You're Fired! Changing Lawyers During a BC Supreme Court Lawsuit
(photo taken by Gage Skidmore)
As previously discussed, sometimes lawyers and clients have irreparable differences and it’s necessary to move on either by getting a new lawyer or representing yourself. Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vernon Registry, discussing the different formal steps that could be taken under the Rules of Court during an active lawsuit when a client and a lawyer have a parting of ways.
In this week’s case (Sandhu v. Household Reality Corporation Limited) the Plaintiffs and their lawyer had a falling out in the course of a lawsuit. An application was brought to declare that the lawyers were no longer the “lawyers of record for the plaintiffs“. In granting the application Mr. Justice Barrow provided the following concise and useful summary of the application of the Rules of Court when a fracture in the lawyer/client relationship occurs during an active BC Supreme Court lawsuit:
 The Rules of Court set out what amounts to a code governing how lawyers may cease to be the lawyer of record and their office the address for delivery in an action. There are essentially three ways that can be accomplished. The first and most common way is by the client filing a notice of intention to act in person or hiring another lawyer who files a notice of change of lawyer, the second is by the retiring lawyer filing a notice of intention to withdraw, and the third is by court order. The second method is intended to avoid an unnecessary court application in circumstances where, for one reason or another, the lawyer-client relationship has fractured but the client has not retained another lawyer or filed a notice of intention to act in person. It has the effect of putting the onus on the client to either object to the lawyer’s withdrawal or acquiesce in that result, in which case the address for delivery becomes the client’s address as set out in the notice.
 In addition to providing the method for changing lawyers, the rule operates such that the party whose lawyer is retiring will always have an address for delivery so that opposing parties, who have no interest in becoming embroiled in disputes that have nothing to do with them, are able to proceed with the litigation. That is the regime. It is set out in Rule 22-6. In the vast majority of cases, it works well. Mr. Merchant ignored this regime in this case.