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.

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.

  • 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. Read more about what to do before you apply to VCAT.

  • Complete the application form and pay the required fee. When the form asks you to specify the Act that applies, specify the Legal Profession Act 2004. Read more about how to apply to VCAT.

  • 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.

Professional representation

If you want to be represented by a lawyer or some other person 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.

Read more about professional representation at VCAT.

Remember your reference number

VCAT gives you a reference number for your case. Use this number whenever you call or write to us or the other people involved in the case.

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. Learn more about applying for confidentiality.

If you need assistance at VCAT (including interpreters, hearing loop, video or telephone links or family violence support) please contact us as early as possible so we can support you. Learn more about customer support services at VCAT.