Lawyers & Court

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is there a difference between the Court of King’s Bench and the Court of Queen’s Bench?

    The only difference is the name; it is the same court. When the reigning monarch is male, it is called the Court of King’s Bench, and when the reigning monarch is female, it is the Court of Queen’s Bench. When Queen Elizabeth II died on September 9, 2022, the court automatically changed its name back to the Court of King’s Bench, which it had not been called since 1952.

  • What is a retainer fee?

    A retainer is an amount of money you may have to pay to a lawyer up front, before they will do any work on your file.

    Lawyers often ask for retainers because if they don’t, they risk not being paid by their clients after they have already done the work they were hired to do. There are also many different fees that go along with filing court documents and starting court proceedings, and if a lawyer does not ask for money up front, they would have to pay these costs out of their own pocket, and risk losing that money if the client does not pay later on.

    Retainer fees are paid into a trust account at the lawyer’s law firm and can only be accessed by the lawyer to cover expenses as they arise. The rest of the retainer will be paid out to the lawyer once work on the file is complete, or refunded to the client if there is more money in the trust account than the lawyer’s fee for their services. If the case is a complicated one that has extra expenses or requires extra work, the lawyer may also ask the client to add more money to the retainer from time to time.

  • What are unbundled services?

    Some lawyers provide short-term or individual legal services to clients for a smaller fee, rather than doing all the work on the client’s case. This is called unbundling. For example, a lawyer may just draft a document for a client but not file it for them, or they may help a client with prepare for a court appearance, but not actually show up in court to argue on the client’s behalf. Unbundling is a good way for clients to save money if they feel they can handle certain parts of their case themselves.

    Not all lawyers provide these services, so it is important to ask a lawyer if they offer unbundled services when you consult them about your case.

  • I applied for Legal Aid a while ago and I don’t have a lawyer yet. What do I do?

    It may take a while for Legal Aid to find you a lawyer. You can speed up the process by calling law firms and asking if one of their lawyers would accept your file through Legal Aid. If you find a lawyer to take your file, contact Legal Aid and let them know.

    It is very important that you attend all of your upcoming court dates whether or not you have a lawyer.  If you have an upcoming court date, or if you urgently need a lawyer, contact Legal Aid  and let them know.

  • What other information should I provide when applying for Legal Aid?

    In addition to information about proof of earnings, you should also provide the following:

    – documents about your case (including copies of court orders)

    – your court date, if you have one

    – your lawyer’s name, if you’ve found a lawyer

    – information about your debts, assets and expenses.

     

  • Are the courts still hearing family law matters?

    Starting March 7th, 2022, the Family Division will begin hearing trials and certain other matters in person. This will be the first step in a gradual lifting of restrictions that will end with a full return to pre-pandemic practices in September of 2022.

    For more details, see the March 1st court notice here:

    https://www.manitobacourts.mb.ca/site/assets/files/1994/qb_notice_-_adjustments_to_current_scheduling_protocols_march_7_2022_until_further_notice_2022_march.pdf

  • Are the courts still hearing child protection matters?

    Starting March 7th, 2022, child protection trials, intake lists, and pre-trial conference lists will proceed in person. This will be the first step in a gradual lifting of restrictions that will end with a full return to pre-pandemic practices in September of 2022.

    For more details, see the March 1st court notice here:

    https://www.manitobacourts.mb.ca/site/assets/files/1994/qb_notice_-_adjustments_to_current_scheduling_protocols_march_7_2022_until_further_notice_2022_march.pdf

     

  • Are the courts still holding bail hearings?

    Yes. Bail hearings are being held remotely. Accused persons being held in custody are appearing by video, wherever possible.

    If you are applying to act as a surety for an accused person and want to address the court, speak to the accused person’s lawyer ahead of the bail hearing.

  • Are the courts still holding jury trials?

    Starting March 7th, 2022, all jury trials will resume in person.

    For more details, see the March 1st court notice here:

    https://www.manitobacourts.mb.ca/site/assets/files/1994/qb_notice_-_adjustments_to_current_scheduling_protocols_march_7_2022_until_further_notice_2022_march.pdf

  • Are the courts hearing out of custody criminal matters?

    All out of custody criminal trials in the Court of King’s Bench will resume in-person starting March 7th, 2022. For more details, see the March 1st court notice here.

    All out of custody criminal trials and preliminary hearings in Provincial Court will proceed as scheduled, in both major court centres and circuit courts. Courts remain closed to the general public at this time. For more information, see the February 18, 2022 notice here.

    The Provincial Offences court office at 373 Broadway in Winnipeg is once again open to the public as of February 28, 2022, and matters may be heard in person. For more information, see the February 18, 2022 notice here.

    PTC/PCC court (or “paper court”) appearances will be held virtually. Lawyers will be able to call in and handle these appearances ahead of time. If you are representing yourself on one of these matters, see the June 8, 2021 Notice for instructions.

  • Are the courts hearing small claims matters?

    Small Claims Court will resume in-person hearings on June 8, 2020.

    Adjourned hearings set between March 17 and June 7, 2020 will be assigned to an administrative list by teleconference.

    Call the court if you have not received a letter by June 3, 2020:

    http://www.manitobacourts.mb.ca/site/assets/files/1966/notice_-_small_claims_court_may_15_2020.pdf

  • Are the courts still scheduling court tours?

    No, as of March 16, 2020.

  • Is the Court of Appeal still hearing matters?

    As of March 14th, 2022, the Court of Appeal will once again begin hearing appeals and motions in person.

    For more information, view the March 1st, 2022 court notice here:

    https://www.manitobacourts.mb.ca/site/assets/files/1995/ca_notice_march_1_2022.pdf

  • Who is allowed to be in the courtrooms?

    As of March 16th, only lawyers, litigants, accused, witnesses, victim service workers and members of the media will be allowed into courtrooms.

    As of August 6th, 2021, everyone in a public area of a courthouse is required to wear a mask. You may also be required to wear a mask in a courtroom, although this is up to the judge. For more information, read the notice found here.

  • Where can I find information about court closures across Canada?

    Helpful compilation on court closures and restrictions across Canada:

    View website.

  • Are the courts still hearing family law matters?

    All family matters set to proceed before a Master on or after May 25 will proceed. These matters may proceed remotely, for safety reasons.

    All family trials scheduled for May 26 or later will proceed as scheduled. Only people who are necessary to the trial will be allowed into court. Safety precautions will remain in effect at all court locations.

    For more information about whether your matter is proceeding, please contact your court centre:

    View website

  • Are the courts still hearing child protection matters?

    Child Protection dockets started up again on April 15, 2020. Only agency counsel and lawyers for the parents will appear by teleconference. Parents can ask their lawyers to call them, so they can participate on speaker phone.

  • Where can I file a complaint about the conduct of a lawyer?

    If you are concerned about something a lawyer has done (or not done), you should contact the Complaints Resolution Department of the Law Society of Manitoba. Before sending them a formal complaint, consider phoning them first. They may be able to help you work things out. The Complaints Resolution Department can be reached at (204) 942-5571, or toll-free at 1-855-942-5571.

    Next Steps:

    If you want to go ahead with a formal complaint, you must fill out a Complaint Help Form.

    You can find a copy of the form on the Law Society’s website

    You can also call the Law Society to ask for a printed copy of the form.

    When filling out the form, be sure to include:

      • Your name, address and telephone number;
      • The name, law firm name, and address of the lawyer you are complaining about;
      • information about your complaint; and
      • Copies (not originals) of any other letters or documents which support your claim.

    Don’t forget to sign the form.

    Send the completed, signed form and any additional documents to:

    By Mail:

    The Law Society of Manitoba

    Complaints Resolution Department Paralegal

    200 – 260 St. Mary Ave.

    Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 0M6

    By Fax:

    204-956-0624

    Attention: Complaints Resolution

    By E-mail:

    You may scan all the documents and send them by email to

  • What if the Law Society of Manitoba refuses to investigate my complaint?

    There is an appeal available to the Complaints Commissioner, a non-lawyer who is independent of the Law Society of Manitoba. The Complaints Commissioner can review the decision.

    You must appeal within 60 days.

    The Complaints Review Commissioner can:

      • Dismiss the complaint (which ends the matter), or
      • Direct the Law Society to investigate, if they have not, or
      • Refer the matter to the Complaints Investigation Committee, if the Law Society has investigated.

    To request a review by the Complaints Review Commissioner, email the Commissioner at or write to:

    Complaints Review Commissioner

    P.O. Box 2234

    Winnipeg, MB R3C 3R5

  • If I do not qualify for Legal Aid, what will a private lawyer cost me?

    Legal fees are difficult to estimate. Lawyers often charge by the amount of time spent on a case.

    Many lawyers charge an hourly rate, which may depend on the experience of the individual lawyer. There is no standard rate for all lawyers.

    Some lawyers may offer a flat-rate for matters like simple wills or when you are buying or selling a home.

    Some lawyers may agree to a contingency fee arrangement.  The lawyer will charge a percentage of a final settlement amount as his or her fee.  You will still have to pay expenses like filing fees and charges for reports, as the case goes along.

    There are some lawyers who are prepared to charge for portions of the legal work, for example drafting some of the court forms or coaching if you will be going to court.  These are called unbundled fees.

    It is important to ask your lawyer about their rates and fee structures.

  • Will fees be agreed to in my first meeting with a lawyer?

    In your first meeting with a lawyer, you should discuss fees and methods of payment. If your case is likely to be uncontested, such as in a real estate, wills and estates, or some simple divorce matters, the lawyer may charge a flat rate. Ask for a retainer agreement which will make clear what you have to pay.