January 13, 2009

Your Time = A Lawyer's Time

With some exceptions, the successful party in a lawsuit in British Columbia is generally awarded costs for his or her legal fees and disbursements. This means that the losing party has to pay some of the winning party's lawyer's fees, as well as the expenses to do with photocopying, printing, serving documents, etc.

But what about people who win their case without the help of a lawyer? Shouldn't they be compensated for the time and money spent preparing for court, researching the law, drafting documents, etc.? It turns out the answer is yes, according to a little-known 1995 decision of the British Columbia Court of Appeal called Skidmore v. Blackwell. In that case, the court overturned earlier decisions and found that people who represent themselves in court successfully are entitled to be compensated for their time in the same way a lawyer would be.

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