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Legal costs

Legal costs

Disclosure of legal costs

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:

  • an estimate of how much the legal work might cost in total; and
  • how much you will charge (ie, hourly rates, fixed rates etc).

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.