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Norfolk County

May 10, 201610 May 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council-in-committee for Norfolk County to discuss the extension of legal services contracts with two law firms. The committee discussed the hourly rate proposed by each firm. While the municipality did not rely on the exception for solicitor-client privilege, the Ombudsman considered whether it would apply to the discussion. The Ombudsman found that it was unclear from existing jurisprudence whether the hourly rate of a lawyer (as opposed to the total amount of legal fees paid under a retainer) is presumptively sheltered under solicitor-client privilege. However, any presumption would be rebutted because the committee did not directly or indirectly reveal any communication protected by privilege by disclosing the lawyers’ hourly rate. Therefore, the Ombudsman found that the committee’s discussion did not fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Town of Midland

February 04, 201404 February 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Midland that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss a council member’s request for indemnification of legal fees incurred as a police service board member. The Ombudsman found that the substance of the legal advice provided to the council member was not discussed. The focus of the discussion was on whether the legal bill qualified for reimbursement under the municipality’s policy. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit with within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Town of Midland

February 04, 201404 February 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Midland to discuss a council member’s request for indemnification for legal fees incurred as a police services board member. The meeting relied on the personal matters exception. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion did not fit within the personal matters exception because the discussion related to the council member in his official capacity and much of the information was already known to the public.