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BARRISTERS AND SOLICITORS - Relationship with client - Authority to bind client - Settlements

Thursday, March 12, 2020 @ 8:22 AM  


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Appeal by the plaintiff from the summary judgment that granted him judgment in relation to a $12,000 loan but dismissed the bulk of his claims. After the judgment was granted, the appellant’s former counsel and the respondent’s counsel exchanged e-mail correspondence concerning settlement. The appellant conceded an objective observer would conclude, based on a review of the correspondence, that the matter was settled on terms that included the appellant waiving his right of appeal and forgiving the loan in exchange for a waiver of costs. He acknowledged instructing his former counsel to open negotiations about settling the dispute but denied intending to make a binding offer to settle.

HELD: Appeal allowed. The appellant’s former counsel was retained, had authority to, and was instructed to engage in settlement negotiations. No limitation on his authority was communicated to the respondent. Declining to enforce the settlement would undermine the certainty that was essential to encouraging meaningful settlement negotiations between counsel. The order below was set aside and in its place an order in accordance with the settlement was substituted.

Pierce v. Belows, [2020] O.J. No. 262, Ontario Court of Appeal, J.M. Simmons, P.D. Lauwers and I.V.B. Nordheimer JJ.A., January 24, 2020. Digest No. TLD-March92020009