Tariff & billing
Questions and answers: Matters related to the tariff
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Q: What is the connection between the discretion guidelines and case management?
A: Counsel has requested discretion for some costly family and criminal matters (which are not handled by LAO’s Big Case Management program).
Case management gives LAO an opportunity to provide members of the bar with budgets on costly matters, where the tariff may be inadequate. As a result, lawyers will not have to rely on discretion which may or may not be paid under the discretion guidelines. Case management will create more certainty for the bar about payments and for LAO about costs.
Q: What does case management mean?
A: Case management is a process whereby LAO and counsel discuss the nature of a case likely to be costly, determine a particular course of action and develop a budget. The mid-level case management process will be similar to the Big Case Management program familiar to some criminal lawyers.
Q: How will case management work?
A: Depending on the charge and the likelihood of exceeding $8,000 in costs, counsel will be asked to complete a case management form and to meet with the LAO district director or case manager to:
- discuss a budget
- gain access to necessary authorizations as the case proceeds
- benefit from mentorship
- receive advice on practice and client management
- receive directions on how to conduct and manage mediation and settlement conferences
Q: What are the benefits of case management?
A: Case management will help to:
- provide service providers with the resources to deliver quality, cost-effective and efficient services
- create greater cost predictability for LAO
- provide payment certainty for lawyers on costly cases
- reduce the reliance of the bar on discretion
- build stronger, more supportive relationships between service providers and LAO
Q: What areas of law will be case managed?
A: LAO is currently developing case management policy for criminal and family law.
In criminal law, LAO is developing case management around homicides, indictable appeals, and some mid-level cases by charge. In these matters, cases often cost between $8,000 and $20,000 and are not eligible for a Big Case Management budget.
In family law, LAO is developing case management around Children and Family Services Act applications for a child to be a Crown ward, where costs exceed $8,000. LAO will consider other areas in child protection and family law in the future.
Pilot tariff pre-authorizations
Q: What is a tariff pre-authorization?
A: A tariff pre-authorization adds additional tariff hours to a certificate so counsel can provide services without the need for discretion. For instance, discretion is routinely requested in society to Crown wardship status review matters as the proceeding cannot be completed in the current six tarrif hours. LAO will pilot increasing the tarrif to twice the number of hours, i.e., 12 hours, in society to Crown wardship status reviews.
Q: Why is LAO piloting tariff pre-authorizations for summary conviction trials and child protection status reviews (society to Crown wardship)?
A: Discretion is often requested for summary conviction trials and child protection status reviews. This pilot will increase the tariff in these priority areas, and make payments more predictable and certain for lawyers.
Q: How will LAO pay for these increases? Where is LAO getting the money?
A: LAO is reallocating some discretion paid on these matters to tariff authorizations. LAO intends, on a pilot basis, to authorize more hours on the certificate in limited proceedings. Lawyers will not have to wait until they need discretion (and wait 60 days for payment).
Q: Will there be other opportunities for tariff pre-authorizations in other areas?
A: This will depend on the outcome of these pilots. LAO may consider other opportunities to provide pre-authorizations for specific matters.
Q: How long will the pilot last?
A: The pilot will be evaluated within a year to determine its impact on client access to justice, cost to LAO, and lawyers
Q: Why is LAO only piloting pre-authorizations (increasing the tariff from 6 to 12 hours) on status reviews related to society to Crown wardship only? Why have other complex status reviews been left out?
A: LAO is prepared to consider issuing pre-authorizations in other child protection areas depending on the outcomes of this pilot. At this time, however, LAO is focusing its limited resources on status review proceedings that are complex and costly and where the outcome has the greatest impact on the rights of parents and children.
Practice of law review
Q: What is LAO doing with respect to reviewing the tariff?
A: LAO will be conducting a review on how the tariff has evolved in the legal system and how this impacts clients and service providers.
Q: When will the bar receive more information regarding these initiatives?
A: LAO will be providing more details regarding the discretion guidelines and new initiatives in September 2012. Information and training sessions will be scheduled prior to implementation on Oct. 15, 2012. The training sessions will cover the discretion guidelines, tariff pre-authorizations, and case management.
If you cannot find an answer to your question about LAO's tariff initiatives on this page, please submit it in the form below. We will try to answer you within two business days.
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