Rastin: Contingency Fee Proposals Could Hurt Modest Claimants

three people in meeting

A contingency fee cap could hamper access to justice for accident victims with smaller claims, Barrie personal injury lawyer Steve Rastin says. He discusses the Law Society of Upper Canada's (LSUC) Advertising and Fee Arrangements Issues Working Group, which recently released a set of proposals for simplifying contingency fee arrangements. One of the group's suggestions included a cap, but Rastin, partner at Rastin Gluckstein Lawyers, says that idea could hit modest claims, considering the risks lawyers take when they accept contingency fee retainers.

"I don't think there is ever going to be a problem getting lawyers to take on a large case. I think that a cap may function as a disincentive in smaller cases as an access to justice issue to get people to take them on," Rastin says. Additionally, the working group plans to firm up its proposals in the next few months after giving practising lawyers a chance to have their say in a consultation process. Another idea it floated would see the LSUC asking for amendments to the "Solicitors Act" so that contingency fees are based on the total compensation paid out, less disbursements, eliminating the confusion created by lawyers' current inability to take fees from costs.

Basing contingency fees on a global settlement would make things much simpler for clients to understand, Rastin says in the story. "And it relieves some of the possible avenues for abuse," he adds.


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