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Client Agreement Between Stokes Lawyers Pty Ltd ACN 160 272 006 of Unit 13, Portal East, 2996 Logan Road, Underwood, Queensland 4119 (‘this firm/we/us/our’) And The Client as identified in Annexure A (‘you’/’your’)

1. Offer to enter a costs agreement
1.1 This Client Agreement is an offer to enter into a costs agreement with you.
1.2 If you accept this offer, you will be regarded as having entered into a costs agreement, and you will be bound by and billed in accordance with its terms and conditions.
1.3 You may accept this offer in any of the ways set out at clause 24 below.

2. Obligations under this Agreement
2.1 We will perform the Work with professional skill and diligence, and we will keep you informed of the progress of the matter.
2.2 We may base our advice on stated factual assumptions or qualifications which we may rely on if they later prove incorrect.
2.3 You will: (a) provide us with timely, accurate and proper instructions, including providing us with all relevant documents and information;
(b) act reasonably and take reasonable care and steps to protect your own interests;
(c) obtain advice from appropriately qualified professionals in relation to matters that are non-legal or outside the Scope of Work;
(d) comply with your obligations under this Agreement including payment of our accounts or placing money into trust as required; and
(e) satisfy yourself as to the commercial viability of instructions you provide to us.

3. Scope of Work
3.1 Our scope of Work is as set out in our correspondence or document as provided to you (Work).
3.2 If we perform further Work outside of the agreed scope (including on another file for an unrelated matter) without us entering into a further costs agreement with you, the terms of this Client Agreement will extend to the performance of that further Work.

4. Fixed Fee
4.1 Where we offer you a fixed fee, our professional fees will be that amount.
4.2 A fixed-fee quote is not an ‘estimate’ and the amount charged to yo u is not dependent on the time it takes us to complete the Work.
4.3 Please note that GST and charges such as search fees, banking charges, government revenue charges and registration fees are not included in the fixed fee amounts unless specified otherwise, though we will try to provide you with notice of these prior to incurring them.
4.4 We may issue a bill to you for some components or parts of the fixed fee during the matter for an amount proportional to the total Work to be performed.

5. Rates for Non-Fixed Fee Work
5.1 In instances where our professional fees are time costed (i.e. not fixed fees, are based on an estimate or where we are engaged to perform tasks outside of the scope of the Work), our professional fees are charged on the following basis:

Rate
Director
$500 per hour

Senior Associate
$425 per hour

Associate
$375 per hour

Lawyer
$300 per hour

Graduate Lawyer
$200 per hour

Law Clerk
$150 per hour

Secretary
$90 per hour

5.3 We may increase these rates by notice to you, and the updated rates will then apply.

5.4 We will charge based on the applicable hourly rate of the professional staff member involved calculated on pro-rated into 6-minute intervals. Each unit is therefore 1/10 of the hourly rate applicable to professional staff performing the Work.

5.5 We will charge for all attendances and Work conducted by professional staff in their respective capacities. This includes, but is not limited to consultations, review of documents, court and registry attendances (including time spent necessarily waiting at Court or elsewhere for your matter to be dealt with), email correspondence, telephone attendances, personal attendances on you and any of your witnesses, advisers or agents, attendances at locations on your behalf, perusals, research, drafting documents, submissions, document production and any other necessary attendances. Internal conferences between professional staff working on the matter will be charged based on the rates for each staff member involved.

5.6 If a professional staff member is required to travel in the course of working on the matter (e.g. to attend a meeting or attend Court) then we may charge the travel time spent at the hourly rate applicable to the staff member.

5.7 We reserve our rights to withdraw and reissue any account for a higher amount pursuant to any itemised bill of costs requested by you under the Act.

6. Office expenses
6.1 We may charge you for office expenses incurred in relation to your file. For example, express postage and international phone calls may be charged to you at cost.
6.2 We may from time to time outsource large photocopying or document production tasks to an external copying provider. If we do so, you agree to pay for any costs incurred using that service.

7. Responsibility to pay
7.1 You agree to pay all of our fees and costs, including any applicable GST of doing the Work for you.
7.2 We may request that you pay money into our trust account to cover our anticipated fees or costs.
7.3 We may incur costs as your agent which may or may not include GST, which you will reimburse us.
7.4 You agree to pay for any additional costs during the course of acting for you for example;
(a) search fees;
(b) document filing and lodgement fees;
(c) travel and accommodation expenses;
(d) additional agent fees;
(e) barristers or counsel’s fees;
(f) outsourced consulting;
(g) electronic signature fees; or
(h) outsourced document production.

8. Third Party Expenses
8.1 If we anticipate incurring an unusual cost not normally incurred in the ordinary course of performing similar Work, then we will notify you in writing and seek your express authority prior to incurring such a cost.
8.2 From time to time it may be necessary for us to engage (on your behalf) a third party to provide specialist advice or services (such as another law firm or a barrister) in relation to your matter.
8.3 Where a third party is to be engaged we will endeavour to:
(a) discuss the engagement with you prior to committing to the engagement – although we reserve the right, due to urgency or other compelling reason, to retain and select an appropriate barrister for your matter;
(b) obtain on your behalf and provide to you the basis on which the third-party charges, the third party’s fees and the timeframe for payment of the third party’s bills; and
(c) pass on to you any other fee disclosure or information provided to us by the third party.
8.4 You are responsible for and agree to pay any costs associated with services provided by third parties in relation to your matter. We may require you to pay money into our trust account, on account of costs, prior to engaging any third party to assist with your matter.
8.5 If we become liable to pay any interest on any third party’s fees as a consequence of delay on your part, we will pass that charge on to you.

9. Billing and interest charges
9.1 We may issue accounts at any time on the basis of fees incurred to date. Accounts are payable within 14 days of receipt. The receipt will be deemed to have occurred on the day it is emailed, faxed or hand-delivered or two days after it is sent by post to you by post.
9.2 You agree and request that any accounts we issue to you may be sent to you by email.
9.3 Accounts unpaid within 30 days of delivery will be charged interest on the unpaid account at 6% per annum plus the cash rate target at the date of the relevant account. The cash rate target is set by the Reserve Bank of Australia – see http://www.rba.gov.au/statistics/cash-rate/.
9.4 You also agree to pay for our professional fees and costs associated in recovering overdue accounts and our legal costs of recovery.

10. Termination of Agreement
10.1 You may terminate this Client Agreement at any time by written notice to us.
10.2 We may at our discretion stop the Work and may terminate the Client Agreement if:
(a) you fail to provide the executed acceptance and Authority;
(b) you fail to pay our bills or deposit monies to our trust account as required;
(c) you fail to provide us with adequate instructions within a reasonable time;
(d) you deliberately provide us with instructions that are false or intentionally misleading;
(e) you engage another law practice to advise you on this matter without our consent;
(f) we believe that a conflict of interest has arisen or is likely to arise in this matter;
(g) you indicate that you no longer have confidence in our firm;
(h) you request that we act in a manner that we believe to be unethical; or
(i) we have any other just or ethical reason.
10.3 Where this Client Agreement is terminated by either you or us, you will be required to pay our legal costs, outlays and disbursements up to the date of termination.

11. Lien and charge
11.1 You agree and acknowledge that we are entitled to retain possession of your file, documents and trust money while there is money owing to us for our legal costs, by way of a ‘solicitor’s lien’, and on any other basis available to us, in addition to any other rights we may have at law.
11.2 You agree that this right extends to any file of and to secure the debt of any associated entity as defined under section 50AAA Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).
11.3 We may require payment of our professional fees and costs incurred in providing the file or documents as a condition of doing so. We may provide the file or documents in electronic or hard copy format at our complete discretion.
11.4 You charge to us all of your present and future, real and personal property to secure payment of all monies payable and which may become payable by you to us under this Agreement. This charge extends to any money recovered in any litigation or dispute we conduct on your behalf and any real or personal property recovered, awarded or transferred to you in in the course of the Work we undertake for you.
Please note that the above clause secures payment of amounts payable under this Agreement with the Client’s property.

12. Credit Card Payments
12.1 Credit card payments will incur an additional surcharge at the rate charged by our merchant facility, which is between 1.75% - 1.99% for Australian cards and around 3% for international cards as at March 2020.

13. Payment from money on account
13.1 We may ask you for payment of amounts into our trust account. If so, the money will be held on trust, and you will be advised how it is used.
13.2 You authorise us to draw on the money for expenses, payments to third parties, and professional fees as they become due in accordance with the Act and the Legal Profession Regulation 2007 (Qld). You also authorise us to transfer trust amounts between your files you or a related party may have with us.

14. Costs in court proceedings
14.1 If your matter is a litigation matter or otherwise involves court proceedings, then you should be aware that:
(a) it is very difficult to give an estimate of the likely costs to be incurred in litigation matters;
(b) the estimate set out in the covering letter is an indicative range only and the costs incurred by you may be more or less than the range. We reserve our right to give you a revised range of costs from time to time;
(c) matters involving court proceedings may take a long period to resolve, and you will incur costs throughout the process;
(d) the Court may order that you pay another party’s fees and costs (for example, if you lose the case) and you may be required to pay the other party’s costs in addition to your own legal costs. It is estimated that you may be ordered to pay approximately 50% to 70% of the costs incurred by that party, but potentially more; and
(e) the Court may order the other party to pay your fees and costs of the proceedings (for example if you win the case) – if this is the case, it is unlikely that the amount that the other party will be ordered to pay will cover the whole of the legal costs that you are liable to pay us under this costs agreement. It is estimated that you may only recover 50% to 70% of the actual costs you incurred.
14.2 Please note that:
(a) the amount that an unsuccessful party is generally ordered to pay in civil litigation generally equates to about 50% to 70% of the successful party’s legal costs. In some circumstances, a higher award of costs for or against you may be ordered.
(b) in some instances, the Court or tribunal may not award costs at all.
(c) a costs award in your favour does not necessarily mean the party can pay your costs or that it will pay the costs without further reference to the Court.
(d) you will remain liable to us for the whole of our legal costs under this costs Agreement regardless of any award of costs by a court.
14.3 Parties to a dispute may be required to take reasonable steps to resolve the dispute before commencing proceedings. These steps include the exchange of documents, negotiations and dispute resolution processes. Your costs of compliance with these requirements are payable by you. Failure to comply with these pre-litigation requirements may be taken into account by the Court when making an order for costs.

15. Privacy
15.1 We will only use the personal information we collect about you for the purposes of;
(a) performing the Work for you;
(b) internal business operations and related communication within our firm;
(c) complying with the law of any relevant State or Territory or the Commonwealth.
15.2 We may be also be required to disclose personal information to service providers and other agents or agencies who assist our firm in performing the Work or meeting our obligations to you.

16. Retention of your documents
16.1 On completion of the Work we will retain any documents to which you are entitled to no more than seven (7) years.
16.2 We may elect to retain the documents in electronic form and destroy the hard copies at any time.
16.3 You authorise us to destroy the file seven years after the date of the final bill rendered by us in this matter.

17. Concern or complaint
17.1 If you have a concern with the performance of your Work or wish to discuss your costs and fees or make a complaint, then please contact James Stokes, Managing Director of Stokes Lawyers on +61 3849 8880.
17.2 If you are still unsatisfied with the way your problem, concern or complaint is handled, then you may contact the Queensland Law Society on +61 7 3842 5842 or write to them at GPO Box 1785, Brisbane QLD 4001.

18. Notices under this Client Agreement
18.1 Notices, our accounts and communications in performing the Work or otherwise under this Client Agreement may be faxed, posted via pre-paid post, emailed or hand-delivered to you.

19. Legal fees - your rights
19.1 We are required to advise you under the Act that you have the right to:
(a) Negotiate a costs agreement with us;
(b) Receive a bill of costs from us;
(c) Request an itemised bill of costs after you receive a lump sum bill from us;
(d) Request written reports about the progress of your matter and the costs incurred in your matter;
(e) Apply for costs to be assessed within 12 months if you are unhappy with our costs (see paragraph 19.4 below);
(f) Apply for the costs agreement to be set aside (see paragraph 1.4 below);
(g) Accept or reject any offer we make for an interstate costs law to apply to your matter (see paragraph 19.3 below);
(h) Notify us that you require an interstate costs law to apply to your matter (see paragraph 19.3 below);
(i) Be notified of any substantial change in the matters disclosed in this Notice.
19.2 This document provides you with information about our legal services, the cost of those services and your rights. For more information about your rights, please read the facts sheet titled ‘Legal Costs – your right to know’. You can ask us for a copy of this document, or obtain it from the Queensland Law Society or download it from their website at http://www.qls.com.au
19.3 The law of Queensland will apply to the proposed costs agreement. You have the right to enter into a costs agreement with us on the basis that a corresponding law of another state or territory is applicable such as where the legal services are or will be completely or primarily provided in, or where the matter has a substantial connection with that other state or territory. Further, you have the right in certain circumstances to notify us in writing in accordance with the time limits of the corresponding law that you require the law of another jurisdiction to apply.
19.4 The following avenues are open to you under the terms of the Act in the event of a dispute in relation to legal costs:
(a) To apply for a costs assessment within 12 months of delivery of a bill or request for payment or such extended time as may be permitted by the court or costs assessor after considering the reason for the delay (except sophisticated clients as defined in the Act; and
(b) To apply to set aside the costs agreement within six years or other times as the law permits.

20. Conflict of interest (joint retainers)
20.1 Our duties to each of our clients include acting in the best interests of and maintaining the confidentiality of our clients. This includes avoiding conflicts of interests between current and former clients.
20.2 Any instructions we receive will be on the basis of a joint retainer of all parties.
20.3 By accepting a joint retainer from you, we confirm that:
(a) our duty to act individually in your best interests may be affected by us acting for you both jointly;
(b) our duty of confidentiality owed to each of you individually is not absolute;
(c) all instructions provided by both of you to us need to be divulged to the other party so that there is complete candour and openness between both of you and us as your lawyers;
(d) a conflict of interest may arise should one of you decide to change your instructions and seek to withhold this information from the other party;
(e) if a conflict of interest arises, we will have to cease acting for you in accordance with the Australian Solicitors Conduct Rules 2012; and
(f) if a conflict arises, you will incur additional legal fees.
20.4 You are entitled to obtain independent legal advice in relation to your individual affairs.
20.5 If either of you approaches us unilaterally during or after we have completed Work seeking to:
(a) revoke or alter your arrangements; or
(b) seeking a release of your original documents from our safe custody
(c) we may be required to withdraw and direct that you both seek independent legal advice regarding a review of your arrangements.
20.6 You acknowledge that you have read and understood this advice and instruct us to act jointly for both of you on this basis.

21. Our incorporated status
21.1 This firm is an incorporated practice, and all legal services to be provided under this Agreement will be provided by or under the supervision of an Australian Legal Practitioner regulated by the Act.

22. Personal Guarantee
22.1 In consideration of us offering to enter into the client agreement with the Client at the request of the Guarantor, the Guarantor hereby agrees as follows:
(a) The Guarantor guarantees –
(i) the payment of all monies payable to the firm;
(ii) performance by the Client of the Clients obligations; and
(iii) the payment of all loss and damage recoverable by the firm from the Client.
(b) This guarantee will be a continuing guarantee and will not be affected or avoided in any way by –
(i) any agreement or arrangement made between the firm and the Client;
(ii) any alterations or variations to the rights and obligations of either the firm or the Client;
(iii) the granting of any time or other indulgence or forbearance by the firm to the Client or to the Guarantor;
(iv) the making of any composition with or waiver of any breach or default by you;
(v) the neglect or forbearance of the firm to enforce the provisions of this Agreement or those of this guarantee;
(vi) the avoidance for any reason whatsoever by statute or otherwise of any payment by or on behalf of the Client or any Guarantor to the firm;
(vii) the insolvency, bankruptcy, liquidation or winding up of the Client or any change in the Client’s constitution;
(viii) any moratorium or other period staying or suspending by statute;
(ix) the order of any government authority; or
(x) any further guarantee being given to the firm by any person,
it being the intention that this guarantee be unconditional and absolute in any and all circumstances.
22.2 The Guarantor is in all respects a principal debtor, and we may take action first against the Guarantor without proceeding against the Client, including but not limited to an event where a term of this Agreement is not enforceable against the Client as principal whether by reason of any legal limitation, disability or incapacity or by reason of any liquidator of the Client disclaiming this Client Agreement.
22.3 The Guarantor charges, in favour of us, all of the Guarantor’s present and future, real and personal property to secure payment of all monies payable and which may become payable by the Client to us. The Guarantor further agrees that for as long as any fees or costs remain unpaid to us under this Agreement, the Guarantor may not raise any right of set-off or counterclaim that the Guarantor or the Client may have against us.

Please note that the Guarantor promises above to pay amounts owed by the Client to us and secures payment of those amounts with the Guarantor’s property.

23. General
23.1 If any part of this costs agreement is void or voidable that part is severed and the remainder of this Client Agreement has full force and effect.
23.2 We are authorised to take instructions from any client or their spouse or any signatories to this Agreement in any capacity in relation to the matter.
23.3 The law of Queensland will apply to this Client Agreement.

24. Acceptance
24.1 You acknowledge that you:
(a) have read and understood the contents of this Client Agreement;
(b) have voluntarily entered into this Client Agreement without any duress from us;
(c) have had reasonable opportunity to consider the terms of this Client Agreement and seek legal advice prior to accepting the terms of this Client Agreement; and
(d) believe that the terms of this Client Agreement are fair and reasonable.
24.2 You may accept this Client Agreement by:
(a) Signing and returning a copy of this document to our office; or
(b) Giving us instructions after receiving this document; or
(c) Contacting us and advising of your acceptance.
24.3 Although you may accept this Client Agreement verbally or by providing further instructions, we may require the signed Client Agreement and Authority as a requirement prior to commencing or continuing the Work.


Cyber Alert
Funds Transfer Critical Information

People across Australia have lost money when hackers have impersonated a law practice or another party involved in a legal matter by altering electronic communications including email, fax, social media, text, instant messaging, applications, file sharing and documents including PDF or Word documents. The following steps are critical to reduce this risk and if you are involved in a transfer of funds these are our expectations of you in helping to reduce the risk of such loss.

To Stokes Lawyers, in this matter and in my dealings with your firm, where payment details are contained in an electronic communication or document, I:

WILL NOT
Transfer any funds (send, deposit, pay or transfer) of more than $10,000 Australian dollars or its equivalent in any other currency without first telephoning the apparent sender to verbally confirm the account number, details and amounts by reading out and reading back the account and BSB numbers (or other specific payment details where applicable, e.g. if not a bank account) and confirming any instructions; and

WILL
Give the same warnings to anyone else known to be connected to the matter and anticipated to be involved in transferring or receiving any funds (including but not limited to, agents, brokers, family members, accountants).

I will also:
• when calling to check payment details above, ensure that I do not make contact using a phone number for the apparent sender listed in any communication or document that asks for money or sets out account numbers or details without first checking the phone number from a source that is different to that communication, for example a separate paper communication or checking the person’s website or white or yellow pages telephone listing;
• contact the sender to check legitimacy before I open attachments, or click on hyperlinks or download buttons in unexpected emails; and
• contact you immediately if in any doubt about emails or any other electronic communications that appear to have come from you.

PLEASE NOTE: Stokes Lawyers will not transfer money out of our practice until we are able to verify any bank account by a voice call to confirm those details (by reading out and reading back the account and BSB numbers or other specific payment details where applicable, e.g. if not a bank account). You must make sure you can be contacted if you need any funds transferred by a specific time, otherwise your objectives may not be met.




I/we:
1. Accept the terms of the Client Agreement;
2. Authorise all third parties to deal with Stokes Lawyers on our behalf as our authorised representative in respect of any matter that Stokes Lawyers identifies as acting for us and direct any government authority, financial institution or other organisation to deal with Stokes Lawyers, including providing any private information that they request in acting for us;
3. Acknowledge and agree to follow and comply with the ‘Cyber Alert’ Critical Information Sheet provided with this Agreement; and
4. Authorise Stokes Lawyers to transfer from its trust account money held for me to its general account to pay their professional fees and outlays in relation to relevant matters as provided by the Legal Profession Act 2007, Legal Profession Regulation 2007 and this Client Agreement.


A copy of the Client Agreement will be emailed to you upon submission.

Although you may accept this Client Agreement verbally or by providing further instructions, we may require the signed Client Agreement as a requirement prior to commencing the work.
I Agree to the Client Agreement and Cost Disclosure*