A member asked almost 9 years ago

Disputing costs

I am disputing costs in a family law matter. The lawyer has said if I don't accept the bill they will 're issue' the bill to add on $000's or more.
They also didn't follow my instructions. I am being discredited and may lose my children. Can I amend the past affidavits to show information I wanted included at the time but was left out?

Chris Wall
Solicitor/Director at Walker Gibbs and King P/L

There are at least 2 issues here.

As to your affidavits, evidence has to be compiled only on things the Court will regard as relevant, and it has to be in the proper format and be "admissible".Usually if something is left out, that is done because of those things. Also, there are tactical issues to consider...it isalwaysimportant to consider what the response to evidence might be from the mother, and of course the judge. Remember court proceedings about children are not about your "rights" or those of the mother.

They are about what is best for the children.

Sometimes what is best for the children is not fair to a party. Still, the children are put ahead of fairness, as they should be. You should ask your lawyer why things are not in the evidence as you wanted, and listen carefully to the reply. Whether or not you can change what you have said on oath in an affidavit, and whether or not you should, are complex questions that should only be answered by someone who knows everything about your case. You can change lawyers if you are unhappy, but that will increase you fees to some extent

Now turning to the fees issue, you have the right to ask for an "itemized bill". Your lawyer cannot charge you for providing that.

If things that you could have been charged for have been left off the bill, generally your lawyer can issue a new bill and charge for that.If a discount has been offered, that can generally be removed by your lawyer.

With any bill, you can submit the bill to be "assessed" by a costs assessor of the Supreme Court.You can do that within 12 months of your final bill. That is fairly cheap for you to do, but you might need help from a solicitor with experience in the area of challenging costs, or a legal costs consultant.It is difficult to have an assessor make a finding that the work was of no use to you, and usually only a finding like that will lead to no payment of the costs of your lawyer.

Look at the "disclosure of costs" documents you probably received at the start, and any costs agreement that you signed, or that was sent to you, and see what they say. They are very important in terms of how your lawyer's costs are assessed.

I hope this answer has been of some help to you.

Answered almost 9 years ago   Legal disclaimer

Val Antoff Kristy Howell
2 lawyers agree with this answer and 1 member found this useful

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