2012 NSBS Client Billing Changes

On January 1,2012, the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society amended the ruling regarding Client Billings as follows:

Statement of Account

2.06 (3) In a statement of an account delivered to a client, a lawyer must clearly and separately detail the amounts charged as fees and disbursements.Commentary
The two main categories of charges on a statement of account are fees and disbursements. A lawyer may charge as disbursements only those amounts that have been paid or are required to be paid to a third party by the lawyer on a client’s behalf. However, a subcategory entitled “Other Charges” may be included under the fees heading if a lawyer wishes to separately itemize charges such as paralegal, word processing or computer costs that are not disbursements, provided that the client has agreed, in writing, to such costs.Party-and-party costs received by a lawyer are the property of the client and should therefore be accounted for to the client. While an agreement that the lawyer will be entitled to costs is not uncommon, it does not affect the lawyer’s obligation to disclose the costs to the client.

 

The whole idea behind this rule is simply to make it very clear to clients what they are paying for, and ensuring that if a lawyer/firm expects the clients to pay for office expenses (which is perfectly reasonable) that they know up front and can see what they have paid for at the end of the day on their invoice.

Here’s the Bottom-line on the Changes to Client Billings:

Bills to Clients will require 3 distinct sections on your PCLaw Bill template:

Section 1:  Fees:

There is NO change to how you are currently posting your fees or time entries.  Keep this section as is!

Section 2:  Other Charges (NEW)

This new section is to reflect in-house client cost recovery items NOT being paid for by cheque and is to be outlined in your retainer agreement with your client.  Including, but not limited to the following:  photocopies, faxes, binding, or administration fees.  Remember, these are expenses NOT paid to a third party, but are fees for services performed by staff of the law firm.

Section 3:  Disbursements

There is NO change to reflecting items paid by cheque – they will automatically continue to appear in the disbursement section.  This will also include Client Expense Recovery items like courier, filing fees, long-distance charges – any items for which you have a bill from a third party to prove the amount being charged.

For you “do-it-yourselfers” … test an invoice using the ABDetail bill template for an example of this process currently in use by Alberta lawyers.  If you have a fully customized bill template already in place and wish to have help with customized amendments, contact Nancy for assistance.

 

 

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