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Costs assessments

Costs assessments

If there is a dispute between you and your lawyer about your legal bill, you may be able to have it independently assessed.

Unexpected or unreasonable costs

Your lawyer should tell you about the process their firm has for resolving disagreements about costs. You should approach your lawyer about any issues before taking further steps.  

You may request a costs assessment, where an independent person will consider your issues with the legal costs charged by your lawyer.  

You have 12 months to apply for a costs assessment from the earliest of:  

  • when you receive the bill, or  
  • when the lawyer asks for payment, or 
  • when you pay the costs (if there is no bill or request for payment). 

Court-ordered costs assessments

Costs assessments are only binding for lawyers if they are ordered by a court. You can apply to the court for a binding costs assessment. 

We recommend you get independent legal advice before applying.

What we can do

After a costs assessment, the costs assessor or court may refer the matter to the Commission if they reduce your bill by 15% or more.  

They must refer any matter to the Commission if they:  

  • find the costs to be grossly excessive or  
  • find your lawyers conduct may be professional misconduct or unsatisfactory professional conduct, whether related to your legal costs or not.  

After you receive the results of your costs assessment, you may also still decide to make a complaint. We may consider your complaint if the circumstances above are met.  

You can lodge this via our enquiry form.