1. Retainer and Acceptance of Offer
The client retains Brightstone Legal Pty Ltd, trading as Brightstone Legal (“the firm”), to act on the client’s behalf in relation to Notary Public documents upon the terms and conditions and in accordance with the client’s instructions from time to time. Upon acceptance, the client agrees to pay for our services in accordance with the terms.
2. The Client’s Obligations
During the conduct of the client’s matter, the client agrees to promptly provide those instructions which the firm needs to properly act. The client will generally assist the firm to conduct the client’s matter efficiently.
3. The Guarantor’s Obligations
During the conduct of the client’s matter and where there is a guarantor specified under the Cost Agreement, this Cost Agreement is to be read in conjunction with the annexed deed of guarantee and indemnity. The Guarantor, by way of execution of the deed of guarantee and indemnity annexed herein, agrees to indemnify and keep indemnified the firm against all liabilities in law, equity and statues arising from relationships, contractual or otherwise, between the firm and the client.
For the avoidance of doubt, the rights and liabilities conferred by the deed of guarantee and indemnity annexed herein cannot and must not be assigned to any other person unless expressly authorised and consented to by the firm.
4. Billing Arrangements
The firm shall issue a tax invoice on a monthly basis but may issue tax invoices on a more frequent basis depending on the nature of the work. All tax invoices are due and payable within fourteen (14) days from the date of the tax invoice.
5. Interest Charges
The client agrees to pay interest at the maximum rate prescribed in Rule 75 of the Legal Profession Uniform General Rules 2015 (“the Uniform General Rules”) (being the Cash Rate Target set by the Reserve Bank of Australia plus 2%) that will be charged on any amounts unpaid after the expiry of thirty (30) days after a tax invoice is given to the client.
6. Recovery of Costs
The Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW) (“the Uniform Law”) provides that the firm cannot take action for recovery of legal costs until thirty (30) days after a tax invoice (which complies with the Uniform Law) has been given to the client.
7. Your Rights
The client is entitled to:
- negotiate a costs agreement with the firm;
- negotiate the method of billing (e.g. task based or time based);
- request and receive an itemised bill within thirty (30) days after a lump sum bill or partially itemised bill is payable;
- seek the assistance of the designated local regulatory authority (the NSW Commissioner) in the event of a dispute about legal costs;
- be notified as soon as is reasonably practicable of any substantial change to any matter affecting costs;
- accept or reject any offer the firm makes for an interstate costs law to apply to the client’s matter; and
- notify the firm that the client requires an interstate costs law to apply to the client’s matter.
If the client requests an itemised bill and the total amount of the legal costs specified in it exceeds the amount previously specified in the lump sum bill for the same matter, the additional costs may be recovered by the firm only if:
- when the lump sum bill is given, the firm informs the client in writing that the total amount of the legal costs specified in any itemised bill may be higher than the amount specified in the lump sum bill, and
- the costs are determined to be payable after a costs assessment or after a binding determination under section 292 of the Uniform Law.
Nothing in these terms affects the client’s rights under the Australian Consumer Law.
8. The Client’s rights in relation to a Dispute concerning Costs
In the event that the client has a dispute in relation to any aspect of the firm’s legal costs, the client has the following avenues of redress:
- in the first instance, the firm encourages the client to discuss the client’s concerns with the firm and its senior management/practitioners so that any issue can be identified, and the firm can have the opportunity of resolving the matter promptly and without it adversely impacting on our business relationship;
- the client may apply to the Manager, Costs Assessment located at the Supreme Court of NSW for an assessment of our costs. This application must be made within twelve (12) months after the bill was provided or request for payment made or after the costs were paid.
9. Payment Methods
It is the firm’s policy that, when acting for new clients, the firm does one or more of the following:
- approve credit;
- ask the client to pay monies into our trust account; and
- ask the client for their credit card details.
Unless otherwise agreed with the client, the firm may determine not to incur fees or expenses in excess of the amount that is held in trust on the client’s behalf or for which credit is approved.
10. Authorisation to Transfer Money from Trust Account
The client authorises the firm to receive directly into the firm’s trust account any judgment or settlement amount, or money received from any source in furtherance of the client’s matter and to pay the firm’s professional fees, internal expenses and disbursements in accordance with the provisions of Rule 42 of the Uniform General Rules.
A trust statement will be forwarded to the client upon completion of the matter.
To the extent permitted by law, the firm’s liability for all claims (for negligence or otherwise), directly or indirectly connected with each matter on which the client has retained the firm, is limited to the cost of re-supplying the firm’s services on the matter or, if a higher limit is enforceable at law, as under the Solicitor’s Scheme approved under the Professional Standards Act 1994 (NSW) of which legal practitioners employed by Brightstone Legal Pty Ltd are members.
Where the client has failed to provide the firm with complete, accurate and timely instructions, the client acknowledges that he is responsible for such loss, directly or by indemnifying the firm.
12. Further agreement regarding payments to the firm
The client further agrees that any present and/or future payments, lump-sum or in stages, made to the firm, even if its quantum had not been originally contemplated by the parties, are prospective payments made in advance for the provision of the firm’s services.
The client, in recognition of the matters set out above, expressly and irrevocably authorise the firm to draw down and to be remitted any such payment received by the firm at the completion of each stage and/or at the completion of the service.
For the avoidance of doubt, the parties acknowledge and agree, as a matter of business reality, that this agreement and the transactions and services contemplated therein shall not be construed to suggest that the firm is a creditor of the client in any circumstances whatsoever.
13. Retention of the client’s documents
On completion of the client’s work or following termination (by either party) of our services, the firm will retain the client’s documents for seven (7) years. The client’s agreement to these terms constitutes the client’s authority for the firm to destroy the file securely after said period. The authority does not relate to any documents which are deposited in safe custody which will, subject to agreement, be retained on the client’s behalf indefinitely. The client is liable for the cost of storing and retrieving documents in storage and the firm’s associated professional fees.
The firm is entitled to retain the client’s documents while there is money owing to the firm for costs.
The firm may cease to act for the client or refuse to perform further work, including:
- while any of the firm’s tax invoices remain unpaid;
- if the client does not within seven (7) days comply with any request to pay an amount in respect of disbursements or future costs;
- if the client fails to provide the firm with clear and timely instructions to enable the firm to advance the matter, for example, compromising our ability to comply with Court directions, orders or practice notes;
- if the client provides any misleading or deceptive information to the firm during the engagement;
- if the client requires the firm to act unlawfully or unethically;
- if the client refuses to accept the firm’s advice;
- if the client indicates to the firm or the firm forms the view that the client has lost confidence in us;
- if there are any ethical grounds which the firm considers that require us to cease acting for the client, for example a conflict of interest;
- for any other reason outside the firm’s control which has the effect of compromising the firm’s ability to perform the work required within the required timeframe; or
- if in the firm’s sole discretion we consider it is no longer appropriate to act for the client; or
- for just cause.
In the event that the firm is entitled to cease to act for the client, the firm:
- will give the client reasonable written notice of termination of our services;
- will not be obliged to take any further step in the conduct of the matter;
- is entitled to file a Notice of Ceasing to Act in the relevant Court; and
the client will be immediately required, notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary, to pay any amount owing to the firm. Where the firm continues to act for the client or takes any further step on behalf of the client, it does so without affecting its rights under this clause.
The client may terminate this agreement and withdraw instructions at any time for any reason by written notice provided:
- the client pays the firm’s costs and expenses incurred up to the date of termination (including if the matter is litigious, any cancellation fees or other fees such as hearing allocation fees for which the firm remains responsible);
- the firm is entitled to charge the client for all and any professional legal services provided after the termination of this agreement by reason of any obligation of the firm to continue to provide legal services on behalf of the client owed to any Court or pursuant to any legislative instrument in force in the Commonwealth of Australia.
Without affecting any lien to which the firm is otherwise entitled at law over funds, papers and other property of the client, the firm shall be entitled to retain by way of lien any funds, property or papers of the client, which are from time to time in our possession or control, until all costs, disbursements, interest and other moneys due to the firm have been paid; and our lien will continue notwithstanding that the firm ceases to act for the client.
The firm manages and protects the client’s personal information collected in the course of providing our legal services. We may further obtain personal information from third party searches, other investigations and, where applicable, from adverse parties.
The firm is required to collect the full and accurate name and address of our clients by Rule 93 of the Uniform General Rules. The firm is also required to comply with our trust account record keeping requirements of Rule 47 of Uniform General Rules and our duty to the courts.
The client’s personal information will only be used for the purposes for which it is collected or in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). By way of example, we may use the client’s personal information to provide advice and recommendations that take into account the client’s personal circumstances. If the client does not provide the firm with the full name and address information required by law, the firm cannot act for the client. If the client does not provide the firm with the other personal information that is requested, the firm’s advice may be wrong for the client or misleading.
Depending on the nature of the matter, the types of bodies to whom the firm may disclose the client’s personal information include the courts, the other party or parties to litigation, experts and barristers, the Revenue NSW, PEXA Limited, the Land Registry Services of New South Wales, the Registrar General and third parties involved in the completion or processing of a transaction.
The firm does not disclose the client’s information overseas unless the client’s instructions involve dealing with parties located overseas. If the client’s matter involves parties overseas, the firm may disclose selected personal information to overseas recipients associated with that matter in order to carry out the client’s instructions.
17. Sending Material Electronically
The client provides the firm with consent to serving our tax invoices to the client electronically at your email address or mobile phone number as specified in this Cost Agreement or as instructed by the client from time to time. The firm is able to send and receive documents electronically. The client acknowledges that electronic transmissions via email and mobile may not be secure and may be copied, recorded, read or interfered with by third parties while in transit.
The client hereby releases the firm from any claim as a result of any unauthorised copying, recording, reading or interference with that document, for any delay or non-delivery of any document and for any damage caused to the client’s system or any files.
Where applicable, GST is payable on our professional fees and expenses and will be clearly shown on our tax invoices. By accepting these terms, the client agrees to pay the firm an amount equivalent to the GST imposed on these charges.
19. Continuation of this Agreement
This agreement will continue in force unless and until it is terminated in accordance with this agreement. This agreement will be binding upon the heirs, executors, administrators and assigns of each party.
20. Governing Law
The laws of New South Wales, Australia govern these terms and legal costs in relation to any matter upon which the firm is instructed to act.