Clarification of competence and conflict of interest
Standard terms of engagement for clients
Wahl-Larsen AS has general procedures in place for client care. In the following we will provide information on a number of key points that past experience has shown will normally be of interest to clients.
Establishing the engagement
We will of course determine at the outset whether the firm has the requisite expertise and level of quality to act on behalf of the client in the matter in question. Before we undertake an engagement we will also assess whether there is any reason – in the form of conflict of interest or other issues – why the firm should not or cannot take on the engagement.
In accordance with the Money Laundering Act we will also perform the identity check required under the Act in connection with the establishment of the engagement.
Subject to certain statutorily-defined exceptions, attorneys-at-law are bound by a duty of confidentiality with respect to information received from a client in connection with a case. All our clients can be confident that any information they furnish will be treated confidentially by all members of our firm.
As our client, you will enter into a contract with Wahl-Larsen AS. Nevertheless, the individual attorney-at-law taking your instructions in the case will be personally responsible for the quality of the work that he or she performs on your behalf.
Our preferred course of action is that clients who have objections to the way in which our work is conducted should raise this matter with the individual attorney-at-law at as early a stage in the process as possible. Nevertheless, any client may file a complaint with the Disciplinary Council of the Norwegian Bar Association should they be dissatisfied with the way in which an attorney-at-law has performed work on behalf of a client.
Information on the Norwegian Bar Association’s Code of Conduct and procedures for filing complaints can be found on the website of the Norwegian Bar Association and www.jus.no on the English-language pages.
Liability and insurance cover
Practicing attorneys-at-law in Norway are required to post security and hold liability insurance to cover any liability they might incur during the course of their practice. All the attorneys-at-law in our firm have posted security and taken out liability cover.
Amendments to the terms of engagement
The terms agreed for the engagement will normally apply for the duration of the engagement, unless otherwise specifically agreed.
Performance of the engagement
The attorney-at-law retained by the client will also be responsible for the performance of the engagement. This attorney will ensure that the work is performed in a way that safeguards the best interests of the client by allocating tasks to other members of the firm etc.
Engagements are generally invoiced on the basis of time spent on the services provided, but fixed rates may be agreed in special cases Our hourly rates vary, depending on the nature of the matter and the type of expertise required Hourly rates are agreed for each individual engagement and are confirmed in a letter of engagement.
At the present time, our hourly rates range from NOK 2,500 to NOK 4,375 incl. VAT. ( NOK 2,000 to NOK 3,500 excl. VAT). The prices may be amended at one month’s notice, unless a fixed hourly rate has been agreed for the duration of the engagement. The minimum billable unit of time is 15 minutes.
Invoicing and payment
Unless otherwise agreed, our work will be invoiced on the basis of time spent on the services provided. Time expended and any direct disbursements will normally be invoiced once per month. The client will generally be invoiced for substantial disbursements as soon as the amount has been incurred.
All invoices are payable net within 14 days. Penalty interest will be charged on overdue payments at the rate provided for in the Act concerning Interest on Late Payment.
Each invoice will be accompanied by a specification detailing the work performed during the period, the number of hours expended and the lawyers who performed the work.
If an invoice covers multiple engagements for the same client, the specification will provide details of how much of the fee and any disbursements concern each individual engagement.
Disbursements for which the client is liable must be cleared with the client before they are incurred, unless the amount incurred is specified in the letter of engagement or is necessary in order to safeguard the interests of the client and the consent of the client cannot be secured in advance. It should be noted that where we invoice clients for disbursements, VAT will normally be added to the amount payable.
Legal expenses insurance
Many private clients have legal expense insurance up to a specified amount through their private insurance policies.
When the engagement is established we will determine whether cover is provided for legal expenses via the client’s insurance company The client is responsible for presenting the name of the insurance company and the policy number.
Legal expenses cover does not exempt the client from liability for payment for the work performed by the attorney-at-law and does not impose a maximum limit on the total amount that may be invoiced for a case. Legal expenses insurance does not cover any costs of an opposing party that the client is ordered to pay in a legal action.
Litigation costs in legal proceedings
Our attorneys-at-law will never guarantee that a legal action will have a specific outcome. This will apply even if the likelihood that the court will find in the client’s favour has been intimated..
If an action is lost, there is a risk that the client will be ordered to pay the costs of the opposing party and the applicable court fees. This liability rests with the client.
The applicable hourly rate(s) and invoicing procedures will be agreed between the attorney-at-law and the client. In many cases, consultations with the client, investigations, meetings etc.. will involve far more work than will be apparent in the conducting of a case before a court of law. This use of resources will be agreed with the client on an ongoing basis and will in any event be viewed as having been accepted when the client pays our invoices. If the outcome of proceedings before a court is that the client is awarded costs, but the amount awarded is lower than the fee that we have claimed/will charge the client, the client will nevertheless be liable to us for the excess amount.