Be open with your client about costs.
Older clients’ fear of cost can be a barrier to gaining legal advice, so you may need to practise greater sensitivity in keeping your client informed and spend extra time explaining things. You may have an obligation under equal opportunity law to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ that the client should not pay for – such as taking more time – because of the client’s age-related issues.
You could consider allowing staggered payments to alleviate client concerns about costs. (Not all work needs to be done at one time – stagger the implementation of the advice.)
You have obligations under the Civil Procedure Act 2010 (Vic.) which include:
- ensuring that costs are reasonable and proportionate (s. 24);
- minimising delay (s. 25); and
- using ‘reasonable endeavours’ to resolve a dispute (s. 22).
You also have obligations linked to the overarching purpose of this Act to facilitate a ‘just, efficient, timely and cost-effective resolution of the issues in dispute’ … (which may be) ‘achieved by an agreement between parties or any appropriate dispute resolution process’ (s. 7(1)).
The cost effectiveness of actions to resolve your client’s issues has to be carefully considered. Convenience, the potential cost of legal action and the client’s desire to preserve family relationships are factors to take into account.
For more information on managing costs and practice issues, see
Lawyers Practice Manual, Ch A, para [A.115] on communicating costs and Ch D paras [D.301]–[D.303] on costs