Today's Law Times featured an article about Justice Myers' decision in Cengic v Castro, 2020 ONSC 986, in which he ordered that a lawyer must stay on the record for his client's impending six-week personal injury trial despite the lawyer's allegation that there was "a breakdown in their relationship".
The law firm, which was acting on contingency, had recommended a settlement that was insufficient from the client's view, then sought to be removed from the record because the client wished to proceed to trial, rejecting his lawyer's advice. Justice Myers held that the lawyer's removal would delay the resolution of the case on its merits and prejudice the client, and noted that the client "does not understand why his lawyer wants to desert him as he did nothing wrong. He just wants to finally have his case resolved by acceptable settlement or trial".
The Law Times interviewed Gavin MacKenzie about the case:
Gavin MacKenzie, the author of Lawyers and Ethics: Professional Responsibility and Discipline, says Myers offered a good decision. Plaintiffs' lawyers should not take on cases on a contingency basis expecting they will be able to withdraw if it’s not settled before trial, says MacKenzie, who was not involved in the case.
“I think the critical fact here was that the trial was imminent, and that it had been adjourned previously,” says MacKenzie. “You can only contemplate withdrawal if the trial is sufficiently far in the future that the client won't be prejudiced if the client’s required to change counsel. . . . Clients can terminate a lawyer’s retainer for no cause at all. But lawyers don't have that luxury.”