Legal costs of handing over your file to your new lawyer

Ms Toumas instructed a solicitor, Mr Maroulis, to sue in a compensation claim. Shortly before the trial Toumas changed lawyers and asked Maroulis to give all of her documents to her new lawyer. Toumas became unhappy that Maroulis had given over all of her documents to her new lawyer. She alleged that documents were being handed over in dribs and drabs and eventually Toumas issued a Summons compelling Maroulis to get all of her documents handed over by a particular date. Maroulis pretty quickly handed everything over, but that left the issue of who should pay the wasted legal costs incurred by Toumas in having to take legal action to get her documents. On the issue of the wasted legal costs the Court held that:

  1. The only obligation that a lawyer has is to hand over the client’s documents. Not every document in a file is necessarily a client document.
  2. The cost agreement only obliged Maroulis to hand over the client documents “within a reasonable time”. No time limit was every agreed.
  3. In deciding whether Toumas was justified in making the application to Court, the Court would have to examine the importance of the documents that were not provided. The Court was not in a position to go through each and every document and assess its importance to the matter.
  4. For those reasons it was not possible to make a determination of the issues by a quick investigation of the evidence, and therefore Toumas’ application failed, and there were no costs ordered.
Personal Injury Lawyers Perth - Injury Lawyers Perth | Lian Hall

The lesson is that when you change lawyers you need to consider your cost agreement and make appropriate arrangements to get your documents over to your new lawyer.
Touma v Maroulis [2021] NSWSC 34 (1 February 2021)

Personal Injury Lawyers Perth - Injury Lawyers Perth | Lian Hall
Personal Injury Lawyers Perth - Injury Lawyers Perth | Lian Hall
Personal Injury Lawyers Perth - Injury Lawyers Perth | Lian Hall