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How to contain the cost of litigation

How to contain the cost of litigation

Firms can get more bang for their buck when working with counsel, writes Laina Chan from Melbourne TEC Chambers.

In an ideal world, litigation would be run efficiently and cost effectively. Clients would understand the intricacies and the necessity of each of the procedural steps that govern litigation from its inception to judgment and enforcement. Parties would restrict themselves to running the main points and refrain from engaging in costly and pointless skirmishes. Witnesses would have faultless memories and keep contemporaneous notes of their conversations, documentary evidence would be neatly filed away and evidence gathering would be a smooth and relatively pain-free exercise. Such is the ideal that the rules of procedure have encapsulated the goal of justice, efficiency and cost effectiveness as the benchmark against which procedural steps are to be measured against.

Unfortunately the realities of litigation are generally at odds with the ideal. A by-product of this is that clients are justifiably reluctant to commence litigation or otherwise reluctant to see litigation through to its natural end. While settlement of litigation has a very important role to play as it is the only way that both parties can secure the vagaries of litigation and thereby own the outcome of the litigation, there are steps that can be taken during the process of litigation that can help contain the cost of litigation.

The cost of litigation is nowhere more marked than in the cases brought in the technology and construction lists of the Supreme Courts of the various states. Building and infrastructure projects vary in size and budget. Generally, it is trite that the bigger the project, the greater the number of documents and the more costly the litigation. One seemingly counterintuitive tool to managing the cost of litigation is to involve counsel early in the process of litigation. This can effectively reduce the cost of duplication as well as assist in the identification and narrowing of issues. Not every point has to be taken in order to achieve the best result for our clients.

Melbourne TEC Chambers are running two half-day seminars, one for in-house counsel and another for solicitors at the Hilton in Perth on 9 June 2014. One of the topics will be How to get more bang for your buck when working with counsel. This will develop the ideas touched on above and provide attendees with a practical guide on how to get the most out of their counsel.

Robert Harper SC, Caroline Kirton QC, Richard Manly QC, Albert Monichino QC, Martin Scott QC, Toby Shnookal QC, Donald Charrett, Andrew Downie, Ian Percy and I will also provide attendees with their east coast point of view on the following topics:

  • Recent developments in international arbitration
  • Penalties in construction law after Andrews v ANZ
  • Recourse to securities
  • Statutory adjudication
  • Can a superintendent’s discretionary decision be reviewed by a court or arbitrator?
  • Recent developments in expert evidence
  • Dispute boards

Copy and logo provided by Melbourne TEC Chambers. For more information on the seminars, an overview of the speakers and to secure yourself a seat at the seminars, please visit


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How to contain the cost of litigation
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