Terms of Engagement
1. Services and Limitation of Liability
1.1 Services: The services that we will provide for you are outlined in our Letter of Engagement.
1.2 Services for business purposes: Where we are providing business services or services to a business, to the extent permitted by law our liability is limited to NZ$5,000 or the extent of any direct harm suffered, whichever is the lesser.
1.3 Time limit: To the extent permitted by law we are not liable to remedy any loss, cost or to make any other financial redress for any loss or other harm suffered 12 months after the date of our last bill for the work in question.
1.4 Limits on advice as to the wisdom of a transaction: We generally do not provide advice as to the wisdom of a transaction, whether to proceed ultimately being a commercial or personal decision. As such where we are asked what we think of a transaction and we express a view, ultimately the decision whether to proceed or not is a matter for the client to decide in the sole discretion of the client. We do not accept any liability for any loss or harm suffered by the client or anyone claiming through it as a consequence of any reliance on our view of the wisdom of a transaction.
1.5 Intellectual property: We retain all rights (including copyright and all other intellectual property rights) in our work. Payment of our fees grants you a royalty free non-exclusive perpetual licence to use our work as you wish.
1.6 Personal advice: Our advice is for your benefit alone and we do not accept responsibility for any loss, cost or other adverse consequences any third party might suffer as a consequence of our advice.
1.7 Tax advice: We do not provide tax advice. Irrespective of any comments we might make regarding the possible tax consequences of a transaction, specific tax advice should be sought in relation to the transactions contemplated rather than relying on our comments.
1.8 Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009: Our firm has obligations under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (AML/CFT Act) in New Zealand. These obligations mean we may need to take extra steps to undertake Client Due Diligence (“CDD”) to verify your identity before completing certain work for you. Where we are required to complete CDD to verify your identity in connection with a matter, we may be unable to complete any further work for you until we have completed the CDD process. If you do not assist us in our completion of CDD, we will be unable to continue to act for you. We may use records kept in an electronic form containing authenticated core identity information about an individual to assist us to complete CDD. We may also engage the services of a third-party provider to assist with the completion of CDD in connection with any matter.
1.9 Sanctioned countries: Our professional indemnity insurance does not extend to people, countries or regions on the Sanctioned Territories Lists of the EU, UK, US and UN. By accepting these terms of engagement, you agree that we have no liability in respect of any matters being handled on your behalf in any countries or regions that appear from time to time on the Sanctioned Territories Lists of the EU, UK, US and UN. Please contact us at any time for the current Lists.
Where a matter involves a sanctioned country, we might determine that we will not be able to act or continue to act. You agree that we can withdraw our services in that event. While we will endeavour to help find you alternative representation, you agree not to hold us responsible for any loss, cost, or harm you might suffer as a consequence of our withdrawal.
1.10 Zone Patent: Zone Patent Limited provides patent attorney services (as defined in the Patents Act 2013) on behalf of Zone Law Limited and all invoicing for Zone Patent Limited is undertaken by Zone Law Limited. Where Zone Patent Limited is undertaking patent attorney services for you, these terms and conditions apply to the provision of those services. Services regulated by the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 are provided by Zone Law Limited. Patent attorney services are regulated under the Patents Act 2013 by the New Zealand Institute of Patent Attorneys and the Trans-Tasman Intellectual Property Attorneys Board.
(a) The basis on which our fees will be calculated is based on the difficulty of work involved, the urgency and importance to you of the matter, the time spent working on your matter, the results achieved, the work and cost involved for the practice and other similar factors. The fees that we will charge or the manner they will be arrived at are set out in our Letter of Engagement.
(b) We have a base charge of half an hour based on the Principal’s hourly rate plus bureau for the first 30 minutes. After that and up to the first hour, the charge is a combination of that base charge, time spent, and the factors set out in clause 2.1(a).
(c) If the Letter of Engagement specifies a fixed fee, we will charge this for the agreed scope of our services. Work that falls outside that scope will be charged on a time and cost basis. We will advise you as soon as reasonably practicable 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.
(d) Time is calculated on a basis where each unit equals 6 minutes or part thereof. For example, 28 minutes equals 5 units.
(e) These rates include administrative work in your matter, regular file reviews to ensure that your matter is managed in a timely, cost-effective manner, and seeking your instructions as required from time to time.
(f) These rates may change during your matter. We will give you 5 days’ notice of any change in fee rates.
(g) Urgency: Our fees can increase by up to 50% in cases of urgency or where the matter is of greater complexity, for example preparing for and attending Court.
(h) Multiple parties jointly and severally liable: Where we are retained by multiple parties, liability for our fees is joint and several. That means that we can collect the full amount from each of you or all of you at our discretion and that we do not need to treat you equally with respect to payment of our bills.
(i) In Office Costs: We charge a small bureau fee to cover most of the in-office costs of providing services rather than charging them separately. These costs can include postage, tolls, and subscriptions. Where those costs exceed the bureau charge significantly, for example because of the need to print large volumes of documents, an additional fee will be charged.
2.2 Disbursements and Expenses:
(a) Disbursements are third party expenses that the firm incurs and pays on your behalf during your matter. They may include the cost of accountants, other Attorney’s, valuers, barrister’s fees, assessor reports and other reports by experts as may be relevant to your matter or where we engage the services of a third party to assist with verifying client identity for certain work.
(b) We may require an advance payment for the disbursements or expenses that we will be incurring on your behalf.
2.3 GST: The fee rates and other costs specified are exclusive of GST. In other words, GST is to be added to the fees and disbursements.
(a) We will send interim invoices for fees and disbursements at regular intervals and on completion of the matter, or the termination of our engagement.
(b) We may also send you an invoice when we incur a significant expense on your behalf.
(a) Our bill is payable according to the deadline on the bill.
(b) If the bill is not paid by that date, unless other arrangements are made and agreed to in writing, we will charge interest without necessarily further notice to you. Interest is currently at a rate of 2% per month on the outstanding balance from the date payment is first due. This covers the cost of providing finance and administering the debt.
(c) In the event we must take action to collect unpaid fees or costs you will be charged the cost of doing so on an indemnity basis. This means we can pass on all costs including all legal fees (otherwise known as costs between solicitor and client) we incur to collect the debt. We also charge interest on the costs we incur to collect the debt until they are paid. All payments go first to interest and then principal.
(d) In the event you pay our bill by credit card a credit card payment surcharge may be payable. We will advise you of the surcharge at the rate at which it will be charged before processing a payment by credit card.
(e) Foreign exchange fluctuation, regulatory and bank charges can be added to our bill including where we are receiving payments from or invoicing overseas.
2.6 Funds in Advance: We may require you to make payment in advance on account of anticipated fees and/or disbursements. The money will be held in our trust account and used to pay disbursements as they arise. You authorise us to:
(a) debit against amounts pre-paid by you; and
(b) to deduct from any funds held on your behalf in our trust account any fees, expenses or disbursements for which we have provided an invoice whether you have agreed to that deduction or not.
2.7 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, nevertheless you remain responsible for payment to us if the third party fails to pay us.
2.8 Right to a Bill of Costs: We will always provide you with an invoice setting out the work done for the fee charged. If you have any queries about your account, please direct them to Theodore Doucas or Jeremy Hunter of this office.
2.9 Right to Have a Bill Reviewed: You have the right to have an invoice we have sent you reviewed by the Law Society.
Unless the Law Society determines that there are special circumstances that would justify otherwise, the Committee generally cannot review our invoice:
(a) If more than two years have passed since you received the invoice; or
(b) If it relates to a fee that does not exceed $2,000, exclusive of goods and services tax
If the Law Society is unable to revise the bill you may still have remedies in the Disputes Tribunal or, except where you acquire our services for the purposes of a business, under the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993.
The Law Society makes no charge for revising a lawyer’s fee.
3.1 Our Obligations:
(a) Inform you regularly of the progress of the matter.
(b) Consult you before any special or unusual expense is incurred.
(c) Advise you if our estimate of legal costs changes substantially.
(d) Provide you with regular bills.
3.2 Your Obligations: In relation to your matter, you must:
(a) Tell us openly and honestly everything that relates to your matter and any material change in your circumstances that might impact on your matter while we continue to act for you. Relevant matters include all matters that a reasonable person would consider might be relevant to the case. We will rely upon the information you provide us with.
(b) Fully co-operate with us and do everything we reasonably ask, including the timely provision of documents or certifications we require to comply with our reporting obligations.
(c) Provide funds in advance as requested by us.
(d) Pay our invoices on time.
If you fail to comply with any of these conditions, we reserve the right to stop acting for you. We will charge you for fees and disbursements incurred to the date we stop acting for you.
4.1 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:
(a) To the extent necessary or desirable to enable us to carry out your instructions; or
(b) To the extent required by law or by the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
4.2 We will not disclose any confidential information which we have in relation to any other client.
5. Retention of Documents
5.1 We may at our discretion keep your file in electronic form and with no hard copy. If a hard copy of your file is required, you will pay our costs for providing that to you.
5.2 When your matter is completed, you can request your file. It will be forwarded to you unless you owe us money for our costs. You will pay our reasonable costs of transfer.
5.3 In our discretion we can provide you with your file or parts of it without keeping a copy in any form. If you do not want your file, you authorise us to destroy it.
5.4 Should you not request your file or if we provide you with your file, we may keep it in a storage facility on the understanding that we have the authority to destroy the file seven years (or such earlier time as might be permissible) after the date of the final bill rendered by us in your matter or for such other period as may be required by law.
6. Conflicts of Interest
6.1 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.
7. Duty of Care
7.1 Without limiting clause 1 of these terms, our duty of care is to you and not to any other person.
7.2 Before any other person may rely on our advice, we must expressly agree to this in writing.
8. Trust Account
8.1 We maintain a trust account for all funds that we receive from clients (except monies received for payment of our invoices). If we are holding significant funds on your behalf for more than 3 days we may lodge those funds on interest bearing deposit with our bank although where we consider the costs of complying with our reporting duties and other administrative costs will exceed the value of the interest likely to be earned we will not generally do so.
8.2 If we do place funds on interest bearing deposit, you agree that we may deduct our costs for doing so from those funds and that you will provide the information and documentation we need to meet our bank and regulatory requirements failing which we may refrain from placing the funds on interest bearing deposit.
9.1 You may terminate our retainer at any time.
9.2 We may terminate our retainer in any of the circumstances set out in the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
9.3 If our retainer is terminated you must pay us all fees due up to the date of termination and all expenses incurred up to that date.
10.1 These Terms apply to any current engagement and also to any future engagement, whether or not we send you another copy of them.
10.2 We are entitled to change these Terms from time to time, in which case we will send you amended Terms.
10.3 Our relationship with you is governed by New Zealand law and the New Zealand Courts have exclusive jurisdiction.
Information for Clients
Set out below is the information required by the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers of the Law Society.
The basis on which fees will be charged is set out in our letter of engagement. When payment of fees is to be made is set out in our Standard Terms of Engagement.
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.
2. Professional Indemnity Insurance:
We hold professional indemnity insurance that meets or exceeds the minimum standards specified by the Law Society. We will provide you with particulars of the minimum standards upon request.
3. Lawyers Fidelity Fund:
The Law Society maintains the Lawyers Fidelity Fund for the purposes of providing clients of lawyers with protection against 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. Except in certain circumstances specified in the Lawyers & 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.
We maintain a procedure for handling any complaints by clients, designed to ensure that a complaint is dealt with promptly and fairly.
If you have a complaint about our services or charges, you may refer your complaint to the person in our firm who has overall responsibility for your work.
If you do not wish to refer your complaint to that person, or you are not satisfied with that person’s response to your complaint, you may refer your complaint to the firms Principals, Jeremy Hunter or Theodore Doucas.
They may be contacted as follows:
The Law Society also maintains a complaints service and you are entitled to make a complaint to that service. To do so, you may contact the Law Society at:
New Zealand Law Society
PO Box 5041
0064 4 472 7837
Complaints about patent attorney services may be made to the New Zealand Institute of Patent Attorneys or the Australian Professional Standards Board for Patent and Trade Marks Attorneys.
5. Persons Responsible for the Work:
The names and status of the person or persons who will have the general carriage of or overall responsibility for the services we provide for you are set out in our Letter of Engagement.
6. Client Care and Service:
The Law Society client care and service information is set out below.
Whatever legal services your lawyer is providing, he or she must:
- Act competently, in a timely way, and in accordance with instructions received and arrangements made.
- Protect and promote your interests and act for you free from compromising influences or loyalties.
- Discuss with you your objectives and how they should best be achieved.
- Provide you with information about the work to be done, who will do it and the way the services will be provided.
- Charge you a fee that is fair and reasonable and let you know how and when you will be billed.
- Give you clear information and advice.
- Protect your privacy and ensure appropriate confidentiality.
- Treat you fairly, respectfully and without discrimination.
- Keep you informed about the work being done and advise you when it is completed.
- Let you know how to make a complaint and deal with any complaint promptly and fairly.
The obligations lawyers owe to clients are described in the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. Those obligations are subject to other overriding duties, including duties to the courts and to the justice system.
If you have any questions, please visit www.lawyers.org.nz or call the Law Society on 0064 4 472 7837.
7. Limitations on extent of our Obligations or Liability
Any limitations on the extent of our obligations to you or any limitation or exclusion of liability are set out in our Letter of Engagement.
We have a base charge of half an hour based on the Principal’s hourly rate plus bureau for the first 30 minutes.
After that and up to the first hour the charge is a combination of that base charge, time spent and the factors set out in clause 2.1(a).