Legal Costs Committee
What we do
The Legal Costs Committee is required to review all legal costs scales in force at least once within two years of being made.
The Committee reviews scales of legal costs and makes decisions (called Determinations) in areas of legal practice connected with:
- Family Law
- Supreme, District and Magistrates Courts
- Notaries Public
- Cases involving the application of the Official Prosecutions (Accused’s Costs) Act
- Non-litigious commercial and probate work.
Scales of legal costs can be useful to members of the general public and may assist in the taxation of legal costs by taxing officers.
The Committee’s establishment assists in maintaining regular reviews of the scale of legal costs, provides transparency in the manner in which the costs are fixed and ensures consistency in application of the principles used across all scales.
Establishing a maximum rate for particular kinds of legal work provides guidance as to the level of costs which can be expected to apply where no written agreement as to costs is entered into.
Review submissions are sought from a variety of agencies and the general public. Prior to and during each review the Committee consults with the relevant State courts and professional bodies. It also calls for submissions through advertisements in the West Australian newspaper.
In addition, from time to time questionnaires are available on this website to enable both the public and the legal profession to provide the Committee with valuable information on legal fees.
After consideration of submissions and other factors such as published CPI and Average Weekly Earnings figures, the Committee publishes its Report and Determination in the Government Gazette outlining any amendments to the scales of legal costs.
Determinations on scales of legal costs by the Committee do not prevent legal practitioners from entering into written agreements with clients in respect of legal costs.
Scales of costs
These scales regulate the remuneration which a legal practitioner may receive for professional services to a client. The client has an obligation to pay the reasonable costs of work properly undertaken by the practitioner. In some cases the scale of costs will limit what may properly be charged.
Taxation of legal costs
Taxation is the process of examining and, if necessary, reducing the bill of costs of a lawyer by an officer of the court appointed for that purpose.
Taxation may be between party and party, after an action, or between solicitor and client, in respect of certain types of legal proceedings, conveyancing and similar transactions.
Party and Party Costs
Party and party costs are those costs which a court may order one party to litigation to pay another party. The court may fix the amount of costs it orders one party to pay to the other or the amount of costs may be assessed by a taxing officer by reference to the relevant scale of costs.
A client and practitioner may enter into a written agreement as to the costs to be charged for work done. An agreement may be varied or cancelled if a Court determines that the amount of agreed costs is unreasonable.