Solicitor's Costs Agreement
You should read this costs agreement carefully and print it out for your own records.
Professional Legal Fees and Disbursements
By submitting a matter for immediate legal action I hereby agree to be bound by the following costs agreement:-
1. I am "the Client" and am submitting a debt to be collected by way of civil litigation court process by "the Solicitor" Andrew R Ford, Solicitor, (hereinafter called "the solicitor").
2. I agree that the solicitor will charge me professional legal fees on a Time Cost Basis of $360 per hour (plus 10% Goods and Services Tax) and that such charges shall be calculated and collated in 6 minute intervals at the rate of $36.00 per interval or part thereof (plus GST) provided that, in relation to matters of $20,000 or less, and in consideration of paying the up front Litigation Fund contribution fee of $130.00, I shall be entitled to the benefits of the Limited Legal Fees Scheme which are as follows:-
(a) My payment of the previously mentioned professional legal fees charged and incurred by the solicitor calculated on a Time Cost Basis shall be contingent upon such costs having first been paid by or on behalf of the debtor;
(b) pending the occurrence of such contingency, I shall be required to pay to the solicitor only those amounts of professional legal fee deposits as set out from time to time in the debtcollect web page entitled About Us under the heading of: "What does it Cost?" sub-heading of "To commence Legal action……" . Such amounts shall constitute the solicitor's preliminary estimate of fees;
(c) should I direct the solicitor to withdraw or settle the matter against the advice of the solicitor or should I withdraw or withhold my instructions from the solicitor, the solicitor shall be entitled to charge me for his services on the full Time Costs Basis.
3. In addition, I shall pay the solicitor all reasonably incurred disbursements for the preparation and conduct of the civil litigation.
4. The solicitor is entitled to require me to pay professional legal fee deposits and any reasonably required disbursements within 7 days of each related step in the action being taken.
5. The solicitor is to account to me for all judgment or settlement moneys received by the solicitor and for all professional legal fees and disbursements incurred and to keep me regularly informed of the progress of the action..
6. I authorise the solicitor to attend to all minor and administrative matters related to the conduct of the legal action without the need to first obtain detailed instructions from me in relation to such matters.
7. The solicitor shall use all reasonable skill and diligence in the conduct of the legal action.
8. In all settlement negotiations between the parties, proper consideration is to be given to the recovery of legal professional costs.
9. The solicitor shall be entitled to recover interest on any amount of professional costs which remains unpaid by me more than one month from the date of the memorandum of costs at the statutory rate allowed under the Legal Profession Act, 2004
Definitions and Limitations
Professional Legal Fees
Professional Legal Fees are the fees charged by the solicitor for his time and skill. It includes the time it takes the solicitor to attend to a telephone call, photocopy a document, write a letter, prepare a summons, travel to and from court, wait in court for the case to be called, etc, etc.
Disbursements means any amount of money incurred, paid or payable by the solicitors on behalf of the client which is a necessary requirement for the conduct of the legal action but which is not part of Professional Legal fees. Disbursements includes such things as the fee charged by the court to file a document and the fee charged by a process service to serve the document upon the debtor. Other common disbursements include the cost of conducting a company or business name search and the fees charged by private inquiry agents to locate missing persons. It also includes the cost of hiring a barrister to argue a case in the court and the cost of hiring an external solicitor to mention a matter in a distant court or the cost of travelling and obtaining accommodation to attend a distant court. It can also include the costs of obtaining experts reports and witness expenses.
Some solicitors charge their clients minor costs such as photocopying, fares, parking fees and telephone calls as disbursements. We absorb these minor costs as being incidental to running a legal practice but reserve the right to charge the client for them where they are larger than usual. We always pre-warn our clients, where possible, of any such unusual occurrences.
Where a judgment needs to be enforced in a State or Territory other than New South Wales, the Limited Legal Fees Scheme will pertain to those matters only to the extent they are in accordance with the commercial realities of the legal market of that State or Territory.
Supreme Court Matters
This costs agreement does not pertain to actions that need to be commenced, transferred, continued or which proceed by way of appeal in the Supreme Court of New South Wales. In such a case the solicitor will advise the client, seek instructions and either refer the client to another practitioner or proceed on a cost basis to be negotiated between the client and the solicitor in accordance with the market realities of that jurisdiction.
Small Claims Division of the N.S.W. Local Court
Special rules limit and distort the normal recovery of legal professional fees in contested matters taken in the Small Claims Division of the Local Court of N.S.W. (relating to claims of $10,000 or less) and, to a lesser extent, for claims between $10,000.01 and 20,000. This can sometimes have the effect of making professional debt recovery less viable from a purely commercial point of view. We understand that commercial viability is a fundamental consideration of our clients and will advise the client if such a circumstance arises. The solicitor may suggest alternative solutions to deal with this legislated distortion to the delivery of justice.
Legal Profession Act, 2004
The practice of a solicitor is governed by the Legal Professional Act, 2004. It controls and restricts how a solicitor may conduct his practice. It requires, in most instances, that a solicitor should give written details of costs and make certain disclosures to clients before doing any legal work for them. This Costs Agreement is designed the satisfy the requirements of the legislation.
It is not usually possible to calculate with any precision the costs of an action in advance. This is because legal action can involve a myriad of variables and unknown factors and, in civil debt collection actions, most of them are introduced by the debtor according to his chosen response to the action.
If you wish, you may seek independent legal advice as to the practical and legal nature of this costs agreement in order to ascertain if it is in your best interest to enter into it. It may be that there are other solicitors whose costs agreement may be more favourable to your needs than ours.
The Legal Profession Act, 2004 provides that a solicitor cannot take action to recover his unpaid legal costs until one month after a bill of costs has been given to the person charged with their payment. In most circumstances, the Act gives that person the right to have the bill of costs assessed for its fairness and reasonableness by an Assessor appointed by the Supreme Court.
If you are not sure of anything, you should contact us by e-mail, facsimile or telephone and ask us to clarify it. You should keep in touch with us and tell us immediately if you change your address, place of work or telephone number. Give us clear instructions and tell us if there is anything you don't understand. It is always best to contact us in writing, preferably by either facsimile or e-mail as it has the speed of the telephone but leaves a written record for future reference. We will endeavour to keep you informed of the progress of your action as reasonably required. Our preferred form of communication is e-mail.
If you wish to terminate this agreement you should advise us immediately and confirm the termination in writing. As far as possible you should give us 14 days notice of such termination and give us the reasons for such termination. Remember that, if we have commenced action under our Limited Legal Fees Scheme and you terminate the action against our advice, you may be required to pay our costs on a full Timed Costs basis.
We will not continue to act for you if you fail to pay our fees and disbursements, fail to provide us with adequate instructions, if we find ourselves in a situation of conflict after we have commenced action or if you advise us that you have lost confidence in us.
We reserve the right to refuse to commence or continue action in relation to any matter on the condition that we supply you with acceptable reasons for such refusal. Such a refusal would normally only occur because we believe that the action is totally without basis, impossible to prove or is likely to be commercially damaging.
Where a debtor makes payments other than in one full payment, such a payment will be appropriated first to any outstanding professional costs payable to the solicitor, then to any recoverable disbursements pre-paid by the creditor, then to any accrued interest on the debt and finally to the balance of the substantive debt.
Note: The use of the word "him" or "his" in this document is not meant to be gender specific but should be read as also pertaining to female persons and gender-neutral legal persons such as corporations and trusts. It should also be read in the plural where relevant.
Liability limited by the Solicitors Scheme, approved under the Professional Standards Act, 1994 (NSW)