LEGAL COSTS do not equal legal fees, according to the new president of the Law Society of New South Wales, John McIntyre.
McIntyre is keen to increase the community’s understanding of how the complexity of the law and court procedures have increased legal costs.
A “vastly over-regulated and over-legislated” culture is adding to the cost of transactions and court cases, he said, while solicitors’ incomes in NSW are not keeping up with increases in average weekly wages.
According to the new president, legislation in Australia is a growth industry and much of it is “poorly thought out”, flowing from “knee-jerk reactions” to daily headlines.
There are a mass of costs apart from lawyers’ fees, said McIntyre, “including fees paid to expert witnesses and court fees which are now at a record high”.
Access to justice should be easier and cheaper, he said, which will have to come at least in part from the simplification of the laws passed by both state and federal parliaments. “If government will commit to the job, the Law Society will continue to make constructive suggestions for effective law reform.”