LAO Newsroom

Responses to recent media enquiries

LAO Newsroom

Response to questions about LAO’s Complex Case Rate

Friday, April 15, 2011

LAO provided information to the Law Times in response to an enquiry received April 6, 2011.

Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is pleased to introduce an innovative policy that offers qualified lawyers an enhanced rate of compensation for work on complex cases. Working together with the Criminal Lawyer’s Association (CLA), LAO was able to develop a Complex Case Rate (CCR) policy that benefits clients and lawyers while supporting justice system efficiencies.

The new standards and increased compensation will improve access to justice by helping legal aid clients retain high quality legal representation for their legal matters. The CCR policy will also help LAO establish a mentorship program so less experienced lawyers who show potential for these types of cases may be able to further develop their skills.

The CCR was a part of the January 2010 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between LAO, the CLA and the Ministry of Attorney General. Other enhancements that arose from the MOU include the tariff rates increase over five years, the increase to rates paid to experts and block fees.

“The CCR policy is one example of how our new relationship with the CLA can work toward ensuring better access to justice for low- income people in Ontario. LAO looks forward to further consultation with the CLA on matters of shared importance in order to continue to improve the legal aid system in Ontario.”
- John McCamus, Chair, Legal Aid Ontario

CCR Rate Schedule


Feb 1, 2010 (Year 1)

Apr 1, 2010 (Year 2)

Apr 1, 2011 (Year 3)

Apr 1, 2012 (Year 4)

Apr 1 , 2013 (Year 5)

Apr 1, 2014 (Year 6)

Apr 1, 2015 (Year 7)

Enhanced Rate for Complex Cases








Law Times Questions

Law Times Q: How many lawyers are on the Extremely Serious Matters Panel - the pre-requisite for CCR panel membership?

Legal Aid Ontario currently has 726 lawyers on the Extremely Serious Matters (ESM) panel. LAO established the ESM panel to help ensure that LAO clients facing the most serious charges are represented by experienced lawyers. Lawyers on the ESM panel must meet specific criteria to be accepted.

Law Times Q: How many applications have there been to join the CCR Panel? How many of those have been accepted/rejected (if any)

Legal Aid Ontario has not received any applications for the CCR panel since the panel standards took effect on 1 April 2011.

Law Times Q: How many applications for CCR rates so far? Accepted/Rejected?

Legal Aid Ontario has not received any new applications for the CCR rates since the panel standards took effect on 1 April 2011.

However, between February 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011, Legal Aid Ontario received 94 applications for cases to receive the interim Complex Case Rate.

  • 94 applications (Feb 1, 2010 – Mar 31, 2011) interim CCR rates
  • 57 approved (60%)
  • 6 denied (6%)
  • 7 ineligible, (7%)
  • 15 pending review (16%)
  • 9 require additional supporting information and documentation (10%)

Lawyers who received approval for the interim CCR for a specific case prior to April 1, 2011 will continue to receive the CCR for that case.

As of April 1, 2011, lawyers must apply and be accepted to a newly-created CCR panel to be eligible to receive the enhanced rate. This panel will be comprised of “blue chip” lawyers who have demonstrated experience and competence in dealing with the most serious criminal cases. Lawyers accepted to the CCR panel will be able to apply to have cases considered for compensation at the complex case rate. Only lawyers on the CCR panel with cases that meet LAO’s standards for a complex cases will receive the rate.

For a case to be considered eligible for the CCR funding:

  • a lawyer must be on the CCR panel
  • the case must have been accepted into Big Case Management with a properly submitted opinion form (Hearing or Trial)
  • the case must have an approved budget

Charges of first or second degree murder are deemed eligible and CCR panel members working on these types of cases are not required to apply for the complex case rate for those charges.

Law Times Q: Do you think some senior lawyers will be prompted to return to legal aid work by the new rates - Is that the chief aim for LAO?

Legal Aid Ontario created a CCR policy that reflects the many priorities LAO must balance in its funding of complex cases. These include:

  • helping provide clients facing the most serious criminal charges with access to representation from high quality criminal lawyers.
  • encouraging Ontario’s most qualified criminal lawyers to accept complex cases.
  • promoting fair trials for financially eligible defendants in the most serious, complex and costly criminal cases by providing funding proportionate to the complexity of these cases.
  • creating a network of respected senior lawyers to mentor less experienced members of the criminal bar who show potential in defending these types of cases, in order to increase the pool of experienced lawyers.
  • Promoting efficiency and effectiveness in the justice system that is consistent with client and the public’s interests and a lawyer’s professional obligations.