Published 02 Aug 2012
Author: David Cossalter
We represented two siblings in a dispute with the Estate of their late mother. The Estate was in Queensland and there was a significant number of beneficiaries and persons involved in the claim with a complex and volatile family history. The problem in this matter was not only the size of the estate but also the difficulties the family had in coming together as one. In these circumstances we saw our role as not only being Solicitors pushing to get the best result for our clients but also as a pseudo counsellor attempting to bring the families together, a view that was shared by the Estate’s Solicitors.
Early on in the matter offers were made with a view to minimising legal costs however regardless of our efforts, and due to the volatile family relationship, the resolution of the claim was not possible. We were forced to commence proceedings and in doing so we emphasised to the Estate our position on the fact of wasted costs.
Generally it is in the parties best interests to resolve the matter prior Court as you decide the matter for yourself and so, the parties attended mediation at the offices of the Defendant in Brisbane where all parties involved were able to sit and freely discuss the matter under the cloak of confidence. This was an opportunity for all parties to air their grievances and in particular we were able to press the fact that we commenced the proceedings not through our desire to litigate but through the unreasonableness of the Estate in not accepting early resolution.
After lengthy discussions the matter was resolved with the Estate paying a significant portion of our costs and both our client’s walking away happy. We were able to have the Estate agree to pay a greater portion of our costs than they would have ordinarily been responsible to pay given their rejection of our early offer.
By the conclusion of this matter, while family relationships were not mended, dialogue between the parties had started and hope in future family relationships renewed.
While we did promote the early resolution of the matter, this is done with a view to save on legal fees and to reduce the stress associated with a fully litigated matter.
We do strenuously fight for our client’s rights and where an offer is made at early stages we are able to use the Defendants rejection of an offer against them at a later stage.