Terms of Engagement

These are the standard Terms of Engagement for Chartwell Law Limited which apply in respect of all work carried out by us for you, except to the extent that we agree otherwise. Please keep a copy for your records. We are committed to providing you with affordable legal services in a timely manner, with a clear aim of assisting you to achieve your objectives. This includes keeping you fully informed about your matter or matters.


Please do not be offended when we ask you to provide us with a photo identification confirming your identity, proof of your address and your IRD number. We are legally required by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) and the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (AML/CFT Act) to verify the identity of every new/existing client and in some cases we will also be required to verify the source of your funds.

Our Duties to You
At all times we will act competently and in a timely way and in accordance with the Rule of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers which govern the practice of law. All advice we give to you will be based on our best professional judgement but should not be taken as a guarantee of any particular outcome, as, among other things we will be relying on the completeness of your instructions, the accuracy of the information provided to us and the actions taken by any other parties involved.

Usually there will be just one lawyer who will have overall responsibility for the work we do for you. We will advise you of who that person is, and of their professional status, and also if any other staff will be involved.

Conflict of Interest
We have procedures in place to identify and respond to conflicts of interest. If a conflict of interest arises we will advise you of this and follow the requirements and procedures set out in the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.

We hold in confidence all information concerning you or your affairs that we require during the course of acting for you. We will not disclose any of this information to any other person or party, except to the extent required by law, or permitted by the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. Confidential information concerning you will only be available to those within our firm who are providing legal services to you. Information will be used only for the purposes outlined in these Terms of Engagement, or in carrying out your instructions to us.

Our fees will be charged on the basis that they will be fair and reasonable having regard to the circumstances of the matter, and the nature of the work for you. While time and resources involved will be important factors, we will also consider the results achieved and the urgency, level of skill, complexity, reasonability, specialist knowledge involved, documentation required, the reasonable costs of running our firm, AML/CFT compliance requirements , and fees customarily charged locally and in the market for work similar to ours.

Where the engagement letter specifies a fixed fee, we will charge this for the agreed scope of our services. Work that falls outside that scope will be charged on an hourly rate basis. We will advise you as soon as reasonably practicable if it becomes necessary to provide services outside that scope, and if requested, give you an estimate of the likely amount of further costs.

We will be entitled to charge you a minimum fee for work done even if the matter does not proceed, or ends before completion, such charged based on time expended plus any disbursement costs incurred on your behalf.

When our fees are calculated on an hourly rate basis, the hourly rates are reflective upon the experience and specialisation of our professional staff. Time spent is recorded in 6 minute units, with time rounded up to the next unit of 6 minutes.         GST (if any), is payable by you on our fees and charges.

We will send interim invoices to you, usually monthly and on completion of the matter, at other times as arranged between us, on termination of our engagement or when we incur a significant expense.

When providing services to you, we may incur disbursements or have to make payments to third parties on your behalf. These will be included in your invoice to you when the expense is incurred. We may require an advance payment for the disbursements or expenses which we will be incurring on your behalf.

All conveyancing fees and disbursements are payable on the day of Settlement. Where we hold funds on your behalf at settlement, you irrevocably authorise us to deduct our invoices from those funds by instructing us to act for you.

For all other matters, invoices are payable in full by the 20th of the month following the date of the invoice. If the invoice is not paid by that date, unless alternative arrangements have been made with us, we reserve the right to; cease to do any further work, and keep your papers and files until all accounts are paid in full; and/or charge interest at 25% per annum.

If you anticipate having difficulty paying an account on time, please immediately contact the lawyer who sent you the account. We may be able to make an arrangement with you to pay by instalments.

Trust Account
We maintain a trust account for all funds which we receive from clients (except for monies received for payment of our invoices). If we are holding significant funds on your behalf we will normally lodge those funds on interest bearing deposit with a bank. In that case, we will charge an administration fee of 5% of the gross interest earned.

Lawyer’s Fidelity Fund
The New Zealand Law Society maintains the Lawyers Fidelity Fund for the purposes of providing clients of lawyers with 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. 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.

Personal Indemnity Insurance
We hold professional indemnity insurance that meets or exceeds the minimum standards specified by the New Zealand Law Society. We will provide particulars upon request.

Retention of Files and Documents
Our firm has a policy of storing files in electronic format only. Following completion of your matter, we will return your original documents to you; scan the complete file and save it in electronic format before then destroying the hard copy of the file.

This policy does not affect wills, powers of attorneys, lease documents, trust documents (except for gifting documents) or other deeds. These will still be held in original hard copy format in safe custody.

Resolving Complaints
We maintain a procedure for handling any 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 complaint to the person in our firm who has overall responsibility for your work. If you do not wish to refer your complaint to that person, or you are not satisfied with their response, you may refer your complaint to our “Complaints officer”. Our complaints officer can be contacted the following ways; by letter; by email on info@chartwelllaw.co.nz; or by phone on 07 854 7192.

The New Zealand Law Society operates the Lawyers Complaints Service and you are able to make a complaint to that service. To do so, phone 0800 261 801 and you will be connected to the nearest Complaints Service Office, which can provide information and advice about making a complaint.

Termination of Legal Services
You may terminate our retainer at any time. We may terminate our retainer in any of the circumstances set out in the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. If our retainer is terminated, you must pay all fees due and expenses incurred up to that date. Following the full payment of all of our invoices, we will (on request) provide to you all documents that we have obtained or created through working for you on the matter or matters in question. We may first take a complete copy of them.

Client Care
The Law Society client care and service information is set out below:

Whatever legal services we are providing you we must:
• Act competently, in a timely way, and in accordance with your 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, respectively 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 to the justice system.

If you have any questions, please visit www.lawyers.org.nz or call 0800 261 801.

Electronic Services and Communications
Where we provide any electronic service to you, or communicate with you by electronic means, we will take every reasonable precaution to ensure that those services and communications are accurate, reliable, adequate, complete, confidential and secure.

However, we cannot always be certain that those services and communications are error free. Also, because they will in most cases be internet based, certain risks exist that are outside of our control. Consequently, despite the other provisions of this agreement, we cannot and do not represent or warrant that those services and communications will always be accurate, reliable, adequate, complete, confidential and secure. We also exclude all warranties to the extent permitted by law.

These terms apply to any current engagement and also to any further engagement, whether or not we send you another copy.

Once these terms of engagement have been provided to you, your acceptance is confirmed by your actions in continuing to give us instructions by email, letter, telephone or in person.

We will at all times act on your behalf as best we can. Any statements we make about the out-come of your legal matters are expressions of our best professional judgement, but are not guarantees of any result. Such opinions are necessarily limited by our knowledge of the facts and are based on the state of the law at the time they are expressed. Please appreciate that in giving our advice we are relying upon information provided by you and perhaps, other agencies. We do not give advice on the quality of any investments made by you. We cannot be held responsible for errors, inaccuracies or omissions caused by information being inaccurate, unavailable or delivered too late to be of use.

We are entitled to change these terms from time to time, in which case we will send you a copy of the amended terms. Our obligations under these Terms of Engagement and our duties of care are owed to you and not to any other person.