Joe Karam Money Facts

When Joe Karam first became involved in the David Bain case (c. 1996) he paid for the then legal counsel, Michael Guest, to take the case to the Privy Council in London. In the process he also secured an agreement to a share in the earnings that David Bain might one day earn from the proceeds of the case. (Karam confirms this himself on page 20 of his book David and Goliath). This is an unusual step for someone who is on a crusade for justice. Mr Karam confirms that this agreement is no longer in place.

Karam would have us believe that he has spent a lot of his own money on this case, but it is also evident that he spent a lot of taxpayer money as well largely on legal representation for the case, not only during the retrial but also for the Appeals that he undertook. In addition, over the years he has earnt money himself from legal aid and publishing books.

  • $360,000

    During the retrial, Karam's defence team managed to draw over $3 million of legal aid, the largest amount ever for a single trial.  Of this, Karam took his slice as remuneration for his work in assembling the documents for the case.

    It is notable that Karam was eligible to receive this money as a legal executive to the tune of up to $95 an hour, but he has no legal training.  Legal Aid representatives simply state that it is more efficient to pay someone with knowledge of the case than to find someone, maybe with the right qualifications, who does not.  However there does not seem to be any consideration made by the Legal Aid people for someone who so clearly has both financial and emotional interests in the case and who is so blatantly prejudiced in their judgment of it.

    Joe Karam personally received $365,879, made up of $272,824 in fees and $93,055 in disbursements/expenses.

    Information released by Legal Aid Services in relation to the 2009 retrial of David Bain:

    During the period up to and including the 2009 retrial Joe Karam claimed some $365,879 in legal aid.  Of this $272,822 was in fees and $93,057 in disbursements (expenses such as accommodation, food and travel).

    From 22 May 2007 to 31 January 2008, Karam claimed 749 hours for which he was paid $75 per hour as an "unqualified legal executive" acting under the supervision of Michael Reed.

    From 1 February 2008 to 5 March 2009, Karam claimed about 2045 hours at $95 an hour.  This amounts to around an average of 37.5 hours on a weekly basis, allowing for statutory holidays but no other time off, for a 13 month period.

    This equates to an annual salary of $173,000 a year, or $3325 a week or $665 a day.  He was classified as a 'legal executive' for this work, so he can be reasonably called a professional legal executive.

    The base salary of a member of parliament as of 2011 is $134,800.  Karam's pay was slightly south of the base salary for the deputy speaker of the house of representatives at $174,000.  Karam has no qualifications related to law, legal services, or public service, apart from the experience that he has put in himself with respect to the Bain case.

    Karam claimed a further 235 hours for work during the retrial from 6 March 2009 to 5 June 2009.


    749 hours @ $75 $56,175
    2045.5 hours @ $95 $194,322
    235 hours @ $95 $22,325
    TOTAL   $272,822



  • $50,000

     The amount of this handout is documented on page 67 of Bain and Beyond by Karam and in the news

  • $52,520

    For the Privy Council Appeal that he undertook in 2007, Karam drew $52,520 in legal aid, consisting of $28,440 in fees and $24,080 in disbursements.  The entire cost of the second Privy Counil Appeal cost the taxpayer over $450,000.  In comparison the original Privy Council Appeal cost $12,000.

    [We apologise that for a short period the figure cited here was the $450,000 of legal aid money that was used to fund the entire Privy Council Appeal without making clear which portion was paid out to Karam, and this may have caused misunderstanding.]