March 5, 2016
Legal Fee Disputes: Arbitration instead of Court or an Assessment
Here’s an article on arbitrating legal fee disputes:
Here is a brief summary of how legal fee disputes are handled as of Nov 2019 (this blog post was updated after being posted):
If there is an arbitration clause, disputes go to arbitration. Even if there is no arbitration clause, the parties can agree to arbitration at any time.
If there is no arbitration clause, clients may commence an assessment within 1 month (section 3 of the Solicitors Act). Between 1 month and 12 months with leave (section 4 of the Solicitors Act) and more than 12 months with leave if “special circumstances” apply. The general 2 year time limit in the Limitations Act, 2002 does not apply.
For lawyers with an hourly retainer agreement, after 1 month they can start an assessment or start a claim in Small Claims Court or Superior Court. Clients can still start an assessment even if a claim is started.
For lawyers with a contingency fee retainer agreement, after 1 month, if the retainer is not in dispute, they can start an assessment. They cannot make a claim in Small Claims Court or Superior Court. Disagreements over a contingency fee retainer agreement are decided by a Superior Court Judge.