O’CHIESE FIRST NATION v DLA PIPER (CANADA) LLP, 2022 ABCA 197
WATSON, SCHUTZ, KHULLAR JJA
10.10: Time limitation on reviewing retainer agreements and charges
10.17: Review officer’s authority
The Applicants applied under Rule 10.10 for a review of accounts rendered by the lawyer Respondents. The Application was denied by the Chambers Judge, who found that the review was out of time. The Applicants appealed, arguing that the limitations period for making an application under Rule 10.10 was extended by the suspension of limitation periods (from March 17 to June 1, 2020) set out in Ministerial Order No 27/2020 (the “Ministerial Order”), which was issued by the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The suspension of limitations under the Ministerial Order totalled 75 days.
The Court of Appeal granted the appeal and ordered that the Respondents’ accounts be reviewed by a review officer. Rule 10.10(2) provides that a lawyer’s charges may not be reviewed if one year has passed after the date on which the account was sent to the client. The accounts were rendered more than one year prior to the review application, but within 75 days at the end of the one-year time limit. The Court of Appeal held that the term “limitations period” in the Ministerial Order applied to Rule 10.10(2). The Court of Appeal rejected the Respondents’ argument that Rule 10.17 rendered the time limit in Rule 10.10 as being discretionary, and therefore the review officer’s decision not to grant an extension was not within his discretion.View CanLII Details