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Costs Court

Costs Court

The Costs Court hears and determines matters relating to costs arising from court proceedings and also hears costs disputes between legal practitioners and their clients.

The Costs Court comprises an Associate Judge, a Judicial Registrar and two Costs Registrars.

Types of costs

Legal costs

These are either the amounts lawyers charge their clients for providing legal services or amounts recoverable by the successful party for the work done by their lawyers in legal proceedings.  Legal costs include charges for the lawyers’ services and disbursements, including barristers’ fees, doctors’ reports and the reasonable costs of court recordings and transcripts.

Party Party costs

A court or tribunal can order that costs be paid by one party to another, or the parties can agree that one party will pay the other parties' costs to settle their dispute. The amount can be either agreed between the parties or decided by the Costs Court if parties can’t agree.

Please note that new listing procedures will apply to Party Party Taxations from 1 March 2016, following the cut-off date for the March Callover (see table below). Party Party proceedings initiated after 1 March 2016 will no longer require the Summons for Taxation to be listed in the monthly Callover, unless the Court otherwise directs. To obtain a hearing date, you will be required to submit a Party Party Taxation Information Form prior to filing.

Please refer to the Notice to the Profession for full details.

Disputes between lawyer and client

If you’re unhappy about your lawyer's bill you may dispute the amount charged. Apart from negotiating directly with your lawyer, the date on which you first instructed your solicitor determines how you may act to resolve your dispute:

A:         If you first instructed your solicitor in a particular matter after 1 July 2015 this link applies to your costs of the dispute.

B:         If you first instructed your solicitor between 12 December 2005 and 30 June 2015 this link applies to your costs of the dispute.

C:         If you first instructed your solicitor before 12 December 2005 this link applies to your costs of the dispute.

How to request an itemised account

If you don't receive an itemised account from your lawyer/s, you can request an itemised bill. The request must be made within 30 days after the date on which the legal costs become payable. The lawyer must provide an itemised account within 21 days of the request. 

If it has been more than 30 days since receiving a lump sum bill, on the first hearing of the Summons for Taxation (first return date of Summons) a request can be made to the Costs Court for an order that the lawyer/s file with the Court and give you an itemised bill.

Process of assessment or ‘taxation’ by the Costs Court

The Costs Court may reduce the costs if:

  • costs are not reasonably incurred
  • costs are considered excessive
  • costs claimed are not reasonable and proportionate to the complexity or importance of the issue and the amount in dispute

This process of assessment is called a ‘taxation’.

Representing yourself in a taxation hearing

You may represent yourself at a taxation hearing before the Costs Court. We strongly recommend that you seek legal advice from either another lawyer or a cost expert/consultant given that the law in respect of cost matters is very complex and technical. See representing yourself for more information.

The Law Institute of Victoria (External link) may be able to provide you with the contact details for individuals who practice in this area.

If you choose to go ahead and represent yourself in a taxation hearing you'll need to take the following steps:

  • File your Summons for Taxation within 12 months from the time you receive the bill you wish to seek taxation of.
  • Prepare and file three copies of a Summons for Taxation. A copy of the lawyer’s bill also needs to be filed at the time of filing the Summons. These documents must be filed with the Supreme Court Registry, either in person or by mail.
  • Registry will seal the Summons for Taxation and set down a date for the first hearing in the taxation process. When the Summons is returned from Registry keep one of the copies for your own records. The second copy is to be served on the lawyer/s by you.  Registry services keep the third copy on file.
  • If you're disputing items on an itemised bill, seven days prior to the first hearing date, you'll need to file a notice identifying each item you object to, specifically and concisely setting out the grounds (reasons) of objection.

Cost of taxation hearing

In a Lawyer Client costs dispute there is no fee payable for filing an application for a Summons for Taxation within time, but fees may be payable if you seek to file an application for leave to file a Summons for Taxation out of time.

A fee is payable in the Party Party costs dispute.

If the Costs Court reduces the bill in a Lawyer Client costs dispute by:

  • more than one sixth (if you first instructed your solicitors prior to 12 December 2005), or
  • more than 15 per cent  (if you first instructed your solicitors on or after 12 December 2005)

Then the Costs Court may order that the lawyer/s (respondent/s) pay the costs of the taxation process.

If, however, the bill in a Lawyer Client costs dispute is not reduced by:

  • more than one sixth (if you first instructed your solicitors prior to 12 December 2005), or
  • more than 15 per cent  (if you first instructed your solicitors on or after 12 December 2005)

The Costs Court may order that you pay the costs which your solicitor/s has incurred because of the costs dispute and the taxation process.

Review of taxation decisions of the Costs Court:

  • There is a 14 day time limit to seek a review or reconsideration.
  • If the taxation of costs is conducted by a Costs Registrar, the review is conducted by a Judicial Registrar (Rule 63.56.2(2)).
  • If the Judicial Registrar conducts the taxation, the application is referred to the Judicial Registrar to reconsider (Rule 63.56.2(1)).
  • If the taxation of costs is conducted by a Costs Judge the application is referred to the Costs Judge to reconsider (Rule 63.56.1(1). The decision of a Judicial Registrar (on review of a Costs Registrar or on reconsideration by the Judicial Registrar) can be reviewed by a Costs Judge (Rule 63.56.4(1)).
  • The decision of a Costs Judge (on reconsideration by the Costs Judge or on review of the Judicial Registrar) can be reviewed by a Judge (Rule 63.57).

Contact with the Costs Court

Callover dates, times and location 

Lawyer/client matters and any other matters deemed appropriate for Callover, are listed at Taxation Callover and are listed in order based on the date of issue.  Please check the Daily List. The Court does not usually authenticate orders made at Callover.  Parties requiring an order to be authenticated should submit a Request to Authenticate at the Callover, or contact the Associate to Associate Justice Wood after the Callover to request an authenticated order.

Taxation Callover list

Taxation Callover dates - 2016
Callover date Summons cut-off date
9 February 2016 26 January 2016
15 March 2016 1 March 2016
26 April 2016 12 April 2016
24 May 2016 10 May 2016
21 June 2016 7 June 2016
2 August 2016 19 July 2016
6 September 2016 23 August 2016
11 October 2016 27 September 2016
15 November 2016 1 November 2016
13 December 2016 29 November 2016
Taxation Callover dates - 2017
Callover date Summons cut-off date
7 February 2017 24 January 2017
21 March 2017 7 March 2017
9 May 2017 25 April 2017
20 June 2017 6 June 2017
1 August 2017 18 July 2017
12 September 2017 29 August 2017
24 October 2017 10 October 2017
12 December 2017 18 November 2017

Contact details

Party Party Taxations: For assessment, case conference and mediation listing, contact:
Email: costs.court@supremecourt.vic.gov.au
Phone: +61 (03) 9603 9393

Where a matter settles or the case conference or mediation is no longer required, notify the Court via:
Email: costs.court@supremecourt.vic.gov.au
Phone: +61 (03) 9603 9324  Facsimile: +61 (03) 9603 9320

Solicitor/Client costs disputes: 
Email: wood.associate@supcourt.vic.gov.au
Phone: +61 (03) 9603 9324  Facsimile: +61 (03) 9603 9320

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