If you have negotiated a transaction for your client, you must give your client an estimate of the costs they will have to pay before completing the transaction. This must include any legal fees to be paid for another party. You cannot charge your customer if they have not accepted your cost agreement. Some cost agreements may be accepted either in writing or by other means, making it clear that they accept them. If you propose a “conditional cost agreement” (e.g.B. No Win No Fee), this can only be accepted in writing. These “contingency cost agreements” must be in writing and in plain language. You must include all conditions that you define as a successful outcome, and they must be accepted in writing or cannot be enforced. You need to be sure that your client understands how you plan to handle their case and how much their legal fees will be. This will help them make an informed choice about their options and costs. You must also provide your client with an updated disclosure statement in writing if there are any significant changes in your last estimate. Your client has rights when it comes to their legal fees. For most business, you must provide your client with a “statement of commencement of charges” in writing as soon as possible, after your client has charged you.
You must declare that your customer has the right to negotiate how you charge him the costs; and you can make them a written offer as part of the cost agreement. The Legal Services Council has prepared a fact sheet on cost agreements, which is available on its website. Proactive cost management is one of the best safeguards against customer disputes, as a delay in paying accounts can be an indication of customer dissatisfaction or a customer`s inability to pay legal fees. Awareness of the client`s dissatisfaction allows a lawyer to tackle the problems and thus avoid a possible future dispute. Early awareness of the client`s financial difficulties allows a law firm to reduce the loss by talking to the client about the costs incurred, proposing alternative price agreements or possibly announcing it. If your client`s legal case is likely between $US 750 and 3,000, you can use the standard model for short-form cost disclosure. This saves you time and effort and fulfills your disclosure obligations. If your estimate is more than $3,000, you must provide a full opening statement. A conditional cost agreement may provide that the payment of some or all of the legal costs depends on the outcome of the case to which these costs relate – cf. ss181-182 of the Single Law.
The following fees are available to all practitioners through the Legal Services Council: Under section 178 of the Act, the most serious consequence of a violation of the publicity provisions of the Single Act is that any cost agreement is inconclusive. In addition, the client is not obliged to bear the legal costs until they have been verified by the court or the Commissioner of Legal Services (and the practitioner cannot maintain the procedure for recovering the imputed costs until such review has taken place). . . .