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The passing of the Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill on 13 September 2023 resulted in two major changes to the Legal Profession Act 2007:

Abbreviated costs disclosure – section 307B

This section is due to come into force on 1 March 2024. If the total legal costs in a matter excluding disbursements and GST are not likely to exceed $3000, a law practice must disclose all of the following:

  • the legal services that will be provided;
  • the basis on which legal costs will be calculated including whether a scale of costs applies to any of the legal costs;
  • an estimate of the total amount of the legal costs;
  • an estimate of the total amount of disbursements; and
  • the client’s right to negotiate a costs agreement with the law practice; receive a bill from the law practice; request an itemised bill after receipt of a lump sum bill; and be notified under section 315 of any substantial change to the matters disclosed under this section.

Section 310A(5) enables the disclosure under section 307B to be made in or as part of the costs agreement or an offer to enter into a costs agreement but the disclosure must be in a prominent position at the beginning of the agreement or offer.

If the total legal costs in a matter excluding disbursements and GST is not likely to exceed $1500, there are no changes and no disclosure is required – see section 307A.

The Queensland Law Society is presently preparing a precedent for matters that do not exceed $3000 exc GST and disbursements.

Practitioners are also welcomed to book a complimentary Practice Advisory Service visit to discuss what the impact of the new costs disclosure threshold and templates may have on your practice. Please email ethics@qls.com.au to make an appointment.

Client document retention – section 713A

This section is due to come into force on 1 February 2024 and enables practitioners to destroy a client document relating to a matter notwithstanding the absence of express client authority if all of the following has occurred:

  • a period of at least seven years has elapsed since the completion of the matter;
  • the law practice has been unable to obtain instructions from the client to destroy despite making reasonable efforts to do so; and
  • it is reasonable under the circumstances, with regard to the nature and content of the document, to destroy it. 

Before this change, practitioners were required to obtain the client’s consent before they were in a position to destroy client documents1 even after the seven years had elapsed.2

Please note that obtaining your client’s consent to destroy in advance, (for example in your retainer) is still preferable as you must satisfy all of the above requirements in order to rely on section 713A.

Please see our Document Retention Guide for further information on what to consider.

Practitioners can also attend a webinar on 20 February 2024 which will discuss the changes. Details for registration can be accessed here.

Footnotes
1 The Public Trustee of Queensland as a Corporation Sole [2012] QSC 178.
2 Australian Solicitor Conduct Rules, rule 14.

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