Information for lawyers

Expanding certificate authorizations for mandatory second judicial pre-trials

Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is expanding its pilot project to implement the newly developed Ontario Court of Justice Judicial Pre-Trial (JPT) Best Practices. One of the best practices requires a follow-up case management event no later than ten weeks before a trial date.

Over the last ten months, LAO has worked with the Ontario Court of Justice, criminal defence bar and the Ministry of the Attorney General on a pilot project to fund matters in participating Ontario Court of Justice locations where a trial is set and a second JPT or substantially similar event has been scheduled.

This pilot has been successful in increasing the number of early resolutions and providing a more accurate estimate of the length of trials. It will now be expanded province-wide, effective March 1, 2017. Eligible matters at pilot sites will continue to receive the same coverage since the pilot started in April 2016.

Eligible matters shall receive an authorization for an additional tariff maximum of two hours.

What matters are eligible?

To be eligible for the second JPT authorization at all new sites, lawyers must have a legal aid certificate with a matter set down for either a preliminary inquiry or trial. Additionally, the following criteria must be met:

  • The second JPT or substantially similar second event is set on or after March 1, 2017;
  • Parties in attendance have authority and preparedness to make the key decisions on a file;
  • A meaningful review of the file occurs;
  • Charter applications are identified/confirmed etc.;
  • Positions on possible resolution, where appropriate, have been communicated;
  • Time estimates are reviewed and confirmed;
  • Witness availability and attendance confirmed;
  • Legal issues identified and any admissions agreed upon.

In assessing whether counsel has been required to attend a second JPT or a “substantially similar event”, LAO will rely on the definition of JPT in chapter three of the LAO Tariff and Billing Handbook and the related criteria identified above.

How will lawyers obtain coverage?

Lawyers can submit requests through Legal Aid Online for a new authorization for the second JPT held in the Ontario Court of Justice for all court location is Ontario.

Qualifying requests will have the authorization automatically added to the certificate. Lawyers will be required to answer a few validating questions to confirm eligibility. If a matter is ineligible for the authorization, the lawyer will receive an error message and will not be able to submit the request.

Additional information:

  • Only matters that meet the eligibility requirements are eligible
  • Lawyers must obtain the request at least one day in advance of billing for the second JPT in order for the authorization to populate to the account
  • If a lawyer with an eligible matter has already submitted an account without the second JPT authorization they should send a notice through Legal Aid Online confirming when the matter was set down for a preliminary inquiry or trial, the court location and the date of the hearing. If it is confirmed that the services fall within the initiative, Lawyer Services & Payments will arrange for the authorization to be added and process payment accordingly
  • Communications are being sent to the criminal panel to ensure their awareness of the initiative