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(NSW) Laws to cut costs in family disputes

Whilst talking with someone on Thursday, it was revealed that she had paid $800,000 in legal fees for a trial and an appeal. Since the matter has been remitted for trial, her being bankrupt, has compelled her to represent herself. The total pool was in th

It would be appropriate for the Federal Government to embrace this concept.

Whilst talking with someone on Thursday, it was revealed that she had paid $800,000 in legal fees for a trial and an appeal. Since the matter has been remitted for trial, her being bankrupt, has compelled her to represent herself. The total pool was in the region of $2.5 million. After deducting the husband's legal fees, one wonders about the purpose of the "settlement" process.

This article was found at the Sydney Morning Herald's site:

Sun-Herald
27 January 2008

Laws to cut costs in family disputes
By Lisa Carty

Lawyers profiting from the misery of families fighting over wills will have their fees capped after a string of cases where the bill has exceeded the final inheritance.

In one case where the total legal bill was more than $600,000, the plaintiffs were awarded $360,000.

Capping fees will also discourage lawyers caught up in explosive family situations from letting their clients use the courts to vent spleen.

They will have more incentive to settle, rather than prolong the process to make more money.

Attorney-General John Hatzistergos said he wanted to stop lawyers wiping out estates with excessive charges.

Legal costs in family will disputes routinely ran into tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, he said.

"Costs can wipe out a huge chunk of a deceased person's will, leaving family members and dependants with virtually nothing," he said.

While judges had the power to cap costs, they rarely did so, and that provision applied only if a case made it to court.

"The proposed reforms give lawyers an incentive to settle before the case gets to court, and will strengthen the judge's hand to cap costs when and if it does," Mr Hatzistergos said.

The reforms could include setting a sliding scale of costs, taking into account the size of the estate and the number of claimants, or setting a maximum fee.

It is understood some lawyers are charging more than $30,000 for one-day Supreme Court cases, while more complex cases regularly attract fees of more than $100,000.

Most disputes are decided in court. About 600 cases are heard in the Supreme Court each year, and 250 or so settled out of court.

Paul Versteege, from the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association, said older people wanted assurance that the wishes set out in their wills would be followed, and their estates would not be consumed by legal fees.

Law Society president Hugh Macken also welcomed the move, saying the legal profession acknowledged the need to address costs.

"For a long time now the legal profession has been driving alternative dispute resolution," Mr Macken said.

"These proposed amendments reinforce the importance of mediation."

What is done for you, let it be done, what you must do, be sure you do it, as the wise person does today that what the fool will do in three days - Buddha
I wonder if they will do the same with family disputes involving children. I bet there are many cases where one person deliberately prolongs legal action to financially break the ex.

When you are swimming down a creek and an eel bites your cheek, that's a Moray.
I don't know about that one Jadzia. That would effect the country's economy.

And besides there has been no major influx of clients being ripped off; it's been constant for 30 years.
At times one wonders if those sitting on the court benches are conscious or unconscious pimps for their class.

Most hearings where a SRL is before the court there is a big sell on about how much better off one would be if one had a legal representative.

This is one strong union. They work to rule more emphatically than do general trade unions. Try getting a barrister and they will "instruct" one to contact their clerk, who will then insist on one engaging on a solicitor to insure that the barrister is protected.

Occasionally "direct brief" barristers are available. The higher charging barristers have indicated that they are likely to be less effective.

Whatever the truth is, the barristers and solicitors charge GST on top of their fees, and much of the costs are paid to the Government via taxation. So in a sense it is an impost (tax) by the Federal Government upon those who are unable to live harmoniously. The Government has a "faultless" scheme that simply causes users of the court to pay.

Strategies of many persuasions are employed by many during Family Court proceedings. Those who can settle their differences are surely smarter than those who go the distance, sometimes influenced by solicitors.

Only effective lobbying of politicians shall cause the Government to reconsider the injustice and pain it visits upon citizens.

Write one's Member of Parliament if so moved.

What is done for you, let it be done, what you must do, be sure you do it, as the wise person does today that what the fool will do in three days - Buddha
The lawyers are just doing their job.

If the lawmakers want to continue to construct a society where the amount of legislation (about everything) keeps on increasing - and those law provide a chance for someone to take money from someone else - then naturally people will be using those laws to either:

1) Cause damage to the other person

2) Make a profit for themselves

And there are many people who operate like that - the legal system encourages people to think that way and there are no consequences.

Apparently the more laws you have the better society (seems to be the thinking) or the more civilized?

 Maybe I am not explaining myself well enough
I know our ex is trying to starve us out - using the direct squeezes of time and money.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Mine too - is happy to do nothing knowing I am the one paying a solicitor. THEN has the nerve to ring mine for advise because I am already paying for her!! He has also told me he wants it to go to court so it will cost me and I will lose everything in legal costs. He doesn't care if it makes him bankrupt - 7 years and a clean slate and fresh start.

When you are swimming down a creek and an eel bites your cheek, that's a Moray.

Disability discrimination law: children with disabilities and access to education

Disability discrimination law: children with disabilities and access to education

Meet Rebekah Turner, a year 11 student with a severe language disorder. She's just scored a big legal win against the Victorian Department of Education. A tribunal has awarded her $80,000 and her own full-time teacher's aide.

Also meet the father of a 14-year-old who can't read or write. He's launched a legal action on behalf of his son.

Law Report - Radio National
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/lawreport/stories/2008/2165156.htm
Podcast or transcript presently available.

What is done for you, let it be done, what you must do, be sure you do it, as the wise person does today that what the fool will do in three days - Buddha

Lawyers just doing their job ?

Most lawyers are probably hard working and fairly ethical within the bounds defined by the legal system we have.

But some are certainly not ethical.

I know of cases where straight out blackmail has been used by a lawyer to gain advantage for their client

Very recently a feminsit lawyer admitted to an SRL that she had advised her client to insist on exchanging their child inside the police station. This is despite the fact that the magistrate had specificaly ordered outside, and discussed why inside was not acceptable. (The only defence mum has is Poor little frightened me). When challenged, the lawyer replied, "I wasn't there" (she uses an agent in court). Even the agent crossed a boundary. Saying to the father "The truth is your child probably knows me nearly as well as she knows you" (Dads last contact with todler 6 months previously)


For me - Shared Parenting is a Reality - Maybe it can be for you too!
As my solicitor friend likes to say "95% of Lawyers give the rest a bad name".

Unfortunately all professions have their rogues but it seems we can 'almost' start to apply some partial descriptors to these rogues.

Never made it up the ladder to the big end of town (Water and Lawyers both find their own level).

Dabble in all sorts of Law.

Try to rely on bluff rather than knowledge.

Inferiority complex.

Any others?

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (look for the Avatars) Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Not sure about that Agog.

I know some pretty high flying Lawyers and barristers , well respected, successful etc - They have no qualms about taking tens of thousands of dollars continually. I think its because:

1) their time is worth that much

2) they have a lot of staff

3) Its not their fault that the system is they way it is

4) They do their best but "people" do argue - what can one do??

5) "We try to get cases settled quickly - using all sorts of means - just to limit to legal costs - but no one seems to care."

I don't think any of them see a problem with what they do as a job.

I loved the conversation between 2 female lawyers as they were waiting for the judge to come in to read the case outcome - I was there with them (sitting quietly in the back) (on behalf of a friend) and there they were talking about what holiday destinations they could go to - and expressing dismay that they had already been everywhere and they were looking for some new places to go.  Neither of them were much (if at all) over 30. :)

If someone want to make money I think family law is just the place to be.

 Maybe I am not explaining myself well enough
Jadzia said
monaro said
Jadzia said
Mine too - is happy to do nothing knowing I am the one paying a solicitor. THEN has the nerve to ring mine for advise because I am already paying for her!! He has also told me he wants it to go to court so it will cost me and I will lose everything in legal costs. He doesn't care if it makes him bankrupt - 7 years and a clean slate and fresh start.
About the bankruptcy it is 3 years, you can also apply in writing for an early discharge, if they suspect fowl play then it may go to 7 years and beyond.
Ahh OK - thanks for that. I bet he doesn't know it or that is what he would do!
If he is ordered to pay costs by the courts or has a CSA  or a centrelink debt ; he is not covered by bankruptcy, so his debt will remain payable.

Just got off the phone with a friend who wants to put a "China Wall" between his solicitors and the other party's.

They appear to be upping the correspondence and associated costs as a trial approaches.

Agression is transformed into baseless assumptions which are drawn upon to make irrational pleas.

Where are the 5% of good people in the legal industry, my friend asks?

Do they wear a badge like "Trust me I'm a Solicitor"

What is done for you, let it be done, what you must do, be sure you do it, as the wise person does today that what the fool will do in three days - Buddha
I thought a chinese wall was where 2 parties are using the same firm of solicitors; so the relevant solicitors acknowledge that they do not discuss the case directly?

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Watching the way the solicitors interact it appears as though they are from the same fraternity/sorority.  

It is normal to, if possible separate persons in an enterprise with a Chinese wall when that company engages with another entity.

When the solicitors act in unison and regard those not affiliated with them as not belonging, or deserving of respect, they are in the same sense involving themselves, perhaps unconsciously in an "us" and "them" mindset.

In probing to discern how to define their ethical behaviour, it is akin to not being able to see that which surrounds one's hand from the air which surrounds it.

They do set out to appear unassociated. Whether they achieve that is the concern. Listen to conversations on Tuesdays at the Sydney Registry and try to distinguish as to whether they are acting for opposing parties or are just golf partners.

As a trades person there are defined standards by which evaluations are effected. In the legal industry the quality of performance is not obvious. Watching two barristers and two solicitors not convince a judge, when their adversary was an ineffective SRL who had only sympathy on his side, one is left questioning. In effect the judge run the show and sought to stop the recitative.

When a Senior Counsel stands at the Bar the $7,000/day standard is on show. Solicitors and barristers in effect value themselves and categorise themselves when they set their fees. "Direct brief" barristers are supposedly at the bottom of the heap.

Perhaps when one is in the legal industry the consequences are that the blurring of ethical behaviour and friendships from law school are a challenge.

It was revealing when the other party in a matter I was involved in was represented by a solicitor who had been engaged that morning only. The first words he mentioned to the judge in a pleading tone were "I've just got this brief this morning". I took that as a "give me a break brother". If a SRL suggested the same it could be reagarded as trying to bias a judge. The observations are not readily precipitated into patterns that feel right.

A honest solicitor told me "these people don't realise that this is only a job for us".

What is done for you, let it be done, what you must do, be sure you do it, as the wise person does today that what the fool will do in three days - Buddha
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