Varma Legal, Barrister and Solicitor
Phone No. : (+64)-9-627-2660


Terms of Engagement

Thank you for approaching me in this matter. I will be pleased to act for you. I set out below the information which lawyers are required by the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers of the New Zealand Law Society to provide to clients, and our standard Terms of Engagement.

These standard Terms of Engagement apply in respect of all work carried out by me for you, except to the extent otherwise agreed in writing.

Duty of Care
My duty of care is to our client named in our confirmation of instruction. I do not owe any duty of care or liability to any other person. If any person wishes to rely on our advice, they can do so only if I expressly agree. If, during the course of our engagement, I provide legal services to entities related to you or associated with you, then these services will be provided on the same terms as these standards terms.

The Law Society client care and service information is set out below. Whatever legal services your lawyer is providing, he or she must:

  • Act competently, in a timely way, and in accordance with instructions.
  • 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 promptly and fairly.

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 queries, please visit

Responsibility for Services
Your work will be handled mainly by Pawan Varma and in his absence by John Cox. However other legal and support staff may also be involved as required.

Limitations on our Obligations or Liability
Any limitations on the extent of our obligations to you or any limitation of exclusion of liability are set out in our letter of engagement. I specifically exclude any kind of retainer ship to give advice on economic, GST liability, commercial or any other kind of investment advice on your property transaction, which you acknowledge.

I will hold in strict confidence all information concerning you or your affairs that I acquire during the course of acting for you. I will not disclose any of this information to any other person except :

  • To the extent necessary or desirable to enable me to carry out your instructions;
  • Where you authorise me to do so; or
  • To the extent required by law or by the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.

Confidential information concerning you will as far as practicable be made available only to those within our firm who actually need that information to carry out your instructions. I will not disclose to you confidential information which I have in relation to any other client.

Electronic Communications
Where I communicate with you by electronic means I will take every reasonable precaution to ensure that those communications are accurate, reliable, adequate complete confidential and secure.

However, I cannot always be certain that those communications are error free. Also, because they will in most cases be internet based, certain risks exist that are outside our control. Consequently I cannot and do not represent or warrant that those communications will always be accurate, reliable, adequate complete confidential and secure. I also exclude all warranties to the extent permitted by law.

Conflicts of Interest
I have policies in place to identify and respond to conflicts of interest. If a conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest arises I will follow the requirements and procedures set out in the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers, advise you of the conflict or potential conflict, and consult with you about the best way to resolve the matter.

I will not act without your consent for any other client where that client’s instructions :

  • Are substantially relayed to any active matter on which I am working for you; or
  • Involve confidential information which I hold on your behalf that would disadvantage you if disclosed to the other client.

Trust Account
I maintain a trust account for all funds which I receive from clients (except monies received for payment of our invoices). If I am holding significant funds on your behalf I will normally lodge those funds on interest bearing deposit with a bank. Unlike most lawyers I will not charge an administration fee for doing so.

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

Lawyers Fidelity Fund
The Law Society maintains the Lawyers Fidelity Fund for the purposes 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.

I 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 complaint about my services or charges, you may first bring this fact to my attention in writing and if you are not satisfied by my response you may refer your complaint to the Law Society. To do so you should contact the Law Society. Set out below is the information required by the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for the Law Society’s address and appropriate phone number.

The Law Society also maintains a complaints service and you are able to make a complaint to that service. To do so you should contact the Law Society. Set out below is the information required by the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for the Law Society’s address and appropriate phone number.

26 Waring Taylor Street, Wellington – 6011, New Zealand
Telephone : 0800 261 801

Where you give me any instruction and I rely on that instruction (for example, by giving an undertaking to a third party), you may not revoke that instruction. Otherwise you may terminate our retainer at any time, on any matter or matters. You do not need to give notice.

I may terminate our retainer in any of the circumstances set out in the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. I will give you reasonable notice.

Provided that you have paid all of our invoices on all matters, I will (on request) provide to you all the documents that I have obtained or created through working on the matter or matters in question. Before I provide those documents to you, I may take a complete copy of them.

If our retainer is terminated you must pay me all fees due up to the date of termination, and all expenses incurred up to that date, including the costs of copying files.

If our engagement is terminated, these terms continue to apply in respect of you instructions.

Retention of files and documents
Subject to any legal requirement, I will retain the file that I create for your work on any one matter for a minimum of seven (7) years after I finish working for you on that matter. I may hold that file electronically rather than physically.

You authorise me (without further reference to you) to destroy all files and documents for this matter (other than any documents that I hold in safe custody for you) seven (7) years after our engagement ends, or earlier if I have converted those files and documents to an electronic format.

If you wish me to retain all or part of the paper files (where I have one) please advise me in writing before the matter is completed.

Joint Action
If I am acting for you and for other clients in what is in effect a joint action or defence in which it is understood that you will share the costs and disbursements with our other clients, then our agreement to act for you in this manner is subject to your agreement to share costs on a proportionate basis; your meeting your financial obligations to me; your agreeing that in the event of any difference between you and any of those other clients in that grouping, that you will accept decisions made by the majority of that group in terms of instructions to me in respect of any and all matters; you will provide me with all of the documentation in your power or possession and will co-operate fully with me as I may require to assist your position or that of others within the group; either I or you (at any time and with no less than seven (7) days written notice) may terminate participation within that group arrangement and thereafter you will be solely responsible for your own costs and disbursements payable to me. Where you are asking me to act on behalf of a company or an entity (including a trust) other than a private individual, then in consideration of our accepting these instructions, you personally guarantee the payment to me of all amounts that may be due to me by that company or entity. You accept that you are jointly and severally liable for any amount outstanding.

Our fees will be charged on the basis that they will be fair and reasonable having regard to the circumstances of the matter and the nature of our work for you. While the time and resources involved will be important factors, I will also consider the results achieved and the urgency, level of skill, complexity, responsibility and specialist knowledge involved.

Our fees will be calculated taking into account Law Society approved criteria, including, but not limited to:

  • Our time and attendance at our normal hourly rates charged for solicitors and support staff;
  • The skill and knowledge and responsibility required;
  • The value or amount of any property or money involved;
  • The complexity, novelty, importance, and urgency of the matter;
  • The important of the matter to you, and the results achieved.

If our engagement letter specifies a fixed fee, I will charge this for the agreed scope of our services. Work which falls outside that scope will be charged on an hourly rate basis. I will advise you as soon as reasonably practicable if it becomes necessary for me to provide services outside the agreed scope, and if requested, give you an estimate of the likely amount of the further costs. You will be advised if it appears that the estimate is going to be exceeded.

Where our fees are calculated on an hourly basis the routine work will be charged at an hourly rate of $250.00 p.h. Depending upon the complexity of the matter and the experience and specialisation required to undertake that work the hourly rate can be charged upto $450.00 p.h. Time spent is recorded in 6 minute units, with time rounded up to the next unit of 6 minutes.

Our invoices will include any New Zealand Goods and Services Tax (GST) applicable to our supply of services to you.

Disbursements and Expenses
In providing services I may incur disbursements or have to make payments to third parties on your behalf. Disbursements are payable by you in addition to our fee for professional legal services. If I am required to incur substantial disbursements on your behalf, for example court filing fees, title search fees, registration fees, document service fees, and similar payments, I am not required to pay these amounts unless I receive payment for them from you first. I reserve the right to ask you either for specific amounts in advance to cover such disbursements, or for an approximate amount to cover these expenses, to ensure that I am not required to meet these disbursements ourselves.

Our invoices include an office service charge to cover the cost of routine copying, printing binding, LINZ administrative charges, telephone, fax and courier expenses. The office service charge is usually $50-100 for invoices upto $1,500.00 and 3% of fees for all other invoices.

Our usual practice is to issue interim invoices on approximately a monthly basis, and on completion of the matter, or termination of our engagement. For continuing and ongoing matters I will bill you at appropriate intervals. I may also send you an invoice when I incur a significant expense. I may require you from time to time to pay in advance an estimated amount on account of our future fees and disbursements.

Our invoices are payable from the settlement proceeds and/or by the 20th of the month following the month of the invoice if specifically agreed by me and/or unless alternative arrangements have been made with me. If you do not pay me by the due date, or make payments when requested by me, then I may charge interest on any amount which is more than seven (7) days overdue. Interest will be calculated at the rate of 15.0% per annum, calculated daily and compounding monthly. I reserve the right to suspend our services to you until the invoices are paid, or security for payment provided to our satisfaction, or payment is received from you for future fees and disbursements in advance (if required).

You specifically authorise me to debit against amounts pre-paid by you; and to deduct from any funds held on your behalf in our trust account any fees, expenses or disbursements for which I have provided an invoice.

Although you may expect 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 me if the third party fails to pay me.

All invoiced amounts are payable in New Zealand dollars unless I agree otherwise.

I may ask you to pre-pay amounts to me, or to provide security for our fees and expenses. You hereby agree to grant me security by way of a mortgage over any real properties owned by you (in any capacity, whether beneficially or as trustee, personal, as director or as nominee or agent). The mortgage granted by you is secures the payment of our fees, disbursements, interest and other charges. You acknowledge that I may lodge a caveat in the name of our principal John Cox as an acknowledgement and security for this agreement to mortgage. If I need to take recovery action against you, you will be liable to reimburse me for our actual costs of taking that action, i.e. solicitors or debt collectors fees, and court costs.

These terms apply to any current engagement and also to any future engagement, whether or not I send you another copy of them. I am entitled to change these terms from time to time, in which case I will send you amended terms. Our relationship with you is governed by New Zealand law and New Zealand courts have exclusive jurisdiction.

I look forward to working with you on this matter.

Acknowledgement of Terms of Engagement
If the information in this letter and the accompanying material is acceptable, please sign the attached copy of this letter where indicated and return it to me.

You will be bound by these terms if after receipt of this letter, you orally advise me of your acceptance or if you instruct me to proceed to act for you.

Services to be provided and Instructions to Act

The above terms are accepted and you are requested to act in this matter. I/We acknowledge and agree that these terms of engagement will apply, now and in the future, to all legal services provided by Varma Legal Solicitors to us.

Please act for us in relation to the following legal services :


and all associated and incidental matters.

Yours faithfully,

Name of Signatory: