Contingency Fees

Contingency Fees

I have read some negative press lately about Contingency fee agreements between clients and lawyers.  I have been a personal injury lawyer for over ten years and I thought I would share my perspective.  I offer contingency fee arrangements for clients, but am not necessarily advocating for or against them per se.  I think it’s important for clients to have the option to choose from.

Why contingency fees?

If you have been seriously hurt as a result of an unexpected accident then chances are your life has changed dramatically.  There is an interruption in earnings that most people can’t afford for long.  Accident benefits and disability insurance proceeds may help to offset those losses but let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that there will be a total income replacement.  Just getting accident benefit carriers and insurance companies to pay basic benefits that people are entitled to can be challenging.  I have one case in recent memory where a young man lost the use of his right arm entirely.  His insurance adjuster put him in the minor injuries guidelines where his was only entitled to $5,000 in medical rehabilitation and no income replacement.  It took us months just to get him the basic coverage that he had paid for under his accident benefits policy.  Most, if not all, of the personal injury clients that have walked through my door are simply not in a position to pay the firm’s $3,000 retainer.  That’s just the retainer – regular bills for civil litigation will typically range between $20,000 and $50,000 per year.  In my experience personal injury clients are quite happy to have the case proceed on a contingency basis.

Lawyers prefer cash clients

From my perspective I would prefer a cash retainer from personal injury clients and have them take 100% of the proceeds of settlement.  I would issue monthly invoices and protect my cash-flow.  There would be no risk in the litigation for me.  I wouldn’t have to pay thousands of dollars regularly to fund the expert reports necessary to be successful in personal injury litigation.  I’ve invested literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees in cases that are by no means guaranteed to succeed.  I setup lines of credit to cover my overhead and to help manage my cash flow.  I’ve made close calls that didn’t work out – clients didn’t meet threshold or exaggerated their injuries only to be discovered with video surveillance by the defendant insurer.   I don’t recover any fee income from those cases – that work-in-progress literally disappears and I’m left wondering why I didn’t just spend time with my kids instead.

Should we cap contingency fees?

I take files on contingency because the reality is that there really is no other choice.  I’ve read recently that Mike Colle, MP from Eglinton-Lawrence put forth a bill that caps contingency fees at 15%.  That figure is completely ridiculous and shows a total lack of understanding of the issue from Mr. Colle’s perspective.  The reality of the situation is that if you capped contingency agreements at 15% you would be stripping disabled people of their rights and putting money into the pockets of insurance companies and their stakeholders.  That’s what we’re really talking about here:  how is it that we can take a vulnerable section of society, like a group of disabled people, and take advantage of them?  The answer: let’s hamstring the only people out there fighting for them so that we can keep more money in the banking and insurance industry.

Thankfully we have the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association out there who simply will not allow this to stand.  The contingency rates in Ontario are fair and in line with what lawyers across the globe are charging to assume the risks involved in personal injury litigation.  This bill will fail and the Association will continue to advocate for people that have been seriously injured and trying to get some semblance of their lives back.

If you are looking for the real story here – check out the deductible on awards for pain and suffering.  Basically a person who has suffered a permanent and serious impairment as a result of someone else’s negligence has to pay approximately $40,000 to the insurance company for absolutely no reason whatsoever.  Last I checked auto insurance profits in Ontario ranged between $3,000,000,000 and $4,000,000,000.  It’s pretty easy to figure out where that money came from..  and unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be enough.

Get rid of that deductible

I’m going to do my part and work hard and try to get as much as I can for people that have been hurt.  I can’t control what parliament does other than to cast my vote.   I hope that these issues raise awareness and that the Ontario government will look at getting rid of the deductible and standing up for the vulnerable people in this province that are being taken advantage of.  Like and share and create traction – these people really do need help and every little bit counts.

 

6 Things You Should Know Before You Buy a Condo

Purchasing a condominium is not the same as purchasing a house on its own lot. The following list sets out six important things to understand when you are thinking about buying a condo.

1) The Concept of a Condominium

The basic concept behind condominiums is that you purchase sole ownership of a “unit” in a project, together with joint ownership of all common elements of the project with other unit owners. The project is typically a high-rise building or a row of townhouses.

As a unit owner, you become a voting member of the condominium corporation. The condominium corporation elects a board of directors, which makes important decisions about the operation and management of the project.

Owners of condo units have different rights and responsibilities than owners of traditional houses. Condo purchasers must be aware that the use and enjoyment of a condo is restricted by a number of factors that do not exist when purchasing a traditional home on its own lot. However, condo owners are usually spared the routine maintenance problems that come with home ownership.

2) Restrictions on Use

The use and enjoyment of a condo is limited by three kinds of documents: the Declaration; the corporate by-laws; and the rules made by the directors. It is important to review these documents so that you know exactly what you are buying and how your use of the property may be restricted. Ask your lawyer if you have any questions or concerns.

Declaration – This is the document that creates the condominium corporation. It contains descriptions of all of the units in the condo. It also sets out the ownership of the common elements and the obligation of owners to pay common expenses. The declaration may restrict how the units and common elements can be used. A common restriction is to limit the use of the units to residential use.

By-Laws – These are the rules for running the corporation. They set out things like the number of directors, how many directors are required to constitute a quorum, how notice of meetings is given, and so on. It is important to be aware of how the condo corporation is structured, since you will be buying into it.

Rules – The board of directors can pass reasonable rules about the use of the common elements and the units. Owners must comply with these rules. Purchasers should be aware of any rules in existence at the time of purchase. A new rule is effective 30 days after notice is given to each owner. Within this 30-day time period, owners can demand a meeting to reconsider the rule. This requires the support of at least 15% of the owners.

3) Common Elements & Common Expenses

 The common elements of a condo are all of the parts that do not form part of the units. For example: the lobby of a high-rise building; hallways; stairways; elevators; a parking lot; etc. A common element can be designated for the exclusive use of an owner. For example, parking spots in a garage may be assigned to particular units. Backyards and balconies are often considered common elements, but are typically reserved for the exclusive use of the adjacent unit owners.

Common expenses are monthly contributions made by unit owners towards the maintenance and repair of the common elements. The costs of operating the condo development are borne by the condominium corporation. To do this, they collect money from the unit owners each month. Common expenses cover costs for the common elements such as cleaning, gardening, snow removal, management fees, and legal and accounting fees. If an owner fails to make a payment for common expenses, the corporation has an automatic lien against the owner’s unit.

4) Insurance

The corporation must insure the replacement costs of the units and common elements. Unit owners are responsible for insuring any improvements made to their units, as well as the contents of their units.

Therefore, owners do not have to carry fire insurance for the entire unit, because this will be covered by the corporation’s insurance. However, the corporation’s insurance will not cover the unit owner’s contents, or any improvements made by the owner. Most fires will damage items classified as improvements or contents such as wallpaper, rugs, paintings, furniture, etc.

5) Repairs

There is a distinction between regular maintenance and repairing damage.

Maintenance – Generally, the corporation is responsible for maintenance of the common elements and the unit owners are responsible for maintaining their own units. However, this can be altered in the declaration to make the owners responsible for maintaining common elements to which they have exclusive use, e.g. a balcony.

Repairing Damage – When damage occurs, the corporation is responsible for repairing the common elements and the units. However, they are not responsible for repairing any improvements made by the owner to the unit. Owners are responsible for damage they do to the common elements.

6) Reserve Fund

Every condo corporation must maintain a reserve fund. This ensures the corporation will have enough money to cover repair and replacement costs. Reserve fund studies are conducted every three years to determine how much money the corporation should have in the reserve fund.

Owners must contribute to the reserve fund once per year. An owner’s contribution is at least 10% of their annual common expenses, or an amount recommended by the reserve fund study (whichever is greater).

If you are buying or selling a condo and need to find a real estate lawyer to close your transaction, consider Delaney’s Law Firm. We have ten years of experience behind us, competitive rates, and will provide you with the level of service required to ensure the transaction is as stress-free as possible.

Real Estate Closings

Some common things that you should know about real estate closings :

1.   Appointment

With most real estate closings you won’t actually meet with your real estate lawyer until all of the documents are prepared and ready for execution.  This usually occurs a few days prior to the actual closing date, but can be as late as the morning of closing.  At the real estate closing appointment the lawyer will review the various documents associated with your real estate closing with you.  Most of the documents are boiler plate – meaning that they are standard with every transaction.  The execution of these documents typically takes about an hour.

2.  Day of closing

On the day of closing your real estate lawyer will send cheques/keys and executed documents over to the other real estate lawyer’s office.  When both parties have everything that they need one of the lawyers will register the deed and any associated mortgage on title through the province’s electronic land registry system.  Once the deed and mortgage are registered the lawyers can release the keys and cheques to the parties and the real estate deal is officially closed.

3.  Delays

Delays aren’t great but they do happen.  There are a lot of moving parts in a real estate transaction and they don’t always line up.  Lenders and banks won’t always get documents or instructions in on time, conditions in the agreement may not yet be fulfilled, et cetera et cetera.  If there is a delay in the closing the lawyers will typically agree to extend the terms of the deal by way of a letter.  There may be additional costs associated with the delay depending on how long it will take to get it done.

When issues arise the lawyers will always try to work around them to ensure that a deal closes as scheduled.  There are typically fairly severe consequences to one/both parties if a deal cannot close.

If you have bought/sold your home and need to find a real estate lawyer to close your transaction, consider Delaney’s Law Firm.  We have ten years of experience behind us, have competitive rates, and will provide you with the level of service required to make your move as stress free as possible.

If you would like to get started please complete the contact form below and our office will contact you.

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Ottawa Real estate closings

Real estate closings

Ottawa real estate closings are a big part of the success of Delaney’s Law Firm.  Bryan Delaney has closed thousands of real estate transactions over the years and is experienced.  Closing a real estate deal is typically very straight forward, however every once in awhile issues can crop up that make the closing more difficult.  Only experience and expertise can help smooth out these issues and ensure that the deal closes as promptly as possible.

The majority of the work done to close a real estate transaction is done by a law clerk.  The law clerk responsible for real estate at Delaney’s Law Firm is Rosana Yaworski.  Here is a short video about Rosana!

Rosana works extremely hard to ensure that your real estate closing goes smoothly.  She will keep you informed at every stage and will work with you and your lender.

Real estate lawyer’s role

The lawyer’s role in a residential real estate closing is to act as the middle man between the buyers and the sellers, their lenders, and the agent.  The lawyers take a firm agreement of purchase and sale and deliver it to closing – where the parties end up with either money or keys.

If you are looking for a lawyer to handle your Ottawa real estate closing or if you would like to learn more about the process give Rosana a call at (613) 233-7000 or complete an intake form below.

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Family Law Lawyers

Family law lawyers in Ottawa range between $150 and $600 per hour depending on their years of experience and which firm they are with.  Most family lawyers are in the $150 to $300 range.  While family lawyers are expensive most people going through a family law crises continue to use them because of the importance of the issues being contested.

The first thing a family law lawyer will do is get a handle on the facts of the case.  A certain level of disclosure (statements/documents) is required.  The amount of disclosure will depend on how complex the case is.  Typically family law issues fall under the following headings.

  1. Custody
  2. Access
  3. Child Support
  4. Spousal Support
  5. Division of Property

Custody and access are parenting issues that arise when the parents can’t agree upon the best interests of the child.  Family lawyers will use mediation or alternative dispute resolution processes to have the parties reach an agreement.  It is common for family law litigants to believe that a settlement is impossible, however most (~95%) of family law cases settle prior to going to trial.

Family law lawyers can be highly effective in custody/access disputes because they provide the parties with objective, reasonable advise.  They are often familiar with similar decisions and have a network of service providers (child psychologists, social workers, accountants) to assist the family in getting through the conflict.  Family law lawyers will typically reduce the level of conflict during a divorce and expedite a settlement.

If you need a family law lawyer please complete the intake form below to schedule a consultation.

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Legal Services – Bryan Delaney

Legal Services provided by Bryan Delaney include:

Administrative Law
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Social Program
Business Law
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Incorporations
Independent Legal Advice
Sports Law
Civil Law
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Co-op Housing
Estate Litigation
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Personal Injury
Property Damage
Residential Landlord and Tenant (Landlord)
Residential Landlord and Tenant (Tenant)
Slander / Libel
Small Claims Court
Wrongful Dismissal
Estate Law
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Elder Law
Estate Administration and Distribution
Estate Litigation
Estate Planning
Independent Legal Advice
Living Wills
Power of Attorney
Representation Agreements
Trusts
Wills
Family Law
Adoption
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Annulments
Bankruptcy and Insolvency
Child / Spousal Support
Child Custody / Access
Child Protection Proceedings
Collaborative Family Law
Committeeship (Mental Incompetency)
Division of Property / Assets
Domestic Contract
Family Court of Appeal
Independent Legal Advice
International Divorce
Paternity
Restraining Orders
Separation / Divorce
Uncontested Divorce
Variation Orders
Labour and Employment Law
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Arbitration – Interests and Rights
Employment Contracts
Employment Equity
Employment Insurance (EI)
Employment Standards
Human Rights / Discrimination
Individual Employee Representations
Management Representation
Occupational Health and Safety
Pensions
Professional Discipline Hearings
Sexual Harassment / Discrimination
Sports Law
Union Certification / Decertification
Unionized Personnel
Work Permits / Visas
Wrongful Dismissal
WSIB / WCB / WSB
Real Estate Law
Condominium Contract
Independent Legal Advice
Mortgage Agreements
Residential Real Estate
Rural Real Estate

Affidavits, Notarizations and Statutory Declarations

 

Delaney’s Law Firm provides legal services from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  There is almost always a lawyer in the office that is available for notarizations.  The costs of the notarizations vary, but a simple notarization is $34.99.

The firm has staff that can help you to prepare affidavits and statutory declarations.  The law clerks in the office are able to commission those documents on site.  If you need to scan, email or fax the documents there is no additional charge.

The firm’s real estate lawyer is able to witness or provide independent legal advice on real estate closings, contracts, separation agreements, or any other written instrument.

It is easier for the staff if you call ahead to schedule the appointment.  The phone number is (613) 233-7000, or email info@ottawalawyer.com.

 

Estimated Court Costs in Family law

This post is designed to inform potential or existing family law litigants about the estimated legal fees involved with contested court proceedings. These are estimates only – costs will vary from firm to firm and from lawyer to lawyer.

Intake and Pleadings

Some firms will offer a free consultation – these consults are designed to bring potential clients in the door in the hope that they will retain the firm or lawyer offering the free consultation. While the notion of *free* consults is tempting, the first question that I would be asking is why the lawyer involved has enough free time to offer free consultations. Most of the top family lawyers in Ottawa are busy all day every day.

The cost of intake will vary depending on the stage of the proceeding. If no case has been started it should only take the lawyer an hour or two to get up to speed. If you are heading for trial in a week the intake stage could take between two and twenty hours of time – $500 to $5,000 in fees.

Drafting a family law application and/or answer provides the court with the necessary facts and advises as to what issues are in dispute. Pleadings typically take between three and ten hours to draft, dependant upon the level of complexity and the number of family law issues involved. Costs for pleadings should range between $500 and $5,000.

A reasonable figure to assume for intake and pleadings for a standard case is $2,000.

Case Conference

The first court appearance in a family law case is the case conference. A case conference is typically held before a “Master.” The two acting Masters in Ottawa are Master McLeod and Master Roger. Masters are similar to judges, only with more limited powers in terms of what orders they can make. A Master will typically only make orders at a case conference with respect to having the parties disclose documents to one another. They will provide the parties with a summary opinion on the matter before the courts and give them advice on how to resolve the conflict.

Family Law case conferences were introduced as a way of having the parties meet and get an opinion at an early stage, before legal fees are incurred. The hope is to have the family law cases settle at an early stage in the litigation process to get them out of the court systems and to save the litigants money.

In order to proceed to a case conference there are some documents that need to be prepared. These include a case conference brief and accompanying affidavit of service, and a confirmation form. The brief gives the Master a top down look at the case and outlines the orders that are being requested. The confirmation lets the court know that they parties are prepared to proceed and gives an indication of how much time will be spent.

The bulk of the legal fees incurred for a case conference stem from the preparation of the case conference brief and the amount of time spent in court. Drafting the brief will usually take a couple of hours. Court time can vary depending on how long the list is on that particular day. Lawyers and their clients must wait for their turn on the court docket before making their submissions to the Master. Court dates usually take a couple of hours as well.

A reasonable estimate of costs associated with preparation for and attendance at a case conference would be $2,500.

Interim Motions

Interim motions can become necessary if something needs to be resolved at an early stage in the proceeding. Some common examples; interim spousal support, child support, possession of the matrimonial home, access rights, or sale of the matrimonial home. The cost of preparing the notice of motion, affidavit, and factum is usually between $5,000 and $10,000. The court time is usually an additional three to five hours. A reasonable estimate is about $8,000.

Mediation

Mediation isn’t mandatory in family law, but it comes strongly recommended. Any family law lawyer worth his/her salt will shuttle the parties into mediation at some point during the process in order to facilitate settlement talks. A resolution that is consented to by both parties is always superior to one handed down by a third party. A typical day of mediation with counsel will cost about $2,000. This covers preparation time (mediators will ask for briefs in advance), attendance at the mediation and the mediator’s fees.

Settlement Conference

A settlement conference is the last step before the parties proceed to trial. Parties in the family law justice system are required to attend at a settlement conference prior to having their matter placed on a trial list. The settlement conference is always held before a judge. The judge will review the matter and provide an opinion from the bench on the merits of the case. Each judge has a slightly different manner in which they conduct a settlement conference with varying degrees of success.

Settlement conferences require briefs and are similar to case conference in terms of their costs. $2,500 to $5,000 is a reasonable figure to assume, with variance given to the number of remaining issues and how in depth counsel wish to go to encourage settlement.

Trial

For each day of trial, judges and lawyers expect to see two days of preparation. Each day of trial is a ten hour work day for most counsel. That’s $2,500 plus the $5,000 in prep time. The length of the trial will largely depend on the number of witnesses involved. Each witness will typically take a half day or a full day in testimony. The number of days in trial will greatly vary depending on how much evidence must be presented to the trial judge in order to have him/her make a decision. A five day trial would cost $37,500 plus HST and disbursements – about $45,000.

These cost estimates are general and will vary greatly between firms and lawyers, types of cases, and the litigants behaviour itself. There is one thing that is clear however; using lawyers and the justice system to resolve your conflicts will guarantee a result, but the costs are palpable. You have to weigh them into your decision making process at the outset and throughout the course of the conflict resolution process.