Invoicing for LINZ registration fees/disbursements

Some law firms have been charging LINZ disbursements/registration fees at a higher than cost rate, which they justify as being a recovery of their Landonline licence fees or overheads.

On the invoice, firms should account for the actual disbursements incurred, that is the registration fees paid.

Lawyers owe a fiduciary obligation to their clients, and it is misleading to describe a fee to recover overheads as a disbursement when it includes an undisclosed fee component in addition to the disbursement. There is also a duty under rule 3.4 of the Conduct and Client Care Rules to provide a client with information in writing on the basis on which fees will be charged.

This article was published in LawTalk 763, 29 November 2010, page 13.