Legal aid cuts funding for civil cases
April 09, 2010
Lawyers representing low-income Ontarians found out by chance this week the province’s legal aid plan has stopped funding civil cases and is urging lawyers to take cases for free in the hope their fees will come from any money a court awards to clients.
The development comes during a time of upheaval at Legal Aid Ontario, with tensions also escalating over the future of Ontario’s 80 legal clinics, which serve the disabled, the elderly, immigrants and aboriginals, among others.
A March 30 memo sent to clinics from the Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario said Bob Ward, chief executive officer of Legal Aid ...view middle of the document...
In other cases, legal aid is provided through certificates, which clients use to hire a lawyer. Certificates are issued mainly for criminal and family law cases, but about 600 a year have also been given out for civil cases.
Toronto lawyer Marshall Swadron was surprised when two clients were recently told Legal Aid Ontario does not fund civil cases. Swadron thought people staffing Legal Aid’s new telephone answering service had simply got it wrong.
Turns out they did not. Effective April 1, legal aid coverage was eliminated for lawsuits seeking damages for abuse, claims for reinstatement of disability insurance, malicious prosecution, assault or wrongful detention, mortgage actions and personal injury claims, among others.
Now that Ontario allows lawyers to enter into contingency fee arrangements with clients, there is an alternative to legal aid, Justesen said. Contingency fees are available only if a lawsuit succeeds and are often calculated as a percentage of any damages awarded or an out-of-court settlement.
Toronto lawyer Paul Copeland, a member of the Association for Sustainable Legal Aid, a broad coalition of legal organizations, said contingency fees are no substitute for legal aid.
A low-income client may have a meritorious case, but one that isn’t likely to result in a large monetary award.
“So the possibility of finding somebody willing to do many of these cases on a contingency fee is extremely slim,” Copeland said.
Legal Aid Ontario points out that, in many instances, it only funded disbursements in civil cases, not lawyers’ fees.
But that often made a huge difference for clients, said Swadron, noting if relatives of someone killed by police wanted to launch a lawsuit alleging excessive use of force, they would have to hire an expert witness to support their claim, which could cost between $5,000 and $10,000 — an example of a disbursement legal aid no longer funds.
In this case the government stopped the provincial legal aid for civil cases and forcing lawyers to take cases for free
In this case this is injustice for lawyers because why would they work for free, there is nothing in this world for free so for lawyers they first they briefly study the case than they spend tons of time so this injustice for lawyers for taking case free.
Back to Judges' ages threaten court cases
Judges' ages threaten court cases
August 20, 2009
Lawyer Rocco Galati talks to the media after leaving the court house in this 2006 file photo.
NATHAN DENETTE/THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO
The Federal Court was scrambling yesterday to adjourn and reassign cases scheduled to be heard by a 77-year-old deputy judge after a Toronto lawyer challenged his age.
By law, federal judges cannot serve on the bench past 75, an argument raised by constitutional lawyer Rocco Galati this week involving two separate immigration cases presided over by Deputy Judge Louis Tannenbaum.
The two cases were adjourned on Tuesday,...