Apply to set aside a cost agreement

We can only hear applications to set aside cost agreements where the client gave instructions to their lawyer before 1 July 2015. These are cases where the Legal Profession Act 2004 applies.

Applications to set aside costs agreements cannot be made where the Legal Profession Uniform Law (Victoria) applies.

We can only order a costs agreement to be set aside if it is not fair or reasonable under section 3.4.32 of the Act.

Order to pay legal costs

If a costs agreement is set aside, we may order that legal costs be calculated and paid to the lawyer. We would normally require that costs are calculated in line with Victorian or Commonwealth legislation.

Costs of the VCAT hearing

  • If the costs agreement is set aside, VCAT may order that the lawyer pays the client’s costs of the hearing.
  • If the costs agreement is not set aside, VCAT may order that the client pay the lawyer’s costs of the hearing.

Before you apply

Try to resolve the dispute directly with your lawyer. If that fails, you can seek the assistance of the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner to try to resolve the dispute. If the Legal Services Commissioner has not been able to resolve your case, you may apply to VCAT.

If you are applying to review a decision by the Legal Services Board you must attach a copy of the Board's decision to your application. When the form asks you to specify the Act that applies, specify the Legal Profession Act 2004.

Need help with your application?

VCAT cannot give you legal advice. Seek legal help if you are unsure about your legal options. The following services may be able to help you:

Do I need a lawyer or professional representative?

If you want to be represented by a lawyer or have some other professional representation at the final hearing tell the member at the directions hearing.

The VCAT member who conducts the final hearing grants or refuses permission for you to be represented.

Find free or low-cost legal services that may be able to assist you.

Access and privacy

VCAT hearings and files are usually public.

VCAT has limited authority to restrict who can access cases and files but, in certain circumstances, you can apply for confidentiality. For more about applying for confidentiality.

Legislation that applies to this type of case

Cases VCAT can hear

We can hear applications to set aside cost agreements where the client gave instructions to their lawyer before 1 July 2015. These are cases where the Legal Profession Act 2004 applies.

Cases VCAT cannot hear

We cannot hear applications to set aside costs agreements if the client first gave instructions to the lawyer on or after 1 July 2015. This is because the Legal Profession Uniform Law (Victoria) does not provide for such an application.

  • When VCAT receives your application we assign a reference number and send a copy of the application to the respondent. The respondent receives a covering letter and a complete copy of the application. We also send you a notice that tells you what happens next. For example you may be required to attend a directions hearing, a compulsory conference or mediation. Read more about what happens when VCAT opens a case.

  • At VCAT we use compulsory conferences and mediation to allow the parties to work together towards a settlement. If you have been told to attend a compulsory conference or mediation, you need to prepare an opening statement. Use the opening statement to clearly state your case and what you hope to achieve. It can be a helpful starting point for discussion between the parties. You also need to think about the strengths and weaknesses of your case and the other party's case. See more about how to resolve a case by agreement.

  • A VCAT member decides the case based on witness statements, the evidence witnesses give at the hearing and the documents presented. The member also takes into account any submissions the parties make. As soon as you receive the notice of hearing from us, start preparing for the hearing. Read more about how to prepare for your final hearing.

  • Arrive at VCAT with plenty of time so that you are not late for your hearing. When your case is called, move into the hearing room. Parties have the opportunity to make statements in support of their case. Each party has a brief right of reply. Read more about what to expect on hearing day.

  • The VCAT member may give their decision at the end of the hearing. If they need more time they normally give a decision within six weeks of the last hearing date. The VCAT member may give reasons for the decision verbally or in writing. If you want the reasons in writing, make the request within 14 days of the hearing date. Read more about what to expect after the final hearing.