Regina lawyer tussles with Canada over legal fees for Residential Schools case
Years after a settlement was reached to pay compensation to thousands of former students of Indian Residential Schools, the federal government continues to dispute the fees it should pay to one of the lead lawyers in the case: Regina's Tony Merchant.
The tussle over fees sought by the Merchant Law Group, some $20 million, was back before the courts in February with a decision published recently to an online legal database.
The decision, by Court of Appeal judge Gary Lane, outlines how federal officials have been trying to get documentation to support Merchant's request for payment.
Merchant was reluctant to release his files, to protect the lawyer-client relationship.
The two sides tried to work out a compromise by having a consultant design a computer program that would generate the details Canada wanted from Merchant, while stripping out personal client information.
That effort, however, was stymied when federal officials — after receiving a batch of information — asked follow up questions and learned that Merchant was using a new, and different, record-keeping system.
Now, Merchant has been ordered to make arrangements for the computer consultants to do more work on his files.
Once that happens, federal officials were expected to be in a position to determine how much of the estimated $20 million in legal fees they were willing to pay.
In the past, Merchant has pointed out that his firm spent years litigating claims relating to Residential Schools and had thousands of clients who ultimately benefitted from his efforts.