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What is taxation of fees?

Taxation of fees is the process for having a bill for legal services reviewed or assessed by a Taxing Master to determine if your lawyer’s charges are reasonable.  It is a legal proceeding that is within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador.   The Law Society does not get involved in the taxation process.

What is a Taxing Master?

Taxing Masters are lawyers appointed by the Chief Justice of Newfoundland and Labrador.  They are given the authority to review and assess whether a lawyer’s legal fees are reasonable for the services provided.  Taxing Masters are usually senior lawyers because their experience in providing legal services gives them knowledge of what makes up a reasonable fee.

How can I find a Taxing Master?

To find a Taxing Master you can go to the Lawyer’s Directory on the Law Society Website and at the bottom you will see Taxing Masters > Select your City > Select the name and this will open a screen with their contact information.

How can I make an appointment for taxation of fees?

You must contact a Taxing Master and make an appointment to have your lawyer’s bill reviewed.  Taxing Masters’ contact information is available in the Lawyer’s Directory.

Do I have to tell my lawyer that I am having the bill taxed?

Yes.  After you have received an appointment from a Taxing Master, you must give notice of the appointment to the lawyer whose bill you are disputing.  This must be delivered by you personally or be sent by registered mail to your lawyer’s office.  It must be received by your lawyer no less than 5 clear days before the taxation hearing.

What does “5 clear days” mean?

This means the lawyer must have at least 5 full business days’ notice of the taxation hearing.  The following schedule will help you to determine when you are required to notify your lawyer.

day of taxation hearing notification must be given on
Monday Friday, 10 days before the hearing
Tuesday Monday of the previous week
Wednesday Tuesday of the previous week
Thursday Wednesday of the previous week
Friday Thursday of the previous week

 

What happens if the lawyer whose bill I am disputing is not able to attend on the hearing date scheduled by the Taxing Master?

Either you or the lawyer whose bill you are disputing will contact the Taxing Master to schedule a date that is convenient for everyone involved.

Will I have to pay to have my lawyer’s bill taxed?

There are costs associated with having your lawyer’s bill taxed. At this time, the process is approximately $250.00 per hour. However, please note the costs can and do change and you should confirm with the Taxing Master when booking the appointment what the current rates are. The fee which is payable to the Taxing Master after the hearing.

Should I have my lawyer’s bill taxed before I pay it or after?

Your lawyer’s bill can be taxed either before or after it has been paid.  It is possible that if you do not pay until after the bill is taxed, depending on how long the taxation process takes, interest may be added to the outstanding amount you owe.

How much time do I have to decide if I will have my lawyer’s bill taxed?

The Court does not set a time limit for applying to have a bill taxed.  However, you should make the decision to contact a Taxing Master as soon as possible after you have received your lawyer’s final bill.  It is important to remember that your lawyer is entitled to receive payment for the services provided to you.  In fairness to your lawyer, the taxation process should be started as soon as possible so that your lawyer is not waiting a long period of time for the account to be settled.

Can I represent myself at a taxation hearing?

Yes. You do not have to be represented by a lawyer at a taxation hearing.  However, taxation is a legal proceeding and sometimes it can be complex.  If you do not feel comfortable going through the process on your own, it is best to find a lawyer to represent you.

Where can I find a lawyer to represent me at a taxation hearing?

If you require assistance in finding a lawyer, you can contact the Lawyer Referral Service offered by the Public Legal Information Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (PLIAN).  They can be reached at 722-2643 or toll-free at 1-888-660-7788.

Where does a taxation hearing take place?

The taxation hearing is usually held at the office of the Taxing Master.

What happens at a taxation hearing?

You must attend, either on your own or with the lawyer who is representing you.  The Taxing Master will give you or the lawyer representing you a chance to speak.  The Taxing Master may have questions for you or the lawyer representing you or the lawyer whose bill you are disputing.  You should bring a copy of your lawyer’s bill and copies of any documents you are relying on to dispute your bill.

Will the lawyer whose bill I am disputing attend the taxation hearing?

Your lawyer is not required to attend but it is likely that he or she will attend the hearing.

Will the bill be reduced when it is taxed?

A Taxing Master will not reduce your lawyer’s bill if the charges are reasonable.

Before making a decision, the Taxing Master will take into account a number of factors including:

  • the fee agreement you had with your lawyer;
  • the nature, importance and urgency of the work done on your behalf;
  • the quality of your lawyer’s service and the amount of time your lawyer spent working on your file;
  • the level of expertise required for your matter.

If the Taxing Master decides, after considering all of the information presented at the taxation hearing, that your lawyer’s bill was too high, the amount may be reduced.

How long will it take before I know if my lawyer’s bill will be reduced?

It is possible that the Taxing Master will make a decision at the end of the hearing and notify you at that time.  However, the Taxing Master may need time to review and consider the information received at the hearing.  There is no time limit for making a decision.  You can ask the Taxing Master at the end of the hearing when you can expect to receive the decision.

What happens if I pay my lawyer’s bill before taxation and the bill gets reduced by the Taxing Master?  Will my lawyer return to me the amount by which the bill was reduced?

If, after you have paid, you are successful in having your lawyer’s bill reduced, the lawyer is required to refund the overpayment.

What happens after my lawyer’s bill has been taxed?  Do I have to pay it then?

Once the lawyer’s bill has been taxed it must be paid.  If not, the lawyer can file the taxed bill with the Supreme Court and get an order allowing it to be enforced like any other judgment of the Court.

Can I appeal the decision of a Taxing Master if I am not happy with it?

You can appeal the decision not later than ten (10) days after you have received a notice of a certification on taxation from the Taxing Master.  If you intend to appeal, you must file a notice of appeal with the Supreme Court, Trial Division (General).  You must provide notice of appeal to all parties involved in the taxation hearing.