If you have available assets (funds that are sitting in the bank or other savings) 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 or any property you have an interest in. 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.
What does LAO allow for assets?
The chart below provides guidelines for the asset levels needed to qualify for services. Generally, if your assets are above the outlined maximum in the chart below, you may 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*|
*“Assets”, in relation to a family unit, means the sum of all the assets (funds that are sitting in the bank or other savings) owned by the family members, including but not limited to liquid assets and real property.
What if I disagree with the contribution agreement?
You can only request a review of a contribution agreement for two reasons:
- You have high dental expenses, or
- You have high medical expenses
To request a review, you must go through the eligibility review 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.
Direct Electronic Fund Transfer (DEFT)
If you have a bank account, you can enroll in the pre-authorized payment plan. This option allows you to have your payment automatically deducted from your bank account each month, on a pre-selected date.
If you would like to enroll in this option: