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Contingency Fee Agreement in Ontario: Understanding the Basics

If you are looking to hire an attorney to represent you in a personal injury or other legal case, you may have come across the term “contingency fee agreement.” This type of fee arrangement can be beneficial for clients who cannot afford to pay legal fees upfront. Here`s what you need to know about contingency fee agreements in Ontario.

What is a Contingency Fee Agreement?

A contingency fee agreement is a contract between the client and the lawyer, where the lawyer agrees to represent the client in exchange for a contingency fee. This means that the lawyer`s fee is contingent on the outcome of the case. If the client wins the case, the lawyer receives a percentage of the settlement or judgment. If the client loses, the lawyer gets nothing.

In Ontario, contingency fee agreements are regulated by the Solicitors Act and the Law Society of Ontario`s Rules of Professional Conduct. The Rules of Professional Conduct state that contingency fees must be reasonable and not excessive. The lawyer must also provide the client with a written agreement that outlines the percentage of the fee, any additional costs, and the circumstances in which the fee may be increased.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Contingency Fee Agreements

The biggest advantage of a contingency fee agreement is that the client does not have to pay legal fees upfront. This can be a significant benefit for clients who cannot afford to pay high hourly rates or retainers. Contingency fee agreements also incentivize lawyers to work hard on behalf of their clients, as their fee is contingent on the outcome of the case. This can result in better outcomes for clients.

However, contingency fee agreements may also have some disadvantages. The percentage of the fee can be high, especially for complex cases. Clients may also feel pressure to settle the case quickly, as the lawyer`s fee is contingent on the outcome. There may also be additional costs, such as expert witness fees or court fees, which are not included in the contingency fee agreement.

What Types of Cases are Eligible for Contingency Fee Agreements?

Contingency fee agreements are most commonly used in personal injury cases, where the client has been injured due to someone else`s negligence. This can include car accidents, slip and fall accidents, medical malpractice, and product liability cases. However, contingency fee agreements can also be used in other types of cases, such as employment law, wrongful dismissal, and class action lawsuits.


If you are considering hiring a lawyer to represent you in a legal case, a contingency fee agreement may be an option to consider. This type of fee arrangement can be beneficial for clients who cannot afford to pay legal fees upfront. However, it is important to carefully review the agreement and understand the terms and conditions before signing. Make sure you choose a reputable lawyer with experience handling cases like yours, and don`t hesitate to ask questions about the fee arrangement.

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