What we can do for you
We can provide you with objective and considered legal advice from a position of many years of experience and study. To do that, we need complete instructions from you including copies of all relevant documents. If we are not given complete instructions or all the relevant documents, our advice to you may be incomplete or wrong or we may not provide advice about the best solution available to you. If you are not sure whether something is relevant or important, tell us as we are in the best position to judge whether or not something is relevant or important. Our legal advice may change if new information and documents come to light.
We will respond to your questions in writing or orally as soon as possible. It is important to understand that we have many clients and we must make judgments about what work must be given priority. When appropriate, you will be the client receiving that priority, but there will be times when we may have to complete work for other clients prior to attending your work. We will ensure that your interests are not prejudiced.
We prefer to send documents and communicate with you by email because it is quick, but we recognise that emails are not always secure. Please let us know if you prefer us to communicate in another way. If you do not instruct us to use a different form of communication, we understand we have your authority to use emails. We don’t use Cloud based document sharing services, such as DropBox or Google Drive because these systems don’t have adequate virus protection or security for your confidential information.
If your usual lawyer is on leave or is otherwise unavailable and cannot respond to your questions in the timeframe you would like, let us know and we will have another lawyer from our office assist you. We will let you know if your lawyer will be going on leave if you have an event coming up.
What We Can’t Do For You
We can’t predict or control the behaviour of the other parties involved in negotiations or in any dispute. If you are involved in Court proceedings, we can’t control how the Court manages its cases or the decision it makes. We can’t necessarily make you feel better when you are distressed but we can guide you through the process which usually helps our clients feel more comfortable about the process being undertaken.
It is not our role to make decisions for you. We will need your instructions to complete documents or negotiations or to resolve any dispute.
We have professional duties imposed upon us by the Legal Profession Act 2008 and the Legal Profession Conduct Rules and we also have duties as officers of the Court which govern how we practise. As a consequence we must write all our documents and letters and emails to others very carefully assuming that anything written by us may be reviewed in light of our duties and could also be used in evidence in Court. This can be time consuming but also leads to better results for you. Further, we cannot simply be your mouthpiece or behave in a way that could mislead another party or the Court.
What Work Do We Charge For?
We charge for meeting with you (including the first meeting), attending Court (if proceedings are required), reading emails and letters we receive from you or the other party or their solicitor, for reviewing documents that you send to us or which are sent to us by the other party, drafting documents, drafting amendments to documents and for all telephone calls to or from you or the other party.
We charge on the basis of the Costs Agreement that we ask you to enter into with us. We do not accept instructions from you unless it is on the basis of our costs agreement. We provide the applicable rate that would be payable under the relevant costs determination (the maximum charge allowable at law without an agreement), so you can compare it to the rate we charge in our Costs Agreement. We will tell you if we think you may be eligible for legal aid. We may be able to make the application for you.
Cost estimates are not a fixed fee for the work that we do. We will tell you if we think the likely costs will exceed our previous estimates.
Why Do We Require Funds In Trust?
We may ask for money up front because we need assurance that we will be paid for the work we do, and to pay any barristers, valuers or mediators we engage to work in your case.
We have obligations to respond to communications from the other party and their lawyers and to report to you the outcome of those communications. We must attend scheduled court hearings if proceedings are required. We do work even when you are not with us, and we tell you what we do by sending you copies of the letters, emails and documents we write or receive on your behalf where appropriate.
We must account to you for any use of the funds we hold on trust for you.
If You Go To Court
We understand that going to Court is a stressful experience for most people. It can be helpful to have moral support from a friend or family member when you attend. Talk to us about what to expect as we find that being forewarned about what to expect removes much of the stress from the experience.
You may find that friends and family will give you advice about your rights or guidance about what to expect. Generally your family and friends have your best interests at heart and are simply drawing on their own experience or experiences of others to suggest what you may expect. The danger with this advice is that there are usually differences in the circumstance that exist for you and those that existed for the other person which results in the advice of friends or family being different from the advice we give you. Feel free to talk to us about any advice or guidance that may have been given to you so that we may explain why our advice may differ.
If you find that your family and friends have questions or concerns about how things are going, our advice, or the Court’s decisions, we can help you manage them and their expectations if you wish. If you think it would help for us to explain to them, talk to us about whether you’d like us to write or meet with them to explain the situation but we must have your consent to do so.
Be mindful that different Judges, Masters, Registrars and Magistrates make different decisions in different circumstances.
It is also important to understand that the law does not necessarily act in the way that you wish it would.
Your Obligations as a Client
We need to identify you to proceed with your instructions. The law requires us to do this to prevent identity fraud. If we have recorded any of your personal details incorrectly, please let us know and we will correct our records as soon as we can.
You can help us do the best job possible for you by:
- responding to our requests for instructions and information promptly;
- giving and continuing to give full and frank disclosure of relevant information and documents. If we become aware that you are concealing information that ought to be disclosed, we have a duty to cease representing you.
Our aim is to help you through what can be a difficult and expensive process. We will try to achieve the outcome you require. In exchange we ask you to treat us and our staff courteously. If you have a concern or complaint, speak to your lawyer or ask to speak to the supervising partner.
Communicating With The Other Party’s Lawyer
Lawyers have professional obligations not to communicate directly with people who are represented by lawyers. If you have your own lawyer, the other party’s lawyer will not be able to communicate directly with you if you contact them.
What you tell us is confidential. We cannot even advise somebody else that we represent you, or discuss your case with anyone, unless you authorise us to do so.