Our bills are drawn primarily from your file notes, letters and documents, and cross-referenced with any time costing. Pattison Hardman endeavours to include all claimable attendances and justify individual items with sufficient detail to facilitate settlement and preclude unnecessary objections or reviews.
Bills with insufficient detail are often reduced on assessment or taxation or concede costs unnecessarily due to attendances or disbursements not being included. Our policy is to identify vulnerable areas in the claim for costs and to provide advice.
Ideally, the chronology of a bill of costs analyses the work done and presents a succinct and compelling description of the proceedings. This assists a busy assessor or taxing officer, who may not have access or time to sufficiently study the file, particularly if the matter is complex.
Particular care is given to drawing disbursements, which often represent a substantial proportion of the claim.
Pattison Hardman provides services in:
Party/Party costs are payable by an opposing Party pursuant to a Court or Tribunal order. A Party/Party costs order is, in reality, only a partial indemnity in favour of the party with the benefit of a costs order. To maximise the quantum of the costs awarded, it is important to engage an expert costs consultant to capture all costs that can be claimed. If you are the Party that is to respond to the costs order then a cost consultant should be engaged to scrutinize the other Party’s bill of costs.
In New South Wales jurisdictions, the relevant test for Party/Party attendances is that they are ‘fair and reasonable’ and if not fair and reasonable determine the amount of legal costs (if any) that are to be payable.
Costs may also be awarded by a Court on an indemnity basis. As for Party/Party costs, the relevant test is also fair and reasonable but the onus of proof is shifted. For indemnity basis bills, the paying party must prove that claims are unreasonable.
Indemnity-basis bills are drawn and assessed/taxed on a more generous basis and, as with all bill of costs, Pattison Hardman draw the bill mostly from the legal files maintained by the solicitor who has carriage of the matter.
Solicitor/client costs are the costs claimed by the solicitor from their client. In New South Wales this is generally calculated pursuant to a costs agreement, however the costs must be fair and reasonably incurred. Relevant expenses, such as counsel’s fees, medico-legal report fees and court filing fees are claimed as disbursements.
There are a number of legal obligations of which practitioners must be mindful in respect to solicitor/client costs as disclosed in the Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW). A failure to adhere to the relevant rules can impact on the amount of costs that can be awarded in favour of a solicitor.
A bill of costs claiming legal costs entitles the respondent to the bill to raise objections to the amount claimed in that bill. Pattison Hardman can explain your options and relevant time limits. Where helpful in the circumstances, we will advise on obtaining an extension of time to comply. Pattison Hardman can then prepare the formal Notice of Objection, identifying excessive charging. Through a thorough knowledge of the rules and precedents Pattison Hardman seek to improve the financial position of your client or your office in a solicitor/client matter. Our legal costing specialists can also assist in settlement negotiations.
Upon receipt of a Notice of Objection to your bill of costs, Pattison Hardman can advise on further negotiations and can prepare concessions/replies. The aim is to analyse the general and itemised objections and provide a concise reply, justifying the claims made and conceding claims that are unlikely to be permitted on assessment.
Taxation is the term generally used in the Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court in which costs can be assessed generally by a Registrar of the Court. This usually occurs when a bill of costs is lodged with the relevant Court and assessed in chambers. The costs dispute only proceeds to a full taxation if a party files a notice objecting to the assessment given by the Registrar. If the matter does not settle then directions will be made regarding the filing of objections to the bill of costs.
Pattison Hardman have experience in all aspects of the taxation process.