This week, Sterling Law obtained a costs order on the indemnity basis against a solicitor in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.
Sterling Law acted for the father in a parenting matter. The mother had prior to proceedings relocated from Katoomba NSW to Queensland without notice to our client. Our client the father sought a relocation order so that the child could have a meaningful relationship with both parents.
After the Federal Circuit Court trial, judgment was reserved. The mother then sought to re-open the evidence by filing an Application in a Case instead of complying with the Court’s Orders for the filing of written submissions. Solicitor for the mother said that the Application in a Case was filed on Senior Counsel’s advice.
The Application in a Case was dismissed at the first return date on 16 July 2021. The solicitor for the mother appeared without Counsel and sought an adjournment so that Senior Counsel could argue the Application. Sterling Law also appeared without Counsel and pointed out the ‘new’ evidence was not germane to the child’s best interests, nor was it likely to change the result. Furthermore, the mother was not a credible witness, and this had been demonstrated when she was extensively cross-examined at trial, so a hearing with further cross-examination would be required if the evidence was reopened. The ICL noted the ‘new’ evidence could have been adduced at the trial.
Judge Tonkin dismissed the Application in a Case later that day. Sterling Law then sought indemnity costs on behalf of the father against the mother, her solicitor and Counsel. We submitted that the Application in a Case was bound to fail, had caused undue delay and expense and had been filed for the ulterior purpose of delaying judgment so that the mother could remain in Queensland for longer. Furthermore, an offer of compromise was imprudently not accepted. None of those submissions were challenged on behalf of the mother or her lawyers.
For a very long time in Commonwealth legal systems, the legal profession has been regulated for the benefit of clients of lawyers and the public at large. Among other things, there has been a recognised public interest in protecting those liable to pay legal fees from overcharging by lawyers. One of those protections is and has been the legal requirement for a bill to be provided so that the client can seek advice on the fees and charges.
As a result, one of the many modern obligations that lawyers in English legal systems have to comply with in the course of legal practice is to provide clients and any other persons liable for their fees with proper bills before such persons can be liable for or sued for such fees. Continue reading “The law of lawyers bills in Queensland”
In a 2014 case, the Family Court of Australia awarded legal costs against a mother in a decision that sits as an exception to the usual mantra of family law court costs.
The father was awarded custody and sole parental responsibility for the children of his relationship with his former wife, Ms Alexander, who had since remarried to a registered sexual offender. The mother was ordered to spend time with the children on alternate weekends.
Continue reading “Mother ordered to pay half of father’s legal costs”