Terms and Conditions
BILLINGS - YOUR LAWYERS
Billings is a long-established and well respected Law Firm. Our history can be traced back to 1912.
We are a mid-sized firm and our clients range from family sized small businesses to national corporate and some local household names. We are committed to understanding the needs of our clients and their families and our focus is on establishing long and rewarding relationships by providing professional, friendly and cost effective services.
We pride ourselves on promoting excellence within all areas of our practice and we continually develop our skills to achieve this.
We seek to provide our clients with excellent legal services, which we believe includes:
- Accuracy and competency;
- Good communication;
- Innovative solutions;
- Helping you achieve your objectives;
- Responding to you and completing work in a timely manner;
- Retaining an intimate knowledge of your business and personal affairs;
- Having our partners and staff accessible to all clients.
Our letters of engagement incorporate the terms and conditions contained in this brochure.
In order for us to meet your expectations please help us by:
- Giving clear instructions to us of your requirements and what it is you want to achieve (written instructions are preferable);
- Advising the timeframe that you are working to;
- Dealing with any questions or tasks (that are your responsibility) promptly;
- Advising us of your expectations and any changes to those expectations.
Our advice is given in reliance on the information that you provide to us and any other information that is available in the public domain or in public registries. Accordingly, we cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in that information or our advice given as a result of those errors or omissions.
OUR TEAM APPROACH
Billings Lawyers and support staff work as a team. Each file is supervised by one of our partners and will be monitored by that partner even if they are not the person actually doing your work. In this way we can provide expertise to your work in an efficient and timely manner. If you have a query relating to your file and the supervising partner is unavailable then you will have the benefit of another solicitor within the firm available to help you that is familiar with your file. There may also be a legal executive or other support staff assisting the solicitors with your file. You will always have someone at Billings who you can contact regarding your instructions.
Our fee is calculated on the basis set out in the Rules of Conduct and Client Care of Lawyers. GST is added to our fee. The following factors and others are considered when fixing the fee:
- The importance of the work to you and the results achieved;
- The skill, specialist knowledge and expertise required to complete your instructions;
- The urgency required to complete the work within your stipulated timeframe;
- The time spent on your file;
- The degree of risk assumed by the lawyer in undertaking the services, including the value of the transaction;
- The complexity of the matter and the difficulty of the questions involved.
Our out of pocket costs and office service charge (including such things as toll calls, bank and registration fees, faxes, courier charges, research services, photocopying, legal forms and other high use ancillary items) are charged in addition to our fee.
ESTIMATE OF FEES
Where the nature of the work can be accurately ascertained from the outset we will provide you with an estimate upon request. All indications of cost are estimates only of the costs likely to be involved. Estimates are based on our professional judgment and are not to be treated as a quotation. Please advise us if you require regular updates on the cost of advancing your file through each stage of the process to completion.
We may ask you to pay an amount into out trust account as a retainer on account of our fees and expenses. Most legal work incurs out of pocket expenditure on disbursements such as land search and registration fees, valuation fees, Court filing fees, bank and Council fees. Also, frequently, legal transactions do not proceed to completion, eg. a proposed purchase or sale of property sometimes does not proceed. Although our final fee may be less than the original estimate, because the matter did not proceed, some fees will nevertheless be payable for time spent on the matter and expenses or disbursements may have been paid on your behalf.
TIMING OF FEES
If your instructions can be completed within a month you will generally be invoiced at completion of the work involved. However, in cases of an ongoing nature it is our policy to send interim invoices to you. These invoices are generally delivered on a monthly basis.
PAYMENT OF FEES
In all cases your account with us is payable within 14 days following the date of our invoice. You may pay by cash, cheque, credit card, internet banking or EFTPOS at our offices. Payment of your account by credit card attracts a 2% surcharge. Should payment not be made on time, interest (at a rate of 14% per annum) and collection costs may be charged on the outstanding amount until full payment is received. You authorise us to pay our fees, for which we have previously rendered an invoice, and all expenses and disbursements incurred on your behalf, from any credit funds held by us in our Trust account for you.
You may terminate our engagement at any time. If invoices are not paid, we reserve the right to suspend work on your current instructions or, as provided in the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers, we may terminate your engagement of our services. Termination may also occur where there is a conflict of interest or you have failed to provide information requested in order that we can reasonably advance your legal affairs or, except in litigation matters, where you have not taken our advice and we feel that we are compromised in continuing to act for you. Before any potential issues arise we will always endeavour to identify the situation in advance and discuss it with you.
FUNDS ON DEPOSIT
Where significant sums of money are received into our trust account on your behalf we will endeavour to lodge these funds on a daily call bank deposit. We charge a 10% commission on the gross interest earned on such funds.
PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE
We hold professional indemnity insurance that exceeds the minimum standards specified by the Law Society. As with all insurances this cover has limitations and is subject to certain exclusions, terms and conditions. We will provide you with particulars of the minimum standards upon request.
LAWYERS FIDELITY FUND
The Law Society maintains the Lawyers Fidelity Fund for the purpose 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 $100,000.00. 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.
Our goal to ensure we provide you with excellent customer service. If you have any concerns with services provided by our firm, please take the following steps to make sure the issue is resolved:
- Talk to the person who is handling your file. Your concerns can probably be resolved straight away.
- If you feel uncomfortable talking to the solicitor in charge of your file, or you are not satisfied with their response, contact any on of the directors of the firm. The directors will listen to what you have to say and enquire into the matter on your behalf while keeping you informed of the progress. It is in everyone's interests that your concerns are resolved in a timely manner.
- The Law Society also maintains a complaints service and you are able to make a complaint to that service. To do so you should contact the Law Society, Taranaki Branch, PO Box 150, New Plymouth 4340.
PERSONS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE WORK
The names and status of the people who will have for the services we provide for you are set out in our Letter of Engagement.
YOUR PRIVACY AND CONFIDENTIALITY
We consider client confidentiality to be of utmost importance. We will treat all information we hold about you in strict confidence. We will not use it or share it unless:
- You agree or ask us to;
- We need to so we can carry out work for you; or
- The law requires us to, or Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers permit us to.
Information we hold about you will as far as practicable be only made available to our directors and staff who are doing work for you. If we hold funds in an interest-bearing deposit with our bank on your behalf (including any judgment, sale proceeds, settlement amount, or other money), you authorise us to:
- Provide any information we hold relating to your United States Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) or Common Reporting Standards (CRS) status, or other FATCA or CRS matters, to Inland Revenue and to our bank if they request information to be able to meet their FATCA or CRS obligations; and
- If you do not provide any such information we request, report your non-response, identity and reportable balance to our bank and Inland Revenue (who will in turn pass this information to the relevant foreign tax authority).
Please ask if you would like more information about FATCA or CRS.
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 and arrangements made;
- 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 contact us or visit www.lawsociety.org.nz or call the Law Society on 0800 261 801.
LIMITATIONS ON EXTENT OF OUR OBLIGATIONS OR LIABILITY
Limitations on the extent of our obligations to you or any limitation or exclusion of liability (if any) will be set out in our Letter of Engagement.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
Before accepting any instruction from you we will check to make sure that no conflicts of interest exist. If a conflict does arise at any stage of your instructions we will notify you immediately and take appropriate action to address it. The discovery of a conflict of interest may mean that we have to stop working for you.
We retain any intellectual property in any material produced by us. The material and advice that we provide you is for you only and may not be given to third parties without our prior written approval.