Terms of Engagement

Thank you for selecting Sinclair Black to represent you. We are a specialist entertainment and media law firm, and have endeavoured to tailor our services and costs to the unique needs of this industry. These Standard Terms of Engagement (“Terms”) apply in respect of all work carried out by us for you, except to the extent that we otherwise agree with you in writing.


1 Services 

1.1 We provide a range of legal services including but not limited to contract, commercial and copyright advice; drafting and negotiation of legal agreements; and dispute resolution. More detail on our areas of expertise can be found on our website.

2 Financial

Fees: The fees we will charge or the manner in which they will be arrived at, are set out below: 

a  At the outset of our commnication we will establish the legal needs of potential clients, and also see if our services are suitable for the client. We usually do not charge for that part of our initial meeting or communication. Once a mutual decision is made that we represent you, then the following usually applies:   

i  If your initial instructions relate to one issue or transaction, we will endeavour to give an estimate of the cost.

ii  If you require us to generate standard or industry type contracts, we can usually give you an idea of the standard fees for that type of document.

iii  If you wish us to represent you on a number of different matters over a period of time, then the foregoing will apply to each transaction or issue.

iv  If you are to be involved in a dispute or litigation, then we will forward you a letter of advice dealing with the specific issues you will face in this event. 

b  If we specify a fixed fee, we will charge this for the agreed scope of our services. We will advise you as soon as reasonably practicable if it becomes necessary for us to provide services outside the agreed scope and, if requested, give you an estimate of the likely amount of the further costs. Our lawyers’ hourly rates are as follows: 

Mick Sinclair - $400 (plus GST) per hour 

Melanie Chuter - $350 (plus GST) per hour 

Christy Whelan - $350 (plus GST) per hour 

The differences in the rates set out above reflect the experience and specialisation of our professional staff. Time spent is recorded in 6 minute units, with time rounded up to the next unit of 6 minutes. 

2.2  Disbursements and expenses: In providing services we may incur disbursements or have to make payments to third parties on your behalf. These will be included in our invoice to you when the expense is incurred. We may require an advance payment for the disbursements or expenses which we will be incurring on your behalf. 

2.3  GST (if any): Is payable by you on our fees and charges. 

2.4  Invoices: We may send monthly nterim invoices to you, or upon completion of the matter, or termination of our engagement. We may also send you an invoice when we incur a significant expense. 

2.5  Payment: Invoices are payable within 14 days of the date of the invoice, unless alternative arrangements have been made with us. 

2.6  Security: We may ask you to pre-pay amounts to us, or to provide security for our fees and expenses. 

2.7 Third Parties: Although you may expect to be reimbursed by a third party for our fees and expenses, and although our invoices may at your request or with your approval be directed to a third party, nevertheless you remain responsible for payment to us if the third party fails to pay us.

3. Confidentiality

3.1 We will hold in confidence all information concerning you or your affairs that we acquire during the course of acting for you. We will not disclose any of this information to any other person except: 

a  to the extent necessary or desirable to enable us to carry out your instructions; or 

b  to the extent required by law or by the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. 

3.2 Confidential information concerning you will as far as practicable be made available only to those within our firm who are providing legal services for you. 

3.3  We will of course, not disclose to you confidential information which we have in relation to any other client. 

4 Termination 

4.1 You may terminate our retainer at any time. 

4.2 We may terminate our retainer in any of the circumstances set out in the Law Society's Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers 

4.3 If our retainer is terminated you must pay us all fees due up to the date of termination and all expenses incurred up to that date.

5 Retention of files and documents 

5.1 You authorise us (without further reference to you) to destroy all files and documents for this matter (other than any documents that we hold in safe custody for you) 7 years after our engagement ends, or earlier if we have converted those files and documents to an electronic format. 

6 Conflicts of Interest 

6.1 We have procedures in place to identify and respond to conflicts of interest. If a conflict of interest arises we will advise you of this and follow the requirements and procedures set out in the Law Society's Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. 

7 Duty of Care 

7.1 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 this. 

8 Trust Account 

8.1 Due to our specific area of practice, we no longer maintain a trust account for clients. 

9. Insurance & Liability

9.1 We hold professional indemnity insurance cover that exceeds the minimum standards specified by the New Zealand Law Society.

9.2 To the extent permitted by law, our aggregate liability to you (whether in contract, equity, tort or otherwise) arising out of your engagement of us on a matter (or any series of related matters) is limited to the lesser of (i) $1,000,000 or (ii) five times the maximum aggregate total of our fees (excluding barrister’s fees and other disbursements) charged and paid over any 12 month period of our retainer on this matter.

10. Complaints

10.1 We maintain a procedure for handling any complaints by clients, designed to ensure that a complaint is dealt with promptly and fairly. If you have a complaint about our services or charges, you may refer your complaint to the person in our firm who has overall responsibility for your work and/or to Mick Sinclair. You may also make a complaint to the complaints service established by the New Zealand Law Society. To do so, you should contact the New Zealand Law Society at PO Box 5041, Lambton Quay, Wellington 5145, or telephone 04 472 7837. 

11 General 

11.1 These Terms apply to any current engagement and also to any future engagement, whether or not we send you another copy of them. 

11.2 We are entitled to change these Terms from time to time, in which case we will send you amended Terms. 

11.3 Our relationship with you is governed by New Zealand law.