Frequently Asked Questions
How much will it cost me to call you with my legal problem?
Not a cent. Literally, it will be free - call 0800 227 848 (0800 ACQUIT) to speak to any of us. Despite what many fear, we will not bill you simply for calling, emailing, or walking in to the office to enquire about your legal affairs. If you decide to have us attend to your legal needs, you will be sent of letter of engagement, outlining how we bill, primarily with reference to our hourly rates. These are available on request, and if possible you will be informed of the likely cost of your case.
Do I really need a lawyer?
Many people leave it far too late to call a lawyer, thinking they can save themselves some money by doing what they view is right - be that going to Court and pleading guilty on the first appearance, or dealing with a party in a civil dispute directly. We ask you this: would you undertake complex surgery or dental work yourself? Do your own plumbing or electrical work? Quality advice and representation is often necessary, and can save you thousands when engaged sooner rather than later.
A Loved One is in Trouble, can I engage you for them?
You can contact us and make an appointment for them, and by all means you can assist them with their legal costs, but the person with the problem is the one that must choose their lawyer. If we are engaged, unless they provide us with written authority, we will not be able to discuss their case with you.
Will you act for me under a grant of Legal Aid?
If you are charged with a criminal offence carrying a maximum term of imprisonment of under 10 years, you can not choose your lawyer, but have one randomly assigned. If you are charged with serious crime and think you qualify for legal aid, contact us and we will discuss your options. Geoff Fulton is currently accepting instructions in criminal legal aid matters. Michael Bott is accepting legal aid grants only for serious crime. Stephen Iorns, while approved as a fully qualified legal aid lawyer, no longer accepts legal aid work.
Can I get finance to pay for your fees?
Yes, if you have a job and meet lending criteria, there are a number of finance companies who will lend you on a secured or unsecured basis to enable you to meet our fees, if you are otherwise unable to do so. If you need help finding an appropriate lender we will point you in the right direction.
Can I pay your fees by installment?
We are not a bank. As such, our preference is for you to obtain finance. In exceptional circumstances we will allow a weekly payment, but our terms are generally for payment on issuance of an invoice. If prior agreement has not been reached, and payment is not made, further work will not be undertaken and steps may be taken to recover debts. If you are having difficult with your legal costs, please discuss this with us so we can work together to ensure your legal needs are met.
Do you work on contingency - ie "no win no fee"?
As a general rule, no. There are some exceptions to this, however, and in certain human rights cases and high value civil disputes, we will consider working on a contingency basis.
You guys are barristers, what does that mean?
Broadly speaking, all we do is litigate (or prepare to litigate, or resolve disputes short of litigation). We do not do conveyancing. We can not draw you up a trust deed. We can not accept instructions directly from the public, but need instructing solicitors. If you do not have a solicitor, we can arrange instructions at no additional cost; our preference is for you to arrange the referral, though. You don't walk in to surgery without a note from the GP at the start, right? You can, of course, contact us in the first instance to discuss your litigation matter. We invite you to do just that, and we'll happily explain what being a barrister means in more detail. If you need a solicitor, but do not know where to go, we are happy to refer you to a good one!
So, are you guys a law firm or what?
No. We are not a firm of solicitors. Heretaunga Law is a barristers' chambers. In plain terms, this means that all of the members of chambers are independant of each other and self-employed (with the exception of Roderick Mulgan, who is employed by Stephen Iorns).
We work together as a team when required, share our facilities, and support each other. Occasionally, we stand together in Court. Occasionally, we also stand on the other side of the Court-room from one another representing opposing parties. As we maintain confidentiality within our own separate practices, this is not an issue and perfectly normal practice among barristers. If that doesn't clear it up. Ask!