Botan v. St. Amand 2011 ABQB 774
Barristers and Solicitors - Compensation - Agreements - Contingent fees - Reasonable percentage fee
Botan, a lawyer practising in the area of HCV tainted blood claims, sought an order paying him a fee of $58,633.33 on account of a contingency fee agreement with St. Amand. The agreement included a 25% contingent fee of any claim proceeds. Of particular relevance was the federal government’s 2007 compensation plan for individuals infected before January 1, 1986 and after July 31, 1990.
The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench found Botan was entitled to compensation not on the basis of a percentage set out in the agreement, but rather on an hourly basis. The court set Botan’s fee at $5,250. The court made the following findings: (a) the agreement was valid, as was Botan’s account; the agreement was terminated, however, by St. Amand on May 19, 2010, when he terminated Botan’s services; (b) in the alternative, the 25% fee was not fair and reasonable, and the court varied the agreement to provide a 15% fee; (c) termination of the agreement triggered a compensation scheme that resulted in a fee of $5,250, being “fair and reasonable compensation … based on an hourly rate of $250 per hour”; and (d) Botan was not entitled to any further damages.