Disputing Your Lawyer’s Bill

You can dispute not only legal fee entitlement but also the disbursements incurred on the file

Clients have a right to dispute an invoice provided by your lawyer. You have one year from the date of receipt of the lawyer invoice to “tax” the invoice before the Registrar. You can dispute not only legal fee entitlement but also the disbursements incurred on the file.

The Registrar will look at the Contingency Fee Agreement as a starting point. The reasonableness of the Contingency Fee Agreement can be disputed. The factors the Registrar looks at are:

  1. The financial circumstances of the Plaintiff;
  2. The risk to the law firm where the law firm is carrying the disbursements;
  3. The complexity of the issues;
  4. The experience and skill of Plaintiff’s counsel;
  5. The risk assumed by Plaintiff’s counsel that there would be no payment for effort expended;
  6. The time expended by Plaintiff’s counsel on the file;
  7. The importance of the case to the Plaintiff; and
  8. Whether or not the settlement is a good settlement.

For a straight forward Contingency Fee Agreement, you face an uphill battle to fight the legal fees charged. Equally, if ICBC paid for a disbursement you are hard pressed to argue against your lawyer receiving money for that disbursement. For these reasons, it is unusual to see taxations on straight forward Contingency Fee Agreements.

Where a lawyer has fired you, you may be able to avoid paying any legal fees if you can establish the lawyer did not have “cause” to fire you and/or the Contingency Fee Agreement did not provide for legal fees in the event of partial services.