EXPROPRIATION  >  Fees in Expropriation Cases

Here are some of the most common questions about fees in expropriation cases:

Will I have to pay legal fees?

In almost all expropriation cases, the expropriating authority is required to pay the owner’s costs including legal fees and the cost of retaining relevant experts like appraisers and land use planners. In most cases, the claimant will not have to pay any fees.

How does the expropriating authority’s obligation to pay my fees work?

According to Section 32 of the Expropriations Act if you are awarded at least 85% of the expropriating authority’s formal offer, often called the Section 25 offer, then the expropriating authority will be required to pay all of your costs, provided that those costs were reasonable and were incurred to determine compensation.

For instance, assume that an expropriating authority offered you $100,000 for your property. Then, assume you refused that offer and argued that you should be paid more. Even if the case goes badly and you are ultimately awarded only $85,000 in compensation, then the expropriating authority will still be required to pay for your reasonable legal and appraisal fees, as well as any other expert fees that were required to determine compensation.

When are costs usually paid?

Costs are normally paid at the end of the expropriation process, once compensation has been determined. However, we are always on the lookout for opportunities to negotiate a settlement or partial settlement (often referred to as a Section 30 agreement) on behalf of our client. Sometimes, through negotiation, we can obtain payment of costs earlier in the process.

When costs are awarded, what do they usually cover?

In virtually every case, costs will cover legal and appraisal fees. In more complex cases, other professional advisors are sometimes also involved. Where land use planners, engineers or other consultants’ services are required to determine compensation, their reasonable fees will also be included. Finally, it is sometimes possible to be reimbursed for executive time for business owners or key employees who spend significant time dealing with an expropriation claim.

Will I have to provide a retainer up front?

In most cases, no. Except in exceptional circumstances involving claims that are speculative or highly uncertain, we do not require a retainer before proceeding.

If it takes a long time to resolve my claim, will I have to pay fees in the meantime?

We are open to discussing fee arrangements that work for our clients. In many cases, we are prepared to hold off on billing our fees until your claim has been resolved.

Is this a contingency fee?

No. Our fees are generally based on hourly rates. However, in special circumstances we are prepared to discuss alternative fee arrangements. Under the circumstances described above, our fees would not be deducted from the compensation payable to you. Our fees are a separate amount that the expropriating authority would be required to pay.

Will I be reimbursed for my costs of fighting against the expropriation?

In the case of a hearing of necessity, Section 7(10) of the Expropriations Act limits the costs that a party can recover to $200. In cases where a party challenges an expropriation by way of Court proceedings, the usual principles of cost recovery in civil litigation would apply. On occasion we have been successful in negotiating the payment of the fees incurred to fight an expropriation as part of a settlement. However this is a rare outcome.

 

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