Lawyers’ dodgy billing practices – Legal Services Commissioner QLD helpless to stop it


Over the past two years (since aworkcovervictimsdiary’s existence) we have heard many heart-wrenching stories about injured workers who have been, or who believe they have been ripped off by their lawyers dealing with their personal injury cases.

More recently we received the following emails from injured workers:

“I was shocked at the level of incompetence of not only the lawyers but their minions…..  I did not receive a single piece of correspondence without errors, nor a single financial calculation that was error-free.  In a mentally draining and heart-breaking situation it caused me untold stress to feel I was in the hands of idiots ….. and it went on for over 2 years and I lost my case, and had to pay the other party’s costs!”

“I was destroyed by them, do not go anywhere near XXX Lawyers they completely stuffed up my matter and I am in over 100 grand in debt. They have a nice package and are really positive when trying to take you with only pay if you win they forget to tell you the other side where you have to pay the other sides debts. I had a complete moron of a lawyer and at court they completely stuffed up all of the evidence and points of proof. Then just washed their hands of me and left me to my own devices where I lost everything….”

[Note: due to real defamation lawsuit threats we can not possibly name those lawyers/law firms]

Lawyers’ dodgy billing practices – Legal Services Commissioner QLD helpless to stop it

Lawyers are ripping off their clients with dodgy billing methods – and Queensland’s legal sector watchdog lacks the power to stop them.

Legal Services Commissioner John Briton’s annual report, tabled in Parliament yesterday, highlights a range of ways law firms fleece people.

Legal Aid lawyer practised without certificate

Chief among them are charging lawyer rates for work done by legal secretaries, billing in six-minute blocks even for calls that take seconds, and ramping bills when clients ask for them to be itemised.

Mr Briton says he has been hamstrung by successive attorneys-general who have refused to give him the powers needed to crack down on lawyers.

“We are troubled by some of the apparently systemic billing malpractices we have uncovered, which cause us to believe that potentially large numbers of unsuspecting consumers may have been short-changed in ways that could entitle them to refunds,” Mr Briton said.

“These practices are troubling enough in themselves, but all the more troubling because they appear to be relatively widespread.”

The commission received complaints about 413 solicitors and 335 law firms last year.

“We get more complaints about lawyers’ billing practices than any other single issue,” Mr Briton said.

Legal eagles found to have overcharged were expected to be disciplined and forced to waive, reduce or reimburse some or all of the costs.

Mr Briton said the law firms involved “appear to engage in this conduct as standard practice”.

But the commission can only compel lawyers to answer questions if the client has complained.

“This caveat on our powers of investigation can frustrate and even completely stymie any effective investigation,” Mr Briton said.

In an anonymous survey of lawyers, more than half the respondents from 11 medium to large legal firms reported concerns about the billing practices of colleagues.

Chris Merritt talks with Sue Kench, Managing Partner of King & Wood Mallesons, about the future of the legal industry amid turbulent times.

In five firms, 40 per cent of respondents said they had actually witnessed other people padding their bills.

Mr Briton called on Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie to give the commission the same power as interstate counterparts.

Mr Bleijie said last night Mr Briton’s report was being reviewed, but Queensland Law Society president Annette Bradfield hit back at his claims.


Kindly shared by co-author Trinny.


5 Responses to “Lawyers’ dodgy billing practices – Legal Services Commissioner QLD helpless to stop it”

  1. I liked the line. The commission received complaints about 413 solicitors and 335 law firms last year.
    Doesn’t leave too many law firms not mentioned does it?

  2. Badgering Canberra me i dont think so why , we as australians are a lazy lot when it comes to politics we just don’t give a fuck about what the wallies are up to, any where else in the world they would run amok cause they know the lot theyve elected are full of shit, here in our country when we should be eyeing up to pricks we come up with excuses like ive gotta take freddy to dancing classes or its me rdo and im going fishing until the rest wake up that the our pollies here are selling us out to big bizz the better of we will be and if im wrong mmmm i know im not wrong .

  3. sorry to hear about your misfortune after talking to gallbally and co about my case I have decided to let it go I am leaving it uncontested. It’s better that way I feel there is just too much corruption going on within our goverments and legal systems. All injured workers are going to have to start badgering Canberra about the system now it’s the only way to head for justice.

  4. Feel sorry for the person who has been through the hell of dealing with an incompetent law firm. Injured workers need support not more stress!

    Unfortunately I’ve seen a few personal injury lawyers and cannot find one I’m confident with. Some make it obvious that you are just a meal ticket to them. They all don’t like injured workers who are informed or ask questions. I urge everyone to be very aware that “No win, No fee” does not guarantee that you’ll not be out of pocket, and disbursements can add up too. Few law firms include disbursements in the “no win, no fee” conditional agreement. “No fee” just means no fee from them, so disbursements, which can easily be inflated are still a cost to you even if you end up with nothing. I know Shine lawyers include disbursements, but there are not many who do.

    Also, the big expense risk occurs if you do not win any litigation, such as in Common Law claims. No law firm covers the other sides costs if you lose your case. So if the law firm is incompetent, like in the story above, there is more chance of that happening. BE very very cautious about proceeding to a common law claim if you do not know how the law firm/lawyer performs. This is why the suggestion to get separate contracts/fee agreements, posted on this forum, is a good idea. If the law firm are useless handling a minor impairment benefit claim (S 98C) or some other matter, then why be locked into even longer more costly litigation such as common law claims!

  5. Well yet another way that Workcover assist injured workers. The system is so complex that no one can take on this system whilst they are trying to recover from serious injury’s. The Agents just keep denying everything that there is no choice but be dragged through the Legal system or walk away, either way most end up in hugh debt, or selling all assets to pay for medication, surgery and other health services and waiting for the Court systems which can take over half a year or nearly a year from having conciliation. Then to try to trust yet another person to represent you so that you do not end up with as the story teller say’s $ 100,000. legal bill. The Agents have untold amounts of money to fight injured workers. No one goes to work to have massive accidents/injury’s that impact on them, there family’s for the rest of their lives.