Temporary changes to LAO billing policies in response to COVID‑19
Published: April 9, 2020
Updated: April 16, 2020
As part of the ongoing response to the COVID‑19 pandemic, LAO is making temporary changes to our billing policies together with other business supports and information for service providers.
We’re extending billing deadlines
When submitted late as a result of the COVID‑19 pandemic, billing deadlines will be extended for accounts due between March 16, 2020 and September 30, 2020. You must make your request for an extension when you submit your account online.
Discretion: We’re expanding criteria for exceptional circumstances
For cases where additional work was required as a result of the COVID‑19 pandemic. Where you have done additional work for a case, please explain in detail how it relates to the COVID‑19 pandemic.
Teleconference and video appearances
We’re treating teleconference and video appearances as physical appearances where the courts and tribunals have implemented alternatives to personal appearances to accommodate social distancing requirements and other safety measures. Please ensure to clearly docket these virtual attendances indicating the court and the judicial officer at the attendance.
The remaining rules governing court attendances and those at tribunals have not changed at the time of this notice.
Bill a certificate as a block fee, or by the hourly tariff
In response to concerns regarding billing and the payment of block fees, we will temporarily change how block-eligible certificates are billed, allowing you to bill a certificate as a block fee, or by the hourly tariff.
The choice will be available on any certificate that has not been final billed, and addresses a number of concerns raised by the bar. To help improve cash flow for lawyers, you will have the option to bill an interim account under the hourly tariff for preparation time spent prior to the resolution of the matter on block-eligible certificates. If the block fee is preferred, you can still opt to wait to attend at the resolution whether virtually, or in person, and bill the resolution block.
To reduce unnecessary appearances in the courts, the choice to bill under the hourly tariff is also available when you were unable to attend for the resolution of the matter, and it was resolved in your absence. If you attended the resolution virtually or in person you should not select the hourly option as the block fee will apply.
How it works
For matters where you choose to bill under the hourly tariff, the normal tariff maximums apply as do normal requirements for dockets, disbursements, discretion etc. If you choose to bill under the hourly tariff, this will apply for the life of the certificate. This option will be available where interim blocks for bail hearings and JPTs have previously been billed.
If you have previously indicated that the matter has been set down for trial, you will not be asked for your billing preference.
The new selection appears as follows with availability for billing targeted for Friday, April 17, 2020.