Class Action, Commercial Litigation

Decision challenging court-appointed monitor fees 'unusual'

A recent decision by a British Columbia court to question fees already paid to a court-appointed monitor is unusual, as judges are normally reluctant to overly scrutinize the accounts of these officials, Toronto commercial litigation and class-action lawyer Brian Radnoff tells Law Times.

In the case, B.C. Justice Brenda Brown ordered a class-action support firm to repay the federal government almost $900,000 after ruling that it ran up unnecessary costs while investigating a law firm accused of misconduct in the residential schools class action process.

The class-action support firm was hired in 2007 to administer the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement class action approved by judges in nine provinces and territories.

Radnoff, partner with Dickinson Wright, tells Law Times that it is “very unusual” to see a decision that challenges fees already paid to a court-appointed monitor.

“There isn’t a lot of law on the issue, because courts are generally loath to overly scrutinize the accounts of court-appointed officials,” explains Radnoff.

“There is usually a significant amount of deference given when it comes to the fees requested for court approval, but I think it’s fair to say there were some pretty extraordinary circumstances here.”

Although the unique facts of this case make it “a bit of an outlier,” Radnoff says in the article, he adds that judges now seem to be more willing to question the accounts of monitors appointed by the court in bankruptcy and receivership cases.

“I think when courts see very significant amounts, they are being a bit more careful these days,” he says.

“They do have a gatekeeper function and they want to exercise it properly.”

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