Ontario Civil


Professions

BARRISTERS AND SOLICITORS
No special circumstances to allow court to overlook expiry of limitation period for bringing Solicitors Act assessment

Respondent was plaintiff’s counsel in medical malpractice action. Jury gave verdict in favour of plaintiffs. Applicants disputed amount of respondent’s account for legal services. Appointment for assessment was made. Family members other than injured plaintiff were not named in appointment for assessment and were advised they would be foreclosed from assessment proceeding. Applicants included injured plaintiff and family members who made claimed under Family Law Act. Applicants sought order permitting entire account to be assessed on behalf of all applicants. There was no explanation why family members did not move to amend assessment proceeding to add their names. Respondent brought motion to suspend interest owing to applicant and for declaration that family members breached limitation period for bringing assessment under Solicitors Act. Motion granted. Limitation period for appointment for assessment expired and there were not special circumstances to allow court to overlook expiry of limitation period. Family members who were individually named plaintiffs in litigation and who were individually identified in solicitor’s account were not included by implication in assessment process begun by injured plaintiff. Lack of specific allocation of disbursements to individual clients was of no consequence and did not rise to level of special circumstances that could abrogate application of limitation period. Possible merits of assessment did not trump requirements of Limitations Act, 2002. Alleged waiver of limitation was not sufficiently clear to constitute special circumstances and preclude consideration of limitations issue. It was unreasonable for family members to suggest that administration of justice could be brought into disrepute by refusing to include them in assessment when they took no steps within reasonable time to protect their own interests despite ample opportunity and advice. Order went suspending interest owing to applicants by respondents.

Woods v. Hooper (Sep. 30, 2015, Ont. S.C.J., Robert B. Reid J., File No. FS-12-36086) 258 A.C.W.S. (3d) 836.

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