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Costing: A guide to claims from Funds in Court

Costing: A guide to claims from Funds in Court

By Antoinette Austin & Roger Walton

When making claims for legal costs the detail required varies depending on the nature and complexity of the work performed. Funds in Court (FIC) is a division of the Supreme Court that assists the Senior Master in administering funds paid into Court as compensation for persons under a legal disability1 – the Court’s “beneficiaries”. The Rules provide that a person under disability must commence a proceeding (or defend one for that matter) by a litigation guardian, and that the litigation guardian must act through a solicitor.2 In addition to being potentially liable for the costs of a proceeding if a claim fails, the litigation guardian is also prima facie liable for the costs of the beneficiary’s solicitor. Costs recovered as between parties usually provide only a partial indemnity for these costs. In Victoria, the usual practice is that law practices recover costs as between parties on behalf of the litigation guardian and apply them in partial reduction of their solicitor/client costs.3 The law practice then applies to FIC for payment of the “gap” – that is those solicitor/client costs that remain unpaid – from the funds paid into Court for the beneficiary. There is no formal process for making a claim and FIC does not specifically prescribe the documentation to be provided. The process adopted by the Court will, by necessity, involve a broad-brush approach with the detail required varying from case to case, depending on the amount being claimed, the nature and complexity of the work performed and the issues involved in the proceeding.

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