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  • Appendix 3: Legal services expenditure

    Our total legal expenditure for 2016–17 decreased by $2.1 million (or 2%) when compared to the previous year. This was primarily due to a reduction in the amount of debt recovery litigation. Debt-related legal action for creditors’ petitions and company wind-ups decreased from 4,801 cases in 2015–16 to 2,952 cases in 2016–17.

    TABLE 5.4 Legal services expenditure, 2016–17(a)(b)

     

    $

    Total costs recovered

    24,091,640

     

     

    Total external legal services expenditure(c)

    57,911,411

    Total internal legal services expenditure(d)

    28,553,759

    Total (external and internal) expenditure

    86,465,170

    Summary of external legal services expenditure

     

    • Total value of briefs to counsel
     

    13,976,124

    • Total value of disbursements (excluding counsel)
     

    21,826,666

    • Total value of professional fees paid
     

    22,108,622

    Total external legal services expenditure

    57,911,411

    Counsel(e)

     

    • Number of briefs to male counsel
     

    712

    • Number of briefs to female counsel
     

    312

    Total number of briefs to counsel

    1024

    • Number of direct briefs to male counsel
     

    334

    • Number of direct briefs to female counsel
     

    166

    Total number of direct briefs to counsel

    500

    • Total value of briefs to male counsel (including direct briefs)
     

    10,813,845

    • Total value of briefs to female counsel (including direct briefs)
     

    3,162,278

    Total value of briefs to counsel

    13,976,124

    Notes:
    (a) Includes Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) legal costs for 2016–17. Total external legal services expenditure for TPB was $308,023. Total internal legal services expenditure for TPB was $2,538,429.
    (b) External expenditure in this table excludes GST.
    (c) Excludes costs awarded against the ATO, expenditure on compensation, and legal costs attributable to the ATO’s test case program.
    (d) ATO internal legal officers manage tax litigation (under Part IVC of the Taxation Administration Act 1953), debt litigation, general legal advice and freedom of information. This amount consists of the cost of labour and expenses for those activities. Some ATO employees perform functions that have some characteristics of legal work (for example, preparation of writs, statutory demands and bankruptcy notices) and provide interpretative advice on complex areas of tax and superannuation law. These activities are not undertaken by legal officers and, therefore, not included in this amount.
    (e) ‘Direct’ briefs cover counsel briefed directly by the ATO and who work with our in-house litigators and/or business areas within the ATO. ‘Indirect' briefs are counsel briefed by ATO's external legal providers acting on behalf of the ATO.

      Last modified: 30 Oct 2017QC 53718