Initiatives to respond to tariff matters
Posted on: Thursday, August 16, 2012
LAO is introducing new initiatives related to the tariff, which come into effect October. 15, 2012.
LAO will be providing more details regarding the new initiatives in September 2012. Information and training sessions will be scheduled prior to implementation on Oct. 15, 2012. The training sessions will cover the discretion guidelines as well as tariff pre-authorizations, and case management.
Added flexibility to discretion guidelines
The district area director will have authority to determine whether a request for a discretionary payment not based on factors contained in the discretion guidelines meets the exceptional circumstances test. Requests for discretion will be fairly and fully considered.
Implementation of a pilot for tariff pre-authorization
Beginning October 15, 2012, the tariff will be increased for criminal law summary conviction trials.
Reason for this pilot:
Summary conviction tariff was 10.5 hours preparation and attendance on day one and five hours preparation and attendance inclusive for each subsequent day. If counsel was in court for a full day on the subsequent trial days, no tariff for attendance time was allowed, and lawyers usually requested discretion.
Beginning Oct. 15, 2012, for each subsequent trial day, counsel will receive four hours of preparation plus actual court attendance time
- Aligns the tariff with other areas of law – indictable trials, child protection matters all have prep and attendance for subsequent trial days
- Addresses concerns by the bar that block fees provide incentive for guilty pleas, as summary trials are not adequately compensated
- A number of lawyers at this level of proceeding will realize these benefits
The tariff will be increased for child protection status reviews (Society to Crown wardship).
Reason for this pilot:
Six hours of tariff did not provide enough hours. Lawyers routinely requested discretion.
Beginning Oct. 15, 2012, counsel for each status review (society to Crown wardship) will receive 12-hour pre-authorization.
- Supports access to service for clients in serious child protection matters
- Addresses concerns by the bar that tariff inadequate
- Potential benefit to number of CFSA lawyers
Implementation of a case management program for costly, complex family and criminal law matters
Children and Family Services Act (CFSA)
LAO will stream all CFSA Crown wardship matters to the district office for case management
Criminal cases (Case Management and Litigation offices – CML)
- stream all homicide cases proceeding to trial and homicide appeals to the Case Management and Litigation (CML) Office
- stream all indictable conviction appeals to the CML office
Criminal cases (district office)
LAO will develop and phase in a case management program to be administered by local district area offices for mid-level cases ($8,000 to $20,000).
Commencement of a review on how the tariff has evolved in the legal system and how this impacts clients and service providers
Looking toward the future
A bridging strategy to address the impact of any adverse discretion guidelines
Where the new discretion guidelines have a substantial adverse impact, the existing guidelines will apply for three months following implementation. LAO is committed to fair administration of discretion.
Adjustments and monitoring of discretion guidelines
LAO will make adjustments, if required, to ensure that LAO complies with its legislative mandate and to address any adverse systemic impacts on clients. LAO will monitor such factors as discretion requests (number, monetary value and reasons), denials, reviews and assessments.
Response to significant concerns regarding disclosure
Detailed operations notes will accompany the discretion guidelines to provide greater clarity to service providers and LAO decision-makers.
For instance, here is an existing criterion and proposed change related to disclosure:
The operations note regarding disclosure will include these factors:
- What was the nature of the legal proceeding? (eg. theft under, break and enter, Crown wardship, exclusion)
- What was the volume of disclosure? (e.g., three bankers boxes, 300 pages)
- What was the nature of the disclosure? (e.g., cell phone tower records, medical/technical reports, three videotaped interviews)
- What challenges were faced in reviewing the disclosure? (e.g., witness recording with heavy accent)
- How did the nature or volume of the disclosure relate to counsel’s preparation of the case?
- Was the disclosure relevant to the proceedings and if so, how?
- Did the service provider discharge the onus of establishing exceptional circumstances by providing sufficient details regarding the disclosure in the dockets and discretion request form?
Director, Corporate Service Planning & Strategic Initiatives