Accounts and biling
Annual billing limits
What are the billing limits?
The annual dollar billing limits are as follows:
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When does the year begin?
LAO’s fiscal year runs from April 1 each year to March 31 of the following year. On April 1 each year, every lawyer’s annual billing limit starts over again. Only dollars billed to LAO that are paid in the fiscal year are included in your annual billing limit. If you submit accounts that are not processed for payment by March 31, they will be included in your annual billing limit for the next fiscal year starting April 1, that is, in the fiscal year in which they are processed.
What’s included in the annual billing limit (hard cap)?
Only the dollars paid for work performed by you are included in your annual billing limit. For example, if you acknowledge a certificate, but another lawyer does the work required by the client, the dollars paid will be included in the other lawyer’s annual billing limit, not in yours, even though you are required to sign the account because you acknowledged the certificate. Student or law clerk time is also excluded from dollars allocated to your annual billing limit.
How do I find out my billing status?
You now have access to your annual billing limit under the hard cap status information section on Legal Aid Online. The daily summary of your billing position includes your annual limit, the percentage you have used, the fees that have been paid, the fees scheduled for payment and those still under review. You will be notified of your status electronically instead of by mail when you have reached 50, 75, 90 and 100 per cent of your limit.
Please note it remains your responsibility to monitor your own legal aid billings. You are in the best position to know what you have billed LAO.
For further information and instructions on how to review the online billing limits, hard cap status information and to manage electronic hard cap notices:
What happens if I reach my billing limit before March 31?
You should take all necessary steps to ensure that you do not exceed the annual billing limit. If you reach 100 per cent of your annual limit, LAO will pay agents’ fees or other disbursements, but the balance of the accounts, consisting of fees paid to the lawyer, cannot be paid. The unpaid fees cannot be resubmitted for reconsideration or payment at a later date.
If you are at risk of reaching your billing limit, you can wait until the new fiscal year (April 1) to submit accounts. All accounts (whether held back or not) must be submitted within the billing deadlines.
Are there any exemptions to the billing limit?
You can request exemption from the annual billing limit if special circumstances exist. Your request must be in writing, and must provide sufficient details to enable the president to exercise his discretion properly. Please submit your request before the end of February to:
Legal Aid Ontario, Lawyer Services & Payments
ATTN: Regional Lawyer Payments Specialist
Please include the name of your region/district in the attention line. The request should be copied to the district area director and specify:
- the number of hours and dollars requested beyond your hardcap
- the number of times you have requested an exemption
- the reasons for your request
The director of Lawyer Services and Payments will review your letter, consult with the district area director, and make a recommendation to the regional vice-president and president who will decide whether the exemption will be granted. Exemptions are granted in rare circumstances.