Filing a complaint
Contesting a lawyer's invoice
Do you believe the invoice you received is not justified? First, try to speak with your lawyer. Ask for details and try to come to an agreement. If this is impossible, you can ask for help from the Barreau du Québec's conciliation service.
Contesting a lawyer's invoice
The conciliation service is offered free of charge by lawyers from the Barreau du Québec who act as conciliators to help you find a solution.
To use this service, you must follow a simple, but very important, procedure. Here is how it works:
Make your application for conciliation
You must make your application for conciliation within 45 days (calendar days, not business days) after receipt of the most recent invoice. You must act quickly or you will not have access to this service. If the lawyer paid himself from the funds he holds (the amount you provided as an advance, for example), the deadline begins to run as of the moment you become aware of the payment.
Draft a letter
You must draft a letter applying for conciliation and send it to the Barreau. In the letter, you must mention why you are asking for conciliation. Don't forget to include the contact information for you and the lawyer and, in particular, to attach a copy of the invoice.
Send your documents
Get your file number
Once the Barreau has received your letter, you will receive a file number by mail. You must use this file number in your communications with the Barreau. If you do not receive the file number within ten business days, contact the Barreau.
You must apply for this service within 45 days (calendar days, not business days) after receipt of the lawyer's invoice. If you miss this deadline, your application will not be processed.
What happens next?
A lawyer-conciliator will take responsibility for your file. He will ask for an explanation from the lawyer contemplated in your application and attempt to find a solution acceptable to both parties.
Throughout the conciliation process, the lawyer-conciliator will try to bring the parties together to arrive at a settlement. In a settlement, the amount of the invoice may remain the same or be reduced or, exceptionally, the invoice may be cancelled.
This service may allow you and your lawyer to arrive at an amicable settlement, but there is no guarantee of the outcome, because each party is free to agree or refuse to participate in the conciliation.
Once the 45 days have elapsed, if your lawyer sues you in court for payment of his fees, the Office of the syndic will no longer be able to intervene. In such a case, you will have to carefully read the documents you have received and act promptly.
Arbitration of fees
If, despite the assistance of the Barreau du Québec's conciliation service, a settlement is impossible, the Barreau offers another recourse: arbitration. An arbitrator will decide the matter and render an arbitration award regarding the contested invoice. This award is final. You and your lawyer must comply with the arbitrator's decision.
You can apply for arbitration within a period of 30 days after the date of the conciliation report that is mailed to you by the Barreau du Québec.