There is a widely held belief that when you give a client an estimate of the likely total cost of the project, you can’t end up charging any more than 10% above that estimate.
That is rubbish. But it pays to tread carefully when giving an estimate, so these are the rules you should follow.
As lawyers, we are all familiar with the personal property securities regime that has been a feature of the legal landscape since the Personal Property Securities Act 1999 came into force.
Unfortunately that familiarity is not as widespread throughout the commercial sector. Financiers and traders that habitually sell valuable items on credit are well versed in the proper procedures to follow under the legislation, even if they might not fully understand the rationale. Those that are not as well versed, are the people who very rarely have cause to rely on the PPSA, and as a result they can occasionally be caught out badly.
Most complainants were unsuccessful because they were caught out by the fine print in the policy.
The New Zealand Herald recently reported that dispute-resolution company Financial Services Complaints Ltd had experienced a five-fold increase in complaints about travel insurance over the past year, and that two thirds of the insurance complaints they handled concerned travel insurance claims that were declined.
In New Zealand, a National Consumer Survey conducted in 2009 found that two thirds of New Zealanders were not aware that they already have much the same rights (for free) under the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993.
The other day I bought a 22” LCD flat screen TV. The prices that were quoted by the major appliance retailers in Auckland for this particular model ranged from $399 to $499. The sales assistant didn’t mention any manufacturer’s warranty, but he asked me whether I wanted an extended warranty, which I declined. That’s because I already know what my rights are, and it’s easy for me to enforce them.
There are some risks that, if they actually materialised, could bankrupt you, or at the very least set you back for a very long time.
Things like your house burning down, or burglars cleaning out all your worldly possessions, or your boat hitting a submerged reef, or the family car coming off second best in a collision with an immovable object.
In a previous newsletter I wrote about what happens when the warranty runs out.
I explained that a warranty is essentially a right to take something back if it breaks down, no questions asked, and have it repaired or get a new one. It is a common misconception that when a warranty expires, or when there is no warranty at all, then the customer has no rights. In fact, warranties are just additional or “bonus” rights, that run in parallel with the rights given to the customer by the law. The customer can enforce those underlying legal rights against the supplier regardless of whether there is a warranty or not.
When you think of a warranty, you think of something a retailer offers his customers when they buy a new car or washing machine.
That is, a right to take the thing back if it breaks down, no questions asked, and have it repaired or get a new one. This right usually only lasts for a specified period of say 2, 3 or 5 years. The car or washing machine usually breaks down the week after that period expires. But be that as it may.
In recent times there has been a trend towards writing contracts and other legal documents in what is commonly called “plain English”.
That means, wording that can be easily understood by the average person, without any of the legalese, jargon or gobbledygook that legal documents are traditionally written in.
A recent decision of the Weathertight Homes Tribunal in a case known as Tabram v Slater has stirred up some controversy.
This was a leaky home case where the current owners (the Tabrams) claimed against the builders and previous owners (the Slaters) and the designer.
Anyone from the baby boomer generation like me will know that ethics and morality aren’t what they used to be.
My parents’ generation were by and large honest, considerate, respectful, polite, and law-abiding – and some would say too homogenous as a result.