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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4288 ..

MR STANHOPE: Yes, perhaps you can.

MR HUMPHRIES (Treasurer, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Community Safety) (3.43 am): I will do that. Mr Speaker, there is no particular magic about this. Apparently maximum legal fees are set in legislation in other jurisdictions. Apparently we have looked at the other scales and $650 is close to the top of the other scales.

Ms Tucker: It is $750 in New South Wales.

MR HUMPHRIES: All right. Okay, we are not as high as New South Wales but we probably have lower overheads than people operating in places like Sydney. There is no particular magic. If you want to make it $750, be my guest, Ms Tucker, but the committee recommended that we set an amount. We have looked at the range of scales and $650 is close to the top. It might not be the top but it is close to the top of the scales around the country, and we are proposing to use it in the ACT.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (3.44 am): I thank you for that, Attorney. I respect the recommendation made that we do need to set some figure for some certainty in order to keep some cap on costs. I also do not want to go out and be the advocate for lawyers, but I do have a concern about how you justify just plucking out of the air the figure of $650. I would have liked to have seen some justification of the basis. What does a standard matter cost here in the ACT in terms of this particular scheme? What work will be required of a lawyer? What charging regime will be applied by lawyers to work of this sort? Will they use the Supreme Court scale of charges?

Mr Humphries: No, they will use this scale.

MR STANHOPE: Well, they will be required to use this. But if lawyers, under the Supreme Court rules, are charging $195 an hour, which I believe they are for this sort of work, and if there is more than three hours work involved in representing a standard matter for criminal injuries compensation, what have we done? These are relevant questions. It concerns me that we have just picked on this figure of $650 on the basis of looking at what is done around the States and it looks like a fair figure. What is involved?

Mr Humphries: Do you want to increase the amount?

MR STANHOPE: Actually, what I wanted you to do was to adjourn this piece of legislation so that these sorts of things could be looked at. What does the Law Society think about this? What is their view?

Mr Humphries: They do not want any limit. They want no limit on how much they spend.

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