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Judge questions legal fees charged in $34M orphanage abuse settlement

HALIFAX – A judge has asked a law firm seeking $6.6 million in legal fees to provide proof of the hours its staff put in to win a settlement for people who alleged they were abused at a Halifax orphanage.

Judge Arthur LeBlanc of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court said Wednesday he is also looking for detailed records on the expenses of 10 lawyers, three paralegals and two students who helped former residents of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children win $34-million from two class-action lawsuits.

The legal fees amount to 19.4 per cent of the overall settlement, a figure lead lawyer Ray Wagner says is reasonable considering his firm laboured on the file since 1998 without guaranteed payment.

LeBlanc said he couldn’t approve the legal fee agreement without more precise information on the hours worked, particularly between 1998 and 2007, when many of Wagner’s clients were individual files.

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The judge initially suggested an outside adviser known as an amicus be brought in to help the court assess the fee claim.

But he later ruled he would accept sworn affidavits from the law firm’s staff that documents the time they spent on the file.

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