Contingent fee agreements

The Benchers have amended the contingent fee rules to clarify that the maximum limits apply only to trial work and not to appeals.

The amendments, which were adopted at the April Benchers meeting, also change the information that must be included in all contingent fee agreements.

Law Society Rule 8-2 limits a lawyer’s fee in a personal injury matter involving a motor vehicle to 33 1/3 per cent of the claim and to 40 per cent in personal injury claims not involving a motor vehicle.

When it was implemented in 1990, the rule was intended to apply only to trial work, leaving lawyers and their clients free to make a separate agreement for appeals.

While the original wording of Rule 8-2 suggested it only applied to trial, this has not always been clear either to lawyers or their clients. To ensure certainty, the amended Rule 8-2 now specifically states that the limits apply only to trial.

The amendments also change the wording that must be included in all contingent fee agreements in personal injury matters to expressly inform clients that the fee is limited to trial. The required wording, which must be prominently placed in all contingent fee agreements, is set out in Rule 8-4.