximum amount 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.
16 Anti-Money Laundering (AML)
We are required by law to collect certain client due diligence (CDD) information about you and hold it in our records. In some cases, we may also need to verify the legitimacy of funds to be applied to a transaction. If you are unable to satisfy our CDD requirements, we are required by law to cease acting and may also (in some situations) need to report to AML authorities. We will charge you for our work to date if we must disengage in this situation. Our time in completing AML requirements is payable by you.
If for any reason you are not satisfied with the service, you receive from our firm please raise this with the lawyer you are working with. If you are not satisfied with their response, please contact our General Manager or any of our Partners. If your complaint cannot be resolved you have the right to refer the matter to the Law Society, which operates a complaints service. The telephone number for the Law Society complaints service is 0800 261 801.
18 Termination of Engagement
You are entitled to terminate your instructions to us upon giving reasonable notice. We may terminate this agreement in the circumstances permitted by the NZLS Rules. You must pay us all fees and disbursements for work done and other charges incurred to the date of termination.
19 Independent Advice
These terms modify some of the duties owed by lawyers to their clients. We recommend that you seek independent legal advice before accepting.
Client Care and Service Information
Whatever legal services we provide we will:
Act competently, in a timely way, and in accordance with instructions received and
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 the justice
If you have any questions, please visit www.lawsociety.org.nz or call 0800 261801