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BARRISTERS AND SOLICITORS - Taxation or assessment of accounts

Thursday, November 21, 2019 @ 8:51 AM  

Lexis Advance® Quicklaw®
Appeal by Adler from the dismissal of his application for an assessment of 30 accounts received from the respondent law firm. The total amount billed was over $600,000 over a two-and-a-half-year period for representation in the appellant’s family law proceeding. The appellant paid 26 of the accounts. The application judge found the appellant was a sophisticated litigant who sabotaged his relationship with the respondent to orchestrate an adjournment of the trial. He found the appellant failed to establish special circumstances existed that warranted the assessment of the paid accounts. He declined to exercise his inherent jurisdiction to order an assessment of the unpaid accounts.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. A high degree of deference was owed to the application judge’s factual findings and exercise of discretion in determining whether an assessment should be ordered. There was nothing in the application judge’s reasons to suggest his analysis was undertaken only from the respondent’s perspective. He conducted an exhaustive review of the record. His factual findings were well rooted in the evidence. The analysis of the breakdown of the solicitor-client relationship was essential because it informed whether the breakdown was motivated by genuine concern about the respondent’s service or the appellant’s desire to adjourn the trial. The application judge properly articulated and applied the test for special circumstances. He properly exercised his inherent discretion not to assess the unpaid accounts.

Adler v. Thomson, Rogers, [2019] O.J. No. 5136, Ontario Court of Appeal, R.J. Sharpe, C.W. Hourigan and M. Jamal JJ.A., October 9, 2019. Digest No. TLD-November182019009