Terms of service

As a barrister in New Zealand, I am generally required by law to be instructed by a solicitor.  This person is referred to as an “instructing solicitor”.

Services to be provided:

The scope of the services to be provided by me will be agreed in writing between us at the commencement of any instruction (Engagement Letter).

Merran leaving court.png

Fees and fee estimates:

My fees for attendances will be charged on an hourly, half-daily or daily-rate basis, as agreed in the Engagement Letter. GST will then be charged on all fees as required by law.

Generally, fees charged reflect the time spent on a matter, calculated at the agreed rate, and adjusted where appropriate to reflect other factors such as, for example, the specialised knowledge, skills or responsibility required, the amounts involved, the importance of the matter, urgency and/or the results achieved.

However, if the Engagement Letter specifies a fixed fee, I will charge this for the agreed scope of my services. Work which falls outside that scope will be charged on my hourly rate basis as set out in the Engagement Letter. I will advise you as soon as reasonably practicable if it becomes necessary for me to provide services outside the agreed scope and, if requested, give you an estimate of the likely amount of the further cost.

The time spent by me on your behalf for which you will be charged will include:

  • Personal and telephone attendances upon you.
  • Correspondence with you including electronic communications.
  • Attendances with lawyers acting for the other party/parties.
  • Considering the law and facts of your case.
  • Reading and considering incoming letters, papers and documents in your case.
  • Preparation of papers for Court.
  • Necessary correspondence with third parties.
  • Instructing enquiry agents and experts.
  • Attending Court on your behalf.
  • Time spent on travelling.

I will provide a fee estimate if you request one, but any estimate will be given as a guide only and not as a fixed quotation. If required, you can be informed periodically as to the level of fees incurred, or when fees reach a specified level.

Disbursements will also be charged as incurred. Disbursements include office expenses such as photocopying and toll charges and out-of-pocket expenses such as travel and accommodation costs, registration, filing and hearing fees and fees of agents, experts and other professionals. These will be charged on at cost.

For a variety of reasons, some instructions are not completed. If this occurs the work undertaken and costs incurred up to the time of termination will be charged.

In some circumstances, it may be necessary to incur additional time or expense following the completion or termination of a matter. That time is charged for in the normal way.

If your fees become overdue, and if I extend time to you to pay your fees, that extension of time is not a waiver of the terms of my engagement with you.  

Accounts:

Generally, accounts will be issued on completion and interim accounts on longer matters will be issued on a monthly basis. There will also usually be a final account on completion of each matter.

Accounts are payable within seven days of receipt. Please raise any queries about any account within seven days of receiving the account in question. If an account is not paid promptly:

  • Further work on the matter may be suspended, and custody of the papers or files in the matter may be retained until all accounts are paid in full; and
  • Interest may be charged at up to 10% p.a. on any amount outstanding one month after the date of the account.

Retainer:

Before commencing work on your behalf I may require the payment of a retainer. That retainer will be deposited into the trust account of my instructing solicitor and used on account of fees and disbursements. Any unused portion of the retainer will be returned to you upon completion or termination of my services. Non-payment of the retainer will result in my ceasing work. Further retainers may be necessary as the matter progresses and the earlier retainer has been used.

Where a retainer is paid, you irrevocably authorise my instructing solicitor to debit any fees, expenses and disbursements for which I have provided an invoice against amounts pre-paid by you into my instructing solicitor’s trust account.

Legal Aid:

I am not a Legal Aid Services provider. However, I will advise you if you may be eligible for legal aid and where you may be able to find the help of a Legal Aid Services provider.

Professional Indemnity Insurance:

I hold professional indemnity insurance that meets the minimum standards specified by the New Zealand Law Society. I will provide you with particulars of the minimum standards upon request.

My liability for any loss caused by me in any way is limited to the amount payable under my professional indemnity insurance in respect of any claim.

Your rights:

My obligations to you as my client are to:

  • Act competently, in a timely way and in accordance with instructions received and arrangements made.
  • Protect and promote your interests, and act free from compromising influences or loyalties.
  • Discuss your objectives with you, 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 a fee that is fair and reasonable and let you know how and when you will be billed.
  • Give 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 properly and fairly.

My duties are owed to my client and instructing solicitor. Unless otherwise agreed in writing or required by law, those duties will not extend to others including, for example, associated parties such as shareholders or related companies, directors or employees, or parents or other family members. If any other parties wish to retain me, they should do so by separate agreement.

Who will do the work and how services will be provided:

I am the lawyer who will have responsibility for providing the legal services to you and who will charge you for those services. You will deal directly with me in relation to representation and payment of my fees.

I will represent and advise on all legal matters that properly fall within the scope of my instructions. You may limit or expand the scope of your instructions to me at any time, although I may need to undertake a conflict check before accepting any substantial expansion.

On occasions work may be undertaken, at my direction, by my instructing solicitors. This may include drafting, attendances at Court appointments, research or interviewing witnesses. You will be billed separately by my instructing solicitor for this work. There will be no duplication of costs and utilising my instructing solicitor will be a cost effective means of ensuring that your work is properly attended to.

I will act in accordance with your instructions and any applicable professional or legal obligations. I will use due care and skill in doing so.

My advice is given for the client’s benefit and interests. If any other parties wish to rely on the advice I give, they can only do so if that is agreed in writing.

When your instructions on a matter are completed, my representation will end.

Confidentiality:

Subject to my Privacy Policy uploaded to this website, I will not disclose any confidential information obtained as a result of acting for a client unless required or authorised by that client, or by law or the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care.

Reporting:

I will regularly report to you on progress. I will try to do this monthly, if appropriate. I will also advise of any delay in the case.

Electronic communications:

Unless otherwise agreed with you, I will 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). I do not accept responsibility and will not be liable for any damage or loss caused in connection with the corruption of an electronic communication.

Termination:

You have the right to terminate my services at any time.

I also reserve the right to terminate my services at any time upon the giving of written notice (subject to my ethical obligations). This may occur (without limitation) where you have not paid me when due, when you cannot or will not provide instructions to me, or when ethically I do not consider that I can continue acting.

If my retainer is terminated you must pay me all fees due up to the date of termination and all expenses incurred up to that date.

Complaints:

If you have a complaint about my services or charges, please refer your complaint to me so we can try and resolve it together.

The Law Society also maintains a complaints service and you are able to make a complaint to that service. To do so you can write to the New Zealand Law Society at PO Box 5041, Wellington or telephone the Society at the Lawyers Complaints Service on 0800 261 801.

Retention of Files and Documents:

You authorise me (without further reference to you) to destroy all files and documents for you (other than any documents that I hold in safe custody for you) 7 years after our engagement ends, or earlier if I have converted those files and documents to an electronic format.

General:

These terms apply to any current engagement and also to any future engagement, whether or not I send you another copy of them. I am entitled to change these terms from time to time, in which case I will send you amended terms.