IFRS 15, policies, legal services, personal injury claims and other, judgements and estimates, disaggregated information.

Slater and Gordon Limited – Annual report – 30 June 2018

Industry: support services

1.3. Significant Accounting Judgements, Estimates and Assumptions

In preparing these consolidated financial statements, management has made judgements, estimates and assumptions that affect the application of the Group’s accounting policies and the reported amounts of assets, liabilities, income and expenses. Actual results may differ from these estimates. Estimates and underlying assumptions are reviewed on an ongoing basis. Revisions to estimates are recognised prospectively.

The significant judgements made by management in applying the Group’s accounting policies and the key sources of estimation uncertainty are outlined in detail within the specific note to which they relate.

3.1. Revenue from Contracts with Customers

3.1.1. Accounting Policies

Provision of Legal Services – Personal Injury Law Claims

The Group early adopted AASB 15 Revenue from Contracts with Customers during the year ended 30 June 2016. The personal injury law practice operates on the basis of No Win – No Fee conditional fee arrangements, whereby fees are earned only in the event of a successful outcome of a customer’s claim. In some cases, fees may be fixed, depending on the stage at which a matter concludes. For some arrangements (primarily in the UK), fees are fixed as a specified percentage of damages awarded under a claim.

In personal injury matters, contracts with clients generally comprise a single distinct performance obligation, being the provision of services in pursuit of the successful settlement of a customer’s claim, and the transaction price is allocated to this single performance obligation. Some contracts contain multiple deliverables – such as legal services in respect of a statutory claim and a common law claim, or initial pre-issue work and litigation work. In such circumstances, these multiple deliverables are considered to represent a single distinct performance obligation, given there is a significant service of integration performed by the Group in delivering these services. Management considers the methods used provide a faithful depiction of the transfer of goods or services.

The uncertainty around the fees receivable under a contract is generally only resolved when a matter is concluded. In recognising revenue in the personal injury practice, where the Group has sufficient historical experience in similar contracts in order to be able to estimate the expected outcome of a group of existing contracts reliably, revenue from the fees from contracts is estimated using the expected value method base. The estimated amount of variable consideration is based on the expected fee for the nature of the legal service with reference to historical fee levels and relative rates of successful and unsuccessful outcomes. To determine the probability of success of a case, a level of judgement is required to be applied based on past experience and historical performance of similar matters.

Expected fees are only included in revenue to the extent that it is highly probable that the cumulative amount of revenue recognised in respect of a contract at the end of a reporting period will not be subject to significant reversal when a matter is concluded.

Where historical averages are not predictive of the probability of outcomes for a given contract, or where the Group has limited historical experience with similar contracts, the expected amount of variable consideration is estimated using a most likely amount approach on a contract by contract basis.

In such circumstances, a level of judgement is required to determine the likelihood of success of a given matter, as well as the estimated amount of fees that will be recovered in respect of the matter.

Revenue is recognised when control of a service is transferred to the customer. The Group recognises revenue in respect of personal injury matters “over time” (as opposed to at a “point in time”). A stage of completion approach is used to measure progress towards completion of the performance obligation. The stage of completion is determined using a milestones based approach using prescribed status codes for client matters as the relevant milestones. The percentage completion is determined either by calculating the average fee received for matters that resolve at a particular status code as a percentage of the average fee received for matters that resolve at that status and any later status, or by use of defined completion allocations based on historical performance.

Estimates of revenues (including interim billing), costs or extent of progress toward completion are revised if circumstances change. Any resulting increases or decreases in estimated revenues or costs are reflected in profit or loss in the period in which the circumstances that give rise to the revision become known by management.

The Group has determined that no significant financing component exists in respect of the personal injury revenue streams. This is because in personal injury matters, a substantial amount of the consideration promised by the customer is variable subject to the occurrence or non-occurrence of a future event that is not substantially within the control of the customer or the Group.

A receivable in relation to these services is recognised on settlement of the client matter and when a bill has been invoiced, as this is the point in time that the consideration is unconditional because only the passage of time is required before the payment is due.

The Company arranges for the disbursement activities on behalf of the client; however it does not control the output from those activities. The Company cannot influence the content of the medical reports or court filings, therefore no profit margin is recognised on the activities and the clients are charged the direct cost incurred by the Company. As such, the Company acts as an agent for disbursements, which are only recognised when it is assessed that a reimbursement will be received from the client or on his or her behalf. The disbursements are treated as a separate asset. The amount recognised for the expected reimbursement does not exceed the relevant costs incurred.

The amount of any expected reimbursement is reduced by an allowance for non-recovery based on past experience.

When new businesses are acquired, there is a transition period during which time the Group’s practices and procedures are embedded into the operations of the new business. Therefore the valuation of work in progress acquired in a business combination may be adjusted during the period of provisional accounting for the acquisition.

Provision of Legal Services – Litigation and Emerging Services

The Group also earns revenue from provision of general legal services, incorporating project litigation. Revenue for general legal services is recognised over time in the accounting period when services are rendered.

Fee arrangements from general legal services include fixed fee arrangements, unconditional fee for service arrangements (“time and materials”), and variable or contingent fee arrangements (including No Win – No Fee arrangements for services including project litigation, and some consumer and commercial litigation).

For fixed fee arrangements, revenue is recognised based on the stage of completion with reference to the actual services provided as a proportion of the total services expected to be provided under the contract. The stage of completion is tracked on a contract by contract basis using a milestone based approach, which was explained above.

In fee for service contracts, revenue is recognised up to the amount of fees that the Group is entitled to invoice for services performed to date based on contracted rates.

The Group estimates fees for variable or conditional service fee arrangements using a most likely amount approach on a contract by contract basis. Management makes a detailed assessment of the amount of revenue expected to be received and the probability of success of each case. Variable consideration is included in revenue only to the extent that it is highly probable that the amount will not be subject to significant reversal when the uncertainty is resolved (generally when a matter is concluded).

Certain project litigation matters are undertaken on a partially funded basis. The Group has arrangements with third party funders to provide a portion of the fees receivable on a matter over time as services are performed. In such arrangements, the funded portion of fees is billed regularly over time and is not contingent on the successful outcome of the litigation. The remaining portion of fees is variable consideration which is conditional on the successful resolution of the litigation. The variable consideration is included in revenue as services are performed only to the extent that it is highly probable that the amount will not be subject to significant reversal when the uncertainty is resolved.

As in the case of personal injury claims, estimates of revenues, costs or extent of progress toward completion are revised if circumstances change. Any resulting increases or decreases in estimated revenues or costs are reflected in profit or loss in the period in which the circumstances that give rise to the revision become known by management.

The Group has determined that no significant financing component exists in respect of the general law services revenue streams. This has been determined on fee for service and fixed fee arrangements as the period between when the entity transfers a promised good or service to a customer and when the customer pays for that good or service will be one year or less. For No Win – No Fee arrangements this has been determined because a significant amount of the consideration promised by the customer is variable subject to the occurrence or non-occurrence of a future event that is not substantially within the control of the customer or the Group.

A receivable in relation to these services is recognised when a bill has been invoiced, as this is the point in time that the consideration is unconditional because only the passage of time is required before the payment is due.

Provision of Other Services – Slater Gordon Solutions (Discontinued Operations)

Legal Services

Revenue from Road Traffic Accidents (“RTA”) and Employer Liability/Public Liability (“EL/PL”) files is recognised over the life of the case based on prescribed milestones in a matter.

The legal services practice operates on the basis of No Win – No Fee conditional fee arrangements and applies the same accounting policies as personal injury claims described above. In some cases, fees may be fixed, depending on the stage at which a matter concludes. For some arrangements, fees are fixed as a specified percentage of damages awarded under a claim.

Vehicle Hire and Repair

Revenue from the provision of car repair is recognised at a point in time. Revenue from the provision of car hire and cost recovery services are recognised over the time that the services are performed.

For car repair services, revenue is recognised upon completion of all repair work and upon the customer signing a “client satisfaction note” in taking back possession of the car. The amount of revenue recognised is the amount as agreed in writing between the parties prior to the service being provided in the repair contract.

For car hire and cost recovery services, the revenue is recognised over time, being the period between the commencement of the car hire and settlement of costs through the Third Party Insurer (“TPI”). The amount of revenue recognised is the amount as agreed in writing between the parties prior to the service being provided in the hire rental agreement.

Work in progress is only included in revenue to the extent that it is highly probable that the cumulative amount of revenue recognised in respect of a contract at the end of a reporting period will not be subject to significant reversal when a matter is concluded. A dilution rate is applied on the invoice to recognise the fact that there may be a settlement adjustment with the insurer if the insurer disputes any costs. This also takes into account the fact that some cases may not be ‘no fault’.

A receivable in relation to these services is recognised when a bill has been issued, as this is the point in time that the consideration is unconditional because only the passage of time is required before the payment is due.

For car hire and repair services provided for not at fault clients, the Group acts as a principal. Although the services are provided by third party suppliers, the Group has the primary responsibility to ensure that the services have been delivered to the clients. The Group cannot vary the prices set by the supplier, as it is governed by an industry framework and the Group collects the revenue from the customer and bears all credit risk.

Revenue resulting from car hire and repair services within SGS Motor Services is recognised on a gross basis.

Medical Reports and Rehabilitation Services

Revenue from the provision of medical appointments and rehabilitation services is recognised at a point in time.

For medical appointments, the revenue is recognised when the medical report is received from the medical expert. The amount of revenue recognised is based on the average fee per case calculated on a historic basis. This value remains in work in progress until the medical report is issued to the Instructing Party (‘IP‘) at which point the sales invoice is raised.

For rehabilitation services, the revenue is recognised when the course of treatment is completed and the final assessment or discharge report is issued to the IP. The amount of revenue recognised is based on the average fee per case calculated on a historic basis. This value remains in work in progress until the final assessment or discharge report is issued to the IP at which point the sales invoice is raised.

A receivable in relation to these services is recognised when a bill has been issued, as this is the point in time that the consideration is unconditional because only the passage of time is required before the payment is due.

Contract Costs

Applying the practical expedient in paragraph 94 of AASB 15 Revenue from Contracts with Customers, the Group recognises the incremental costs of obtaining contracts as an expense when incurred.

Critical Accounting Estimate and Judgements

(i). Identifying the Performance Obligation

In personal injury matters, contracts with clients generally comprise a single distinct performance obligation, being the provision of services in pursuit of the successful settlement of a customer’s claim, and the transaction price is allocated to this single performance obligation. Some contracts contain multiple deliverables – such as legal services in respect of a statutory claim and a common law claim, or initial pre-issue work and litigation work. In such circumstances, these multiple deliverables are considered to represent a single distinct performance obligation, given there is a significant service of integration performed by the Group in delivering these services. Management considers the methods used provide a faithful depiction of the transfer of goods or services.

The Group has some contractual arrangements outside of personal injury matters that include multiple performance obligations. In these transactions, the transaction price must be allocated to the performance obligations on a relative stand-alone selling price basis. In most cases, the price for each separate performance obligation is identified in the contract and in most cases, these prices are considered to be reflective of the stand-alone selling price of each performance obligation.

The Group notes that it is not practicable to determine and track on a case-by-case basis the elements of a transaction that should be attributed to pre- and post-acquisition performance, given the nature of the estimates of variable consideration, and the methodology adopted (based around actual historical average fees and estimates of success rates on a cohort-by-cohort rather than case-by-case basis).

(ii). Estimating the Transaction Price: Variable Consideration – No Win – No Fee Arrangements

The Group provides various services on the basis of No Win – No Fee conditional fee arrangements. The uncertainty around the fees ultimately receivable under these types of contracts is generally only fully resolved when a matter is concluded.

Where the Group has sufficient historical experience in similar contracts in order to be able to estimate the expected outcome of a group of existing contracts reliably, revenue is estimated using the expected value method. Fees are only included in revenue to the extent that it is highly probable that the cumulative amount of revenue recognised in respect of a contract at the end of a reporting period will not be subject to significant reversal when a matter is concluded.

To determine the probability of success of a case using the expected value method, a level of judgement is required to be applied based on past experience and historical performance of similar matters. The estimated amount of variable consideration is based on the expected fee for the nature of the legal service provided with reference to internal historical fee levels and relative rates of successful and unsuccessful outcomes.

Where historical averages are not predictive of the probability of outcomes for a given contract, or where the Group has limited historical experience with similar contracts, the expected amount of variable consideration is estimated using a most likely amount approach on a contract by contract basis. In such circumstances, a level of judgement is required to determine the likelihood of success of a given matter, as well as the estimated amount of fees that will be recovered in respect of the matter.

In addition, when new businesses are acquired, there is a transition period during which time the Group’s practices and procedures are embedded into the operations of the new business. Therefore the valuation of work in progress acquired in a business combination may be adjusted during the period of provisional accounting for the acquisition.

(iii). Measuring the Stage of Completion

Revenue is recognised when control of a service is transferred to the customer. The Group recognises revenue in respect of personal injury matters “over time” (as opposed to at a “point in time”). A stage of completion approach is used to measure progress towards completion of the performance obligation. The stage of completion is determined using a milestones based approach using prescribed status codes for client matters as the relevant milestones. The percentage of completion is determined either by calculating the average fee received for matters that resolve at a particular status code as a percentage of the average fee received for matters that resolve at that status and any later status, or by use of defined completion allocations based on historical performance.

3.1.2. Disaggregation of Revenue from Contracts with Customers

The Group derives revenue from the transfer of goods and services over time and at a point in time, in the major product lines of Personal Injury Law and Litigation and Emerging Services and the geographical regions of Australia:

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Note 2: Segment Reporting

An operating segment is a component of the Group that engages in business activities from which it may earn revenues and incur expenses, including revenues and expenses that relate to transactions with any of the Group’s other components.

Following the restructure of the Group completed during the period, the Group has one reportable segment, which provides legal services in Australia. Information provided to the chief operating decision maker for the purposes of making decisions about allocating resources to the segment and assessing its performance is consistent with amounts presented in the Consolidated Financial Statements. The Group has not restated the corresponding items of segment information for earlier periods. The Group’s revenues and non-current assets are wholly based in Australia. The Group is not reliant on any single customer.

As the Group continues to implement its transformation strategy, it will re-evaluate the information provided to the chief operating decision maker, which may change the Group’s operating segments going forward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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