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General Terms and Conditions of Instruction
This page sets out the terms on which I accept instructions, and information on fees and professional indemnity insurance.
Instructions must be received through a solicitor ("the instructing solicitor") unless one of the recognised exceptions to this requirement applies.
I am authorised to deal directly with the solicitor’s client (“the client”), on the basis that the instructing solicitor is kept informed of all material developments in the client’s case.
In tax matters, unless otherwise decided, my instructions authorise me to deal direct in correspondence and calls with the Inland Revenue Department, its officers, advisers and counsel. My instructions authorise Inland Revenue to communicate direct with me by email without further authorisation being required from my client.
These terms of engagement as modified from time to time, apply to any current instructions and to any future instructions.
Any dispute concerning these terms of engagement or work undertaken for my clients is to be resolved in the New Zealand Courts under New Zealand law.
Effective 21 July 2015, I am able to accept direct instructions from clients directly, without an instructing solicitor, so long as that is not precluded by the forum or the type of work. Even with approval that option has conditions attached which apply to each client's case.
Although I am Wellington-based, my practice covers the entire country. Therefore, I am often travelling on client business. Where possible I try to combine visits, so that I will, for example, have three client meetings during one trip to Auckland.
I charge actual travel time at 50% if just one client, otherwise at my hourly rate divided among all clients (otherwise, it’s simply uneconomic for me to spend most of a day travelling to charge for a 2-hour meeting). If I have more than one client on one visit, I allocate the general disbursements (e.g. the airfare, car parking at the airport) pro rata and the client-specific disbursements (e.g. the taxi from my previous meeting to the next one) to the client to whom they relate.
Calculation and payment of fees
The instructing solicitor is responsible for my fees and other costs unless alternative arrangements are made for the client to pay those fees and costs directly. I will normally require that the instructing solicitor hold funds on account of part if not all my fees (typically, an estimate of the next month’s costs).
Even if such alternative arrangements are made, the instructing solicitor accepts a responsibility to pursue payment of my fees and costs by the client, if they are not paid directly and in accordance with these terms. The client accepts responsibility for the instructing solicitor’s actual and reasonable costs in undertaking such debt collection work.
My fee will usually reflect an hourly rate for time and attendances involved in dealing with the instructions.
Effective 1 April 2014 my hourly rate for new instructions is $550 per hour, plus GST.
Hourly rates may change from time to time and any change will be notified before it applies.
If more junior barristers undertake work at my direction on the instructions, a fee for their time and attendances will be charged, generally reflecting an hourly rate commensurate with their experience.
In exceptional cases I may accept an instruction of the basis of a fixed fee. In such cases the client must deposit the agreed fee with the instructing solicitor in full before work begins, on terms that it is available to meet interim and final invoices and can not otherwise be withdrawn from the solicitor.
In addition to my fee, all direct disbursements and out of pocket expenses will be charged, plus GST.
If I agree to take direct instructions (i.e. under the post 1 July 2015 "direct instruction" regime), then my client is liable for my fees and is liable to pay fees, interest and costs of and incidental to any recovery action.
My fee and costs will normally be billed monthly in an itemised account, and each account is payable within 7 days. Unless prior arrangements for payment over time have been made, I reserve the right to adjust any fee that has not been paid within one month of the date of invoice for an interest charge. That charge will not exceed the unauthorized overdraft interest rate applicable to my practice account plus a margin of 5%, compounding monthly.
If an account remains unpaid beyond one month from the date of issue I may terminate the brief and seek leave to withdraw from any proceedings then being undertaken, without affecting the obligation of the client and/or solicitor to meet my fee.
In most cases my account will be sent to the instructing solicitor even when the client has agreed to pay directly, but a copy of the account will be sent directly to the client unless I am requested by the instructing solicitor not to do this. If the client requires an account to be addressed to a specific entity or person, that should be arranged through the instructing solicitor.
These terms are necessary because as a barrister sole I have limited ability to absorb bad debts. I consider that my time is better spent on productive work for my clients than chasing bad debts.
Document destruction/File retention/Intellectual property
I will retain the file that I create for a client’s work on any one matter for a minimum of seven years after I finish working on that matter. I may hold that file electronically rather than physically. After that time, I may destroy the file without contacting the client or instructing solicitor.
If the client and/or instructing solicitor wish to retain all or part of the paper file (where I have held one), I must be advised in writing before the matter is completed.
Provided all my invoices are paid on all matters, I will (on request) provide to the client and/or instructing solicitor all the documents I have obtained or created through working on the matter or matters in question. Before I provide those documents, I may take a complete copy of them.
Unless otherwise agreed, I retain the copyright in all documents prepared. The client is entitled to use such documents and retain copies of documents for the purposes for which they were prepared, but not otherwise, without my consent
Professional Indemnity Insurance
I have professional indemnity insurance which exceeds the minimum standards currently specified by the Law Society.
The Lawyer's fidelity fund is does not provide any cover in relation to my practice because, as a barrister sole, I do not hold client funds.
Any complaints will first be considered by myself, and I will usually endeavour to discuss them with other members of the profession whose judgment and probity I respect on a "no-names" basis, and respond to a client regarding a complaint within a week. The New Zealand Law Society has a complaints service, details of which are available on its webpage.
General Client Care and Service
I refer to the client care and service information page on this website.
Work Undertaken Personally
I will have general carriage of, or overall responsibility for, any work on which I am instructed. On occasions I will contract out research to more junior lawyers, where I judge that that would be more cost-effective for the client.