Charging for litigation matters can be challenging – mainly because of the unknowns at the commencement of the matter, and also because litigation and its cost/benefit can be highly emotive.
One approach regaining popularity is to issue your litigation bills on a solicitor and own client costs basis – that is, bills based on an independent assessment of your matters by a costs assessor.
It means that in your original conversation with the client when you provide estimates for various stages, you can put them at ease a little. No – you can’t give any guarantees regarding escalation and the consequences. But what you can do is to give them reassurance that whichever way it goes, an independent party will review and certify your costs as the foundation for any bills.
You will be charged a fee, but you may find that this is more than offset by the reduction in aggravation and pressure to discount.
So consider having a small sample of your completed files assessed on a trial basis and (a) see how the assessment compares with what you actually charged on an itemised time basis and (b) think about how much easier the conversation might be when a little less potential aggravation is on the table.
Published: Queensland Law Society – Proctor, August 2013 (p.47)