What do you charge for your services?
What if more research is required than your original estimate?
Is all your work related to active litigation files?
You say you can meet tight time deadlines. How tight?
Do you provide pre-litigation research services?
Are lawyers in British Columbia required to perform legal research? Is there a duty?
The Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia states:
A lawyer must perform all legal services undertaken on a client’s behalf to the standard of a competent lawyer.
The panel of the British Columbia Court of Appeal in Lougheed Enterprises Ltd v. Armbruster, 1992 CanLII 1742 (BC CA) said that:
Counsel cannot discharge his duty by not bothering to determine whether there is a relevant authority. In this context, ignorance is no excuse…
The duty to bring relevant law to the attention of the court is founded upon the proposition that counsel has an obligation to the court to assist in duly administering the law, as well as a duty to his client and that, in some circumstances, the former duty may override the latter.
In Gibb v. Jiwan 1996 CarswellOnt 1222 (Gen. Div.), Justice Ferguson commented extensively on the failure of counsel to conduct adequate research and ordered both counsel to deliver a copy of his reasons to their clients. He noted the professional obligation of counsel included giving the clients advice based on an adequate consideration of applicable law and to inform the court of relevant, material authorities regardless of whether they support or contradict the position counsel is advocating.
Justice Le Dain, delivering judgment for the Supreme Court of Canada in Central & Eastern Trust Co. v. Rafuse,  2 S.C.R. 147, said that:
A solicitor is not required to know all the law applicable to the performance of a particular legal service in the sense that he must carry it around with him as part of his “working knowledge”, without the need of further research, but he must have a sufficient knowledge of the fundamental issues or principles of law applicable to the particular work he has undertaken to enable him to perceive the need to ascertain the law on relevant points … “and to discover those additional rules of law which, although not commonly known, may readily be found by standard research techniques.”
In World Wide Treasure Adventures Inc. v. Trivia Games Inc., 1987 CanLII 2629 (BC SC) counsel applied for an injunction without first understanding or researching the applicable law. Gibbs J. ruled that counsel had been negligent in the performance of his duty and awarded significant solicitor-client costs against counsel personally.
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Derek Jackson, LL.B.
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