Costs agreements must be in writing. Make sure you read the agreement carefully and ask any questions about it before you sign it.
I do not have to give you a costs agreement but if your case is going to cost more than $750.00 before disbursements and GST, I must ‘disclose my costs’. A costs disclosure tells you how the costs in your case will be calculated. It should include:
• An estimate of costs and how they will be calculated or
• The fixed amount that will be charged.
The costs disclosure must also include information about:
• your right to negotiate a costs agreement with your lawyer
• your right to receive an itemised bill from your lawyer
• your right to negotiate how you want to be billed
• your right to complain to the Legal Services Commissioner if there is a dispute about costs.
If the total legal costs are not likely to be more than $3000 before disbursements and GST, I may give you a standard costs disclosure form rather than making full costs disclosure.
If you are given an estimate, this is not a quote, and the amount stated may change. If the amount is likely to change significantly I will give you a further Costs Disclosure.
I will disclose my costs before I start working for you, or as soon as possible.
If I don’t disclose my costs, you may be able to challenge the bill. For more information, see Complaints about a bill.
How I charge
I charge for:
• professional costs and
Professional costs are charged for my time, effort and expertise. Professional costs can be charged a number of different ways. I may charge:
• a fixed amount
• an hourly rate
I can charge a fixed amount for a case. For example, representing you in a local court for a plea of guilty it will be $1500.00 including disbursements. I charge $350.00 for adjourning your matter and $500.00 for writing up representations to police to withdraw some matters or negotiating a plea.
Alternatively you can request I charge my hourly rate. Each hour is usually divided into 10 units, so 1 unit equals 6 minutes. At $350 per hour and I spend 1 unit, or 6 minutes or less writing a letter, you will be charged $35.00. If I spend 8 minutes, you will be charged 2 units, which will be $70.00.
Disbursements are charged for costs such as photocopying and travel to court together with parking.
If you do not sign the costs agreement and continue to instruct your solicitor, the costs agreement can still be enforced.
What can and cannot be charged
I can charge you for a range of legal work that I do for you, including:
• phone calls or emails they make or receive about your case
• the time they spend drafting documents for your matter
• the time they spend reviewing your case and preparing for court
• attending court on your behalf.
I cannot charge you for:
• preparing a costs agreement
• preparing an itemised bill.