From a $100K damages award, lawyers deducted $68K for their costs under a special agreement overriding the statutory cap of $10K. The plaintiff complained that this eventuality had not been disclosed to her, as required5. The appeal court agreed and duly reduced the costs to the lawyers.
Basten JA said (at ), where a constructional choice is to be made6, the ‘reading which promotes purpose must be preferred to one that does not, or does so to a lesser extent’7. The identified purpose of the provisions here confirmed the obligation to properly disclose possible financial consequences of the costs agreement. Ticking a box was not enough.
This principle is from Episode 84 of interpretation NOW!
5 s 338 of the Legal Profession Act 2004 (NSW).
7 s 33 of the Interpretation Act 1987 (NSW).