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Contingency fee reform — enhancing consumer protection & reducing licensee burdens

June 24, 2021

TORONTO, ON — On July 1, new requirements regarding contingency fees will come into force. The changes enhance consumer protection by improving transparency and fairness for clients – thereby improving access to justice. The changes also benefit lawyers and paralegals by assisting with client communication and reducing administrative burdens.

“If you don’t win, you don’t pay.” Legal services advertised in this manner, indicate that a firm, lawyer or paralegal works on a contingency fee basis. In the past, what contingency fees are, what they include and how much they could end up costing may have been unclear to potential clients.

“The contingency fee reforms are intended to benefit the public by helping simplify and standardize the information that individuals receive if they need to engage a lawyer or paralegal to assist them in a legal matter which may result in money being awarded,” said Law Society Treasurer Teresa Donnelly. “These reforms also benefit lawyers and paralegals through the creation of standard documents and specified information that must be shared with potential and current clients. This reduces the administrative burden on them.”

Beginning July 1,  any lawyer or paralegal who offers to represent an individual on a contingency basis must provide the potential client with a copy of the Law Society’s Contingency fees: What you need to know consumer guide and a reasonable amount of time to review and consider the information.

Additionally, a lawyer or paralegal who markets legal services on the basis that clients may be charged contingency fees, must disclose the general maximum percentage of contingency fee clearly on their website or, if they do not have a website, by providing this information during the initial client contact.

To provide further clarity in contingency fee arrangements,  the reforms also include a mandatory standard form Contingency Fee Agreement, which uses plain-language to ensure that the agreement is easily understood by clients and lawyers or paralegals.

Consumers and licensees can learn more about contingency fees and the changes on LSO.ca.

The Law Society regulates lawyers and paralegals in Ontario in the public interest. The Law Society has a mandate to protect the public interest, to maintain and advance the cause of justice and the rule of law, to facilitate access to justice for the people of Ontario, and to act in a timely, open and efficient manner.

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Media contact: Jennifer Wing, Senior Communications Advisor, External Relations and Communications, jwing@lso.ca. Follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

This release was updated on July 16, 2021 to clarify the requirements regarding the disclosure of the general maximum percentage of contingency fees on websites.
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