Limited Retainers

Whether acting as a solicitor or litigator, it is possible to be retained to perform only limited services for a client. The Code of Professional Conduct, Rule 3.2-1.1 provides:

A lawyer who acts for a client only in a limited capacity must promptly disclose the limited retainer to the court and to any other interested person in the proceeding, if failure to disclose would mislead the court or that other person.

Be aware of the risks associated with limited retainers. You cannot contract out of negligence, and a provision in an agreement that purports to exempt you from liability for negligence or relieve you from regular responsibilities is void (Legal Profession Act, s. 65(3)).

If you are entering into a limited retainer, make sure it is carefully worded and that your client:

  • appreciates the limited nature of the retainer;
  • understands the risks involved; and
  • enters into the limited retainer with informed consent.