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Personal Injury

Private member's bill seeks to cap contingency fees

An Ontario private member's bill seeking to cap contingency fees would force some lawyers to revert to an hourly rate, Toronto personal injury lawyer Darryl Singer tells The Lawyers Daily.

Such a shift would likely mean injured plaintiffs would not receive a bill until a file is complete — and likely at a higher cost than under a straight contingency arrangement, says Singer, principal of Singer Barristers Professional Corporation.

As the article explains, Bill 103, introduced by Mike Colle, a Liberal MPP for Eglinton-Lawrence, would amend the Law Society Act and the Solicitors Act to cap contingency fees at 15 per cent of the total damage award in personal injury claims.

But Singer says capping fees would become cost prohibitive for many lawyers, forcing them to take on fewer personal injury cases.

“The overhead on a file can be 50-60 per cent, the time to get paid on such a file can be anywhere from a year to seven years,” he says. “Lawyers will become much more selective about files they are going to carry.”

Still, Singer tells the online publication that the chances of the bill becoming law are slim, with the Ontario Progressive Conservative leader saying he does not support it.

“And I’m not sure all the (Ontario) Liberals support it,” Singer adds.

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