Who are Lowndes Jordan?

Lowndes Jordan is a specialist corporate, commercial, business and IT law firm based in Auckland City, New Zealand. The firm was formed in 1986 as the first niche corporate law firm in New Zealand, recognising that business people want high quality technical advice but on a more personalised, cost effective level.

Since then we have grown to a total staff of 20+ people but we hold true to that specialist, niche way of doing things. Our clients tell us they like that. You can find more detail about us here and a list of the specialist areas in which we practice here

How do we go about engaging Lowndes Jordan to assist us?

We like to meet face to face if that is possible - although we do have clients in New Zealand and elsewhere that we have not met other than by email or via zoom! However we do it, it is important that we establish a good trust based relationship from the outset.

To be able to give you the best advice possible, it is important for us to get an initial understanding of what might be involved and how we can assist. We will usually be able to get that initial understanding in half an hour or so, often without charge if we have not worked together before, so that we can both assess if we will be the right fit. We may also need to obtain personal and other background information from you for AML purposes, before we can start acting (see below "Why do you need personal ID information and bank account details from me?")

Once we have a high level understanding of what is involved, we will conduct an internal check to make sure that we do not have a conflict of interest in acting for you (e.g. because we have acted or now act for another party to your transaction).

Once we both agree to move forward, we will try to give you an indication of likely costs (although sometimes things may be moving so quickly or be so uncertain that this will not be possible). Our relationship going forward will be governed by our terms of engagement and client care rules

What information do I need to give you?

For a number of projects, we will need to obtain detailed personal and transaction information from you under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act rules that apply to all New Zealand lawyers. This will include verified or certified copies of ID documents like passports, drivers licences, and address details, that we or another trusted referee has physically seen. It may also include information about where any funds to be used in a transaction have ultimately come from. We use FirstAML, an expert AML-CFT firm, to gather the AML-CFT information we need, directly from you.

This due diligence process can take some time. We cannot act if we do not have the information, or continue to act if it needs to be updated because of a change in the transaction. This can even delay settlement, for which delay we will not be liable if you have not provided information in time. Generally, any such information should be provided to us at the outset, and any information required as a result of a change at least 10 working days out from a settlement (e.g. where a different purchaser has been nominated in a property purchase).

Do not leave this until the last minute.

For more information see our AML/CFT guidance note

When is the best time to get Lowndes Jordan involved?

It is best to get us involved at the earliest possible time. In our experience, costs can increase dramatically where people try to go it alone for as long as they can and then come and see us when it is too late. It seems counterintuitive, but it can often cost you more if you delay getting us involved, particularly if it becomes very urgent and we have to charge more because we have to reprioritise other work.

Also, we will almost certainly have been involved in similar projects before, so we can give a good steer, not just on legal matters, but on commercial terms as well.

What information does Lowndes Jordan need from us?

Generally more is better. It is surprising how often we start off down a track only to find a piece of information comes to light later, leading to problems as we have to pivot in another direction. Don’t end up saying “I didn’t know you needed that”. Load us up from the start; we’re pretty good at reading fast.

Who will be involved on the project?

We will assess what is involved on the particular project and let you know our best people who are to handle it. If you have an existing relationship with someone here or you have come to us because you made personal contact with one of our team, they will generally have some involvement.

For some projects we may also agree with you to use outside experts. We are used to working with top barristers, forensic accountants, tax advisers and experts in all fields – whatever it takes to make a project move quickly and with the right expertise. Unless we agree otherwise, you will be directly responsible for payment of external fees.

All clients have partners or senior staff who are responsible for their relationship with Lowndes Jordan and for sorting out any issues that may arise.

At the start of any project, we will tell you who exactly you will be working with. If that needs to change, we will let you know in advance.

How will Lowndes Jordan charge us and how much does it cost?

Generally, we bill monthly based on the time we have spent and the different charge out rates of the people here who are involved in the project and for different types of work. If a project is particularly urgent we may often need to charge more to cater for the fact that we have to shift other clients’ work, but we will always agree this with you first.

When we send you our invoice, we will explain all the work we have done for you since our last invoice.

Significant expenses, such as Court filing fees and external expert or advisor fees, are generally payable in advance.

Unless otherwise agreed, we allow a period of 14 days for payment, as per our terms of engagement.

Is Lowndes Jordan open to other payment arrangements?

Yes, depending on the nature of the project, we are happy to talk about fixed fees, retainers, success fees, payment terms and other arrangements.

Can you give us an estimate or a quote?

Yes, if it is feasible to do so. Any estimate or quote will be clearly labelled as such.

Charge out Rates?

All our staff record the time they spend at different charge out rates. These are reviewed at the beginning of each year to keep pace with inflation and recognise increases in expertise. At the beginning of any particular project we will tell you who will be involved and what their charge out rates are. Generally, this forms the basis of how much we will charge, unless we have agreed a different arrangement with you. We may alter our time based fee to reflect such things as urgency, importance, complexity and value of the transaction, subject to any estimate or quote we have given you.

How will Lowndes Jordan communicate with us?

Generally we send and receive most things by email these days. The contact details for the people who will be working with you and their PAs are on each person’s page on this website.

Why do you need personal ID information and bank account details from me?

Lawyers are now subject to the Anti-Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Act, usually referred to as AML. This means that where you are having us act on a business or property transaction, trust or business structuring or handle your funds through our trust account (among other things), we are required to conduct what is called customer due diligence (CDD) (similar to what a bank does when you open a bank account). The level of CDD required depends on the type of transaction and various other factors. Some of this information is also required for conveyancing when we effect transfers, mortgages and other other property dealings through the Government's Landonline land title system.

The AML regime also requires us to report any suspicious activity to the NZ Police, and, if we do, we can't tell you about it.

There are technical security reasons why we will check some of these details directly with you. You will be aware of scams that try to trick you or us into paying funds to a scammer's bank account. Our trust account details are published on our website and the same information will be communicated to you if you need to transfer funds to us. Please check carefully that you are paying to our correct account. WE WILL NOT CHANGE OUR TRUST ACCOUNT DURING A TRANSACTION. So, if you receive an email that appears to be from us suggesting that we have changed our trust account or indicating payment to a different account number, IT WILL BE A SCAM. Please let us know if this happens but otherwise ignore it. You may also like to get your systems checked to make sure that they you have not been infiltrated (as will we if the situation arises).

Law seems full of jargon; can you simplify it a bit?

We try our best but if you do not understand something because we‘ve slipped back into bad old habits, make sure you ask – we will not be offended. We promise not to use any Latin!

What if I have a concern about Lowndes Jordan’s service or fees?

In the first instance, we encourage you to take any concerns up with the person who is responsible for your relationship with us (you will always know who that is). If you do not feel comfortable doing that, you can discuss the matter with one of our other partners. You are also always entitled to raise any concerns with the Law Society.

Check our client care rules and complaints policy for more details.