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
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:
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."