If it weren't for lawyers there would never be any historical wrongs to apologize for


Locutus
#1
WINNIPEG -- A Manitoba judge says extra fees charged to residential school survivors by companies that fill out forms were in many cases illegal and in some cases unconscionable.

The ruling by Court of Queen's Bench Justice Perry Schulman affects more than 30 lawyers and agencies across Canada and will result in some survivors reimbursed for fees they paid.

"Given my view of the correct legal characterization of agreements between form-fillers and ... claimants, I have concluded that those agreements are presumptively void and unenforceable," Schulman wrote in his decision released last week.

"Apart from considerations of illegality, agreements to pay form fillers in circumstances of unequal bargaining power and where an improvident deal was made, such as the two examples in the record before this court, are unconscionable."

The case was brought before the court by the Independent Assessment Process, the organization that awards settlements in Indian residential school abuse cases. It said some victims were being overcharged.

Lawyers are entitled to a maximum legal fee of 30 per cent of an award, with the claimant and the federal government each chipping in half. But many claimants were paying additional fees to agencies that helped complete their paperwork.

Schulman ruled the bulk of that work should have been done by lawyers at no extra charge.

"In short, many of the services performed by form-fillers as outlined in the evidentiary record before me are within the role of claimant's counsel."

In one of the test cases before the court, Winnipeg lawyer Ken Caroll was also part owner of the form-filling company his firm used. Schulman found some survivors were confused and had been pressured into handing over money to the form-filling agency.

In one case, a terminally ill woman from northwestern Ontario travelled to Winnipeg to collect her cheque in person. She was followed from Carroll's law office to a bank by two workers with the form-filling agency so that they could get their cut.

The woman "was not sure what was going on and was too afraid to complain or object," Schulman wrote.

Schulman has declared null and void all agreements in which claimants are required to pay contingency fees to form-fillers, or to pay form-fillers through any means for legal work that should be done by lawyers.

He has given companies 30 days to respond to a proposed further order that survivors can be charged nothing other than legal fees.

Schulman has also ordered a review to establish a way to reimburse claimants for form-filling costs.

The $5-billion residential schools settlement agreement is believed to be the largest class-action settlement in Canadian history. It is designed to resolve claims of abuse at more than 130 residential schools across the country.

Carroll earlier told the court that as soon as he learned that the chief adjudicator was opposed to extra fees for form-filling, he changed his practices. He also reimbursed the claimants in the two test cases that were before the court.

The Merchant Law Group, which has handled thousands of claims, said it did not use form-filling agencies but defended their role. Form-fillers work in remote communities and are often aboriginal people who can help bridge language and cultural challenges, the firm said.

Manitoba udge nullifies 'unconscionable' form-filling fees for residential school survivors | CTV News (external - login to view)
 
taxslave
+1
#2  Top Rated Post
And the real criminals are? Any wonder lawyers are hated by everyone.
 
BaalsTears
#3
Lawyer's are the nicest people in the world. Their altruism is legendary.
 
Spade
+1
#4
Lawyer fees absolve society from redressing historical wrongs?
 
Locutus
+1
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by BaalsTearsView Post

Lawyer's are the nicest people in the world. Their altruism is legendary.

They are the definition of reality concern trolls.
 
Twila
#6
Form Fillers? I would have thought that would be part of the lawyers responsibility. I had no idea there were special companies out there that filled out forms. How difficult must these forms be then?
 
Nuggler
+1
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by TwilaView Post

Form Fillers? I would have thought that would be part of the lawyers responsibility. I had no idea there were special companies out there that filled out forms. How difficult must these forms be then?


Love fillin out forms. May come out of retirement if the money's good.
 
Locutus
#8
Calgary lawyer David Blott disbarred over residential school fees

CALGARY – The Law Society of Alberta has disbarred a lawyer accused of misconduct in his handling of settlements awarded to survivors of residential school abuse.

David Blott had asked to be allowed to resign before the society’s investigation was complete.

The chairman of a panel hearing the application Friday made it clear to Blott that his resignation is the same as disbarment.

“The member is coming before the law society and has effectively said, ‘I will agree to be disbarred. I will resign with the conditions that equate with disbarment,’” Rob Harvie said.

“Some might suggest this is too little consequence for the conduct of the member. To this I would again affirm that, according to the law society, this is the most serious consequence that we have the authority to impose.”

The panel heard that between 2006 and 2012, Blott’s Calgary law firm handled almost 4,600 residential school claims, many in southern Alberta. Information was taken from each victim who would sign a retainer agreement. If the settlement were $100,000, Blott would receive $15,000 from the federal government and up to an additional $15,000 from the settlement payout.

“The tragic reality … is what started out as a reconciliation effort in the righting of wrongs turned into what can only be described as a factory of gross self-interest, where victims of the residential school system were essentially revictimized and treated less like human beings and more like cattle,” said Harvie.

“They were in fact dehumanized by a process where the ultimate goal appears to be making as much money as possible with the least amount of personal attention.”

Law Society counsel Heather Spicer said the client base grew so quickly that the firm couldn’t keep up with demand. Roughly one-quarter of survivors making a claim didn’t actually see their lawyer until moments before their hearings before an adjudicator.
“His approach to clients has been described as an assembly line,” said Spicer.

Figures indicate that Blott and his lawyers spent an average of eight minutes on the phone with a settlement applicant, she said. A number of residential school victims, anxious to collect their money, would take cash advances on their settlements at a high rate of interest from lending institutions, she added.

Blott’s firm would receive the settlement cheques and pay the interest and fees owed. Often there was very little cash remaining.
Blott’s lawyer Roy Millen said although his client acknowledged there was evidence of wrongdoing, he wasn’t admitting guilt to anything.
Blott told the panel he accepted the statement of facts presented by his lawyer.

“I don’t have anything to add.”

A number of residential school survivors from the Blood reserve south of Calgary are involved in a class-action lawsuit against Blott and other lawyers. They attended his hearing Friday and applauded as the panel left the hall.

Connie Calling Last said Blott was her lawyer and she received half of what she was promised. Much of her settlement was taken up by undisclosed fees.

“I came here because I wanted to see him get some sort of justice on what he did,” she said.

“He said ‘you’re going to be rich,’ and look what happened. Who’s rich? Him. I’m not rich. I’m poor and he’s rich right now out of what he did.”

The $5-billion residential schools settlement agreement is believed to be the largest class-action settlement in Canadian history. It is designed to resolve claims of abuse at more than 130 residential schools across the country out of court.


Calgary lawyer David Blott disbarred over residential school fees | Metro (external - login to view)
 
darkbeaver
#9
I had a lawyer once, saved me from prison perhaps, I guess they ain't all good then.

I wonder how the clergy compares to the lawyers in ethics. Must be a number somewhere. What a prick, in the old days villagers would drag him away and reward him.
 

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