Billing Big Case Management files

Big Case Management (BCM) files generally take up a lot of time and energy. Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is committed to supporting this effort by paying BCM accounts quickly and accurately. You can help us do this by following these billing instructions.

General instructions

Please note: LAO requires counsel to submit detailed dockets along with all significant disbursement invoices. This applies to all accounts including those submitted through Legal Aid Online, where accounts and invoices may be faxed or attached electronically.

  • Clearly indicate that the case is in the BCM program. Attach all budgets and authorizations.

  • If your client’s certificate covers charges that are not included in a BCM budget, submit a separate account for them. If the certificate covers several charges that are included in more than one BCM budget, bill the charges separately.

    • Summary breakdowns: Provide a summary breakdown of the number of court days, the total amount of court time and the total amount of preparation time at the end of your account. “Court time” means time spent in a contested preliminary inquiry, contested trial, and guilty plea, right through to the sentencing phase.

    • Preparation time: If you are authorized for a certain amount of preparation time for each court day of a proceeding, (such as four hours per day), only days where the preliminary inquiry or the trial actually proceeds will count for this calculation. This includes pre-trial motions. Adjournments, judicial pre-trials, focus hearings and bail hearings do not count as court time, nor do they generate additional tariff maximums. Bail reviews must be authorized, and they generate an additional tariff maximum of five hours.

    • Bill proceedings separately: Bill each stage of the proceeding separately and in accordance with the BCM budget. Work done for the preliminary inquiry should be billed to the end of the preliminary inquiry. Work done subsequent to committal for trial should be billed subsequently and separately. Sentencing proceedings where a dangerous offender or serious violent offender hearing has been authorized and a budget has been set should also be billed subsequently and separately. You are not permitted to carry forward unused hours from a preceding budget (such as a preliminary hearing budget) unless you have prior approval in writing from the case managing district area director.

    • Tier level changes: In cases where your tier level changes during the proceedings, submit an account for work done up to change in tier level and submit a separate account for work done subsequent to the change in tier level.

    • Disbursements: Budgets for cases in the BCM program often include authorizations for significant disbursements. Disbursements must be itemized in your account and invoices for significant disbursements must be submitted. Invoices must contain sufficient information to identify the disbursement billed. Invoices for transcripts must indicate the stage of proceeding to which the transcript relates. Include all disbursement authorizations with your account.

    • Detailed dockets: Your dockets must contain sufficient detail to allow LAO to ascertain what work was done on the date docketed. Detailed dockets are necessary for fiscal accountability and statistical purposes, to allow comparison between work done on BCM files and files where counsel is requesting discretion. This information assists in future budget setting.

    • Agency account: Ensure that the agent’s account is detailed and indicate why the work done by the agent was necessary. An explanation should be provided where the conduct of the proceeding is billed by counsel other than the lawyer who substantially prepared the case.

Co-counsel and junior counsel

  • Co-ordinate billing with co‑counsel or junior counsel: Budgets usually allow for shared preparation time. When you submit your own account for work done during a calendar time period, you must also submit the co-counsel’s or the junior’s account for work done during the same calendar time period.

  • Payment of co‑council and junior counsel: The acknowledging solicitor is responsible for paying co‑counsel, junior counsel or agents. This is regardless of whether or not you bill over the set BCM budget.

Legal Aid Online

  • Calculating court days: When filling in the number of court days under “extra days of proceeding,” only indicate the days where the contested proceeding was conducted during the time period covered by the account. Calculate by counting each day following the first day of the proceeding. LAO needs to capture all of the actual days in a contested proceeding.

  • Calculating court hours: When filling in the “hours in court”, indicate all of the hours billed by both counsel and co-counsel or junior counsel. LAO needs to know all of the actual court time spent by both counsel.

  • Calculating total hours: Under “total hours billed” add a new line for each lawyer who worked on the case and include court and preparation time in the “hours worked” field.

Representing co-accused

  • Not recommended: The representation of co-accused (more than one defendant in the same matter) by one counsel or firm is not recommended. This is only allowed in the most extreme cases and only where LAO is indemnified by counsel for fees lost as a result of the removal of counsel. All clients should consent to this in writing.

  • Advise the district area director: If you represent or wish to represent a co-accused on a BCM matter you must advise the district area director prior to setting a budget. A combined budget will be set, allowing extra preparation time to reflect the fact that you are representing two clients.

  • Submit one account: This one account must cite all certificates and show all work done for all co‑accused clients that you are representing. Your court time should be billed at 140 per cent of your usual hourly rate. Your preparation time should be billed at your usual hourly rate.

  • Travel time: Travel time is paid only as for one client. You are not entitled to bill an additional 40 per cent on travel time because you are travelling on behalf of more than one client.