In acting on your behalf for your divorce we will prepare your Application and proceed with same based on the accuracy of the information which you as the client have provided. Whilst we endeavour to act on your behalf to obtain the Decree for Divorce, in so acting we rely on your instructions and you are ultimately responsible for the accuracy of same.
In the event that your Application for Divorce is discontinued either at your personal election or due to the inaccuracy of the material provided to us, we do not provide any refund of our professional costs in these circumstances.
If the Divorce is contested our professional fee does not include acting on a contested Divorce and this will be subject to a separate negotiated fee with you as the client.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS
The Legal Profession Act (LPA) regulates the legal services we provide and allows us to enter into a Costs Agreement with you. Those terms and conditions of our Costs Agreement are set out below.
1. Our relationship
Who we are: We are a division of the legal firm Finemore Walters & Story Solicitors based in Queensland and hold appropriate indemnity insurance for the conduct of our services.
Services: We will perform the work with professional skill and diligence as your lawyers acting in your best interests. We will not perform work for you if factors such as a conflict of interest or other laws prevent us from accepting your instructions.
Our obligations: We will keep you informed of the progress of the work. You may also request, at any time, a written report of the progress of the matter.
Multi-party work: Where you instruct us jointly with one or more other parties, you and each other party will be jointly and severally liable to pay our bills.
Your obligations: You agree:
- to provide us with timely, accurate and proper instructions, and all documents and other records relevant to the service we are providing to you; and
- to check to the best of your ability that all facts we rely upon are correct and assumptions we make, are reasonable.
2. Fees and other charges
Professional Fees: Our Professional fees are calculated and charged in the manner set out in the engagement details set out in our website as part of your application.
Included in Professional fees: We will charge fees for all work carried out including but not limited to drafting, reviewing and completing documents, correspondence, advices, conferences, telephone calls, court appearances, research and providing representation letters where requested by you.
Other charges: All disbursements and outlays we incur on your behalf and for which you may be liable are set out in our website as part of your application.
Goods and Services Tax (GST): Unless otherwise stated, our fees, other charges and disbursements are stated on a GST inclusive basis. We will treat you as the recipient of the supplies that we make. We will determine the GST payable on our supply of services to you based on your legal status and the nature of the work performed. Where our supply of services to you gives rise to a GST liability for us, the total amount for those services will include an amount on account of that GST.
4. Your Divorce service providers
External service providers: You authorise us as your agent to engage external service providers needed to perform the work (for example a process server to serve your application). Payment of fees and charges of such service providers is as set out in our website as part of your application.
Our liability in relation to service providers: To the extent permitted by law:
- we accept liability for any error on our part in our instructions to those service providers, but take no responsibility for their work or how they carry out their instructions; and
- in suggesting or selecting any service provider, we shall rely on the information we are given as to the qualifications of the person but take no responsibility for that selection and give no warranty as to the ability of the service provider to appropriately carry out the task or as to the quality of that service provider’s work.
5. Billing arrangements
Billing arrangements: You are entitled to receive a signed bill from us. We will email you an invoice at the completion of your matter or if our instructions are withdrawn by you. You authorise us to pay and deduct our professional fees upon the making of the initial decree of divorce.
Electronic billing: By entering this agreement, you confirm we may deliver our bills to you electronically.
External service provider’s payments: Where we receive funds to meet an obligation incurred on your behalf to an external service provider, we will pay the third party as soon as practicable after receipt.
6. Liens and suspension of work
Liens: Subject to the LPA:
- we have a lien on all documents, funds and records in any form whatsoever in our possession until payment in full of all our bills for all matters in respect of which you have retained us; and
- we are entitled to retain for our records, copies of all documents which we give you, whether owned by us or not and to deal with them in accordance with clause 13 below of this Agreement.
Suspension of work: We may at any time suspend all work for you until payment in full of all our bills for all matters in respect of which you have retained us.
7. Apportionment of liability
If you claim compensation, damages or contribution from us or loss or damage arising from acts or defaults (including negligence) on our part and some or all of that loss or damage was due to or contributed to by:
- your own acts or defaults or by the acts or defaults of other persons for whose actions or defaults you are responsible; or
- the acts or defaults of one or more other persons, not being partners, employees or agents for whose conduct we are responsible,
then we will be liable only for that proportion of the loss or damage which our acts or defaults bear relative to the totality of the conduct of all persons causing or contributing to the loss or damage.
Where any law relating to proportionate liability applies to a claim against us, this clause does not seek to exclude the operation of that law but will continue to operate to the extent that its operation is consistent with the law.
8. Trust funds and advance payments
We will ask you for payments in advance. If we do, we will hold that money in trust and tell you how it is used. You authorise us to use such money held in trust to pay for charges and third party payments as and when they arise including reimbursing our general account when we have outlaid funds on your behalf. We may also use money held in trust to pay our professional fees provided we have first given you a bill for them and either;
- you have not objected to the use of the money within 7 days after being given the bill; or
- you do object but do not apply for a review of the costs under the LPA within 60 days after being given the bill;
- or, the money otherwise becomes legally payable.
You authorise us to deposit any moneys we receive on your behalf directly to our trust account and to pay ourselves from this money in the circumstances set out above.
9. Ending our appointment
Termination by you: You may terminate our engagement by giving us written notice at any time. If you do so, you must pay our fees for work done and for other charges incurred up to the time of termination.
Termination by us: We may terminate our engagement:
- by giving you reasonable notice;
- if any payment (including payment of a bill or money in advance) due by you to us under this Agreement is not paid on the due date;
- if you do not provide timely, accurate and proper instructions;
- if, by continuing to act for you, we would be required to act contrary to any legal, regulatory or professional conduct obligation or similar cause; or
Termination by us on any of those grounds does not prejudice or otherwise affect any lien created under clause 6 of this Agreement.
Our obligations: We will keep confidential all confidential information received from you in the course of the work, and partners and staff performing work for you:
- will treat confidential information as being given only to them;
- may disclose confidential information within the firm as required in order to perform the work; and
- will not disclose to you any confidential information of third parties which may be known to them or any other personnel.
Restricted information from us: You understand and accept that our obligation to you with respect to giving you information is restricted by these provisions. Partners and staff working for you will have an obligation to provide advice only to you. We will treat other clients’ instructions to the firm and their confidential information on the same basis.
Internal information use: We may transfer material to our internal databases for learning and knowledge purposes. Before doing so, we will make reasonable efforts to ensure that confidential information is neither disclosed outside the law practice nor otherwise used inconsistently with the obligations referred to above.
11. Compliance with Laws – Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Laws
The Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (Cth), Regulations and Rules (AML laws) place obligations on “reporting entities” to, amongst other things, identify their customers and report certain transactions and suspicious matters to AUSTRAC. Reporting entities are defined in the AML laws to include those entities who provide “designated services” which may extend to legal services we provide to you or financial services we access on your behalf, for example, receiving your money into our trust account and/or dealing with that money on your behalf with financial institutions such as banks.
Notwithstanding your instructions, we will nevertheless seek to comply with all laws applicable to our retainer and the performance of our services for you, including, without limitation, any applicable AML laws.
As a condition of our ongoing retainer, you must therefore provide, or cause others to provide to us, any information we require for those purposes in a timely manner and you authorise us to provide information as required by law to any relevant third party (such as regulators or financial institutions for the purposes of identifying the source of funds (whether for you or for others) and the purpose of any transaction).
12. Official Inquiries
Obligation to produce documents: It is possible that because we have acted for you in a matter or because we have received documents or information in the course of, or in connection with, our work, we may be required in the future to participate in an inquiry, commission or proceeding arising out of, or in connection with, that work. This may lead to our producing documents, seeking to claim or defend your privilege to resist inspection or disclosure of certain documents or information, or given evidence at an inquiry.
Steps to be taken: We will seek your instructions if these circumstances arise, but you agree to reimburse us for our of pocket expenses we reasonably incur and for the time we spend in that regard at our then current hourly rates.
13. Document storage
Storage method: You agree that documents we retain on your behalf:
- May be stored by an external storage provider;
- Will be stored in digital or electronic formats;
- May be destroyed 7 years after the date on which the matter is complete; and
- May be copied before delivery to you.
Stored documents that we retrieve for your benefit may incur retrieval costs and you agree to indemnify us for those costs upon request.
14. Jurisdiction and governing law
Jurisdiction: Subject to your rights to select jurisdiction under the LPA, this Agreement and all aspects of our retainer and the performance of our services for you are governed by and you agree to be bound by the laws of Queensland. You irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of Queensland.
Any provision of this Agreement which is illegal, void or unenforceable is only ineffective to the extent of that illegality, voidness or unenforceability, without invalidating the remaining provisions.