380876 BC LTD v Perrick Law Corp. 2009 BCSC 601 reviewed the law relating to the unique relationship between a lawyer and client, as it related to a claim for excessive fees under a contingency fee agreement.
The court stated that it is trite law that the relationship between a lawyer and client is contractual and is one of utmost good faith.
The relationship is one of privileged communications. Unlike any other profession, including the medical profession and priesthood, and the contract for legal services is governed by equitable considerations which temper the application of strict law. Abel v Burke 2000 BCCA 284 reviewed this unique relationship at paragraphs 14 and 20.
A lawyer has a duty to advise the client fully and fairly concerning the terms of his or her lawyer client retainer. Ladner Downs v Crowley (1987) 14 BCLR (2d) 357 at 377.
The law with respect to the determination of the retainer is well settled, being that the onus is always on the lawyer to prove his or her retainer. Re Dickie et al (1916) 23 BCR 538(C.A.)
The British appeal court in Griffiths v Evans (1953) 2 AllER 1364 stated that were there is a dispute as between the lawyer and the client on the terms of the retainer, the word of the client is to be accepted, or at least given more weight, unless there is some evidence to corroborate the word of the solicitor, or which tends to support the solicitors evidence. Any ambiguity in the fee contract will be resolved against the lawyer on the basis of the “ contra proferentum” rule. Prodor v Newell (1994) 93 BCLR (2d) 98 (CA).