Brisbane firm defends itself against invoice stoush

A Brisbane firm has had to defend itself against a former client who claimed she could not contest her invoices over fears she would be left to deal with a Family Court matter on her own.

user iconNaomi Neilson 13 June 2023 Big Law
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Due to how HopgoodGanim Lawyers communicated with the former client, Queensland’s District Court did not extend the time frame to allow her to have 31 invoices assessed for work the firm completed between September 2018 and August 2021.

The applicant said she had instructed the firm to provide services for an estate planning matter and a dispute with her former husband and had paid around $277,375.48 for their work.

Asked to inform the court why she had made the application for the cost assessment outside the 12-month time frame, she claimed she was “relucent to challenge any invoices” while the firm was engaged.

“It is said that she feared that this would detrimentally affect the quality of the representation she received, or that it would result in a dispute with the respondent requiring her to engage alternative lawyers to act for her,” Judge Jennifer Rosengren said.

The court found this was inconsistent with the communication between the client and HopgoodGanim Lawyers, who Judge Rosengren said had “conducted itself in a way that ought to have reassured the applicant that any reasonable queries that she raised about the invoices would be appropriately considered by the firm”.

As an example of this, the firm discounted the invoices on at least two occasions and one time by approximately $10,000.

When approached by the applicant’s father, who contended another firm could provide a certain service cheaper, HopgoodGanim Lawyers agreed to lower its own fees to complete the work.

“In my view, any such concerns of the applicant were not well founded,” Judge Rosengren said in her written judgment.

The former client also claimed she did not have the financial resources to make an earlier application and that the stress and distractedness of her legal matters meant she did not properly consider she had a 12-month time frame to act in.

Judge Rosengren did not accept either argument.

Five of the invoices can be assessed as they fall within the time frame, and HopgoodGanim Lawyers did not oppose this order.

The matter is Stevens v HopgoodGanim Lawyers.