Engagement letter

In determining an appropriate attorney and one's own client fee for professional services (i.e. fees as opposed to disbursements) rendered by this firm to a client and how to assess the value we add to a client's endeavours and peace of mind, this firm will have regard to those factors referred to hereunder which are recommended by the Law Society of the Northern Provinces as factors that should be taken into account namely :-

  • the amount of work done and importance of the work to the client;
  • the complexity of the matter or the difficulty or novelty of the work or questions raised in executing the matter;
  • the skill, labour and specialised knowledge required in relation to the matter in question;
  • the responsibility involved;
  • the number, complexity and importance of the documents prepared or perused, without necessarily having regard to their length;
  • the place where and circumstances in which the services (or any part thereof) were rendered;
  • the time expended in executing the work;
  • where money or property is involved, its amount or value;
  • the importance of the matter to the client;
  • the urgency of the matter;
  • the number of professional and non-professional staff involved in executing the work;
  • the existence of a private tariff.
However, services rendered often relate to areas where it is inappropriate or difficult (if not impossible) to calculate the same on a time basis only (which is only 1 of 12 factors referred to by the Law Society).

An elusive element which influences the ultimate fee is an amalgam of abstract thought, concern, responsibility and commitment which is bound up with, inter alia, the complexity and seriousness of the matter or the importance to the client, as well as the consequences of success or failure in any matter.

We are however sensitive to the fact that there are circumstances in which there may be the need to accommodate a client in regard to the level of charges in any particular matter. We must however emphasise that once a matter is at an end, either our client or BKI should be at liberty to engage with each other in order to analyse the outcome and explore the possibility of adjusting the base charge. We are always open to this possibility and both parties should feel free to engage with each other in an open and transparent way.

This approach (i.e. our preparedness to accommodate a client) is part of the firm's philosophy and we recognise that on occasions it is necessary that one recognises and appreciates that there is a need to do so.

This is really part of the bigger picture and part of the process of developing a relationship and a partnership with a client.
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Fees Brochure

Explanation of Terms
  1. Fees are the charges (excluding disbursements) raised by us in respect of professional services rendered by this firm, and which are reasonably necessary in order to give effect to the mandate received by us from you, or to advance your interests, whether pursuant to your specific or general instructions.
  2. Disbursements are, broadly speaking, monies disbursed or payable by us on your behalf, and will include (but are not limited to) counsel’s fees, witness fees (including the charges of expert witnesses), travel expenses, sheriff’s charges, e-mail, revenue stamps, courier charges, photocopying and faxing charges.
  3. A fees account refers to fees (excluding VAT) raised by us from time to time and is attached as an annexure to a combined statement / tax invoice and referred to in the body of that statement together with a reference to the VAT attaching thereto. Our fees are as per the private tariff of this firm ("the tariff") to which there is reference hereunder.
  4. Postages and petties are costs such as, for example, postage stamps and the cost (disbursement, not fees) of phone calls, all of which in the nature of things cannot be monitored or identified with absolute accuracy. These costs will be raised as a separate globular amount on a fees account in addition to our fees from time to time.
  5. The tariff refers to our attorney and one’s own client tariff (i.e our private tariff) and fees will be raised by whoever in the firm performs the services in accordance therewith. The fees reflected in the tariff escalate annually on the 01/01 as reflected more fully in clause 8 hereunder.
  • Statements of account are rendered on a regular monthly basis containing reference to fees (where raised during the month in question), disbursements, and interest (if applicable) and credits/payments to which you are entitled.
  • Normal Office Hours - are 08h00 through to 17h00, Monday to Friday (without interruption); all work done by us outside normal hours will be charged at 1.5 x our tariff rate, save for work done on Sundays and public holidays which will be charged at 2 x our tariff rate.
ABC Principle
The ABC (activity based charge) principle is the basis upon which almost all attorneys charge. In other words, an attorney only charges for time and advice. Consequently time expended is charged out at the relevant tariff applicable to the relevant legal service provider within the firm. In this regard we invite your attention to clause 4 hereunder.

General All-Inclusive Fee
We shall also raise a general all-inclusive fee for time spent (whether alone or with others) considering the matter, i.e. thinking time. This is sometimes described by attorneys as "applying a trained legal mind" to the matter; these charges will fluctuate and will be raised from time to time as and when we consider it appropriate and will be charged as a globular amount, and are fees charged over and above any specified amount, item or activity posted to your fees account and will be described as "applying a trained legal mind to the matter". These charges are separate from internal discussions between lawyers.

External Service Providers
It may be necessary for us from time to time to enlist external service providers (such as, for example, an expert witness, tax expert, auditor or transcribers) on your behalf. Where we do so, we act as your agent and create a contract between you and the service provider which would render you liable directly to the service provider for his/her charges. There are however certain outside service providers (such as, for example, Counsel, Forensic Auditors and Tax Consultants) who absent an agreement with them and us to the contrary, would look directly to this firm for payment of their accounts; in these circumstances the payment by us to such outside service providers shall represent a disbursement effected by us for and on your behalf.

  • The fees and disbursements referred to above will escalate on 1 January of each calendar year by 10% per annum compounded (but rounded off upwards to the closest R10.00 round amount).
  • The escalation will take place on 1 January 2018.
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Alternate Fee Structures

  1. Save in very specific circumstances, all attorneys charge on the ABC principle – i.e. an Activity Base Charge based on a service providers charge out rate computed by reference to time expended. However there may well be circumstances in which an alternate method of raising charges could be agreed upon. To a very large extent the nature of the matter and the scope of the work would dictate an alternate to the ABC principle but the following possibilities may present themselves
    1.1 a matter could attract what is known as a "blended rate" whereby a number of service providers within the firm who are working on the matter will not charge their usual rate, but they will all charge an agreed rate which is intended to be and is known internationally as a blended rate. This normally applies to larger matters where two or more persons (at different levels of seniority) are working on a matter
    1.2 There may be certain matters in which we can agree a "project fee" provided the scope and extent of the work to be executed is agreed and understood; i.e. the scope must be certain or at least substantially certain
    1.3 a "success fee" based model could in certain circumstances be applied but traditionally South African attorneys very rarely work on a success fee model. Having said that there may be matters where a success fee model could be applied but they are rare given that litigation (in particular) has so many permutations and possibilities – and the scope of the work is so uncertain – that a success fee is not appropriate. This does not mean that it is not possible
  2. From what is referred to above, it is to be noted that there are any number of models and/or permutations of cost profiles. Much will depend on the nature of the matter and the anticipated or agreed scope of work.

We have a BEE level 8 status
- Brian Kahn Inc -

Should you have any queries or questions, please feel free to send us an email and we'll get back to you.

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