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News Release

Ontario Government Improves Access To Justice

Real, positive change allows for lawyers to be hired on a contingency fee basis

June 30, 2004

News

TORONTO — The Ontario government is improving access to Ontario's justice system by regulating the way Ontarians hire lawyers on a contingency fee basis, Attorney General Michael Bryant announced today.

Effective October 1, 2004, amendments to the Solicitors Act will be proclaimed and new rules governing the use of contingency fees in Ontario will come into force.

"Contingency fees help break down a barrier for Ontarians who want access to our courts, and that barrier is cost," said Bryant. "This should be particularly beneficial for lower and middle income Ontarians."

Contingency fee agreements allow a client to pay legal fees only in the event of success. If the case is successful, the client will be charged an agreed upon amount, usually a percentage of the amount recovered. If the case is unsuccessful, the client pays no legal fees.

The new regulatory protections will:

  • require all contingency fee agreements to be made in writing;
  • prohibit contingency fees in criminal, quasi-criminal and family law matters;
  • prohibit a lawyer from getting paid more than the client recovers; and
  • set out specific protections for minors and incapable adults.

"The Attorney General has been in the forefront of the contingency fee issue, and the profession appreciates his respect for the bar's collective knowledge in this area," said Law Society Treasurer Frank Marrocco, Q.C. "The Law Society of Upper Canada commends the Attorney General for moving ahead with contingency fee legislation in Ontario, designed to enhance access to justice by offering the public another arrangement for paying fair and reasonable legal fees."

Contacts

Sandra D'Ambrosio
Minister's Office
(416) 326-1000

Brendan Crawley
Communications Branch
(416) 326-2210

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