10.10: Time limitation on reviewing retainer agreements and charges
10.2: Payment for lawyer’s services and contents of lawyer’s account
10.5: Retainer agreements

Case Summary

The Appellant sought to litigate approximately 20 years of paid legal bills. At the relevant time, the old Rules were in force; however, the Court referenced the equivalent new Rules in the Decision. The Appellant argued, amongst other things, that lawyers’ accounts are not a simple matter of contract, and a Court could assess the reasonableness of fees on a quantum meruit basis. The Court rejected this argument and, after noting the newer provisions in Rules 10.2 and 10.5, held that a retainer contract is binding, and that the new Rules specifically outline that a lawyer may charge on an hourly basis.

Former Rule 647 expressly allowed the Court to extend the six-month time limit for the taxing of legal accounts, and the Court held that new Rule 10.10 implicitly does so as well, as it does not exclude the general time extension Rule in the Rules of Court. However, the Court held that the Limitations Act, RSA 2000, c L-12 was applicable to all accounts over two years old. The Court noted that the Queen’s Bench Justice reviewed the case law for relevant criteria related to extending Rule 647’s deadline, and found that almost every one of the facts favoured the Respondent’s position that the time limit should not be extended. The Court observed that, with some minor exceptions, neither party contended that the list of criteria or approach taken was incorrect. The six-month deadline was not extended by the Court, and the Appeal was dismissed.

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