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Legal Matters: Old files are hard to find

Under legal rules, your counsel is required to keep your closing documents and provide them to you in the future if you need them. However, there is a cost to store those documents.

A reasonable retrieval fee for documents is standard practice with most law firms.

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A reasonable retrieval fee for documents is standard practice with most law firms.

Q: So, I purchased a condo several years ago and I am now looking for my closing documents. I contacted my lawyer who closed the transaction and he has gotten back to me with a brief email that at the time of the transaction, his office provided a closing package with all the documents that pertain to the purchase.

The file is apparently in storage and there will be a retrieval cost if I need copies of the documents. I don’t want to pay any more money to him and I want my documents. What should I do?

A: Depending on when your transaction closed, the relevant documents may very well be available online at a reduced cost of retrieval versus pulling a full file from your lawyer’s storage. Under legal rules, your counsel is required to keep your documents and, as they are yours, provide them to you in the future if you need them. However, there is a cost to store those documents and a reasonable retrieval fee is standard practice with most law firms.

Have a conversation with the firm and I am sure you can get this worked out at a reasonable cost to you both.

Jeffrey Cowan is a real estate lawyer and can be reached at jeff@cowanlaw.ca

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