7.1: Application to resolve particular questions or issues
10.13: Appointment for review
10.18: Reference to Court
10.20: Enforcement of review officer’s decision
10.26: Appeal to judge
10.27: Decision of judge

Case Summary

Previously, the Appellant law firm, Barr Picard, brought an Application for an Order directing that a Review Officer’s Decision regarding a fee dispute be entered as a Judgment. That Application was dismissed, as:

(a)    The Certificate of Review did not certify the amount owed;

(b)   The Certificate of Review did not identify Deepak Kumar as a client (and the Application sought Judgment against Deepak Kumar); and,

(c)    The unresolved issues in the Certificate of Judgment made it impossible to enforce.

The Court advised the parties that a further Application could be brought to determine if the Court had jurisdiction to order any other remedies, such as a Trial of an issue, which might accelerate the dispute resolution process.

The Appellant law firm brought a further Application to the Court requesting the Court to Order, pursuant to Rule 7.1, a Hearing to answer the following questions:

1.      Was Barr Picard restricted to recover only the amount of its initial estimate of legal fees?

2.      What parties were liable, if any, for the legal fees?

3.      Were the Respondents obligated to pay interest as per the retainer agreement?

The Court held that a request filed for review of a law firm’s accounts does not serve as a foundation for the second and third questions above. Additionally, the questions to be answered fall outside of the parameter of issues that would be reasonably contemplated by the request filed by the Respondent. The Court held that Rule 10.18 provides original jurisdiction to a Review Officer to make reference to a Court, and the Court does not have inherent jurisdiction as the Rules set out a comprehensive code dealing with the taxation of legal fees. Additionally, Rule 7.1 allows for an Order to answer a question at or before Trial, and Rule 10.13 does not involve a protocol to which a Trial is part, and thus Rule 7.1 is not applicable.

The Court held that the result did not produce any unfairness as a lawyer has a right to commence an Action against a client to seek payment of unpaid legal fees.

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