Ontario Civil

Civil Procedure

Counsel denied permission to withdraw mid-trial

Plaintiffs invested in defendant. Investment was failure due to failure to conduct due diligence and on defendant’s misrepresentation and oppressive conduct. Plaintiff sought to recover investment from defendant. Pursuant to engagement defendant undertook to become lawyers of record for plaintiffs in action and to prepare for and conduct trial of action. There was no suggestion of limited retainer in documentation. Plaintiffs failed to pay down retainer indebtedness. Defendant accepted security on two properties in amount of $250,000 during course of first stage of trial. Amount owing to defendant net of any unbilled time was just short of $250,000. Plaintiffs’ counsel sought permission to withdraw mid-trial. Motion dismissed. It was not feasible for plaintiff to properly advance issues in complex commercial litigation on his own. It was doubtful plaintiffs could retain alternative representation. Defendant failed to establish there was no or insufficient equity in security given. Permitting counsel to withdraw at this stage of proceedings would not only cause significant prejudice to clients but would bring administration of justice into serious disrepute. Complaints against defendant were well-founded in that its proposed retirement mid-trial on basis of non-payment of legal fees was improper and unprofessional.

Todd Family Holdings Inc. v. Gardiner (Oct. 23, 2015, Ont. S.C.J., McIsaac J., File No. Oshawa CV-11-76324) 259 A.C.W.S. (3d) 423.

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