Welcome to Men’s Legal Service
Family Law Services
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Between Men’s Legal Service Limited ABN 33 611 587 627 of 3/23 Dennis Road, Springwood,Queensland 4127 (‘this firm/we/us/our’)
And The Client as identified in Schedule A (‘you’/’your’)
1. Offer to enter into a costs agreement
1.1This Client Agreement is our offer to provide our services to you based on the costs and conditions included in this document. If you accept this agreement, it means you are bound by the terms and conditions set out in this document, including being billed in accordance with it.
1.2When we provide advice, we will tell you what assumptions we have made or what limitations apply to our advice. If those assumptions were not correct, we will not be liable for the advice that was conditional on those assumptions or limitations.
1.3Clause 25 (below) explains how you can accept this offer.
2. Obligations under this Agreement
2.1We will provide our legal services with professional skill and diligence, and we will keep you informed of the progress of the matter.
- provide us with timely, accurate and proper instructions, including providing us with all of the documents and other records relevant to the provided services;
- act reasonably and take reasonable care and reasonable steps to protect your own interests in respect of the matters which are the subject of this document;
- obtain advice from appropriately qualified professionals in relation to matters that are non-legal or outside the scope of our work;
- comply with your obligations under this Agreement including payment of our accounts or placing money into trust as required; and
- satisfy yourself that the instructions you provide us are in your best interests.
3. Scope of legal services
3.1Our scope of legal services is outlined in the letter to which this Client Agreement is attached.
3.2If we provide further services outside the agreed scope of this agreement, or later perform other work (including on another file for an unrelated matter) without us entering into a further costs agreement with you, the terms of this Client Agreement will extend to performance of that further work by us.
4. Fixed Fee
4.1If we offer you a fixed fee, our professional fees will be the advised fixed-fee amount.
4.2A fixed-fee quote is not an ‘estimate’ and the amount charged to you is not dependent on the time it takes us to ultimately provide the legal services within the specified scope.
4.3Any fixed fee does not include additional external charges, such as search fees, banking charges, government taxes or duties, and registration fees. However, we will try to provide you with notice of these prior to incurring them, particularly if they are substantial. You agree to pay all costs or charges reasonably incurred by us.
4.4We may issue a progress bill to you for legal services provided during the progress of any fixed fee work.
5. Rates for providing legal services
5.1In instances where our professional fees are time costed (i.e. not fixed fees, are based on an estimate or where we are engaged to perform tasks outside of the scope of the agreed legal services), our professional fees are charged on the following basis
|Director||$200 per hour|
|Lawyer||$180 per hour|
|Graduate Lawyer||$180 per hour|
|Law Clerk||$100 per hour||Consultant||At cost|
5.2These rates are inclusive of Goods and Services Tax (‘GST’) and may increase on 1 July each year. We may also, by written notice, increase our hourly rates or office expenses. We will usually notify you of any changes to our rates and you agree to be bound by any changed rates from the date of the change.
5.3Men’s Legal Service Limited will charge its time on the basis of the applicable hourly rate of the professional staff member involved on a pro-rata basis and calculated on a 6-minute unit interval. Therefore, each unit costs 1/10 of the hourly rate applicable to professional staff performing the work.
5.4Men’s Legal Service will charge for all attendances and work conducted by professional staff in their respective capacities. This includes (but is not limited to) consultations, review of documents, court and registry attendances (including time spent necessarily waiting at Court or elsewhere for your matter to be dealt with), email correspondence, telephone attendances, personal attendances on you and any of your witnesses, advisers or agents, attendances at locations on your behalf, perusals, research, drafting documents, submissions, document production and any other necessary attendances. Internal conferences between professional staff working on the matter will be charged based on the rates for each staff member involved.
5.5If a staff member is required to travel in the course of working on the matter (e.g. to attend a meeting or attend Court) we may charge the travel time at the hourly rate applicable to the staff member.
5.6We reserve our rights to withdraw and reissue any account for a higher amount pursuant to any itemised bill of costs requested by you under the Act.
7. Office Expenses
7.1If we offer you a fixed fee, we will not charge you for our office expenses unless the office expenses are unusual or excessive.
7.2If we are charging an hourly rate, we will only charge you for stationary or office expenses if we consider that these costs are substantial or excessive. In these circumstances, we will charge $1 per facsimile plus GST and 50 cents per page plus GST for printing and copying. Ordinary phone calls (local or interstate) will not incur a charge. International phone calls will be charged at cost.
7.3We will only charge you for stationary or office expenses in other cases where we consider that these costs are substantial or excessive, at a rate of $1 per facsimile plus GST and printing and photocopying at 50 cents per page plus GST. Ordinary phone calls (local or interstate) will not incur a charge. Internal phone calls will be charged at cost.
7.4We may from time to time at our discretion outsource large photocopying or document production tasks to an external copying provider. If we do so, you agree to pay for any costs incurred using that service.
8.1You agree to pay all of our fees and costs, including any applicable GST, for providing legal services to you. We may request that you pay money into our trust account to cover our anticipated fees or costs.
8.2If we incur costs as your agent, you agree to reimburse us. We will forward you the relevant tax invoice.
8.3You agree to pay for any additional costs that we incur while acting for you. These may include (but are not limited to):
- search fees;
- document filing and lodgement fees;
- travel and accommodation expenses;
- additional agent fees;
- barristers or counsel’s fees;
- outsourced consulting; or
- outsourced document production.
8.4These costs are usually subject to GST. You agree to pay us for the costs and fees outlined at clause 8.3 inclusive of GST.
8.5You agree to pay GST on the costs and fees incurred for the legal services we provide.
9. Exceptional items and engagement of third parties
9.1If we anticipate incurring an unusual cost that is not normally incurred in the ordinary course of providing similar services, we will notify you in writing and seek your agreement before we incur those costs.
9.2From time to time we might need to engage (on your behalf) a third party to provide specialist advice or services (such as another law firm or a barrister) in relation to your matter.
9.3If we need to engage a third party we will try to:
- speak with you before we commit to engaging the third party – however, we reserve the right to select and engage an appropriate barrister for your matter if necessary due to urgency or other compelling reason;
- advise you the third party’s fee structure, cost estimate and timeframe for paying their bills;
- give you any other information or fee disclosure that the third party gives to us.
9.4You are responsible for and agree to pay any costs associated with services provided by third parties in relation to your matter. We may require you to pay money into our trust account, on account of costs, prior to engaging any third party.
9.5If we become liable to pay any interest on any third party’s fees caused by delay on your part, we will pass that charge on to you.
10. Billing and interest charges
10.1We may issue accounts at any time on the basis of fees incurred to date. Accounts are payable within 14 days of receipt. Receipt will be deemed to have occurred on the day it is emailed, faxed or hand delivered or two days after it is sent by post to you by post.
10.2You agree and request that any accounts we issue to you may be sent to you by email.
10.3If an account is not paid within 14 days of receipt you will be charged interest on the unpaid account at the rate prescribed by the regulations under the Act, being the rate that is equal to the cash rate target (as set by the Reserve Bank of Australia at the date of the relevant account – see http://www.rba.gov.au/statistics/cash-rate/) plus 2%.
10.4You also agree to pay for our professional fees and costs associated in recovering overdue accounts and our legal costs of recovery.
11. Termination of agreement
11.1You may terminate this Client Agreement at any time by written notice to us.
11.2If this Client Agreement is terminated at any time, you remain liable for the legal costs, outlays and disbursements up until that time.
11.3If you do not pay monies in accordance with the Client Agreement we may suspend work and may cease acting for you. This includes if we seek further money to be placed into trust by you from time to time in anticipation of future costs.
11.4This firm will not continue to do the work and may terminate the Client Agreement if:
- you fail to accept this Client Agreement in accordance with clause 25;
- you fail to pay our bills or deposit monies to our trust account as required;
- you fail to provide us with evidence requested to assess your income or assets for the purpose of means-testing eligibility for our services;
- you fail to provide us with adequate instructions within a reasonable time;
- you deliberately provide us with instructions that are false or intentionally misleading;
- you engage another law practice to advise you on this matter without our consent;
- we, on reasonable grounds believe that a conflict of interest has arisen or is likely to arise in this matter;
- you indicate that you no longer have confidence in our firm;
- you request that we act in a manner that we believe to be unethical; or
- we have any other just or ethical reason.
11.5If this Client Agreement is terminated by either you or us, you will be required to pay our legal costs, outlays and disbursements up to the date of termination.
12. Lien and charge
12.1You agree and acknowledge that we are entitled to retain possession of your file, documents and trust money while there is money owing to us for our legal costs, by way of a ‘solicitor’s lien’ and on any other basis available to us, in additional to any other rights we may have at law.
12.2You charge to us all of your present and future, real and personal property to secure payment of all monies payable and which may become payable by you to us under this agreement. This charge extends to any money recovered in any litigation or dispute we conduct on your behalf and any real or personal properly recovered, awarded or transferred to you in in the course of the work we undertake for you. Please note that the above clause secures payment of amounts payable under this agreement with the property of the Client.
13. Credit Card Payments
13.1Credit card payments will incur an additional surcharge at the following rates, charged by our merchant facility:
|Visa and Mastercard||2.5%|
14. Payment from money on account
14.1We may ask you for payment of amounts into its trust account. If so, the money will be held on trust and we will advise you how it is used.
14.2You authorise this firm to draw on the money for expenses, payments to third parties and professional fees as they become due in accordance with the Act and the Legal Profession Regulation 2007 (Qld). You also authorise us to transfer trust amounts between your files you or a related party may have with us.
15. Costs in court proceedings
15.1If your matter is a litigation matter or otherwise involves court proceedings then you should be aware that:
- it is difficult to give an estimate of the likely costs to be incurred in litigation matters;
- the estimate set out in the covering letter is an indicative range only and the costs incurred by you may be more or less than the range. We reserve our right to give you a revised range of costs from time to time;
- matters involving court proceedings may take a long period to resolve and you will incur costs throughout the process;
- the court may order that you pay another party’s fees and costs (for example, if you lose the case) – if this is the case, you may be required to pay the other party’s costs in addition to your own legal costs as per this costs agreement. It is estimated that you may be ordered to pay approximately 50% to 70% of the costs incurred by that party, but potentially more; and
- the court may order the other party to pay your fees and costs of the proceedings (for example if you win the case) – if this is the case, it is unlikely that the amount that the other party will be ordered to pay will cover the whole of the legal costs that you are liable to pay us under this costs agreement. It is estimated that you may only recover 50% to 70% of the actual costs you incurred.
15.2Please note that:
- the amount that an unsuccessful party is generally ordered to pay in civil litigation generally equates to about 50% to 70% of the successful party’s legal costs. In some circumstances a higher award of costs for or against you may be ordered (in family law, orders for costs vary widely).
- in some instances, the court or tribunal may not award costs at all.
- a costs award in your favour does not necessarily mean the party can pay your costs or that it will pay the costs without further reference to the court.
- you will remain liable to us for the whole of our legal costs under this costs agreement regardless of any award of costs by a court.
15.3Parties to a dispute may be required to take reasonable steps to resolve the dispute before commencing proceedings (particularly in family law). These steps include exchange of documents, negotiations and dispute resolution processes. Your costs of compliance with these requirements are payable by you. Failure to comply with these pre-litigation requirements may be taken into account by the court when making an order for costs.
16.1We will only use personal information we collect about you for the purposes of;
- performing the work for you;
- internal business operations and related communication within our firm;
- complying with the law of any relevant State or Territory or the Commonwealth.
16.2We may be also be required to disclose personal information to service providers and other agents or agencies who assist our firm in performing the work or meeting our obligations to you.
17. Retention of your documents
17.1On completion of our services we will retain any documents to which you are entitled for no more than seven (7) years. You authorise us to destroy the file seven years after the date of the final bill rendered by us in this matter. We may elect to destroy hard copies at any time if we retain documents in electronic form.
18. Concern or complaint
18.1If you have a concern with the performance of your work, want to discuss your costs and fees or make a complaint then please contact James Stokes, Legal Practitioner Director of Men’s Legal Service Limited on +61 431 162 175.
18.2If you are still unsatisfied with the way your problem, concern or complaint is handled then you may contact the Queensland Law Society on +61 7 3842 5842 or write to them at GPO Box 1785, Brisbane QLD 4001.
19. Notices under this Client Agreement
19.1Notices, our accounts and communications in performing the Work or otherwise under this Client Agreement may be faxed, posted via pre-paid post, emailed or hand-delivered to you.
20. Legal fees - your rights
20.1We are required to advise you under the Act that you have the right to:
- negotiate a costs agreement with us;
- receive a bill of costs from us;
- request an itemised bill of costs after you receive a lump sum bill from us;
- request written reports about the progress of your matter and the costs incurred in your matter;
- apply for costs to be assessed within 12 months if you are unhappy with our costs (see paragraph 20.4 below);
- apply for the costs agreement to be set aside (see paragraph 20.4 below);
- accept or reject any offer we make for an interstate costs law to apply to your matter (see paragraph 20.3 below);
- notify us that you require an interstate costs law to apply to your matter (see paragraph 20.3 below);
- be notified of any substantial change in the matters disclosed in this Notice.
20.2This document provides you with information about our legal services, the cost of those services and your rights. For more information about your rights, please read the facts sheet titled ‘Legal Costs – your right to know’. You can ask us for a copy of this document, or obtain it from the Queensland Law Society or download it from their website at http://www.qls.com.au
20.3The law of Queensland will apply to the proposed costs agreement. You have the right enter into a costs agreement with us on the basis that a corresponding law of another state or territory is applicable such as where the legal services are or will be completely or primarily provided in, or where the matter has a substantial connection with that other state or territory. Further you have the right in certain circumstances to notify us in writing in accordance with the time limits of the corresponding law that you require the law of another jurisdiction to apply.
20.4The following avenues are open to you under the terms of the Act in the event of a dispute in relation to legal costs:
- to apply for a costs assessment within 12 months of delivery of a bill or request for payment or such extended time as may be permitted by the court or costs assessor after considering the reason for the delay (except sophisticated clients as defined in the Act; and
- to apply to set aside the costs agreement within six years or other times as the law permits.
21. Conflict of interest acknowledgement (joint retainers)
21.1Our duties to each of our clients include acting in the best interests of and maintaining the confidentiality of our clients. This includes avoiding conflicts of interests between current and former clients.
21.2You may have conflicting interests in relation to your individual affairs – now or in the future – and any instructions we receive will be on the basis of a joint retainer.
21.3By accepting a joint retainer from you we confirm that:
- our duty to act individually in your best interests may be affected by us acting for you both jointly;
- our duty of confidentiality owed to each of you individually is not absolute;
- all instructions provided by both of you to this firm need to be divulged to the other party so that there is complete candour and openness between both of you and this firms as your lawyers;
- a conflict of interest may arise should one of you decide to change your instructions and seek to withhold this information from the other party;
- if a conflict of interest arises we will have to cease acting for you in accordance with the Australian Solicitors Conduct Rules 2012; and
- if a conflict arises you will incur additional legal fees.
21.4You are entitled to obtain independent legal advice in relation to your individual affairs.
21.5We will provide you with legal advice regarding the advantages and disadvantages of different that may be suitable to your individual and joint circumstances.
21.6If either of you approach us unilaterally during or after we have completed Work seeking to:
- revoke or alter your arrangements; or
- seeking a release of your original documents from our safe custody
21.7If we act on a joint retainer you agree that we are entitled to take instructions from either of you in relation to the matter.
21.8By signing this Client Agreement you acknowledge that you have read and understood this advice and instruct us to act jointly for both of you on this basis.
22. Our incorporated status
22.1This firm is an incorporated practice and all legal services to be provided under this agreement will be provided by or under the supervision of an Australian Legal Practitioner regulated by the Act.
23. Personal Guarantee
23.1In consideration of this firm offering to enter into the client agreement with the client at the request of the Guarantor, the Guarantor agrees as follows:
- The Guarantor guarantees –
- the payment of all monies payable to the Firm;
- performance by the Client of the Clients obligations; and
- the payment of all loss and damage recoverable by the firm from the Client.
- This guarantee will be a continuing guarantee and will not be affected or avoided in any way by –
- any agreement or arrangement made between the firm and the Client;
- any alterations or variations to the rights and obligations of either the firm or the Client;
- the granting of any time or other indulgence or forbearance by the firm to the client or to the Guarantor;
- the making of any composition with or waiver of any breach or default by you;
- the neglect or forbearance of the firm to enforce the provisions of this Agreement or those of this guarantee;
- the avoidance for any reason whatsoever by statute or otherwise of any payment by or on behalf of the Client or any Guarantor to the firm;
- the insolvency, bankruptcy, liquidation or winding up of the Client or any change in the Client’s constitution;
- any moratorium or other period staying or suspending by statute;
- the order of any government authority; or
- any further guarantee being given to the firm by any person,
23.2The Guarantor is in all respects as a principal debtor and we may take action first against the Guarantor without proceeding against the Client, including but not limited to an event where a term of this Agreement is not enforceable against the Client as principal whether by reason of any legal limitation, disability or incapacity, or by reason of any liquidator of the Client disclaiming this Client Agreement.
23.3The Guarantor charges, in favour of us, all of the Guarantor’s present and future, real and personal property to secure payment of all monies payable and which may become payable by the Client to us. The Guarantor further agrees that for as long as any fees or costs remain unpaid to us under this agreement, the Guarantor may not raise any right of set-off or counterclaim that the Guarantor or the Client may have against us. Please note that the Guarantor under the above clause promises to pay amounts owed by the Client to us and secures payment of those amounts with the property of the Guarantor.
24.1If any part of this costs agreement is void or voidable that part is severed and the remainder of this Client Agreement has full force and effect.
24.2The law of Queensland will apply to this Client Agreement.
25.1You acknowledge that you:
- have read and understood the contents of this Client Agreement;
- have voluntarily entered into this Client Agreement without and duress from us;
- have had reasonable opportunity to consider the terms of this Client Agreement and seek legal advice prior to accepting the terms of this Client Agreement; and
- believe that the terms of this Client Agreement are fair and reasonable.
25.2You may accept this Client Agreement by:
- signing and returning a copy of this document to our office; or
- meeting with us and giving us instructions to act for you after receiving this document; or
- contacting us and advising of your acceptance, whether by email, telephone or in person.
25.3Although you may accept this Client Agreement verbally or by providing further instructions, we may require the signed Client Agreement and Authority as a requirement prior to commencing the work.