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A brief history of L.A.O. Ontario first implemented an organized legal aid plan for criminal cases in 1951. Lawyers provided legal assistance on a volunteer.

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Presentation on theme: "A brief history of L.A.O. Ontario first implemented an organized legal aid plan for criminal cases in 1951. Lawyers provided legal assistance on a volunteer."— Presentation transcript:

1 A brief history of L.A.O. Ontario first implemented an organized legal aid plan for criminal cases in 1951. Lawyers provided legal assistance on a volunteer basis. In 1967, the Legal Aid Act was enacted creating the Ontario Legal Aid Plan. The plan was financed by the provincial government and managed by Law Society of Upper Canada and saw the creation of the Certificate and Duty Counsel programs. 1970-1980s – OLAP is expanded upon to include certificate coverage for more areas of law. This time also saw the creation of community legal clinics. 1990s – The demand for legal assistance continues to grow, especially during the recession. The government was forced to cap spending in 1992. This forced a dramatic reduction of certificate services. The emphasis shifted towards alternative service delivery models such as the use of staff lawyers, duty counsel and Student Legal Aid Services Societies.

2 A brief history of L.A.O. cont By mid-1990s the recession and spending freeze continues to impact the quantity of certificates issued. In direct response to the public demand and recommendations provided from a report on Legal Aid Services the Government establishes the Legal Aid Services Act. Established by the Legal Aid Services Act, 1998 Legal Aid Ontario is an independent but publically funded and publically accountable non-profit corporation, responsible for administering the provinces legal aid program. LAO would become the sole agency for establishing, administering, and monitoring the legal aid system within the province, and was granted the ability to provide legal aid services by any method that it considers appropriate, having regard to the needs of low-income individuals and the costs of providing such services and the Corporations financial resources

3 Legal Aid Ontario – Today Since 1998, LAO has become the 2 nd largest justice agency in Ontario and one of the largest providers of legal services in North America. LAO provides assistance for a range of legal issues such as criminal, family, mental health, aboriginal, clinic (poverty), and refugee law matters and can provide referrals for individuals seeking help outside of LAOs jurisdiction. Services include the Certificate program, Duty Counsel program, Specialty Legal Clinics, Student Legal Clinics, and Community Clinics

4 LAO & YCJA DUTY COUNSEL PROGRAM Financial testing may be required to determine eligibility for some duty counsel services CERTIFICATE PROGRAM Two requirements – Legal & financial eligibility

5 Duty Counsel Program Duty Counsel Services include: Give advice about legal rights, obligations and the court process Assist with resolution (diversion matters & guilty pleas) Assist with bail hearings Crown resolution meetings (CPTs) Judicial pre-trials (JPTs) Preliminary stages of Mental Health Fitness Assessments Adjournments

6 Duty Counsel Program

7 Certificate Program Two requirements – Legal & financial eligibility

8 Certificate Program: Legal Eligibility Youths applying for legal aid services must be seen by duty counsel prior to making an application for certificate services To be eligible for a certificate youths require a duty counsel referral (purple form) Factors considered by duty counsel in determining legal eligibility are: Complexity Details of the case Probability of incarceration All matters are considered on a case by case basis to ensure the most appropriate/efficient service is provided to the client at the particular time.

9 Certificate Program: Financial Eligibility Eligibility for a young person is based on the same financial eligibility criteria as any other applicant If a young person is residing at home their parents are required to be financially assessed If the parents or guardians refuse to be financially assessed then the application will be refused. If the applicant is no longer living at home, is detained following a bail hearing or has withdrawn from parental control, the young person is assessed as an individual and financial eligibility is determined based on the young persons circumstances.

10 Guideline for income eligibility

11 Ive been approved… now what? Youths should contact a member of the private bar. Youths can be provided with a list of lawyers Legal Aid Ontario does not provide any recommendations to a client regarding their choice of lawyer LRS – Lawyer referral service available when clients are unsure of who to pick

12 Ive been refused… now what? Youths who have been refused can: Represent yourself Retain counsel privately Speak with duty counsel regarding their options (Youths should provide their refusal to duty counsel) Everyone who receives a refusal has a right of appeal. The appeal must be made in writing within 15 days of the eligibility decision.

13 YCJA and Legal Assistance When Legal Aid Ontario refuses certificate services for a young person YCJA allows for specific provisions to assist the youth in retaining counsel.

14 YCJA – S.25 S.25 – Right to Counsel S.25(8) – If it appears to a youth court judge or justice… that it would be in the best interests of the young person to be represented by his or her own counsel, the judge or justice shall ensure that the young person is represented by counsel independent of the parent A youth should speak with duty counsel about this option.

15 Overview: A young person appearing in court may receive legal assistance from: Duty Counsel Legal Aid Certificate services S.25 Appointments

16 Going Forward Financial Constraints Matching the most appropriate/efficient service for the client to resolve the matter Increasing capacity of duty counsel Better information systems to track clients and outcomes Expanding scope with professional development Teamwork Reworking procedures to expand capacity Working with key communities: Aboriginals Victims of domestic violence


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