At Burt & Davies we believe that:
- Lawyers should always provide clear and transparent information about their fee arrangements.
- Clients should be equipped to make a fully informed choice.
- Injured accident victims should have fee arrangements that ensure benefits are not eroded by legal fees.
- All fee arrangements should be fair and ethical.
Unfortunately, not all lawyers share our commitment!
You need to understand as much as possible about the way fees are calculated before you enter into any fee agreement. Lawyers have to enter into agreements with their clients that detail how fees are to be charged.
In most cases we act on behalf of clients on a “no success – no fee” basis. This means that if the claim is unsuccessful, we will not charge you any fees for our services.
In all cases, clients are required to meet the cost of out of pocket expenses that we incur in conducting the claim. Out of pocket expenses include such things as hospital and medical report fees. They are amounts that we actually have to pay to third parties to obtain information or evidence which is important to the claim.
If a claim is successful, we are entitled to charge fees in accordance with the fee agreement. Fees are calculated by reference to the scale of costs of the Supreme Court of Victoria. The scale costs are set by the Judges of the Supreme Court. It reflects the fair and reasonable value of services provided by lawyers conducting litigation in that Court.
Some law firms have fee agreements that contain their own scale of charges. Such agreements invariably have the “in-house” scale of charges attached to them. You should be cautious about such agreements. We have seen the charges contained such agreements and they are considerably higher than the charges in the Court scale that we utilise.
Lawyers offering services on a “no success – no fee” arrangements are entitled to charge a “success fee”. This is a fee of up to 25% of the value of the legal work performed. This does not mean 25% of the damages recovered by the client. By way of example, if we performed work worth $20,000.00 on the Court scale, we would be entitled to charge up to 25% of that sum (up to $5,000.00) as a success fee. In such a case, the total charges would not exceed $25,000.00.
It is our policy to send fee agreements to our clients before any commitment is made by the client to retain our services. This means that clients have the opportunity to carefully consider the fee agreement before making any commitment. The law now requires that these agreements contain a cooling off period. What better cooling off period could you have than the opportunity to consider the fee agreement before any commitment is made.
We are happy for prospective clients to obtain independent legal advice about our fee arrangements. Further, we are happy to negotiate the terms of our retainer.
Prospective clients should feel free to call us to discuss the question of legal fees.