8.8 Contingency Fee Agreements - Other Issues
It is important that you turn your mind to the sorts of issues that can arise in a Contingency Fee Agreement (such as how disbursements are to be billed and paid) and craft a Contingency Fee Agreement that takes these matters into account.
Disbursements are usually charged as the file proceeds, so it is good practice to create a mechanism that allows for this. Examples of disbursements on a personal injury contingency file include invoices for clinical records or police files.
Note: it is important to keep accurate records of your time spent on a file even though you have entered into a contingency fee arrangement as the reasonableness of your fee may still be challenged. For example: you have taken on a client on a contingency fee basis and have conducted the file past examinations for discovery. Your client becomes displeased with you and decides to change lawyers. You have released the file to the new lawyer on her undertaking to pay your fees for work you performed to date out of the eventual settlement or award in the case. You have not tracked any of your time on the file. This puts you in a difficult position if there is a fee review (where a client challenges the amount of your fee before a Court Review Officer) and, to a certain extent, puts you at the mercy of the new counsel. If you kept little to no record of the work you did, it would be very difficult to prove how much time you spent. Keeping accurate and detailed records of your time gives you the best chance to recover a reasonable fee for your labour.
See “Contingency Fee Issues”.