LAA Policies

Updates to Administrative Policy 5 – Explained

What the policy is about
Case management for certificate-based matters

Where to find the policy

Summary of updates
On a day-to-day basis, this is probably the most important committee for LAA’s roster lawyers. We don’t think the changes will come as a big surprise, but they are important.

Eight key changes in 2021

1. We’re clarifying our policy abut when you need tell us if you believe an LAA client isn’t eligible for our services. This includes, for example, circumstances where you think a client earns too much money to qualify for legal aid coverage.

See section 1.21

2. We’re explaining when you can and cannot delegate work to other lawyers.

We already have a rule requiring the lawyer named on the certificate to provide legal services to the client, subject to the lawyer’s ability to ask other lawyers for “minor assistance.” The expectations are clearer in the new policy. For the most part, you can still delegate work to other lawyers – but you sometimes need to ask for LAA’s permission in advance. If you want to delegate all work on the certificate, or have another lawyer conduct a trial, then in general, you should transfer the certificate to the other lawyer. These rules are important to ensure we know who is directly helping our clients, and so we can meaningfully review accounts. Rules like these are standard in most other legal aid plans.

See sections 1.8 to 1.17

3. We’ve explained how LAA handles discretionary coverage requests under the Tariff, including requests for “extra hours.”

See part 3

4. We’ve written down some long-standing expectations about client billing.

For example, we’ve made it clear that you aren’t allowed to accept any additional payments from a client for helping the client with an issue that’s already covered by a certificate – that is, no “top-up” payments.

See part 4

5. We’ve explained your responsibilities if a client is entitled to receive money in a certificate matter (for example, court costs in the client’s favour, settlement money, or the return of cash seized by the police). In general, you’ll first need to seek your client’s permission to accept and transfer the money to LAA, to cover any legal fees on your account. Then you’ll issue an account and send us the money. There are some exceptions for child and spousal support payments.

See sections 4.6 to 4.11

6. We’ve better explained your responsibilities when you bill or invoice LAA. You probably already know the rule that requires you to submit your account within six months of when you finish work on a certificate – one important way we manage our cashflow. We’ve kept this rule, and we’ve clarified our other expectations about maintaining timesheets and disbursement receipts. For example, we’re requiring you to maintain timekeeping records and other client records for at least four years.

See part 6

7. We’ve explained how LAA reviews your accounts, and we’ve set out your responsibilities during a compliance review. LAA sometimes audits roster lawyers’ accounts, even after LAA approves and pays the account. We’ve added more detail about our compliance review process. This includes explaining the procedure we follow when a client complains about your account, and what happens when we request documents from you in support of the audit.

See sections 6.18 to 6.41

8. We’re shifting away from “condition codes” on certificates and towards written policies. You may have noticed that your certificates have “condition codes” – rules we print right on the certificates we issue. They’re often repetitive.

For example, nearly every certificate comes with a condition that you submit your invoice within six months of when you complete your work on that certificate. And most criminal law certificates require you to have your client assign any bail money to LAA. For the most part, these rules aren’t changing – but we’re moving many of them from individual certificates and into LAA policies.

See part 5

More Policy Updates and Explainers

Administrative Policy 4
Review of client eligibility decisions

Administrative Policy 6
Roster and panel management


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