Legal Dictionary

Legal Dictionary

While dealing with your lawyer, you may hear or see a few words that you may not be familiar with. We have put together this legal dictionary to help you expand your knowledge about legal costs.

Bill of Costs

A law practice’s account of professional costs and disbursements incurred while carrying out work for a client.

Costs Agreement

A contractual agreement, typically between a law practice and their client (or an associated third party payer), about the payment of legal costs for work to be carried out by the law practice. A client of a law practice has the right to require and to have a negotiated costs agreement with the law practice.

Costs Assessment

A formal Court process where the reasonableness of costs charged by a lawyer is assessed, and a determination is made as to the costs that should have been charged by the lawyer.

Costs Court

The Costs Court is a division of the Supreme Court of Victoria that deals with disputes in relation to legal costs.

Costs Disclosure

A law practice must provide a costs disclosure if total costs are likely to be more than $750. The costs disclosure must provide certain information such as how legal costs will be calculated and an estimate of total legal costs. It must be provided to the client in writing, and as soon as practicable after instructions are initially provided in the matter.


A barrister or other legal adviser conducting a case.

Directions Hearing

Where parties in dispute attend court to obtain timetabling orders.


Costs your lawyer has incurred on your behalf (eg – printing, translator, etc.)

Legal Services Commissioner

Responsible for the regulation of the legal profession.


A process in which an impartial third party (the mediator) assists the parties in an attempt to bring about an agreed settlement or compromise, without requiring a decision of the Court.

Notice of Estimate

A document prepared by the Costs Court setting out the estimate of the approximate total of costs likely to be allowed should the matter proceed to a taxation of costs. A Notice of Estimate is not binding on the parties and either party may object to the approximation.

Notice of Objections

A document setting out objections to a solicitor’s bill of costs.

Preliminary Hearing

A hearing to determine preliminary issues, such as whether a costs agreement is valid or whether a party has jurisdiction.

Professional Costs

The fees payable to lawyers for conducting their professional services for their clients.


A process of the Costs Court whereby a claim for costs, either solicitor-client or party/party is reviewed and assessed. It is a formal hearing typically conducted after resolution of the costs dispute is unable to be achieved through mediation and/or assessment in chambers. The hearing is presided by a taxing registrar where the legal costs of the party entitled to costs (captured in a bill of costs) is scrutinised in detail based on the paying parties' objections. At the conclusion of the hearing, an order is made as to the amount of costs payable to the party entitled to costs by the party liable to costs.