Legal Fee Disputes (Business)

Legal fee issues arise in many contexts. Sometimes, lawyers are faced with clients who are simply unable or unwilling to pay their bills and need help with collecting what they are owed, or with issues relating to security for payment. Disputes may also arise about the fairness or reasonableness of the terms of a retainer agreement, or about the amount of a lawyer’s bill. Occasionally, lawyers are faced with situations where their charges require the approval of the court.

Hamilton Duncan has extensive experience handling all of these kinds of matters and more. We are one of only a few firms in British Columbia that practices in this area regularly.

We frequently act for law firms of all sizes in court proceedings where their bills or retainer agreements have been challenged, where they have simply been unable to collect the amounts they are owed from their clients, or where they are required to obtain court approval for their fees. We also regularly advise lawyers and law firms of all types with respect to the preparation of retainer agreements, and on matters pertaining to available means of securing their fees.

We also represent clients faced with legal bills from other lawyers that they feel are excessive. In these cases, we provide effective advocacy in an effort to ensure that the amount that our clients are ultimately required to pay are reasonable in all the circumstances.

Typical matters that we handle in the area include:

  • Reviews of lawyers’ bills under the Legal Profession Act, and court actions over lawyers’ charges and for collection of amounts owed
  • Examinations of retainer agreements under the Legal Profession Act
  • Court applications for approval of lawyers’ fees where such approval is required, such as class proceedings and matters involving infants or persons under disability
  • Providing advice regarding possessory liens, charging orders and other forms of security for legal fees, and representation as counsel in disputes in relation to those remedies
  • Advising on retainer agreements and billing practices to help avoid later disputes and litigation


Our group is headed by one of our partners, Greg Palm, who has spent nearly 15 years in the area and who is a frequent author and presenter on a variety of topics relating to legal fees.

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