NZ Law Society Client Care & Service Information
Lawyers must follow certain standards of professional behaviour. These are set out in the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers that came into effect with the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006. Under these rules, you can expect, whatever legal services your lawyer is providing, they must:
- act competently, in a timely way, and in accordance with any 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 you a fee that is fair and reasonable and let you know 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.
You may complain about a lawyer who does not meet these standards. Lawyers must have a practising certificate issued by the NZ Law Society. You can look up the NZLS Register to find out if the person you plan to consult holds a current practising certificate. More information about what you can expect from your lawyer is available in the NZLS website: https://www.lawsociety.org.nz/.
General Terms and Conditions of Instruction
Under the NZ Law Society Rules, I can take direct instructions in relation to undertaking independent investigations, undertaking complaints management services and employment law instructions which do not originate in the Employment Court.
When I have an instructing solicitor, I arrange to deal directly with you (“the client”), on the basis that the instructing solicitor is kept informed of all material developments in your case. 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 you is to be resolved in the New Zealand Courts under New Zealand law.
Privacy and confidentiality
The purposes for which I collect personal information from you is in order to provide legal services to you. I hold your information on a secure electronic database and in my offices in Wellington and Waikanae. I have access to your personal information as well as any staff employed by me such as an employed barrister or law clerk, or administration staff.
Most of my communications are via email or other electronic means. I do not guarantee the security of those communications and I am not liable for any loss suffered as a result of any breach of security or other default in my electronic services. I will discuss with you the use of encryption or Dropbox (see below) for sensitive material. If required, I use the cloud sharing service of Dropbox for Business, which is a secure and encrypted service to securely share large files which cannot be shared via email. If I am using Dropbox as part of my services, please refer to Dropbox’s Policy and advise me in the first instance if you do not wish to use this service.
Work Undertaken Personally
I will have primary responsibility for, any work on which I am instructed. On occasions I may contract out research to more junior lawyers, where I judge that would be more cost-effective for the client. I will advise you before doing so.
Duty of Care
My duty of care is to you and not to any other person. Before any other person may rely on my advice, I must expressly agree to this in writing.
Capacity and experience in performing the services/advocacy experience as a barrister.
I am a senior employment lawyer with over 30 years’ legal experience. Please refer to my website: www.sdb.nz
As a barrister sole, you may not be able to receive an immediate response from me due to concurrent commitments. I will respond to your communications a quickly as possible.
Limitation of Liability
My advice is based on the facts given to me from you, another person or documents. I apply my professional judgement based on the law at the time of my advice. I am not liable for errors in, or omissions from any information provided to me unless identifying the error or omission is part of the competent performance of my services. Any other limitation which may apply to your instruction will be notified to you by letter or email at the start of your instruction.
Calculation and payment of fees, invoicing
My hourly rate for instructions will be advised to you at the time of engagement. Hourly rates may change on occasion and any change will be notified before it applies. From time to time, I may recommend using a junior barrister for work that supports a lower charge out rate. I will discuss this with you, and if you approve, a fee for their time and attendances will be charged.
My fee on every occasion I invoice you is calculated in accordance with NZLS rules. It must be fair and reasonable. This includes assessing the following factors: the time and labour expended; the skill, specialised knowledge, and responsibility required to perform the services properly; the importance of the matter to you and the results achieved; the urgency and circumstances in which the matter is undertaken and any time limitations imposed, including those imposed by you; the degree of risk assumed by me in undertaking the services, including the amount or value of any property or financial interest involved; the complexity of the matter and the difficulty or novelty of the questions involved; my experience, reputation, and ability; the possibility acceptance of your work will preclude me working with other clients; any fixed fee we have agreed in writing; any quote or estimate of fees given by me to you; my practice costs; and the market fee for such work.
In addition to my fee, all direct disbursements and out of pocket expenses will be charged, plus GST. I charge actual travel time at 50% of my charge out rate plus disbursements such as airfares, car parking, taxis. I will invoice you, whether I have an instructing solicitor or am directly instructed. You are liable for my fees, interest, and costs, unless a record of settlement is reached whereby fees are to be paid by another party, or you are an employee and your employer has agreed to pay your fees direct to me on invoice.
If you require an account to be addressed to a specific entity or person, a cost centre or code is required or new supplier requirements must be met before my invoice can be paid, please advise me immediately on engagement. My account will be sent to any instructing solicitor even when you have agreed to pay directly, but a copy of the account will be sent directly to you unless I am requested by my instructing solicitor not to do this.
My fee and costs will normally be billed monthly in an itemised account, and each account is payable within 7 days unless otherwise agreed. Unless prior arrangements for payment over time have been made, I reserve the right to charge interest. That charge will not exceed the unauthorised 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 being undertaken, without affecting the your obligation to meet my fee, interest, and costs.
You are welcome to terminate the retainer at any time and fees and disbursements will only be charged up until that time, unless my obligations to the Court require me to take additional steps in terminating the retainer. If the account moves into a debt collection process, you accept responsibility for payment of all costs in collecting any outstanding amounts, including costs on a solicitor/client basis.
Client Monies and Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund
Barristers are not permitted to hold client monies. If it is necessary for you to make payments in advance, whether to cover disbursements or my fees, I can make arrangements for these to be held in the trust account of a law firm or other authorised organisation. You will be required to provide personal information details to that firm as part of its Anti-Money Laundering/Counter Financing of Terrorism Programme and you will also be required to accept that firm’s standard terms and conditions.
Document destruction/File retention/Intellectual property
I will retain the file that I create for your work on any one matter for a minimum of ten 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 you or any instructing solicitor. If you and/or my instructing solicitor wish to retain all or part of the paper file (where I have held one), please let me know in writing before the matter is completed. Before I provide those documents, I may take a complete copy of them. Unless otherwise agreed, I retain the copyright in all documents prepared. You are 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 hold professional indemnity insurance which meets the minimum standards currently specified by the Law Society.
I will always do my best to assist you as my client and meet your expectations. Your work is important to me and I take pride in my work and client service. Please let me know immediately if you have any concerns or a complaint, whether about the quality of my service or fees. I will respond to any concern or complaint as soon as possible. In addition, independent barrister Kathryn Dalziel has agreed to provide a free assessment for any client of mine dissatisfied with my service: https://kathryndalzielbarrister.co.nz/about
If you think the situation is not resolved or you prefer not to discuss it with me or Kathryn first, the New Zealand Law Society has a complaints service, details of which are available on its webpage: https://www.lawsociety.org.nz/.
Termination of Legal Services
You may terminate your instruction at any time. I may terminate the instruction in any of the circumstances set out in the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. The most likely reasons for me to terminate the retainer are when:
- A conflict of interest comes up and you need to be advised by separate counsel; or
- Non-payment of my fees (see above); or
- You request that I do something on your behalf that is not consistent with my legal, professional or ethical responsibilities.
If the instruction is terminated you must pay all my fees, disbursements and expenses which are due up to the date of termination.
If any term or provision of these terms is held to be illegal, invalid or unenforceable, it may be severed without affecting the legality, validity or enforceability of the remaining provisions. Neither of us will be deemed to have waived any right under these terms unless the waiver is in writing and signed by both of us, or confirmed in an electronic communication.