Duty counsel service changes effective July 7

Published: June 18, 2019

Effective July 7, there will be key changes to duty counsel responsibilities.

In making these changes, LAO was guided by the following principles:

  • prioritize LAO resources and services to our clients with the highest risk
  • provide services to LAO clients that are legally and financially eligible
  • establish a framework for consistent services
  • continuously monitor, measure and adapt to any changing demand for duty counsel services
  • work with justice partners and stakeholders to effectively implement any changes

LAO will be focusing its resources on its mandate of serving low‑income Ontarians. The service guides (criminal and family) outline duty counsel services as of July 7, 2019. The central changes are as follows:

  • Criminal duty counsel will serve in‑custody accused without financial testing. They will serve only financially–and legally–eligible clients for out‑of‑custody accused. Duty counsel will be providing dedicated courtroom services in bail court (i.e., staffing courtrooms all day), but will only go into other courtrooms (except trial courts, of course) to serve financially–and legally–eligible clients.
  • Family duty counsel will assist clients with some aspects of Motions to Change, and will provide in‑court service to financially–and legally–eligible clients in the Ontario Court of Justice and the Unified Family Court.
  • Agency work (criminal): duty counsel may provide routine agency work for lawyers on certificate matters.