Section 134AB(29) of the Accident Compensation Act, 1985 means if injured workers win in proceedings under that Act, they get 20% less from the losing party towards the amount they have actually been charged by their lawyers than all other litigants. In Joaquim v FPI Vinyl Compounds Pty Ltd, Supreme Court of Victoria, unreported, 9 July 2010, Costs Judge Wood held that the provision means that whatever the taxed costs are, 20% is deducted. It was argued by the losing party that the 20% deduction should apply only to scale items allowed as per the scale allowance, and not to items which were already allowed in the discretion granted by the preamble to the County Court scale in an amount less than provided for by the scale. The provision says:
‘For the purposes of the taxing of costs in proceedings to which this section applies, any applicable scale of costs has effect as if amounts in the scale were reduced by 20%.’
Let me know if you would like a copy of the decision.
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One Reply to “The 20% reduction in Worksafe case costs: what does it mean?”
It is perhaps not entirely clear from the decision, but the item which was the subject of the review, instructions for brief, was actually allowed at a figure considerably greater than that provided for by the scale. This is standard practice in the County Court. Not since about 1984 have I seen that item allowed at just the scale figure, let alone a lesser sum.
You will note that Wood AJ observed that on the Plaintiff’s reasoning any item that was varied on taxation by either increase or decrease would have to be exempt from the 20% reduction – the practical consequences of that do not bear thinking about.
Whilst I commend your attempt to drum up sympathy for injured workers, the fact is that most of them are not actually charged anything at all by their solicitors, thanks to the enlightened provisions of Section 134AB (30). This establishes that there are to be no solicitor/client charges without a Court order – a solicitor who feels that party/party costs will be insufficient has to justify this to the Court.