Frequently Asked Questions

Here is a selection of the most common questions people ask before engaging a lawyer.

Q. How much will it cost?

Under the law, lawyers must disclose their fees to you and give an estimate of the likely costs. The fee that a client pays their solicitor is a matter for negotiation. Standard fees don't apply, save and except probate, where scale fees apply, but which are at a level well below the total charges imposed by professional trustee companies.

Q. What are the chances that I will win/lose the case?

A lawyer should always provide a prospective client with an honest assessment of winning or losing a case based on the instructions and evidence to hand.

Q. Who pays if I lose?

If you lose a case, you pay not only your own lawyers costs, but also that of the opponent. The general rule is that costs follow the event. In certain cases involving an appeal from a lower court decision, costs may be recoverable from the Suitors Fund which is administered by the NSW Attorney-General.

Q. How long will it take to reach a settlement?

This of course depends on the individual client and how much they are prepared to compromise their case. Lawyers will try and help you make a decision about these issues, based on the available evidence and the strength of the opposing case.

Q. Do I have any other choice than to go to court?

Litigation is costly and time consuming and, more often than not, there are no winners. Apart from the costs (you are still out of pocket even if you win) the amount of time and energy expended on litigation cannot be over estimated.

The commercial world has been seeking alternative forms of resolving disputes, resulting in what has been become known as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), which is often a less formal, quicker and cheaper solution than pursuing a case through the courts.

The main types of ADR are: arbitration, mediation, and expert determination. At Williams Woolf and Zuur we may suggest this course of action if we believe it is a better option for you. For more information on Alternative Dispute Resolution see the Resources section of our website.

Q. Can I do my own property conveyancing?

It is possible for a non-qualified person to carry out conveyancing, but given that it is a transaction most people are likely to undertake only a few times in their lifetime, a person may end up spending far more time than it is worth trying to understand and work through the process. The information on conveyancing procedure is no secret, but it is often easier to get an expert to navigate you through the process with a minimum of stress.

You never, but never, go to litigation if there is another way out. Litigation only makes lawyers fat. Wilbur Smith, Hungry as the Sea, 1979