Letter of Engagement
1 Client’s Instructions
- The Firm will act in the Client’s best interests to carry out the Client’s instructions. The Firm reserves the right to cease to act where the Client cannot or will not provide instruction required in addition to those specified above.
- The Firm will take reasonable steps to keep the Client informed of the steps taken to carry out the Client’s instructions.
- By instructing the Firm the Client accepts liability to pay the account that the Firm will render for work done together with all disbursements incurred in respect of such instructions.
The basis on which our fees will be calculated is:
The Firm’s fees are charged in accordance with guidelines laid down by the Rules of Professional Conduct of the New Zealand Law Society. In fixing the fee the Firm is entitled to take account of matters such as:
- The time spent
- The skill and knowledge and responsibility required
- The value of property involved
- The complexity novelty importance and urgency of the matter.
- The reasonable costs of running a practice
- The results
3 Estimate of Fees
- Where requested the Firm will give the Client an estimate of the likely cost for undertaking the legal work required. The estimate will be the Firm’s “best guess” as to what the fee is likely to be. If however the work does not proceed as the Firm had expected due to unexpected complications, or if the work proves more complicated than originally anticipated, the Firm will charge for all additional work done.
- If it appears that the estimate will be exceeded the Firm will advise the Client of the reasons and obtain further instructions from the Client.
4 When will the Client be billed?
- Generally property and similar transactional matters will be billed at the time of settlement or on completion of the work. The Firm may however require the Client to make a payment or payments to it for those matters referred to in clause 5 prior to final billing of any matter.
- For other matters the Firm will bill the Client on a monthly basis. This will help the Client by spreading the payments over time. It will also enable the Client to keep track of how much the work is costing.
5 What about cash payments the Client has to make?
- Payments may have to be made to other people for work to be done, for example filing fees, search fees, agency fees and similar payments (called disbursements). The Firm cannot pay these amounts for the Client unless the Firm receives payment from the Client first. The Firm reserves the right to ask either for these specific amounts or for an approximate amount to cover these expenses to be paid to ensure that the Firm is not out of pocket.
- If the Firm instructs any other person (including Counsel or another practitioner) the Firm reserves the right to require payment of that person’s estimated fees into the Firm’s trust account beforehand. By instructing that person the Firm undertakes an obligation to pay that person’s fees and accordingly requires to be protected for these. The Firm may require the Client to enter a payment arrangement with that person.
6 When does the Client have to pay?
- Payment of the Firms account is due within 14 days of the date of the Firm’s invoice. If the Firm is holding money for the Client (for example from the sale of the Client’s house) the Firm may deduct the account from that money and give the Client a full statement.
7 What if the Client can’t pay on time?
- If the client anticipates difficulty in the payment of any account the Client must contact the Firm immediately on receipt of the account and discuss arrangements for payment.
- Where work has been done by the Firm but the Firm has not been paid by the Client then as a general rule the Firm has the right to retain original documents and correspondence on the Client’s file until such time as all outstanding fees, disbursements and other expenses have been paid. This is known as a lien. This will be particularly important in circumstances where the Client decides for whatever reason to instruct another Firm. That other Firm may be obliged to give an undertaking to the Firm to pay all outstanding fees and disbursements before the Client’s file is released.
Responsibility For Service
The names and status of the people in our Firm who may have the general carriage of or overall responsibility for the services we provide for you are:
You are deemed to have accepted, and are bound by the information in this letter and accompanying material upon receipt by you, unless we receive your written advice within three days of the date of this letter to the contrary.
We look forward to working with you on this matter.