If you are engaged to provide services which will likely cost more than $1,500, you must give you a written estimate of anticipated costs. This should include:
You can provide an estimate of legal costs within a range (ie, $3,000 - $5,000), and you may break the work down into stages (ie, up to filing a claim, up until trial, for a trial of 2 weeks etc).
If the person paying your costs is unhappy with your charges, they can make a complaint to the Commissioner. The Commissioner recommends that clients try to resolve their issues with their lawyer first.
The Commissioner must investigate complaints of overcharging which are received within 2 years of the law practice having provided the final bill to which the complaint relates. The Commissioner has a discretion to allow a longer period within which a complaint of overcharging can be made where he considers that there is a good explanation for the delay.
If the costs dispute is for amounts up to $50,000, the Commissioner may make a binding determination. Regardless of the amount in dispute, the Commissioner can report on an assessment of the costs charged and make recommendations. While a recommendation is not binding, it must be considered by the Supreme Court on any subsequent adjudication.
The Commissioner will not investigate complaints of overcharging where there is a Supreme Court adjudicaiton being undertaken or debt recovery proceedings in the Magistrates Court.