These Appointment Terms were published on 5 November 2012 and updated on 9 April 2013.
Web•Tech•Law advises its clients on South African law.
Where appropriate, on your behalf, we may be able to obtain advice on matters of foreign law from suitably qualified foreign legal advisers and for this purpose we shall be deemed to be authorised by you to disclose all relevant information to the foreign legal adviser. In such circumstances our role will be limited to obtaining and communicating the advice rendered by the foreign legal adviser without responsibility or liability on our part for the accuracy or content of such advice.
By instructing us, you agree to be bound by our agreement which sets out the terms and conditions upon which Web•Tech•Law will act for you, as amended by us from time to time. Where we amend our agreement, we will publish a notice to this effect on our website which will detail the proposed changes and when the changes will become effective.
In the event you do not agree to these proposed changes, you may cease your engagement with us from the date on which the changes become effective by giving us written notice of your intention to do so. You will remain liable for any fees invoiced prior to the date on which your engagement ceases.
Our terms of appointment will be published to our website and are available from our offices on request. You are deemed to be familiar with these terms of appointment and it is therefore your responsibility to either request a copy of these terms of appointment or obtain an updated copy of these terms of appointment from our website.
Our contact details are published on our website on our Contact page.
Initial instructions must be confirmed in writing by a person who is authorised to instruct us. In giving us instructions, you warrant that you have the requisite authority.
Where there is more than one of you each of you warrant each of you have the requisite authority to instruct us and that any one of you can give instructions on behalf of all of you.
Fees and disbursements
Our fees are based upon an appraisal of the value of the professional advice and services rendered, giving appropriate consideration in each case to:
- The time and labour required and experience of those performing the services;
- The complexity, novelty and difficulty of the issues raised and the skills required;
- The urgency with which we were instructed to deal with the matter (in particular, the necessity to work outside normal hours may lead to Increased rates);
- The contribution made, responsibility assumed, amount involved and results achieved;
- The number and length of documents prepared and reviewed;
- Where and when the work was carried out; and
- Any extraordinary efforts required to meet special constraints or other requirements imposed by the client or the circumstances.
We have a number of fee options available to our clients:
- Hourly fees;
- Fixed fees; and
- Retainer fees.
We prefer alternative fee structures to our hourly fee structure which are aimed at providing you with better value for your money and greater certainty as to what you are spending on legal fees. You can find more information about these options below.
Hourly billing is not our usual method of billing our clients. That being said, circumstances may arise where it is either not possible, feasible or desirable to agree on a fixed or retainer fee.
Our hourly rates range between R850 and R2 250.
You agree that we may increase our hourly rates or change our fee structure from time to time. Where we change the fee structure applicable to you, we will endeavour to notify you at least a month in advance.
We require that you pay us a deposit up front. The amount of the deposit we require, which will vary depending on the nature of the matter, must be paid upfront unless otherwise agreed. You are also required to maintain the deposit by paying our invoices in full, irrespective of the deposit we hold. Work on your file will commence once the deposit has been received in full.
At the end of each month we will invoice you for work done that month and deduct our fees and disbursements for that month from the deposit unless we have agreed otherwise (for example, where you invest money with us, this investment will only be disposed of on the terms we have agreed or as permitted by law).
Certain matters or projects lend themselves to fixed fees. Typically these projects have very specific deliverables and may include preparation of documents, a report on a set of issues and so on. These fees vary from project to project and, as with all our fees, we will quote you upfront. Please let us know if you have budgetary constraints so we can assist you where possible either through easier payment terms or an otherwise modified quotation.
We do require a deposit before we begin work on the project. Depending on the proposed fee, the deposit may equal the proposed fee or it may be a percentage of that fee. We will include details of the deposit in our initial quotation.
Retainer fees are ideal for clients who either require ongoing work or who wish to instruct us to handle work over a longer period of time than is usually the case. The latter type of work includes litigation or similarly protracted matters.
This fee model involves regular payments of a set fee to cover all work done in the period concerned. A good example is a regular monthly fee to cover various attendances for a client during the course of a month. As part of our effort to simplify our billing process, we are standardizing our general purpose retainer fees to give our client’s a choice of a number of set retainer fees based on how much work is required of us. These retainer fees include a discount on equivalent hourly rate-based fees. These retainer fees may change over time.
Please note that retainer fees are not refundable if you do not make use of the full amount of time provided for in your retainer fee. For example, a monthly retainer fee of R10 500 which caters for work to the value of R12 000 in that month is not refundable if, in that month, the work we do does not reach the value threshold for that retainer. Similarly, unused amounts don't roll over to the next month or otherwise accumulate for later use. Conversely, if we do work that exceeds the retainer's parameters in a given month, we do not deduct that from the following month's retainer. In these situations, we may invoice you for excess work done on an agreed basis.
Our retainer fees are agreed to periodically and are subject to regular review by both you and us to ensure that you receive the most value from the retainer fee and this arrangement remains economically viable for us. Retainer fees mean more certainty for you because your fees are capped at a fee that is set based on your requirements. You only pay for certain costs and you won’t receive invoices from us for petty charges like phone calls, faxes and so on. Please feel free to contact us for a quote.
Retainer fees are typically payable in advance and by the middle of the month in which we perform our services. For example, we must be paid by 15th of January for work to be done in January. This advance payment is one of the rationales for the discount we apply to our retainer fees.
Where retainer fees are not paid by the due date specified in our invoices, we may remove the discount we apply to our retainer fee.
You may opt to have retainer fee arrangements automatically roll over or terminate at the end of a predefined time period. The default position is that the retainer fee arrangement will terminate at the end of its predefined time period unless we agree, in writing and one month in advance, that you will continue with the agreed retainer fee or a modified retainer fee.
Where the retainer fee arrangement terminates, we will default to an hourly fee in respect of further work you wish us to do for you. You are free to negotiate a new retainer fee at any time once the previously retainer fee arrangement has lapsed provided we receive payment in the time frame we mentioned above.
The following disbursements will be charged to your account, are included in our invoices to you and are payable on presentation of our invoices:
We do not charge you for the following where you have met the requirements of the fee structure you have selected or which you have defaulted to:
- Project management tasks;
- Filing, administrative and similar tasks;
- Communications with you in which we simply provide you with an update of your file without contributing further to the progress of your matter;
- Travel costs within the City of Johannesburg.
General fee related comments
Fee quotations remain valid for 30 days from the date the quotation is issued. Where a quotation is issued and accepted, that quotation will lapse if the work contemplated in that quotation does not begin within 60 days after the date the quotation is accepted due to any reason other than delays on our part.
Please note that we will only begin working on your file once we have received the required deposit or the agreed fee where we have agreed on a fixed or retainer fee.
We will suspend work on your file if our invoices remain unpaid after they fall due. Should our invoices remain unpaid within 20 days of the date on which payment was due, we will close your file. You agree to indemnify us and waive any claim you may have against us which may arise out of our suspension of work on your file or should we close your file due to non-payment of our invoices in full and on time. You also agree to pay any costs which we may incur in recovering overdue amounts from you including, but not limited to, collections fees, attorneys fees on an attorney and client scale as well as 3rd party providers' fees and disbursements.
We ask that you pay each invoice on the due date specified in the particular invoice unless we have agreed otherwise. All payments, whether in terms of our invoices or otherwise must be paid into our trust account, the details of which are stated on our invoices, from time to time.
We reserve the right to institute proceedings against you to recover the amounts due to us. This may include reporting the matter to the appropriate credit bureau.
Our services are provided by the firm as a whole utilising our total personnel, experience, precedents and other resources. Where there is more than one of you, your responsibility to us for fees shall be joint and several.
Financial Intelligence Centre Act
The Financial Intelligence Centre Act (No. 38 of 2001) (“FICA”) imposes certain legal obligations on legal services firms and this may include Web•Tech•Law.
One of our primary obligations in terms of FICA is that prior to acting for a client we are obliged to collect and verify certain prescribed information. Accordingly we will request information from you which we are obliged to obtain and the documentation to be furnished to us to verify such information.
Please note that we will only begin working on your file once we have received the requisite FICA documents. The reason for this is that we are liable for severe penalties should we fail to comply with FICA. Please send the required documentation and information to us either by email, fax or hand delivery.
E-Mail Communication and the Internet
If, however, you choose to contact us or send us documents, or ask us to communicate with you or send you documents via the Internet we will assume that you wish communications between yourselves and ourselves to be conducted via the Internet notwithstanding the security and reliability issues mentioned above.
Storage of files
Generally we will retain all files in respect of your affairs for a minimum period of 5 years from the commencement of the matter. We may destroy such files as we consider appropriate after this period.
By default, we store documentation in a digital format on various forms of digital media in an effort to improve our quality of service. This practice may require that we have documentation in our possession converted into a digital format by third party service providers from time to time, which you specifically consent to.
Copyright in and to documents and content generated for you in the course of carrying out work for you generally vests in Web•Tech•Law.
Termination of instructions
If we cease to act for you, you will be responsible for fees and disbursements up to the date of termination and any fees and disbursements associated with the transfer of such work to another adviser of your choice.
Please note that we reserve the right to withhold files and documents if fees and disbursements remain unpaid.
In the event that any claim, matter or dispute arises between you and us out of or in connection with your use of or access to the website then such claim, matter or dispute may, at our election, be finally resolved in accordance with the Rules of the Arbitration Foundation of Southern Africa by an arbitrator appointed by the Foundation.
Either party shall be entitled to have an arbitration award made an order of court of competent jurisdiction.
Any dispute shall be deemed to have been referred or subjected to arbitration in terms of this clause when either party gives written notice to the other of the dispute, demands an arbitration and requests agreement on an arbitrator.
The parties shall keep the evidence in the arbitration proceedings and any order made by any arbitrator confidential unless otherwise contemplated herein.
The arbitrator shall have the power to give default judgment if any party fails to make submissions on due date and/or fails to appear at the arbitration.
Notwithstanding the above provisions, either party shall be entitled to institute action in any court of law of competent jurisdiction to obtain urgent interim relief or in our case, to collect any outstanding debts due and payable by you to us.
Web•Tech•Law is operated from Johannesburg, Gauteng, Republic of South Africa.
You irrevocably and unconditionally consent to the jurisdiction of the Magistrates Court even though the value of your claim may exceed the ordinary monetary jurisdiction of the Magistrates Court.
You also irrevocably and unconditionally consent and submit to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the South Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg.
Legal service of documents
Interpreting these Appointment Terms
These terms contain a number of words and phrases which have specific meanings and most of which are capitalised. The Glossary, below, contains many of these words and phrases (others are set out in this document's body and are designated by terms in quotation marks).
We also apply certain rules when interpreting this Agreement and the Interpretation Guide, which sets out these rules, is below.
In this Agreement, headings are for convenience and are not intended to be used to interpret the Agreement.
Unless this Agreement indicates to the contrary, any references to any gender includes the other genders, a natural person includes an artificial person and vice versa, the singular includes the plural and vice versa.
The rule of construction that the contract shall be interpreted against the Party responsible for the drafting or preparation of this Agreement, shall not apply.
Where in this Agreement provision is made for the Parties (or either of them) to agree on or grant approval in respect of any matter, such Agreement or approval shall only be valid and binding on the Parties thereto if reduced to writing and signed by the duly authorised representative of such Parties.
The use of the word "including" followed by a specific example shall not be construed as limiting the meaning of the general wording preceding it and the eiusdem generis rule shall not be applied in the interpretation of such general wording or such specific example.
Where this Agreement specifies any number of days, the number of days excludes the first day and includes the last day unless the last day falls on a Saturday, Sunday or gazetted public holiday in the Republic of South Africa, in which case the last day shall be the next succeeding day which is not a Saturday, Sunday or gazetted public holiday in the Republic of South Africa. Generally speaking, references to a “day” are references to typical business days.
Any reference to "business hours" shall be construed as being the hours between 08h30 (eight hours and thirty minutes) and 17h00 (seventeen hours) on any Business Day. Any reference to time shall be based upon South African Standard Time;
All annexures, addenda and amendments to this document form an integral part of our agreement.
Unless inconsistent with the context, the expressions set forth below shall bear the following meanings:
- "Party" means either you or Web•Tech•Law ("Parties" has a corresponding meaning);
- "Our Agreement" means these terms of appointment, any annexures which comprise the agreement between you or your company and Web•Tech•Law in relation to our services from time to time;
- "our", "us" or "Web•Tech•Law" means Web•Tech•Law Proprietary (Limited) (Registration number 2012/1694/07), a company incorporated in accordance with South African law;
- "you" means Web•Tech•Law's clients from time to time ("your" has a corresponding meaning)