When a lawyer changes firms clients usually have a choice of whether to stay with their present firm or follow their lawyer to the new firm. In the case of personal injury files prosecuted on a contingency basis there are often disbursements associated with the files. When a client wishes to follow their lawyer to a new firm and have their file transfered who has the burden of paying for the disbursements? Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, tackling this issue.
In today’s case (Sagert v. Cascade Law Corporation) the Petitioner’s employment with the Respondent law firm ended. Approximately 58 of the Petitioner’s clients elected to have their claims stay with the Petitioner. The Respondent firm had incurred disbursements on these files. The firm argued that these had to be paid before the files would be transferred. The Petitioner brought an application to have the files transferred without up front payment of disbursements. The Court concluded that the firm was within their right to demand payment of disbursements prior to transfer. In reaching this conclusion Mr. Justice Wilson provided the following reasons: