Legal cost estimates – How reliable are they?

    • If you go to our Family Law page or the Criminal Law page, you will see the generalised legal costs in the normal cases in those types of matters.
    • All lawyers are required by law to provide each client with an estimate of the legal costs to do the work they are proposing to do for that client.
    • They are also required to explain the basis on which their legal fees are calculated.
    • All lawyers are also required by law to provide you with certain consumer-type information in relation your rights and their obligations in relation to legal costs.
    • Northside Lawyers will always provide you with this information. It is quite a lot of information and some people get daunted by having all this information provided at the outset, but you are entitled to request it from any lawyer who you are considering engaging to represent you and we certainly provide it all at the outset before you decide to go ahead.
    • It is important to remember that the estimate is just that, an estimate. It is not a quote or a fixed maximum charge. Having said that however the estimate is a reasonable one and is based on the information that you provide at the time the estimate is provided. Unless you enter into a fixed price agreement the actual cost charged to you will be based on the work reasonably necessary to be done and the expenses incurred.
    • Until the work is embarked upon it is impossible to be entirely sure of the all the issues that will arise which can affect costs, however experienced lawyers will be able to give you a reliable cost estimate as well as an indication of the things which might arise in your own matter that could cause the actual costs to go beyond the estimate.
    • As a general indication, the types of issues which may be difficult to anticipate at the outset and which can cause your legal costs to go above the estimated cost are:
      • The extent that the claim is defended/pressed by the other side, including the extent to which they engage in interim hearings or interlocutory disputation;
      • The availability of courts and judges to hear your matter and the extent to which it may have to be adjourned because of unavailability of courts or judges;
      • The number of experts required to assist with the evidence in your matter, and the rates charged by them;
      • The time or communication that you seek to have with your lawyer that is beyond what he or she reasonably requires to provide the service to you;
      • Whether you respond in a timely manner to requests for documents or information needed to conduct your matter;
      • The original intended scope of work changing because of the conduct of the other party or for other reasons;
      • The extent to which you require information and feedback as to the progress of your matter.

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