Terms of Engagement

Standard Terms of Engagement

Chartwell Law Limited is 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.

These standard terms of engagement (“terms”) apply in respect of all work carried out by us for you, except to the extent that we otherwise agree with you in writing.

1. Services: The services which we are to provide for you are outlined in our engagement letter.

2. Fees:
(a) 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 our work for you. While the time and resources involved will be important factors, we will also consider the results achieved and the urgency, level of skill, complexity, responsibility, specialist knowledge involved, documentation required, the reasonable costs of running our firm and fees customarily charged in the market and locality for work similar to ours. The fees which we will charge or the manner in which they will be arrived at, are set out in our engagement letter.

(b) If 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 for us to provide services outside the agreed scope and if requested, give you an estimate of the likely amount of the further costs.

(c) Where our fees are calculated on an hourly basis, the hourly rates are set out in our engagement letter. The differences in those rates reflect the experience and specialization of our professional staff. Time spent is recorded in 6 minute units, with time rounded up to the next unit of 6 minutes.

3. Disbursements and expenses: In providing services 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.

4. GST(if any): Is payable by you on our fees and charges.

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

6. Payment: 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 may either or both:
(a) Cease to do any further work, and keep your papers and files, until all accounts are paid in full; and /or
(b) Charge interest at the rate of 25% per annum.
When we hold funds on your behalf following settlement of a matter, the amount of our invoice/s will be deducted from those funds unless we agree otherwise.

7. Security: We may ask you to pre-pay amounts to us, or provide security for our fees and expenses. You authorise us:
(a) to debit against amounts pre-paid by you; and
(b) to deduct from any funds held on your behalf in our trust account any fees, expenses or disbursements for which we have provided an invoice.

8. Third Parties: Although you may expect to be reimbursed by a third party for our fees and expenses, and although our invoices may at your request or with your approval be directed to a third party, nevertheless you remain responsible for payment to us if the third party fails to pay us.

9. Confidentiality: 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 except:
(a) To the extent necessary or desirable to enable us to carry out your instructions; or
(b) To the extent required by law or by the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.

Confidential information concerning you will as far as practicable be made available only to those within our firm who are providing legal services for you.

We will of course, not disclose to you confidential information which we have in relation to any other client.

10. Termination.
(a) You may terminate our retainer at any time.
(b) 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 us all fees due up to the date of termination and all expenses incurred up to that date. Provided that you have paid all of our invoices on all matters, we will (on request) provide to you all the documents that we have obtained or created through working for you on the matter or matters in question. Before we provide those documents to you, we may take a complete copy of them.

11. Retention of files and documents: You authorise us (without further reference to you) to destroy all files and documents for this matter (other than any documents that we hold in safe custody for you) 7 years after our engagement ends, or earlier if we have converted those files and documents to an electronic format.

12. Conflicts 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.

13. Duty of Care: Our duty of care is to you and not to any other person. Before any other person may rely on our advice, we must expressly agree to this.

14. 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.

15. 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 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.

16. General
(a) These terms apply to any current engagement and also to any further engagement, whether or not we send you another copy of them.

(b) There is no need for you to sign these terms of engagement in order to accept; you agree to accept these terms of engagement by continuing to instruct us to work for you.

(c) We will at all times act on your behalf as best we can. Any statements we make about the outcome of your legal matters are expressions of our best professional judgment, 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 cannot be held responsible for errors, inaccuracies or omissions caused by such information being inaccurate, unavailable or delivered to us too late to be of any use.

(d) We are entitled to change these terms from time to time, in which case we will send you amended terms.

(e) Any dispute concerning these terms of engagement, or our work for you, is to be resolved as set out in the complaints section of the “Information for Clients” or in the New Zealand Courts under New Zealand Law.