By Dawid Cieloszczyk

In a recent decision (Lynch v Ueland, 2018 BCSC 2144), a Plaintiff struggled to find a lawyer to handle his personal injury case. The case was not straight forward, but the Plaintiff eventually found someone to take it. The first lawyer he hired missed a limitation date by failing to file a Part-7 Notice of Civil Claim. The Plaintiff moved on to Mr. Ueland. After some time, their relationship deteriorated too.

Upon being fired, Mr. Ueland advised the ICBC Defence Counsel that the Plaintiff was seeking new counsel and asked him not to take any further steps. Defence Counsel filed an application shortly after to dismiss the Plaintiff’s case on the basis of the Plaintiff’s serious non-compliance with the Supreme Court Rules (failure to attend a court-ordered Defence Medical Examination). Mr. Ueland could not get a hold of his client before the application, which took place about a month after his being fired. Mr. Ueland mistakenly expected or believed that the application would be adjourned and did not attend. Defence Counsel successfully dismissed the Plaintiff’s case. Mr. Ueland admitted to negligence which resulted in the Plaintiff’s case being dismissed.

If a client-lawyer relationship must end, it must do so smoothly. The import of this decision (although negligence was admitted and not analyzed), is that a lawyer must sometimes go above and beyond for their client, even after being fired. It is not enough to send a letter hoping that an outstanding court date will be adjourned. If the lawyer does not officially withdraw from the court case, they may be required to attend on the client’s behalf or seek consent from the opposing party to adjourn the matter.