Ontario government improves access to justice for Ontarians

October 1, 2004

	    Regulated Contingency Fees Protect Consumers And Make Legal Services More 

	    TORONTO, Oct. 1 /CNW/ - Today's proclamation of the amended Solicitors
Act means improved access to legal services for Ontarians who hire lawyers on
a contingency fee basis, Attorney General Michael Bryant announced.
	    "Consumers will be better informed when entering into contingency fee
agreements, and their interests will be protected through safeguards in the
new regulation," said Bryant. "This will especially help lower-and-middle
income people."
	    Contingency fee agreements allow a client to pay legal fees only in the
event of success. If the case is successful, the client will be charged an
agreed upon amount, usually a percentage of the amount recovered. If the case
is unsuccessful, the client pays no legal fees.
	    The new regulatory protections:
	    -  Require all contingency fee agreements to be made in writing
	    -  prohibit contingency fees in criminal, quasi-criminal and family law
	    -  prohibit a lawyer from getting paid more than the client recovers
	    -  set out specific protections for minors and incapable adults.
	    "The Law Society commends the Attorney General for recognizing the
importance of contingency fees in promoting greater access to legal services
and taking the initiative to make it a reality," said Law Society Treasurer
Frank Marrocco, Q.C. "Contingency fee arrangements benefit consumers,
particularly those with limited incomes, by offering the public another option
for paying fair and reasonable legal fees."
	    "We are providing real, positive change that will enhance access to
justice and build stronger communities by regulating contingency fees," said
Bryant. "This will help break down the cost barrier for many people."