In the legal profession, the term ‘costs’ generally refers to the fees and other expenses a solicitor charges a client for their expertise and other payments that arise out of the provision of legal services, such as court fees.
Costs are one of the most heavily regulated aspects of practising law. Solicitors owe many duties to their clients, such as the duty to disclose and to ensure that legal costs are fair and reasonable. The laws are not only complex, but have been frequently amended.
The Law Society of New South Wales has an educational and regulatory responsibility to ensure solicitors comply with the laws relating to costs. It assists in the settlement of costs disputes and in the investigation of complaints. The Law Society also helps solicitors by providing information and resources.
Review of Billing Practices
Costs Guidebook 7th Edition – The latest edition applies where instructions first received from your client on or after 1 July 2015 or where proceedings commenced on or after 1 July 2015.
Costs Guidebook 6th Edition Revised – Consult this guide where instructions first received from your client before 1 July 2015 or where proceedings commenced before 1 July 2015.
Precedents and forms – download up-to-date samples which assist in ensuring compliance.
Tripartite Deed – precedent deed which can be used in the event of a termination of a retainer, when a client's file is handed over to a new practitioner.
Client fact sheets – view information the Law Society is required by law to provide to the public.
Costs Assessment Guides – Step-by-step guides for solicitors advising clients on the costs assessment process.
What is the limitation period to lodge an application for a costs assessment?
Pursuant to Legal Profession Uniform Law ss 198 (3) and (4) an Application for Assessment by a law practice must be made within 12 months of the bill being given or request for payment being made.
This applies to all matters where instructions were first received after 1 July 2015.
The time limitation applies in relation to bills given to clients and also to bills to retaining law practices and of billing law practices vis-à-vis other law practices.
Which legislation do I use if I received instructions, or proceedings commenced, prior to 1 July 2015?
The Legal Profession Act 2004 and CURRENT assessment processes CONTINUE to apply to:
Practitioner, client and third party costs assessments - where client first instructed the Law Practice BEFORE 1 July 2015 (see Legal Profession Uniform Law - Schedule 4 Clause 18)
Party Party Costs assessments (quantifying costs pursuant to an order of court or tribunal) - where proceedings to which the costs relate commenced BEFORE 1 July 2015 (see Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Regulation 2015 - reg 59).
Which legislation do I use if I received instructions, or proceedings commenced, after 1 July 2015?
You use the Legal Profession Uniform Law. Please note the Transitional provisions and in summary, any NEW costs assessment provisions will only apply to:
Uniform costs (previously client and practitioner costs) - where client FIRST INSTRUCTED the law practice on or AFTER 1 July 2015 (see Legal Profession Uniform Law - Schedule 4 Clause 18)
Ordered Costs (previously party party costs) - where the proceeding to which the costs relate COMMENCED on or AFTER 1 July 2015 (see Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Regulation 2015 - Reg 59).
- Legal Costs Unit
- The Law Society of NSW
- 170 Phillip St
- Sydney NSW 2000
- DX 362 Sydney
T: (02) 99260116
- F: (02) 9221 5804
- E: email@example.com