Retainment of Legal Secretary Benefits: As a self litigant the retainment of a professional legal secretary is can be of immeasurable assistance with legal formatting and how to take down your details and comprise them in the development of your required court forms. They are a valuable source of legal assistance and can provide you with useful information eg., of what is expected of you in your presentation of legal documents and they usually have the knowledge of what works in your favour. If you plan ahead of getting detailed work prepared the greater you are prepared and the more your opponent will have to work to offset your legal claims. You are responsible for the content of those documents so prepare, review and ensure correctness in your final documents. A suggestion is if you are not confident with your presentation of your documents it is to prepare a short memo that you can relate to when you are faced with directions or any court appointed meeting between the parties. Preparation of a case Summation Outline: 1. Introduction: What the claim is all about Supporting documentation 2. Evidence: Any contacts or correspondence relating to the matter 3. Submissions: Legal documentation that supports your claim 4. Summary: Noted evidence that relates to your claim Final Hearing Preparation: • Create an outline based on your claims. Itemise the documents you wish to refer to by post it notes • Any documents you are going to tender for submission, case law etc., have copies for the court and the opposing side. • Ensure your chronology is correct and if you are going to tender this to the court make copies. • Check the documentation you have filed is correct and underline passages that are important. • Confirm that your supporting witness has details of the time, date and the place of where they are to attend. • If there is a serious reason for delay notify the court and the other parties as soon as possible. Request and adjournment in writing stating the reasons and if possible get consent from the opposing side. 2 • Settlement negotiations can continue up to the hearing date. Legal Profession Act 2004: The practice of a solicitor is governed by the Legal Profession Act 2004. It controls how a solicitor may conduct his practice. It requires, in most instances, a solicitor should have written details of costs and make certain disclosures to the client before doing any legal work for them. It is difficult with any position to estimate the costs of an action in advance. There are a myriad of variables and known factors which can arise. The Legal Profession Act 2004 provides that a solicitor cannot take action to recover his unpaid legal costs until one month after a bill of costs has been given to the person charged. In most circumstances the Act gives the person a right to have a bill of costs assessed if its fairness and reasonableness by an assessor appointed by the Supreme Court. Professional Fees: These are fees charged by the solicitor for his time and skill. It includes the time it takes a solicitor to attend to a telephone call, photocopy a document, write a letter, prepare documentation, travel to court and wait at the court, etc., etc. Disbursement: It means any amount of money incurred paid or payable by the solicitor on behalf of the client which is a necessary requirement with the conduct of legal action but which is not part of the professional legal fees. Disbursements include such things as the fee charged by the court to file a document and the fee charged by a process server to serve a document upon a debtor. There are other common disbursements which include the cost of conducting a company or business name search and the fees charged by the private enquiry agents to locate missing persons. It also includes the cost of hiring a barrister to argue the case in court and the cost of hiring an internal solicitor or agent to appeal when a conflict of schedule appears. It can also include the cost of obtaining expert's reports and witness expenses. Some solicitors charge clients for taxis, parking fees and miscellaneous expenses. The concept is to limit these transactions and to endeavour to undertake ad hoc tasks by your good self whenever possible. The Story of a Creditor: 1. When an and if a liability occurs you should make direct contact with the debtor reminding him that the debt is overdue and enquire if there is some problem about payment. It could have been overlooked or they are experiencing some financial difficulty. If the debtor has difficulty in paying then an attempt at negotiating a regular payment scheme. This will establish an act of faith between the parties. If there is any other reason attempt to resolve the difference. 2. If a debtor is commencing a pattern of avoidance, send the debtor a letter or document *stating that unless payment is received appropriate action will be instigated, the document should state a time and a date with the notation that if payment is not made by that date legal action will commence. 3. As previously mentioned about 10% of legal actions are challenged by the debtor. About 50% of them end up in court. If the claim is a strong case the majority are settled prior to a court hearing. 3 4. If you have a recorded judgment there are only two methods of enforcing the debt, the seizure and selling of the debtor's assets or the seizure and appropriation of the debtor's money held by a financial institution. 5. The seizure and sale of assets is through the New South Wales Sheriff's Office, using a Writ for Levy of Property *issued by the court and the attendance of the Sheriff's Officer at the debtor's residence usually causes them to pay in full or make arrangements through the court to pay by instalments. The debtor will have seven days to make restitution, however, the process make take up to eight weeks before resolution. 6. The seizure of a debtor's moneys either from the bank account or the employer is done by issuing a Garnishee Order * Garnishee Orders can also be directed to a person who has a financial liability to the debtor if you have knowledge of the financial institution holding the debtor's funds. If there is no knowledge or details of the debtor's funds an Examination Order can be obtained which may reveal more pertinent details regarding the debtor's funds. There is the added pressure of the issuing process of the bankruptcy form * the threat of bankruptcy is often a useful tool to persuade the debtor into paying. 7. In some cases the debtor will go underground and cannot be found. Privacy laws actually protect the debtor and in this instance if you are not resourceful you should consider obtaining the services of an investigator. He would probably require fees amounting to $2,000.00. 8. Time statutes means that most debts expire after six years if a legal action is not commenced. If the debtor made an original transaction in 2000 but made a payment in 2003 then the six year runs from that date. Once a claim is developed you have six months to serve documentation. 9. The claim has to originate in New South Wales to be able to file an action in the NSW Courts, so any origination of the claim by any transaction of a commercial nature would allow the matter to proceed under NSW laws. * denotes that sample copies are available as a guide within the sample document ledger.
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