Australia: Pro Bono Standard Conditions

Last Updated: 5 June 2012
Article by Tony Holland


Your instructions to us are summarised in the client agreement letter.

To allow us to provide you with the best legal services possible, you must give us all the information you have that is relevant to your matter. This information should be in writing if possible. Please don't assume we already have all the relevant information.

If you remember, or become aware of, any other information relevant to your matter, you must let us know immediately.

We may need to ask you for more instructions. Therefore, if you go away from your residence or business you must tell us how to contact you while you are away.


The client agreement letter sets out the particular work we will do for you. We will try to keep you updated on the progress of the work we do.

We will carry out our work with professional skill and diligence.

Our only duty of care is to you. If any other person wants to rely on our work, they do so at their own risk, unless we agree in writing that they may also rely on it.

If any advice we give you is based on assumptions or qualifications, we will tell you what they are. However, we will not be responsible if new information comes to hand later showing that a stated assumption was incorrect or a stated qualification was inapplicable.

  • You fail to pay an amount in line with the client agreement.
  • You lose legal capacity.
  • You object to an alteration to the client agreement and we reject that objection.

If possible, we will give you reasonable notice that we intend to end the client agreement with you.

If either of us ends the client agreement, you must pay any outstanding disbursements that are incurred up to the time the client agreement is ended.


You may end the client agreement and withdraw your instructions at any time and for any reason.

We may end the client agreement and stop acting for you if we discover that we have a conflict, or if we have another good reason, or if you do one or more of the following:

  • You do not follow our reasonable advice.
  • You breach our agreement.
  • You require us to act unlawfully or unethically.
  • You fail to give us instructions.
  • In our view, you lose confidence in us.
  • You fail to pay an amount in line with the client agreement.
  • You lose legal capacity.
  • You object to an alteration to the client agreement and we reject that objection.

If possible, we will give you reasonable notice that we intend to end the client agreement with you.

If either of us ends the client agreement, you must pay any outstanding disbursements that are incurred up to the time the client agreement is ended.


You consent to us collecting, using and disclosing your personal information to provide legal services to you. We may need to disclose this personal information to other individuals or organisations including other parties, other lawyers, experts and witnesses, courts and tribunals and other organisations that need to be involved in your matter. If you do not provide the personal information we need from you, we may not be able to provide these legal services to you.

Where you provide us with personal information you have collected from other individuals, you confirm that:

The information has been collected in line with the applicable privacy laws.

We are authorised to receive that information from you and use it to provide legal services to you.

Unless exempted under the applicable privacy laws from doing so, you have taken reasonable steps to ensure that the individuals are aware, or would have expected, that their personal information could be provided by you to your legal advisers.

When acting for you, we may disclose personal information about other individuals to you. You agree to use, disclose, handle, store and transfer that information only in accordance with the applicable privacy laws.

Visit www.[insert].com to obtain a copy of our Privacy Policy. If you need a copy sent to you, please contact us.


We will keep information about your matter confidential unless one or more of the following apply:

You agree to us disclosing it.

We are legally compelled to disclose it.

We are required to disclose it to auditors or our professional advisors.

If you are an individual, you consent to us publishing the fact that we have acted in your matter, without disclosing your identity. For example, we may disclose in a tender document, brochure or other publication that we have acted on a pro bono basis for an individual in relation to a victims' compensation claim arising from an armed robbery.



Where we are permitted by law, our liability for any work performed for you, whether it arises in tort (including negligence), contract or otherwise, is limited to a maximum of [insert amount] for the work.

We will not be liable for any incidental, special, punitive, or consequential damages of any kind relating to any work performed for you. In any event, we will not be liable for any loss to the extent that it is caused or contributed to by your conduct, or the conduct of your officers, employees or agents.

Electronic communication

We have various electronic means of communicating. These may involve some special risks – for example, the risks of interception, transmission of computer viruses and unauthorised amendment.

You accept those risks and you release us from any liability, loss (including consequential and economic loss), damage or expense caused by those risks.


When work on your matter ends, we usually provide you with any original signed documents we have relating to your matter, unless you contact us to make other arrangements.

For other documents, if the law permits us to do so, we may make an electronic file of the documents relating to your matter and destroy the hardcopies. We will archive the electronic or hardcopy file for seven years after the date of the last recorded correspondence. We may then destroy the file, unless you have given us specific instructions to the contrary.


We keep copyright in all documents prepared by us while working on your matter. If literary and other works are made by us for or under the direction or control of the Commonwealth or a state, all copyright vests in us, despite sections 176 and 177 of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth).


All aspects of our work and the client agreement with you are governed by the laws of the state or territory of the office shown on the letterhead of the client agreement letter. You submit to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of that place.

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