On the 1st July 2021, the Law Society of Ontario launched new requirements regarding contingency fees. The new rules are designed to enhance transparency and fairness for clients, improving consumer protection and access to justice. As well as this the hope is that the changes will assist legal practitioners with client communication, reducing their administrative burden. The reforms focus on ‘no win, no fee’ contingency fee services, which have historically led to confusion amongst consumers and potential clients over potential costs.
Law Society Treasurer Teresa Donnelly has said: “The contingency fee reforms are intended to benefit the public by helping simplify and standardize the information that individuals receive if they need to engage a lawyer or paralegal to assist them in a legal matter which may result in money being awarded. These reforms also benefit lawyers and paralegals through the creation of standard documents and specified information that must be shared with potential and current clients. This reduces the administrative burden on them.”
Requirements set out in the reforms include:
- a lawyer or paralegal who offers representation on a contingency basis must provide the potential client with a copy of the Law Society’s ‘Contingency fees: What you need to know’ consumer guide
- a lawyer or paralegal who markets legal services on the basis that clients may be charged contingency fees must disclose the general maximum percentage of contingency fee clearly on their website or, in-person if they do not have a website
- the use of a mandatory standard form Contingency Fee Agreement, which uses plain-language