Call on 09 215 7564


Terms of Engagement

What Are Catherine's Terms?





This summarises the terms on which I accept instructions as a Barrister, the basis on which my professional fees are charged, and other relevant information.

I am providing this information to assist clients and instructing solicitors.

Client Care

The obligations lawyers owe to clients are described in the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers (the Rules) and set out below.

Acceptance of Instructions

I will accept instructions to act in compliance with the Rules when the following requirements are met:

  • I am offered instructions in an area of law in which I have the necessary current knowledge and expertise, which is all areas of employment law;
  • I am not conflicted from accepting those instructions;
  • I have the capacity to undertake the work required;
  • The client commits to pay my fees and makes acceptable arrangements in that regard.

Professional Staff

I will be the Barrister who undertakes the work and has the overall responsibility for the services I provide to the client. I may also delegate some work to my Staff Barristers, Carla Pallant-Drake and Ellen Taylor.

My Capacity and Experience

In relation to my experience, I was admitted to the New Zealand Bar in 1990 and have practised almost exclusively in litigation since that time. I have a background in commercial and civil litigation however for over 15 years I have specialised in employment law.

Advocacy Experience as a Barrister

I have significant advocacy experience as a Barrister which includes appearing before the Court of Appeal, Employment Court and Employment Relations Authority in employment matters.

Direct Instructions

As the New Zealand Law Society has granted me approval to take direct instructions from clients I do not require an instructing solicitor when I act for clients, unless:

  • a case involves proceedings in the Employment Court in the first instance or proceedings in or an appeal to the High Court, Court of Appeal or Supreme Court; or
  • I consider that in all the circumstances it would be in the client's best interests or in the interests of justice for an instructing solicitor to be retained.

Upfront Payments

I may ask clients to pay an upfront deposit and/or to pre-pay amounts to the trust account of my Escrow Agent Wilson McKay, Barristers and Solicitors. In this case I will ask clients to sign a separate Escrow Agreement which outlines the terms of the Escrow Agent and which is based on a template provided by the New Zealand Law Society. Wilson McKay charges a fixed fee of $150 plus GST per file for their services as Escrow Agent and clients authorise this fee to be deducted from any amounts held in Wilson McKay's escrow account on their behalf.

Confidentiality

I will hold in confidence all information concerning clients' affairs obtained during the course of acting for them.

Retention of Files

Clients authorise me to destroy all files and documents relating to their matter seven years after the engagement ends.

Billing Arrangements

I issue interim accounts, usually monthly, while work is in progress, with a final bill on completion.111 I may deduct from funds held on your behalf with my Escrow Agent any fees, disbursements or expenses for which I have provided an invoice.

The Basis of my Charges

My fees are calculated primarily on the basis of time recorded (unless agreed otherwise). However, in calculating fees a range of other factors may also be applied in accordance with NZ Law Society guidelines, including expertise, importance, urgency and the results achieved.

My hourly rate is $430 per hour (excluding GST and disbursements). The hourly rate for my staff Barrister Carla Pallant-Drake is $265 (excluding GST and disbursements) and for my staff barrister Ellen Taylor $250.00 (excluding GST and disbursements). These hourly rates may be subject to change, usually on an annual basis, and you are welcome to seek confirmation of these rates at any time. Any travelling time is charged at half of the applicable hourly rates.

I also charge for disbursements (photocopying, court fees, registrations, couriers, out of Auckland travel expenses, duties/levies, etc). These will be itemised separately in my monthly invoices. I do not add any margin in rebilling you with such disbursements and will notify you if any fees or disbursements need to be paid for in advance.

I also separately charge for office expenses incurred in the ordinary course of providing legal services to you. These include telephone costs, including toll calls, facsimiles and general office expenses such as the cost of opening a file, printing and associated expenses incurred on your behalf. Generally these are included as a standard office disbursement fee of $60 (excluding GST) per invoice, however if there are large amounts of any of these expenses I will itemise additional charges.

Payment Arrangements

Invoices are payable within 10 days of the date of the invoice, unless alternative arrangements have been made with me.

I reserve the right to claim interest on any unpaid amount which is more than 30 days unpaid after the invoice date. Invoices not paid after 30 days from the invoice date shall be subject to an interest charge of 3.5% of the total amount owing for each subsequent period of 30 days that the invoice is overdue. Clients are responsible for all legal and other costs that I incur through recovering or attempting to recover their debt to me. I also reserve the right to retain clients' papers and files until all invoices are paid.

Professional Indemnity Insurance & Fidelity Fund

I carry Professional Indemnity Insurance with Marsh Ltd. This insurance is for a limit of $2,000,000 on any one claim with an annual aggregate of $6,000,000. The excess applicable is $5,000, costs inclusive for each and every claim.

As a Barrister I am not covered by the Lawyers' Fidelity Fund. The Lawyers Fidelity Fund does not provide any cover in relation to a Barrister sole because a Barrister sole does not hold clients' funds.

Complaints

I am committed to resolving any issues of concern as soon as possible. If clients have any concerns or complaints please address them to me in writing in the first instance. If matters are still not resolved please address any concerns in writing to Jill De La Mare of Wilson McKay. These steps should occur before a written complaint is made to the Law Society.

Clients can also contact the NZ Law Society's Lawyers Complaints Service by telephoning 0800 261 801.

Client Enquiries

If you wish to use my services please email me through my website or at catherine@catherinestewart.co.nz with a brief summary of your enquiry and your full contact details. Please also feel free to call me or my staff on the main line (09) 215 7564 for enquiries on preliminary matters. Clients will be provided with and accept a letter of engagement based on the above terms prior to our advising or representing them.

Client Care and Service Information

The following information is as set out in the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008

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 promptly and fairly.

The obligations lawyers owe to clients are described in the Rules. 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.