(Part 1 is here.) Associate Professor Palmer noted that my research paper read a bit like a ‘set your own examination’. He was right. But I didn’t do it because I knew the answers. I did it because I wanted to know the answers. Here’s the problem I set myself:
‘Consider this not especially far-fetched scenario as a focal point for the rest of the paper:
A client becomes dissatisfied with her lawyer, a director of an incorporated legal practitioner, and refuses to pay his last few bills on the basis that she had already paid him one and a half times his estimate of the costs of litigating a de facto property dispute in the Supreme Court, with no end to fees in sight. She sacks him, and hires new lawyers.
The incorporated practice sues her for fees in the Magistrates’ Court. She applies successfully for taxation of all of the bills, and the suit for fees is stayed. Then she makes a complaint to the Legal Services Commissioner. After the taxation, the suit for fees recommences and the client counterclaims for professional negligence and misleading and deceptive conduct in his giving of fee estimates, claiming a part of the new lawyers’ fees as damages. Several local people tell the client they (or in one case, their 90 year old parents) had had similar problems with the solicitor underquoting.
Then the Legal Services Commissioner prosecutes him in VCAT for unsatisfactory professional conduct constituted by inadequate compliance with the costs disclosure requirements.’
- Man sues lawyer for declaration in reverse suit for fees
- No taxations of old-Act hourly rates costs agreements
- The suit for fees
- What quality of work defences are available in a suit for fees where client did not seek taxation?
- It’s ok for solicitors to try to resolve complaints directly with the complainants