If you have available assets or own property, you may qualify for a certificate with a contribution agreement. This means you will be required to repay LAO some or all of your legal fees, based on your asset level.
A contribution agreement outlines how much you will repay LAO.
How do contribution agreements work?
You must take a financial test to determine if you are eligible for Legal Aid Ontario’s certificate program. If you qualify for a certificate, you might be required to sign a contribution agreement, depending on your asset level. A contribution agreement may include liens or lump sum payments. If you agree to the contribution agreement, Legal Aid Ontario will give you a certificate that will help you retain a lawyer.
How much will I have to repay?
LAO implemented the second of three annual six per cent financial eligibility increases for all the certificate and duty counsel services it provides, including the amount of asset level that requires you to sign a contribution agreement.
The chart below provides guidelines for the asset levels needed to qualify for services. Generally, if your assets are outlined in the chart below, you will be asked to sign a contribution agreement. Some exceptions do apply, and the legal aid staff person who takes your application will be able to give you more information.
|Number of family members||Asset maximum|
What if I don’t want a contribution agreement?
You can only request a review of a contribution agreement for two reasons:
- You are in debt
- You have high medical expenses
To request a review, you must go through the appeals process.
How do I make payments to Legal Aid Ontario?
There are several ways for you to make payments to your contribution agreement:
- At the bank
- Take your most recent client statement into any bank or credit union
- Be sure to bring the bottom portion of the statement
- Make your payment at the bank counter, by cash or cheque
- Retain any receipts or verification of payment for your records
- You do not need a bank account to make a payment, and this payment method is free for clients.
- Telephone banking, Internet banking, Instabank
- You can also pay through telephone and Internet banking, and Instabank (paying at an ATM/ABM), at most Canadian banks
- To use one of these payment methods, you need to contact your bank to see if these options are available, and to register. Once registered, you:
- Need to choose “Legal Aid Ontario” as the payee.
- Enter your client number as reference, and the amount you would like to pay.