Terms of Business

It is important that you read our terms of business because all our services are transacted subject to them

There are three terms of business below:

  • General terms of business
  • Website terms and conditions
  • Terms for use of our online document library and Hotline service

General terms of business

1. About these terms and conditions

1.1 Approachable Lawyer Limited (“we” or “us” in these terms) is an Incorporated Law Firm within the meaning given by the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006. That means all fees are payable to Approachable Lawyer Limited whether they relate to work we carry out on your behalf or to products purchased from the Approachable Lawyer websites.

1.2 We do not operate a trust account and therefore do not handle client money. As such, the Lawyers Fidelity Fund does not apply to anything we do.

1.3 These terms cover work provided by us and products purchased from the Approachable Lawyer Website. They may be varied or added to at any time by giving reasonable notice to you.

1.4 If for whatever reason you do not understand these terms you should tell us immediately and we will be happy to explain them more fully.

1.5 These terms are deemed accepted unless you tell us in writing prior to commencing work on your behalf or purchasing a product.

2. Our responsibilities to each other

2.1 Where we carry out work on a consultancy basis, it is our professional duty to give your affairs proper care, skill and attention.

2.2 We will throughout the handling of your matter rely on you to supply in a timely manner all information needed to act on your behalf and to tell us promptly of any relevant change in circumstances. We will not check the accuracy of such information unless it is specifically agreed in writing that we are to do so.

2.3 If you hold information back from us it hinders our ability to assist you and we cannot be held responsible for any non-disclosure. If you are in doubt whether any information is relevant then it is best to discuss it with us.

2.4 We have a duty to keep all the information you tell us confidential from other parties unless we have your instructions to disclose it. Otherwise, only staff who we employ have access to your files and they are under a similar duty of confidentiality.

3. Fee structure

3.1 Our fee may vary depending on the nature of the work carried out. Please refer to the current Fee Schedule available from the Approachable Lawyer website for the rates currently applicable. We may vary that Fee Schedule at any time but no changes will apply to any ongoing matter unless we have agreed they will.

3.2 Normally, we aim to absorb all incidental office disbursements (e.g. telephone, faxes, postages, copying etc) within our quoted hourly rate or fee. However, disbursements incurred with third party suppliers or more substantial office disbursements incurred on your behalf will be charged in addition. We will let you know when this happens.

3.3 GST at the applicable rate is charged in addition to all fees, unless otherwise stated.

4. Payment of consultancy fees

4.1 We are able to keep costs low by successfully managing cash flow. We therefore ask you to pay close attention to our payment terms which are stated in the current Fee Schedule.

4.2 Discounts may be available for payments made in advance or within 7 days of the date of invoice. Please see the Fee Schedule.

4.3 Unless otherwise stated or agreed, all invoices are payable within 28 days following the date of the invoice and must be paid before we are able to carry out any further work, unless we have a separate agreement.

4.4 You may, if you wish, give us written notice to set a limit on the fees which you may incur. If that limit is reached, we will then cease work, notify you and await your further instructions. You should understand that, particularly in relation to contentious work, it may not be possible to limit your liability in relation to the other side’s costs.

5. Legal Hotline

5.1 For businesses, we offer a Legal Hotline retainer service which entitles you to certain privileges (such as reduced consultancy rates) in return for payment of a membership fee. The privileges provided by the Legal Hotline are those stated on the Approachable Lawyer website. Such privileges and the monthly fee may be varied at any time by giving reasonable notice to you.

5.2 Membership of the Legal Hotline is subject to its own terms and conditions.

6. Payment for products

6.1 From time to time we may also offer a range of products to purchase such as books, reports, agreements, website membership etc. Payment for such products is in advance of receiving the product unless payment by instalments is offered.

6.2 Membership of the Approachable Lawyer Online Document Library is governed by its own terms and conditions to which you must agree before becoming a member.

6.3 Whilst great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy and suitability of the products and advice available on the website, neither are a substitute for proper legal advice and should only be used for general guidance only. If you are unsure about anything regarding the guidance given please call us for advice. This may incur a fee if you are not a member of the Legal Hotline.

6.4 We do not accept any liability for any loss or damage occasioned through the use of the products purchased from the website.

6.5 The price of such products shall be the price advertised or quoted subject to any discounts or offers applicable at the time of purchase.

7. Retainer agreements

7.1 In some instances you may require ongoing legal consultancy assistance which exceeds that contemplated by the Legal Hotline. Where this occurs it may be preferable to enter into a retainer agreement whereby you pay a fixed fee per month. If you think this would suit your business better then please speak to us.

7.2 Since at the outset of a retainer agreement it can be difficult to assess the volume of work required on a monthly basis we may charge for additional sums where the work carried out in a given month significantly exceeds the amount of work anticipated by the retainer fee (based upon our normal hourly fee) or for one off project work. Such additional fees will be agreed with you.

7.3 We may also agree to adjust the retainer fee from time to time to reflect any upturn or downturn in the volume of legal assistance required by you.

7.4 Payment of retainer fees will be made on an agreed date in every month by automatic payment.

8. Payment generally

8.1 If any invoice is not paid in full by the due date, we will charge interest at 8% per annum from the due payment date until payment is received.

8.2 We are also entitled to withhold any of your property in our possession (including any papers, deeds or documents relating to your matters) until any unpaid accounts are paid in full.

8.3 In cases of genuine financial hardship it may be possible to arrange payment by instalments. Please speak to us prior to commencement of work if you wish to do this and an automatic payment scheme can be set up.

8.4 To assist you with payment, we accept payment of invoices by cheque, direct credit, VISA or Mastercard. If you need to split payments over two credit cards that is also possible. Payment by credit card may attract an administration fee equivalent to 2% of the transaction.

8.5 If you feel any invoice submitted to you is unreasonable then please speak to us immediately. If you wish you are entitled to obtain a costs revision by the New Zealand Law Society.

8.6 Payment by credit card via our website is subject to our E-commerce Terms and Conditions.

8.7 We reserve the right to engage a debt collection agency to recover any sums owing to us. You shall be liable for any collection costs incurred by us, including court costs, debt collection agency fees and legal fees on a solicitor and own client basis.

9. Recovery of costs from other parties

9.1 Sometimes it may be possible in contentious matters to recover all or part of your costs from a third party.

9.2 Where this occurs you are still personally liable to pay us and we are unable to await payment from third parties for such costs. In particular we cannot be expected to wait for the outcome of any assessment of costs by a Court or other judicial body.

9.3 If you lose proceedings, you may have to pay your opponent’s costs as well as your own. Even if you win, your opponent will probably not be ordered to pay the full amount of the costs you have to pay us.

9.4 If your opponent is legally aided, you are unlikely to recover any costs even if you are successful.

9.5 Even if you win, your opponent may fail to pay either the sum for which you have been given judgment or the costs he or she has been ordered to pay.

10. File Storage

10.1 We work in a paperless office which means hard copy documents are not retained. If you wish to keep hard copy documents then you should let us know. otherwise, all your documents are stored electronically on a secure server to which you will have access providing you are not in arrears with any fees owing to us.

11. Termination

11.1 We have the right to cease work immediately and determine our retainer by giving you written notice at your last known address if: (a) any invoice remains unpaid after the stated payment date; (b) you fail without reasonable cause to give us instructions for a period of one month where instructions are required or requested; (c) you fail to make a material disclosure of a matter relevant to your case.

11.2 We also have the right to cease work and determine our retainer in any other situation where we have good cause and give you reasonable notice.

11.3 You may terminate our instructions in writing at any time in which case all fees owing to us become immediately payable.

12. Liability for work carried out by us

12.1 For your security we hold professional indemnity insurance which covers the legal advice and coaching services we provide on a consultancy basis. Such insurance meets New Zealand Law Society minimum requirements. However, we do not accept liability for any loss arising due to a failure on your part to give adequate instructions, for matters not reasonably contemplated by your instruction, or for any breach on your part of these terms.

13. Privacy

13.1 When you become a client you automatically become a subscriber to the Approachable Lawyer blog and newsletter. As a subscriber, we may send you articles and advice in the form a newsletter. You may unsubscribe from this service at any time by using the unsubscribe links at the bottom of the emails.

13.2 We are bound to protect your rights to privacy. Any details collected from you will remain strictly private and confidential in accordance with our professional obligations and our website’s privacy policy.

13.3 We will honour each and every right reserved to you under the Privacy Act.

14. Client care

14.1 The aim of Approachable Lawyer is to ensure you are fully happy with the service we provide. However, if you are unhappy with any aspects of our work then please raise it in the first instance with Michael Smyth immediately and he will do whatever he can to rectify it.

14.2 You always have the right to complain about any aspects of our service to the New Zealand Law Society.

Website Terms and Conditions

We allow clients to pay invoices through this Website and purchase products. All such E-Commerce Services shall be subject to these Terms of Use.

These E-Commerce Terms of Use are a contract between you and us separate to our agreement to carry out work on your behalf and the Terms of Use of our Website, so please read them carefully. You will be asked to accept or decline these Terms. You must accept these Terms before you make a payment using this Website's e-commerce facility.

1. Definitions

1.1 In these terms, unless the context otherwise requires:

(a) Fees means the additional fees which may be payable for the use of E-Commerce Services as noted on the Website.

(b) E-Commerce Services means the services available through the Website by which amounts payable to us may be paid to us by online credit card transaction and E-Commerce Process shall mean the process by which those services are provided.

(c) Terms means these E-Commerce Services terms and conditions.

(d) Website means the Approachable Lawyer website.

2. Use of E-Commerce Services

2.1 You agree not to use our E-Commerce Services for any improper, injurious, offensive or unlawful purpose.

2.2 In using our E-Commerce Services, you represent and warrant that you are over 18 and have legal capacity to contract in New Zealand. If you are using a credit card, you represent and warrant that the credit card is issued in your name and that you shall pay to the credit card issuer all charges incurred through the use of our E-Commerce Services.

2.3 Upon completing a transaction using our E-Commerce Services, you will be presented with a confirmation screen verifying the transaction details you wish to process. It is your responsibility to verify that all transaction information and other details are correct. You should print the transaction confirmation for future reference and your files. We shall have no liability for transactions which are incorrect as a result of inaccurate data entry in the course of providing E-Commerce Services or for loss of data or information caused by factors outside of our control.

3. Refunds Policy

3.1 A refund will only be provided when it has been proven that there has been an overpayment. When applying for a refund you must provide us with proof of the overpayment. If your refund request is accepted, the refund will be transferred back to the originating credit card or held to your credit against future invoices. No cash refunds will be given.

4. Privacy

4.1 You authorise us to collect information about you (including information about transactions processed by you) from time to time through the Website. Any such information collected shall be treated in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

4.2 We also use a payment gateway operated by Direct Payment Systems ("DPS"). They will also collect information about you (including information about transactions processed by you) from time to time through the Website. Any such information collected shall be treated in accordance with the DPS Privacy policy which can be found at http://www.paymentexpress.com/about/about_paymentexpress/privacy_policy.html

4.3 Your use of our E-Commerce Services means that you agree to provide information through electronic means. This means you agree to provide any relevant information in the format and to the standards described for each transaction. It also means you agree and understand that the information will be retained in electronic form.

5. Security

5.1 Our E-Commerce Services are provided through a secure website using SSL (secure socket layer) encryption. However, you acknowledge and agree that Internet transmissions are never entirely secure or private, and that any message or information you send to or through the Website (including credit card information) may be read or intercepted by others, even where a Website is stated as being secure. Neither we nor DPS shall have any liability for the interception or 'hacking' of data through the Website by unauthorised third parties.

6. Payment of additional fees

6.1 We may charge a Fee as advertised on the Website for use of our E-Commerce Services.

6.2 You will pay all Fees payable for our E-Commerce Services at the time of the online transaction by credit card. We reserve the right to amend any Fees from time to time and to adjust any Fees recorded on this Website if the price recorded is incorrect.

6.3 We may contact you directly to confirm your credit card details. All Fees are in New Zealand dollars and are inclusive of GST if any (being tax levied in accordance with the Goods and Services Tax Act 1985 and includes tax levied in substitution for such tax). You will pay all other applicable taxes, import duties, levies or tariffs which may be payable (if any).

7. Limitation of Liability

7.1 We accept no liability or responsibility for the refusal or reversal of payments which are matters between you and your credit card provider.

7.2 We cannot warrant that the E-Commerce Process, and/or your use of our E-Commerce Services will be faultless, immediate, continuous, and virus free, nor that information provided through the E-Commerce Process will be complete, accurate or up to date. We will endeavour, however, to ensure the E-Commerce Services are available at all times, subject to maintenance.

7.3 Subject to any rights which you may have under the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993, except as expressly prohibited by law, in no event will we be liable to you for any indirect, consequential, exemplary, incidental or punitive damages, including lost profits, even where we have been advised of the possibility of such damages occurring. If, notwithstanding the foregoing, we are found to be liable to you for any damage or loss which arises as a result of your use of the Website or the E-Commerce Services, our liability shall not exceed the dollar amount of the transaction which formed the basis of the damage or $100.00, whichever is the lesser. Otherwise, the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993 is excluded to the fullest extent permitted by law.

8. Right to suspend, alter or cancel service

8.1 We shall be entitled at any time without prior notice or any liability to you, to alter, cancel or suspend any or all E-Commerce Services temporarily or permanently and/or to substitute alternative services, which may or may not be interactive or transactional in nature.

9. Specific Service Terms and Conditions

9.1 You acknowledge that certain E-Commerce Services made available or offered by us from time to time may be subject to specific additional terms and conditions. Access and use of E-Commerce Services shall be deemed to constitute acceptance of any such additional terms and conditions applicable to such service.

10. Amendment

10.1 These Terms may be altered or reviewed by us, with or without notice. You should check and read these Terms carefully each time you use our E-Commerce Services.

11. Jurisdiction

11.1 These Terms and the online services they cover are governed by New Zealand law. All transactions which occur through our E-Commerce Process occur in New Zealand.

11.2 You agree to submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the New Zealand Courts.

Online Document Library and Hotline / Retainer Terms of Business

1. Definitions:

1.1 In these terms, the following words where prefixed by a capital letter shall have the following meanings

(a) Approachable Lawyer Terms means our standard terms of business which apply to all the work we carry out as advertised on the Website;

(b) Business Fee Schedule means the fee schedule advertising our rates of charging and Membership Fees;

(c) Legal Hotline means the service defined in clause 3;

(d) Legal Hotline Member means a person, firm or business who are signed up and whose membership of the Legal Hotline is active;

(e) Materials means the materials found in the Secret Library whether of a written, audio or video nature and include (without limitation) document templates, checklists, videos and audio interviews;

(f) Membership Fee means the price paid for membership of the Secret Library and / or Legal Hotline as advertised from time to time and includes the Set Up Fee and Retainer Fee;

(g) Retainer Fee means the monthly fee payable for membership of the Legal Hotline;

(h) Secret Library means the online legal resource provided by Approachable Lawyer Limited for Secret Library Members;

(i) Secret Library and Hotline Terms means these terms and conditions and shall include our current Business Fee Schedule;

(j) Secret Library Member means a person, firm or business who are signed up and have paid for membership of the Secret Library; and

(k) Set Up Fee means the Fee payable by you when you apply for Secret Library or Legal Hotline Membership;

(l) Standard Business Rate means the hourly rate which we charge to businesses who are not Legal Hotline Members;

(m) Website means the Approachable Lawyer website found at the url www.approachablelawyer.com and includes such other websites operated by us.

2. About the Secret Library

2.1 The Secret Library is an online legal library provided by Approachable Lawyer Limited.

2.2 Subject to clause 7.5, by becoming a Member of the Secret Library you get a limited license to download all the Materials contained within the Secret Library whilst you remain a Member for the price of your Membership Fee for use within your business only.

2.3 Your Membership Fee gives you access to the Secret Library for one (1) calendar year. You may renew your membership after one calendar year at the Membership Fee then advertised.

3. About the Legal Hotline

3.1 The Legal Hotline is a service provided by Approachable Lawyer Limited which allows Hotline Members to:

(a) access an allocated number of hours of legal advice per year at significantly reduced rates; and

(b) when those allocated hours have been exceeded, to access reduced consultancy rates compared to our Standard Business Rate;

(c) have access to the Secret Library.

4.Terms and conditions

4.1 These Secret Library and Hotline Terms apply to your membership of the Secret Library and / or Legal Hotline and come into effect when you apply for membership.

4.2 As a Secret Library or Hotline Member you are also subject to the Approachable Lawyer Terms. Where there is a conflict between the Approachable Lawyer Terms and the Secret Library and Hotline Terms, the latter shall apply.

4.3 These terms may be varied at any time by giving one week’s notice to you.

5. Application for membership of Secret Library and Legal Hotline

5.1 Secret Library only: application for membership of the Secret Library is made by completing such online or offline forms advertised on the Website and by paying the Secret Library Membership fee.

5.2 Legal Hotline: application for membership of the Legal Hotline is made by completing a Legal Hotline application form. Upon completion of the form, you will be notified whether your application has been accepted. Once accepted, your membership of the Legal Hotline will commence on payment of either:

(a) the Set Up Fee and the first month’s Retainer Fee; or

(b) the Set Up Fee and a sum equivalent to a year’s Retainer Fees.

5.3 We reserve the right to refuse membership of the Secret Library or Legal Hotline.

6. Payment of Membership fees

6.1 Secret Library: unless otherwise offered or advertised, payment must be made for a complete year in advance.

6.2 Legal Hotline: payment of the Set Up Fee must be made in one payment in advance. Payment of the Retainer Fee may either be made on a monthly basis by automatic payment or yearly in advance.

6.3 Membership Fees are not refundable except in our absolute discretion.

7. Nature of Materials in the Secret Library

7.1 Whilst great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy and the suitability of all the Materials and information found in the Secret Library they are not a substitute for legal advice and should only be used for general guidance. The information provided is based upon New Zealand law applicable at the time of drafting or creation. If you are unsure about anything you find in the Secret Library then you should consult a lawyer for advice.

7.2 Neither Approachable Lawyer Limited nor any of the authors of the Materials found in the Secret Library accept any liability, whether direct or indirect, for any loss, damage or expense (including loss of profit) occasioned through the use of the Secret Library or the Materials, or any breach by Approachable Lawyer Limited of these terms.

7.3 The conditions, warranties and guarantees set out in the Sale of Goods Act 1908, Consumer Guarantees Act 1993, or implied by common law are excluded to the fullest extent permitted by law.

7.4 All the Materials found in the Secret Library are the copyright of Approachable Lawyer Limited and/or the authors of the Materials. Membership of the Secret Library allows you to download and adapt such Materials strictly for your own business use on an as required basis.

7.5 You are strictly prohibited from:

(a) forwarding such Materials in whatever form to another person, firm or business for their use;

(b) sharing your username and password with another person, firm or business so that they can take advantage of the service provided by the Secret Library without paying for it;

(c) reproducing the Materials in any form whatsoever except for the purposes provided for in clause 7.4 above; and

(d) using or adapting the Materials for on-sale to another person, firm or business.

7.6 If you wish to use the Materials for any of the purposes stated in clause 7.5 above you must first obtain our consent.

8. Advice provided as part of Legal Hotline service

8.1 Currently we are able to offer legal advice to Legal Hotline Members on most areas of law relevant to building a small or medium sized business. We are unable to provide advice under the Legal Hotline service in relation to the following areas of law where we recommend you seek specialist advice:

(a) Trusts;

(b) Law of real property;

(c) Family Law.

8.2 You cannot use the Legal Hotline to ask us to carry out work of a transactional nature (e.g. property sales or purchases, business sales etc). We will refer to you to specialist solicitors who can do this for you.

8.3 In accordance with our obligations to our professional body, we reserve the right to advise you if the advice you are seeking from us is outside our expertise. Where possible we will refer you to the appropriate specialist.

8.4 There will be no refunds of Membership Fees where we are unable to provide you the advice you require. You will be liable for any fees incurred with anyone to whom we refer you.

9. Renewal of Membership / Unused Hotline Hours

9.1 Where you renew your membership and you haven't used all your allocated Hotline hours, any hours unused will be rolled over to the following year save that unused allocated hours may only be rolled over for a maximum of three years otherwise they are forfeited.


10.1 We reserve the right to terminate your membership of the Secret Library without any obligation upon our part to provide a full or partial refund of your Membership Fee in any of the following circumstances:

(a) you fail to pay your Membership Fee;

(b) you fail to pay any other fees or costs payable to us within the time stipulated in any invoice to you;

(c) you breach either the Approachable Lawyer Terms or the Secret Library and Hotline Terms;

(d) you suffer any act of insolvency.

10.2 Secret Library membership will terminate automatically on the anniversary of you becoming a Secret Library Member or renewing your membership unless otherwise renewed for a further year.

10.3 Subject to clause 9.1, your membership of the Legal Hotline shall continue without interruption whilst you continue to pay the Retainer Fee.

10.4 Your right to terminate Legal Hotline membership: you may terminate your membership of the Legal Hotline by providing one month’s notice in writing. In the event that you terminate your membership of the Legal Hotline part way through a membership year and have not paid a year in advance, we will allocate your hours of legal advice on a pro-rata basis. In the event that after allocating your hours you have exceeded your allocation for that year, we will invoice for any additional time spent above your allocated hours at our Standard Business Rate.

11. Interruption of service

11.1 Secret Library: Our aim is to provide an uninterrupted online legal resource accessible at all times of the day. However we will not be liable if the Secret Library becomes unavailable due to a technical fault or any other reason.

11.2 Legal Hotline: we aim where possible to provide you with advice in a timely fashion. However, at certain times of year we take holidays which means that there may be some delay in responding to any queries. We will notify you of these times in advance

12. Addition of materials to the Secret Library

12.1 We do not guarantee that any particular document or Material will be available in the Secret Library.

12.2 No refunds will be provided if you are unable to find a particular Material you are looking for. However, you may request a document with the aim of adding Materials to the Secret Library which will be of general use to Secret Library Members. The addition of Materials to the Secret Library is at our sole discretion and we reserve the right to refuse request for a specific Material where such request is not of general application to Secret Library Members or falls outside of the type and nature of Materials for which the Secret Library is intended.

13. Privacy

13.1 When you become a Secret Library or Legal Hotline Member we collect personal information which you provide in the sign up or application form. You always have access to the information we hold about you subject to the provisions of the Privacy Act 1993. All information is held in accordance with our privacy policy which is available to view on the Website.

13.2 You agree that we may use your personal information to advise you of our services and product offers and send you the Approachable Lawyer newsletter. You may unsubscribe from the Approachable Lawyer newsletter or any of our email communications at any time.

14.Law and jurisdiction

13.1 These terms shall be governed by New Zealand law and you irrevocably accept the jurisdiction of the New Zealand courts.

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