Client Care and Service Information

1. General

1.1 This document sets out our standard Terms of Engagement (“Terms”) and the client care and service information we must give you under the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers of the New Zealand Law Society.

1.2 These Terms will apply whenever you engage us to act on your behalf, unless we otherwise agree with you in writing.  

2. Services

2.1 In order to provide you with efficient advice and services and to provide the most cost-effective service, it may be that part, or all of your instructions will be delegated to other professionals in our firm.

(1) Our obligations to you
(2) act competently, in a timely way, and in accordance with any arrangements made between us and you;
(3) protect and promote your interests and act for you free from compromising influences or loyalties;
(4) discuss your objectives and how they should best be achieved;
(5) provide you with information about the work to be done, who will do it and the way in which our services will be provided;
(6) charge you a fee that is fair and reasonable, and let you know when you will be billed;
(7) give you clear information and advice;
(8) protect your privacy and ensure appropriate confidentiality;
(9) treat you fairly, respectfully, and without discrimination;
(10) keep you informed about the work being done and advise when it is completed;
(11) let you know if the instructions are of the sort where you may be eligible for legal aid and if so whether we are prepared to undertake the work in the instructions if paid by legal aid;
(12) let you know how to make a complaint, and deal with any complaint promptly and fairly.

3. Communications

3.1 We will obtain from you contact details, including email address, postal address and telephone numbers. We may provide documents and other communications to you by email (or other electronic means). Please advise us if any of your contact details change.

3.2 We will report to you periodically on the progress of any engagement and will inform you of any material and unexpected delays, significant changes or complications in the work being undertaken. You may request a progress report at any time.

3.3 You agree that we may, from time to time, provide to you other information that may be relevant to you, as well as our regular newsletters and information bulletins. At any time, you may request that these not be sent to you.

4. Confidentiality and Personal Information

4.1 Confidence: We will hold in confidence all information concerning you or your affairs that we acquire 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) as expressly or impliedly agreed by you; or
(c) as necessary to protect our interests in respect of any complaint or dispute; or
(d) to the extent required or permitted by law.

4.2 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.

4.3 Personal information and Privacy: In our dealings with you we will collect and hold personal information about you. We will use that information to carry out the Services and to contact you about issues we believe may be of interest to you and information about other services we offer. We also use that information to comply with the provisions of the United States Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering of Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (the “AML Act”).  Provision of personal information is voluntary but if you do not provide full information this may impact on our ability to provide the Services.

4.4 Subject to clause 4.1 you consent to us collecting, using and disclosing your information to third parties (including credit agencies, AML Agents, your other advisors, investment brokers and government departments) to:

(a) meet our obligations, and to assist your other advisors and agents to meet their obligations, under various laws, including the AML Act (including our obligation to complete due diligence and to report suspicious transactions);
(b) recover any amounts you may owe us; and
(c) use services provided by third parties (including customer survey and data hosting services) to send legal updates, and to continue providing and improving our service to you.

4.5 The information we collect and hold about you will be kept at our offices and/or at secure file storage sites (including electronic file storage sites) elsewhere. If you are an individual, you have the right to access and correct this information. If you require access, please contact our Office Manager, who will direct your enquiry to the appropriate person – law@turnerhopkins.co.nz . 

4.6 Verification of identity: The Financial Transactions Reporting Act 1996 and the AML Act requires us to collect from you and to retain information required to verify your identity. We may therefore ask you to show us documents verifying your identity (such as a passport or driver’s licence) and your residential address (copy of a utilities bill or rates notice). Under the AML Law we are also required to verify the identity of the following people:

(a) If our client is a company – the directors and shareholders (who hold more than 25% of the total issued share capital of that company);
(b) If our client is a Trust – the trustees and named beneficiaries under the Trust.

We may retain copies of these documents.  We may perform such other customer verification checks as to your identity and checks as to the source of any funds associated with any transaction to which the Services relate as we consider to be required by law.

5. Financial

5.1 Fees: The basis upon which we will charge our fees is set out in our Engagement Letter.

(a) If our Engagement Letter specifies a fixed fee, we will charge this for the agreed scope of the Services. Work which 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 of the agreed scope and, if requested, give you an estimate of the likely amount of the further costs.
(b) Our hourly rates are set out in the Schedule of Charges which are attached to our Engagement Letter. Any differences in those rates reflect the different levels of experience and specialisation of our professional staff.  Time spent is recorded in six-minute units.
(c) Our charges may be adjusted (upwards or downwards) to ensure the fees charged are fair and reasonable taking into account the following factors (as allowed for in Rule 9 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care Rules) 2008

(i) the time and labour expended;
(ii) the skill, specialised knowledge and responsibility required to perform the services properly;
(iii) the importance of the matter to you and the results achieved;
(iv) the urgency and circumstances in which the matter is undertaken and any time limitation imposed, including those imposed by you;
(v) the degree of risk assumed by us in undertaking the services, including the amount or value of any property involved;
(vi) the complexity of the matters and the difficulty or novelty of the questions involved;
(vii) the experience, reputation and ability of the legal practitioner providing the services;
(viii) the possibility that acceptance of the particular instructions will preclude engagement of us by other clients;
(ix) for appearances at Court or other defended matters, including attendances at mediation and/or settlement conferences, the hourly rate will be the standard rate plus a premium of 50%.

5.2 In providing the Services we may incur disbursements and payments to third parties on your behalf. You authorise us to incur these disbursements (which may include such items such as search fees, court filing fees, registration fees and travel and courier charges) which are reasonably necessary to provide the Services.  You also authorise us to make payments to third parties on your behalf which are reasonably required to undertake the Services (which may include items such as experts’ costs or counsels’ fees).  These will be included in our invoice to you, shown as “disbursements” when the expenses are incurred (or in advance when we know we will be incurring them on your behalf). 

5.3 LINZ/ Companies/ PPSR Office Charges: for some of the services we provide we include a margin over and above the fee charged by the third party (if any) and we may also charge a fee even if the third party does not. This margin and fee covers the cost involved in our people performing the service.  An example of this is conducting a title search of a property, our charge for providing you with a title search is $30 and this includes not just the fee charged by LINZ but also our time involved in conducting the search.  For full details of the charges please refer to our Schedule of Charges attached to our engagement letter.

5.4 Office Services Fee: In addition to disbursements, we charge a fee of 6% plus GST of our fees to cover out of pocket costs which are not included in our fee and which are not recorded as disbursements. These include items such as photocopying, certifying documents, IT equipment, telecommunication services, printing, postage and document storage costs.  This fee is subject to GST (if applicable). 

5.5 GST: Our services will usually attract Goods and Services Tax (GST). If this is the case, GST is payable by you on our fees and charges.

5.6 Invoices: We will send interim invoices to you, usually monthly, and on completion of the matter, or termination of our engagement.  We may send you invoices more frequently when we incur a significant expense or undertake a significant amount of work over a shorter period of time.

5.7 Payment: Invoices are payable within 14 days of the date of the invoice, unless alternative arrangements have been made with us. 

(a) You authorise us to deduct our fees and other expenses from funds held in our trust account on your behalf on provision of an invoice to you, unless those funds are held for a particular purpose.
(b) If you have difficulty in paying any of our accounts, please contact us promptly so that we may discuss payment arrangements.
(c) If your account is overdue, we may:

(i) require interest to be paid on any amount which is more than 14 days overdue, calculated at the rate of 1.5% per month for the period that the invoice is outstanding;
(ii) stop work on any matters in respect of which we are providing services to you;
(iii) require an additional payment of fees in advance or other security before recommencing work;
(iv) recover from you in full any costs we incur (including on a solicitor/client basis) in seeking to recover the amounts from you, including our own fees and the fees of any collection agency. If we elect to take debt recovery action ourselves, you will be required to pay the hourly rates of our professional staff involved in undertaking such action. If you fail to make payment of our reasonable rendered accounts for a period of over two months, we reserve the right to refer the matter to a credit reference agency at our discretion.  By instructing us and agreeing to these Terms, you consent to us making such a referral. 

(d) Payment may be made by internet banking, credit card, payment of cash or eftpos at our offices. Our bank account for payments is:

Bank account number:  06 0273 0162646 02
Name of account:  Turner Hopkins
Please quote your invoice number as a reference.

5.8 Credit Card Charges: We are happy to receive payment of accounts within 14 days of the date of our invoice by credit card.  Thereafter credit charges may incur a surcharge as follows:

Visa or Mastercard – 2.5% of the total amount charged;
American Express – 3.5% of the total amount charged.

5.9 Fees and disbursements in advance: We may ask you to pre-pay amounts to us, or to provide security for our fees and expenses.  We may do this, on reasonable notice, at any time.

5.10 Estimates: You may request an estimate of our fee for undertaking the Services at any time. If possible, we will provide you with an estimate (which may be a range between a minimum and a maximum amount or for a task or step).  An estimate is not a quote.  Any significant assumptions included in the estimate will be stated and you must tell us if those assumptions are wrong or change.  We will inform you if we are likely to exceed the estimate by any substantial amount.  Unless specified, an estimate excludes GST, disbursements and expenses.

5.11 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, you remain responsible for payment to us in accordance with these Terms if the third party fails to pay us.

5.12 Trust Accounting: We operate a trust account. All money received from you or on your behalf will be held to your credit in our trust account.

(a) Payments out of the trust account will be made either to you or to others with your authority. Written authorisation from you (and if we are acting for more than one of you, from all of you) will be required when payment is to be made to a third party. Before making a payment to another account we may require verification of the account details by provision of (for example) a copy of a deposit slip, cheque or bank statement showing the account number, a signed authority from you including the bank account details, or a signed letter from the relevant financial institution providing bank account details.
(b) A full record of our trust account is kept at all times. A statement of trust account transactions detailing funds received, and payments made on your behalf will be provided to you periodically and at any time upon your request.
(c) Unless it is not reasonable or practicable to do so, when we hold significant funds for you for more than a short period of time we will place them on call deposit with a bank registered under section 69 of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act 1989, subject to your having completed to the bank’s satisfaction any request for information relating to the deposit or certification required by the bank. Interest earned from call deposits, less withholding tax and an interest administration fee payable to us of 7% of the gross amount will be credited to you. 

6. Documents, Records and Information

6.1 We will keep a record of all-important documents which we receive or create on your behalf on the following basis:

(a) We may keep a record electronically and destroy originals (except where the existence of an original is legally important such as in the case of wills and deeds).
(b) At any time, we may dispose of documents which are duplicates, or which are trivial (such as emails which do not contain substantive information), or documents which belong to us.
(c) We are not obliged to retain documents or copies where you have requested that we provide them to you or to another person and we have done so, although we are entitled to retain copies for our own records if we wish to do so.

6.2 We will provide to you on request copies or originals (at our option) of all documents to which you are entitled under the Privacy Act 1993 or any other law. We may charge you our reasonable costs for doing this.

6.3 Where we hold documents that belong to a third party you will need to provide us with that party’s written authority to uplift or obtain a copy of that document.

6.4 Unless you instruct us in writing otherwise, you authorise us and consent to us (without further reference to you) to destroy (or delete in the case of electronic records) all files and documents in respect of the Services 7 years after our engagement ends (other than any documents that we hold in safe custody for you or are otherwise obliged by law to retain for longer). We may retain documents for longer at our option.

6.5 We may, at our option, return documents (either in hard or electronic form) to you rather than retain them. If we choose to do this, we will do so at our expense.

6.6 We own copyright in all documents or work we create in the course of performing the Services but grant you a non-exclusive licence to use and copy the documents as you see fit for your own personal or commercial use. However, you may not permit any third party to copy, adapt or use the documents without our written

7. Conflicts of Interest

7.1 We are obliged to protect and promote your interests to the exclusion of the interests of third parties and ourselves as set out in the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008 (Rules). This may result in a situation arising where we have a conflict of interest.

7.2 We have procedures in place to identify and respond to conflicts of interest or potential 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 Rules. This may mean we cannot act for you further in a particular matter and we may terminate our engagement.

8. Duty of Care

8.1 Our duty of care is to you and not to any other person. We owe no liability to any other person, including for example any directors, shareholders, associated companies, employees or family members unless we expressly agree in writing. We do not accept any responsibility or liability whatsoever to any third parties who may be affected by our performance of the Services or who may rely on any advice we give, except as expressly agreed by us in writing.

8.2 Our advice is not to be referred to in connection with any prospectus, financial statement, or public document without our written consent.

8.3 Our advice is opinion only, based on the facts known to us and on our professional judgement, and is subject to any changes in the law after the date on which the advice is given. We are not liable for errors in, or omissions from, any information provided by third parties.

8.4 Our advice relates only to each particular matter in respect of which you engage us. Once that matter is at an end, we will not owe you any duty or liability in respect of any related or other matters unless you specifically engage us in respect of those related or other matters.

8.5 Unless otherwise agreed, we may communicate with you and with others by electronic means. We cannot guarantee that these communications will not be lost or affected for some reason beyond our reasonable control, and we will not be liable for any damage or loss caused thereby.

9. Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund Coverage

9.1 The Law Society maintains the Lawyers' Fidelity Fund for the purpose of providing clients of lawyers with protection against loss arising from theft by lawyers. The maximum amount 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.

10. Limitations on our Obligations or Liability (Optional)

10.1 We hold professional indemnity insurance that exceeds the minimum standards specified by the Law Society. We will provide you with particulars of the minimum standards upon request.

11. Termination

11.1 You may terminate our retainer at any time.

11.2 We may terminate our retainer in any of the circumstances set out in the Rules including the existence of a conflict of interest, non-payment of fees, and failure to provide instructions.

11.3 If our retainer is terminated you must pay us all fees, disbursements and expenses incurred up to the date of termination.

12. Feedback and Complaints

12.1 Client satisfaction is one of our primary objectives and feedback from clients is helpful to us. If you would like to comment on any aspect of the service provided by us, including how we can improve our service, please contact the Partner responsible for your business or our Office Manager on law@turnerhopkins.co.nz.

12.2 If you have any concerns or complaints about our services, please raise them as soon as possible with the person to whom they relate. They will respond to your concerns as soon as possible. If you are not satisfied with the way that that person has dealt with your complaint, please raise the matter with the Partner responsible for your business or with our Office Administrator, Sue Williams-Warren. We will inquire into your complaint and endeavour in good faith to resolve the matter with you in a way that is fair to all concerned.

12.3 If you are not satisfied with the way we have dealt with your complaint, the New Zealand Law Society has a complaints service to which you may refer the issue. You can call the 0800 number for guidance, lodge a concern or make a formal complaint. Matters may be directed to:

Lawyers Complaints Service
PO Box 5041
Wellington 6140
New Zealand

Phone: 0800 261 801

To lodge a concern:
www.lawsociety.org.nz/for-the-community/lawyers-complaints-service/concerns-form

To make a formal complaint:
www.lawsociety.org.nz/for-the-community/lawyers-complaints-service/how-to-make-a-complaint

Email: complaints@lawsociety.org.nz