A Contingency Fee Agreement is a retainer agreement in which no legal fees are charged to our clients, unless we are able to recover damages by either a negotiated settlement or by a judgement of a court or tribunal. Contingency Fees greatly increase access to justice in Ontario, as meritorious claims can proceed when the injured person is unable to pay legal fees to a lawyer on an hourly basis.
At Horowitz Injury Law, our clients are never charged any up-front fees and we will cover the expenses on your behalf to third parties for items and services needed to support your case. Examples of disbursements that can be validly charged include court filing fees, hiring of court reporters, costs of transcripts, copies of documents prepared for the use of a Judge and the cost of expert reports and medical records. Generally, we expect to recover these incurred disbursements from the other side at the time the case is successfully concluded.
As mandated by the Law Society of Ontario, effective July 1, 2021, for new agreements, all lawyers in Ontario will be required to use a Standard Form Contingency Fee Agreement and provide the prospective client with the Law Society’s consumer guide called Contingency Fees: What You Need to Know, before the client enters into a Contingency Fee Agreement. If you are considering entering into a Contingency Fee Agreement with Horowitz Injury Law, or any law firm in Ontario, it is imperative that you read the guide before you retain our firm and be prepared to ask any questions you have about contingency fees and the standard form agreement.
Different types of personal injury cases have varying degrees of risk and may involve more complex disputes on the issues of liability and causation. In cases involving medical malpractice, professional negligence and products liability, the defendants will very likely defend the claims aggressively and we will act on the basis that the matter will very likely proceed to trial. These kinds of cases will often require additional expert evidence. In these kinds of cases, and cases where fault will be difficult to prove, our firm will be taking on significant financial risk. Generally, in higher-risk cases, our contingency fee percentage will be higher.
As further mandated by the Law Society of Ontario, effective July 1, 2021, all law firms in Ontario who enter into Contingency Fee Agreements, are required to post their maximum fees on their websites.
For cases that are resolved prior to a trial or hearing, legal fees will be charged on a Contingency Fee basis where the maximum fee will not exceed 30% of the damages and cost portion of the settlement or award.
In certain cases, I may include in the Contingency Fee Agreement, a staged or graduated contingency fee, where the percentage that I charge changes, depending on the stage at which the matter is resolved, but in any event, the maximum fee will not exceed 35% of the damages and cost portion of the settlement or award for a trial or hearing.
In exceptional cases, I may ask, in the Contingency Fee Agreement, for the right to choose between the contingency fee or the costs awarded, plus in some cases, an additional amount for a trial or a hearing.
I set the contingency fee percentage based on a review of the case. If the case is straightforward and is likely to settle prior to a trial or hearing, the percentage may be lower. If the case is complex and I am taking on significant financial risk, because the case may not succeed, I may set the percentage of the contingency higher.
Generally, the main factors I consider in determining the contingency fee percentage, is how much time I estimate I will have to spend on the file, the risk that the case may be lost, and how much money I think the client might receive as a settlement or award.
If you have any questions about contingency fees, please give Horowitz Injury Law a call anytime, at 416-925-4100.