Getting legal help

Filing an appeal

Who can appeal?

You may have a right to appeal a legal aid decision if you:

  • have been refused a certificate due to financial or legal eligibility
  • disagree with the terms of a contribution agreement
  • object to the cancellation of a legal aid certificate
  • disagree with the decision of an area committee*

Please note: Non-resident applicants receive final decisions, and cannot appeal.

The appeals process

After applying for legal aid, you will receive a written notice with the decision within two weeks. There are three possibilities:

  1. Your application is accepted, and you receive a certificate.
  2. Your application is accepted, but you only receive a certificate if you agree to the terms of a contribution agreement.
  3. Your application is refused. In this case, the right to appeal, if one exists, is stated on the refusal notice, with information about where to send your appeal.

If the decision you disagree with was made by the region's director general*, you appeal first to the area committee, and then to the provincial appeals department if required.

However, if the first decision is made by the area committee, then you appeal directly to the provincial appeals department. Matters that go directly to the area committee are usually applications to appeal a court decision.

Refused because of income?

If you are refused legal aid because your income level is too high, and your income has gone down since you applied, send in your appeal notice within 15 days, and then contact Legal Aid Ontario at 1-800-668-8258 for a financial reassessment.

Appealing to an area committee

To appeal, you need to send a letter of appeal to the legal aid office listed on your notice, for consideration by the area committee. You must include the following information, in English or French:

  • Your name
  • Your client number (this appears at the top of the notice you received)
  • Your current mailing address and telephone number
  • The reasons for your appeal

If you need more information about what to submit with your appeal, please contact the office listed on the notice, or call 1-800-668-8258. Fax or mail your appeal to the address of the legal aid office on your notice.

There are several important things to note:

  • Appeals are conducted based on your written information. You cannot attend the hearing in person.
  • Appeals will not be considered if your letter of appeal is received by Legal Aid Ontario more than 15 days from the date of the notice of refusal or cancellation that you received.
  • Please ensure that your letter of appeal reaches Legal Aid Ontario within these 15 days.

The following material will be provided to the area committee for consideration at the appeal:

  • Your letter of appeal
  • Your financial information if you were refused for financial reasons
  • Lawyer's opinion letter (in some cases) or relevant correspondence
  • Any transcripts which may be available
  • Any further material you may submit in support of your appeal.

You will receive the outcome in writing. If you do not receive written notice of the decision within 10 days, contact Legal Aid Ontario at 1-800-668-8258.

Appealing to the provincial appeals department

If you disagree with an area committee decision, you can appeal to the provincial appeals department in Toronto. You can do this by submitting a letter or notice of appeal, giving all the reasons for the appeal. Information about where to appeal is included in the decision of the area committee.

The director of appeals reviews your letter or notice, and all information considered by the area committee, before making a decision. The director of appeals then assesses the case and sends a written decision by mail.

The decision of the provincial appeals department is final, and there is no further right of appeal.