Kapiti Collective
32A Howell Road
Corner Howell and Seaview Roads Paraparaumu Beach


12 Oriwa Street Waikanae 5036


Meeting rooms arranged.

Postal address

PO Box 85
Waikanae 5250

LETTER of ENGAGEMENT to offer legal services

Thank you for instructing us to instruct us to act for you.

We enclose:

  • Our standard Terms of Engagement (“Terms”) for the legal services to be provided.
  • Information for clients which lawyers are required by the NZ Law Society to provide - the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.

Services to be provided

The summary of the legal services we expect to be providing for you is set out in the attached Schedule to this letter. The Schedule may be amended and a copy sent to you. Each Schedule forms part of this letter and is covered by our Terms. You may also instruct us verbally or in writing later. If we accept, we will continue to act for you upon these Terms and you will continue to be bound by them, whether or not the Schedule is updated and a copy sent to you.


The basis on which fees will be calculated are set out in the attached Schedule. By signing your acceptance to this letter offering legal services (letter of engagement) you are authorising us to deduct any fees for which invoices have been rendered, from funds held on your behalf in our trust account.

Responsibility for Services

Brian Geary, the director and senior lawyer at Wise Owl Legal will be acting for you.

Others may also work on this matter with us on your behalf. A registered legal executive or lawyer from another law firm may work in collaboration with Brian Geary as required. You are only responsible for our fee structure. We are responsible for others working with us on your matter. See the Schedule for particulars.

If this letter and the accompanying material is acceptable, please sign the Acceptance of Terms section below where indicated and return it to us. Just this page only. An emailed copy is sufficient.

We look forward to working with you on this matter.

With kind regards

Brian Geary l Director l Lawyer l Wise Owl Legal Ltd


The above Terms are accepted and you are requested to act in this matter. You are authorised to deduct any fees for which invoices have been rendered from funds held on our behalf in the Wise Owl Legal Ltd trust account.



SCHEDULE to Letter of Engagement.

Summary of services to be provided

The following is a summary of the legal services we expect to be providing to you. Summary to be inserted to meet each client's needs.


The basis for our fees will be calculated as follows:

  • Brian Geary’s services at an hourly rate of $ (insert the amount for the relevant service offered) (divided into 10 intervals of 6 minutes) plus GST and applicable disbursements.
  • We are committed to ensuring that you receive the benefit of our legal services in the most cost effective way. To do this, we may use the services outside our legal practise to deliver a range of legal services to you. We will inform you who the agent is and what they will do to assist us, as soon as practicable and usually before we engage them.
  • We may give instructions for example, to an agency that assists lawyers with conveying property via Land Information NZ’s Landonline or it may be a registered legal executive or another lawyer or an accountant. We pay our agent’s bill and add it to your invoice as a disbursement. When we calculate your fee we include the likely agency expenses in our fee calculation to you. See below.
  • An estimate of the likely fee range may be given to you and updated from time to time. A timesheet is kept. An estimate is not a quote. A fixed fee is a quote.
  • Conveyancing work for a fixed fee of $ (insert the amount) plus GST and applicable disbursements.
  • Family Trust documentation for a fixed fee of $ (insert the amount) plus GST and applicable disbursements.
  • If additional work is required beyond that set out for a fixed fee, we will inform you. The hourly rate(s) given apply, unless a further fixed fee is agreed in writing.
  • If you are an Elder, then a10% discount will be applied to the fee calculation before GST and applicable disbursements for those clients who hold a government SuperGold card, whatever method of arriving at the fee is used. If there are 2 or more SuperGold card clients with the same work, the 10% discount will be applied in an equal proportion, to the card holder(s).
  • An overall assessment of the fee calculation will be made to ensure that the fee decision is fair and reasonable for you and us. We may take a number of factors into account. These are set by the NZ Law Society and are included in our general Terms of Engagement (“Terms”) herewith.

Brian Geary l Director l Lawyer l Wise Owl Legal Ltd


This document sets out our general Terms of Engagement (“Terms”). These Terms form part of your agreement with us, except to the extent that we agree with you in writing.

You accept our Terms when you provide us with your instructions and we have given you a copy of our Letter of Engagement offering legal services with its Schedule(s) together with this document setting out our Terms. Our Terms are also available on our website

We may change these Terms and any Letter of Engagement offering legal services and any Schedule to it based on these Terms. If we do, we will send them to you.

Your future instructions can be given to us verbally or in writing. We can accept them that way as well. If so, you also accept our Terms by continuing to instruct us to act for you on them without us sending you a further copy.

We may ask you to sign an acceptance of our Letter of Engagement offering legal services and any Schedule to it. But a signed acceptance form need not always be provided by you to us, so long as your instructions are clearly given and we accept your instructions and continue to act on them.

What legal services we provide:

At Wise Owl Legal Limited, we specialise in property law, business law, elder law and family trusts. We also offer legal services in selected related areas where we have expertise. We will discuss with you any services that we do not offer and assist you with having them provided for you either collaboratively with us or independently of us.

Our goals are:

To help you achieve your desired result in a timely and cost effective way, using our professional expertise to the best of our abilities. We will communicate with you directly and openly and keep you informed of progress. You must also. We are reliant on information that you and sometimes others provide, as we work on your affairs. Our advice is based on our professional judgement on what we know. We cannot always guarantee that every result is predictable and turns out as you expected. There may be risks and pitfalls along the way. But clear practical, timely advice from us is what you need and can expect.

Our director Brian Geary is an experienced senior lawyer. He and those who assist him will work proactively and diligently on the work you entrust to us, to help you achieve your goals. We will be there to answer any questions and issues as they arise.

We are upfront with our fees so there should be no surprises. We offer free initial consultations, and discounted fees to those clients who hold a government SuperGold card. We have a range of fixed and flexible hourly fees to suit the work involved and what is fair and reasonable for both you and us. We value you as a client and show that by the services we provide.

Our duty of Care

Our duty of care is to you, our client and not to any other person. We must expressly agree before any other person can rely on our advice to you. If, during the course of our appointment with you, we provide services to someone associated with you, then we will provide them with these general Terms of Engagement, or similar Terms together with our separate Letter of Engagement and Schedule setting out the services to be provided to them as our separate client.

Your instructions:

Our ability to provide you with the best possible legal service is enhanced considerably by us receiving clear and full instructions from you. The level of communication between you and us before and during the work often contributes to lower fees. Please discuss with us your expectations about what you want to achieve, any important time limits that we need to be aware of, the context in which you are working and the level of legal involvement you require from us.

We invite you to keep in regular contact with us so that we are aware of your most recent instructions. Often work on your matter will be taking place to ensure that your interests are protected and will include attendances that you may not be aware of at the time. If you wish us to stop work at any time, you need to let us know right away. Otherwise we may continue working on your matter.

Persons responsible for Services:

The names and status of the person(s) who will have overall responsibility for the services we provide is set out in the Schedule(s) to our letter(s) of engagement offering legal services to you.

Our fees

We take a pragmatic approach to an issue that daunts so many people when they consult a lawyer – fees. Our fees and the manner in which they are calculated are set out in the Schedule to our Letter of Engagement with you and this, our general Terms of Engagement, unless otherwise stated.

If we specify an estimate of a fee as the basis of our calculations, it is our “best guess” of what the fee is likely to be. It is not a maximum fee or a fixed fee quotation. The ultimate cost may be more or less than the amount estimated. If the work does not proceed as we expected due to unexpected complications or the work proves to be more complicated than originally anticipated, we will charge for the additional work done as well. Where we become aware that the estimate is likely to be exceeded we will advise you of the reasons and obtain your further instructions. Any estimate given will be on a GST exclusive basis.

If we specify a fixed fee as the basis for our calculations, we will charge a fixed fee for the agreed legal services. Any fixed fee given will be on a GST exclusive basis. Work which falls outside that scope will be charged on an hourly rate basis. We will advise you as soon as reasonably practicable if such work becomes necessary and if requested, will give you an estimate of the likely amount of the further costs.

If we specify an hourly rate as the basis of our calculations, these will be specified in the Schedule. Differences in hourly rates reflect the experience and specialization of professional people working on your matter. Time spent is recorded in 6 minute units for each hour or part hour spent. Timesheet(s) are kept.

If we specify another method of charging, which suits certain types of work, we will discuss these with you when they are appropriate.

Whatever method(s) of charging we use, we take an overview as to whether the charge is a “fair and reasonable” fee for the nature of services we do for you having regard to your interests and ours. Our time and resources are important factors in determining the fee and our fees are charged in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Rules of Professional Conduct of the New Zealand Law Society. We take these into account.

They include:

  • The skill, specialised knowledge and responsibility required
  • The importance of the matter to you, the result achieved and value of the transaction
  • The complexity of the matter and the difficulty or novelty of the issues involved
  • The number and importance of the documents prepared and/or perused.
  • The urgency and circumstances in which the matter is undertaken and any time limitations imposed
  • The degree of risk assumed by us in undertaking the services including the amount or value of the property involved.
  • The time spent.
  • Whether the fee is fixed or based on our hourly rate(s) or both or by some other method of calculation.
  • Any estimate or quote of fees given by us
  • The reasonable costs of running our legal practise.

The relevant importance of the factors set out above will vary according to the particular circumstances of each transaction. To assist us in determining the appropriate fee for work done for you, each author has an hourly charge-out rate and keeps a timesheet of all work spent working for you. We charge in units of six minutes (i.e. 10 units per hour) and our minimum charge for a chargeable item is one unit. We will provide timesheets and hourly rates on request.

Disbursements and office expenses:

We may incur these ourselves or with third parties on your behalf. These will be included in an invoice to you.

Disbursements are those expenses we pay to a third party on your behalf (such as title and other search fees, registration fees, council/government charges and court fees). They also include any external people or organizations we instruct on your behalf. We may require an advance payment of these to ensure that we can pay them promptly on your behalf.

Office recoveries are expenses that we incur within our legal practise on your work. These are generally charged at 1.5% of our net fee, to cover photocopying, faxing, phone charges etc.

GST (if any) is payable on our fees, disbursements and expenses.

How we invoice you

You can pay any invoice by cash, cheque or by bank transfer to Wise Owl Legal Ltd Trust Account at Westpac Bank, North End, 140 Lambton Quay, Wellington. The account number is 03 0539 0018191 00

Invoiced monthly:

Generally, we will send you an invoice for our fees and disbursements at the end of each month while the work we do for you is continuing, or if expressly agreed by us when the particular matter is completed. Unless otherwise stated:

Property conveyancing invoices (sales, purchases, refinancing) are payable on or prior to settlement date or completion of the transaction.

Family Trust invoices are payable upon completion of the agreed documents and providing you with your Trust Folder (if needed).

Payment dates:

Unless otherwise stated in our Letter of Engagement (including its Schedule(s) to you), our fees and expenses are to be paid within 14 days of the date of our invoice.

Interest if a Late Payment:

If your invoice or part of it remains unpaid for more than 30 days after the due date, we reserve the right to charge you interest on the unpaid part at 12% per annum calculated on a daily basis from due date for the amount then due until payment is received in cleared funds.

It is essential that you pay your account by due date. If an invoice is not paid by due date we may notify you that we intend to cease acting as your lawyer. You will continue to be responsible for payment of our invoice(s). If you anticipate any difficulty in paying on time, please contact us immediately to discuss the matter. We may be able to work out a payment plan suitable to us both but we are under no obligation to do so.

How we handle your money and property

Your acceptance of our Letter of Engagement and these Terms of Engagement, authorises us to deduct from any money we hold on your behalf in our trust account, towards payment of our fees and expenses invoiced to you.

Sometimes, especially in urgent or complex matters, we ask for a deposit before work can commence. The deposit will be held in our client trust account and applied to our final invoice on your matter. In the meantime, we expect that our monthly invoices will be met in full.

In the unlikely event that we are obliged to recover or attempt to recover amounts invoiced to you, then you will incur more costs. These include your solicitor/client costs and any other costs properly incurred during the cost recovery process. Any payments made by you will be applied first in reduction of costs, secondly interest and then the principal sum due.

Any money or property we receive from you, or on your behalf, will be held by Wise Owl Legal Ltd on trust for you unless you instruct us otherwise. We will follow your instructions as to how money or property that we hold is to be applied or distributed.

If any significant amount is held on trust for you, we will normally place these funds on interest bearing deposit with a registered trading bank and will charge an administration fee of 5% of the interest derived.

Wise Owl Legal Ltd cannot withhold from you nor use for its own benefit, any money or property that we hold in trust on your behalf, except for money we use to pay fees and expenses that we incur through acting for you, or for money that we deduct as our commission from interest received on money that we hold on your behalf, or when we are legally required to withhold the money from you.

We will keep records of all money or property that we hold on your behalf with details of any financial transactions that relate to you. We will not usually provide you with a receipt unless you ask for one, unless you pay us in cash. We will provide you with details of any financial transactions that relate to you.

Any money that you pay to us for settlement purposes (such as the purchase of a home or business) should be in cleared funds, and paid either by bank cheque or direct credit, made payable to Wise Owl Legal Ltd Trust Account. Please note that we may delay distributing money that has not been provided to us in cleared funds until we have received confirmation that the funds have been cleared.

We are not qualified for and do not provide investment advice.

Your files and information after the work is completed

We will keep all documents relating to your work for at least seven years after we have completed it. We may instead hold your file electronically rather than physically. You authorise us to destroy these records seven years from the date of our final invoice or we finish working for you on your file. But we keep and do not destroy any valuable documents you have given us for safekeeping, such as (but not limited to) wills, trust deeds and powers of attorney.

What to do if you have concern or complaint about our work

We value our relationship with you but occasionally a client may have a concern or complaint about our work. We maintain a procedure for handling any concerns, queries or complaints, designed to ensure that they are dealt with promptly and fairly.

In the first instance, please refer your concern or complaint to our Director and senior lawyer Brian Geary. He will communicate with or meet with you promptly to discuss the issues and attempt to resolve them. We will then formally respond to you in writing.

If we are then unable to resolve the matter to your satisfaction, we may decide, at no cost to you, request a senior lawyer of our choice, in a Wellington law firm to assist both you and us, to resolve the matter as soon as possible.

If the matter is then unable to be resolved to your satisfaction, we will assist you, if requested, to refer your concern or complaint to the New Zealand Law Society Complaints Service. You have at any time the right to raise your concern or complaint regarding our work directly with the New Zealand Law Society if you wish.

The NZ Law Society operates the Lawyer Complaints Service and you are able to make a complaint there. The Service can provide information and advice about making a complaint and will contact us. They may be contacted at PO Box 5041, Wellington 6145, Tel 04 472 7837 or 0800 261 801.

End of relationship with Wise Owl Legal Ltd

Where you give us an instruction and we rely on it (for example, by giving an undertaking to a third party) you may not revoke that instruction. Otherwise, you can end your relationship with us on any matter(s) at any time. Please notify us in writing. We will send you an invoice for our fees and expenses up to the date of termination of the relationship. If you want the documents relating to our work for you, we will (on request) provide those documents once you have paid all amounts invoiced by us to you. Before we provide those documents to you, we may take a complete copy of them.

We may terminate our relationship with you in any of the circumstances set out in the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers set out by the New Zealand Law Society.

Electronic services and communications

Where we provide any electronic service to or for you, including emails, we take every reasonable precaution to ensure that all such communications are accurate, confidential and secure. But we cannot always be certain that they are error free. In most cases these communications are based in the internet and certain risks do exist outside our control. As a consequence we will not be responsible for any risks associated with electronic communications.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

We hold professional indemnity insurance that meets or exceeds the minimum standards specified by the New Zealand Law Society. We will provide you with particulars of the minimum standards on request. The liability of Wise Owl Legal Ltd and its Director and senior lawyer Brian Geary for any breach of our obligations to you in respect of legal services provided to you, shall not exceed the professional indemnity insurance cover held by them at the relevant time

We provide legal advice in our specialist and related legal areas. We are not qualified for and do not give any advice on investment matters, including but not in any way limited to any property investments you may make using our legal services.

Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund

The New Zealand Law Society maintains the Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund for the purpose 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


While acting as your lawyers, you authorise us to collect and hold personal information about you. We will hold all information concerning your affairs in strict confidence except where we are carrying out your instructions, or where we must do so by law or by the New Zealand Law Society Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. The reverse also applies. We are not able to disclose to you confidential information that we obtain through acting for other clients.

We may use the information we hold about you to provide you with legal services and to inform you about issues and developments that may be of interest to you. We may also use information about you to obtain a credit reference and for debt recovery purposes.

Conflicts of interest

We have policies in place to identify and respond to a conflict or a potential conflict of interest. We will consult with you about the best way to resolve the matter.

Under the Privacy Act 1993 you have the right to access your personal information with us and to require us to change it if it is not correct. Just ask and we will assist.

The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (AML/CFT legislation) requires lawyers and incorporated law firms from 1 July 2018 to report any suspicious transactions and activities involving clients.

Client Care and Service information

The New Zealand Law Society client care and service information is set out below. Whatever the legal services your lawyer is providing, he or she must and we shall endeavor at all times to:

  • Protect and promote your interests and act for you free from compromising influences or conflicts of interest.
  • Discuss with you your objectives and how they should best be achieved.
  • Act competently, in a timely way, and in accordance with instructions received and arrangements made.
  • Provide you with information about the work to be done, who will do it and the way the services will be provided.
  • Protect your privacy and ensure appropriate confidentiality.
  • Treat you fairly, respectfully and without discrimination.
  • Give you clear information and advice.
  • Keep you informed about the work being done and advise you when it is completed.
  • Charge you a fee that is fair and reasonable and let you know how and when you will be billed.

These obligations are subject to other overriding duties, including duties to the courts and to the justice system. If you have any questions, then please visit the NZ Law Society website at or call 0800 261 801.