Reminder: Changes to LAO policies and certificate coverage in criminal, family and mental health law, effective June 12, June 26 and July 7, 2019

Updated: Thursday, July 4, 2019

Further to our June announcement on certificate coverage changes, please be reminded that we have made the following changes to the certificate program.

Effective date:

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

  • June 26, 2019
    LAO will no longer pay an appearance fee for duty counsel shifts on or after this date. Lawyers will receive payment in 28 days instead of 14, which includes duty counsel accounts. Accounts that go under consideration, such as discretion accounts, late billed and accounts with errors will continue to be paid within 60 days.

  • July 7, 2019
    The following changes come into effect. If your certificate was issued before this date, previous rules and policies still apply, except where indicated otherwise.

Criminal

Bail hearings

Bail hearings will no longer be covered on block fee certificates. This change will have no impact on youth matters or other block‑excluded charges or processes which are billable by the hour.

Counsel can accept a private retainer for bail hearings as long as service is provided prior to the effective date of the certificate, and fees are reasonable. Privately paid amounts up to $1,000 prior to the effective date of the certificate will be deemed "reasonable" and not subject to deduction. Amounts paid for bail greater than $1,000 will be reviewed for reasonableness and may be subject to deduction. Learn more about private retainers for bail.

Bail reviews

Certificates issued after July 7 will no longer be automatically approved for a bail review. Certificates issued before July 7, where authorization has been given, will not be affected. If the authorization is added on an existing certificate after July 7, then the new merit rules and rates apply. Counsel must apply for authorization through Legal Aid Online and show why the review has merit before authorization is given.

For tariff matters, bail review certificate coverage will be for five instead of 10 hours.

For block fee matters, coverage will be for $455.81 instead of $911.64.

DNA applications

LAO will no longer take certificate applications or provide an additional two-hour authorization to cover responses to Crown applications for genetic databank samples on tariff matters.

There are no changes to the block fee, which is included in the resolution block.

Gladue

The Gladue authorization is now limited to certificates where a publicly‑funded Gladue report is used.

LAO will cover three hours instead of five for tariff certificates.

The rate for block fee certificates will be $273.49 instead of $455.81.

The new Gladue rules and requirements apply only to certificates issued after July 7, unless the client did not self‑identify as Indigenous until after July 7, in which case the new rules and requirements will apply.

Mental health block matters

Certificate coverage for the mental health block will be for $227.91, instead of $455.81.

Q&A for changes to criminal certificate services

Family

Variations/motions to change final orders

LAO will no longer cover variations/motions to change where domestic violence is not an issue.

Independent Legal Advice (ILA) for mediation

LAO will no longer issue ILA certificates.

Separation agreements

LAO will no longer issue separation agreement certificates.

Case conferences

LAO will authorize a maximum of two case conferences* on certificates, upon request. There is no change to case conference coverage to domestic violence and child protection matters.

*Case conferences include case conferences and judicial settlement conferences. When a case is authorized to proceed to trial, you will get an additional authorization for a trial management conference. In addition, case conferences can continue to be billed under the regular tariff allotment. Legal Aid settlement conferences will have their own authorization.

Q&A for changes to family certificate services

Mental health

Guardianship and Consent and Capacity Board (CCB) matters

LAO will no longer fund:

  • CCB applications for substitute decision makers or family members of incapable persons
  • applications to terminate a statutory guardianship pursuant to section 20.3 of the Substitute Decisions Act.

This applies to certificates issued on or after July 7. Certificates issued before July 7 will have the old rules and policies attached to them.

Services for incapable persons will continue at the same governing tariffs as before the civil mental health service expansion in 2015.

ORB and CCB appeals coverage

Certificate coverage for ORB appeals will be up to 35 hours instead of 50.

Certificate coverage for CCB appeals will be up to 25 hours instead of 50.

This applies to appeals with opinion certificates issued on or after July 7. Appeals with opinion certificates issued before July 7 will have the old rules and policies attached to them.

New ORB merit test

ORB appeals will be subject to a modified merit test, beginning July 7. This will come into effect for appeals with opinion certificates issued on or after July 7. Current rules and policies will apply to appeals with opinion certificates issued before July 7.

Prison law

Parole hearings

Certificate coverage will be for five hours instead of 10 for preparation, in addition to payment for attendance at the hearing.

"Gating" hearings

LAO will no longer cover "gating" hearings under s.v129 of the Correctional and Conditional Release Act.

"Faint hope" applications

LAO will no longer cover s.745 of the Criminal Code of Canada, commonly referred to as "faint hope" applications.

Test cases

LAO will continue to fund meritorious and cost‑effective test cases, but will prioritize applications from individual clients or groups of clients that align with LAO's core areas of service—criminal law, family law, mental health law and clinic law. Refugee and immigration law is still a core area of service for LAO; however, we are unable to accept refugee and immigration applications to the test case program while our interim services are in place.

LAO will also be changing the structure of the test case committee; an internal group of LAO lawyers will review applications for funding.

Further information regarding the updated program will be posted on the LAO website on July 4, 2019. All questions can be directed to gentestcase@lao.on.ca.

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