3 Counsel, No Limits on Costs and hourly rates

I will keep this post brief due to it being a Friday and almost 5pm in WA.

ELECTRICITY GENERATION CORPORATION t/as VERVE ENERGY -v- WOODSIDE ENERGY LTD [2011] WASC 268 (S2) was handed down today.

The unsuccessful plaintiff had previously been ordered to pay the Defendants costs. They then brought an application to remove the limits set by the Legal Practitioners (Supreme Court) (Contentious Business) Determination, which is the applicable scale of party and party costs. This application is the subject of this decision.

The Defendants were successful on all three fronts. Broadly speaking they were successful because of the unusual difficulty, complexity and importance of the matter. The alleged quantum of the plaintiffs claim was $40million. There was significant stakes for all parties involved.

The Defendants  were successful in removing the limits imposed by the scale.They also applied for and got an order removing the maximum hourly rate that can be charged on a party and party basis. The maximum hourly rate for a Senior Practitioner in WA is $429 under the current scale. This is probably some $200 or $300 short of that actually being charged by the practitioners involved. Finally, they engaged three counsel for the trial. This was said to be due to the large volume of material involved. Justice LeMiere was satisfied that it was prudent to have engaged three counsel and therefore allowed them to recover the costs of three counsel (over and above the usual two counsel).

Whether this matter will go on appeal we can only wait and see.

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