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Part 8 out of 11 parts in the Legal Profession Act


PART 8 – LAWYERS' FEES

Definitions and interpretation

64 (1) In this Part:

"agreement" means a written contract respecting the fees, charges and disbursements to be paid to a lawyer or law firm for services provided or to be provided and includes a contingent fee agreement;

"bill" means a lawyer's written statement of fees, charges and disbursements;

"charges" includes taxes on fees and disbursements and interest on fees and disbursements;

"contingent fee agreement" means an agreement that provides that payment to the lawyer for services provided depends, at least in part, on the happening of an event;

"court" means the Supreme Court;

"person charged" includes a person who has agreed to pay for legal services, whether or not the services were provided on the person's behalf;

"registrar" means the registrar of the court.

(2) Unless otherwise ordered by the court, this Part, except sections 65, 66 (1), 68, 77, 78 and 79 (1), (2), (3), (6) and (7), does not apply to a class proceeding within the meaning of the Class Proceedings Act.

(3) This Part applies to a lawyer's bill or agreement even though the lawyer has ceased to be a member of the society, if the lawyer was a member when the legal services were provided.

[2012-16-41]


Agreement for legal services

65 (1) A lawyer or law firm may enter into an agreement with any other person, requiring payment for services provided or to be provided by the lawyer or law firm.

(2) Subsection (1) applies despite any law or usage to the contrary.

(3) A provision in an agreement that the lawyer is not liable for negligence, or that the lawyer is relieved from responsibility to which the lawyer would otherwise be subject as a lawyer, is void.

(4) An agreement under this section may be signed on behalf of a lawyer or law firm by an authorized agent who is a practising lawyer.


Contingent fee agreement

66 (1) Section 65 applies to contingent fee agreements.

(2) The benchers may make rules respecting contingent fee agreements, including, but not limited to, rules that do any of the following:

(a) limit the amount that lawyers or law firms may charge for services provided under contingent fee agreements;

(b) regulate the form and content of contingent fee agreements;

(c) set conditions to be met by lawyers and law firms making contingent fee agreements.

(3) Rules under subsection (2) apply only to contingent fee agreements made after the rules come into force and, if those rules are amended, the amendments apply only to contingent fee agreements made after the amendments come into force.

(4) A contingent fee agreement that exceeds the limits established by the rules is void unless approved by the court under subsection (6).

(5) If a contingent fee agreement is void under subsection (4), the lawyer may charge the fees that could have been charged had there been no contingent fee agreement, but only if the event that would have allowed payment under the void agreement occurs.

(6) A lawyer may apply to the court for approval of a fee higher than the rule permits, only

(a) before entering into a contingent fee agreement, and

(b) after serving the client with at least 5 days' written notice.

(7) The court may approve an application under subsection (6) if

(a) the lawyer and the client agree on the amount of the lawyer's proposed fee, and

(b) the court is satisfied that the proposed fee is reasonable.

(8) The following rules apply to an application under subsection (6) to preserve solicitor client privilege:

(a) the hearing must be held in private;

(b) the style of proceeding must not disclose the identity of the lawyer or the client;

(c) if the lawyer or the client requests that the court records relating to the application be kept confidential,

(i) the records must be kept confidential, and

(ii) no person other than the lawyer or the client or a person authorized by either of them may search the records unless the court otherwise orders.

(9) Despite subsection (8), reasons for judgment relating to an application under subsection (6) may be published if the names of the lawyer and client are not disclosed and any information that may identify the lawyer or the client is not disclosed.

[2010-6-69; 2012-16-42]


Restrictions on contingent fee agreements

67 (1) This section does not apply to contingent fee agreements entered into before June 1, 1988.

(2) A contingent fee agreement must not provide that a lawyer is entitled to receive both a fee based on a proportion of the amount recovered and any portion of an amount awarded as costs in a proceeding or paid as costs in the settlement of a proceeding or an anticipated proceeding.

(3) A contingent fee agreement for services relating to a child guardianship or custody matter, or a matter respecting parenting time of, contact with or access to a child, is void.

(4) A contingent fee agreement for services relating to a matrimonial dispute is void unless approved by the court.

(5) A lawyer may apply to the court for approval of a contingent fee agreement for services relating to a matrimonial dispute and section 66 (7) to (9) applies.

[2011-25-400 – proclaimed in effect on March 18, 2013]


Examination of an agreement

68 (1) This section does not apply to agreements entered into before June 1, 1988.

(2) A person who has entered into an agreement with a lawyer or law firm may apply to the registrar to have the agreement examined.

(3) An application under subsection (2) may only be made within 3 months after

(a) the agreement was made, or

(b) the termination of the solicitor client relationship.

(4) Subject to subsection (3), a person may make an application under subsection (2) even if the person has made payment under the agreement.

(5) On an application under subsection (2), the registrar must confirm the agreement unless the registrar considers that the agreement is unfair or unreasonable under the circumstances existing at the time the agreement was entered into.

(6) If the registrar considers that the agreement is unfair or unreasonable under the circumstances existing at the time the agreement was entered into, the registrar may modify or cancel the agreement.

(7) If an agreement is cancelled under subsection (6), a registrar

(a) may require the lawyer to prepare a bill for review, and

(b) must review the fees, charges and disbursements for the services provided as though there were no agreement.

(8) A party may appeal a decision of the registrar under subsection (5) or (6) to the court.

(9) The procedure under the Supreme Court Civil Rules for the assessment of costs, review of bills and examination of agreements applies to the examination of an agreement.

[2010-6-97; 2012-16-43]

Lawyer's bill

69 (1) A lawyer must deliver a bill to the person charged.

(2) A bill may be delivered under subsection (1) by mailing the bill to the last known business or residential address of the person charged.

(3) The bill must be signed by or on behalf of the lawyer or accompanied by a letter, signed by or on behalf of the lawyer, that refers to the bill.

(4) A bill under subsection (1) is sufficient in form if it contains a reasonably descriptive statement of the services with a lump sum charge and a detailed statement of disbursements.

(5) A lawyer must not sue to collect money owed on a bill until 30 days after the bill was delivered to the person charged.

(6) The court may permit a lawyer to sue to collect money owed on a bill before the end of the 30 day period if the court finds that

(a) the bill has been delivered as provided in subsection (1), and

(b) there is probable cause to believe that the person charged is about to leave British Columbia other than temporarily.


Review of a lawyer's bill

70 (1) Subject to subsection (11), the person charged or a person who has agreed to indemnify that person may obtain an appointment to have a bill reviewed before

(a) 12 months after the bill was delivered under section 69, or

(b) 3 months after the bill was paid,

whichever occurs first.

(2) The person who obtained an appointment under subsection (1) for a review of the bill must deliver a copy of the appointment to the lawyer at the address shown on the bill, at least 5 days before the date set for the review.

(3) Subject to subsection (11), a lawyer may obtain an appointment to have a bill reviewed 30 days or more after the bill was delivered under section 69.

(4) The lawyer must serve a copy of the appointment on the person charged at least 5 days before the date set for the review.

(5) The following people may obtain an appointment on behalf of a lawyer to have a bill reviewed:

(a) the lawyer's agent;

(b) a deceased lawyer's personal representative;

(c) the lawyer's assignee;

(d) in the case of a partnership, one of the partners or a partner's agent;

(e) the custodian of the lawyer's practice appointed under section 50.

(6) If a lawyer has sued to collect on a bill, the court in which the action was commenced may order that the bill be referred to the registrar.

(7) The court may make an order under subsection (6) whether or not any party has applied for an order.

(8) On a referral under subsection (6), the registrar may

(a) review the bill and issue a certificate, or

(b) make a report and recommendation to the court.

(9) When making an order under subsection (6), the court may direct that the registrar take action under subsection (8) (a) or (b).

(10) Section 73 applies to a certificate issued under subsection (8) (a).

(11) In either of the following circumstances, the lawyer's bill must not be reviewed unless the court finds that special circumstances justify a review of the bill and orders that the bill be reviewed by the registrar:

(a) the lawyer has sued and obtained judgment for the amount of the bill;

(b) application for the review was not made within the time allowed in subsection (1).

(12) If a lawyer sues to collect money owed on a bill, the lawsuit must not proceed if an application for review is made before or after the lawsuit was commenced, until

(a) the registrar has issued a certificate, or

(b) the application for review is withdrawn.

(13) The procedure under the Supreme Court Civil Rules for the assessment of costs, review of bills and examination of agreements applies to the review of bills under this section.

(14) The registrar may refer any question arising under this Part to the court for directions or a determination.

[2010-6-97]


Matters to be considered by the registrar on a review

71 (1) This section applies to a review or examination under section 68 (7), 70, 77 (3), 78 (2) or 79 (3).

(2) Subject to subsections (4) and (5), the registrar must allow fees, charges and disbursements for the following services:

(a) those reasonably necessary and proper to conduct the proceeding or business to which they relate;

(b) those authorized by the client or subsequently approved by the client, whether or not the services were reasonably necessary and proper to conduct the proceeding or business to which they relate.

(3) Subject to subsections (4) and (5), the registrar may allow fees, charges and disbursements for the following services, even if unnecessary for the proper conduct of the proceeding or business to which they relate:

(a) those reasonably intended by the lawyer to advance the interests of the client at the time the services were provided;

(b) those requested by the client after being informed by the lawyer that they were unnecessary and not likely to advance the interests of the client.

(4) At a review of a lawyer's bill, the registrar must consider all of the circumstances, including

(a) the complexity, difficulty or novelty of the issues involved,

(b) the skill, specialized knowledge and responsibility required of the lawyer,

(c) the lawyer's character and standing in the profession,

(d) the amount involved,

(e) the time reasonably spent,

(f) if there has been an agreement that sets a fee rate that is based on an amount per unit of time spent by the lawyer, whether the rate was reasonable,

(g) the importance of the matter to the client whose bill is being reviewed, and

(h) the result obtained.

(5) The discretion of the registrar under subsection (4) is not limited by the terms of an agreement between the lawyer and the lawyer's client.


Costs of a review of a lawyer's bill

72 (1) Costs of a review of a lawyer's bill must be paid by the following:

(a) the lawyer whose bill is reviewed, if 1/6 or more of the total amount of the bill is subtracted from it;

(b) the person charged, if less than 1/6 of the total amount of the bill is subtracted from it;

(c) a person who applies for a review of a bill and then withdraws the application for a review.

(2) Despite subsection (1), the registrar has the discretion, in special circumstances, to order the payment of costs other than as provided in that subsection.


Remedies that may be ordered by the registrar

73 (1) On the application of a party to a review under this Part, the registrar may order that a party

(a) be permitted to pay money in instalments on the terms the registrar considers appropriate, or

(b) not be permitted to collect money on the certificate for a period the registrar specifies.

(2) On a review under this Part, the registrar may

(a) give a certificate for the amount the registrar has allowed the lawyer for fees, charges and disbursements, and

(b) summarily determine the amount of the costs of the review and add it to or subtract it from the amount shown on the certificate.

(3) If a registrar gives a certificate under subsection (2), the registrar must add to the amount certified an amount of interest calculated

(a) on the amount the registrar has allowed the lawyer for fees, charges and disbursements, exclusive of the costs of the review,

(b) from the date the lawyer delivered the bill to the date on which the certificate is given, and

(c) at the rate agreed to by the parties at the time the lawyer was retained or, if there was no agreement, at the same rate the registrar would allow under the Court Order Interest Act on an order obtained by default.

(4) If a registrar gives a certificate under subsection (2) that requires that the lawyer refund money to another person, the registrar must add to the amount to be refunded an amount of interest calculated

(a) on the amount the lawyer is required to refund to the other person,

(b) from the date the money to be refunded was paid to the lawyer to the date on which the certificate is given, and

(c) at the same rate the registrar would allow under the Court Order Interest Act on an order obtained by default.

[2016-5-44]


Refund of fee overpayment

74 A lawyer must, on demand,

(a) refund fees, charges and disbursements received or retained in excess of the amount allowed under this Part or the rules, and

(b) pay any interest added under section 73 (4).


Appeal

75 (1) A party to a review may appeal to the court, within

(a) 14 days from the date the certificate of the registrar was entered,

(b) the period the court may permit, or

(c) the period the registrar specifies at the time of signing the certificate.

(2) On the appeal, the court may make any order it considers appropriate.

(3) If the terms of an order of the court require it, the registrar must amend the certificate.


Registrar's certificate

76 (1) If it appears to the registrar that there is money due from the lawyer to the person charged, the registrar may make an interim certificate as to the amount payable by the lawyer.

(2) If an interim certificate is entered under subsection (1), the court may order the money certified to be paid immediately

(a) to the person charged, or

(b) into court.

(3) After a review under sections 70 and 71, the certificate of the registrar may be filed in a registry of the court and, on the expiry of the time specified or permitted under section 75, the certificate is deemed to be a judgment of the court.


Order to deliver bill or property

77 (1) The court may order, on terms it considers appropriate, delivery of a bill to the person charged, if

(a) a bill has not been delivered, and

(b) the bill, if it had been delivered, could have been the subject of an application for a review under section 70.

(2) A person charged may apply to the court for an order that the client's lawyer or former lawyer deliver to the court, to the client or to the client's agent

(a) an accounting,

(b) property, or

(c) a list of any property of the client in the lawyer's control.

(3) When an order under subsection (2) is made, the court may

(a) order the review of the lawyer's bill and require the person charged to pay or secure the lawyer's claim before delivery is made, and

(b) relieve the lawyer of any undertakings given or any other responsibilities in relation to the property.


Change of lawyer

78 (1) If a client changes lawyers or begins acting on his or her own behalf, the client or the new lawyer may apply to the court for an order directing that the client's former lawyer deliver the client's records to another lawyer nominated by the client or to the client, as the case may be.

(2) If the court makes an order under subsection (1), the court may

(a) make the direction conditional on the client

(i) paying all amounts due to the client's former lawyer from the client, or

(ii) giving security for the payment of the lawyer's claim in an amount and manner satisfactory to the court, and

(b) order a review by the registrar.


Lawyer's right to costs out of property recovered

79 (1) A lawyer who is retained to prosecute or defend a proceeding in a court or before a tribunal has a charge against any property that is recovered or preserved as a result of the proceeding for the proper fees, charges and disbursements of or in relation to the proceeding, including counsel fees.

(2) Subsection (1) applies whether or not the lawyer acted as counsel.

(3) The court that heard the proceeding or in which the proceeding is pending may order the review and payment of the fees, charges and disbursements out of the property as that court considers appropriate.

(4) Sections 70 to 73 apply to a review under subsection (3) of this section.

(5) If the proceeding referred to in subsection (1) was before a tribunal, the lawyer may apply to the court for an order under subsection (3).

(6) All acts done and conveyances made to defeat, or that operate or tend to defeat, the charge are void against the charge, unless made to a bona fide purchaser for value without notice.

(7) A proceeding for the purpose of realizing or enforcing a charge arising under this section may not be taken until after application has been made to the appropriate court for directions.


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Part 8 out of 11 parts in the Legal Profession Act