What are disbursements?
Disbursements are expenses incurred by a law firm on behalf of a client. These expenses are separate from legal fees, which are the fees charged by the lawyer for their legal services. Disbursements can include a wide range of expenses, such as court filing fees, courier fees, process server fees, and photocopying costs. In personal injury claims, disbursements can include fees for medical history reports and fees for reports by experts such as medical specialists, actuaries, and accident reconstruction specialists.
Why are disbursements necessary?
In a personal injury lawsuit, disbursements are necessary to build a strong case and prove the full impact of your injury or disability on your life. For example, your lawyer may hire a medical expert to assess the severity of your injuries. The expert’s support for your medical condition will be used as strong evidence in negotiating fair compensation with your insurer. Without this evidence, you will likely not maximize the compensation you could be entitled to receive for your injuries.
How are disbursements recovered?
Disbursements are generally the responsibility of the client, not the lawyer, which means that clients would pay for these expenses as they arise. However, at MacGillivray Law, we recognize that many of our clients are facing financial pressure due to injury or disability, impacting their ability to earn income. To provide better access to justice for people who may otherwise be unable to afford these expenses, we cover the costs of all disbursements for the duration of the claim. At the conclusion of the claim, we recover these expenses from the client’s settlement or award.
The Model Code of Professional Conduct, set out by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, states that a lawyer is required to disclose any fees or disbursements, including interest, in a timely manner and must not charge or accept them unless they are deemed fair and reasonable (Rule 3.6-1). This is the standard across all provinces. Law societies in each province do not oversee or control the precise methods that lawyers utilize to determine their billing practices, however, what is fair and reasonable is laid out in the Model Code, section 3.6-1:
- the time and effort required and spent;
- the difficulty of the matter and the importance of the matter to the client;
- whether special skill or service has been required and provided;
- the results obtained;
- fees authorized by statute or regulation;
- special circumstances, such as the postponement of payment, uncertainty of reward, or urgency;
- the likelihood, if made known to the client, that acceptance of the retainer will result in the lawyer’s inability to accept other employment;
- any relevant agreement between the lawyer and the client;
- the experience and ability of the lawyer;
- any estimate or range of fees given by the lawyer; and
- the client’s prior consent to the fee.
Supporting you throughout the legal process
At MacGillivray Injury and Insurance Law, we will provide you with a detailed breakdown of all disbursements incurred on your behalf so that you fully understand the expenses involved in your case. If you’ve been injured in an accident or denied insurance benefits, book a free consultation to learn more.
MacGillivray Law is a personal injury law firm with offices in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador. We serve clients all across Canada.
If you cannot travel to one of our offices, we will accommodate your circumstances and travel needs. We can provide a consultation by phone, Zoom, or FaceTime, or travel to meet you in your home when required.
If you would like to learn your legal options at no obligation, contact us today to set up a free consultation.