Withdrawal from Representation for Non-Payment of Fees
Although the client has the right to terminate the lawyer-client relationship at any time, the lawyer does not. A lawyer cannot withdraw from representation of a client except for good cause and upon notice to the client appropriate in the circumstances.
Where a client fails to provide funds on account of disbursements or fees, a lawyer may be able to withdraw provided that the lawyer meets his or her obligations under the Rules of Professional Conduct (the "Rules"). Under Rule 2.09(3) of the Rules, after reasonable notice, a lawyer may withdraw due to non-payment of fees unless serious prejudice to the client would result.
What will constitute reasonable notice of the intent to withdraw will vary from case to case. In some situations, the matter may be governed by statutory provisions or rules of court. In other cases, the governing principle is that the lawyer should protect the client's interests to the best of the lawyer's ability and should not desert the client at a critical stage of a matter or at a time when withdrawal would put the client in a position of disadvantage or peril.
If the lawyer is permitted to withdraw, in doing so the lawyer must try to minimize expense and avoid prejudice to the client and must do all that can reasonably be done to facilitate the orderly transfer of the matter to the successor legal practitioner under Rule 2.09(8). The specific steps which lawyers are required to take upon withdrawal from representation are outlined in Rule 2.09(9).
In a criminal context, the requirements for withdrawal for non-payment of fees differ. Pursuant to Rule 2.09(4), where the time between the withdrawal and the trial is sufficient to enable the client to obtain another lawyer or paralegal and to allow the legal representative adequate time for preparation, a lawyer may withdraw because the client has not paid the agreed fee. However, in such cases, lawyers must ensure that they take the following steps:
- notify the client, preferably in writing, that the lawyer is withdrawing because the fees have not been paid;
- account to the client for any monies received on account of fees and disbursements;
- notify Crown counsel in writing that the lawyer is no longer acting; and
- if the lawyer's name appears on court records as acting for the accused, notify the clerk or registrar of the court in writing that the lawyer is no longer acting.
Under Rule 2.09(5), a lawyer is prohibited from withdrawing for non-payment of fees if the date set for trial is not far enough removed to enable the client to obtain another lawyer or paralegal or to enable another legal representative to prepare adequately for trial and an adjournment cannot be obtained without adversely affecting the client's interests.
Practice Management Guideline: Client Service and Communication
Withdrawal of Services
Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Project: Notice of Focus Groups and Research Consultation Licensed paralegals and lawyers who are in good standing and identify as racialized are invited to participate in focus groups on the topic of the challenges faced by racialized licensees. The focus groups will take place in June and July 2013. Read more.
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French Language Rights Under the commentary to Subrule 1.03(1)(b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct, lawyers have a responsibility to advise their clients who speak French of their French language rights relating to the client's matter. For further information about those responsibilities, please consult the Advising a Client of her or his French Language Rights in the Judicial and Quasi-Judicial Context.
May 30 - Convocation
May 31 - Final date to file Multi-Discipline Partnership annual report. Failure to file by this date will result in referral for suspension on or about this date.
May 31 - Final date to file Affiliations annual report. Failure to file by this date will result in referral for suspension on or about this date.
June 27 - Convocation
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