At Burt & Davies we believe that
- Lawyers should always provide clear and transparent information about their fee arrangements so that injured accident victims can make a fully informed choice.
- Injured accident victims should have fee arrangements that ensure that the benefits of their claim are not eroded by legal fees.
- All fee arrangements should be fair, ethical and transparent.
Unfortunately, not all lawyers share our commitment! It is important that you understand as much as possible about the way in which 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 agree to act on behalf of clients on a “no success – no fee” basis. In simple terms, this means that if the claim is unsuccessful, we will not charge 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. In other words, out of pocket expenses are amounts that we have to pay to third parties to obtain information important to the claim.
In the event that 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 published by the Supreme Court of Victoria. The scale costs are set by the Judges of the Supreme Court and reflect 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 “in-house” scale of charges. Such agreements invariably have the in-house scale of charges attached to them. One should be cautious about such agreements as the charges contained in the attached scale are probably considerably higher than the charges in the Court scale that we utilise.
In our “no success – no fee” agreement, we are also entitled to charge a “success fee” of up to 25% of the value of the legal work performed on behalf of the client. 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 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 prospective clients have the opportunity to carefully consider the fee agreement before making any commitment to engage our services. The law now requires that these agreements contain a cooling off period. What better cooling off period could one have than the opportunity to consider the fee agreement at leisure before any commitment is made to engage our services.
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.