The courts are constantly criticizing lawyers for not communicating with their clients. The latest case in which a lawyer was criticized in this regard was a decision of Mr. Justice Salhany in Ruetz v. Morscher & Morscher (1996), 28 O.R. (3d) 545 (O.C.G.D.).
The case dealt with an appeal relating to whether a solicitor’s account could be assessed. We will not deal with the merits of the case or the decision. The judge decided that the account should not be assessed and that the solicitor’s fees were reasonable. However, the judge refused to award the successful solicitor the costs of the motion for the following reasons:
“There is an obligation upon the members of the law profession to keep their clients fully informed of the work which they perform on their behalf. A solicitor who fails to carry out that duty cannot complain when the client applies to the court questioning the actions of the solicitor. In this case I accept that the client contacted the solicitor regularly to find out the progress of his lawsuit and that the solicitor reported orally to him. However, this was a complicated medical malpractice action involving the parents of a child who suffered severe physical and mental defects as a result of the negligence of the defendant doctors. They were entitled to be kept up to date on the progress of the file. The fact that the solicitor was not to be paid unless successful did not diminish that obligation.”
We offer one word of solace. This is the same judge who, on an assessment appeal, disallowed all time for research because, in his opinion, a lawyer is supposed to know the law.