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2019 Inquiry into Legal Practitioners’ Scales of Costs

The submission to the Joint Costs Advisory Committee’s (JCAC) annual inquiry into the quantum of costs allowable to legal practitioners pursuant to the scales of costs contained in the rules of the High Court of Australia (High Court), Federal Court of Australia (Federal Court), Family Court of Australia (Family Court) and Federal Circuit Court of Australia (Federal Circuit Court). These inquiries provide an opportunity to ensure that parties awarded costs are, as much as possible, not out-of-pocket following resolution of their legal matter.

The cost of litigation and accessing legal representation in Australia is an issue of ongoing concern to the community and the legal profession. Clients must be able to have confidence that what is charged by lawyers, and what may be recovered, is appropriate and reasonable, while legal practitioners have a right to be fairly remunerated for their skill and labour. The award of costs should provide a just result to the successful party, who should not be substantially out-of-pocket after an order for costs is made.

Scales of recoverable costs therefore serve an important role in promoting the administration of justice and providing greater clarity and certainty for the benefit of parties, Courts and the legal profession.

The Law Council remains concerned, as stated in its submission to the JCAC’s 2018 review, and as noted by the JCAC in its Eleventh Report on Legal Practitioners’ Costs, that the scales of recoverable costs have failed to keep pace with actual costs incurred by parties and do not reflect the value of the intellectual work undertaken by practitioners; current charging practices; or changes in the technology used within firms and by practitioners.

You can read the full submission below.

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