SHREEM HOLDINGS INC v BARR PICARD, 2013 ABQB 257
10.13: Appointment for review
10.18: Reference to Court
10.19: Review officer’s decision
10.20: Enforcement of review officer’s decision
10.21: Repayment of charges
10.26: Appeal to judge
10.9: Reasonableness of retainer agreements and charges subject to review
Shreem Holdings Inc. (“Shreem”) and Deepak Kumar filed a request, pursuant to Rule 10.13(1), for a review of charges levied by the Applicant law firm with respect to legal services. Shreem argued before the Review Officer that the law firm agreed to a fixed fee retainer, with the fee capped at $15,000. The Review Officer determined that a reasonable fee for the legal services provided was $65,429.50. However, the Certificate of Review stated that due to a paucity of evidence, no ruling had been made as to what amount was still owing to the law firm. The Certificate of Review also stated that Shreem and Mr. Kumar denied being liable for the accounts, and that the Review Officer did not rule on issues of liability.
The Applicant law firm brought an Application pursuant to Rule 10.20(1)for an Order directing that the Review Officer’s Decision be entered as Judgment against Shreem and Mr. Kumar. Neither Party appealed the Certificate of Review.
Wakeling J. held that a Certificate of Review should not be entered as a Judgment if it did not have the effect of resolving the issues between the Parties. There is no utility in giving a Certificate of Review the status of a Judgment when it cannot be enforced. Rule 10.19, which sets out the issues a Review Officer may decide, does not provide that a Review Officer may adjudicate a claim that a lawyer agreed to accept a fixed fee, or determine the amount a client has already paid towards an account. It was not appropriate for the Court to enter the Certificate of Review as a Judgment against Shreem and Mr. Kumar because questions regarding the identity of the client, the fixed fee agreement, and the amount the client had already paid were in dispute. These unresolved issues in the Certificate of Review made its enforcement impossible.
Wakeling J. further held that although Rule 10.18(1) sets out the conditions under which a Review Officer may refer a question to the Court, it was unclear whether the Court had the jurisdiction to amend a Certificate of Review and delete the Review Officer’s qualifications.Wakeling J. held the appropriate course for the Review Officer would have been to refer the unresolved issues to the Court pursuant to Rule 10.18(1)(a). However, in its current state, the Certificate of Review did not resolve the dispute between the parties. As such, Wakeling J. dismissed the law firm’s Application and held that the Court should not exercise its discretion under Rule 10.20(1).View CanLII Details