Information on the costs associated with your matter and your rights in relation thereto
- You may seek independent legal advice before agreeing to the costs agreement proposed.
- You may negotiate the terms of the costs agreement.
- You may negotiate the billing method used (for example, by reference to timing or task).
- You are entitled to receive a bill, and if you request it, fully itemised if requested within 30 days after the lump sum bill becomes payable.
- You are entitled, upon reasonable request, to progress reports of your matter and the current costs incurred in your matter, and to be notified of any significant changes affecting costs.
- If there is a dispute or you are unhappy with the costs you can require mediation of the dispute, apply for independent assessment within 12 months, or seek to have the cost agreement set aside. You may also seek the assistance of the Legal Services Commissioner in the event of a dispute about legal costs.
- The law of New South Wales applies to legal costs in relation to this matter.
- You are entitled to accept or reject any offer we make for an interstate costs law to apply to your matter or notify us that you require an interstate costs law to apply to your matter.
- The cost agreement you enter will show the basis on which the costs and disbursements will be calculated, estimate the total payable, or a range of estimates including major possible variables, when you should pay, the interest payable if you fail to pay, and the person you should speak to about any concerns you have on the costs.
Thank you for your instructions to act in this matter. We are required by the Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW) 2014 to set out the following terms of our engagement for your acceptance or further negotiation.
1. The work we will carry out
To act on your behalf in [description of matter] including all attendances and correspondence.
2. Our fees and disbursements
In this instance it is impractical to quote a fixed fee in advance because, it is impossible to tell with any degree of certainty what work is going to be involved. However we estimate our fees and disbursements will be in the order of $ plus GST. This is broken down to $ for our fees and $ for disbursements.
A detailed outline of the scope of work involved includes:-
Whilst this estimate is not binding on us it is based on our experience of similar matters. Should the scope of work change significantly we will keep you informed of the likely impact on our costs and on disbursements and update our estimate.
The major variables that might affect the calculation of these costs are:
Our fees will be calculated as follows:
Those members of the firm that work on your matter will record the time they spend and charge according to the following rates.
|Partner||Hourly rate of||$||600.00||exclusive of GST|
|Senior Solicitor||Hourly rate of||$||480.00||exclusive of GST|
|Solicitor||Hourly rate of||$||360.00||exclusive of GST|
|Paralegal||Hourly rate of||$||200.00||exclusive of GST|
The firm’s fees are determined by applying these hourly rates to the units of time recorded by each staff member on your matter. Time is recorded in 6 minute units e.g. the time charged for a phone call of up to 6 minutes will be 6 minutes and the time charged for an attendance between 6 and 12 minutes will be 12 minutes.
In the course of your matter it may be necessary to incur disbursements, which are legal agent fees, registration expenses, title searching and property enquiries, professional fees for Council representatives or professional fees for 3rd party experts including surveyors. These are payable as and when they fall due for payment. We will not incur any substantial expense without first obtaining your permission.
3. Billing arrangements
- Each month we will render interim accounts and ask that you pay them promptly.
- Our accounts will include a brief narration of work undertaken on your behalf. Should you require a detailed explanation of our account you should contact us further.
- If these payment arrangements do not work for you then please discuss an alternative with us.
4. Trust money
Should we hold money in our trust account on account of fees and disbursements you authorise us to draw on that money to pay any amount due to us in accordance with the provisions of the Legal Profession Uniform Law and regulations relating to the withdrawal of trust money for legal costs and/or disbursements.
5. Your right to a bill of costs
- The Legal Profession Uniform Law provides that a legal practitioner cannot take action for recovery of legal costs until 30 days after a bill of costs has been given to the person charged with their payment.
- At the expiry of 30 days after a bill of costs is given to you, interest, at the rate specified in the Legal Profession Uniform Law may be charged on any amounts unpaid.
6. Your right to fair and reasonable costs
The Legal Profession Uniform Law gives you the right to have the costs charged by us assessed by an assessor appointed by the Supreme Court for fairness and to determine if they have been proportionately and reasonably incurred, and are proportionate and reasonable in amount.
7. Interest charged
In order to avoid further increasing our fees, and penalising those clients who pay promptly, we have adopted the practice of charging interest on all amounts outstanding for more than 30 days. This will be calculated on any balance outstanding 30 days from an account being rendered, on a monthly basis, at the rate being 2% above the Cash Rate Target fixed by the Reserve Bank of Australia.
8. Termination of this agreement
- We will not continue to do the work if you fail to pay our bills, if you fail to provide us with adequate instructions, or if you indicate to us that we have lost your confidence.
- We will give you at least 14 days notice of our intention to terminate our agreement, and of the grounds on which the notice is based. You will be required to pay our charges for work done, and for expenses incurred, up to the date of termination. You may terminate this agreement in writing at any time. If you do so you will pay our charges and expenses incurred up to the time of termination.
9. Electronic communication
- We are able to communicate electronically with clients and other parties using electronic mail, both direct and via the Internet, and using computer disks. If we communicate electronically with or for you, you acknowledge and agree as follows:
- There are some delivery risks in using electronic mail and you accept the risk of interception of the email by third parties or of non-receipt or delayed receipt of the message; and
- Computer viruses and similar damaging items can be transmitted through emails and by introducing computer disks into your system. We use virus-scanning software to reduce these risks and ask that you do the same. However, it is not possible to completely eliminate the risk of introducing viruses.
- If we communicate electronically with or for you, you release us from all claims, losses, expenses and liabilities caused by any of the risks referred to above and arising directly or indirectly out of that communication.
10. The persons who will be responsible for the work
If you have any concerns about our costs or your matter please speak to Patrick Christopher See who will be responsible for the work.
11. Security for costs
Before we commence work on your matter, we may require you to provide us with security for our legal costs and the payment of any interest on unpaid legal costs. If you fail to provide this security, we may refuse or cease to act.
To continue working on this matter, we kindly ask that you send us a retainer of $ by return, which will be deposited in our trust account and used to pay our costs and disbursements as they arise.
Further money on account of our costs and disbursements will be requested from time to time and payment of that money will be required within 7 days of our request.
When returning your signed copy of this letter, would you please also send us the enclosed retainer payment form with your cheque for payment of the retainer. Alternatively, if you wish to pay by credit card, would you complete the credit card details form enclosed with this document and return.
Before acceptance of this offer you are entitled to negotiate these terms. If you do not return the signed agreement or negotiate the terms but instruct us to commence work, then that will be taken to be an acceptance of this offer and costs will be charged in accordance with this agreement.
I/we accept the above terms……….. (Client Name) Date ……………
Notification of client’s rights
You may request an itemised bill from us after receiving a bill that is not itemised or is partially itemised within 60 days after that bill was given to you.
In the event of a dispute in relation to legal costs you may:
- seek the assistance of the NSW Commissioner;
- have the costs assessed.
A complaint to the NSW Commissioner, in relation to this bill, must be made within the required period of 60 days after the legal costs become payable or if an itemised bill was requested, 30 days after that request was complied with. The NSW Commissioner may waive the time requirement if satisfied that the complaint is made within 4 months after the required period and it is just and fair to deal with the complaint, having regard to the delay and reasons for the delay.
An application for costs assessment must be made within 12 months after:
- the bill was given to you, or the request for payment was made to you, the third party payer or other law practice; or
- the legal costs were paid if neither a bill nor a request was made.
We may give you an interim bill covering part only of the legal services we were retained to provide. Legal costs that are the subject of an interim bill may be assessed either at the time of the interim bill or at the time of the final bill, whether or not the interim bill has previously been assessed or paid.
If this is a lump sum bill and you request an itemised bill, which exceeds the amount specified in this lump sum bill, the additional costs may be recovered from you only if the costs are determined to be payable after a costs assessment or after a binding determination by the NSW Commissioner.
Interest will be charged on unpaid legal costs in accordance with the terms of our costs agreement. Should the costs agreement not deal with the charging of interest, we will charge interest on legal costs which remain unpaid 30 days after giving you this bill, in accordance with the Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW). The rate of interest is the Cash Rate Target stipulated by the Reserve Bank of Australia as at the date of this bill plus 2 %.
General terms of business
Recovery of Costs
The Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW) 2014 (“the Act”) provides that we cannot take action for recovery of legal costs until 30 days after a tax invoice (which complies with the Act) has been delivered to you.
Your Rights in relation to a Dispute concerning Costs
If you have a dispute in relation to any aspect of our legal costs you have the following avenues of redress:
- in the first instance we encourage you to discuss your concerns with us so that any issue can be identified and we can have the opportunity of resolving the matter promptly and without it adversely impacting on our business relationship;
- you may apply to the Manager, Costs Assessment located at the Supreme Court of NSW for an assessment of our costs. This application must be made within 12 months after the bill was provided or request for payment made or after the costs were paid;
- you may apply to the Costs Assessor to set aside some or all of these terms on the grounds they are not fair or reasonable; and
(d) you may refer a dispute about a tax invoice to the President of the Law Society or the Legal Services Commissioner for mediation if the amount in dispute is less than $10,000.
Retention and Copying of Your Documents
On completion of your work, we will retain your documents for 7 years. Your (express or implied) agreement to these terms constitutes your authority for us to destroy the file 7 years after the date of our final tax invoice. The authority does not relate to any documents which are deposited in safe custody which will, subject to agreement, be retained on your behalf indefinitely. We are entitled to retain your documents while there is money owing to us for our costs.
On completion of your work or following termination (by either party) of our services you will be liable for the cost of retrieving documents in storage and also any photocopying charges we incur and our professional fees in connection with the provision of your file to you or as directed by you.
Termination by Us
We may cease to act for you or refuse to perform further work, including:
- while any of our tax invoices remain unpaid;
- if you do not within 7 days comply with any request to pay an amount in respect of disbursements or future costs;
- if you fail to provide us with clear or timely instructions to enable us to advance your matter, for example, compromising our ability to comply with Court directions, orders or practice notes;
- if you refuse to accept our advice;
- if you indicate to us or we form the view that you have lost confidence in us;
- if there are any ethical grounds which we consider require us to cease acting for you, for example a conflict of interest;
- for any other reason outside our control which has the effect of compromising our ability to perform the work required within the required timeframe; or
- if in our sole discretion we consider it is no longer appropriate to act for you.
- we will give you reasonable written notice of termination of our services. You will be required to pay our costs incurred up to the date of termination.
Termination by You
You may terminate our services by written notice at any time. However, if you do so you will be required to pay our costs incurred up to the date of termination (including if the matter is litigious, any cancellation fees or other fees such as hearing allocation fees for which we remain responsible).
Without affecting any lien to which we are otherwise entitled at law over funds, papers and other property of yours in our possession:
- we shall be entitled to retain by way of lien any funds, property or papers of yours, which are from time to time in our possession or control, until all costs, disbursements, interest and other moneys due to the firm have been paid.
- our lien will continue notwithstanding that we cease to act for you.
We are required and committed to protecting your personal information in accordance with our obligations under the Privacy Act 1988 and the Australian Privacy Principles.
Personal information about you, provided by you and other sources, is protected under the Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act 2000 (Cth.). Disclosure of such information may be compelled by law (e.g. under the Social Security Act 1991 (Cth)). You also authorise us to disclose such information where necessary to others in furtherance of your claim/matter (e.g. within the law practice; to the Court; to the other party or parties to litigation; and to valuers, experts, barristers).
At all times we will seek to maintain the confidentiality of your information. However, we may be permitted or required by law to disclose confidential information. We may also, on a confidential basis, provide your information to third parties where we consider it is appropriate for the proper conduct of your matter.
If costs are outstanding to us by you, you grant us an equitable interest in any real property (to the extent it is owned by you) which entitles us to lodge a caveat over that real property to secure the repayment of the sum of those outstanding costs, any interest charged in accordance with these terms (or interest otherwise payable under law) and any costs incurred when seeking to recover those costs and interest, and you also grant us a mortgage or a charge over any real property to the extent it is owned by you to secure the recovery of those costs and interest.
If we elect to apply a discount, we shall be entitled to reverse the discount and reinstate the amount of any reduction. This entitlement will continue despite full payment of the discounted invoice and may be enlivened in the event any of our fees and costs (including subsequent fees and costs) are not paid in full and on time, or if our costs are referred for mediation, review or assessment.
Sending Material by Email
We are able to send and receive electronic mail. However, as such mail is not secure it may be copied, recorded, read or interfered with by third parties while in transit. If you ask us to transmit any document electronically, you release us from any claim you may have as a result of any unauthorised copying, recording, reading or interference with that document after transmission, for any delay or non-delivery of any document and for any damage caused to your system or any files by a transfer.
Where applicable, GST is payable on our professional fees and expenses and will be clearly shown on our tax invoices. By accepting these terms you agree to pay us an amount equivalent to the GST imposed on these charges.
The law of New South Wales governs these terms and legal costs in relation to any matter upon which we are instructed to act.