Oct 27, 2020

When should the former lawyer of a party be able to intervene in a legal proceeding in order to protect their financial and reputational interests? That issue arose in an interesting way in the case of Errol Massiah v. Justices of the Peace Review Council, 2020 ONSC 3644, http://canlii.ca/t/j8837. Mr. Massiah was removed from the office of Justice of the Peace for judicial misconduct. The remaining issue was whether Mr. Massiah should have his legal costs paid by the government. The tribunal had decided against such compensation, in part, on the basis that his lawyer had raised many frivolous and vexatious motions and objections delaying and extending the proceedings. Mr. Massiah’s lawyer sought to intervene in those proceedings to protect his financial and reputational interests.

The Court did not give permission for the lawyer to intervene. Any right to compensation from the government related to Mr. Massiah, not the lawyer. Mr. Massiah had fully addressed the issue and the lawyer would be repeating the same points. While there are some situations in which a lawyer who is being blamed for errors might be given standing to defend their reputation, this was not a case where no one was presenting that perspective. Mr. Massiah was fully defending the lawyer’s actions in presenting his claim for compensation. The Court was also concerned that the lawyer had brought this request to intervene very late in the process and was proposing to tender voluminous additional materials before the court. In some sense the lawyer was seeking to re-litigate issues that had already been determined.

This case illustrates that an intervenor must demonstrate how they would bring an important and different perspective to the matter which would assist the adjudicator.