Terms of Engagement

We are committed to providing outstanding advice and service to our clients. This document sets out: 

  • what you can expect when you deal with us ways you can help us give you the best service who we are; and
  • the New Zealand Law Society’s client care and service information

WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM US

Where possible, we will give you an estimate of the likely costs of your work. This will be based on the information you give us about what you need. Before we begin the work, we will give you an estimate of other costs you may have to pay (such as registration fees or Court filing fees).
We will let you know if the actual fees are likely to be different from the amount we have estimated.

LIMITATION OF OUR LIABILITY

We do not accept liability for any loss that happens because you did not receive or read a communication we sent you.

HOW WE SET OUR FEES

When setting our fees we consider:

  • our standard fees for carrying out certain types of work; the time and work involved;
  • the skill, specialised knowledge, experience and reputation of the person advising you;
  • the project’s importance, complexity, and the outcome; how quickly you need us to carry out the work;
  • the possibility that acting for you may prevent us acting for other clients;
  • the estimate of fees we gave you, or our fee agreement; the reasonable costs of running a practice; and
  • the market fee for similar services.

We give work to staff at the right level to make sure that you get the best value.

WE WILL BILL YOU REGULARLY

We will usually send you invoices every month unless we have agreed a different arrangement.
If we are holding a deposit from you on trust we will take the amount that we invoice you for out of that deposit.

TRUST ACCOUNT

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 bank. In that case we will charge an administration fee of 7% of the interest derived.
Gallie Miles is registered as an NFFE (Non-Financial Foreign Entity) in accordance with the United States Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). If we are to place your funds on Interest Bearing Deposit we will require further information from you to establish if you are a specified US Person. If you fail to supply this information we will be unable to place your monies on interest bearing deposit and you will earn no interest.

HOW WE DEAL WITH OTHER COSTS

While providing services to you, we may have to pay other costs such as filing fees, land registration fees, barristers’ fees, courier costs and travel costs. These other costs are called “disbursements” and we pass them on to you. Depending on your project, disbursements may be the largest part of our invoice. Our invoice will show which part of your invoice total are disbursements. If disbursements are over $250.00 you may be required to put us in funds for these.
We charge a separate office disbursements fee to cover the costs for printing, photocopying, and communication charges.

YOUR INFORMATION STAYS PRIVATE

While we are advising you, we may collect and hold personal information about you. We will only use this information:

  • to help us with the work we are doing for you;
  • to get credit information or other references;
  • to tell you about issues that may affect you;
  • to the extent necessary or desirable to enable us to carry out your instructions.

We keep information about you in Te Awamutu, New Zealand. Under the Privacy Act 1993 you have the right to see the information we hold. To arrange to see this information, please speak to your contact with us.
If we receive a request for information from your auditor or accountant, you authorise us to supply the requested information and you agree to pay us our usual fee for doing so.

WE STORE YOUR FILES FOR AT LEAST SEVEN YEARS

We currently store all files for seven years. Since October 2015 files are held electronically and stored in the cloud. We may keep your files for longer depending on the type of work we are doing for you.
We only keep the original copies of some documents. Those documents we don’t keep are electronically scanned into our system and the orginals returned to you.

GOVERNING LAW

Our relationship with you is governed by New Zealand Law and the New Zealand Courts have exclusive jurisdiction.

IF YOU HAVE A COMPLAINT ABOUT US, WE WANT TO KNOW

If we have failed to meet your expectations, please tell us.
We take clients’ complaints seriously, and want to do what we can to put the problem right. If you are unhappy, we encourage you to talk to the person you are dealing with to see whether the problem is simply a misunderstanding. If this does not sort your problem out, contact the supervising partner or Practice Manager.
If you are still not satisfied with the way we have responded to your complaint, you can make a formal complaint to the New Zealand Law Society. Information about this process can be found on the Law Society website.

OUR PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE MEETS NEW ZEALAND LAW SOCIETY STANDARDS

We have professional indemnity insurance. This insurance covers claims brought against us because of professional negligence. Our insurance meets or goes beyond the minimum standards set out by the New Zealand Law Society. Please ask us if you would like details of the minimum standards.

THE NEW ZEALAND LAW SOCIETY’S FIDELITY FUND

The New Zealand Law Society’s Solicitors’ Fidelity Guarantee Fund (the Fidelity Fund) gives clients of lawyers, protection against theft by a lawyer or a lawyer’s employee or agent.
For more information about what the Fidelity Fund covers, go to www.lawyers.org.nz

WAYS YOU CAN HELP US GIVE YOU THE BEST SERVICE

PAY YOUR DEPOSIT SO WE CAN BEGIN WORK

Sometimes we may also ask you to pay a deposit based on our estimate of the fees and disbursements. We may choose not to begin work until we receive your deposit, even if there are deadlines to be met.
Deposits are paid into our trust account once we have completed the work. We will take fees and disbursements that we have invoiced you for from the deposit held in our trust account.

GIVE US ALL RELEVANT INFORMATION BEFORE WE START WORK

So we can give you effective advice, please tell us all relevant information about your matter at the start of our discussions. Instruct us well before deadlines to save money-you will avoid paying expensive urgency costs.

WE ACT FOR YOU

When we give you advice we will consider your particular situation and needs. No-one else may use the advice we give you, unless we agree otherwise. If you instruct us, you are responsible for paying our fee.

MAKE SURE YOU PAY OUR INVOICES ON TIME

Please make sure you pay our invoices on time. Our invoices are due to be paid on the due date shown on the invoice. Please discuss any questions you have about an invoice with us before your payment is due.
In rare circumstances (for example, if you have not paid our invoices), we may be forced to stop acting for you even if there are deadlines to be met. We are entitled to keep your files or documents until you have paid the invoices.
We may charge you interest of 1.5% (18% per annum) each month, calculated daily, on invoices you have not paid by the due date. We may also charge you for the costs of collection and legal fees.

WHO WE ARE: OUR CORE VALUES

Our core values are important to us and are incorporated into all aspects of our business. Our core values are:

ENJOY – Respect and support each other, have fun, be happy

DO THE RIGHT THING – Be accurate, on time, honest & ethical

SOLVE PROBLEMS – Consider options, find solutions

COMMUNICATE – Listen, tell clients what’s happening, no surprises

If you feel that we have not met our core values please let us know.
New Zealand Law Society’s client care and service information

“Whatever legal services your lawyer provides, they must:

  • act competently, in a timely way, and in accordance with the 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, 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; and
  • 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:’

WE ACT FOR YOU

This client information and terms of engagement outline the terms upon which we agree to carry out work for you. Your instructions to us represent acceptance of these terms. We may change our terms from time to time. We will notify you of any changes to our terms.

 

Directors: Valerie Mackay, Kirsty McDonald, Linda Miles, Sue Garmonsway