Complex Case Rate

Complex case rate eligibility criteria

Criteria for evaluating cases

  • Big Case budget
  • Duration of the proceeding
  • Length and nature of police investigation
  • Complexity of the Crown’s case
  • Personal characteristics of client
  • Impact on client, including severity of the offence and consequences to the accused
  • Novel, unusual or otherwise challenging legal, factual or public interest issues
  • Multiple charges or accused
  • Demonstrated skill and expertise of the lawyer (membership on the Complex Case Rate panel)
  • Other relevant factors that would warrant payment of enhanced rate

Criteria for evaluating candidates

Applicants to the Complex Case Rate panel will be assessed on the totality of the information provided and gathered by Legal Aid Ontario, with particular attention to the criteria for evaluating candidates:

Professional experience

  • A high level of professional achievement
  • Advanced knowledge of criminal law, and related administration of justice issues
  • A demonstrated commitment to continuing legal education
  • Participation or interest in mentoring younger criminal lawyers
  • Demonstrated ability to provide high quality legal representation in a cost-effective manner by exhibiting the following skills:
    • Focusing on the important issues in the case
    • Establishing a credible theory of the case
    • Making responsible admissions when issues cannot reasonably be disputed
    • Effectively and efficiently examining and cross-examining witnesses
    • Declining to pursue issues or proceedings that have no real prospect of success or that fail to advance the client’s defence
    • Effectual client management
    • Able to conduct out-of-court negotiations to resolve matters while advancing client interests
  • Exemplary record of achievement in advancing client’s interests on complex, criminal cases. These achievements are not limited to the ultimate result and may include the following:
    • Acquittals
    • Convictions on a lesser charges
    • Imposed sentences reflect submissions of the defence
    • Successful pre-trial motion resulting in disclosure of relevant information, exclusion of evidence generally or stay of proceedings


  • Collegiality with peers
  • Politeness and consideration for others
  • Punctuality and good regular work habits
  • Compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct of the Law Society of Upper Canada
  • Reputation for integrity, fairness, courtesy and candour
  • Demonstrating the highest ethical standards in practice of law by acting in the following ways, including but not limited to:
    • Reliability and preparedness
    • Communicate and explain to the client all aspects of the proceeding
    • Provide advice to the client that is open and candid based on sufficient knowledge of the facts, the merits and probable result of the case
    • Carry out an undertaking given to the court or to another legal practitioner
    • Encourage public respect and try to improve the administration of justice
    • Recognizing limitations in one’s ability to handle a case or some aspect of it, and taking steps accordingly
  • Demonstrating the highest ethical standards in the practice of law by not acting in the following ways, including but not limited to:
    • Instituting proceedings, which, although legal in themselves, would not advance the interests of the client, and not withstanding the instructions of your client
    • Needlessly abuse, harass or inconvenience a witness
    • Engaging in frivolous or useless objections or in tactics that delay the process
    • On a matter when there is or is likely to be a conflict of interest
    • Not involved in serious, unresolved professional complaints/claims, civil actions or financial claims including proposals to creditors or bankruptcy

Relationship with Legal Aid Ontario (LAO)

  • Demonstrating the effective and efficient use of public funds consistent with the lawyers’ obligations to the client, professionalism and the administration of justice
  • Acknowledgement of Big Case Management (BCM) policies and procedures, in particular, the statutory requirement that a budget reflect steps that would be authorized by an informed private-paying reasonable client of modest means
  • Courteous and respectful to LAO staff
  • Participation or interest in being a member of the Exceptions Committee
  • Willingness to participate in an ongoing CCR evaluation
  • Compliance with general LAO policies and procedures including, but not limited to:
    • Not the subject of any serious, unresolved investigation/compliant
    • Responsive to LAO inquiries
    • Commitment to providing information to LAO in a timely way
  • Appreciation of the BCM budget setting process including, but not limited to:
    • Timely requests for BCM budgets
    • Fully completed opinion guidelines
    • Satisfying LAO that proposed pre-trial motions represent a “justifiable expenditure of public funds”
    • Advising LAO if there is a risk that the case will cost more than the allotted budget
    • Immediately advising LAO of any request for a change of solicitor
    • Ensuring that a meaningful and useable work product is transferred to another lawyer in the event of a successful change of solicitor
  • Recognition of BCM billing requirements including but not limited to:
    • Accurate and detailed dockets
    • Co-ordinated billing with co-counsel and/or agent
    • Regular submitting of accounts