These terms of engagement set out the standard terms and conditions on which Chapman Tong Law provide legal and related services to our clients.
They are subject to any additional or alternative terms which we may agree in writing with you, which will usually take the form of a separate letter of engagement.
By instructing us to provide you with legal services, you are deemed to have accepted these terms of engagement.
We will provide our services in accordance with your instructions.
We perform our services in accordance with all applicable professional and legal obligations. We will act with all due care and skill.
Unless we agree otherwise in writing, our services are provided to you and not to any other party, including any person associated with you. No other person may use or rely on our services.
Property, Financial and Tax Advice
In providing conveyancing services we do not carry out valuations of property or business, nor determine whether the property or business meets your investment profile or needs. We recommend you consult a suitably qualified professional such as a Registered Valuer, Financial Adviser and/or Accountant in relation to these issues.
We also do not provide investment advice in respect of financial products or tax advice. Again, we recommend you always obtain appropriate advice from a suitably qualified Financial Adviser or Accountant in relation to specific financial products or tax issues.
Maintaining client confidentiality is fundamental. We do not disclose any confidential information unless required and authorised by a client, general law, or the New Zealand Law Society’s (NZLS) Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
We may correspond with you and others by electronic communication, unless you instruct us not to do so. As you are aware electronic communications are not secure. They may be read, copied or interfered with in transit. We will not be responsible for any of the risks associated with electronic communication.
Conflict of Interest
We have procedures in place to identify potential for conflicts of interest. If a potential conflict of interest arises, we treat our clients in an even-handed manner and address potential conflicts in such a way as to resolve them in our client’s best interests.
The fee we will charge or the manner in which it will be calculated may be set out in any letter of engagement relating to your instructions.
If this is not the case then our fee will be calculated principally on the basis of the time and labour involved, but to ensure our fees are reasonable having regard to your interests and ours, we also take into account those factors appearing at rule 9.1 of the NZLS Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. Those factors include: the skill, specialised knowledge and responsibility required to perform the services properly; the importance of the matter to you and the results achieved; and the urgency and circumstances in which the matter is undertaken. Time spent is recorded in 6 minute units, with time rounded up to the next unit of 6 minutes.
Unless otherwise advised the current hourly rates for David Chapman and Jeffery Tong are both $380 per hour. We reserve the right to review those hourly rates from time to time.
If any separate letter of engagement includes an estimate, we may still charge for additional work which falls outside the agreed scope of our services or which exceeds our time estimate. Any additional work will be charged on an hourly basis unless otherwise specified. We will advise you as soon as reasonably practicable if it becomes necessary to charge more than the estimate and, if requested, give you a new estimate.
Office Service Fees, Disbursements and Bank Charges
We charge a service fee to cover incidental office charges. This fee, which is currently set at 4% of the charge for our legal services, covers costs such as legal forms, LINZ online access, photocopying, tolls, faxes, postage and couriers.
In addition we will charge you for disbursements such as search, registration and filing fees. Any bank fees incurred by us for same day cleared payments will also be charged.
We charge goods and services tax on our fees, including the office service fee, as required by New Zealand law.
Accounts and Payments
Our usual practice is to send you an account when the matter is concluded. We may also send interim accounts (normally monthly) if that is appropriate. Our accounts are payable within 14 days of the date of the invoice.
We may deduct from any funds held on your behalf in our trust account any fees, expenses or disbursements for which we have provided an invoice.
You are liable to pay our accounts whether or not you have a right of recovery from a third party and whether or not a third party seeks a review of our charges. If an account is not paid, we may choose not to do any further work and retain custody of your file until all accounts are paid in full or alternative arrangements are made. We may also charge interest at up to 12% per annum on any amount outstanding one month after the date of the invoice.
Use of External Records
In providing our services to you, we may rely on information provided to us by third parties, such as government agencies, public registries, witnesses or experts. It is possible that some information provided by such sources may be inaccurate or incomplete. We are not responsible for any such errors or omissions.
Retention of Files and Documents
You authorise us (without further reference to you) to destroy your file and any associated documents (other than documents we hold for you in safe custody) 7 years after we close the file, or earlier if we have converted the file and documents to an electronic format.
You may terminate our retainer at any time. We may terminate your retainer in any of the circumstances set out in the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. If our retainer is terminated you must pay all fees due up to the date of termination and all expenses incurred up to that date.
We maintain a trust account for all funds which we receive from clients (except moneys received for payment of our invoices). If we are holding significant funds on your behalf we will normally lodge those funds on interest bearing deposit with the ANZ Bank. We charge commission of 6% of the gross interest derived on all funds held on interest bearing deposit or term deposit through our trust account.
Our Monitoring Obligations
We are obliged to comply with all laws applicable to us in all jurisdictions, including (but not limited to):
– Anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism laws; and
– Laws relating to tax and client reporting and withholdings.
We may be required to undertake customer due diligence on you, persons acting on your behalf and other relevant persons such as beneficial owners and controlling persons. We may not be able to begin acting, or to continue acting, for you until this is completed.
To ensure our compliance and yours, we may be required to provide information about you, persons acting on your behalf or other relevant persons to government agencies. There may be circumstances where we are not able to tell you or such persons if we do provide information.
Please ensure that you and/or any of the persons described previously are aware of and consent to this. It is important to ensure that all information provided to us is accurate. If the information required is not provided or considered by us to be potentially inaccurate, misleading, or in contravention of any law, we may terminate or refuse to enter into an engagement.
These terms apply to any current engagement and also to any future engagements, whether or not we send you another copy of them. We are entitled to change these terms from time to time, and will publish the changed terms on our website.