LAO Newsroom

LAO responds to feedback on its proposed refugee law services model

Posted on: Thursday, April 11, 2013

LAO appreciates the time and effort spent by the private bar, clinics and agencies in responding to LAO’s refugee law services transformation proposals.

LAO wanted to provide the following comments in response to your feedback:

  1. All refugee claimants are merit assessed on a case-by-case basis, regardless of country of origin (or the designated country list). The merit assessment is based on legal merit and likelihood of success. Claimants will not be denied legal aid solely because they come from a country on the designated list.

  2. LAO understands and values the role the certificate bar has played in the delivery of refugee services over the years. LAO believes that there continues to be an important role for the private bar in the delivery of refugee services. LAO also believes, however, that a mixed, diversified model which includes LAO staff services, clinics, and licensed paralegals may be of benefit to both claimants and tax payers.

  3. LAO acknowledges that many clinics may be at capacity and there is no intent to stream refugee claimants to clinics without clear service agreements in place. Some clinics are interested in delivering refugee services.

  4. Clinics as independent agencies may choose to represent clients at Refugee Appeal Division (RAD) or judicial review procedures should they have the capacity and competence. It was not LAO’s intent to suggest that clinics would not be providing these services. LAO, however, believes that these services might be best provided by a qualified panel of refugee lawyers who meet LAO standards related to knowledge and experience.

  5. LAO continues to assess the changes it has made to the processing and payment of judicial review services, and will monitor the impact on RAD services. The retroactive payment for merit assessment services will be evaluated over the next six months.

  6. LAO acknowledges the role the private bar has played in merit assessment through legal opinions. LAO’s experience with legal opinions rendered by the private bar in the past has been mixed in terms of quality and objectivity. LAO believes that staff with knowledge and experience in refugee law are capable of carrying out merit assessments in an objective, fair way.

  7. LAO believes there is a role for trained, experienced, licensed paralegals in the delivery of refugee services.

  8. LAO is committed to quality and is exploring the creation of a specialized panel of lawyers qualified and experienced to do Refugee Appeal Division and Federal Court judicial review applications.

LAO continues to fund services for this vulnerable client group and to explore how to best deliver services to refugees in the future. There are opportunities for improvement to better serve clients and provide more value for taxpayers, thereby ensuring sustainability of refugee services for many years to come.

Thank you for taking the time to provide us with your comments.


If you have any questions or require further information please contact:

Jawad Kassab,
Director Corporate Services, Planning & Strategic Initiatives

Maureen Hastings
Director, Administration, Civil and Immigration Law Services (GTA Region)