Charge categories and exclusions
Block fees paid for certificates or charges fall within one of the following three case categories:
- Summary I: Includes all provincial and federal non-Criminal Code of Canada offences and all summary conviction and Crown-option offences where the Crown proceeds summarily and the maximum sentence is six months.
- Summary II: Includes all Crown-option offences where the Crown proceeds summarily and the maximum penalty is greater than six months.
- Indictable: Includes several indictable offences and Crown-option offences where the Crown proceeds by way of indictment.
Go to the full list of charges under each case category.
Block fee exclusions
New categories of charges or proceedings are automatically excluded from block fees. Excluded matters will be paid according to the hourly tariff. The list of block fee exclusions includes a wide range of complex proceedings and indictable offences. For example, LAO automatically excludes:
- all Big Case Management cases
- attempted murder
- serious sexual assaults
- serious conspiracy offences
- offences against children
- Youth Criminal Justice Act matters
- Ontario Review Board hearings
- dangerous offender proceedings
- all trials and matters set for trial (which will be paid under the hourly tariff)
- extradition proceedings, which should be billed hourly according to the regular tariff; lawyers with an extradition certificate that does not authorize block fee excluded criminal charges should contact the district office or the Lawyer Services & Payments department for permission to bill their account hourly according to the regular tariff.
The most serious charge on a certificate determines whether the matter will be paid by the hourly tariff or block fees. All charges and proceedings on “excluded” certificates will be paid under the hourly tariff, even if the certificate includes block fee-eligible charges.
Any block fee-eligible certificate that is not resolved will be paid by the hourly tariff.
Director General exemptions
Director Generals may exempt block fee matters in exceptional circumstances as outlined in the Tariff and Billing Handbook.
Requests for exemption:
- must be made as soon as the lawyer becomes aware of the need for an exemption
- must be approved prior to submitting an account
The decision of the Director General is final. Please await the decision before submitting any accounts.
Types of block fee
There are three types of block fees:
- Resolution fees: Block fees for guilty pleas, stays/withdrawals
- Proceeding fees: Block fees for common or specialized pre-trial proceedings, including bail hearings, Charter motions, judicial pre-trials, and bail reviews
- Vulnerable client fees: Block fees to address the needs of our most vulnerable clients, including Aboriginal clients and people with serious mental health issues
Get more information on the block fee rates page.
Charges heard separately and certificate amendments
LAO has revised its certificate amendment policy to account for block fee cases more effectively. For example, charges heard separately on block fee accounts are issued a new certificate.
Only the three most common, low-cost disbursements are included:
- photocopies (except for out-of-office photocopies)
- process servers – service and filing documents within Ontario
All other disbursements may be billed in accordance with LAO’s existing disbursement policies, which are available in LAO’s Disbursements Handbook.
Articling students attending on a block fee withdrawal or stay of all charges
Lawyers can now bill a block fee withdrawal for an articling student’s attendance at a Crown withdrawal or stay of all authorized criminal charges – so long as:
- counsel has negotiated a withdrawal or stay and
- the Crown has agreed in writing beforehand to the withdrawal or stay of all the authorized criminal charges.
This new rule applies only to court attendance by an articling student, and is limited to withdrawals and stays of all criminal charges. It does not apply to guilty pleas or sentencing hearings.
When billing for this online, please:
- allocate the block resolution to the panel lawyer who did the work to negotiate the withdrawal/stay with the Crown and is instructing the student to attend on the withdrawal/stay. This may be the acknowledging lawyer or an agent of the acknowledging lawyer who belongs to the LAO panel
- attach the written confirmation of the withdrawal from the Crown
- record the name of the articling student and the articling student’s court attendance on your docket.