LawWorks Terms And Conditions

These Terms apply to all work we carry out for you, except where we agree a different arrangement in writing.  We will also send you an engagement letter for each new file or matter we open for you.  This will include specific information about what we are to do for you, who will be working on your matter and an estimate if one has been requested.


1.                   How do we charge?


1.1        Our fees are charged in accordance with guidelines laid down by the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.  In fixing the fee, we take into account matters such as:


·                The time and labour spent;


·                The skill, specialised knowledge and responsibility required;


·                The importance of the matter to you and the result achieved;


·                The urgency and circumstances in which the work is undertaken and any time limits;


·                The degree of risk we assume in carrying out the work, including the amount or value of any property involved;


·                The complexity of the matter and the difficulty or novelty of the issues involved;


·                The experience, reputation and ability of the lawyer;


·                The possibility that accepting the work will prevent us acting for other clients;


·                Whether the fee is fixed or conditional;


·                Any estimate we give;


·                Any fee agreement we enter into;


·                The reasonable costs of running a practice;


·                The fee normally charged in our area for similar legal services.


1.2        For any initial meeting, you will be charged the hourly rate of the person you meet with plus GST for the time the meeting takes.  After the meeting, you will be sent our engagement letter, which will give further details of how you will be charged for the work to be done.


1.3        Where our fees are calculated on an hourly basis, the hourly rates are set out in these Terms and our engagement letter.  The differences in those rates reflect the experience and specialisation of our professional staff.  Time spent is recorded in 6 minute units, with time rounded up to the next unit of 6 minutes.  We will record the time spent working for you and can provide a breakdown, if requested.


1.4        If the engagement letter specifies a fixed fee, we will charge this for the agreed scope of our services.  Work which falls outside that scope will be charged on an hourly rate basis.  We will advise you as soon as we can 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.


1.5        We charge for payments (disbursement expenses) that we have to make on your behalf eg. registration fees, Court filing fees, agent’s fees, courier fees, file retrieval fees and other out of pocket expenses.


1.6        There is a standard charge for office expenses of to cover the costs of toll, mobile phone calls and photocopying charges.  If these costs exceed then you will be charged the additional cost.


1.7        Our fees and expenses are plus GST (if any)  which is payable by you.


2.                   Estimate of Fees


2.1        Where possible we will give you an estimate in the engagement letter.  The estimate will be our "best guess” as to what the fee is likely to be. It is not always possible to accurately predict the amount of fees and expenses to complete a matter.  If the work does not proceed as we expected due to unexpected complications, or if the work proves more complicated than originally anticipated, we will charge for all additional work done.


2.2        If it appears that the estimate will be exceeded we will advise you of the reasons and obtain further instructions from you.


3.                  When will you be billed?


3.1        Generally property transaction matters will be billed at the time of settlement.  We may require you to make a payment or payments for disbursements referred to in paragraph 1.5 before final billing.


3.2        For other matters we will usually bill you on a monthly basis.  This will help you by spreading the payments over time.  It will also help you to keep track of how much the work is costing.  If significant work is being undertaken during a month, we may need to bill you more frequently. 


4.                  Payments on account and deductions


4.1.              We may ask you to make a payment on account of anticipated fees.  Your payment on account will be held on your behalf in our trust account and used to pay any fees, expenses or disbursements for which we have provided an invoice.


4.2.              If we are instructed to issue or defend court proceedings on your behalf, we require an up front payment of $2500 before preparing the proceedings. 


4.3.              Disbursement expenses paid to other people on your behalf will be included in our invoice.  We reserve the right to ask for these specific amounts or for an approximate amount in advance to cover them to ensure that we are not out of pocket.


4.4.              If we have to instruct any other person (including a barrister or valuer) we reserve the right to require payment of that person’s estimated fees into our trust account beforehand.  By instructing that person, we undertake an obligation to pay that person’s fees and accordingly we require to be protected for the fees.  We may require you to enter a payment arrangement directly with that person.


4.5.              You authorise us to deduct from any amounts held in our trust account or paid in advance (payments on account) any fees, expenses or disbursements for which we have provided an invoice.


5.                  When do you have to pay?


5.1                All accounts are due for payment within 7 days of date of invoice.  If we are holding money for you in our trust account (for example from the sale of your house or from a payment on account) after we have issued an invoice we may deduct the account from that money and give you a full statement.


5.2                We may stop doing work (and instruct others to stop doing work) on your file if our account is not paid within the 7 day period.


5.3                Interest is payable on any account more than 7 days overdue.  Interest is calculated at 5% per annum above the Westpac Bank overdraft rate applying at the date payment became due and is charged on a daily basis.  We will charge for the costs of recovery of any amount overdue.


5.4                We may refer an unpaid invoice to a debt collection agency for collection.  You authorise us to disclose personal information we have obtained about you to any person for that purpose.  If you are a natural person, this is an authority or consent for the purposes of the Privacy Act 1993.


5.5                You may expect to be reimbursed by another party for your fees and expenses, but although our invoices may at your request or with your approval be directed to that other party, you remain responsible for payment to us.


6.                  How can you pay?


6.1                By direct credit to our Trust account 031509-0150145-02.  Please include your name and matter number assigned in your engagement letter on your payment to us so that we can identify your payment;


6.2                By cheque or cash;


6.3                By Visa or Mastercard - we will also charge you the merchant bank commission fee for any amount paid by credit card (1.95% for Visa or MasterCard, or 3.1% for AMEX);


6.4                By EFTPOS.


7.                  Client Funds held on Interest Bearing Deposit


7.1                LawWorks operates an interest bearing deposit account and ensures any substantial sums of money not required for payment immediately are held in this account so our clients receive the benefit of interest earned on the funds.


7.2                This service involves administrative and accounting procedures over and above those of a typical trust account deposit.  To recover a portion of the costs involved, we charge a commission of 5% of the gross interest earned on the deposit.  This charge is common to the majority of law firms in New Zealand.  


8.                  Confidentiality


8.1                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:


·                 to the extent necessary or desirable to enable us to carry out your instructions;


·                 to the extent required by law or by the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers; or


·                 where you have authorised us to do so.


8.2                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.


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


8.4                If you are a natural person, you are entitled to request access to and correction of the personal information we hold about you.


9.                  Termination


9.1                Where you give us an instruction and we act in reliance upon that instruction (e.g., where we give an undertaking to a third party) you may not revoke that instruction.


9.2                Otherwise, you may terminate our agreement to provide legal services at any time.


9.3                We may terminate our agreement to provide legal services in any of the circumstances set out in the Law Society's Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. 


9.4                If our agreement to provide legal services is terminated you must pay us all fees due up to the date of termination and all expenses incurred up to that date.


10.               Document Destruction And File Retrieval


10.1          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) 6 years after our engagement ends, or earlier if we have converted those files and documents to an electronic format.


10.2     In the event that it is necessary to uplift your file from storage, you agree to reimburse LawWorks for the file retrieval costs we incur.


11.               Electronic Communications


11.1             We may communicate with you and others at times by electronic means. As these communications are not always secure, or may have defects (such as viruses) we do not accept responsibility and will not be liable for any damage or loss caused by an electronic communication that is intercepted or has a virus or other corruption.


12.               Conflicts of Interest


12.1             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


13.1             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.               General


14.1             These Terms apply to any current work we have agreed to do for you and also to any future work we agree to do for you, whether or not we send you another copy of them.


14.2             We are entitled to change these Terms from time to time, in which case we will send you amended Terms.


14.3             Our relationship with you is governed by New Zealand law and New Zealand courts have exclusive jurisdiction.