What qualifies someone to practise as a lawyer?

To practise as a New Zealand Lawyer a person must be admitted by the High Court of New Zealand as a barrister and/or solicitor and hold a practising certificate. To have been admitted, that person must be at least 20 years old, have a law degree and be of good character and a fit and proper person.

All lawyers are bound by rules of professional conduct as well as rules and regulations concerning the management of legal practices. These rules have been developed over many years for the protection of the public.

In return for being bound by rules of professional conduct and accepting responsibility for legal processes, lawyers have certain privileges.

These include:

  • The right to appear before the Courts on behalf of others.
  • The right to prepare certain legal documents.
  • The right to take affidavits and declarations.
  • Client communications with their lawyer are protected from disclosure.

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So that we can make the best possible use of the first interview, we recommend that you consider bringing the following to your first interview with us:

  1. A written description of the people involved in your legal problem or case including their names, addresses, phone numbers and occupation.
  2. It is also useful to prepare a written chronology of the facts relating to your case. This could be in note form recording significant dates and events in chronological order.
  3. It is important to bring all documentation that may relate to your case. If you have received any Court documents or correspondence from other parties or lawyers, it is very important you bring these along.

If you would like to arrange a meeting please telephone us on 04 4736850 or contact us by email today.

What should I do to prepare for my first meeting?

So that we can make the best possible use of the first interview, we recommend that you consider bringing the following to your first interview with us:

A written description of the people involved in your legal problem or case including their names, addresses, phone numbers and occupation.

It is also useful to prepare a written chronology of the facts relating to your case. This could be in note form recording significant dates and events in chronological order.

It is important to bring all documentation that may relate to your case. If you have received any Court documents or correspondence from other parties or lawyers, it is very important you bring these along.
If you would like to arrange a meeting please telephone us on 04 4736850 or by email today.contact us

Can a self-employed professional person use a Trust to protect assets?

The Family Trust is the preferred and most frequently used option. Asset ownership can be rearranged using a discretionary family trust to protect a self-employed professional person's assets for family members. The self-employed person may be a discretionary beneficiary. Legal advice on asset protection and the appropriate legal structure should always be obtained before making a decision.

How does a Trust acquire assets?

The settlor sells assets to the trust. The trustees sign an Acknowledgment of Debt equivalent to the value of the assets transferred. The settlor can cancel the debt in annual amounts of up to $27,000.00 without incurring gift duty. This is documented with the Inland Revenue Department. The trust can make payments out of income or capital to the settlor in reduction of the Debt. Until repaid the Debt is an asset of the settlor. The process can be accelerated by the use of a Matrimonial Property Agreement to equalise assets between husband and wife. The trust is a separate tax entity and files a tax return.

Rainey Collins has the experience and expertise to advise you on asset protection and management and the formation and administration of trusts. Please phone for an initial consultation.

How will the Property Relationships Act affect me?

If any of the following situations apply to you, you will want to seriously consider getting some specific legal advice about the implications of the new Act:-

  1. You are in a de facto relationship and do not have an existing Property Sharing Agreement.
  2. You are married or in a de facto relationship and you have not updated your Will accordingly.
  3. You have received, or are likely to receive, an inheritance which you would like to be able to dispose of as you wish.
  4. You have entered into a relationship where you have significant assets and your partner has few assets.
  5. You are in a de facto relationship or marriage and you are considering estate planning and/or asset protection options.

What will I need to invest in my legal issue?

The investment you need to make in any legal matter depends on how important it is to you. There are some things that you can do yourself such as being fully prepared for meetings or discussions. Organising all the paperwork into a logical order etc which will make it quicker and easier for us to give you the advice that you are seeking.

The number of times that we will need to meet with you, meet with witnesses and appear in Court in order to resolve a legal problem is often hard to estimate at the beginning. These are some of the factors that make the estimation of legal costs very difficult. There are often several legal options for trying to resolve your legal problems with different costs so it is important to discuss the pros and cons of all the options and establish a plan and strategy that you feel comfortable with.

We charge for the services we provide in a number of ways. Some times this is at an hourly rate for the time that we spend meeting with you, appearing in Court if necessary, writing letters, speaking on the telephone or otherwise working on your case. We can talk about our hourly rate and payment options at the first interview. Other times there is a set fee for a particular type of matter. On other occasions we charge for special expertise or urgency. Sometimes a bill is made up of several different types of charges.

You will also need to pay GST on top of our fee. The Government requires us to collect this tax for them. The rate is 15%.

You will need to pay all disbursements we make on your behalf. Usually we can give you an idea of what they will be in advance. Items will depend on the sort of matter involved but can be Court filing fees, travel costs such as airfares & accommodation out of town, toll calls, service agents fees, experts costs eg valuers, surveyors, engineers and other expenses necessary to progress your matter.

We will let you know regularly what the costs on your matter are so that you can asses the level of investment you are making and to budget for the costs. We will discuss with you your preferences in relation to the reporting we do to you so that we fit in with any systems you may have. Some clients need monthly reports. Others prefer them quarterly etc.

You need to be comfortable with the investment you are making so please raise any issues with us if you want more information.

Payment of Legal fees

On visiting the lawyer you need to make arrangements to pay the fees. An initial fee, quoted to you by the solicitor you are going to see, will usually be payable for your first visit. You may pay by EFTPOS, credit card, cheque or cash.

After the first visit we may be able to give you an estimate and in some cases a quote. Estimates allow you to gauge the likely cost of legal work. Remember that they are a guide only as many factors are unknown, especially in court matters. Only a partner of the firm may give a quote for other than your initial visit. In some cases we may not be able to give a quote because of the uncertainty surrounding the legal matter or dispute. Any quotes given by the firm will be given in writing.

Legal work involves a significant investment. To assist you for budgeting purposes we will keep you regularly advised of the amount invested. We will arrange a billing system to suit you. This can be either (i) at set intervals e.g. monthly or (ii) at significant stages. We will discuss your preference with you.

Unless otherwise agreed all bills are payable within fourteen days.

Alternative Dispute Resolution? Frequently Asked Questions ...

Parties will be obliged to undertake alternative dispute resolution methods to resolve their dispute, with the option of Court proceedings being the last resort.

Here are some common forms of alternative dispute resolution that may be suitable and used to reach a resolution:

Arbitration

Is a contractual method of resolving disputes. Parties to a contract include a clause that provides that if a dispute arises between the parties they agree to have the dispute decided by an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators. The award made is binding on all parties and is enforceable as a judgment of the Court.

The parties pay the arbitrator but the advantage is often specialised knowledge (say in a building dispute) and a quicker and private hearing. Lawyers are usually involved in the process. However, arbitration generally offers a cheaper method of resolving disputes than Court litigation. Arbitrations are not open to the public.

Mediation

Is where an independent third party assists the parties involved in a dispute to achieve a mutually acceptable resolution. Mediation is included in a number of legislative dispute resolution processes such as the Employment and Family Courts, Residential Tenancies and Resource Management.

Parties to mediation do not need to agree on all issues for the mediation to be successful. If there are multiple issues, parties may agree to dispose of some issues but not others and decisions can be made as to how disputes will be handled between the parties in the future.

The Employment mediation service is provided free of cost. However, if a private mediator is used this will be paid by the parties. Mediations are quick to arrange and are not open to the public. They can also provide more remedies for resolving a dispute than a Court can impose.

Negotiation

Is where parties either themselves or represented by their lawyers formally discuss matters of mutual concern and attempt to resolve the dispute that has arisen between them.

This method of resolving disputes is usually quicker and cheaper than going to Court and provides a way to resolve the dispute in private.

Tribunal Claims

There are various Tribunals that aim to resolve disputes between parties in a cost effective and timely manner. Specialist Tribunals available include the Tenancy Tribunal and Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal, who can hear claims of larger amounts than the non-specialist Disputes Tribunal, which can only hear claims up to $15,000 (or $20,000 with the consent of the parties).

These dispute resolution Tribunals are usually quicker and cheaper than litigation in Court but may be open to the public. Lawyers are not allowed in the Disputes Tribunal. Therefore, you will have to present your own case, but we can assist you to prepare for the hearing by drafting briefs of evidence, assisting with questions to ask the witnesses, etc.

Which alternative resolution method is best for your case will depend on the nature of the dispute, the amount involved, the remedies you seek and the complexity of the facts.

Call us for a no-obligation, confidential, chat on 0800 733 424 if you would like to know more about how we can assist you resolve matters.

Make the most of your initial consultation

If you engage a lawyer, you will want to make sure you make the most of your initial consultation.

It pays to do some preparation beforehand. This will help you get all your issues on the table, and will help ensure your lawyer gets all the information he or she needs to advise you properly on the law, your rights, and the options available to you.

We suggest you write down briefly a summary of what’s happened (including all key dates and events), any questions you have, and what your goals are. It is also useful to write down the names and contact details of all the people involved in your legal problem or case.

Bring as much information with you to your consultation as possible, including copies of any court documents, contracts, or letters about your matter. As a minimum, bring along with you the full names and contact details of all the people involved.

At your consultation, expect your lawyer to ask you a lot of questions. Your lawyer will ask questions to make sure they fully understand what has happened and what legal issues may be involved. Everything you tell your lawyer is treated in strict confidence, so you should feel free to talk frankly.

Once your lawyer has enough information, he or she will talk to you about the legal issues involved, what the applicable law is, and what your options might be going forward. If your case is complex, your lawyer may want to go and do some further research before advising you on the law and your options.

By the end of the meeting, you should know:

  • If your lawyer needs any further information from you,
  • What your lawyer will do next (if anything),
  • What you should do next (if anything), and
  • How much you can expect to spend in legal fees.

In our experience, most clients find the initial consultation a reassuring process.

If you have a legal issue you would like some initial advice on, please feel free to call us for a confidential conversation.