The application judge dismissed the application on the
basis that the appellant could only enforce its retainer via an
assessment before an assessment officer, and that the application pursuant to s. 23 of the Solicitors Act was improper. The
application judge concluded that the appellant could not resort
to s. 23 absent a bona fide dispute as to the terms or effect of the
written retainer agreements.
 I should note two things before embarking on my analysis
of the issue raised by this appeal. One is that the respondent
appeared through counsel at the hearing but did not take any
position on the appeal. The other is that the appellant advised
us that, subsequent to the appeal being launched, the outstanding fees had been resolved between the appellant and the
respondent. The issue was therefore moot as between the parties. However, counsel for the appellant invited us to still deal
with the issue, because of its importance to the profession generally, and we agreed.
Issue and Analysis
 This case raises an important procedural issue respecting
the avenues of recourse that are available to a lawyer for the
purpose of pursuing a client for payment of his/her fees. It
involves a consideration of the Solicitors Act, and its various
provisions that purport to address this issue. As I will explain
below, the issue arises from the outdated and impractical pro-
cesses contemplated by the Solicitors Act for the collection of
legal accounts, which have been compounded by the failure of
the Ministry of the Attorney General to properly resource the
assessment process, that is provided for in the Solicitors Act.
The problem is further compounded by the confusing and prob-
lematic language used in the Solicitors Act that renders any
coherent understanding of the objectives of that statute virtually
impossible. On that latter point, I note the following statement
from the covering letter of the Ontario Law Reform Commission
that enclosed its 1973 Report on the Solicitors Act. The commis-
The Solicitors Act is based on English legislation and practice which in some
respects is no longer suitable to the needs of current Ontario practice.
In many instances, the language used in the present statute is archaic and
obscure, and has caused difficulty in interpretation.
 As prior decisions of this court demonstrate, the difficulties
with the language used in the Solicitors Act do not provide lawyers (or clients for that matter) with a clear route to the determination of a client’s liability for payment of legal accounts.
In that regard, one must appreciate that the provisions of the