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Lawyers acting as administrators of the estates of represented persons: proposal by VCAT to amend the Practitioner Remuneration Order

Lawyers acting as administrators of the estates of represented persons: proposal by VCAT to amend the Practitioner Remuneration Order

By LIV

Succession 

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VCAT is proposing to introduce a commission-based charging system for legal practitioners appointed as administrators in the estates of represented persons. The LIV is eager to hear members’ views to inform our response to this proposal.

Background

In September 2016, VCAT wrote a letter to the LIV expressing its concerns that it is not uncommon for the costs and charges claimed by legal practitioners acting in the estates of represented persons to be very substantial, and often, disproportionate to the work undertaken. VCAT’s proposed solution was to amend its standard appointment order and the Practitioner Remuneration Order (PRO) to reduce the amount ordinarily chargeable by legal practitioners acting as administrators of the estates of represented persons.

The LIV recognises that many of our members act as administrators in the estates of represented persons. In April 2017, we began a robust consultation process, establishing a working group comprised of a broad cross-section of our members, including members of our Disability Law, Elder Law, Succession Law, and Costs Law Committees, accredited specialists, and members with extensive experience in administration matters and costs consultancy.

In a letter to VCAT by way of reply, the LIV emphasised that any proposed reduction to fees chargeable by legal practitioner administrators may have unintended consequences adverse to the interests of both represented persons and legal practitioners. The LIV offered an alternative solution – namely, that VCAT establish a dedicated panel of practitioners willing to be appointed as administrators in the estates of represented persons at a reduced rate of what the practitioner may otherwise be entitled to charge under the PRO.

In September 2017, the LIV received a letter in response from VCAT outlining its intention to amend the Tribunal’s standard appointment order to standardise amounts chargeable by legal practitioners acting as administrators in the estates of represented persons. It is proposed by VCAT that from January 2018, legal practitioners acting in the estates of represented persons will only be entitled to charge a commission-based remuneration fee – Schedule Draft Order 1  – for any administrative work undertaken on behalf of the represented person.

In November 2017, the LIV re-convened a working group comprised of interested members to develop an alternative solution to address the issue of over-charging by administrators of the estates of represented persons. The LIV then met with VCAT in December and reached agreement that the proposed changes to the Tribunal’s standard practice orders would be stayed while we continue to work towards an appropriate solution.  

To achieve this end, the working group will re-convene in February 2018 (exact time and date TBC). In the meantime, the LIV invites members to express their views on this consultation to Rebecca Park, Lawyer to the Elder and Succession Law Sections at successionlawsection@liv.asn.au or on (03) 9607 9311.


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