[box border=”full”]The Legal Services Commission has released a new information guide designed to help consumers avoid surprises in their legal bills during Law Week (13-19 May).[/box]

Legal Services Commissioner John Briton said the guide produced outlines 10 questions consumers should ask their lawyers to help reduce the chance of receiving a bill higher than they expected.

“The Legal Services Commission receives more complaints about legal costs than any other single issue,” Mr Briton said.

“Consumers have a right to expect their lawyers to be clear about how much they are likely to be charged, and for their final bill to be clearly explained and within the cost range they expected.

“We can help reduce the risk that consumers will get a nasty surprise when they receive their bill and help reduce complaints.”

Mr Briton said the information guide would be useful for anyone who was thinking about using the services of a lawyer, or who already was.

“The best advice is to ask questions so that you can get a clear explanation if you don’t understand something,” he said.

“Ensure you understand what will happen and how much that might cost. It isn’t always possible for lawyers to give a definite cost but they should be able to provide an idea of the price range.

“Lawyers have a duty to provide you with a costs agreement when you appoint them, if the costs are anticipated to exceed $1500. This letter should clearly explain the costs and any terms and conditions which may affect the final price.

“Choose a lawyer who is right for you, who will answer any queries you might have in relation to their costs and warn you if things get complicated so you don’t get any surprises.”

The guide is available on the Legal Services Commission website at www.lsc.qld.gov.au.