Standard Terms of Engagement
These standard terms will apply except where we have otherwise agreed with you in writing. You accept and agree to these standard terms by continuing to instruct us.
In these terms of engagement, “we” and “us” means Russell Moon and Fail. “You” means our client as identified as such in an engagement letter or as otherwise agreed. Where you are a company or other corporate or unincorporated entity, we act only for you. We do not act for your shareholders, directors or members unless we expressly agree otherwise.
2. Scope of work and our role
We will represent and provide advice to you on all legal matters that properly fall within the scope of your instructions to us. We will either have sent you a letter, upon receiving your instructions, describing the services we have been asked to undertake for you or will have otherwise communicated the scope of those services to you. If your are expecting us, or would like us, to perform any services in addition to those we have recorded or described, it is important that you let us know.
Our duties are owed to you. Unless otherwise agreed in writing or required by law, those duties do not extend to others. If any other parties wish to retain us, they should do so by separate agreement.
Our advice is given for your benefit and in your interest. If anyone else wishes to rely on the advice we give you, they can only do so if both you and we agree in writing. Similarly, our name and opinions may not be used in connection with any prospectus, financial statement or other public document or representation without our written consent.
We have no duty to disclose information to you which is not known by those lawyers advising you on your matter even though that information may be known to other lawyers in the firm.
When your instructions on a matter are completed, our representation will end.
Client confidentiality is essential to us. We will not disclose any confidential information obtained as a result of acting for you unless you authorise us or we are required by law, or by the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers, to do so.
It is important to us that you understand the basis upon which our fees are calculated, the times when fees and disbursements will be invoiced, and our expectations for payment.
Our fee will be fair and reasonable. Under the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers, the following factors are to be taken into account in determining the reasonableness of a fee:
- The time and labour expended;
- The skill, specialised knowledge, and responsibility required to perform the services properly;
- The importance of the matter to you and the results achieved;
- The urgency and circumstances in which the matter is undertaken and any time limitations imposed, including those imposed by you;
- The degree of risk assumed by us in undertaking the services, including the value of any property involved;
- The complexity of the matter and the difficulty or novelty of the questions involved;
- Our expertise, reputation, and ability;
- The possibility that the acceptance of the particular retainer will preclude our engagement by other clients;
- Whether the fee is fixed or conditional (whether in litigation or otherwise);
- Any quote or estimate of fees given by us;
- Any fee agreement (including a conditional fee agreement) entered between us;
- The reasonable costs of running a practice;
- The fee customarily charged in the market and locality for similar legal services.
Where we agree that our legal fees are calculated on the basis of the time involved, the fee will reflect the hourly rates of the lawyers involved at the time the advice was provided.
We can give estimates of the likely fees based on our experience with similar engagements. Estimates are given as a guide only and not as a fixed quotation. If we need to revise our estimate, we will advise you of the factors causing the revision. We can also inform you periodically of the level of fees incurred or inform you when fees reach a specified level.
Goods and Services Tax (GST) or any other taxes will, if applicable, be charged and payable in addition to the amount of any fee, quotation or estimate.
5. Disbursements and office services
We will charge you for disbursements paid on your behalf. These disbursements will be charged to you at their cost to us.
Disbursements may include, court fees, filing fees, air travel, accommodation, meals, fees for agents, experts and other professionals. We may ask payment of major items before those costs are incurred.
We will also charge you at our normal rates for office services provided by us in acting for you for example, charges for couriers, photocopying and binding, information retrieval, online searches, faxes and toll charges.
We will not charge you for secretarial overtime, unless required for urgent instructions.
6. Billing and Accounts
Our fees are to be paid within 14 days of our account being sent, except on conveyancing matters where fees are payable immediately prior to settlement.
Our account will be sent to you shortly after we have completed your matter. We do, however, issue interim accounts where that is appropriate.
If an invoice is not paid by the due date, we may either or both:
Cease to do any further work, and keep our papers or files, until all accounts are paid in full; and/or
Charge interest at the rate of 14% per annum compounded monthly.
We reserve the right, if necessary, to recover from you all costs of collection of any unpaid account, including, but not limited to, any filing fee and all our time spent by our solicitors carrying out legal work to collect money owing to this firm by you, on a solicitor client costing basis.
If we agree with you that we will address an invoice to another person, you will be required to pay that invoice if the other person does not.
We may deduct a fee from funds held in trust, or otherwise held on your behalf, following settlement of a matter or otherwise, in accordance with the authority you have given us in the letter of engagement.
We are always prepared to discuss the amount of any invoice with you. If you have any questions or concerns you should, in the first instance, contact the person responsible for the management of your matter.
If that person, cannot resolve your queries or concerns satisfactorily, please discuss the matter with one of our partners.
7. Professional Indemnity Cover
We hold professional indemnity insurance that exceeds the minimum standards specified by the Law Society.
8. Lawyer’s Fidelity Fund
The Law Society maintains the Lawyers Fidelity Fund for the purposes of providing clients of lawyers with protection of 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 $100,000.00. Except in certain circumstances specified in Lawyers and Conveyances Act 2006 the Fidelity Fund does not cover any client for loss relating to money that a lawyer is instructed to invest on behalf of the client.
Given the size of the Mid Canterbury market, we are often asked to act for clients whose interests may conflict.
If it becomes apparent that a conflict of interest arises or is extremely likely to arise in relation to any matter on which you have instructed us, between your interests and those of any other client for whom we are acting, we will contact and consult with you as soon as possible.
If we cease to act for you or have not been instructed by you on a matter, we may act for other clients whose interests are adverse to your own, provided that:
We do not hold confidential information belonging to you that is relevant to the matter;
We have taken steps to maintain the confidentiality of your information; and
We comply with Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
If we are unable to act for you on a particular matters because of a conflict of interest, that will not prevent us from acting for you on other matters.
10. Electronic communications
We may communicate with you and others at times by electronic means. These communications can be subject to interference or interception or contain viruses or other defects (“corruption”). We do not accept responsibility and will not be liable for any damage or loss (direct or indirect) caused in connection with the corruption of an electronic communication.
If you have any doubts about the authenticity of any communication or document purportedly sent by us, please contact us immediately.
11. External information and public records
In advising you we may rely on information obtained from third parties (e.g. experts or witnesses or government agencies or registers). This information may not always be accurate and complete. We do not accept responsibility and will not be liable for any damage or loss (direct or indirect) caused by errors or omissions in information obtained from third parties.
12. Limitations on our Obligations or Liability
You acknowledge and agree that as a condition of accepting your instructions and acting for you, the liability of our Firm and all Lawyers within our Firm, howsoever arising shall be limited to the sum of $1,500,000.00 in aggregate in respect of each matter upon which we have accepted your instructions to act.
You also acknowledge and agree that as a condition of accepting your instructions and acting for you, our Firm and all Lawyers within our Firm will not be liable to you for any loss of revenue or income, loss of profits, loss of opportunity or any indirect or consequential loss of whatsoever nature.