Solicitor's Costs Agreement
You should read this costs agreement carefully and print it out for your own records.
Professional Legal Fees and Disbursements
This document, together with our General Terms of Business, sets out the terms of our offer to provide legal services to you and constitutes our costs agreement and disclosure pursuant to the Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW) (“the Uniform Law”).
A. Scope of Work - You (“the Client”) have instructed Andrew R. Ford T/A Debtcollect (“the Solicitor”) to recover an unpaid debt by commencing Court proceedings against the debtor. If the court awards a judgement for your debt against the debtor you may request Debtcollect to enforce that judgement against the debtor.
B. Professional Fees - Debtcollect will charge you professional fees for the work we do based on hourly rates. The hourly rate charged by Debtcollect professional staff is $360.00 per hour collated in 6 minute intervals at the rate of $36.00 per interval or part thereof (plus GST).
Our rates are reviewed on a regular basis and may change during the course of a matter. In relation to lengthy matters this may impact upon our cost estimates (which may be revised accordingly). You will be given 30 days' notice in writing of any changes to our charge out rates.
C. Disbursements and Internal Expenses
Disbursements - Debtcollect may incur disbursements (being money which we pay or are liable to pay to others on your behalf). Disbursements may include search fees, court filing fees, process server fees, expert fees, witness expenses, travel expenses, transcript expenses and barrister's fees.
Where you instruct Debtcollect to brief a barrister or other expert, they provide a cost disclosure agreement, which Debtcollect will provide to you.
Internal Expenses - You will be responsible for internal expenses which we incur in carrying out your instructions. These include photocopying which is charged at $0.10 plus GST per page over 100 pages or outsourced to specialist litigation management consultants.
D. Estimate of Professional Fees and Disbursements - At each stage of the Debt Recovery process we will provide you with an estimate of professional fees, disbursements and internal expenses. Our standard estimate for each stage is available at “What Does It Cost?”
Some of the variables which may affect and change the cost estimate include:
(a) the number and duration of telephone calls or other communications;
(b) your prompt and efficient response to requests for information or instructions;
(c) whether your instructions are varied;
(d) whether documents have to be revised because of varied instructions;
(e) the level of co-operation of the debtor lawyer and other persons involved;
(f) changes in the law;
(g) the complexity or uncertainty concerning legal issues affecting your matter;
(h) extensive settlement negotiations or payment plans on your behalf; and
(i) drafting and execution of settlement deeds and Court orders.
Please note that this is an estimate only and not a fixed quote.
The total costs may exceed the estimate. While the estimate is based on present information and instructions and our current understanding from you as to what services are required, our costs may exceed the estimate if further information becomes available or circumstances change which affect these matters. In this event we will provide you with a revised estimate as soon as practicable. Where there is a significant change in your matter then as far as possible we will advise the impact of the change on the legal costs.
E. Costs Payable and Recoverable on Litigation Outcome - Even if you are successful in proceedings and the Court orders costs in your favour it is unlikely you will recover from the debtor enough money to pay all of Debtcollect professional fees. Even if the Court awards you a cost order, it may be necessary to enforce your cost order against the debtor e.g. through the assessment system. This can be time consuming and costly. The possible costs associated with potential enforcement proceedings against the debtor are not dealt with in this document, but will be advised to you should the relevant circumstances arise. It is also possible you cannot recover your costs from the debtor (e.g. if a debtor company goes into liquidation, or bankrupt); nonetheless you will still have to pay Debtcollect.
If you lose the litigation, then you will likely have to pay the costs of the other party - either an amount you can both agree on or if no agreement can be reached then an amount of costs assessed by a costs assessor as payable. However, the Court always has a discretion in relation to costs orders.
General Terms of Business
1. Billing Arrangements - Our usual policy is to issue a tax invoice on a monthly basis but we may issue tax invoices on a more frequent basis depending on the nature of the work. All tax invoices are due and payable 7 days from the date of the tax invoice. You consent to us sending our tax invoices to you electronically at your usual email address as specified by you.
2. Acceptance of Offer - By continuing to instruct us, you accept the Costs Disclosure and Costs Agreement and agree to pay for our services on these terms.
3. Interest Charges - Interest at the maximum rate prescribed in Rule 75 of the Legal Profession Uniform General Rules 2015 (“Uniform General Rules”) (being the Cash Rate Target set by the Reserve Bank of Australia plus 2%) will be charged on any amounts unpaid after the expiry of 30 days after a tax invoice is given to you. Our tax invoices will specify the interest rate to be charged.
4. Recovery of Costs - The Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW) (“the Uniform Law”) provides that we cannot take action for recovery of legal costs until 30 days after a tax invoice (which complies with the Uniform Law) has been given to you.
5. Your Rights - It is your right to:
a. negotiate a costs agreement with us;
b. negotiate the method of billing (e.g. task based or time based);
c. request and receive an itemised bill within 30 days after a lump sum bill or partially itemised bill is payable;
d. seek the assistance of the designated local regulatory authority (the NSW Commissioner) in the event of a dispute about legal costs;
e. be notified as soon as is reasonably practicable of any significant change to any matter affecting costs;
f. accept or reject any offer we make for an interstate costs law to apply to your matter; and
g. notify us that you require an interstate costs law to apply to your matter.
If you request an itemised bill and the total amount of the legal costs specified in it exceeds the amount previously specified in the lump sum bill for the same matter, the additional costs may be recovered by us only if:
(i) when the lump sum bill is given, we inform you in writing that the total amount of the legal costs specified in any itemised bill may be higher than the amount specified in the lump sum bill, and
(ii) the costs are determined to be payable after a costs assessment or after a binding determination under section 292 of the Uniform Law.
Nothing in these terms affects your rights under the Australian Consumer Law.
6. 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:
a. 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;
b. you may apply to the Manager, Costs Assessment located at the Supreme Court of NSW for an assessment of our costs. An application for assessment must be made within 12 months after the final bill in this matter was provided or request for payment made or after the costs were paid.
7. Payment Methods - It is our policy that, when acting for new clients, we do one or more of the following:
a. approve credit;
b. ask the client to pay monies into our trust account;
c. ask the client for their credit card details.
Unless otherwise agreed with you, we may determine not to incur fees or expenses in excess of the amount that we hold in trust on your behalf or for which credit is approved.
8. Authorisation to Transfer Money from Trust Account - You authorise us to receive directly into our trust account any judgment or settlement amount, or money received from any source in furtherance of your work, and to pay our professional fees, internal expenses and disbursements in accordance with the provisions of Rule 42 of the Uniform General Rules. A trust statement will be forwarded to you upon completion of the matter.
9. Retention of Your Documents - On completion of your work, or following termination (by either party) of our services, we will retain your documents for 7 years. Your agreement to these terms constitutes your authority for us to destroy the file after those 7 years. 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.
You will be liable for the cost of storing and retrieving documents in storage and our professional fees in connection with this.
10. Termination by Us - We may cease to act for you or refuse to perform further work, including:
a. while any of our tax invoices remain unpaid;
b. if you do not within 7 days comply with any request to pay an amount in respect of disbursements or future costs;
c. if you fail to provide us with clear and timely instructions to enable us to advance your matter, for example, compromising our ability to comply with Court directions, orders or practice notes;
d. if you refuse to accept our advice;
e. if you indicate to us or we form the view that you have lost confidence in us;
f. if there are any ethical grounds which we consider require us to cease acting for you, for example a conflict of interest;
g. for any other reason outside our control which has the effect of compromising our ability to perform the work required within the required timeframe;
h. if in our sole discretion we consider it is no longer appropriate to act for you; or
i. for just cause.
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.
11. 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).
12. Lien - Without affecting any lien to which we are otherwise entitled at law over funds, papers and other property of yours:
(a) 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; and
(b) our lien will continue notwithstanding that we cease to act for you.
13. Privacy - We will collect personal information from you in the course of providing our legal services. We may also obtain personal information from third party searches, other investigations and, sometimes, from adverse parties.
We are required to collect the full name and address of our clients by Rule 93 of the Uniform General Rules. Accurate name and address information must also be collected in order to comply with the trust account record keeping requirements of Rule 47 of the Uniform General Rules and to comply with our duty to the courts.
Your personal information will only be used for the purposes for which it is collected or in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). For example, we may use your personal information to provide advice and recommendations that take into account your personal circumstances.
If you do not provide us with the full name and address information required by law we cannot act for you. If you do not provide us with the other personal information that we request our advice may be wrong for you or misleading.
Depending on the nature of your matter the types of bodies to whom we may disclose your personal information include the courts, the other party or parties to litigation, experts and barristers, the Office of State Revenue, PEXA Limited, the Land and Property Information Division of the Department of Lands, the Registrar General and third parties involved in the completion or processing of a transaction.
We do not disclose your information overseas unless your instructions involve dealing with parties located overseas. If your matter involves parties overseas we may disclose select personal information to overseas recipients associated with that matter in order to carry out your instructions.
14. Sending Material Electronically - We are able to send and receive documents electronically. However, as such transmission 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, for any delay or non-delivery of any document and for any damage caused to your system or any files.
15. GST - 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.
16. Governing Law - The law of New South Wales governs these terms and legal costs in relation to any matter upon which we are instructed to act.