These terms of engagement are the standard terms by which Queen City Law NZ Limited (“we, us, and “our”) provides legal and related services to its clients for a particular matter. The client will be the party identified in our letter of engagement (“you”, “your”, and yours”) we send for such a matter, unless agreed otherwise.
Please also refer to our Client Care Information below.
DESCRIPTION OF LEGAL SERVICES
Our standard terms of engagement describe the basis upon which we will provide our legal services to you. You accept that when you instruct us to provide legal services, you authorise us to undertake all ancillary work, necessary to meet our fiduciary and regulatory obligations. In addition to the scope of works in our letter of engagement to you our services will often include:
- Receiving and reviewing all relevant information and materials provided by you; an
- Attending meetings with you and/or other relevant parties; and
- Attending to any correspondence with you; and
- Reviewing the correspondence; and
- Drafting all relevant documents including deeds, agreements or clauses; and
- Drafting all relevant letters; and
- Undertaking research; and
- Preparing all necessary application, submission or other related documents; and
- Attending to any correspondence with third parties; and
- Attending to any negotiation or correspondence with other related parties; and
- All other work in relation to the above.
By agreeing to these terms of engagement you also agree to:
- Provide us with truthful and accurate instructions; and
- Provide us with authentic documents and information as required under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (“the Act”); and
- Advise us of any changes in your situation such as personal and work circumstances; and
- Ensure that we always have your latest contact details, including telephone/cell phone numbers, email and address; and
- Respond to us promptly when we need to talk to you about the work we are doing for you; and
- Treat our staff with courtesy and respect; and
- Pay our fees on time; and
- Be punctual for any scheduled meetings with us.
Our legal fees will be charged on a time and attendance basis plus GST, office administration fees and disbursements, unless otherwise agreed in writing.
We note that disbursements (including but not limited to couriers, title searches and registration fees from Land Information New Zealand (LINZ)) may be billed separately or together with our legal fee. As we cannot fully assess what these will be until they have been incurred, we are not seeking any funds from you on account of the disbursements at this time. However, once we have incurred them, and invoiced you for them, these costs must be paid within 7 calendar days.
As noted above, Queen City Law NZ Limited reserves the right to charge for the cost of conducting customer due diligence on a time and attendance basis. This will usually be where, due to your circumstances or the nature of the work being undertaken, we need to undertake enquiries into your wealth and income and/or where there are a number of parties we must verify, involving a commitment of our time. In the event that we identify the customer due diligence required will result in a cost to you, we will use our best endeavours to advise you. However, in the event we are not able to advise you for whatever reason, we are not precluded from undertaking the necessary work and charging accordingly.
Before Queen City Law NZ Limited is able to conduct any attendances on your behalf, we confirm we need the following:
- All documents and information as required from you under the Act; and
- A signed copy of our letter of engagement; and
- Receipt of any initial retainer specified in our letter of engagement. Queen City Law NZ Limited also requires a copy of the payment confirmation to be forwarded to our office once any requested retainer payment has been made.
Unless you advise us to the contrary, we assume that you accept the terms of engagement as set out in this letter.
IMPLIED OR EXPRESS AUTHORITY
You acknowledge and agree that in the event you grant implied or express authority to any other individual or entity to provide instructions or communicate on your behalf, we shall treat such instructions or communications as genuine and authorised, unless we receive written notice from you to the contrary. You understand that any instructions given by such authorised individuals or entities will be binding on you, and we shall not be held responsible for verifying the authenticity of such instructions. It is your responsibility to promptly inform us of any changes in authorised representatives or entities and to ensure that only individuals or entities with proper authorisation communicate with us on your behalf.
INFORMATION YOU SHOULD KNOW
Updated on 22/09/2022
- In these terms “we”, “us”, “our” or “Queen City Law” shall mean “Queen City Law NZ Limited” and its staff, and “you” shall mean the engaging entity and the guarantor(s) (if any).
- The legal services we will provide are outlined in our letter of engagement.
- You should promptly discuss with the responsible person at Queen City Law any questions you have about the scope of work we will be performing on your behalf.
- By accepting our services, you accept any opinions and/or legal advice (including the potential outcome of your case) is based on our reasonable assessment of the available facts and law at the time, and you accept and knowledge that such opinions and/or legal advice can in no way be construed as guarantees. Such opinions and/or legal advice are limited by a number of factors including the facts provided and the law at the time.
- Our advice will frequently be given in reliance on information provided by you and other agencies such as public registry offices. We do not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in that information or in our advice given as a result of those errors or omissions.
- Our advice will only be available to you and your situation. No other entity may rely on our advice to you.
- In line with law society requirements, our firm manages a trust account for all funds received from clients, lawyers and third parties. This is separate to our business account. If it is necessary for us to hold significant amounts on your behalf for a significant time, we may suggest that you lodge those funds on an interest-bearing deposit with the interest (less commission and costs) for your benefit. Please also refer to Clause 6 which sets out our right to cease acting for you if, in our sole discretion, we are unable to meet our obligations under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (“AML”).
HOW WE CHARGE FEES (DISBURSEMENTS AND GST)
- Our fees will be on a time and attendance basis unless an alternative is set out in our letter of engagement.
- If the letter of engagement specifies a fixed or estimated fee, we will charge this for the agreed scope of our services, but if additional work is required, we will charge on a time and attendance basis and try to let you know as soon as we are aware of this.
- If the letter of engagement provides a fee estimate, we reserve the right to charge for extra time if the transaction becomes more time consuming or complicated. In estimating this fee, we take into account matters such as:
1. Time spent; and
2. The skill, knowledge and responsibility required; and
3. The value or stakes of the transaction; and
4. The complexity, novelty, importance and urgency of the matter; and
5. The reasonable costs of running a practice; and
6. The result.
- If services over and above the agreed scope of works are provided, these will charged be on a time and attendance basis.
- Where our fees are calculated on an hourly time and attendance basis, the hourly rates are set out in our letter of engagement or as otherwise advised to you. You acknowledge and accept that these rates may change from time to time to reflect for example levels of legal experience and changes in overheads.
- In providing our services, we may incur disbursements and costs on your behalf. These will be included in our invoice to you when incurred. Our standard office charges are $85.00 per invoice but can change as set out in Clause 3.7.
- Office charges may be increased from $85.00 per invoice where there is use of any of the following (for example only):
- Phone calls; or
- Photocopying; or
- Correspondence; or
- Pleadings; or
- Preparing bundles of documents for Court; or
- Our e-dealing fees for any title searches or registration of instruments on Landonline for conveyancing; or
- Travel expenses; or
- Other internal costs relevant to your matter.
- Disbursements are third party costs incurred by us on your behalf. These may include the following:
- AML costs (as we use a third party agency); or
- Courier charges; or
- Government filing and registration fees (e.g. title searches or registration of any instruments on Landonline LINZ and PPSR); or
- Court filing fees; or
- Process service agents (e.g. to serve legal documents); or
- Travel expenses (actual taxi/ airplane/ other transportation fees charges); or
- Electronic Identity Verification charges; or
- Politically Exposed Persons check charges; or
- Department of Internal Affairs or Immigration New Zealand application fees; or
- Other disbursements relevant to your matter.
- Unless stated otherwise, all our quotes, estimated fees and/or fixed fee arrangements do not include GST and Disbursements.
- GST (Goods and Services Tax) will be added to our fee and calculated at the rate prescribed by the Goods and Services Tax Act 1985 (currently 15%). GST will be charged in all cases except in limited cases where you or the services provided are “exempt” under the Act.
- Our accounts are payable seven days after the date of the invoice, unless alternative arrangements have been agreed with our accounts team in writing. In agreeing to our terms, you acknowledge and accept that we may deduct fees and expenses from funds held in our trust account on your behalf. If you fail to pay our fees on the due date, you shall be charged interest at the rate of 19.95% p.a. calculated from the due date to the actual date of full payment. In this case, any payments made shall be applied first in reduction of any interest and second in reduction of the fees.
- If you fail to pay our invoices by the due date, we reserve the right to take legal action and upon your account being transferred to a debt collector, you agree that all associated costs shall be payable by you.
- Part payment of an account will only be accepted as partial settlement of the full account unless we agree in writing to accept a reduced amount as full and final settlement of the full account.
- If you have a complaint or dispute with our invoice, the complaint or dispute must be raised within 28 days from receipt of our invoice. If the invoice is not disputed within this period, you are deemed to have waived all rights to subsequently dispute the invoice. If you have provided us an email for contact, then the email address will be deemed an acceptable method of serving the invoice and any subsequent notices.
HOW WE BILL
- Billing arrangements will be as follows:
- For property conveyancing matters we will generally bill at the time of settlement (but we may interim bill if it is for example a long settlement or a protracted matter); or
- For litigation matters we will invoice monthly. This will help you by spreading the payments over time and it will enable you to keep track of how much the work is costing; or
- For immigration matters we will generally operate a fixed fee arrangement which will be set out expressly in our letter of engagement; or
- For other matters we may send an invoice on a monthly basis as the matter progresses.
- Payment of all invoices is due within seven (7) days unless you make other arrangements in writing with our accounts team. Interest will be calculated at the rate of the banks current default interest rate for unsecured creditors (currently at 19.95% p.a. but subject to change without notification) from the due date to the actual date of full payment.
- If you have paid us a retainer, you authorise us to deduct any invoice, expenses or disbursements from any funds held on your behalf in our trust account. During the term of your engagement, we require you to maintain the retainer amount specified in our letter of engagement. If money has been deducted from such retainer during the term of your engagement, we require you to “top up” the retainer balance within seven (7) days of receiving such a request.
- Where work has been done but we have not been paid by you, we have the right to cease work temporarily (or permanently in line with clause 6) and retain original documents and correspondence on your file until all outstanding fees, disbursements and other expenses have been paid in full.
- By accepting the letter of engagement and agreeing to our terms, you further acknowledge that you are liable for all moneys which may at any time, be owing to Queen City Law by you and/or your related entities. Your “related entities” as per the above clauses shall include (but are not limited to):
- Your spouse (former or current); or
- De facto partner (former or current); or
- Your husband/ wife (former or current); or
- Your child from a civil union, de facto relationship and/ or marriage; or
- Any company that you were a director and/or shareholder for when the company appointed Queen City Law; or
- Any trust that you were a trustee, settlor, and/or beneficiary of when the trust appointed Queen City Law; or
- Any partnership that you were a partner of when you or your partner appointed Queen City Law.
- Where we hold credits for the benefit of your related entities and are owed funds on other related entities, you (and your related entities) agree to sign any journal forms authorising us to transfer funds to pay any amounts owing to us.
- You acknowledge that your liability is not limited to amounts arising out of any particular transaction. You further acknowledge that Queen City Law is not required to take action against any of your related entities before having recourse to you, and you must pay any unpaid amounts by your related entity at the time we make demand on you.
CREDIT CARD PAYMENTS
- Credit card payments processed off site will be charged a 2% surcharge fee to cover the surcharge imposed on us by our bank. It is agreed that if the surcharge increases at any stage then the same will apply to you.
- For us to process payment by credit card, you need to contact our accounts team (email: email@example.com / phone: 09 970 8825) with the following details:
- Your client reference number; and
- Your credit card number; and
- Your credit card name; and
- The expiry date of the credit card; and
- The credit card security number (the three (3) digits printed on the back of your credit card).
CEASING TO ACT/termination
- We are bound by New Zealand Law Society’s Rule of Professional Conduct for Barristers and Solicitors. These rules list several types of conduct or circumstances that require or allow us to stop work on your current matter. They include:
- Not providing us with instructions despite numerous requests; or
- Acting contrary to our advice or ignoring that advice; or
- Conflict of interest; or
- Misrepresentation or not disclosing relevant facts; or
- Non-payment of fees or costs; or
- Failure to meet or comply with requirements of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009.
- We try to identify potential issues in advance and discuss them with you. If we cease to act, we will advise you in writing as soon as practicable.
- You may terminate our services at any time. If you terminate our services, you must pay all fees and expenses incurred up to the date of termination and as otherwise agreed.
- Notwithstanding any other provision, Queen City Law reserves the right to terminate its retainer with you at our sole discretion if it eventuates that we are unable to comply with or may be in breach of the provisions of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 as this is a mandatory requirement.
- Once you have instructed us, you authorise us to collect information about you (including all personal information) and anything to do with the matter upon which you are instructing us.
- We will follow the information privacy principles set out in the Privacy Act 1993 in all dealings with your personal information. Therefore, any information you give us regarding your matters will be treated with confidence and will only be known by:
- Those working on your file; and/or
- Our service agents (where necessary); and/or
- Other organisations responsible for processing your matter; and/or
- Where we are legally obliged to disclose specific information.
- At any time, you may request to see any file(s) that holds your personal information which will be held at the office of Queen City Law.
- In some circumstances, access to information may be denied where the disclosure of your personal information breaches the confidential information of other clients or in relation to other matters.
- You confirm that you have the consent from all persons in respect of whom you have provided information, that Queen City Law may use that personal information (including your own) in order for Queen City Law to meet our legal obligations.
- Due to the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009, we may be compelled to disclose information to government agencies. We will only do so when required by law or when we have authority to do so and we will notify you if we are entitled to do so.
YOUR FILES AND DOCUMENTS
- In line with law society guidelines, you irrevocably authorise us to destroy all files and documents for any matter (other than the deeds or Wills that we hold in safe custody for you) seven (7) years after our engagement ends, or earlier if we have converted those files and documents to electronic format. We may delete electronic information after seven (7) years.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
- We have procedures in place to identify and respond to conflicts of interest. If a conflict of interest arises, we will immediately advise you of this and follow requirements and procedures set out in the New Zealand Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE
- We hold professional indemnity insurance that exceeds the minimum standards specified by the New Zealand Law Society.
LAWYER FIDELITY FUND
- The Law Society maintains the Lawyers Fidelity Fund (“the Fidelity Fund”) for the purpose of providing clients of lawyers’ protection against pecuniary loss arising from theft by lawyers.
- The maximum amount payable by the Fidelity Fund by way of compensation to an individual claimant is limited to $100,000.00.
- Except in certain circumstances specified in the Lawyers & Conveyancers Act 2006, the Fidelity Fund does not cover a client for loss relating to money that a lawyer is instructed to invest on behalf of the client.
We maintain a procedure for handling complaints by clients, designed to ensure that a complaint is dealt with promptly and fairly.
- If you have a complaint about our services or charges, you may refer your complain to the staff in charge your work, their team leader, our Practice Manager and/or our Managing Director.
- The Law Society also maintains a complaints service and you are able to make a complaint to that service. Further details are set out on our website at www.queencitylaw.co.nz.
AML, FATCA, AND OTHER LEGAL REQUIREMENTS
- We will require (at minimum) proof of address and verification of your ID and the IDs of other relevant parties (as identified by us and described further in our letter of engagement) before we proceed with any matter in order to comply with mandatory AML requirements. In some instances, we may be required to obtain further information from you such as source of wealth and/or funds and additional supporting documentation (where trusts are involved or we are paying money out on your behalf). If you are either buying or selling property in New Zealand, you are now required by law to have both a New Zealand bank account and New Zealand tax number and complete a form for this purpose. In all purchase transactions, you will be required to prove the source of funds to the satisfaction of our AML compliance officer and as may be set out in the forms/requirements provided.
- Whilst we will always try to maintain confidentiality over all information we hold on your behalf, you acknowledge and accept that we will disclose such information to agencies/governments where we are required by law.
- If you are not a New Zealand citizen and/or have overseas relations to your transaction, we may require you to complete a Residential Land Withholding Tax (“RLWT”) You also hereby irrevocably agree that if we are required to pay RLWT (or any other tax, charge or cost) on your behalf, Queen City Law is irrevocably authorised to do from any monies we may hold on your behalf from time to time.
GENERAL INFORMATION FOR YOUR REFERENCE
- The terms of engagement as set out in this document relate to any current or future engagement with you, whether or not another copy is sent. We are entitled to change these terms from time to time, so please refer to our website setting out the full new terms.
- Achieving client satisfaction is a major priority at Queen City Law. Feedback is taken very seriously and is considered extremely important in pursuit of delivering excellent legal services. If you are not completely satisfied with any aspect of our work, please contact the responsible personnel at Queen City Law.