Updated: LAO changes to policies and certificate coverage

Updated: Friday, June 14, 2019

LAO is changing the way we fund, provide and manage legal services.

Our priority remains to provide quality frontline service to our clients, while regularly reviewing our programs to better and more efficiently deliver them.

We are updating the following certificate policies and programs in stages, and will provide more detailed information to the relevant bar before implementation.

Here is a summary of the changes:

Effective June 12, 2019

  • LAO will no longer pay acknowledgement administrative fees for accepting certificates issued on or after June 12, 2019.

Effective June 26, 2019

  • LAO will no longer pay appearance administrative fees for duty counsel shifts on or after June 26, 2019.

  • You will now receive payment in 28 days instead of 14, which includes duty counsel accounts. Accounts where disbursements or discretion are requested will continue to be paid with the standard 60‑day timeframe.

Effective July 7, 2019

The following changes will be effective for certificates issued, or services authorized, on or after July 7, 2019. There is no change to certificates issued prior to July 7, 2019.

Criminal law

  • Certificate lawyers may no longer bill for bail hearings on block fees. On these matters, duty counsel will continue to be available to provide bail services. For more complex tariff cases, including those in LAO's Big Case Management program and matters set for trial, certificate counsel may bill for bail hearings.

  • Meritorious bail reviews will be funded at 5 hours per bail review (instead of 10). Certificate counsel will also resume applying for authorization before proceeding on bail reviews. In 2015, LAO increased bail review coverage from 5 to 10 hours to encourage the private bar to bring more bail reviews and address overreliance on onerous conditions of release. The additional hours did not result in increased bail review applications.

  • When using a publicly‑funded Gladue report as part of sentencing submissions for Indigenous clients on tariff matters, lawyers will be allowed a 3‑hour Gladue authorization (instead of 5). For block fees, when using a publicly‑funded Gladue report, lawyers will receive a Gladue "enhancement" based on approximately 3 hours of additional time, (instead of 5).

  • Lawyers representing clients with mental health issues, including at fitness hearings and mental health court, on block fee matters, will receive an "enhancement" for approximately 2.5 hours (instead of 5) for additional work that may be needed to represent these clients.

  • Because of technological and legal advances, extra coverage for DNA sentencing submissions will no longer be available, and submissions can be covered under the current base tariff. The block fee base rate that includes DNA submissions will remain the same.

  • Criminal duty counsel will:

    • prioritize clients with the highest risk
    • provide services to clients that are legally and financially eligible
    • establish a framework for consistent services
    • monitor, measure and adapt to any changing demand for duty counsel services
    • work with stakeholders to effectively implement any changes

Family law

  • LAO will continue to provide full certificate coverage for people experiencing domestic violence, including motions to change and emergency advice.

  • Certificate counsel will no longer be able to bill for variations or motions to change where domestic violence is not an issue. Instead, duty counsel and family law service centres will, where available, perform these services, when possible.

  • Counsel will be able to bill for up to two case conferences instead of multiple conferences.

  • LAO will no longer issue certificates for independent legal advice relating to mediation or separation agreement certificates. Between 2015‑16 and 2017‑18, 60 percent of separation agreement certificates were unused, or required additional certificates or services. This figure was 70 percent for independent legal advice certificates for mediation, not fulfilling the certificates' original intent.

  • Legal assistance in child protection matters remain unchanged.

  • Family duty counsel will:

    • prioritize clients with the highest risk
    • provide services to clients that are legally and financially eligible
    • establish a framework for consistent services
    • monitor, measure and adapt to any changing demand for duty counsel services
    • work with stakeholders to effectively implement any changes

Mental health

  • A modified merit test will now be applied to Ontario Review Board appeals ensuring meritorious cases continue to be funded, similar to the one introduced for Consent and Capacity Board appeals in 2017. We will continue to provide funding for lawyers to represent psychiatric patients exercising their right of appeal in meritorious cases.

  • LAO will continue to fund certificate lawyers for meritorious CCB and ORB appeals over the governing regular tariff: for ORB appeals, lawyers will be funded up to 35 hours (instead of up to 50) and for CCB appeals lawyers will be funded up to 25 hours (instead of up to 50).

  • Resources will be dedicated to services for psychiatric patients (instead of substitute decision makers)

Prison law

  • Five hours of certificate coverage will be available for parole matters (instead of 10). This ensures clients have access to the services they need. Ontario is one of few provinces which provide these services.

  • Resources will be dedicated to services for prisoners to have access to statutory release by way of parole and to extraordinary remedy (instead of "faint hope" parole applications and "gating hearings".

Other

  • LAO staff will be determining eligibility for the test case program instead of an external committee

  • LAO will be introducing more defined discretionary processes and criteria.

Questions

For questions or concerns about these changes, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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