Client care and service
1. This is the Law Society client care and service information. Whatever legal services we provide, we 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 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.
2. Our obligations to you 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.
3. Our fees will be based on the New Zealand Law Society requirement that all professional fees shall be fair and reasonable having regard to the interests of both you and us.
4. Generally we use hourly rates to calculate our fees. However a number of factors will be taken into account, including the amount of time we spend on the matter, any urgency involved, the amount or value of the money or property involved, the degree of complexity and resulting skill required, the results achieved and any relevant matters.
5. We may request funds in advance for the payment of our fees and disbursements.
6. We will send you a final account on completion of the work, and we may also send you interim accounts.
7. All invoices are due for payment 21 days from the date of the invoice.
8. We may charge interest at the rate of 1.5% per month (calculated daily) on accounts that have not been paid in full by the due date.
9. We may make enquiries about your credit history, and you give consent for us to access any current, past and future credit information about you.
Disbursements and office expenses
10. We will charge you for disbursements that we pay to carry out our services. These will be charged at cost and may include court fees, filing fees, search fees, registrations fees, air travel, accommodation, meals, agents couriers, experts and other professionals.
11. We also have a standard charge to cover office expenses such as normal photocopying, printing, toll charges, faxes, binding, postage, use of precedents etc. The office expenses charge is 4% of the legal fee charged.
Holding your funds
12. Any funds that we receive from you or on your behalf, will be held in our trust account until distributed in accordance with your instructions.
13. If a payment is made to us in uncleared funds (for example, by personal cheque), then we may wait until the funds have cleared before disbursing them.
14. Whenever appropriate, we will hold your funds in an interest bearing bank account. The interest rate is specially negotiated for our clients. We deduct an administration charge of up to 7.5% of the gross interest earned, and pay the balance to you.
15. We may use the funds we hold on trust for you to pay our fees, expenses and disbursements after issuing an invoice to you.
Limitation of liability
16. If we incur any liability to you, our total aggregate liability will be limited to the lesser of $500,000 or 10 times the fee charged for the services. This limitation applies to all liabilities, whether in contract, tort (including negligence), equity or otherwise. This limitation does not apply to the extent that the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993 applies.
17. Unless specifically required, we have no responsibility to verify the accuracy of information and documents that you five to us, and we are not responsible for any loss arising from any inaccuracy, incompleteness or other defect in any information or documents that you provide.
18. No advice, information or service that we provide to you can be provided to another person, or used or relied upon by any other person. We will have no liability to any other person.
19. After we have completed a matter, we will hold your file (including any documents you provide to us) for at least 6 years. We may destroy the file after that period.
20. While we use standard virus checking software, we accept no responsibility for viruses or anything similar in any emails or any attachments which come from Carlile Dowling. We also do not accept any responsibility for any changes to, or interception of, any email or any attachment after it leaves our information system.
21. We hold professional indemnity insurance that meets or exceeds the minimum standards specified by the NZ Law Society. We will provide you with details of the minimum standards upon request.
Lawyers Fidelity Fund
22. The NZ 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.
23. 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.
24. We maintain a procedure for handling any complaints by clients, designed to ensure that a complaint is dealt with promptly and fairly.
25. If you have a complaint about our services or charges, you may refer it to the person in our firm who has overall responsibility for the work.
26. If you do not wish to refer their complaint to that person, or are not satisfied with that person’s response to it, then you may refer the complaint to any one of the Partners of Carlile Dowling. The Partners may be contacted as follows:
- by letter;
- by email (partners’ email addresses can be found at www.carliledowling.co.nz);
- by phone on (06) 835 7394.
27. The NZ Law Society also maintains a complaints service, and you can make a complaint to that service by contacting NZLS Lawyers Complaints Service:
- by letter to: PO Box 5041, Lambton Quay, Wellington 6145
- by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- by phone: 0800 261 801