Posts Tagged ‘itemised bills’

Non compliance with 21 day period for itemised bill earns slap on the wrist

Thanks to Stephen Warne and his excellent blog for pointing out that the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner is publishing some cost determinations here.  Having briefly looked through a couple, I noted one where the practitioner had failed to provide an itemised bill within 21 days of the request, providing the bill 44 days after the request.  The failure to comply with the time limit in the LPUL resulted in an order that the practitioner attend professional development in costs.

Admittedly, the amount of the lump sum bill was quite low ($2,200) and therefore the work involved in preparing the itemised bill was not necessarily substantial, but 21 days is a very short period.  Query if the Commissioner would take the same view if the bill was $25,000 or $100,000.

So don’t sit on your hands ignoring a request for an itemised bill!  Be aware of the time limits.

Value Pricing and Assessments of Costs: Part 2

Further to my post on value pricing and the Legal Profession Act, there was an interesting development in the Victorian Supreme Court Costs Court this morning, when the Judicial Registrar refused to order that a law firm deliver an itemised bill setting out a charge against each item of work, in circumstances where the agreement was to charge on a fixed fee basis.

The client’s lawyer argued that an itemised bill required each description of work to have a charge attributed to that work.  The Judicial Registrar held that this was not appropriate where a fixed fee was charged.  The argument was part of a callover and is therefore not reported.  In my previous post, where charging a fixed fee, an itemised bill would detail the work, setting out the documents prepared (perhaps detailing the various drafts), letters and emails sent and received, telephone calls and other attendances, and any other work. It would be preferable to be able to detail the length of each attendance.

The Uniform Law

How will it affect lawyers in their dealings with clients?A review of the LPUL

E-Management – Make Technology Work For You in Cost Recovery

With the increasing use of technology in legal practice we are managing our files via a myriad of electronic means; whether by email correspondence between parties, the use of e-filing across jurisdictions and the gradual introduction of e-court books and aspects of the electronic management of litigation within the court room.

Specifically as Cost Lawyers we are observing a large reliance on the electronic recording of time which then often allows for a streamlined approach to invoicing clients and managing internal work-flows within a legal practice. However, in our experience, e-time recording often reads as follows;

“attendance on client to receive further instructions, attendance on the defendant to advise of current instructions and discuss issues relevant to potential settlement, telephone attendance on Junior Counsel to inquire as to availability to confer and advise, review of file in preparation for conference with counsel – 15 units”

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Guidelines on Itemised Bills

Following on from my previous post on itemisation of counsels’ fee memos, my attention has been drawn to draft guidelines on itemised bills, published by the Queensland Legal Services Commission.

The Commission’s website states that it:

develops and publishes two kinds of policies and guidelines – policies and guidelines we develop and publish for the benefit of the profession to assist practitioners to better understand their professional obligations in areas that have proved problematic, and policies and guidelines we develop for use in-house and that we publish in the interests of transparency.”

I applaud the Commission in publishing such guidelines.  Often practitioners are unaware of their duties and obligations, and the ethical issues surrounding the practitioner/client relationship.  A recent discussion in our office centred around how frequently we see solicitors charging their clients for preparing their bills to their clients, dealing with the client when the client queries bills, and the like.

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