What do Linda Evangelista and Dale Boucher have in common?
Slightly more than you think. They are both recognized authorities within their fields on costs disclosure.
The supermodel famously said, “I don’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day”.
Less famously, the Commissioner for Uniform Legal Services Regulation and CEO of the Legal Services Council in March this year signed into operation (see s 407 of the Uniform Law) his pronouncements on the need for single figure costs estimates under the Uniform Law. (See the Legal Services Council’s Guideline and Direction – Costs Estimate – LSC 01/2016 and its almost identical CULSR twin, Guideline and Direction – Costs Estimate – CULSR 01/2016.)
Ms Evangelista was succinct and presumably did not need to elaborate.
Mr Boucher was less concise. And, as if the Uniform Law jigsaw needed still more pieces, he accompanied his pronouncements with three “worked examples” of how lawyers are required to provide “single figure” estimates to their clients for the purposes of the Uniform Law.
Look at the examples closely. Identifying a “single figure estimate” in any of them is like identifying a snowflake in a blizzard. Easy. And meaningless.
Nevertheless it seems that Mr Boucher considers single figure estimates are compulsory, even if they are as a consequence contrived, almost certain to be superseded, or premised upon tenuous guesses about the likely course of litigation.
Note particularly paragraph 8 of both Guidelines and Directions. Estimates may be provided as a “range of figures PROVIDED [original emphasis] that the law practice … always gives the single figure estimate of the total legal costs in the matter that section 174(1)(a) requires” [my underlining].
My copy of the Uniform Law contains the following version of s 174(1)(a):
A law practice—
(a) must, when or as soon as practicable after instructions are initially given in a matter, provide the client with information disclosing the basis on which legal costs will be calculated in the matter and an estimate of the total legal costs…
I will give a prize to the first reader who can find in s174(1)(a) the requirement for a “single figure estimate” to which Mr Boucher is referring in his Guidelines and Directions. And not just any prize. It will be a colour, A4-sized photo portrait of either Ms Evangelista or Mr Boucher – your choice.
I have blogged about this silliness before but I was reminded of it at a seminar yesterday on the Uniform Law. Three speakers. Engaged audience. Useful discussion. But beyond the single slide of Linda Evangelista on display, not much clarity.