Terms of Engagement

First Property Legal is a division of Gawith Burridge, Solicitors of Masterton

This information is required to be provided as from 1 August 2008 as per the Lawyers & Conveyancers Act 2006 and Rules of Conduct and Client Care.

This document:

  • Sets out the standard terms on which we do work for our clients;
  • Explains what you can expect from us and what you agree to when we work for you;
  • Includes information that we are required to tell you under the New Zealand Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers; and
  • Applies to any current work and to any future work we do for you (unless we agree in writing to change these terms).
Note: before your first meeting with us, you need to read about identification and address verification.

Disbursements & Fees

  1. Disbursements and fees included in standard residential conveyance transactions include forms and stationery charges, toll calls, faxes, emails, one title search, one guaranteed title search, one bank cheque fee or electronic funds transfer fee, LINZ registration.
  2. Disbursements not included in a standard residential conveyance transaction include, but are not limited to: LIM fee, cost of builders report or other structural reports, valuation fees, courier fees, rates, or body corporate fees. We also charge a commission on funds held on deposit through our trust account (5% of interest received is deducted to cover handling and administration costs).


  1. Matters will be billed at the time of settlement or on completion of the work and the fee is payable on Settlement day. If you anticipate difficulty in the payment of an account then we ask you discuss this with us immediately, upon receipt of these terms of engagement.
  2. We may be able to help you by having payments spread over the time from commencement to completion of the transaction. However, we expect that full payment of your account is to be finalised by Settlement day.
  3. By instructing First Property Legal you accept liability to pay the account that the firm will render for work done together with all disbursements incurred in respect of such instructions and you authorise us to deduct our fees, expenses and disbursements from any funds held in our trust account on your behalf where we have provided an invoice.
  4. If any account is not paid by the due date we reserve the right to charge interest on the outstanding balance at the rate of 4% above our ANZ Bank commercial overdraft rate per annum from the date upon which payment was due and you will be responsible for any reasonable debt collection costs that we incur in recovering outstanding amounts due to us.
  5. If your account remains outstanding after 10 days, no further work will be undertaken by any lawyer in the firm until appropriate arrangements are made to bring the account back into good standing.

Settlement Monies

  1. For property and financing transactions where you are required to pay funds to another party, you must deposit the correct amount of cleared funds into our trust account no later than the morning of the settlement. Failure to do so could result in settlement being delayed and you incurring penalty interest.

Verifying your Identity

  1. We are required by law to verify your identity (customer due diligence).
  2. You authorise us to collect information about you (including customer due diligence information), to obtain, exchange, hold and use such information, and to make other enquiries we think appropriate to:
    1. Confirm information provided to us about you is true;
    2. Undertake initial and ongoing customer due diligence and monitoring in accordance with the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (AML/CFT Act); and
    3. Comply with any other legal obligations we may have.
  3. You authorise any person or entity to disclose information to us in response to these enquiries.
  4. You accept that we may use third party service providers, such as customer due diligence service providers (including electronic based services) to verify your identity and conduct other customer due diligence or monitoring required under the AML/CFT Act and that when we use such services:
    1. The third party service provider will exchange information about you for that purpose and the third party may hold information on its system and use it to provide their customer due diligence service to their other customers;
    2. We may use the third party services in the future for any authorised purpose (including in relation to ongoing customer due diligence). This may include using the third party’s monitoring services to receive updates if information about you changes.


  1. We will treat all information we hold about you as private and confidential. We will not use it or share it unless:
    1. You agree or ask us to do so;
    2. We need to do so in order to carry out work for you;
    3. The law requires us to (for example under the AML/ CFT Act, and/or the Inland Revenue Department, the Financial Markets Authority and other government agencies have powers to compel us to provide information we have about you);
    4. The New Zealand Law Society Rules of Conduct and Client Care permit or require us to do so.
  2. You authorise us to provide any information we hold relating to your United States Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) or Common Reporting Standard (CRS) status or other FATCA or CRS matters to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) and to our banks if they request information to be able to meet their FATCA or CRS obligations. If you do not provide any such information that we request, you authorise us to report your non-response, identity and reportable balance to our banks and IRD.
  3. If you would like more information about FATCA or CRS, please contact IRD.
  4. We will provide you with copies of documents you are entitled to under the Privacy Act or any other law if you ask us to do so. We may charge you our reasonable costs to do so.


  1. We will usually communicate with you by email about the work we do for you. If you do not want us to send you correspondence by email, please let us know.
  2. We have virus protection software and security protocols in place. However, we cannot guarantee that electronic communications will always be free from viruses or other defects, are secure, or will be received.
  3. We may occasionally email you information we think is relevant and useful to you. If you do not want to receive that information, let us know.
  4. You authorise us (without further reference to you) to destroy (or delete, in the case of electronic documents) all files and documents relating to an instruction (other than documents that we have agreed to hold in safe custody for you) seven years after our engagement ends, or earlier if we have converted those files and documents to an electronic format. We may retain files and documents for longer at our option. Upon closing your file, you are welcome to uplift copies of the information on your file to which you are entitled. We may charge you our reasonable costs for providing you with such information. Please give us reasonable notice before collecting your file copies.

Intellectual Property

  1. Unless we agree otherwise, we retain ownership of all opinions, documents and other intellectual property created by us and you must not provide our advice to others (such as using our opinions in any public document or statement).

Scope of Work

  1. We are not qualified to give the following advice:
    1. Investment advice;
    2. Tax advice;
    3. Insurance advice; and
    4. Advice about foreign laws.
  2. Unless we agree to do so in writing, we will not:
    1. Remind you about dates (such as PPSR renewal, Lease or Consent expiry dates); or
    2. Update our advice after we have given it.

Ending our Engagement

  1. You have the right to terminate our engagement at any time by giving us reasonable written notice.
  2. We may terminate our engagement if there is good cause, such as you not providing us with instructions in a sufficiently timely manner or your unwillingness, inability or failure to pay our fee on an agreed basis, or, except in litigation matters, your adopting, against our advice, a course of action which we believe is highly imprudent and which may be inconsistent with our fundamental obligations as lawyers. If we terminate the retainer, we will give you reasonable notice so that you can arrange alternative representation and we will give you reasonable assistance to find another lawyer.
  3. If our engagement is terminated, you must pay us all fees due up to the date of termination and all expenses incurred up to that date.

The Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund (the Fund)

  1. The Fund exists to provide compensation of up to $100,000.00 per claimant for clients who suffer theft of money or other valuable property entrusted to lawyers.
  2. The Fund will not pay compensation in respect of money that you instruct us to invest on your behalf (subject to limited exceptions set out in the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006).
  3. This is only a short summary of the major provisions in the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 relating to the Fund. If you would like further information, please ask us.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

  1. We hold current professional indemnity insurance which exceeds the New Zealand Law Society’s minimum standards.

If you have a Complaint

  1. We are committed to providing you with competent, timely service. If you have a complaint about our service please raise it with the partner responsible for your matter, or any other partner in our firm.
  2. If your complaint cannot be resolved immediately to your satisfaction, we will appoint a partner who has not been involved in your matter to deal with it promptly and fairly.
  3. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you have the right to take the matter up with the New Zealand Law Society which runs a complaints service. The New Zealand Law Society may be contacted on 0800 261 801.

Enforceability of these Terms

  1. The enforceability of these terms is not affected by:
    1. The end of our engagement; or
    2. Any changes to our partnership or the incorporation of our firm.


  1. If you decide that you do not want our firm to act on your behalf, please inform us immediately. You do not need to sign these Terms of Engagement in order to accept them – you accept these Terms of Engagement by continuing to instruct us.

First Property Legal

Client Care and Service Information

Whatever legal services your lawyer is providing, he or she must:

  • act competently, in a timely way, and in accordance with instructions received and 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 how and 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 properly and fairly.

The obligations lawyers owe to clients are described in the Rules of Conduct & 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 www.lawsociety.org.nz or call 0800 261 801.