For individual and small business clients

Any individual or company concerned about fees billed by their former or current lawyer as long as:

  • the individual or company is not a ‘commercial or government client’ as defined by section 170 of the Legal Profession Uniform Law or any corresponding law.
  • the final bill was issued by the law practice, or request for payment was made by the law practice less than 12 months ago, or
  • the legal costs were paid less than 12 months ago if neither a bill nor a request was made.
  • note: on some occasions it will be reasonable to review and seek assessment of costs billed or paid after the 12-month period.
  • All costs agreements and disclosures as to costs (including letters updating costs or disclosing counsel’s fees) provided in the matter by your former (or current) solicitor.
  • All invoices issued by your solicitor.
  • A short description on the background of the matter or matters carried out by your solicitor, including the case number and copies of any judgments delivered or final orders made in the matter.
  • Clarification of the total costs charged by the solicitor and total amount paid to the solicitor.
  • Information about the unavailability of any of the above documents or information.
  • Yes, possibly some important correspondence and Court documents in relation to the matter, or the entire file in relation to the matter.
  • We have decades of legal costing experience and expertise which allows you to obtain a reduction to the fees payable by you to your former lawyer (where fees unreasonably charged). Where all legal fees have been paid, we assist you in obtaining a refund of part of the fees paid.
  • You do not need to be worried about our costs exceeding any potential reductions to the fees to be paid to (or refund payable by) your former lawyer.
  • We will let you know if a favourable result is unlikely to be achieved or if our costs are likely to outweigh any reductions to the bill (or any refund payable) before commencement of our retainer.
  • We receive relevant documents from you and advise whether your case is suitable for our Legal Fee Refund/Reduction program.
  • We request any missing information from your former lawyer and attempt to negotiate costs with your former lawyer.
  • Proceedings are commenced for the purpose of seeking assessment or taxation of costs. The process here is different across various state and federal jurisdictions. For example:
  • NSW - proceedings commenced by filing an application for assessment of costs accompanied by a detailed notice of objection containing general and specific objections to each item of the bill/s to be objected. Costs are then assessed ‘on the papers’ by a Costs Assessor appointed by the Manager of Costs Assessment
  • VIC - proceedings commenced by filing a summons for taxation after which the matter is listed for a directions hearing to obtain dates for filing and service of important documents including a notice of objection and the matter is listed for mediation. If the matter is unresolved at mediation, the solicitor’s bill is taxed at Court at the taxation hearing. At a directions hearing, the matter can also be listed for preliminary hearing if there is a dispute on the basis on which the solicitor has charged costs (usually occurs when the solicitor is found to have breached its disclosure obligations).
  • QLD – proceedings commenced by filing an application for assessment of costs accompanied by a supporting affidavit, after which, the registry allocates a date for a directions hearing before a judge or magistrate (depending on the size of the bill). The court also appoints a particular Costs Assessor to assess costs. This order can be made by consent. The Costs Assessor then assesses costs ‘on the papers’.
  • ACT - proceedings commenced by filing an originating application for costs assessment, upon which application is listed for directions before the registrar. After this costs are assessed by a registrar at Court.
  • We file and serve offers of compromise or Calderbank offers at various stages of the proceeding, where appropriate. If the matter is not resolved, appropriate Court orders or Certificates of Determination as to costs are made setting out the [reduced] total costs payable by the client to the former solicitor or, where fees had already been paid, the total costs to be refunded by the former solicitor.

Please provide as much of the documents requested as this will assist us in determining your position prior to approaching your solicitor. Please let us know the documents you cannot locate.

Give us a call on 1800 529 462 from Monday – Friday for a free initial consultation. We will go through some questions with you and be transparent as to whether we can assist you in recovering or reducing some of the fees charged. If we believe you have been overcharged, we will request some documents from you so that we can provide you with some preliminary advice and a way to go forward.

We will review the invoices issued by your solicitor, along with costs agreements and disclosures provided by your solicitor and provide our opinion of whether we consider the costs charged by your solicitor to be unfair or unreasonable.

In considering whether legal costs for legal work are fair and reasonable, we will consider whether the costs are

  • proportionately and reasonably incurred; and
  • proportionate and reasonable in amount.

We can assist you in negotiating with your solicitor or making an application for assessment of their costs.

Unfortunately, it is hard to say and there is no right or wrong answer. Every case is different, but if you have been told or have a feeling you have been overcharged in your legal fees. Please contact us for an initial consultation over the phone.

Certainly. We can attempt to contact the solicitor on your behalf. If there still is no response, we will advise you on the best steps to take.

Unfortunately, because we are reliant on third parties, we are unable to give you specific timeframes. The Court usually provides an order as to costs between 3 and 6 months of filing an application. If the matter is particularly complex, the process can take over a year before final orders are made by the Court.

You will ultimately have to pay your solicitors for all fair and reasonable work they carried out on your behalf. You do not have to pay the invoice immediately. An assessment of the costs claimed in the invoice can be sought from the Court, after which the Court will order the reasonable amount to be paid to the solicitor.

You can speak to your solicitor about payment options. We can also review your solicitor’s fees to determine they are reasonable.

Yes – we can assist you with putting a complaint through to VLSBC or LSBC on your behalf, however we would need for you to provide us with all the information we request from you.

Yes – dependent on the case and the work that needs to be done. We will ask you a few questions when we first speak with you over the phone or via email to determine if this is something we can help you with or not.

Yes. Please call and let us know this is the case, and we can advise on the best steps forward based on the circumstances of your case, including whether sufficient costs disclosures were provided by the solicitor.

We will need to seek assessment of the costs he appears to have charged. Prior to this, we can request invoices and trust statements from the solicitor. If the solicitor does not provide this, the Court will make an order for provision of these important documents.

Complaints can also be made to the Legal Services Board if money was taken from your trust account without your authority.

Call Law in Check. We will start off with an initial consultation over the phone and request some documents from you. For example, a copy of all invoices, cost agreements, correspondence between your lawyer and any other important documents. Our solicitor will review these documents and provide you with some preliminary advice as to whether the lawyers charges are unresasonable and on how to move forward.
Many lawyers inadvertently charge unreasonable fees. In these circumstances you can file a summons for taxation (in Vic) or an application for assessment (other Australian jurisdictions) in the appropriate Court so that a Costs Assessor can assess the reasonableness of the costs charged. An order is then made by the Court as to the total costs that should have been reasonably charged by the law practice.
As long as you’re within 12 months of your final invoice being given to you, yes you can challenge your solicitor/ lawyer’s costs. Law in Check can assist with this and make the process simple and are honest and transparent right from the start. If you are out of the 12 month period, we can assist with seeking an extension to allow you to seek an assessment of your solicitor’s costs.
Unfortunately, it is hard to say without looking at your bills and costs agreements. Call Law in Check today on 1800 529 462 for a free initial consultation and we can provide you with advice.
This could be a number of reasons, some of which include two or more solicitors working on your matter and reviewing the same documents, two or more solicitors attending conferences or meetings without instructions from you or back-and-forth correspondence with your lawyer. If you think your lawyers bill is expensive, call Law in Check today on 1800 529 462 to discuss this further with one of our consultants.
Professional fees are the fees incurred for the work undertaken by your lawyer. A Professional fee could be the time it takes for a lawyer to read through your documents or attending conferences or Court. Disbursements are the fees that your lawyer has incurred on your behalf.. A disbursement fee could be Counsel fees, postage or translator services.
This is common in Victoria. The Victorian Scale of Costs includes fees for receiving and filing an email.
When you sign a costs agreement at the beginning of your matter, you are engaging the law firm as a whole. This means, it is up to the law firm how they complete work on your matter. We strongly recommend speaking with your lawyer at the start of your matter to set the expectation that you would only like one lawyer working on your matter at any one time. Click this link to see other tips to help reduce your legal fees.
Check back through your emails to make sure no further costs agreements were sent to you throughout your matter. The reason is that your lawyer is obligated to update their disclosure any time your fees exceed the amount originally quoted. If you haven’t received any further costs agreements updating disclosure, contact your lawyer directly and try to negotiate the costs. If this doesn’t work, contact Law in Check today on 1800 529 462 and we will be able to assist.
Your lawyer may ask you to transfer money into their trust account to go towards the legal fees charged by their firm. Legally, they are allowed to do this if their director/principal/pratner holds a practicing certificate authorising the receipt of trust money.
Money that is entrusted to a law practice, in the course of, or in connection to the legal services provided by the practice. This includes:
  • money received for legal costs in advance of providing the services;
  • controlled money received by the practice (i.e. money subject to written direction to deposit into an account controlled by the law practice other than the general trust account);
  • transit money received by the practice (i.e. money received by a law practice subject to instructions to pay or deliver to a third party, other than an associate of the law practice); and
  • money received by the law practice subject to a power exercisable by the practice or an associate of the practice, to deal with money for or on behalf of another person.

For corporate clients

  • Businesses with panels of legal service providers
  • Any business spending over $1m on legal services
  • Businesses with multiple lines of legal work
  • Educating your Legal Service Providers
    We can attend the offices of your legal service providers or panel firms to provide CLE seminars addressing the types of costs that are and are not considered fair and reasonable by us when reviewing their bills.
    Our costs lawyers will go through the relevant sections of your costs agreements and billing guides, along with any applicable laws to demonstrate the types of costs that are and are not permitted to be charged.
    Legal service providers are also reminded about the level of detail required in their bills to enable assessment of the reasonableness of the fees charged. This sort of interaction with legal service providers significantly contributes to the cultural shift in the way fees are charged.
  • Consultation Services:
    We provide expert advice on any legal costing issue.
    Critical to the success of our service is reliance not only on the various relevant legislative and regulatory provisions in each state and territory which govern legal costs, but also development of and/or improvement to legal costs agreements and billing guidelines between your organisation and your legal service providers. If an account does not comply with the requirements of your costs agreement or billing guideline you have every right to request adjustment to the account.
    We review your current billing guides and costs agreements and advice on improvements to same. If required or if unavailable, we establish billing guidelines for future accounts submitted for payment.
  • Reductions to legal spend by ensuring legal service providers are paid only those legal costs and disbursements considered “fair and reasonable” and allowed pursuant to your contractual terms with your vendors
  • Indirect savings on legal spend
  • Arising from change in culture in the legal services providers’ billing practices, enabling them to bill more transparently
  • This generates net savings to your company arising from reductions obtained from accounts not previously scrutinised
  • Additional indirect savings as a consequence of your employees’ time being freed up from the task of bill review, enabling them to focus on their core duties
  • Our client spends less time being the ‘middle-man’ and simply checks over the total figures
  • Additional benefits include gathering of data on your legal service providers’ practices, helping you to focus your legal (and other) spend on the most cost-effective vendors
  • Our program operates efficiently, to be implemented smoothly and to provide virtually instantaneous benefits at a nil start-up cost.
  • Greater accountability and scrutiny.
  • Measurable savings.
  • Multiple indirect savings.
  • Arm’s length and independent review
  • Cultural shift from panel firms
  • Minimal set up cost
  • Proven results
  • We work with small business entities to determine the best process of legal costs auditing. We are flexible with the level of involvement required from us. Some options as to procedure are noted below.
  • Option 1
  • Receive accounts for review (either from client or directly from panel firm)
  • Assess each account and either:

  • Confirm account is reasonable, or
  • Request supporting documents or further information to enable better assessment, and/or
  • Request amended account with further details such as purpose of attendance and length of documents perused or prepared to justify time spent, or
  • Request amended account with reduced fee, setting out reasons
  • Receive supporting documents and/or amended account with further details

  • Confirm account is reasonable, or
  • Request amended account with reduced fee, setting out reasons
  • Receive amended account with reduced fee

  • Confirm account is reasonable and send to client for payment
  • Receive reasons from panel firm disagreeing to reduce fees

  • Confirm account is reasonable based on reasons and send to client for payment, or
  • Reject justification and escalate to client with advice on unreasonableness of fee charged
  • Option 2
  • Panel firm submits their invoices to us
  • We conducts initial audit and returns invoice to panel firm within 14 days
  • Panel firm is given opportunity to respond to proposed reductions
  • Final agreement is made by us, subject to final approval from client.
  • Option 3
  • We remain anonymous to the panel firms but provide analytics and reports as well as an item by item breakdown of the time claimed and reductions that should be made in each account which our clients can use to seek reductions in the fees charged.