BC man loses thousands in fight against lawyer he hired for RTB hearing

As one resident discovered, if there’s one person you don’t want to face in a BC tribunal hearing, it’s probably a lawyer.

A lawyer claimed his services weren’t paid for in a publicly posted BC Civil Resolution Tribunal hearing.

Grant Haddock claimed $2,308.98 in unpaid legal fees plus 24% yearly contractual interest.

In defence, his former client, Mashaallah Mesgara, denied owing anything and added that Haddock didn’t provide a valuable service and overcharged him. Mesgara rejected the claims against him, filing a counterclaim for $755 for the amount he was allegedly overcharged plus 24% yearly contractual interest.

Details of the case date back to November 18, 2021, when Mesgara signed a retainer agreement with Haddock for one of their lawyers. Mesgara needed assistance with a Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) hearing, so he paid a $1,500 retainer.

Between November 19 and December 17, 2021, Haddock performed various legal services for Mesgara. On December 17, Mesgara told Haddock to stop working on his file because of the quality of the work.

Haddock invoiced Mesgara $1,020.18 for its services between November 19 and 25 of 2021 and a second invoice of $2,788.80 for services provided between December 2 and December 17, 2021.

The $1,020.18 was paid from the $1,500 retainer, leaving a balance of $479.98, which was applied to the second invoice, leaving a total balance of $2,308.98.

Mesgara’s issues began with being told that he had a strong chance of winning their RTB hearing. He was later told he had a 50% chance of success before being told he only had a slim chance. Mesgara tried to claim his chances were misrepresented, but the tribunal disagreed.

According to the tribunal decision, Mesgara’s chances were portrayed this way because the lawyer initially didn’t have access to all the case details. As more details were uncovered, Mesgara’s success rate gradually diminished.

Mesgara also said he shouldn’t have been charged for the time the lawyer spent waiting on hold to reach the RTB. The tribunal disagreed and added that Haddock was entitled to charge for it.

Haddock told the tribunal that his firm worked on Mesgara’s file according to Mesgara’s own instructions. Mesgara was notified of the accruing costs. Haddock told the Tribunal that Mesgara needed expert evidence to prove that he was overcharged, which Mesgara couldn’t provide.

Unfortunately for Mesgara, he didn’t have much evidence to support any of his claims, including that he was charged for more than the time the lawyer actually spent on his case.

Because Mesgara couldn’t back up any of his claims, including his claim that he was overcharged, the tribunal ordered him to pay Haddock a total of $3,894.13, which included the invoice, $1,460.15 in 24% yearly contract interest, and tribunal fees.