TERMS & CONDITIONS OF CLIENT ENGAGEMENT
The following terms and conditions apply to all engagements with us, unless modified by agreement with you:
TERMS & CONDITIONS OF CLIENT ENGAGEMENT AND CLIENT CARE INFORMATION
These Terms and Conditions cover everything we do for you unless we specifically agree otherwise. Any changes must be in writing. You give us (Lucas and Lucas Limited) a general authority to act as your lawyers on your behalf on each instruction that we accept. In working for you we may incur expenses, and hire agents and, where appropriate, barristers on your behalf. All work is for the benefit of you, the client, alone and for the particular service, and must not be relied on by any other party nor disclosed or published outside the purpose of the relevant service. You promise us that you are the client, and are not hiring us on behalf of any other undisclosed party.
CARE COMMITMENT AND INSTRUCTIONS
We will act for you in accordance with the Lawyers Conduct and Client Care Rules 2008 (“the Client Care Rules”). The following Client Care and Service Information is set out in the Client Care Rules: “Client care and service information – 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 (the rules). 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.lawsociety.org.nz or call 0800 261 801.”
You must advise us at the outset if you wish to apply for Legal Aid or if you think you may be eligible for Legal Aid. Unless we advise otherwise in writing, we will not accept responsibility for initiating or carrying out any assessment of whether you qualify for legal aid. We reserve the right to decline to legal aid work.
INFORMATION FROM YOU
You warrant that we may rely completely on communications from you and other professionals you engage. If you encounter or foresee any problem or you are not sure about any communication from us, you must tell us about this immediately, and advise how important the issue is to you. Important matters should be in writing and directed to a partner. (A partner is a director of Lucas and Lucas Limited.)
Estimates are possible for some work. Any price indication or estimate given to you is an indicative estimate only, based on our experience of other circumstances. Estimates will not bind us where your work turns out to be more complex or time consuming. From time to time we may give you an updated estimate.
For your convenience we operate a trust account and all payments you make to us are recorded through this. You are entitled to a copy of this at any time. Cheques should be made payable to “Lucas & Lucas Trust Account” and crossed: “not transferable” or “account payee only.” Please note that we are required by the financial Transactions Reporting Act to report to the Police (but not to you) “suspicious transactions”. Receipt of sums of $10,000 and over in cash must be reported.
INTEREST ON YOUR MONEY
Interest on ordinary trust account money is paid to the Government, not to us. Significant funds which we hold on your behalf for a period will be lodged in an interest bearing call deposit account through the trust account at the ANZ National Bank. Please ask us about the current rate, and supply us with your IRD number for credit to you of Resident Withholding Tax deductions. Our fee for this is 5% of the total (gross) interest earned.
CONFIDENTIALITY AND CONFLICTS
Obviously we will use your name when advocating or communicating to others on your behalf. In doing this we will respect your privacy, and otherwise keep your name and contact details and particulars of your affairs confidential, even matters about you that are in the public domain, but which come to our attention through working for you. At the same time, you agree not to use our name on any public document, and not to disclose our work except in context of the service. We do use email and ask you to note also that we cannot accept responsibility for electronic interference, computer virus or other interception. We will observe the Client Care Rules concerning conflicts. You agree that, so long as there is no conflict, we don’t need your consent to act for others with interests different from yours. You agree to inform us if you believe any conflict has arisen.
CORPORATIONS and DIRECTOR’S and SHAREHOLDER’S GUARANTEE
If you, the client, are an incorporation, you authorise us to communicate all aspects of work on your behalf to the head person (or chairperson of directors) and/or the chief executive of the entity and to the persons (or their office) that have been delegated for ordinary communications with us. If you, the client are a private company all aspects of work may be communicated by us to any director, and you agree that all directors and shareholders who instruct us (and if more than one jointly and severally) agree to guarantee that the client will complete its obligations here and will promptly pay our accounts.
DOCUMENTS and FILES
We will keep original deeds in safe custody according to your instructions. We keep files in paper or electronic format for 7 years, and trust account records as required by law. Until disposal you may uplift your file at any time in which case you agree to pay for retrieval, copying (for insurance purposes) and delivery.
INSURANCE AND LIABILITY
We hold professional liability cover for an amount that exceeds the minimum required by the New Zealand Law Society. Any claim or potential claim received by us, for whatever amount, must be referred to our insurer. The Law Society also maintains a Fidelity Fund for protection against certain pecuniary losses through theft by NZ lawyers. That fund is limited to $100,000 per individual claimant, and does not generally cover losses relating to money that a lawyer is instructed to invest.
FEES and DISBURSEMENTS and EXPENSES
In return for our services, you agree to pay our fees, calculated on the basis of the range of factors specified in the Client Care Rules. These mandate that our charges are fair and reasonable having regard to the interests of both client and lawyer. We will invoice you regularly (usually monthly) and on conclusion of a service. You agree to pay us even if someone else has agreed to pay on your behalf or indemnify you. This is because we can only look to you for payment if the person you ask us to charge does not pay. You agree that we are entitled to take our fees and by deduction from funds held or on the day funds are next received into our trust account, and otherwise you will pay our accounts 14 days after invoice. In the case of any sale transaction you specifically authorise us to deduct fees from the proceeds of sale. You also agree to pay all our out of pocket expenses and normal office charges and costs which we in the exercise of our own judgement reasonably incur for tolls, photocopying, printing, transport, tax, registration, court fees and other fees and costs incurred on your behalf. In addition we charge a file opening fee of $30.44 ($35 incl. GST) on each new service. All fee and cost information we provide to you is exclusive of GST. You agree that we are entitled to request prepayments or security for some services and disbursements, and that we may, in addition to civil remedies, stop working, retain documents, and charge interest at 1.5% per month, if an account is overdue.
PROGRESS of WORK
We understand that you expect us to exercise our judgement, in consultation with you, on how your work will proceed. You agree that we may reasonably reschedule work to take into account work load factors so long as we are mindful of urgency that arises. Indicative completion times are estimates only made on the basis that we are not liable for any loss or damage from delays. Urgency will increase cost.
In the course of legal work we use precedents which belong to us or others. We do not and more often cannot transfer to you any copyright or other intellectual property right in any work we prepare or supply for your use.
SUGGESTIONS, COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE, and IMPROVEMENTS
We are committed to acting competently to promote your interests. If you have a complaint the procedure to follow is first to raise the matter either orally or in writing with the person responsible. You should also feel free to contact a partner, apart from the person who is dealing with the matter. If you are not happy with our response please write to us and we will more formally investigate the matter and reply to you in writing. We have a policy of investigating and addressing in writing all complaints that cannot be resolved informally. The Law Society Complaints Service is also available at freephone 0800 262 801. We keep looking for ways to improve, and if you can help us in this we would like to hear from you.
We will advise you if we consider that we cannot continue to act for you generally or in relation to a particular matter, and will act in accordance with the Client Care Rules. We may, for good reason, terminate the relationship at any time. You likewise may cancel any job or instruction to us at any time. If you cancel, you agree to honour any undertakings given on your behalf, and pay for work done and disbursements and expenses incurred to the time of cancellation and for our reasonable costs of advising third parties that we no longer act and of disengaging from any proceeding, including the costs of obtaining the consent of any court or tribunal to withdraw.
We do not accept responsibility for any work unless specifically agreed in writing for any matters touching or concerning any of the following: Legal Aid entitlement, taxation, overseas law, or changes in law after the date of advice to you. If you engage us in the course of a trade or business, then the provisions of the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993 are excluded, but our client care commitments are not affected by this.