James Ashby, a former political staffer to former speaker Peter Slipper, commenced legal action in 2012 against Mr Slipper by alleging he was sexually harassed and that the politician misused parliamentary entitlements. The original case against Mr Slipper was eventually withdrawn but Mr Ashby sought an ‘act of grace’ payment in 2018 from the Commonwealth to cover his legal expenses amounting to $4,537,000, incurred from the withdrawn case. The request was refused by the delegate of the Finance Minister as it was decided there were no special circumstances in Ashby’s case to warrant the payment.
The Australian court system is designed to protect itself against vexatious litigants – very different to the American system where anyone can litigate freely – meaning that litigants who wish to bring proceedings in a Commonwealth court will carry the burden of the risk of legal costs. Generally, if you lose your case in a Commonwealth court, you will not only have to pay your own lawyers’ fees but the other side’s legal fees also. This is designed to maintain the integrity of Australian courts, to save resources, to save time of esteemed justices and more.
Mr. Ashby commenced court proceedings by choice, when there were more economical and lower risk options available to him, such as entering into settlement discussions or a lower jurisdiction. ie the Fair Work Commission, NCAT, Administrative Tribunal amongst others Thus, Mr. Ashby took on the risk in relation to costs, which resulted in a fee of $4.5m. Did Mr. Ashby expect to incur so much in fees? We do not know, but $4.5m is definitely not an amount that any average Australian can afford. You believe you have been unfairly dismissed, unlawfully terminated by your employer and you are now without a job – excessive and unexpected legal fees is the last thing you want to worry about.
However, the alternative to court proceedings, which may seem daunting to the lay person who cannot afford millions in legal fees, is getting representation from us – A Whole New Approach. (note we are not lawyers) We offer two payment options to all our clients, the ‘No Win No Fee’ option or a fixed fee option. With the help of our clear and certain payment options, you will be able to fight your case confidently and without the fear of not knowing how much legal / representation fees you will rack up by the end. We know that you may feel insignificant and at a significant disadvantage against your employer, who you think has more money than you to cover legal costs, but with our support and work, you will be well and fairly represented – at a respectable cost!
Whether you use our services or anybody else you need to know, the best you can, what your in for, get a fixed fee or success percentage. You need to know that you are going to get something thing out of your claim, or achieve your goal, whatever that may be.
Our ‘No Win No Fee’ option includes an administration fee that will cover the filing fees and any other relevant disbursements and then if and only when we are successful in obtaining a settlement on your behalf, we will be paid a lesser proportion of the settlement than yourself. This payment structure is to ensure that our interests align and so we are fighting for the same goal in the end – to get the best settlement for you as we also have ‘skin in the game’. The other option is the fixed fee option – unlike Mr Ashby who was required to pay $4.5m in fees, you will know exactly how much you have paid to us for the work and know that you will not need to pay a cent more. Upon initial consultation, we will quote you a fixed fee if you wish to weigh the benefits of both options.
Call us at A Whole New Approach P/L on 1800 333 666 for a free consultation and also a quote on which fee option will be the most appropriate for your circumstances. All terminations, unfair dismissals, general protections, abandonment of employment issues, in fact anything with the workplace , we will help you, we are not lawyers but the nations go to people for workplace advise.
Authored by Gary Pinchen