A mistake not to make

University of Western Australia v Gray (No 25) [2009] FCA 1227 is a horror story.  Gray won and Justice French ordered the University to pay his costs.  It was a big case.  But the University contended that to the extent that Gray’s lawyers had not placed themselves on the roll of practitioners maintained by the Federal Court, Gray could not recover from the University party-party costs of those lawyers. Perth’s Justice Barker decided that the University did not have to pay those costs, by reference to ss. 55A, s 55B and s 55C of the Judiciary Act, 1903. That was so despite the fact that Gray had already paid his lawyers’ fees.  The consolation prize was that the relevant lawyers’ work, or some of it, could be assessed on a party-party basis at the rates allowable for managing clerks. But Justice Barker noted that the scale allowance for solicitors’ time was 4.5 times the allowance for clerks’ time.  The thing is, you see, when you get admitted and sign the roll of your Supreme Court, you do not automatically become enrolled on the rolls maintained by federal courts.  My employer at the time of admission was diligent enough to get me to go and sign the federal rolls at (from memory) the Melbourne Registry of the High Court, immediately after admission.

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