1. We believe that it is crucial that, if we become your legal service provider, we both understand our obligations to each other.
  2. Unless we sign a different document with you, these standard terms of service (“standard terms”) will govern our relationship with you or your organisation. If you require us to act for your organisation, you confirm that you are authorised to make such a request.
  3. These standard terms may change from time to time and are updated on our website at www.ppmattorneys.co.za. Please ensure that you check them regularly. Whilst we will not be obliged to do so, we may give you notice of any material changes.
  4. We will need you to either accept these standard terms or the terms of a separate engagement letter, before we represent you. In the event of any conflict, the terms of an engagement letter will apply over these standard terms.
  5. Our fees
    1. We charge an hourly rate for all our professional services. For example we charge for all, consultations, drafting or reviewing documents, time spent travelling to meetings, time spent at court, time spent on the telephone and time spent on research. It is important to note that we charge for all work in 6 (six) minute increments i.e. if we spend 3 (three) minutes on something, you will be charged for 6 minutes. (Tip: try to arrange meetings at our offices, or use our secure online meeting software, to save on the time we would bill for travelling to your office.)
    2. When we attend to your work, professionals working on your matter will be billed out as follows:
    3. Director R4,100.00;
      Associate Director R2,600.00;
      Senior Associates R2,150.00;
      Associates R1,800.00;
      Candidate Attorneys (2nd Year) R1,100,00;
      Candidate Attorneys (1st Year) R850,00; and
      Paralegal R350.00.
    4. Please remember that these rates may vary for professionals within a particular level. For example a senior associate with less experience than another senior associate at the firm, may be charged out at R1,750.00.
    5. Our hourly rates are exclusive of value added tax and disbursements. Disbursements include non-professional costs such as travelling, photocopying, communications and costs of third parties such as couriers. We charge for disbursements using the published High Court Tariff applicable at the time. Travel costs are at Automobile Association rates. (Tip: when you consult with us, try to have all the relevant information we will need and clear instructions. It saves both of us time and costs.)
    6. We typically require a deposit (an upfront payment that we hold to be used towards our fees) (“Deposit”). In the event that a Deposit is required to cover fees and disbursements, the Deposit must be made into PPM’s trust account. We will provide you with the Trust account details.
    7. The Deposit is kept in PPM’s Trust account and is credited to our final invoice. If you require, the Deposit will be invested in a separate interest bearing account on your behalf. Please instruct us, in writing, if you require this. If your funds are kept in the firm’s general Trust account, interest earned on any amount is paid to the Law Society of the Northern Provinces.
    8. As the matter progresses and as the Deposit decreases, it may be necessary to top it up. We will let you know when your Deposit gets low, and will require you to top it up.
    9. In the event that a matter or any other matter is or becomes litigious (i.e. it has to go to court, arbitration or a tribunal), we typically appoint an advocate to argue such actions or applications. Advocates are third parties and their fees depend on their seniority and level of experience. We may need you to provide us with a deposit equal to at least 3 (three) days of the advocate’s fee, if we appoint one.
    10. Please remember that even if you win your matter, you may not be able to recover the same amount of fees that you paid us. This is because the applicable court tariff is typically lower than what our rates are. If you lose, you may be liable for the other side’s costs. Our fees are not determined by whether you win or lose and we do not work on a contingency basis. Please note that we are not responsible for the collection of fees awarded to you by the court.
  6. Our payment terms
    1. We will provide you with monthly tax invoices during the course of your matter, advising you of the current status of fees in the matter. Tax invoices are delivered either electronically, by e-mail, or by post and are payable on presentation.
    2. Your invoice will include a detailed breakdown of all time spent on, work billed for and disbursements incurred in your matter. Some of the information contained in your invoice may be sensitive or confidential, so it is imperative that you ensure that any email address you give us, where you will receive your invoice, is secure.
    3. We revise all professional fees annually, usually from 1st March of each year. We will endeavour to provide you with reasonable notice of any changes in professional fees; but it is your responsibility to check these terms or enquire with your usual contact at the firm regarding new applicable rates.
    4. We are entitled to charge interest (at the maximum rate allowed by law) on all amounts outstanding, for any reason, older than 30 (thirty) days from the date calculated on our invoice. Interest is calculated on a monthly basis. All payments are allocated first to interest, then to disbursements and then to the oldest outstanding fee.
    5. If invoices are not paid on presentation, we reserve the right to cease work on all matters we may be working on for you. We adopt a strict approach to recovering unpaid fees. If you do not pay on time, you may receive a formal reminder after 30 (thirty) days, a letter of demand after 60 (sixty) days and summons will be issued after 90 (ninety) days. We reserve the right, at our sole discretion, to abandon or shorten the time periods in this clause.
  7. Liability
  8. In the unlikely event that there are problems with the way we have provided our services, the maximum liability of PPM or any individual partner, senior associate, or employee, as the case may be, in respect of direct economic loss or damage you or your beneficiaries may suffer, shall be limited to two times the fees charged and paid for the matter to which the economic loss or damage relates. The maximum liability shall be the total liability for all claims arising for any type of claim (e.g. contract or delict/tort).

  9. Termination
    1. Either of us may terminate this agreement at any time on at least 30 (thirty) days prior notice to the other.
    2. You will be responsible for all fees and disbursements up to the date of termination. We will keep your file/s (exercise a lien) until all outstanding fees have been paid in full.
  10. Dispute resolution
    1. These standard terms are governed by the laws of the Republic of South Africa. In the event that we have a dispute it will be resolved in the South Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg, South Africa.
    2. If we pursue you for our fees or for any other reason, we will be entitled to recover any legal fees arising out of any legal action, on an attorney and client basis.
    3. If you are not happy with our services, you are also welcome to approach the Law Society of the Northern Provinces. If you are accessing these standard terms electronically, click on this link for more information on what complaints will be considered and how to lay a complaint. (Tip: try to resolve any complaints you have with us by contacting the most senior person in the firm: it may be something that is capable of being remedied very quickly and amicably.)
  11. Notices, communication and storage and protection of information
    1. We will need you to provide us with a physical address at which you will receive any notices or formal documents, we may need to deliver to you (the Latin term for this address is domicilium citandi et executandi). If you do not provide us with a physical address, we will be entitled to use the physical address reflected on the FICA documents we receive from you (see paragraph 12 below for more on this).
    2. Communications between you and us will occur mainly through electronic communications and by telephone. Please be aware that the integrity of electronic communications and telephones cannot be guaranteed. If you require electronic communications such as email to be encrypted, please let us know.
    3. We prefer to retain all records electronically. Hard copy documents that are not required by law to be kept in their original format will be scanned and stored electronically. We will then shred all hard copies. You note and consent to this. If you require any particular record to be kept in hard copy format, you must tell us this in writing, in advance. We will keep your file for 5 (five) years after your matter ends or after your last communication to us. We may then destroy it.
    4. We are aware of the provisions of the Protection of Personal Information Act, 4 of 2013 (“POPI”). As much as it is not yet effective, we undertake to comply with its provisions, particularly section 7 (security). We expect a similar undertaking from you.
    5. We may wish to conduct a credit check on you. If so, you hereby give us consent to do so.
  12. General
    1. These standard terms constitute the entire understanding between us and you concerning our relationship. No waiver, relaxation or change to these standard terms will be effective unless made in writing and signed, by hand or advanced electronic signature, by us both. If any part of these standard terms is held to be unlawful, all the other parts will remain in force.
    2. We will need you to confirm in writing that you have read these standard terms and that you accept them. If we require a Deposit, that must also first be paid. Once these have been attended to, we will begin representing you.
    3. Please remember that we are not your attorneys until we have completed all the requirements of these standard terms. If we do act for you despite not having received anything from you, then these terms will apply.
    4. You accept these terms when you, sign a separate document accepting these terms; when you respond to us in writing indicating that you accept them; when we undertake any work with your knowledge or under your instructions; or your actions such as paying a deposit and providing us with FICA documents indicate that you have accepted these standard terms.
  13. Financial Intelligence Centre Act (“FICA”)
  14. FICA is a South African law that requires us to “know your client”. We will need you to provide us with certain documentation verifying who you are and what your physical address is. We will provide you with a list of these documents.
  15. We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship.