The Financial Post just reported the findings of a recent study funded by the Insurance Bureau of Canada (“Law professor questions whether contingency fees benefit clients”, Legal Post, January 18 2017). Professor Allan Hutchinson of York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School wrote A Study of the Costs of Legal Services in Personal Injury Litigation in Ontario.
Professor Hutchinson acknowledged the access to justice and other benefits to plaintiffs arising from CFAs. Nevertheless, he concluded: “As things stand now and as a result of the research done for this study, it cannot be reported that the present scheme in regard to CFAs is operating to protect and advance the interests of clients in their dealings with lawyers.”
Perhaps most damaging to the legal profession was his assessment of the response to his initial survey. He writes, “… the Plaintiffs’ Bar seems to be almost uniquely united in striving to resist any efforts to render the fee-charging process more transparent and knowable. Accordingly, this Report has been written not only without any assistance from the Plaintiffs’ Bar, but with its concerted opposition.”
Initial reader comments from the Legal Post article mention the risks lawyers take, the costs they carry, and the motivation created to do one’s best for the plaintiff:
- “Not only do they have the costs of fronting the expenses with regard to the case, but they also have the risk of loss and getting nothing in return. Therefore,