Terms of Engagement

These Terms of Engagement (Terms) apply in respect of all work carried out by us for you, except to the extent that we otherwise agree with you in writing.




The services which we are to provide for you are outlined in our engagement letter.


Client Care Charter – our commitment to you: We are committed to doing our best to ensure that your legal needs are met in this matter. We will:

  • 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.
  • Act competently, in a timely way, and in accordance with instructions received and arrangements made.
  • Provide you with information about the work to be done, who will do it and the way the services will be provided.
  • Protect your privacy and ensure appropriate confidentiality.
  • Treat you fairly, respectfully and without discrimination.
  • Give you clear information and advice.
  • Keep you informed about the work being done and advise you when it is completed.
  • Charge you a fee that is fair and reasonable and let you know how and when you will be billed.
  • 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 the justice system. If you have any questions, please contact us on 306 7366 or www.cairnsslane.co.nz or the Law Society on 0800 261 801 or lawsociety.org.nz.




Fees: The fees which we will charge or the manner in which they will be arrived at, are set out in our engagement letter. 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 and this constitutes an irrevocable instruction from you to do so.


The basis of our charges: Our firm is bound by the Law Society rules relating to fees. The rules makes clear that clients must not be charged fees that are more than "fair and reasonable for the services provided, having regard to the interests of both client and lawyer". The rules then set out a number of factors which must be taken into account when fees are charged. Of these perhaps the most important are:

  • the time and labour expended;
  • the skill, specialised knowledge and responsibility required;
  • the importance of the matter to the client and the results achieved;
  • the urgency of the matter and the time within which the work is to be done;
  • the degree of risk assumed by the lawyer, including the value of the property involved;
  • the complexity, difficulty or novelty of the questions involved;
  • the experience, reputation and ability of those doing the work;
  • the possibility that the work will prevent work being done for other existing clients;
  • any estimate of fees given earlier;
  • the reasonable costs of running the practice;
  • the charges customarily made "in the market and locality" for similar work.

These are the factors which will be applied when fees are charged. In all cases however we commit ourselves to express an opinion as to whether costs are or are not likely to be disproportionate to the results you wish to achieve, and at reasonable intervals to keep you informed both on progress and on the charges already incurred and likely in our opinion to be incurred in future, enabling you to make decisions as work proceeds.


Disbursements and expenses: In providing services we may incur disbursements or have to make payments to third parties on your behalf. These will be included in our invoice to you when the expense is incurred. We may require an advance payment for the disbursements or expenses which we will be incurring on your behalf.


GST (if any): GST is payable on our fees and charges (although GST may be zero rated where the Goods and Services Act allows).


Invoices: We will send interim invoices to you, usually monthly and on completion of the matter, or termination of our engagement. We may also send you an invoice when we incur a significant expense.


Payment: Invoices are payable within 21 days of the date of the invoice, unless alternative arrangements have been made with us. We may require interest to be paid on any amount which is more than 7 days overdue. Interest will be calculated at the rate of 4% above our firm's main trading bank's 90-day bank bill buy rate as at the close of business on the date payment became due. You agree to pay all collection costs (on a full solicitor/client basis) until the debt is paid in full.


Security: We may ask you to pre-pay amounts to us, or to provide security for our fees and expenses. You authorise us:

    (a)    to 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.


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.




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.


Confidential information concerning you will as far as practicable be made available only to those within our firm who are providing legal services for you.


We will of course, not disclose to you confidential information which we have in relation to any other client.




You may terminate our retainer at any time.


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.


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.


Retention of files and documents


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


Conflict of Interest


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.


Duty of Care


Our duty of care is to you and not to any other person. Before any other person may rely on our advice, we must expressly agree to this.


Trust Account


We maintain a trust account for all funds which we receive from clients (except monies 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 a bank. In that case we will charge an administration fee of up to 5% of the gross interest derived.




With some types of work (eg work involving land titles) we are required by law to obtain and retain photographic and other evidence which identifies the client. In other cases we reserve the right to require such identification at any time in the course of the retainer.


Professional indemnity insurance & fidelity fund


We hold professional indemnity insurance that meets or exceeds standards specified by the Law Society. The Lawyers' Fidelity Fund also provides a limited form of cover up to specified maximums in certain circumstances, generally excluding investment monies.




If you have any concerns or complaints that you prefer not to raise with the partner named above with overall responsibility for this matter, please contact any of the other partners. The current partners of Cairns Slane are Vianney Newman-Watt and Ian Gordon. We are committed to resolving any issues as soon as possible.


You can also contact the NZ Law Society's Lawyers' Complaints Service, at 26 Waring Taylor Street, PO Box 5041, Wellington 6145, Tel (04) 472 7837 or (0800) 261 801, Fax (04) 473 7909.




These Terms apply to any current engagement and also to any future engagement, whether or not we sent you another copy of them.


We are entitled to change these Terms from time to time, in which case we will send you amended Terms.


Our relationship with you is governed by New Zealand law and New Zealand courts have non exclusive jurisdiction.