How we handle your money and property
Your acceptance of our Letter of Engagement and these Terms of Engagement, authorises us to deduct from any money we hold on your behalf in our trust account, towards payment of our fees and expenses invoiced to you.
Sometimes, especially in urgent or complex matters, we ask for a deposit before work can commence.
The deposit will be held in our client trust account and applied to our final invoice on your matter. In the meantime, we expect that our monthly invoices will be met in full.
In the unlikely event that we are obliged to recover or attempt to recover amounts invoiced to you, then you will incur more costs.
These include your solicitor/client costs and any other costs properly incurred during the cost recovery process. Any payments made by you will be applied first in reduction of costs, secondly interest and then the principal sum due.
Any money or property we receive from you, or on your behalf, will be held by Wise Owl Legal Ltd on trust for you unless you instruct us otherwise.
We will follow your instructions as to how money or property that we hold is to be applied or distributed.
If any significant amount is held on trust for you, we will normally place these funds on interest bearing deposit with a registered trading bank and will charge an administration fee of 5% of the interest derived.
Wise Owl Legal Ltd cannot withhold from you nor use for its own benefit, any money or property that we hold in trust on your behalf, except for money we use to pay fees and expenses that we incur through acting for you, or for money that we deduct as our commission from interest received on money that we hold on your behalf, or when we are legally required to withhold the money from you.
We will keep records of all money or property that we hold on your behalf with details of any financial transactions that relate to you. We will not usually provide you with a receipt unless you ask for one, unless you pay us in cash. We will provide you with details of any financial transactions that relate to you.
Any money that you pay to us for settlement purposes (such as the purchase of a home or business) should be in cleared funds, and paid either by bank cheque or direct credit, made payable to Wise Owl Legal Ltd Trust Account. Please note that we may delay distributing money that has not been provided to us in cleared funds until we have received confirmation that the funds have been cleared.
We are not qualified for and do not provide investment advice.
Your files and information after the work is completed
We will keep all documents relating to your work for at least seven years after we have completed it. We may instead hold your file electronically rather than physically. You authorise us to destroy these records seven years from the date of our final invoice or we finish working for you on your file. But we keep and do not destroy any valuable documents you have given us for safekeeping, such as (but not limited to) wills, trust deeds and powers of attorney.
What to do if you have concern or complaint about our work
We value our relationship with you but occasionally a client may have a concern or complaint about our work. We maintain a procedure for handling any concerns, queries or complaints, designed to ensure that they are dealt with promptly and fairly.
In the first instance, please refer your concern or complaint to our Director and senior lawyer Brian Geary. He will communicate with or meet with you promptly to discuss the issues and attempt to resolve them. We will then formally respond to you in writing.
If we are then unable to resolve the matter to your satisfaction, we may decide, at no cost to you, request a senior lawyer of our choice, in a Wellington law firm to assist both you and us, to resolve the matter as soon as possible.
If the matter is then unable to be resolved to your satisfaction, we will assist you, if requested, to refer your concern or complaint to the New Zealand Law Society Complaints Service. You have at any time the right to raise your concern or complaint regarding our work directly with the New Zealand Law Society if you wish.
The NZ Law Society operates the Lawyer Complaints Service and you are able to make a complaint there. The Service can provide information and advice about making a complaint and will contact us. They may be contacted at PO Box 5041, Wellington 6145, Tel 04 472 7837 or 0800 261 801.
End of relationship with Wise Owl Legal Ltd
Where you give us an instruction and we rely on it (for example, by giving an undertaking to a third party) you may not revoke that instruction. Otherwise, you can end your relationship with us on any matter(s) at any time. Please notify us in writing. We will send you an invoice for our fees and expenses up to the date of termination of the relationship. If you want the documents relating to our work for you, we will (on request) provide those documents once you have paid all amounts invoiced by us to you. Before we provide those documents to you, we may take a complete copy of them.
We may terminate our relationship with you in any of the circumstances set out in the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers set out by the New Zealand Law Society.
Electronic services and communications
Where we provide any electronic service to or for you, including emails, we take every reasonable precaution to ensure that all such communications are accurate, confidential and secure. But we cannot always be certain that they are error free. In most cases these communications are based in the internet and certain risks do exist outside our control. As a consequence we will not be responsible for any risks associated with electronic communications.
Professional Indemnity Insurance
We hold professional indemnity insurance that meets or exceeds the minimum standards specified by the New Zealand Law Society. We will provide you with particulars of the minimum standards on request. The liability of Wise Owl Legal Ltd and its Director and senior lawyer Brian Geary for any breach of our obligations to you in respect of legal services provided to you, shall not exceed the professional indemnity insurance cover held by them at the relevant time
We provide legal advice in our specialist and related legal areas. We are not qualified for and do not give any advice on investment matters, including but not in any way limited to any property investments you may make using our legal services.
Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund
The New Zealand 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. 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
While acting as your lawyers, you authorise us to collect and hold personal information about you. We will hold all information concerning your affairs in strict confidence except where we are carrying out your instructions, or where we must do so by law or by the New Zealand Law Society Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. The reverse also applies. We are not able to disclose to you confidential information that we obtain through acting for other clients.
We may use the information we hold about you to provide you with legal services and to inform you about issues and developments that may be of interest to you. We may also use information about you to obtain a credit reference and for debt recovery purposes.
Conflicts of interest
We have policies in place to identify and respond to a conflict or a potential conflict of interest. We will consult with you about the best way to resolve the matter.
Under the Privacy Act 1993 you have the right to access your personal information with us and to require us to change it if it is not correct. Just ask and we will assist.
The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (AML/CFT legislation) requires lawyers and incorporated law firms from 1 July 2018 to report any suspicious transactions and activities involving clients.