Lawyer Fee Disputes

Understanding Your Bill

The Law Society requires that lawyers’ fees be fair and reasonable and that they be disclosed to the client in a timely manner.

If you do not agree with the amount or do not understand something on your bill or you want more detail about the fees, discuss it with your lawyer. Your lawyer is required to provide you with this detail at no additional charge to you. If you and your lawyer cannot resolve your disagreement, and you would like to pursue this matter further see Requesting a Review or Assessment.

What makes a lawyer’s fee fair and reasonable, will depend on a number of factors such as:

  • The time and effort required and spent
  • The difficulty of the matter and the importance of it to the client
  • Whether special skill or service was required and provided
  • The results obtained
  • Fees authorized by statute or regulation
  • Special circumstances (urgency, postponement of payment, uncertainty of reward)
  • Was the client told that acceptance of the client’s case would result in the lawyer being unable to accept other employment?
  • Any relevant agreement between the lawyer and the client
  • The experience and ability of the lawyer
  • Any estimate or range of fees given by the lawyer
  • The client’s prior consent to the fee

Mortgage Foreclosure or Estate Administration

The fees that are charged for mortgage foreclosures or estate administration are set by tariffs and controlled by other processes.  As a result, they cannot be reviewed by arbitration or assessment.  You can call the Law Society for more information on how to have fees reviewed for these types of matters.

Requesting a Review or Assessment

If you and your lawyer cannot resolve your disagreement, you can ask that the fee be reviewed either by an arbitrator or be assessed by the courts.

The complaint process cannot give you a refund or reduction of fees.

Choosing the Option that’s Right for You

The Law Society Arbitrator Review

Court of Queen’s Bench Fee Assessment

Considerations and Factors

  • A private informal process.
  • The Law Society will arrange a neutral arbitrator or panel of three arbitrators.
  • Free of charge.
  • Both you and your lawyer must agree to participate.
  • A public formal court process.
  • The assessment will be done by an officer of the court.
  • $35.00 filing fee and application required.
  • The lawyer must participate if you apply, but you are required to apply within six months of receiving your lawyer’s last statement of account.

Possible Outcomes

  • The arbitrator(s) will either reduce the fee or uphold it.
  • No appeal process – Decisions are final.
  • The court may reduce or uphold the fee. Costs may also be awarded against you or the lawyer.
  • Both you and the lawyer have the right to appeal the decision.

Contact Information

The Law Society of Manitoba

Debbie Rossol | Fee Arbitration Coordinator

Court of Queen’s Bench

Requesting a Review for Contingency Fees

Where an agreement has been made for the lawyer to be paid a percentage of the amount recovered, you must apply to the
Court of Queen’s Bench within six months of the lawyer being paid.

For more information, call the Court of Queen’s Bench directly at 204-945-0344.

When you might request a review or assessment and make a complaint?

The complaint process cannot give you a refund or reduction of fees.

If you have other concerns about the conduct or competence of your lawyer the Law Society of Manitoba wants to hear about it. Our Complaints Resolution Department evaluates all aspects about the complaint being made and will determine if further action is required. For more information about the complaints process and possible outcomes, visit the complaints section of our website.