All of the information in the links below will be set out in a retainer letter we will send you when you engage us to act for you. There is space on that retainer letter for any notes or questions you may have, in case you want to email or fax them. Or you can email your question to email@example.com or ring Fraser Goldsmith on 0274 782 209.
Our professional relationship
Your relationship with me must be one of trust and confidence. You are entitled to expect a high level of professional and ethical service from me. In turn, I need you to be clear and prompt with your instructions to me and to honour the terms of my retainer.
Understanding your instructions
When you instruct me regarding a commercial or legal matter, I will promptly send you a retainer letter setting out all the information on this “client care” section of this website and a note summarising my understanding of the relevant situation as you have explained it, what it is you wish to achieve at that point and the general nature of the help you seek from me. The retainer letter and that note set out the terms on which I will accept your retainer.
Caring for your interests
My overriding objective is to do my professional best to safeguard your interests and help you achieve your commercial and personal objectives. This means I will:
My obligations to you are subject to other overriding duties, including duties to the courts and the justice system. Please see the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008 for further information about lawyers’ obligations to their clients. If you have any questions, please ask me or visit www.lawsociety.org.nz or contact the Law Society on 0800 261 801.
Being responsible for your work
I will have responsibility for all the work you retain my firm to do. I may use other lawyers, consultants or researchers to help. If so, I will be responsible to you for whatever they do unless we have agreed otherwise.
Maintaining good communication is important for my ability to serve your best interests. I know you do not stop thinking about your legal issues outside normal business hours, so I will do my best to be available to you at all reasonable times. You can contact me any way you wish. Please let me know what works best for you. Email and mobile are likely to be best for me. If I do not respond promptly to an email or voicemail message or you need to contact me urgently, you are best to text me on 027 478 2209 asking me to call you.
Checking for conflicts of interest
Acting for you ‘free from compromising influences or loyalties’ means partly that my ability to act for you may be affected if either you or I identify any conflict between your interests and the interests of another client of my firm. A potential conflict of interest can arise or be identified at any time. I will alert you immediately if I become aware of a potential conflict. If you become concerned about a potential conflict of interest, please also bring it to my attention straight away. We can then discuss and agree what should happen next. For further information about the legal requirements for dealing with conflicts of interest, please see the Lawyers Conduct and Client Care Rules.
Determining fair and reasonable fees
Many lawyers charge for their services primarily on the basis of the time involved at fixed hourly rates. My firm does not do that, as the value of our work for you depends very much on the nature, complexity, importance, urgency and risk associated with your legal issues and the extent to which we deliver value in helping resolve them. Assessment of value is a matter for discussion between us. My expectation of you is that you approach that discussion with candour and in good faith.
Whenever reasonably possible, I prefer to agree with you the fees to be charged on each occasion that it is appropriate to send you a bill. I am always happy to give you an estimate of how long it is reasonably likely to take to achieve a particular outcome and the likely cost of achieving it. An estimate is an estimate. I cannot guarantee outcomes, or predict what the other parties involved will necessarily do, or underwrite the legal system. What I will do is give you my best estimate based on my judgement, knowledge and experience. I will also commit my skills and energy to achieve the outcome you seek.
If the nature of the work is such that it is reasonable for me to quote you a fixed fee, then it is a quote. If additional work outside the scope of a quote is required, I will discuss the additional work with you before I do it. In any instance where we have not agreed on either the fee or the basis for determining the fee, the fee will be calculated in accordance with the guidelines set out in the Lawyers Conduct and Client Care Rules.
Expenses I incur on your behalf
Whenever practicable, I prefer to estimate the costs you are likely to incur on an ‘all-inclusive’ basis. This is not always practicable, particularly with dispute management work or an engagement requiring travel. Any estimate or quote that is not stated to be ‘all-inclusive’ does not include external expenses such as Court fees, filing and registration fees, travel and accommodation costs and barrister’s fees (if applicable). The amount of any such expenses will be noted on my invoice for your information but will normally be included in my fee. I may require you to put me in funds at the time I incur any significant expenses on your behalf but this would be unusual. I will not charge you extra for internal expenses such as toll calls, faxes, printing, forms, secretarial support costs and the like. These are part of the costs of running a practice that are taken into account in setting a fair and reasonable fee.
To help you budget, I issue interim accounts while work is in progress, with a final bill on completion. Unless otherwise agreed, all invoices are due for payment within after you receive the invoice, by electronic bank transfer or direct credit to ANZ National Bank, Dunedin Branch, Account Name: Fraser Goldsmith, Account No. 06-0901-0627222-00. Invoices will be emailed to you. If you prefer to receive a hard copy as well, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 03 471 7179. These details will also be set out at the foot of each invoice. If you do not pay an invoice by the due date, I reserve the right to stop doing any further work for you and you agree that I may charge you daily interest at 15% p.a. on the amount owing until it is paid and my actual costs, on a solicitor-client basis, of any debt recovery proceedings.
No funds held on trust
I do not operate a solicitor’s trust account. I therefore will not hold any money on your behalf. If the nature of the legal services I provide for you requires money to be held in trust for a particular purpose (e.g. in a stakeholder account pending settlement of a dispute), I will make arrangements with you for the funds to be held in the solicitor’s trust account of another firm.
Dealing with concerns and complaints
If you have any concern or uncertainty about any aspect of my services to you then I would naturally prefer that you raised the matter with me in the first instance. Please call or email me, or email email@example.com. (This acts as an electronic ‘red flag’). If your concern is of such a nature that you prefer not to raise it with me, or if you wish to make a formal complaint, you can contact the Law Society’s Lawyers’ Complaints Service at PO Box 5041, Wellington 6145, or Freephone 0800 22 30 30.
I hold professional indemnity insurance that exceeds standards specified by the Law Society. The Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund also provides a limited form of cover up to specified maximums in certain circumstances, generally excluding investment monies. As I will not be holding any funds on your behalf, the Lawyers Fidelity Fund is unlikely to be relevant to our professional relationship.
My liability to you
My cumulative liability to you for the consequences of any acts, omissions or delays on my part or other events for which I am responsible relating to the subject matter of any retainer is limited to a maximum of $2,000,000. This limit applies whatever the cause of legal action you may have against me and however my liability to you arises or might arise. Your acceptance of this limitation of liability is one of the factors taken into account in determining the fairness and reasonableness of the fees I charge you.
Completing the work
I will advise you when I believe the work you have engaged me to do has been completed, and will provide a brief summary of the work undertaken if I have not already done so. Where appropriate, I will also identify any future action I believe may be necessary or desirable. I will also ask you to let me know if you believe anything remains outstanding.
Changing these terms of retainer
I may change these terms from time to time, in which case I will send you a fresh retainer letter and update this page of the website. The terms set out in that letter will apply to any instructions you give me after you receive it.
Please contact Fraser Goldsmith if anything in my retainer letter or this “client care” section of my website is unclear or needs to be discussed. There is space at the foot of my retainer letter for your notes or any questions you may have, in case you want to email or fax them to me. Alternatively, please email me your question or give me a call on 027 478 2209.