Why can’t I claim my legal fees for my personal injury settlement?
By: Emma Neynens, Associate Lawyer
When you are injured in a motor vehicle accident and retain a personal injury lawyer, you typically sign the Form 1 Contingent Fee Agreement (“CFA”) provided by the Law Society of New Brunswick. This CFA states that the client agrees to pay the lawyer a fee of 25% of the total amount recovered, exclusive of costs, charges, disbursements.
A question that we frequently get asked is “why can’t I claim the 25% against the tortfeasor?”
The answer is short: the Rules of Court of New Brunswick do not allow for recovery of the fees outlined in the CFA. Rule 59 deals with costs of proceedings between parties and there are various tariffs that depend on the circumstances of the case. That is all you are permitted to claim against the tortfeasor for legal fees.
If, for example, your case settled for $100,000 outside of court and you had no disbursements, the fee payable pursuant to the CFA would be $25,000 +HST. The costs claimable pursuant to the Rule 59, Tariff “C” are only $2,950 +HST. The $2,950 +HST is used toward the legal fees, but the remaining fees pursuant to the CFA are paid from the damages portion of your settlement as outlined in the CFA.
We claim everything that we can for your benefit and are committed to getting you the best possible settlement, but we are restricted by the Rules of Court of New Brunswick when it comes to claiming legal fees.
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