Guidelines on Itemised Bills
Following on from my previous post on itemisation of counsels' fee memos, my attention has been drawn to draft guidelines on itemised bills, published by the Queensland Legal Services Commission. The Commission's website states that it:
"develops and publishes two kinds of policies and guidelines - policies and guidelines we develop and publish for the benefit of the profession to assist practitioners to better understand their professional obligations in areas that have proved problematic, and policies and guidelines we develop for use in-house and that we publish in the interests of transparency."
I applaud the Commission in publishing such guidelines. Often practitioners are unaware of their duties and obligations, and the ethical issues surrounding the practitioner/client relationship. A recent discussion in our office centred around how frequently we see solicitors charging their clients for preparing their bills to their clients, dealing with the client when the client queries bills, and the like.
The test is always - did the work benefit the client? If it was only to the lawyer's benefit, it is rarely (if ever) chargeable to the client.
Other guidelines published by the Queensland LSC relating to charging for outlays and disbursements, charging fees in speculative personal injury matters, and aspects of advertising. I recommend all practitioners visit the site, whether they are Queensland based, or not.