Disproportionate, inappropriate steps justified both sides bearing their own costs

Civil practice and procedure – Costs – Particular orders as to costs

Defendant clients hired plaintiff law firm to represent them in matter related to their franchise business. Clients claimed that law firm's accounts were significantly higher than estimated. Clients terminated law firm’s retainer after negotiating their own settlement with franchisor. Pursuant to Solicitors Act, clients obtained registrar's order to assess law firm's accounts. Without leave of court, law firm commenced this action seeking payment of $216,273.92, balance of its unpaid accounts, as well as damages for breach of contract, misrepresentation, deceit, fraud and unjust enrichment, and it sought charging lien. Law firm brought motion for order staying assessment pending final disposition of action; clients brought cross-motion for order staying action until completion of assessment. Motion was dismissed and cross-motion granted. Parties did not agree on matters of costs and both clients and law firm made claims for costs. Accurate assessment was that there was divided success or such qualified success that it was appropriate to exercise discretion to make no order as to costs for either party. There was no purpose to air laundry of soiled lawyer and client relationship save to say that for purposes of motion and cross-motion there was enough disproportionate and inappropriate steps taken to justify having both sides bear their own costs.

Teplitsky, Colson LLP v. 2169252 Ontario Inc. (2020), 2020 CarswellOnt 1099, 2020 ONSC 557, Perell J. (Ont. S.C.J.); additional reasons (2019), 2019 CarswellOnt 19964, 2019 ONSC 7026, Perell J. (Ont. S.C.J.).

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