Why Paying for Timely Legal Advice Saves you Money in the Long Run

By Jeremy Burgess
Categories: Blog

There is an old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is almost never truer than when it comes to getting timely and competent legal advice.

Very often people find themselves seeking the assistance of a litigator because at the beginning of a transaction or when a person became involved in a legal dispute, the party on the other side insisted that getting lawyers involved would only complicate things and incur unnecessary expenses. It can be difficult to foresee how a business relationship could sour between friends or how listening to a party that seemingly has your interests in mind (when they don’t) could backfire.

Whereas a legal battle can be far simpler or avoided all together if a well-constructed agreement is at the heart of a dispute, a handshake agreement or an agreement cobbled together from the internet can increase the costs to deal with a dispute over that agreement many times. In an effort to save some up-front costs, many people find those costs multiplied many times down the road and endure disruptions and upset they would not have otherwise experienced.

In Ma v. Nutriview Systems Inc., 2014 BCSC 725 (CanLII) the plaintiff signed a franchise agreement without legal advice because he did not want to show a lack of trust in the vendor. The vendor advised against wasting a “few thousand dollars” to have a lawyer tell the plaintiff to sign on the dotted line. Instead the plaintiff became involved in complicated lawsuit which lasted years and took several weeks of trial. The contract at the heart of the litigation was found by the court to be entirely one-sided and improvident.

In Cassidy v 277033 0ntario Limited, 2013 CanLII 60849 (ON SCSM) the plaintiff signed an employment contract taken from the internet which was then edited without legal advice or review. The case took nearly 2 years to resolve and multiple days of trial in no small part because one of the material issues was a bonus or commission clause the amount of which “…could not be more in dispute between the parties. Other issues with the contract included that it lacked consideration which would make it enforceable and had provisions which violated Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, rendering the contract void.

Legal disputes tend to seep into the gaps left by a lack of prudent planning when business or personal relationships sour, differences of opinion arise and one or more parties to an agreement fall on financial difficulties. “We’ll figure out [that issue] if it ever comes up” often tends to turn into costly litigation to hash out that issue because it did come up and the parties never agreed how the situation should be resolved.

A well-trained solicitor has the experience, skills and knowledge to consider legal consequences of your financial plans and business aspirations. He or she will be able to construct contractual terms and relations so that your future interests are protected. Most people with whom you interact can appreciate that your desire to seek legal advice does not come from distrust, but is in order to ensure that both parties are clearly being given the opportunity to understand the consequences of whatever it is that they are agreeing to.

While not all agreements or planning reasonably warrant the expense of counsel, you should always consider whether legal advice or assistance may save you future headaches especially when dealing with issues which may have a significant impact on your personal life, family, financial stability and/or business. Likewise, if you find yourself become entangled in a potential lawsuit, early legal advice and assistance can ensure that you do not forfeit any of your legal rights or take any steps which would unnecessarily prolong litigation.

Even the best planning cannot always prevent a lawsuit, but, as a litigator, my task is made easier (and my fees made less) when I am working for clients who have received timely legal assistance and advice in planning their lives and businesses and approach me early in any potential dispute.

Pushor Mitchell is equipped to provide you with legal advice and assistance in many areas of service and we are always grateful to help our clients plan for and secure their future.

I practice many areas of civil litigation and may be reached at burgess@pushormitchell.com or 250-869-1156.