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Standard Terms of Engagement and Client Care


1. General

1.1 These Standard Terms of Engagement and Client Care (Terms) apply to all professional services provided by Pier Law (“us, we”) to our Client(s) (“you”). These Terms will apply to any current engagement and also to any future engagement, whether or not we send 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.  Any different or amended terms must be agreed in writing.

1.2 These Terms are binding on you and any successor to your rights and obligations and together with the Letter of Engagement form a contract between you and us. You may not assign or transfer any rights under these Terms.



2. Services

2.1 The services we are to provide for you are outlined in our Letter of Engagement. You will receive a Letter of Engagement for every piece of work we carry out for you.  Along with the services to be provided, this will also detail:

a. The staff member(s) who will be primarily responsible for your file and the staff member(s) who will have overall responsibility of your file.

b. Our estimated fees for the services or any other method used for the basis for calculation of our fees.

c. For conveyancing files, a brief outline of the Agreement for Sale and Purchase where appropriate.

2.2 In carrying out legal or other professional services for you, it is our duty to:

a. act with all reasonable care and skill and in a timely manner;

b. act upon your instructions and protect and promote your interests above all others subject only to any legal or ethical obligations we have;

c. discuss with you your objectives and how they should best be achieved;

d. provide you with information about the work to be completed, who will do it and the way the services will be provided;

e. charge you a fee that is fair and reasonable and let you know how and when you will be billed;

f. provide you with clear information and advice;

g. comply with all legal and ethical obligations we have to you;

h. protect your privacy and assure you confidentiality at all times;

i. treat you fairly, respectfully and without discrimination;

j. keep you informed of all significant developments and advise you when work is completed;

k. let you know how to make a complaint and deal with any complaint fairly and promptly.

2.3 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.  If you have any questions please visit

2.4 Our duties are owed to you and not to any other person. Nobody except you may rely on our advice without our written consent.



3. Fees

3.1 The fees which we will charge or the manner in which they will be arrived at, are set out in our Letter of Engagement. They will be calculated in accordance with the guidelines set out by the New Zealand Law Society, including:

a. the value or amount of any property, assets or money involved;

b. the skill, specialised knowledge and responsibility required;

c. the importance of the matter to you and the result achieved;

d. the urgency and circumstances in which the business is transacted;

e. the complexity of the issue and the difficulty or novelty of the questions involved;

f. the time expended on the work charged at hourly rates reflecting the experience and specialisation of staff involved;

g. the number and importance of the documents being prepared or perused.

3.2 If the Letter of Engagement specifies a fixed fee, we will charge this for the agreed scope of our services. Work which falls outside of that scope will be charged in accordance with term 3.1.  We will advise you as soon as reasonably practicable if it becomes necessary for us to provide services outside of the agreed scope and if requested, give you an estimate of likely amount of the further costs.

3.3 Where time expended is used as a determinant of our fees, the time spent will be recorded in 6 minute intervals, with time rounded up to the next unit of 6 minutes. The rate at which this is charged is outlined in our Letter of Engagement.  The differences in those rates reflect the experience and specialisation of our professional staff.

3.4 If the Letter of Engagement specifies an estimate of fees, this is a guide price only and is not a quotation, nor a cap on what may be charged. However, if our fees are expected to be in excess of the estimate given at any time during the engagement, we will advise you of this as soon as reasonably practicable to gain your approval to continue work.  In certain circumstances, we may need to undertake additional work in order to complete your instructions, but have been unable to obtain your pre-approval.  In these instances we shall explain the reason for the increase in fees in our reporting letter to you.

3.5 In providing services we may charge you for any amounts billed to us by third parties (“disbursements”). These may include legal forms, bank charges, real estate agents fees, courier fees, fees associated with Land Information New Zealand or the Companies Office, council fees, travel expenses, and the fees of any agents, experts and other professionals we appoint.  This list is an example only and is not exhaustive.  We may request payment of disbursements in advance.  Where you have asked us to instruct counsel from outside our firm, then you must, on demand, pay us the fees for which that counsel bills us. Office expenses are also charged in addition to our fee and this is made up of a file storage fee and a bureau fee that covers costs such as photocopying, forms, postage, tolls, electronic payments and file opening.

3.6 Fees, hourly rates, office expenses and disbursements may change from time to time without notice.

3.7 GST (if any) is payable by you on our fees and charges.

3.8 In some cases, you may be eligible for legal aid. If you want to apply for legal aid, we may refer you to another firm as we do not carry out legal aid work.



4. Terms of Payment

4.1 If you have difficulty in meeting any of our invoices, please contact us promptly so that we may discuss payment arrangements.

4.2 Invoices are payable within 14 days of the date of the invoice (the “due date”), unless alternative arrangements have been made with us. We reserve the right to issue interim invoices based on work in progress.  Otherwise we will issue an invoice at the conclusion of a matter.

4.3 By accepting our engagement, you give us permission to deduct fees from monies held on your behalf. An invoice shall be sent or handed to you on the day of deduction or immediately thereafter.

4.4 If an invoice is unpaid after the due date (“overdue”), we reserve the right to suspend our services until the invoice is paid in full, to require payment for future fees in advance, to retain your papers and files and any other property belonging to you that is in our possession, and to terminate the relationship.

4.5 Unless otherwise agreed, if an invoice is more than 14 days overdue, we may require interest to be paid on the outstanding amount. Interest will be calculated at 2% per month.  Should it become necessary to issue cost recovery proceedings, the costs associated with this procedure including collection and location (if necessary) costs will be added to the amount owed and will be payable by you.

4.6 Pier Law accepts payment of invoices by cheque, cash, credit card or by direct credit. Invoices that are outstanding are issued with a remittance slip to assist with payment.

4.7 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 a dated invoice

4.8 Although you may be expected 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 in full by the due date.

4.9 When we receive payment from you in respect of fees, this payment will be applied to the oldest amount outstanding in the first instance.



5. Files and Documents

5.1 We will endeavour to store your file, including any documents belonging to you (subject to term 5.3), for at least 7 years (or as recommended by the New Zealand Law Society) following completion of our engagement. This does not include original documents that we have agreed to keep in safe custody, such as Wills, Powers of Attorney, trust deeds and leases (this list is an example only and is not exhaustive).

5.2 We may send your files and documents to a reputable secure document storage company in which case the documents will be held subject to our agent’s terms and conditions of service. While all reasonable care will be taken, neither we nor our agent will have any liability (direct or indirect) in relation to the provision of this service.

5.3 You grant us permission to destroy your file and all documents belonging to you after 7 years, or earlier if we have converted those files and documents to an electronic format. The destroying of your files will be done in a confidential manner.

5.4 Pier Law owns copyright to all documents or works it creates in the course of the provision of legal or other professional services to you. You are granted a licence to use and copy the documents for your own personal or commercial use.  However, you may not permit any third party to copy, adapt or use our documents without our written permission.

5.5 We reserve the right to exercise a general lien and retain all documents held on your behalf for as long as there are any fees or other monies outstanding to us. If there are no amounts outstanding, we will provide all documents held on your behalf to you upon request.

5.6 An uplift fee may be payable upon uplift of your documents or part thereof. We may provide you with copies or originals of our documents at our sole discretion.

5.7 You grant us permission to make copies of your documents and hold them as our property for an indefinite time period for the sole purpose of our protection in the event of a legal claim.

5.8 For the sake of clarity, drafts of a final document remain the property of Pier Law.


6. Privacy / Confidentiality

6.1 In order for us to provide services to you, and as part of our continuing effort to improve the services we offer, we maintain a database of client information. From time to time we may request that you confirm the accuracy of the information we hold about you.  Such information will be used by us, our staff and agents for the purposes of acting on your behalf.  Failure to provide this information may hinder or prevent us from providing our services to you.

6.2 It may be necessary to obtain information on your behalf from third parties. One common instance is the confirmation of local council rate details in conveyancing matters.

6.3 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;

b. Where you have requested or consented to disclosure;

c. As necessary to protect our interests in respect of any complaint or dispute; or

d. To the extent required by law or by the New Zealand Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.

6.4 Notwithstanding term 6.3, information you have provided us may be used to assist in the collection of your overdue account and we may obtain from and give to any third party (including credit agencies) information which will assist us to obtain payment of the outstanding debt.

6.5 We will sometimes need to collect, use, and disclose personal information about you and/or employees, directors, or other people and/or entities associated with you or with your transactions (including any principals or beneficiaries for whom or for whose benefit you are acting) to carry out your instructions. Please make sure that these people are aware that our acting for you may involve collecting, using and disclosing personal information about them.

6.6 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.

6.7 Our staff sign a confidentiality clause that forms part of their Employment Agreement meaning that any information relating to you will not be disclosed to anyone outside the firm except, so far as necessary, to further your interests.

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

6.9 The information we collect and hold about you will be kept at our offices and/or at secure file storage sites (including electronic file storage sites) elsewhere. You have the right to access and correct this information.  If you require access, please contact the Practice Manager.


7. Conflicts of Interest

7.1 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.  In particular we will:

a. advise the clients involved of the conflict or potential conflict;

b. advise the clients involved that they should take independent advice and arrange that advice if required; and

c. decline to act further for any client in the matter where to continue would, or would be likely to disadvantage any of the clients involved.

7.2 We may accept instructions from other clients or potential clients working in the same or competing markets and whose commercial interests conflict with yours.

7.3 Subject to the Conduct Rules, we may also act, or have previously acted, for other clients (or potential clients) who are parties (or potential parties) to a transaction or other matter in which you are involved, or whose interests are adverse to your own. If we agree to act in such a role:

a. we will operate appropriate information barriers to protect client interests and comply with relevant laws and codes of professional practice; and

b. we will have no obligation to disclose to you any information we have about another client or its affairs or to use that information to your benefit.

7.4 Subject to the Conduct Rules, you consent to us not disclosing to you any information we hold for any other client.


8. Duty of Care

8.1 Our duty of care is owed to you and not to any other person. Nobody except you may rely on our advice without our written consent.

8.2 Our advice is opinion only, based on the facts known to us at the time the advice was given and on our professional judgement, and is subject to any changes in the law, best practice and industry standards after the date on which the advice is given. We are not liable for errors in, or omissions from, any information provided by third parties.

8.3 Our advice relates only to each particular matter in respect of which you engage us. Once that matter is at an end, we will not owe you any duty or liability in respect of any related or other matters unless you specifically engage us in respect of those related or other matters.

8.4 Unless otherwise agreed, we may communicate with you and with others by electronic means. We cannot guarantee that these communications will not be lost or affected for some reason beyond our reasonable control, and we will not be liable for any damage or loss caused thereby.


9. Email Communication

9.1 We may communicate with you by email while acting for you. Please let us know if you prefer us not to send you emails.

9.2 Our incoming email messages are scanned for content and viruses and are cleared by our email security system. On rare occasions a legitimate email may be deleted before its intended recipient at our firm reads it.

9.3 Emails are not always secure or may have defects, such as viruses. We do not accept responsibility (and will not be liable) for any damage or loss caused by an email that is intercepted or that has a defect.


10. External Information and Public Records

10.1 We often obtain and rely on external information (e.g. from your accountant) or public records (e.g. from a government agency or registry) to carry out your instructions. We rely on this information being accurate, complete and up-to-date.  We do not accept responsibility to investigate or verify external information or public records and will not be liable for any damage or loss caused by errors or omissions in them.


11. Residential Land Withholding Tax

11.1 If you sell residential land and we receive the sale proceeds on your behalf, we may be legally required to withhold residential land withholding tax (RLWT) from the proceeds.

11.2 This will apply if, under the Income Tax Act 2007:

a. You are an “offshore RLWT person”;

b. The land is “residential land” in New Zealand; and

c. You sell the land within the five year “bright-line” period.

11.3 In this event, we must remit the RLWT to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD). We will account to you for the net sale proceeds only, after withholding RLWT and any other amounts we are permitted to deduct (including our fees).

11.4 You must provide us with all the information we need to determine whether you are liable for RLWT and (if so) for how much. This includes both the information the Tax Administration Act 1994 requires you to provide and any other information we reasonably request.  If you do not give us this information, we may assume that RLWT applies and withhold it.

11.5 We have no liability to you or in relation to any amount we withhold and remit to IRD as RLWT.


12. Verification of Identity

12.1 We may ask you to show us documents verifying your identity. We are required by law to take and retain a copy of these documents in some transactions.



13.1 We are required to comply with all laws binding on us in all applicable jurisdictions, including:

a. the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (AML/CFT Act); and

b. the United States Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, and relevant provisions of the Tax Administration Act 1994 (together, FATCA).

13.2 We will perform customer due diligence and account monitoring, keep records, and report any unusual or suspicious transactions where required by the AML/CFT Act, FATCA, or any other law.

13.3 We may also be required to assist any bank or other entity with whom we transact as your agent, or with whom we deposit money on trust for you, to comply with that entity’s legal obligations in any jurisdiction.

13.4 We will periodically advise you what information and documents are required for these purposes. These may relate to you, any other relevant person or entity (e.g. beneficial owner), the source of funds, the transaction, the ownership structure, tax identification details, and any other relevant matter.  Any delay in providing this information will hinder the progression of your transaction.  We may retain the information and documents, provide them to a bank or other entity (where applicable) to deal with in accordance with their terms, and disclose them to any law enforcement or regulatory agency or court as required by law.

13.5 We or the bank or other entity (as the case may be) may:

a. Suspend, terminate, or refuse to enter into a business relationship;

b. Delay, block or refuse to process a transaction (including by refusing to handle and deposit money on trust for you); and

c. Report a transaction

without notice if:

a. The required information or documents are not provided; or

b. It is suspected that the business relationship or transaction is contrary to our AML policies, may breach any applicable law, or may otherwise relate to conduct that is illegal or unlawful in any country.


14. Termination of Services

14.1 You may terminate our engagement at any time by written notice to us.

14.2 Our relationship involves continuing trust, confidence and cooperation. If the relationship has broken down we may terminate the engagement.  Other conditions for termination are set out in the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.

14.3 If either party terminate the engagement, you will still be required to pay all fees outstanding up to the date of termination and all disbursements and office expenses incurred up to that date.


15. Feedback and Complaints

15.1 Client satisfaction is one of our primary objectives and feedback from clients is helpful to us. If you would like to comment on any aspect of the service provided by us, including how we can improve our service, please contact the Practice Manager, Stephanie Herbison.

15.2 We maintain a procedure for handling any complaints by clients, designed to ensure that a complaint is dealt with promptly and fairly. If you have a concern or complaint about our services or charges, you may refer your complaint to the staff member or the person in our firm who has overall responsibility for your work.  If you do not wish to refer your complaint to that person, or you are not satisfied with that person’s response to your complaint, you may refer your complaint to the Practice Manager, Stephanie Herbison, who will coordinate an investigation into your complaint.

You may contact Stephanie Herbison as follows:

  • By post at PO Box 76134, Christchurch 8548;
  • By email at; or
  • By telephone at +64 3 366 5540.

15.3 The Law Society operates the Lawyers Complaints Service and you are able to make a complaint to that service. To do so, phone 0800 261 801 and you will be connected to the nearest Complaints Service Office, which can provide information and advice about making a complaint.


16. Claims / Limitations of Liability

16.1 Any claim you have against us must be filed within two years of the date of the act or omission on which the claim is based. Otherwise, the claim cannot be filed and we will have no liability for that act or omission or for its consequences (to the extent permitted by law).

16.2 In these terms, “claim” and “the date of the act or omission on which the claim is based” have the same meanings as in the Limitation Act 2010.

16.3 This time limit overrides the time periods under that Act, and applies regardless of when any fact relevant to the claim was first discovered or able to be discovered.

16.4 Any limitations on the extent of our obligations to you or any limitation or exclusion of liability are set out in our Letter of Engagement.


17. Marketing

17.1 As a client of Pier Law we hold private information and contact details for you. We shall have the right to send to you electronically or by any other means marketing material and newsletters regarding the services and promotions we offer.  You are able to unsubscribe at any time from this service.


18. Trust Account

18.1 We maintain a trust account for all funds which we receive from clients (except monies for payment of our invoices). Money received by you or on your behalf may be held to your credit in the trust account.  Payments out of the trust account will be made to you or to others with your authority (or if we are acting for more than one of you, from all of you).

18.2 A full record of the Pier Law trust account is kept at all times. A statement of trust transactions detailing funds received and payments made on your behalf will usually be provided at the commencement of a matter or at any time upon your request.

18.3 If you request a payment from our trust account to be made by direct credit to your account, we will require evidence of the account number in one of the following forms:

a. Original deposit slip;

b. Original signed authority

c. Original bank statement;

d. Original letter or print out from your bank; or

e. Copy of any of the above.

Please note that if we receive a copy of the above by email we will need to phone you on or near the day of payment to confirm the account details with you.  Because of audit requirements, text messages and bank account numbers typed in the body of emails are insufficient as evidence of your account number.

18.4 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 all interest will be owed to you, and is subject to our administration fee of 5% and applicable resident withholding tax (RWT) deductions.  The current default rate of deduction is 33%, but you can select an alternate rate (10.5%, 17.5% or 30%) by providing us with your IRD number and the rate you wish to have applied at the commencement of the engagement.

18.5 We will not be able to place any funds on interest bearing deposit through our Trust Account (except in the case of estates, charitable trusts or escrow purposes) without you first completing a Foreign Tax Residence Form as a requirement under the Automatic Exchange of Information/Common Reporting Standards (AEOI/CRS) regime. We will supply you with such forms when required.

18.6 When we hold funds on deposit on your behalf we will be required to pass on that information to the Inland Revenue Department or our bank under the AEOI/CRS regime.

18.7 Where you transfer funds to our Trust Account or where we pay funds to you in a foreign currency, those funds are converted into New Zealand dollars at the prevailing exchange rate offered by the bank. We are not responsible for seeking or obtaining a better exchange rate.

18.8 For transactions where payment of money is due by you, we require cleared and non-reversible funds for the correct amount to be deposited no later than the morning of settlement. Proof of deposit must be supplied.

18.9 If we hold a dormant balance for you we will make reasonable efforts to locate you to arrange for the dormant balance to be paid to you. We may deduct our reasonable costs of trying to locate you from the dormant balance.  If the dormant balance is small and it is not economic for us to try to locate you we may take that dormant balance by deduction.


19. Professional Indemnity Insurance

19.1 We hold Professional Indemnity Insurance that meets or exceeds the minimum standards specified by the Law Society. We will provide you with particulars of the minimum standards upon request.


20. Lawyers Fidelity Fund

20.1 The Law Society maintains the Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund for the purpose 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 $100,000.00.  Except in certain circumstances specified in the Lawyers and 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.


21. Scope of Work

21.1 We will provide you with professional advice in relation to your legal rights and obligations. We do not provide investment, tax, accounting or other financial advice and we do not advise on the business aspects of any decision or action by you.


22. Governing Law

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