Fancy Barristers P.C. v. Morse Shannon LLP, 2017 ONCA 82 (CanLII)

Court of Appeal dismisses appeal of charging order alleging judicial bias

Released January 31, 2017 | Full Decision [CanLII]

This appeal involved a dispute between law firms that resulted in a charging order granted by Justice Darla Wilson. Fancy Barristers P.C. was retained on a contingency fee by two minor plaintiffs in two personal injury actions. Fancy retained Morse Shannon LLP (“Morse”) as agent to assist with the claims. The agreement provided that the two firms would split the fee after payment for docketed time and disbursements. Morse spent time on the two actions but the relationship between the two firms broke down. Morse was not paid for their time or disbursements. They applied for a charging order pursuant to section 34 of the Solicitors Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. S. 15. Justice Darla Wilson granted the orders. Fancy Barristers P.C. appealed on the grounds that there was no retainer agreement between Morse and the minor plaintiffs, that there was no outstanding account between Morse and the minor plaintiffs, that the test to obtain a charging order was not met and that the order was inequitable. Bennotto J.A., writing for a unanimous panel, did not accept these submissions. The Court of Appeal found that Justice Wilson applied the correct test and that there was no reason to interfere with the exercise of her discretion.

Fancy Barristers P.C. also alleged that Justice Wilson was biased against them. The Court of Appeal wrote that “there is a strong presumption of judicial impartiality and a heavy burden on a party who seeks to rebut this presumption”. The panel held that “nothing in the material before us comes close to rebutting the presumption of impartiality”.

Appeal dismissed with costs payable to Morse by Fancy Barristers P.C. of $14,000 inclusive of HST and disbursements.

Read the full decision on CanLII
Ryan Murray
Written by

A partner at Oatley Vigmond, Ryan joined the firm in 2006 shortly after he was called to the bar in 2005. Ryan holds an Honours B.A. from York University, as well as a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) and a Master of Laws (LL.M.) (Civil Litigation and Dispute Resolution) from Osgoode Hall Law School.

When Ryan is not practicing law, he enjoys golfing and spending quality time with his wife and two young children.