LAO Newsroom

Implementation of Revised Tariff Rates and Enhanced Rate for Complex Criminal Cases

Posted on: Thursday, February 25, 2010

On January 25, 2010 the Attorney General announced that the Province was moving forward with Legal Aid Transformation. The announcement included an agreement with the Criminal Lawyers Association to end the boycott of large criminal cases.

The agreement with the CLA includes a number of enhancements for lawyers to help ensure low-income Ontarians have access to the quality legal services they need.

Highlights of the agreement include:

  • Increasing the hourly fees for criminal, family, immigration and refugee and mental health lawyers by an average of 5 per cent per year for the next seven years
  • Implementing the Code and Lesage recommendation of creating enhanced fees for highly qualified lawyers who work on the most complex major criminal cases.
  • Instituting block fees for standard criminal cases that will promote early resolution of cases, reward high quality lawyers, and improve timing of LAO payments
  • Increasing compensation for junior counsel in complex criminal cases
  • Development of an LAO Junior lawyer Mentoring Program to encourage new lawyer participation in legal aid and enhance the quality of their work
  • Increasing legal aid fees for expert defence witnesses,
  • Providing greater quality control and ensuring greater accountability of legal aid lawyers
  • Increased funding for enhanced family law and poverty law services

Moving forward, Legal Aid Ontario will consult with the Criminal Lawyers association to work out the implementation details for the agreement. The complete agreement is available on the Criminal Lawyers Website at

Certificates will be issued for cases impacted by the boycott, with an effective date of February 1, 2010. For cases impacted by the boycott, lawyers can bill for work completed on or after 25 January 2010 providing the work completed is not related to funding applications.

As an interim measure, lawyers who would like to have cases on certificates issued after February 1, 2010 considered for compensation at the Complex Rate, must submit a Complex Case Rate application form. The Complex Case Rate Application form is available in the BCM section. For more information please contact LAO at 416-979-2352 ext.6459 and/or

The revised tariff rates apply to all certificates issued on or after 1 February 2010. Additional information about the revised tariff rates is included below.

The revised tariff rates and new enhanced rate for complex criminal cases

  Revised Tariff Rates
Effective 1-Feb-10
Year 1
Year 2
Year 3
Year 4
Year 5
Year 6
Year 7
Lawyer Rate Tier 1 $81.44 $85.51 $89.79 $94.27 $98.99 $103.94 $109.13
Lawyer Rate Tier 2 $91.62 $96.20 $101.01 $106.07 $111.37 $116.94 $122.78
Lawyer Rate Tier 3 $101.81 $106.90 $112.24 $117.86 $123.74 $129.94 $136.43
Complex Criminal Case Rate $120.02 $124.82 $129.81 $135.00 $141.75 $148.84 $161.05

Questions and Answers

1. On what date will new certificates issued receive the revised tariff rate?

The revised rates apply to all certificates issued on or after 1 February 2010.

2. Who will be eligible to receive the enhanced rate for complex cases?

There are two criteria that must be satisfied to received the enhanced rate for complex cases:

  1. The lawyer accepting the case must satisfy criteria related to demonstrated skill and expertise, and
  2. The case must meet certain criteria related to its legal or factual complexity.

3. What are the criteria for lawyers to be eligible for the enhanced rate for complex cases?

In order to expedite the deployment of the enhanced rate for complex cases, LAO has implemented interim criteria for lawyers’ eligibility to receive the enhanced rate for complex cases.

In the interim, lawyers who have qualified for the Extremely Serious Matters panel are eligible to accept complex cases and receive the enhanced rate for complex cases.

LAO will be moving forward with the development of improved qualifications and standards for complex cases.

The CLA and other stakeholders will be consulted as part of the development of improved qualifications and standards for complex cases.

4. How are complex cases defined?

In order to facilitate speedy implementation of the new enhanced rate for complex cases, LAO has established interim criteria for complex cases.

In the interim, complex cases must meet the definition of a case that falls within the existing LAO Big Case Management program


must have other factors indicating a high degree of complexity, including:

  1. length and nature of the police investigation that led to the proceeding
  2. any personal characteristics of the client that make the proceeding particularly challenging
  3. whether the proceeding involves particularly challenging evidentiary issues such as the use of complex or novel forensic or scientific evidence, or difficult questions of admissibility
  4. any novel or unusual or otherwise challenging issues in the proceeding
  5. whether the proceeding involves multiple charges involving different facts or multiple accuseds
  6. Anticipated length of the proceeding
  7. any other relevant factor that would warrant payment of the enhanced hourly rate

5. How will cases be referred for consideration as “Complex cases”?

Lawyers can apply on a case by case basis for consideration as a complex case. To assist with the application process, LAO has created a form that outlines Complex Case Rate criteria and considerations.

LAO is committed to providing a response to Complex Case Applications in a timely manner.

6. Who will decide if a case meets the definition of “complex”?

LAO will make the determination on a case by case basis based on information provided by counsel.

Lawyers will be provided with a form to outline these factors.

LAO will make the commitment to providing a fast response after receiving the form.

7. How will the new tariff affect junior counsel?

Lawyers acting as junior counsel will be paid the hourly rate for their tier level for all services including attendance in court.

8. When will the new tariff rates start being paid to lawyers?

LAO is making changes to the lawyers billing portal to accommodate the revised rates once they are passed by Regulation. LAO expects to have system updated as soon as the Regulation increasing the tariff rate is passed.

Please check the LAO Lawyers Portal message for regular update.

Be assured that lawyers will receive all the compensation to which they are entitled. Lawyers who have submitted accounts and been paid for services on certificates issued on or after 1 February 2010 will receive a separate deposit for the difference Between the old and new tariff rates once the regulation is passed.