You can choose how often you are billed and how your costs are listed. Some legal bills only include the total amount due, others list all (or part) of the cost per item of work. Please discuss these options with your lawyer.
You can receive a bill for a part of the legal services that your lawyer will provide. For example, you can ask to pay your bill monthly or during set stages.
Your bill should reflect the estimate given to you in your costs disclosure for any legal work that will cost more than $750 in total.
A costs disclosure is a written estimate of the costs you can expect to pay for your lawyer's professional services. Amongst other things, it should explain your rights as a consumer, including how to dispute the bill and any time limits that may apply.
Here is an example of your legal rights as listed in a costs disclosure:
- You have the right to negotiate a costs agreement with us. You may want to seek independent legal advice before agreeing to the legal costs we propose to charge in this matter.
- You have the right to negotiate the billing method with us.
- You have the right to receive a Bill of Costs from us.
- You have the right to request an itemised Bill of Costs within 30 days after receiving a bill that is not itemised, or is only partially itemised, from us.
- You have the right to be notified of any significant change to the basis on which legal costs will be calculated or any significant change to the estimate of the total legal costs.
- You have the right to seek the assistance of the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner (the regulator) in the event of a dispute about legal costs.
You can ask your lawyer to break down the billing charges further if you receive a lump sum bill or a partially itemised bill.
You must ask your lawyer for an itimised bill within 30 days after the date the lump sum bill becomes payable.
Your lawyer must give you an itemised bill with detailed billing charges within 21 days of your request.