Terms of Engagement
SWAN LEGAL Ltd.
TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT
These standard terms of engagement apply to all work carried out for you, except to the extent I agree otherwise with you in writing. I reserve the right to change these terms at any time, in which case I will notify you. The current terms of engagement are available at any time on my website, www.swanlegal.co.nz. If you have any questions or concerns about these terms, please contact me.
I established Swan Legal in 2005 when I returned to sole practice. My practice provides a range of specialist services as well as general legal services to my private and commercial client base.
My specialist areas of activity includes advice to Advertisers and Agencies working in the communications industry in all forms of media particularly in compliance issues and complaint resolution.
I am also engaged with Clients active in the Aged Care sector in the acquisition of Retirement Care facilities including retirement villages and in issues affecting the continued operation of these facilities.
I act for small businesses in the range of legal challenges that they confront and continue my long association with private clients, their investment vehicles, their Wills, and Family Trusts and related consequential matters such as Estate Administration.
My charges reflect the level of professional expertise that I provide and the value that I hope to add to both my commercial and private clients.
I may refuse to accept instructions if they fall outside my normal field of practice, I cannot devote sufficient time to them, or if they may bring me into a position of conflict with another client. If a prospective client is not in a position to pay charges commensurate with the quality of service I provide, I may also decline to act for that person.
If I am unable to accept your instructions I will assist you to find another lawyer.
I am responsible for managing the relationship with each client. I may delegate aspects of the work to my Legal Assistant. I will, however, maintain an overview of the task and can be contacted at any time to address any specific queries or concerns.
Before starting any substantive work based on new instructions, I will confirm my understanding of those instructions in writing. The fees which I will charge or the manner in which they will be arrived at are set out in my engagement letter that will accompany my summary of your instructions and will include an estimate of likely costs for the agreed scope of my services. Work which falls outside that scope will be charged at an hourly rate basis. I will advise you as soon as reasonably practicable if I need to provide services outside the agreed scope and if requested provide you with an estimate of the likely amount of the further costs. .
Professional Fees and Charges
I will charge a fee which is fair and reasonable for the services provided having regard to your interests and my interests. My fees are primarily calculated by an hourly rate. Hourly rates are charged in six minute units and vary according to the nature of the work performed.
My charges may be adjusted to take account of the skill level required, the complexity of the matter, the urgency of the matter, the importance of the matter to you, the level of value added, the level of risk involved, and other relevant factors.
Disbursements & Tax
Any disbursements such as travel expenses, barristers’ fees, official government fees, consultants’ fees will be billed in addition to my professional fees, and will be itemised separately on my invoices. This meets the requirements of the New Zealand Law Society for charging disbursements for which I hold an invoice.
I will also charge a separate office service fee to cover my costs in respect of photocopying, printing, postage, tolls, faxes and other administrative overheads. This charge is set at 3%, however where actual costs significantly exceed the percentage based fee, I reserve the right to bill such additional costs.
Any Goods and Services Tax (GST) that is applicable will be passed on to you and will also be itemised separately on my invoices. Unless indicated otherwise, however, my fee estimates are exclusive of GST.
Billing Arrangements and Trading Terms
I will bill you either at the end of a task or monthly depending upon the type of work involved, unless at my discretion the circumstances of a particular case dictate otherwise. My bills are payable within 14 days from the date of invoice. Accordingly, any queries must be raised within this period. Direct credit payments are encouraged. I reserve the right to charge interest at 15% per annum on any amounts overdue, and also to initiate legal proceedings for debt recovery if any invoice is overdue by more than 30 days. Should I incur costs in connection with collection of fees or disbursements, these will be recoverable from you, in addition to the interest charges.
I may occasionally seek funds in advance to cover anticipated fees and expenses on a major new matter or seek major disbursements in advance in ongoing matters, particularly where these are likely to be of significant order.
When you provide funds in advance, you authorise me to debit against amounts paid by you and to deduct from any funds held on your behalf in my trust account, any fees, expenses or disbursements upon issuing an invoice to you.
Although you may expect to be reimbursed by a third party for my fees and expenses, and although my invoices may at your request be directed to a third party, nevertheless you remain responsible for payment to me if the third party fails to pay me.
Swan Legal Trust Account
I maintain a trust account for all funds which I receive from clients (including funds received in payment of my invoices). If I receive significant funds on your behalf I will normally place them on interest bearing deposit with a bank.
Modes of Communication
I will endeavour to communicate with you in whatever mode that you prefer. My preferred mode for routine communication is generally electronic, particularly telephone and e-mail. In communicating via these means, you accept, because of the possibility for unauthorised interception, manipulation and non-delivery, that security, confidentiality and data integrity cannot be absolutely guaranteed. For this reason, I will normally endeavour to confirm any substantive opinion or advice in hard copy unless you instruct otherwise.
I do not accept liability for any loss arising from non receipt of any communication particularly email communications. If it is critical to you that you receive a particular instruction, please either request an acknowledgement of receipt, or instruct me to send the communication in two forms, for example by email and by fax.
Privacy & Confidentiality
Any information you supply to me will be used exclusively by me for the sole purpose for which it is provided. Any information that is not in the public domain will be treated as strictly confidential and where appropriate, will be subject to attorney client privilege. Such information will not be disclosed to any third party unless either authorised by you or required by law. It is fundamental to the professional relationship that any confidential information about, through or from a particular client may not be used by me to the advantage of other clients. Similarly, I may not disclose to you confidential information obtained through or from any other client, even if that information may be to your advantage.
Conflicts of Interest
In the event of my becoming aware of a conflict of interest at any stage, I would immediately alert you to the fact. I would also proceed actively to resolve the conflict as promptly as possible, following established principles of law, the Rules of Conduct and Client Care, professional ethics and good client relationship management.
Disposal of Documents
I reserve the right to dispose of my files at any time beyond seven years following the date of completion of a matter, or earlier if I have converted those files and documents to an electronic format. As a matter of policy, this is defined as the date of the last written communication on my file or my final invoice whichever is later. This would not apply to documents explicitly preserved for safekeeping. Accordingly, if any documents are required to be retained for more than seven years whether in hard copy or electronic form beyond the completion of the relevant matter, you should advise me of that fact in good time.
Restrictions on Use of Advice
Unless previously agreed by me in writing, no advice, service or information provided by me to any client may be used or relied upon by any third party. I will accept no liability in respect of any third party’s use or reliance in contravention of this restriction.
Failure to Comply With Terms
Failure of any client to comply with my terms of engagement may, at my sole discretion, result in temporary suspension of work or permanent termination of the engagement.
Terms & Termination
Any work that I undertake on your behalf will be deemed to be conducted on the basis of these terms and conditions, unless they are subsequently modified or waived by another written agreement, to which I am a party.
You may terminate this arrangement at any time upon giving of reasonable notice. Should this occur, you will continue to be responsible for any costs incurred or accrued before the date of termination, in addition to any fees or charges arising from any consequential work that I may subsequently be required to do including, but not limited to, recovery of outstanding debt. My fees for services reasonably and properly provided to you prior to the termination of retainer shall be paid by you prior to uplifting your records and I may retain copies of your documents and records.
I reserve the right to stop work on your behalf if my interim accounts are not paid on time or a request for information or action remains unsatisfied.
I may terminate the retainer if there is good cause, such as your not providing me with instructions in a sufficiently timely manner, or your failure to pay my fee on an agreed basis, or your misleading or deceiving me in a material manner.
Right of Lien
In the event of termination, by either party and for any reason, I will maintain a specific as well as a standard right of lien over all of your files. This right is ongoing and entitles me to retain possession of all files and related documents as security, until such time as all charges have been rendered, all accounts have been settled, and all other obligations have been satisfied.
My relationship with you is governed by New Zealand law, and subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the New Zealand courts.
Subject to these terms and conditions, your acceptance of which is confirmed by your electing to instruct me, I welcome you as a client of the firm. I look forward to working in close partnership with you by adding value to your business or personal affairs.