Laws and Events
Bill 103 and Why it Should Matter to You
On March 8th, 2017, Bill 103 was introduced to the Ontario Legislative Assembly and relates heavily to matters regarding personal injury law and client agreements. The bill makes it increasingly difficult for injured victims to find the help and counsel they need when pursuing an at-fault person. Contingency fee arrangements are commonly used in personal injury law and allow for both clients and attorneys to work together, without the financial stresses that come along with legal battles. Someone who is injured can hire a lawyer on a contingency basis – meaning they only have to pay the lawyer a percentage of the total settlement. No upfront fees or retainer payments; clients are free of financial burdens and litigation risks. However, with the introduction of this new bill, contingency fees would be limited to 15% of the total settlement. A low cap such as this would discourage personal injury lawyers from taking on clients that are not as serious, and would leave injured victims vulnerable and without proper counsel.
Without having trained personal injury lawyers on a contingency basis, clients would be forced to pay massive hourly fees, represent themselves, or not pursue justice at all. Access to justice for injured people would be hindered by the introduction of this bill. Affording a lawyer can be an expensive and daunting task; the contingency fees are what allows for victims to receive the settlement (and often times accident benefits from their own insurance company) that they deserve.
The bill plants more restrictions on advertising regulations and states: Advertisements offering legal representation in respect to personal injury claims would have to be submitted to the Law Society of Upper Canada for review. They can only be shown to the public after being approved.
The issues in this situation are complicated, but still essential to understand. In this legal climate, insurance companies have an unfair advantage against the general public. Whether it’s because injured victims of car accidents or slip and falls are unaware of their rights, or because they can’t afford legal proceedings; insurance companies are able to get away without taking any actions. This bill increases the unfair advantage of insurance companies and prevents clients from seeking the right counsel and justice that they deserve.