Clarification to the Charges Heard Separately policy

Published: December 3, 2021

Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) has clarified its Charges Heard Separately policy. These clarifications affect the way lawyers submit requests for additional certificates on an existing certificate, through the online portal.

Under both LASA 1998 and LASA 2020, the expectation has always been that multiple criminal charges should be scheduled for joint resolution, where the lawyer is not taking the case to trial. LAO continues to require lawyers to provide reasons to the satisfaction of LAO, where they seek to schedule separate resolutions.

Clarifications to the charges heard separately policy

  • For a new certificate to be issued, new criminal charges must proceed separately from the existing criminal charges authorized on the existing certificate. New certificates may be issued in defined situations such as when a trial date will be scheduled for the existing or new charges. Additional criteria will help determine whether LAO will issue a new certificate for the new charges. On December 4, 2021, the questions contained in the online request form will be updated to reflect these clarifications.
  • Lawyers must request the issuance of a new certificate in advance of scheduling criminal proceedings separately.
  • Lawyers should continue to request that the new charges be added to an existing certificate through the online portal. In the event of a client facing new charges after the certificate has been issued, or if a lawyer is unsure as to how the case will proceed, the lawyer should request that the new charges be added to the existing certificate.
  • Up until December 4, 2021, lawyers’ requests for new certificates for charges being heard separately will continue to be processed based on the current form.

For more information on the policy: New criminal charges and charges heard separately