Lawyer accused of ‘solicitor negligence’ in wrongful dismissal case awarded more than $50,000 in costs by Ontario court

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A lawyer and law firm in Ontario have been awarded more than $50,000 in legal costs in a case where the plaintiff alleged solicitor negligence in a wrongful dismissal case.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice noted that the defendants, Richard Furlong and Furlong Collins, were “wholly successful” in the three-day action. The defendants sought $51,299.61 in costs, all inclusive, on a partial indemnity basis.

“The issues were of importance to both parties,” the court said. “They were particularly important to the defendant and his professional reputation.”

In reaching the decision on costs, Justice Brown considered various factors. The legal premise for awarding costs is to reimburse the successful party, either partially or, in rare cases, fully, for their legal expenses. These costs must be reasonable, proportional to the case, and align with the expectations of the involved parties.

The court noted the experience level of the attorneys involved. The plaintiff’s team comprised two senior counsel, while the defendant’s counsel was recognized for handling the majority of the case work himself, delegating only specific tasks to his law clerk. This delegation was deemed appropriate by Justice Brown.

A pivotal point in the case was the argument from the plaintiffs that their trial costs totaled $27,402.73, referencing a security for costs award of $25,000 ordered four years prior to the trial. However, Justice Brown observed that these figures did not necessarily reflect the cost expectations at the time of the trial.

“The amount claimed in the action was $100,000 and would more appropriately have been brought under the summary proceeding rules,” the court said. “However, the plaintiffs chose to bring their action under the ordinary procedure.”

Highlighting the importance of the issues to both parties, especially to the defendant’s professional reputation, and acknowledging the complexity of the taxation issues involved, Justice Brown awarded costs totaling $51,299.61.

This amount included $41,460 plus HST of $5,389.80, and additional disbursements of $4,449.81. In the judgment, Justice Brown asserted that the awarded amount was reasonable, proportional, and met the expectations of the parties involved.

For more information, see Waters v. Furlong et. al., 2023 ONSC 6715 (CanLII)

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