Legal Services Commissioner Megan Mahon has written to all court approved costs assessors to remind them of their obligations under the Legal Profession Act 2007 (the Act) in relation to referring cost assessment matters to the Legal Services Commissioner.
When deciding a costs assessment under the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules, or a court reviewing a costs assessment under the rules, section 343 of the Act provides that the cost assessor:
- must refer a matter to the Commissioner where:
- the legal costs charged by a law practice are grossly excessive; or
- the costs assessment raises another matter that may amount to professional misconduct on the part of the legal practitioner.
- may refer a matter to the Commissioner where the costs assessor or court reduces the legal costs payable by 15% or more.
The Legal Services Commissioner has power under the Act to undertake an investigation matter on the Commissioner's own initiative, and where the Commissioner believes it is reasonable to commence an investigation.
Persons or organisations who refer a matter, or report suspected conduct, are not treated as complainants and are not required to be named in investigation matters.
The Commissioner invited costs assessors to consider any matters referred to the Legal Services Commissioner, in accordance with their obligations under the Act, as referrals and not complaints, to be assessed and investigated on the Commissioner's own initiative.
For more information on referring costs assessment matters to the Commissioner, or to speak to someone at the Commission, please contact the Commission.