10.26: Appeal to judge

Case Summary

The Appellant appealed a Review Officer’s Decision to certify the amount the Appellant owed to the Respondent law firm. The Respondent previously represented the Appellant in an arbitration involving the division of matrimonial property and a claim for spousal support. After the arbitration, the Appellant refused to pay the outstanding invoices of the Respondent.

The Court noted that an Appeal of a Review Officer’s Decision is an Appeal on the record pursuant to Rule 10.26. As such, the Court may only consider evidence that was before the Review Officer. The Court also noted that Rule 10.26 provides a great deal of discretion and allows the Court to confirm, vary, or revoke the Review Officer’s Decision, send all or any part of it back to the Review Officer for reconsideration or substitute the Court’s Decision for the Review Officer’s Decision.  The Court further noted that it is required to show deference to the Review Officer’s Decision because the Review Officer has expertise in assessing legal Costs that most Judges of the Alberta Court of King’s Bench do not.

The Court dismissed the Appeal. The Appellant argued that she was given less time to speak than the Respondent. However, after reviewing the transcript, the Court determined that the Appellant was given equal or more time to speak than the Respondent. The Appellant also argued that the Review Officer ought to have reduced the amount owing because the Respondent continued to work on her file after she told the Respondent to stop and due to various complaints about the Respondent’s advocacy. After reviewing the underlying materials, the Court disagreed and upheld the Review Officer’s Decision. The Court also dismissed the Appellant’s arguments regarding breach of the Charter and breach of confidentiality after the Respondent accidently revealed the Appellant’s address to opposing counsel.

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