1. Legal services
We will provide legal services to you subject to these terms and conditions. We must act in your best interests, but we will not carry out any services which are unethical or unlawful.
You must give us adequate and prompt instructions whenever we request.
You must pay for our services in accordance with invoices sent by us even though all of the legal services referred to in the scope of Works in the costs agreement letter.
4. Interest for delay in payment
Interest is payable on the amount of any invoice which is unpaid for longer than 30 days. The rate of interest will not exceed the rate equal to the Cash Rate Target specified by the Reserve Bank of Australia as at the date the invoice was issued, increased by 2 percentage points.
5. Update of estimates
Please be aware that situations can, and do, arise in the course of your matter which means that our estimates may be revised. We will inform you in writing of any substantial change to anything already disclosed in this Agreement as soon as is reasonably practical after we become aware of any such substantial change. It is advisable to ask for updated estimates as the work proceeds.
6. Money in advance
You must pay money in advance on account of our costs and disbursements whenever we reasonably request.
7. Non-payment/failure to instruct
If you do not:
- pay an invoice sent by us within 14 days of the invoice date;
- comply with a request for payment in advance within 14 days after the request is made; or
- provide us with your instructions within the time requested by us, we may stop acting for you.
8. Review of files and personal information
The following people may subject your files and personal information to a review:
- a director of this firm;
- a supervising lawyer;
- a trust account auditor; or
- a Quality Practice Standard auditor.
9. Lump Sum account
We may issue a “lump sum” account (which is not fully itemised) or a bill containing detailed items (an “itemised account”). If you have received a lump sum account you may require us to provide you with an itemised account. We must comply with this request within 21 days after the date the request was made. We will not charge you for the preparation of an itemised account. We cannot commence proceedings against you for recovery of our costs unless at least 30 days have passed since the date a lump sum account, or an itemised account requested by you, is given to you.
10. Costs Assessment
You may apply to a taxing officer for an assessment of the whole or any part of a bill for legal costs even if the legal costs have been wholly or partly paid. Your application for assessment must be made within 12 months after the bill was rendered to you.
11. Request for Information Regarding Costs
If you ask, we must provide you with details of the legal costs and disbursements incurred by you so far and our estimate of the costs payable by you to complete the matter (including, if applicable, the other party’s legal costs and disbursements if you lose).
12. Trust moneys and payments
- By signing this Agreement you agree that when sufficient money is in our trust account, we may pay from the trust account third party payments and you authorise those payments.
- By signing this Agreement you agree that the funds held on trust for you may be applied by us to payment of our fees and disbursements and you authorise us to make those payments without further notice to you other than as required by the Act.
- If we apply any monies held on trust, we must account to you showing how the monies were applied as required by the Act.
We may only invest money held on your behalf as you direct, provided that:
- until we have received your direction; or
- if you do not give any direction,
we must place money received on your behalf in our trust account.
14. Lawyer not responsible for return
We are not responsible for the financial return (whether by way of interest or otherwise) or for any loss resulting from an investment of money made in accordance with your direction.
All Client signatories to this Agreement are jointly and severally liable.
16. Lawyer is your agent
We are your agent and may incur expenses (such as fees charged by an independent barrister) on your behalf. You are responsible for any expenses we incur on your behalf and you agree to us charging these expenses to you and if you do not pay them, recovering them from you. So far as reasonably possible, we must first obtain your consent before incurring substantial expenses on your behalf.
17. Termination by you
You may terminate this Agreement at any time by writing to us. You remain responsible for all costs which we may properly charge up to the time of receipt by us of the notice of termination.
18. Termination by lawyer
We may terminate this Agreement and stop acting for you if:
- you do not comply with this Agreement; or
- you do not give us adequate instructions; or
- we form the opinion, on reasonable grounds, that mutual confidence and trust do not exist between us and you; or
- we consider on reasonable grounds that, by continuing to act for you, we may breach professional conduct rules.
19. Agreement and variation
This Agreement is binding on all parties. It may not be varied except in writing.
We will retain all files, documents and personal property in our possession relating to your matter(s) until our accounts are paid in full or a court orders otherwise.
21. Conclusion of your matter and access / security of your documents
Your file and personal information will be kept for 7 years after the matter has been closed. Within the 7 year period, you can arrange to view the information. Should you require photocopies of any documents, we may charge a fee for this service. During this period your file will be kept in a secure environment and only relevant personnel from our office and the people referred to in clause 8 of this document, will be able to access the information. As an alternative to physical file storage, we may elect to and you authorise us to:
- scan the contents of your file into an electronic format; and
- return to you; or
the paper documents of the file(s) after completion of your matter.
If a dispute arises under this Agreement, including a dispute about the costs payable to us, either party may refer the dispute to arbitration. Unless both parties agree on an arbitrator, the arbitrator is to be appointed by the President of the Law Society of Western Australia. Both parties may be represented in arbitration by a legal practitioner.
23. Magistrate Court jurisdiction
This Agreement applies even if you are unable to recover legal costs from another party because the amount which you succeed in claiming is within the Magistrates Court small claims jurisdiction.
24. Reasonable care and contributory negligence
We must take reasonable care in providing legal services to you. If you suffer injury, loss or damage partly as a result any proven negligence on our part in providing those services and partly as a result of your own negligence, any claim you make against us for breach of contract will be reduced, as if the claim were based in negligence, to the extent that it is just and equitable having regard to your share in the responsibility for the injury, loss or damage.
You acknowledge our copyright in all documents prepared by us and that they must not be reproduced without our prior written permission.
- We are bound by the National Privacy Principals under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and we are committed to respecting the privacy of your personal information.
- Where we refer to “personal information”, this means information which identifies an individual from which an individual’s identity can be reasonably ascertained. In some circumstances, including where it is necessary for the conduct of your matter, we may need to collect sensitive information. Sensitive information is defined in the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and includes health information.
- In the course of acting for you, we may collect some personal information. The personal information we collect is limited in most cases to names, professional and contact details and information relating to the services we provide you. If we are not provided with personal information that we request, we may not be able to fully provide our services to you.
- In some cases we may collect personal information or sensitive information from you about third parties, such as your customers or employees. Before giving us this information, you must provide any notification and obtain any consents which are required by the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) or any other applicable laws or codes to enable us to collect and otherwise handle that third party personal or sensitive information lawfully and without taking any further steps. This may require you to inform those third parties of the matters set out in this clause 26.
- We may share personal information with third parties including your professional advisers (e.g. your accountant) and organisations with whom we have co-promotional arrangements (and any third parties used in administering those arrangements). We may also share personal information with other service providers including barristers, experts and law firms in other jurisdictions, and organisations that provide services to us. In the conduct of your matter, we may also need to share personal information with courts, tribunals and other regulatory authorities.
- In addition to providing our services to you, we may use and disclose personal information to maintain our relationship with you, to keep you informed of our services, events, developments in the law and other matters which we consider may be of interest to you and for purposes related to our research, planning, service development, security and risk management. We may also use and disclose personal information to the extent that we are required or authorised by law to do so.
- Individuals wishing to obtain access to the personal information which we hold about them, should contact our practice manager.
- If you are an individual, you authorise us to collect, use and disclose personal and sensitive information as set out in this clause 26, including where this may involve a transfer of personal information or of health information outside the State or Territory in which it is held.
27. Benefit of Advice
The advice we provide to you is given solely for your benefit and, unless we advise you otherwise and/or our prior consent has been received it:
- may not be relied on by another person;
- may not be disclosed except to persons who have access to your papers and records in the ordinary course of your business, on the basis that they will not disclose the advice to anyone else;
- may not be filed with a government agency or other agency quoted or referred to in a public document;
- is strictly limited to matters stated in and does not apply by implication to other matters;
- is limited to the law of Western Australia, and is given on the basis that it will be governed by the laws of that State; and
- is given as at the date of the communication containing that advice.
Note that we will not notify you of any changes in the law after the date on which the advice was given, unless you specifically ask us to.
28. Guaranteeof Payment
If you are a company or the trustee of a trust we require a personal guarantee from a person associated with that company or trust. That is usually a director, trustee or shareholder. The person giving that guarantee is entitled to a Costs Agreement in relation to this matter and must pay our account if the client does not pay.
29. Applicable law
The law of Western Australia applies to this Agreement and legal costs in relation to this matter.
You acknowledge that GST is payable in respect of each taxable supply made under this Agreement and that all charges including disbursements shown in this Agreement are inclusive of GST unless otherwise stated.
"GST", "taxable supply" and "tax invoice" have the meaning given in A New Tax System (Goods & Services Tax) Act 1999 (Cth).
31. Complaints process
Please contact Catriona Macleod, the director in charge of your matter should you have any concerns or dissatisfaction with the service you receive or the costs for same. Alternatively, you can contact any other director. You also have a right to seek redress under the Act.
32. Application to Court
We understand that you may apply to the Court to have this Agreement reviewed. If the Court forms the view that the Agreement is not fair or reasonable, the costs payable by you may be reduced or this Agreement set aside.
- A reference to this Agreement is a reference to the costs agreement letter and Client Retainer – Terms and Conditions together constituting the Costs Agreement and any annexures and schedules attached to those documents.
- If any part of this Agreement is void or voidable then the remaining parts remain enforceable.