- The MAI Act introduces the concept of ‘monetary units’ and the annual indexation of costs.
- The MAI Regulations set the maximum costs that can be awarded and recovered.
- In claims involving persons with legal incapacity or in exceptional circumstances, costs beyond the regulated fees may be recovered.
When introducing the Motor Accident Injuries Bill to parliament, Minister Dominello clearly stated an intention to reduce the cost of the scheme to the Greenslip paying public by having a simpler means of claiming benefits, reducing access to common law damages and by further regulating legal fees. As readers will know by now, the Motor Accident Injuries Act 2017 (the ‘Act’) maintains the ability to make a common law claim founded in negligence but also introduces, in pt 3, claims for benefits for loss of income, treatment and care. The regime of costs regulation for both types of claims is found primarily in the Act and the Motor Accident Injuries Regulation 2017 (the ‘Regulation’) with some provisions in the Motor Accident Guidelines (‘Guidelines’).
Most of the provisions in the Regulation do not refer to amounts but rather to monetary units. For example, in sch 2, the fee for junior counsel appearing at court attracts a fee of 25 monetary units, the maximum costs of a medical dispute about whole person impairment or ‘minor injury’ is 16 monetary units, and the cost of a joint medico-legal report with examination allows the doctor to charge 22 monetary units. Schedule 3 of the Regulation provides for the annual adjustment of maximum costs and fees for inflation and each adjustment year commences on 1 October. The amount of a monetary unit is as follows: $100.00 in 2017-2018; $102.06 in 2018-2019; and is $103.76 in 2019-2020.
While the amounts of the increases are not large, the indexation is a welcome addition to the costs system and something legal practitioners have not enjoyed in the previous scheme where the amounts allowed for costs have not increased for over five years.