TERMS & CONDITIONS OF ENGAGEMENT
These Terms and Conditions of Engagement (“Terms”) apply in respect of all work carried out by West City Law for the client (“you”), except to the extent that West City Law otherwise agrees with you in writing.
The services West City Law will provide you are outlined in the engagement letter which we will provide to you. West City Law will only act on your clear instructions. Where you cannot or will not provide such instructions, West City Law will cease work until these are received and cannot accept any liability in such circumstances. By instructing West City Law, you accept liability to pay the account that West City Law will render for work done and all agency disbursements incurred in respect of such instructions. If West City Law provides professional services to you for the purposes of a business, or in relation to your business, you acknowledge that, pursuant to Section 43 of the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993 (“the Act”), the provisions of the Act shall not apply with respect to such professional services.
SERVICES TO BE PROVIDED
West City Law have procedures in place to identify and respond to conflicts of interest. If a conflict of interest arises West City Law 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.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
West City Law’s duty of care is to you and not to any other person. Before any other person may rely on West City Law’s advice, West City Law must expressly agree to this:
DUTY OF CARE
When West City Law opens a file, West City Law does not know how significant the work involved will be. It is therefore usually impossible to give a fixed quote. The fees West City Law will charge or the manner in which they will be arrived at, are set out in the engagement letter. Where possible, West City Law will give you an estimate. The estimate will be West City Law’s “best guess” as to what the fee is likely to be. If however the work does not proceed as West City Law had expected due to unexpected complications, or if the work proves more complicated than originally anticipated, West City Law reserves the right to charge for all additional work done. This will be based on West City Law’s usual hourly rate as advised to you.
Fees and charges for work done
If the engagement letter specifies a fixed fee, West City Law will charge this for the agreed scope of West City Law’s services. Work which falls outside that scope will be charged on an hourly rate basis. West City Law will advise you as soon as reasonably practicable if it becomes necessary for West City Law to provide services outside the agreed scope and, if requested, give you an estimate of the likely amount of the further costs.
Where fees are calculated on an hourly basis, the hourly rates are available upon request. Time spent is recorded in 6 minute units, with time rounded up to the next unit of 6 minutes.
In providing services, West City Law may incur disbursements or have to make payments to third parties on your behalf. These will be included in West City Law’s invoice to you when the expense is incurred. West City Law may require an advance payment for the disbursements or expenses which West City Law will be incurring on your behalf. Please also note that office charges such as photocopying, fax charges etc will be charged at a rate of 4% and shown on your invoice as office expenses.
DISBURSEMENTS AND EXPENSES
GST is payable by you on West City Law’s fees and other charges where applicable.
GST TO BE PAID BY YOU
If the work is going to extend over a longer period of time, West City Law will bill you on a monthly basis. This will help you by spreading the payments over time. It will also enable you to keep track of how much the work is costing. Where files are billed monthly, your account will usually be calculated on the basis of the time spent.
WHEN WILL INVOICES BE ISSUED?
West City Law’s accounts are all due within seven days of rendering an invoice. If West City Law is holding money for you (for example from the sale of your house) West City Law will deduct the account from that money and give you a full statement. In certain circumstances West City Law may agree to fees being paid by way of automatic payment authority. However, West City Law is not obliged to agree to such a proposal. West City Law reserves the right to cease work until accounts are paid up to date.
WHEN TO PAY?
Although you may expect to be reimbursed by a third party for West City Law’s fees and expenses, and although West City Law’s invoices may at your request or with your approval be directed to a third party, nevertheless you remain responsible for payment to West City Law if the third party fails to pay West City Law. If we are acting for you in your capacity as a landlord in terms of a lease under which the tenant is required to pay your costs and legal expenses, then if the tenant has not paid your costs, we reserve the right, three months after we have submitted our invoice to the tenant, to look to you for payment of those costs. You will be aware in terms of your lease you have a right to take action against the tenant for recovery of those fees. We, on the other hand, have no such right as we have no contract with the tenant, our contract being with you as our client.
THIRD PARTIES COSTS AND EXPENSES
West City Law may ask you to pre-pay amounts to West City Law, or to provide security for West City Law’s fees and expenses. You authorise West City Law to debit against amounts pre-paid by you and to deduct from any funds held on your behalf in West City Law trust account any fees, expenses or disbursements for which West City Law has provided an invoice.
SECURITY FOR COSTS, FEES AND EXPENSES
If you anticipate difficulty in the payment of any account you must contact West City Law at the first available opportunity and discuss arrangements for payment. Interest is payable at the rate of 1.5% per month on any account more than 30 days overdue. If West City Law incurs costs in obtaining payment you will be liable for those costs. All recovery costs incurred by West City Law arising out of your failure to pay by due date including full legal costs and all disbursements shall be payable by you on demand.
If a Barrister or other Counsel is to be instructed, West City Law reserves the right to require payment of Counsel’s/Barrister’s estimated fees into West City Law’s trust account beforehand. By instructing Counsel’s/Barrister’s, West City Law undertakes an obligation to pay Counsel’s/Barrister’s fees and accordingly requires to be protected for these. West City Law may require you to enter a payment arrangement directly with Counsel’s/Barrister’s.
INSTRUCTING OTHER COUNSEL / BARRISTER
If you are instructing West City Law in your capacity as a director or shareholder of a company or as a settlor or trustee of a trust or executor or administrator of an estate then your instructions are accepted on the basis that you remain at all times personally liable (along with the company, trust or estate) to pay West City Law’s fees and disbursements.
COMPANIES AND TRUSTS
West City Law maintains a trust account for all funds which it receives from clients (except monies received for payment of our invoices). If West City Law is holding significant funds on your behalf West City Law will normally lodge those funds on interest bearing deposit with a bank. In that case West City Law will charge an administration fee of 5% of the interest derived.
You authorise West City Law (without further reference to you) to destroy all files and documents seven years after our engagement ends, or earlier if West City Law has converted those files and documents to an electronic format. West City Law will hold certain deeds and documents in safe custody for you. West City Law periodically audits the deeds and documents held and in the event that West City Law believes that certain deeds and documents have expired then you will be notified at your last known address to uplift the deed or document. If West City Law does not receive any response from you, you authorise us to destroy the deed or document.
RETENTION OF FILES AND DOCUMENTS
When work has been done by West City Law but West City Law has not been paid by you, then as a general rule West City Law has the right to retain certain original documents and correspondence on your file until such time as all outstanding fees, disbursements and other expenses have been paid. This is known as a lien. This will be particularly important in circumstances where you decide for whatever reason to instruct another Firm. That Firm may be obliged to give an undertaking to pay all outstanding fees and disbursements before your file is released to it.
West City Law will hold in confidence all information concerning you or your affairs that West City Law acquires during the course of acting for you. We will not disclose any of this information to any other person except to the extent necessary or desirable to enable us to carry out your instructions; or 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.
You may terminate West City Law’s retainer at any time. West City Law may terminate its retainer in any of the circumstances set out in the Law Society's Rules of Conduct and client Care for Lawyers. If West City Law’s retainer is terminated you must pay us all fees due up to the date of termination and all expenses incurred up to that date.
These Terms apply to any current engagement and also to any future engagement. West City Law is entitled to change these Terms from time to time, in which case West City Law will send you amended Terms. West City Law’s relationship with you is governed by New Zealand law and New Zealand courts have non-exclusive jurisdiction.