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Nine Hundred Dollar legal research charge disallowed on costs motion

January 24, 2019

Opposing counsel objected as cases are available for free online; Judge noted the case required only “basic legal knowledge”

In Cass v 1410088 Ontario Inc., Justice Whitten of the Ontario Superior Court, on a costs motion, disallowed a $900.00 charge for “legal research”. The plaintiff disputed a number of elements of the cost award, including the fee for legal research “for case precedents which are available for free through CanLII or publically accessible websites?”

The Court agreed, noting that the case was not particularly complicated and that there would be a very limited need for research in the first place:

[32]      $900.00 for legal research is problematic.  One assumes that counsel graduated with the basic legal knowledge we all possess.  This matter was unlikely his first blush with the world of “occupier’s liability”, and specifically the liability of landlords.  Counsel no doubt was familiar with the focus on the degree or control and access exercised by the landlord on the subject area.  So given all the base experience and knowledge, the need for “research” by some anonymous identity is questionable.

What might have been said to be “research” was simply preparation of the factum, and that time would have been reduced if the lawyer had used “artificial intelligence sources.”

[34]      All in all, whatever this “research” was would be well within the preparation for the motion.  There was no need for outsider or third party research.  If artificial intelligence sources were employed, no doubt counsel’s preparation time would have been significantly reduced

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