Angleland Holdings Inc., et al. v. Gregory N. Harney Law Corporation dba, et al.
(British Columbia) (Civil) (By Leave)
Civil procedure - Law of professions - Civil procedure – Law of professions – Taxation of solicitor’s account by master – Whether the Court of Appeal erred in failing to admit new evidence on appeal – Whether the Court of Appeal failed to comply with the provisions of the Legal Profession Act, S.B.C. 1998, c. 9, and the Supreme Court Civil Rules, B.C. Reg. 168/2009 – Whether the Court of Appeal erred in failing to set aside the Master’s decision to allow fees on a quantum meruit basis, where the lawyers had engaged in misconduct – Whether the Court of Appeal erred in failing to set aside the decision of the Master who preferred clients’ evidence to that of the lawyers – Whether the Court of Appeal’s decision raises apprehension of impartiality and bias – Whether the Court of Appeal erred in refusing adjournment – Whether the Court of Appeal erred in failing to correct mistakes of fact that were drawn to its attention on the application for reconsideration. .
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Mr. Harney and his law firm represented the clients, Mr. English and the three corporations, in a foreclosure proceeding and an action in trespass. In the foreclosure proceeding, the parties had an initial retainer of $10,000 to commence work on the file, but reached no firm agreement on the fees. Mr. Harney succeeded in obtaining a stay of an order for sale of the clients’ property. Mr. Harney also identified a lender who expressed interest in refinancing the property, but Mr. English declined the terms offered. The action for trespass involved a claim against BC Hydro for damage to an old logging bridge across a stream, while BC Hydro was attempting to access lands near the clients’ property. BC Hydro offered to Mr. English $127,000 in settlement, but he contended that his claim was worth significantly more.
Failing to reach an agreement on the fee arrangement, the relationship between the clients and the lawyer soured. At one point, Mr. Harney sent Mr. English a bill for over $1 million stamped “draft”, which he later admitted was never intended to be an account. In October 2011, Mr. Harney rendered his account in the amount of $536,224.10. A Master of the British Columbia Supreme Court, sitting as Registrar, taxed the account and reduced it to $264,217.54.
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