1.2: Purpose and intention of these rules
10.18: Reference to Court
10.2: Payment for lawyer’s services and contents of lawyer’s account
10.45: Decision of the judge
10.48: Recovery of goods and services tax

Case Summary

This was an Appeal challenging the jurisdiction of a Review Officer in hearing and determining the amount payable by the Appellant to the Respondent lawyer.

A lawyer is entitled to be paid a reasonable amount, considering the factors set out in Rule 10.2. Pursuant to Rule 10.18(1)(a), any dispute regarding the terms of a retainer agreement must be referred to the Court for decision or direction. Rule 10.45 provides that, on Appeal, the Court has broad powers to vary, revoke, substitute, refer back, or make any other appropriate Order.

The Court found that, despite the purpose of Rule 1.2 - to provide a means by which claims can be fairly and justly resolved in or by a Court process in a timely and cost-effective way - the Review Officer was required to refer the matter to the Court, to the extent that the matter concerned a question about a term of the retainer agreement, within the scope of Rule 10.18(1)(a). However, the Court noted, the Appellants arguments regarding GST were within the specialized knowledge of the Review Officer, based on the best-case representations of the parties, as contemplated by Rule 10.48.

In sum, notwithstanding that the Review Officer should have referred the retainer agreement portion of the dispute to the Court, the Court found that the Review Officer had arrived at the correct conclusion, less a reduction for a disbursement that had been double-billed. Costs were awarded in favour of the Respondent.

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