Accounts & billing

Audit & Compliance Unit

The Audit & Compliance Unit ensures accounts are billed and paid out correctly.

If your account is selected you will be notified. Depending on the severity of the issues, you may be required to repay funds, and/or be referred to the Investigations Department for reckless or fraudulent practice. As well, future payments may be delayed.

Questions

If you have any questions, or would like clarification on the Audit & Compliance Unit examination policy, please contact:

Tammy Dowdall
Manager, Audit & Compliance Unit
Phone: (416) 979-2352 x6261
Email: dowdalt@lao.on.ca

Summary of policies

Click on the +/- to expand the explanations of our post-payment examination policies.

+/- Random and targeted examination

+/- Random and targeted examination

Guidelines for Random Examinations

  • The selection of accounts for a random audits will be done on the basis of recognized random selection techniques and the use of appropriate computer software to accomplish this objective.
  • The number of accounts selected for audit will be sufficient to meet the objective of providing LAO with the level of confidence required to meet a predetermined statistical sampling error tolerance rate.
  • To support the veracity of the random selection process, the random selection process will be sufficiently documented on each occasion so that a proper audit trail is provided. These records shall be retained in accordance with the record keeping policies of LAO.
  • For each account that is subject to a random examination, LAO may send the lawyera request to provide supporting documentation related to the account.
  • A lawyer may be granted an extension of the time to provide documents sought under either an initial letter of request or a subsequent letter of request where the basis for the request of an extension of time is reasonable under the circumstances. These circumstances could include:
    • The scope and nature of the additional documents requested;
    • Circumstances in relation to the lawyer's practice;
    • Where other extraordinary circumstances exist.
  • A lawyer's failure to provide all of the required documentation will result in the application of the terms of the "Failure to Respond Policy".
  • Where a lawyer has failed to reply to a request for production of documentation in regard to three successive random audits, LAO may impose a cessation of the lawyer's privileges to use Legal Aid Online to claim future payments for accounts, and the lawyer will be required to provide full account details for examination before payment.
  • On receipt of the documentation and explanations provided by the lawyer, an analyst will review the information and will identify any errors made in the lawyer's account.
  • Where LAO seeks to recover money from the lawyer, corrections will be made by way of an offset charge against any future account submitted for payment.
  • An analyst will assess whether or not an adjustment is required in respect to a contribution agreement with a client and provide Client Account Services with the information so that the appropriate adjustments can be made to the client's account.
  • LAO will provide the lawyer with advice and instruction where an error is detected in order to help the lawyer submit bills accurately and quickly.
  • A lawyer may seek a reconsideration of a decision arising from these policies, or may appeal a decision arising from these policies in accordance with the "Reconsideration / Appeal Policy".

Guidelines for Targeted Examinations

  • A targeted audit may be initiated where a random audit identifies issues that support an expanded scrutiny of accounts paid to a lawyer, or where the nature and / or extent of errors identified suggest that there are merits to conducting a review of additional accounts submitted by the lawyer and may include such factors such as:
    • Complaints;
    • Repeated pattern of errors or high incidence of errors;
    • Disparity in account information in comparison to a peer group;
    • High billing amounts.
  • For each account that is subject to a target audit, LAO may send the lawyer a request to provide supporting documentation related to the account
  • A lawyer's failure to provide the requested supporting documentation will result in the application of the terms of the "Failure to Respond Policy".
  • A lawyer may be granted an extension of the time to provide documents in certain circumstances. These circumstances could include:
    • The scope and nature of the additional documents requested;
    • Circumstances in relation to the lawyer's practice;
    • Where other extraordinary circumstances exist.
  • On receipt of the documentation and explanations provided by the lawyer, an analyst will review the information and will identify all errors made in the lawyer's account, if any.
  • Where LAO seeks to recover money from the lawyer, corrections will be made by way of an offset charge against any future account submitted for payment.
  • Ananalyst will assess whether or not an adjustment is required in respect to a contribution agreement with a client and provide Client Account Services with the information so that the appropriate adjustments can be made to the client's account.
  • The detection of errors in a targeted audit may result in an investigation in circumstances where the nature and / or extent of errors identified suggest a significant lack of care in preparing the accounts, advertent errors, or other factors that suggest that merit exists for a closer scrutiny of the lawyer's accounts.
  • The results of each targeted audit of a lawyer's account will be reported to the lawyer by regular mail.
  • A lawyer may seek a reconsideration of a decision arising from these policies, or may appeal a decision arising from these policies, in accordance with the "Reconsideration / Appeal Policy".

+/- Failure to respond

+/- Failure to respond

Guidelines

For each account that is subject to an audit, LAO may make an initial request to the lawyerto provide LAO with supporting documentation related to the account(s). Where the lawyer fails to respond to an initial request for documentation or refuses to provide all of the required documentation, the following guidelines will apply.

  • A lawyer may be granted an extension of the time to provide documents sought under either an initial letter of request or a subsequent letter of request where the basis for the request of an extension of time is reasonable under the circumstances. These circumstances could include:
    • The scope and nature of the additional documents requested;
    • Circumstances in relation to the lawyer's practice;
    • Where other extraordinary circumstances exist.
  • A lawyer's failure to provide all of the required documentation in regard to three (3) consecutive examinations may result in a referral of the matter to the Investigations Department and the possible cessation of the lawyer's privileges to use Legal Aid Online to claim future payments for accounts.
  • Any monetary recovery sought from a lawyer will be made by way of an offset charge against any future account submitted for payment by the lawyer.
  • In the event that a lawyer does not make a request for payment of a new account within a six-month period and LAO is unable to satisfy an outstanding recovery, LAO will pursue a recovery of the account subject to the audit by other legal means.
  • The amount of recovery sought will be increased by the cost of any disbursements incurred in the pursuit of a recovery.
  • After every appeal process has been exhausted, the Manager, Audit and Compliance Unit will assess whether or not an adjustment is required in respect to a contribution agreement with a client and make appropriate adjustment(s).
  • The Investigations Department will advise the district area director of the lawyer's continuing failure to provide documentation and will recommend that the lawyer be considered for removal from the panel.
  • A lawyer may seek a reconsideration of a decision arising from these policies, or may appeal a decision arising from these policies, in accordance with the "Reconsideration / Appeal Policy".
  • A lawyer's future ability to use Legal Aid Online will be considered in relation to whether or not compliance has been achieved from the lawyer.

+/- Recovery of over-payment

+/- Recovery of over-payment

Guidelines

Where the lawyer has failed to respond to an initial request for documentation or refuses to provide all of the required documentation, the following guidelines apply.

  • A lawyer's failure to provide all, or any, of the required documentation may result in a full or partial recovery of the amount paid on the account that is the subject of the random or targeted audit. It may also result in the referral of the matter to the Investigations Department.
  • The amount to be recovered from the lawyer may be predicated on the nature of the account information submitted, the lack of documentation to support the entries made on the account, or any other circumstances that may question the accuracy or the veracity of the account information.
  • The Manager, Audit and Compliance Unit may impose a cessation of the lawyer's privileges to use Legal Aid Online to claim future payments for accounts during the course of continuing non-compliance with a request made for documentation. The Manager will advise the Director, Lawyer Payments of the decision and the lawyer will be required to provide full account details for examination before payment.
  • The financial recovery sought from a lawyer will be made by way of an offset against any future account submitted for payment by the lawyer.
    • If the lawyer produces the requested documentation within sixty (60) days after the offset has been made, the amount will be refunded to the lawyer.
    • If the lawyer produces the requested documentation sixty (60) days after the offset has been made, LAO has the discretion to decide whether the amount will be refunded to the lawyer.
    • Where the lawyer has been granted an extension to produce the documentation, LAO has the discretion to decide whether the offset charge will be refunded to the lawyer.
  • If a lawyer does not make a request for payment of a new account within a reasonable time period and LAO is unable to satisfy its attempt to recover the outstanding amount, LAO will pursue a recovery of the account by other legal means.
  • The amount of recovery sought will be increased by the costs of any disbursements incurred in the pursuit of a recovery.
  • LAO will advise the district area director of the lawyer's continuing failure to provide documentation and will recommend that the lawyer be considered for removal from the panel of lawyers available to accept legal aid certificates.
  • A lawyer may seek a reconsideration of a decision arising from these policies, or may appeal a decision arising from these policies, in accordance with the "Reconsideration / Appeal Policy".