Terms of Engagement and Client Care Information

This document sets out Neilsons Lawyers Limited terms of engagement and client care information for you, our client.


Our Duty of Care to You

1.  When we work for you, we will:

(a) Act according to your instructions promptly and with all due skill and care;

(b) Protect and promote your interests with undivided loyalty;

(c) Give you clear information about the work to be done and how we are achieving it;

(d) Protect your privacy and confidentiality;

(e) Treat you fairly and respectfully;

(f) Charge you fair and reasonable fees; and

(g) Tell you how to make a complaint and how it can be resolved.

2.  Our duties to you and overriding duty to the courts and the justice system can be viewed in the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers, at www.lawsociety.org.nz.

Client Instructions

3.  Our aim at all times is to provide quality legal services in a prompt, efficient and economical manner. This may involve utilising lawyers and staff with suitable expertise within Neilsons other than the person you spoke to when first instructing us. However the name and status of the persons who will have overall responsibility for our services to you will be outlined when you engage us. A director of Neilsons is always available to assist you.

4.  We act for a range of clients from individuals and couples to companies and trusts. We will accept instructions from and report to any person or entity reasonably believed by us to be authorised by you for such purpose.

5.  We will correspond with you by email and telephone where possible unless you advise us that you prefer another method.

Information and Privacy

6.  All information we receive from you will be kept confidential and will only be disclosed to give effect to your instructions, or as required by law. By engaging Neilsons you authorise us to:

(a) Collect personal information about you including current residential address and identification, subject to you having the opportunity to review and correct it at any time; and

(b) Send you emails and information we believe is relevant and helpful to you.

7.  Occasionally we may receive information which is helpful to you but which we are not able to disclose to you because of a Court order or other confidentiality constraint. We will make every effort to advise you when we receive such information and how we received it.

Conflicts of Interest and Termination of Engagement

8.  If at any time after accepting your instructions we discover that we are acting/have acted for another client whose interests materially conflict with your own we will immediately advise you. In order to protect your interests we may then be required to withdraw from acting for you.

9.  We reserve the right to withdraw from representing you with your consent or by an order of a Court, or for any other good cause including without limitation:

 (a) Any failure to pay an account rendered or due to any delay in payment. Non-payment of our fees or a retainer may result in a delay in our services to you or withdrawing our representation;

(b) If you do not provide us with instructions promptly or you act against our advice/in a way we believe is inconsistent with our obligations as lawyers.

10.  You may terminate our services and representation at any time upon written notice to us. We will then render a final account to you. Upon termination of our services by either party we may maintain a lien over your file and any money held on your behalf until payment in full of all or any accounts.

Our Fees

11.  Our fees will be based on the amount of time spent by our staff on your file, based on the New Zealand Law Society factors which are viewable at www.lawsociety.org.nz/home/for_lawyers/regulatory/rules. Usually the time spent on a file is recorded electronically and will be billed monthly.

12.  Each director, solicitor and legal executive has an hourly billing rate based generally on his or her experience and expertise. At any time you may request the hourly rate of any lawyer or legal executive working on your file. We reserve the right to change those hourly rates from time to time.

13.  In some cases, you may be eligible to apply for legal aid. We do some legal aid work but we reserve the right to refer you to other legal aid providers.

14.  You must pay our fees within 14 days of the date we send you an account unless specified otherwise. For property and financing transactions, you must credit our trust account with the ASB Bank before 10.00 am on the day of settlement with cleared funds for the correct amount.

15.  Sometimes we may ask you to pay fees/retainer in advance of work being done. If so, we will hold your payment in our trust account and can deduct our fee only when we send you an invoice.

16.  Unless we state otherwise, all fees exclude GST. Our accounts are marked "E & O E" standing for errors and omissions excepted.

17.  We may charge an administration fee on all interest on money that you deposit through our bank’s bulk interest-bearing deposit scheme. This fee is 10 cents for every $10 interest you earn.

18.  We may charge interest on unpaid accounts at the rate of 15% a year. We may take action to recover unpaid fees and if so we will add the cost of recovery to the overdue amount and be entitled to claim all costs and all legal costs of recovery on an indemnity basis.

Disbursements and Office Expenses

19.  When we work for you, we may have to cover some expenses or make other payments on your behalf. We may send you an account for such disbursements which are reasonably necessary to carry out your instructions.

20.  Disbursements included in our invoices to you may include third parties' fees and costs. Common disbursements include court fees, couriers, LIM fees and agency charges. Our miscellaneous office expenses fee (for phones, stationery, photocopying and printer supplies, etc.) is $50 minimum per invoice rendered, and on an increasing sliding scale in proportion to the fee value of our invoices.

21.  When Land Information New Zealand searches and registrations are necessary, we charge a separate Neilsons Lawyers Limited LINZ administration fee in addition to the LINZ fee. These additional office expenses are recorded in our invoices as Neilsons search and registration fees.

Professional Indemnity Insurance and the Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund

22.  We hold current professional indemnity insurance that exceeds the New Zealand Law Society’s minimum standards.

23.  The Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund provides cover up to specified amounts for clients whose money is stolen in certain circumstances. The Fidelity Fund cover excludes investment money.

24.  We are not qualified to give you investment advice. You should get that advice from a qualified financial advisor.

25.  The limits of our liability to you are set out in this document and any letter of engagement.

26.  At all times you are obliged to provide us with all or any relevant instructions and information in a timely manner. Failure to provide us with all or any relevant instructions or information may have a material effect on our conclusions and the provision of our services. We do not accept liability for any loss that happens because you did not receive or read a communication we sent you.

Complaints Procedure

27.  If you have a complaint about our services or fees, please advise the Director responsible for your work, or email Edwin Telle, our complaints manager, edwin@neilsonslawyers.co.nz.

28.  If you do not want to take your complaint to those people, or you are not satisfied with the response to your complaint, the New Zealand Law Society also has a complaints service that can give you information and advice. You can telephone 0800 261 801 for the nearest Complaints Service Office.

General Terms

29.  These terms of engagement apply to any current work and to any future work that we do for you, unless we vary our terms in writing. By engaging us you agree to be bound by these terms.

30.  These terms of engagement constitute the entire understanding between you and us unless otherwise expressly agreed in writing.

31.  No waiver by us of a breach of any term of engagement shall be deemed to be a waiver of any other term or subsequent breach.