Friday, November 10, 2017

Ontario lawyers and contingency fee agreements


The rules regulating contingency fee agreements (percentage agreements) in Ontario have been in the limelight recently due to concerns raised with respect to the conduct of some lawyers.  For example, see this article in the Toronto Star from January, 2017:

https://www.thestar.com/news/investigations/2017/01/28/double-dipping-lawyers-taking-big-slice-of-injury-settlements.html


The Law Society of Upper Canada now has announced proposals to address these concerns:

https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/11/10/law-society-recommendations-take-aim-at-you-dont-pay-unless-we-win-cases.html


In British Columbia, we have had for years the kind of rules now proposed for Ontario contingency fee agreements, under Part 8 of the Legal Profession Act (British Columbia) (the "Act").  Among other things, pursuant to s. 67(2) of the Act, lawyers may not "double dip" (take a percentage of the client's settlement or award and take the client's "court costs" amount).  In addition, pursuant to s. 69(4) of the Act, a lawyer's bill must contain a detailed statement of the lawyer's disbursements (the expenses incurred by the lawyer on behalf of the client).

There are many other rules in Part 8 of the Act which are intended to regulate contingency fee agreements and other aspects of lawyers' bills.  The full text of Part 8 is here:

http://www.bclaws.ca/EPLibraries/bclaws_new/document/ID/freeside/00_98009_01#part8


The Code of Professional Conduct for lawyers in British Columbia also contains provisions regarding contingency fee agreements:

https://www.lawsociety.bc.ca/support-and-resources-for-lawyers/act-rules-and-code/code-of-professional-conduct-for-british-columbia/chapter-3-%E2%80%93-relationship-to-clients/#3.6-2


Fortunately, this regulatory gap now being addressed in Ontario simply doesn't exist here in British Columbia.

Andrew.

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