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Significant changes ahead in Victorian Legal Costs

Significant changes ahead in Victorian Legal Costs

The eagerly awaited Report on Litigious Costs by the Supreme Court of Victoria has been published today.

The review, which commenced in October 2021 and was undertaken by The Hon. Justice Jack Forrest and Her Honour Kathryn Kings considered, inter alia, whether the Supreme Court Scale of Costs (Victoria) should be retained. This scale governs the recovery of party costs in the Supreme and County Courts in Victoria.

In summary, the recommendations were that in the short term:

1. That the Scale be discarded.

2. That guidelines primarily based on time costing be developed and promulgated by the Legal Costs Committee in a similar form to those currently utilised in NSW.

And in the medium term

5. A prospective cost scheme based on the England and Wales model be introduced in the Victorian Supreme and County Courts.

6. Such a scheme would involve:

(a) Fixed costs for particular types of litigation – certain personal injuries and testators family maintenance proceedings.

(b) In all other cases, costs budgets approved by the Court shortly after the commencement of a proceeding.

7. In the event that the Scale is replaced by the scheme described in Recommendation 5, that the courts engage in a process of judicial education similar to that undertaken in England and Wales.

In my view the abandonment of the scale and the adoption of an hourly/daily rate model is the correct and forward-thinking approach.

As to the fixed fee/budgeting model, I will write to this once I’ve had a chance to digest the report.