CHOICE membership

The price of justice


#1

Knowing how much a lawyer charges can help avoid a bad experience. In one case, a consumer told us about a lawyer that tried to bill him for fixing his own typos (typing two fingers at a time)!

To avoid a scenrio like that one, check out our advice:


#2

I have a friend who went through quite a bit of legal stuff. He mentioned one solicitor tried to bill him for time it took to record the time spent with him (minimum block of time was ÂĽhr), and then for calculating the total time spent and consequent charges.


#3

:open_mouth: Shocker!


#4

And then there are all the other charges… the paralegal, court costs, travel costs, barrister costs etc etc. The “cost agreement” is more like a “preliminary cost guess-timate maybe” which will more than likely change (rarely in your favour).
And that’s just “the price of the legal system”… get past those gatekeepers and you may experience justice.

If you do catch your lawyer out on his/her costs… you don’t have much time to deal with it… 12 months for NSW so if you’re in a long legal game, check your bills frequently.


#5

I don’t know who said it, but it’s true: What people expect from the court system is justice; but what they get is the law. Very different!

(And the law has a high price.)


#6

The old saw, anecdotally often true, is a lawyer will fight for your rights to your last dollar.


#7

I engaged a local legal firm a few years back and paid an advance into their trust. Used them a number of times and revceived well documented statements that seemed (?) reasonable. When things died down, the remainder of the advance was loitering about in their trust fund and they contacted me to see what I wanted to do. I needed to clarify a few things and one of the firms owners spoke to me for half an hour to clear the decks, no charge, then arranged for the remainder of the advance to be returned to me. Fairly happy with all that to say the least.


#8

Employing lawyers for basic work is fine. Were I ever wrongly charged with a criminal offence, I could not possibly afford to defend myself - and suspect most of Australia would similarly struggle. While our public defenders are better funded than in the United States of Incarceration, I am unsure I would qualify even for that.

Justice remains for the rich.

As a side note, David Eastman is being re-tried at the moment for the murder of Colin Winchester nearly 30 years ago. Apart from the judge’s report recommending no re-trial, I also heard that his public defence will cost several million dollars! I suspect that the retrial is only happening because the victim was a police commissioner, and you need some fall guy for such crimes.


#9

Sounds like you experienced the joy of having enough funds available to cover the case… try starting with a $5k quote and ending with $260K.


#10


#11

I’d have loved to end up with 260k, but it ended up costing me, and way more than that - everyone’s story is different I guess …


#12

Clearly in this view the “law is not an ass”!

Although considering how the lawyer is represented?


#13

Does the ACL apply to lawyers?

My wife employed a solicitor who turned the matter into a train wreck and then quit in the middle of court proceedings because he said, “it all became to difficult”.

I read about the ACL applying to lawyers and demanded a refund pursuant to the ACL.

He at first refused, but when I constructed a website naming and shaming his firm he changed his mind and paid up.


#14

Some years ago when I used to listen to a local radio station in the morning, they had their “Worst Joke Wednesday” segments.

One skit was about the dividing fence between heaven and hell needing urgent repairs and God asked Satan to pay half of the repair costs.

When Satan refused, God told him he would take him to court.

Satan replied “And just where do you think you are going to find a lawyer?”


#15

The ACL does apply to services including lawyers. Nice job standing up for your rights @gordonc


#16

A website to name and shame his firm… damn fine idea… surprised they didn’t sue you though… I’d love to see what you created.


#17

I have been sued by entities for what I publish. As long as its true they can’t do much.

I was once sued by 4 accountancy Pty Ltd companies in the Federal Court and they had a hot shot Sydney CBD law firm. It was a SLAPP suit.

When I notified them that I will be counterclaiming for 50 declarations as to what I published was the truth, they headed for the hills and applied to the Court to dismiss their own claim.


#18

Many years ago I received an outrageous bill for a very short consultation with a solicitor. His account was for numerous telephone calls, when there was one. Correspondence and their accompanying costs, the only correspondence was the account he sent me. As well as other ridiculous services. I rang the law society and gave them an accurate account of what services were actually provided and asked them what was a reasonable amount to be charged for the service. They gave me a figure which was no where near his. I sent a cheque for this amount with an accompanying letter explaining why my payment was for less than he charged me. I never heard from him again.


#19

It can be confronting talking to a lawyer or soliciter, good to hear people are willing to question unreasonable behaviour when it occurs. Thanks for sharing your story @vivhalaska


#20

Back in the 1990’s, our local newspaper published an incorrect ad with a much lower price than the copy we had provided to them.

Our staff called me before opening time on the day of publication and I instructed them to produce large, clearly visible notices advising of the newspaper’s error and to place them on the front doors of the shops at eye level so that no normal person would enter the shops without seeing the notices.

That morning a person and his family entered one of our stores and said that he wanted the advertised product. When the staff explained the publishing error, he continued to demand the item for the incorrect price.

The newspaper published a correction the same size as the incorrect ad.

The person then sent a letter of demand wanting the product at the incorrect price and threatened legal action if we refused. He was a partner in a small local law firm.

I contacted our solicitor who drew up a letter of complaint for me to send to the Qld Law Society, which I did.

When our solicitor handed me the letter, he said “This one’s on the house. It’s lawyers like him that give the profession a bad name”.

After this person’s business partner left him so as to practice on his own, the partner wrote to me apologising for his former partner’s behaviour.

Some time later, we received a letter of demand from this character on behalf of a former subcontractor we had used, claiming a large sum of money.

After a thorough reconciliation, we established that there was a small amount legitimately owing, around $1,400, which we forwarded along with an explanatory reconciliation.

Shortly after, the former subcontractor visited our solicitor to complain that this character had pocketed all the money we paid and he had received nothing.

I guess that it just proves the old saying “If you lie down with dogs, you get fleas”.