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Demarco v Ungaro (1979) 95 DLR (3d) 385 (Ont HCJ)


Plaintiff sued a law firm that had represented him in two separate matters where P ended up owing 6000 dollars. Claimed that the lawyers should pay because they represented him badly.


Is a lawyer immune from action by a client for negligence in the conduct of the client's civil case in Court?


Lawyers in Ontario do not have immunity from actions in negligence arising from their practice.


A barrister (no contract) and solicitor are separate functions in England; but are the same in Ontario, Canada (contract formed).

It is generally argued that public policy requires immunity of the barrister, in particular:
** 1. Otherwise every lawyer would prolong proceedings;
** 2. Harm to public interest: would result for re-litigating the original issues in the negligence action against the client’s counsel;
** 3. Obligation of the lawyer to accept any client;
** 4. Absolute privilege all participants in a proceeding in Court enjoy with respect to what is said by them in court.

In Ontario: Lawyers should not have immunity from actions in negligence
** Not in public interest
** Competition in the legal field means varied experience and skill
** In this case, regarding to the 4 items above:
*** 1. No evidence;
*** 2. No evidence;
*** 3. No such duty exists;
*** 4. Not relevant: special relationship between lawyer, client and court is not relevant when considering law of negligence.

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