LAO Newsroom

Legal Aid Ontario releases final discretion guidelines and initiatives

Posted on: Thursday, August 16, 2012


Toronto – Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) has released guidelines to clarify the discretion request process. The approved guidelines, effective Oct. 15, 2012, will provide greater certainty and payment fairness for lawyers. They will also help LAO ensure effective stewardship of public funds and effective use of limited resources.

Earlier this year, LAO initiated a review of its discretion process to ensure greater compliance with the legislation, increase predictability for lawyers and enable LAO staff to provide quicker, more consistent decisions on discretion. LAO held 29 consultation sessions across the province, where 300 members of Ontario’s private bar and legal associations shared their opinions and insights on discretion and other legal matters. The revised guidelines reflect the feedback provided during these consultations.

Beginning Oct. 15, 2012, LAO is also introducing new initiatives based on stakeholder feedback on matters related to the tariff. The initiatives include:

  • piloting a tariff pre-authorization in summary conviction trials and Child and Family Services Act (CFSA) status reviews;
  • implementing a case management program and budgets for costly, complex family and criminal law matters (non-Big Case Management); and
  • reviewing how the tariff  has evolved in the legal system and how this impacts legal aid clients and service providers.

LAO will be providing more details regarding the discretion guidelines and new initiatives in September 2012. Information and training sessions will be scheduled prior to implementation on Oct. 15, 2012.  These sessions will cover the discretion guidelines, tariff pre-authorizations, and case management.


Jawad Kassab
Director, Corporate Service Planning & Strategic Initiatives
416-979-2352 ext.4705