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Guidance on legal costs and billing
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Costs agreement and disclosure precedents

These precedents for barristers' costs agreements and disclosures are offered in response to requests for precedent costs disclosure documents and costs agreements under Part 3.2 of Legal Profession Act 2004

The precedents include variations for conditional costs agreements (s323) and also for cases where a ‘sophisticated client’ exemption from disclosure applies (ss302, 312(1)(c) & (d) and related provisions).

It is assumed that a barrister using the precedents will be a member of the NSW Bar Association and obliged to publish the usual professional standards endorsement. It is also assumed that the jurisdictional requirements of Part 3.2 are satisfied. 

No precedents are offered for disclosure without costs agreement, but the precedents may be adapted if a barrister wishes to follow that course. Costs agreements are not mandatory, but they provide greater certainty than mere compliance with statutory disclosure requirements (s319). 

No precedents are offered for disclosure or agreement where an uplift fee is charged (s324). 

These documents were last revised on 1 July 2007

The precedents are set out in four sections

Barrister / solicitor precedents
The precedents in this section are prepared on the assumption that the barrister is retained in the normal way by a law practice acting on behalf of a client and wishes to enter into a costs agreement with the instructing law practice under LPA s322(1)(c).

This reflects the usual practice and usage of the legal profession. Barristers do not take funds in trust from their clients or investigate the clients’ creditworthiness. Instead, they rely on the credit and professionalism of instructing solicitors. This enables barristers to provide expert and specialised professional services to solicitors’ clients with relative economy because they do not have to duplicate the infrastructure of a solicitor’s office. 

1.1 Disclosure letter
Download a disclosure letter from a barrister to solicitors, s310(2)
Download in Word (.doc) >> |Download in RTF (.rtf) >>

1.2 Costs agreement

Download a costs agreement between a barrister and solicitors, s322(1)(c)
Download in Word (.doc) >> |Download in RTF (.rtf) >

1.3 Division 9 (personal injury) cases
Part 3.2, Division 9, limits legal costs in ‘personal injury damages’ cases.  Section 338 provides that ‘if the amount recovered on a claim for personal injury damages does not exceed $100,000, the maximum costs for legal services provided to a party in connection with the claim are fixed’ by the imposition of statutory maximum amounts. Read more >>

1.3.1 Division 9 (Personal Injury) Disclosure Warranty
Download provision in Word (doc) | Download provision in rich text format (rtf)

1.3.2 Extra certification clauses
Download provision in Word (doc) | Download provision in rich text format (rtf)

Barrister / client precedents
The precedents in this section are prepared on the assumption that the barrister is retained directly by a client and wishes to enter into a costs agreement with the client under LPA s322(1)(a).

The Act also permits a costs agreement between barrister and client where the barrister is retained by an instructing solicitor (s322(1)(b)); no precedents are offered for that situation.

Barristers should also be aware of the separate disclosure requirement under s318A if there is an associated third party payer (relevantly, one who owes a payment obligation to the barrister within s302A). Cases may differ, and no separate precedent is offered. 

No precedent is offered for direct access disclosure in personal injury cases under s339 and reg. 116.  For further notes about these provisions, see the introduction to precedent 1.3.  

2.1 Disclosure letters
Download a disclosure letter from a barrister to a client:
Download in Word (.doc) | Download in rich text format (.rtf)

2.2 Costs disclosure notice
Download a costs disclosure notice from barrister to client, s309
Download in Word (.doc) >> | Download in rich text format (.rtf) >>

2.3 Costs agreement
Download a costs agreement between barrister and client, s322(1) (a)
Download in Word (.doc) >> |Download in rich text format (.rtf) >>


Basis of charging
All costs agreements and disclosure obligations must specify the barrister’s basis of charging. This varies from barrister to barrister. It may also vary according to the nature of the work. View examples >>



Motor accident compensation cases
Various provisions of the Motor Accidents Compensation Act 1999 regulate legal costs. Learn more >>

Other resources related to barristers' fees and cost


Billing checklist for barristers
This checklist sets out some commonly encountered requirements related to barristers' billing practices. Download >>



Fee recovery assistance
The Bar Association assists members with recovery from solicitors of unpaid fees, which have been outstanding for more than three months but less than two years.  The association will only assist members who have complied with the fee disclosure requirements of the Legal Profession Act 1987 or the Legal Profession Act 2004. More information >>


Factsheets for consumers
Two fact sheets for consumers:
Legal Costs—your right to know
and Your right to challenge legal costs have been published by the NSW Attorney General's Department.

These describe the rights of a client dealing with a law practice directly retained by the client (usually a solicitor).

Barristers are usually retained by the solicitor. Issues about barristers' costs are normally dealt with by the solicitor. There are different rules for that situation. A client who is concerned about a barrister's costs should talk to his or her solicitor