WINNIPEG - A Manitoba judge has struck down what he calls "unconscionable" fee arrangements for residential school survivors, and has ordered some to be reimbursed.
Court of Queen's Bench Justice Perry Schulman has ruled it is illegal for victims of abuse at the residential schools to have to pay so-called form-filling companies to perform what are essentially legal services.
The case involved more than 30 lawyers and agencies across Canada that work to help those who were victims of physical, sexual and emotional abuse fill out forms to file for compensation.
Lawyers are allowed to charge up claimants up to 30 per cent of their compensation, but the judge found some were being told they had to pay extra fees to form-filling companies.
Schulman ruled that not all form-filling company activities are illegal, but most of their duties should be done by the lawyers involved at no extra cost.
He says the pressure exerted on clients in two specific cases that were before the court was unconscionable.
Schulman's ruling, issued last Thursday, says claimants are under no obligation to pay anything other than legal fees approved by their adjudicator.