Ok, I may be paraphrasing slightly, but Master B.M. Young in Worth v. Spelliscy, 2012 BCSC 1873 did say that legal research is probably almost always necessary, at least in sophisticated commercial cases.
This case arose as a result of a review under the provisions of the Legal Profession Act, S.B.C. 1998, c. 9, of eight legal accounts rendered by the solicitor to the applicant. The underlying matter was a failed investment scheme having to do with an RV development in the Shuswap region of B.C.
Master Young, in his review of the accounts, had this to say about the fees charged in respect of legal research on the matter (para. 91):
The second area of criticism was that the solicitor spent 21 hours conducting legal research and charged the clients $5,250. I find this to be a reasonable use of time. It is to be expected that a skilled and experienced lawyer will conduct legal research prior to drafting a claim, in order to ensure that he addresses all of the elements of the claim that need to be proven. In simple pro forma claims, it may not be necessary, but in complex commercial litigation claims, I suspect that it is always necessary to determine the current state of the law.
Does this create a new standard of care? Is failing to bring a sophisticated legal researcher onto a commercial file courting a negligence claim? Unlikely – but I’ll be bookmarking this case and happily circulating it to those who grumble about why legal research is even necessary and how much it costs.
[Hat tip to Eric Gertner of McCarthy Tetrault, who brought this case to my attention].