Cornwall Ontario – Milena Cardinal once told this writer that journalism is the last defence for a democratic society and that we should spend more time in courtrooms holding justice accountable.
Having gone through many court cases since living here in Cornwall what I’ve noticed is that most cases don’t seem to be won or lost on merit as much as the mood of the judge or the semantical skill of legal reps who are there to win no matter what; especially if they have a paying client.
Loopholes and mayhem can ensure and bloat our judicial system costs.
Ms Cardinal refused to comment for this story, but what essentially happened is that instead of issuing suit against a client she initiated a process known as an Assessment. Essentially a “master”, similar to a judge, comes down and hears both sides and as in this case, can reduce a legal bill, or enforce it. The process can speed up the time frame to get results and save on some court fees.
In the case of Ms Cardinal it turned a bill of approximately $5,680 into $1200 with $700.00 of that being issued as a cost penalty against Ms Cardinal thus bringing the amount the client had to pay her to $500.
Ouch! Furthermore another client contacted CFN complaining about irregularities with the lawyer’s performance, and billing.
It just pisses me off that he ended up not only having to pay the maximum ticket but he also had to pay her the same amount legal fees …got ding twice instead of just going to court and paying the ticket which was a maximum of 1200. Instead it ended up costing 2400
She had previously been involved in the Brock Frost Darren Madden River King fiasco.
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Most consumers aren’t even aware of the process to complain about what they feel may be poor legal service or over billing. Court rules in Ontario essentially don’t allow appeals of cases under $2500.00. Some justices actually seem to be limiting awards under that line to avoid appeals which are brutally expensive thus making most prohibitive to the average person. That of course is not justice, but that’s grist for an entire other column.
Some lawyers lure clients with dramatic offers of service for less than more experienced lawyers only to pad and add fees which in some cases far exceed what other lawyers originally quoted.
The Cornwall market is very tight and several legal beagles have complained of cost cutting tactics by Ms Cardinal which has not endeared her to many who are struggling in our poor city economy.
Ms Cardinal has also received Heart of the City funds for her office on the residential Adolphus Street which is odd and bewildering? She also nailed $45K from Community Futures.
The lesson is that the legal profession is like any other. Buyer Beware, and always shop around to find the best value, and ask others about the reputation of legal reps and for recommendations. Always ask the right questions and if you’re unsure always bring along someone trusted to assist.
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