Agreement reached between lawyers and Legal Aid Ontario

legal aid boycottAccording to the Toronto Star and various other sources, “The Ontario government and the Criminal Lawyers’ Association say they have reached an agreement to end a boycott over legal aid payments.”

What the agreement from Legal Aid and the CLA means:

The highlights include:

  • 40.5 % increases to the tariff for all tier levels by April 1, 2015
  • a new “big case” tier, effective February 1, 2010, to be increased by 66% by April 1, 2015
  • 10% increases to the standard case tariffs for certificates issued on or after April 1, 2010
  • 30% increase to the top level tariff for “big cases”, effective for certificates issued on or after April 1, 2010
  • elimination of the 25% reduction for fees paid to junior lawyers on “big cases”
  • block fees for standard criminal cases reflecting both the higher tariff amounts and 50% of the average discretionary increase to current tariff awards
  • a dedicated LAO fund to increase the fees available for defence experts
  • a commitment of LAO funds to facilitate more mentoring of junior lawyers
  • a commitment from the Attorney General and LAO to sit down with the Association’s representative on or before April 1, 2015 to discuss the future of legal aid

The implications of an agreement on the Legal aid boycott.

It is always difficult to understand the actual implications and implementation of agreements like these at such early stages; however, it is comforting to see that the Ontario government has dealt with the issue in good faith.

From a defence lawyer’s perspective, it is nice to have closure to this issue and to now return to accepting certificates for serious offences like homicides.  It was disheartening over the past several months to have to refuse cases for new and former clients.  With the end to the boycott, lawyers can once again provide the high quality legal services that Ontarians have come to expect and deserve.

I would like to personally thank former CLA president Frank Addario and all those who dedicated their time and skills to this very noble end.