Wednesday, 8 September 2010

$400,000 waste because the judge did not deliver reasons

Parties who had spent over $400,000 in legal costs  in a recent Federal Magistrates Court case were forced to go back for more because the Federal Magistrate did not deliver reasons at the end of a trial. That is the conclusion drawn by Justice May of the Family Court, sitting as the Full Court, in the recent Family Court case of Dahler and Thor when her Honour ordered that the matter be retried and that a certificate issue for the mother, father and independent children's lawyer for their legal costs.

The problem came about because there had been a 10 day trial about parenting issues when then Federal Magistrate Wilson announced some preliminary reasons, but would publish written reasons later on. Federal Magistrate Wilson retired from the bench without ever delivering those final reasons. The taxpayer through Legal Aid Queensland spent over $28,000 in legal costs. The mother had provided a mortgage over her home in favour of her lawyers and had incurred over $170,000 in legal costs. The father incurred over $205,000.

The certificates, payable by the Commonwealth Attorney-General, are worth about $4,000 to each of the parties.

The independent children's lawyer submitted:

It is a travesty of circumstances that the parties now face the prospect of a further hearing after having expended huge financial resources and energies in a 10 day trial which does not produce a proper result.

No comments: