Unless otherwise determined in writing, in respect of our engagement as the attorneys of a client, in current and future matters, the following terms of engagement policy will apply.
We are entitled to change these terms from time to time, in which case we’ll communicate with you appropriately.
These terms are not comprehensive in all respects, as there are several legislative and other interventions in an attorney client relationship; and exceptions occur in the complexity of legal practice. For instance, these terms are modified to the extent that the Consumer Protection Act is applicable.
Duty of Care
We are committed to doing our best to ensure that your legal needs are met.
You authorise us to take all measures we believe appropriate to protect your interests, unless you instruct us specifically to the contrary.
Our duty of care is to you and not to any other person. Before any other person may rely on our advice, we must expressly agree to that in writing. In addition, our advice is to you; and is not to be disclosed to any other person without our agreement in writing.
We retain all ownership rights in all intellectual property of any kind created by us for you.
If you instruct us specifically (orally or in writing) on a limited retainer, the scope of our duty to protect your interests will be limited, and we will not be responsible for any broader or incidental advice or warnings.
We will not be required to consider or to advise on aspects of the instruction beyond what we believe to be the ambit of the limited retainer.
We draw your attention to the limited reliance you may then place on us in such circumstances, and the reason for it.
Confidentiality and conflicts of interest
We place the highest possible value on client confidentiality. However, legislative and other legal interventions, and our obligations to the court, could result in exceptions.
In respect of various industries we regularly provide legal services to multiple participants. Your confidential information is safe with us.
We go out of our way to avoid conflicts of interest. If a conflict of interest does arise, we’ll promptly advise you and follow appropriate procedure.
Fees policy and disbursements
We are flexible and are willing to consider different methods of charging fees. These methods include fees calculated by reference to hourly rates, fees determined under a tariff, fixed fees, retainer fees, and, if appropriate, percentage fees based on the value of the transaction. Unless we have specified another fee structure, we will charge fees primarily by reference to the amount of time spent by our lawyers on your work.
Our respective current standard hourly rates are stipulated below. We do not charge by the minute like a taxi meter. We spend much time acquainting ourselves of developments in the law, without charge to our clients. We discerningly exclude time spent on research and the like from our accounts, and are conservative with regard to billing for travelling time. Unless in a specific instance a director otherwise determines, we do not charge our clients for duplicating attendances by our Candidate Attorneys. Unless specifically appropriate in an instance, we do not invoice you for general office services (for example deliveries, faxes, photocopying, postage, and telecoms charges).
Our fees will be charged on a basis that is fair and reasonable having regard to the circumstances of the matter and the nature of our work for you. Factors that may be taken into account in setting our fees include time and resources involved; the urgency with which the matter is required to be completed; the skills, specialised knowledge, and responsibility required to perform the services properly; the degree of risk assumed by us in undertaking the services, including the value of any property involved; the complexity of the matter; and difficulty or novelty of the questions involved.
We generally render interim accounts for fees on a monthly basis while work is in progress, with a final account rendered to you on completion of the matter. Where appropriate, we invoice for fees only at the completion of the matter.
In appropriate circumstances we require cover before commencing with legal work on your behalf.
In providing legal services to you, we are authorised to incur disbursements for your account. We usually require cover before incurring disbursements on your behalf. If we incur disbursements on your behalf without cover, we’ll invoice for the disbursements.
Unless you specify otherwise, we limit in our discretion the extent to which we engage advocates on your behalf.
Our accounts are payable on presentation.
Each client is allocated to a guardian director. You are at all times welcome to contact the guardian director in respect of any matter, even if he or she is not directly personally involved in a particular matter.
Unless you specify otherwise, the guardian director or another director on his or her behalf will determine which lawyer(s) is to attend to a particular matter. It fits our business model, where appropriate, to have legal work done at a lower hourly rate (rather than a higher); and to avoid unnecessary duplication of cost.
We gladly provide fee estimates on request. Estimates are a guide to assist you in budgeting, and are not a definitive quotation, unless this is specifically agreed in writing.
If the actual fee is less than a fee estimate, we charge the actual fee. If a fee estimate transpires to have been too low, we’ll advise you timeously.
We maintain a trust account for all funds that we receive from clients (except money received for payment of our invoices). If we are holding significant funds on your behalf and you provide the required documentation, we’ll lodge those funds on interest bearing deposit with a bank. In appropriate circumstances, we will charge an administration fee.
In providing our services we rely upon information and instructions provided by you without independent verification. It is vital that you make us aware of anything that may affect our services. We will also be relying upon the accurateness and completeness of all information that is available from public sources and information that may be furnished to us on your behalf or at your request by third parties.
Our relationship with you is governed by South African law.
We are only qualified to practice South African law. However, we are on occasion called upon to express a view on foreign law and documents governed by foreign law, and to prepare documents to be governed by foreign law. If we do assist you in relation to a matter governed by foreign law, such assistance does not constitute legal advice; and we do so on the basis we do not accept responsibility in relation to your position under that foreign law, or otherwise. We advise you to obtain legal advice from a legal practitioner duly admitted to practice law in the relevant jurisdiction.
Files and documents
You authorise us (without further reference to you) to destroy all files and documents for any matter (other than any documents that we hold in safe custody for you) as permitted under law.
You may terminate our engagement by written notice to us at any time, but will remain liable for fees and disbursements incurred prior to termination.
We may terminate our engagement by written notice to you at any time, if circumstances arise which render it unsuitable for us to continue.
However, our experience is that we form enduring relationships.
Limitation of liability
We hold professional indemnity insurance.
In respect of any engagement, our liability of whatsoever nature to you will be limited to the amount recoverable under our professional indemnity insurance.
We will not be liable to you if we are unable to perform our services as a result of any cause beyond our reasonable control. In the event of any such occurrence affecting us we’ll notify you as soon as reasonably practicable.
We maintain a procedure for handling any complaints by a client, designed to ensure that a complaint is dealt with fairly and promptly.
If you have a complaint about our services or charges, you may refer your complaint to your guardian director. If you do not wish to refer your complaint to that person, or you are not satisfied with that person’s response to your complaint, you may refer your complaint to any one, or all, of the directors (preferably to the Chairman).
The Law Society of South Africa has a page: Your rights and responsibilities as the client of an attorney.
We support alternative dispute resolution.
In the unlikely event of a dispute (of whatsoever nature) arising from or in connection with our engagement, the following will apply.
We’ll promptly engage with you to procure mediation. If mediation is not viable or is unsuccessful, the dispute will be determined by arbitration in accordance with the rules of the Arbitration Foundation of Southern Africa, by an arbitrator or arbitrators nominated by it, and such arbitration will take place in Cape Town.
Standard Hourly Rates
In most circumstances we charge clients value-added tax at the standard rate (currently 15%).
In the specific circumstances in which we charge clients value-added tax at the zero rate, the column below with heading Hourly rate excluding value-added tax is effectively inclusive of value-added tax. Such circumstances are primarily if the client is a non-resident and the client is not in South Africa at the time the services are rendered.
|Hourly rate in ZAR excluding value-added tax
|Value-added tax in ZAR
|Hourly rate in ZAR inclusive of value-added tax|
|Charl Theron (Chairman)||3 000||450||3 450|
|Amien Hoosain||2 200||330||2 530|
|Belinda van der Vyver||3 000||450||3 450|
|Gunnar Dahl||3 000||450||3 450|
|Jerome Veldsman||3 000||450||3 450|
|John Lee||3 000||450||3 450|
|Roxanne Ker||2 200||330||2 530|
|Taryn Herbert||1 800||270||2 070|
|Denis Lloyd||3 000||450||3 450|
|Kara Fischer||1 000||150||1 150|