Alberta Law: Negligence of Lawyers
Like most other professionals, lawyers are susceptible to being sued for negligence if their actions or mistakes cause loss. When acting for client, lawyers owe a duty of care to bring reasonable care, skill and knowledge to their work on the client’s file. Lawyers have to act on behalf of their clients to the level of a reasonably or ordinarily competent barrister and solicitor. They also owe a contractual duty under their retainer agreement.
In the case of Dhillon v Hundal, 2020 ABQB 522, Mr. Justice James T. Neilson looked at the issue of negligence, in the context of clients who suffered a loss based on a deal that they had entered before seeing the lawyer for advice.
At paragraph 21 the court said the following:
Having been consulted by the Plaintiffs for legal advice, Luthra owed a duty of care to the Plaintiffs. However, in order to determine whether Luthra was negligent and breached his common law duty of care to the Plaintiffs, one must, first of all, delineate the scope of his retainer.As the Supreme Court of Canada stated in Strother v 3464920 Canada Inc., 2007 SCC 24 at paragraph 34:
When a lawyer is retained by a client, the scope of the retainer is governed by contract. It is for the parties to determine how many, or how few, services the lawyer is to perform, and other contractual terms of the engagement.
In going to find that the lawyer was not negligent the court said at 30:
The law is clear. A lawyer is not a client’s insurer, and a lawyer may not be held liable for the consequences that flow from a binding deal that was negotiated prior to the lawyer even being retained in the matter. Laskin J.A. made that point strongly in Wong v. 407527 Ontario Limited.
If you believe you have suffered a loss due to a lawyer's negligence, please feel free to contact us.
The information contained in this article is not legal advice. No solicitor client relationship is formed through this article. The reader is encouraged to retain counsel for advice in these matters.