Ottawa Divorce .com Forums


User CP

New posts

Advertising

  Ottawa Divorce .com Forums > Main Category > Divorce & Family Law

Divorce & Family Law This forum is for discussing any of the legal issues involved in your divorce.

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
  #1 (permalink)  
Old 07-18-2013, 06:03 AM
Tayken's Avatar
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 6,476
Tayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant future
Default Truism Exposed?: Legal Aid Ontario overwhelmed: Goar

Hi All,

Access to sound legal advice is tremendously lacking in the province of Ontario. One does have to put the challenges LAO currently into perspective with what has been observed and reported in CanLII.

Recently, the Toronto Star published an article:

Legal Aid Ontario overwhelmed: Goar
By: Carol Goar Canada, Politics Government, Published on Wed Jul 03 2013

Legal Aid Ontario overwhelmed: Goar | Toronto Star

In Ms. Goar's article she quoted John McCamus, the head of LAO as stating:

Quote:
Even an applicant who meets these income qualifications may not get assistance, he added. “You may be poor, but the criminal cases we cover have to have a likelihood of incarceration. In family law, the case has to involve domestic violence or child custody.
There has been a long running question as to how specific litigants are able to obtain a certificate for services. In consideration to the fact that Mr. McCamus is quoted as stating in the article:

Quote:
How poor? An individual must have an income below $10,800 a year. “That’s $208 a week,” McCamus stressed. The threshold for a single parent with one child is $18,000.
One would reasonably question that for matters for which litigants do not meet the thresholds for service would then rely upon making an allegation of "domestic violence" as Mr. MacCamus admits publicly as a requirement they consider.

My recommendation to Mr. MacCamus would be to properly investigate the income and resources available to all Legal Aid Ontario Certificates. To adopt a practice that respects Rule 13 of the Family Law Rules for which "Full and Frank" financial disclosures are required. Certificate Applicants should be required to submit to a full financial disclosure with all financial institutes within Canada.

Simply relying upon the "good faith" of an Applicant in our current financial times may not be reasonable. Especially in family law matters where fear and/or anxiety and/or worry may be driving clients to make unsubstantiated allegations of "domestic violence" to obtain low-cost legal services.

In addition, Mr. MacCamus should really investigate matters in which clients are seeking out "wings" from LAO and strongly consider the wise observations of the Honourable Mr. Justice Pazaratz that the dynamics of family law when surrounding allegations of domestic violence and conduct of litigants is "all too common, and cry out for judicial awareness".

Maybe, Mr. MacCamus should be instructing his staff and the panel lawyers to better investigate matters prior to issuing a certificate for a "free lawyer" does not end up "dangerous for opposing litigants" on the other side of a panel lawyer.

CanLII - 2011 ONSC 7476 (CanLII)

Quote:

58. The dynamics on this file are all too common, and cry out for judicial awareness. In a troubled economy we are seeing more self-represented parties in Family Court, and certainly more people with limited finances. Inevitably, these ingredients create greater strains on the administration of justice. Combined with limited judicial resources, the need to encourage settlement and discourage inappropriate behaviour by litigants has never been more pressing.

59. With Legal Aid tightening eligibility rules, it is likely that just about any litigant retaining counsel on a certificate will have trouble paying costs if they lose. [B]But combining a “free lawyer” with a perceived immunity from costs is a dangerous mix. Dangerous for opposing litigants.[/B] Dangerous for children like the child, whose lives are needlessly disrupted by bitter and unnecessary litigation. And dangerous for a Family Court system whose resources are already strained.

60. In the case at bar, the Applicant conducted herself as if her Legal Aid certificate amounted to a blank cheque – unlimited resources which most unrepresented Respondents would be hard-pressed to match. A scheduled 3-4 day trial turned into 17 days, largely because the Applicant fought every issue and pursued every dubious allegation, to the bitter end. She appeared to make up evidence and allegations as she went along. She defied court orders directly impacting on the child, even while the trial was underway. There have to be consequences. Either we sanction this irresponsible and destructive behaviour, or we invite more of the same.

61. Encouraging settlement and discouraging inappropriate behaviour by litigants is important in all litigation – but particularly in family law, and most particularly in custody cases. No litigant should perceive they have “wings” – the ability to say or do anything they want in court, without consequences.
Where was the governance structure of LAO on this file and many others which "are all too common" one has to ask Mr. MacCamus? How does LAO review active certificates? How frequently? What happens to certificate holders whom are actually employed and at significant rates who simply fail to report this fact and have been provided a certificate for making an unproven allegation of "domestic violence"?

Mr. MacCamus there are simple ways to "clip the wings" of clients who are violating the Legal Aid Act of Ontario... Simply by doing proper investigations into the financial situation of certificate applicants, retrieving police incident reports to determine if there is a matter of "domestic violence" and doing much more up-front investigation into the clients they provide funding to.

The best way to govern the money going out the door of Legal Aid Ontario is to gate it right up front and to better manage cases that spiral out of control. In addition, seeking criminal charges against those certificate holders and their legal counsel who are aware of their substantial incomes and financial holdings would be another first step.

The LAO Act specifically talks to the requirements both panel lawyers and certificate holders have for reporting a change in employment/income. It is time to enforce the Act and seek fraud against those who miss represent their financial disclosures and make false allegations of "domestic violence" in an attempt to get a "free lawyer". The provisions are avalible in the LOA Act are in place and anyone whom miss represents their financial position and in addition an allegation of "domestic violence" that is found by the court to be unsubstantiated and results in equal custody should be investigated.

Panel lawyers are required to report on the progress of files. It wouldn't be hard to observe the "all too common" "dynamics" of certificate holders and their possibly negative advocates solicitors conduct. For example, even reviewing the few cases whereby a certificate holder and pannel lawyer bring forward an emergency ex-parte motion and then evaluating the results of that conduct could reveal a lot of potential miss conduct of LAO's funding.

For example, in a matter where a litigant is funded by LAO brings forward an "emergency" ex-parte motion on the basis of "domestic violence" and the matter is cross motioned and custody and access is set by the superior court at 50-50 and full joint custody... This would be a telling pattern of behaviour potentially that the client's allegations may not be genuine or even qualify for the LAO certificate program.

http://www.ottawadivorce.com/forum/f...ily-law-15139/

LAO should sanction against irresponsible and destructive behaviour by certificate holders and panel lawyers who miss represent finances and "domestic violence" allegations or it will only possibly invite more of the same and erode what little funding LAO does receive. The conduct of certificate holders and panel lawyers who engage in this kind of conduct puts other citizens at risk for not being able to qualify for assistance they actually need because funds are being improperly distributed to those who are not in need and possibly only in need of Mental Health services rather than legal advice.

Good Luck!
Tayken

Last edited by Tayken; 07-18-2013 at 06:25 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #2 (permalink)  
Old 07-18-2013, 11:43 AM
Rioe's Avatar
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Ontario
Posts: 3,215
Rioe will become famous soon enough
Default

I think you're preaching to the converted posting this here! Or is it a letter you plan to send elsewhere and you want some feedback? It sure reads that way. In which case, I could clean up some grammar for you.
Reply With Quote
  #3 (permalink)  
Old 07-19-2013, 05:42 AM
Tayken's Avatar
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 6,476
Tayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant future
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rioe View Post
I think you're preaching to the converted posting this here! Or is it a letter you plan to send elsewhere and you want some feedback? It sure reads that way. In which case, I could clean up some grammar for you.
Vast majority of the readers of this forum are silent if you haven't noticed the statistics. The ratios of number of active people reading the site versus the number of users who actually post is quite different. (You can see how many people are actively viewing which forum on the main page of the forum.)

The site hits very high on Google as well in their index. So, the traffic flowing in from Google searches is probably very high. That is probably how most users find the site I suspect. The visibility of the content of this site is much higher than if content was posted to a blog. The SEM'/SEO that this site already has is much higher than probably some government services in the area of Family Law.

It is intended for a general audience, which is much larger, than the actual users who contribute to the site.

Feel free to correct the grammar and re-post. It would be really appreciated.

Good Luck!
Tayken
Reply With Quote
  #4 (permalink)  
Old 07-19-2013, 11:00 AM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 1,678
OrleansLawyer is a jewel in the roughOrleansLawyer is a jewel in the roughOrleansLawyer is a jewel in the rough
Default

Quote:
How does LAO review active certificates?
The "review" process on active certificates is to deny further hours.

Ordinarily, a family legal aid certificate is assigned a given number of hours up to the first pre-trial. 12-14 hours is the rule of thumb, with an additional 4 hours for conference preparation and attendance and 4 or 8 hours to deal with a restraining order for domestic violence issues.

In the event the lawyer believes the time allocated will be insufficient, they will request further hours from the district manager. The DM has various criteria to meet, and their discretion is not absolute. In some cases there are no extra hours available; in others, you may get twenty or thirty extra hours added on.

Additional requests are also made for specific events, such as a LAO settlement conference or trial.

When the hours are used up - and only after the hours are used up - and no further increases are offered by the district manager, the legal aid lawyer may request a discretionary increase from head office in Toronto when they submit their bill.

Whether the discretionary increase is granted or not is often contingent upon the results of the case, or other special factors. Legal Aid Ontario: Information for Lawyers

If the matter is not addressed on a final basis, the lawyer will often have 3-4 months of work continuing while they wait to hear if their last invoice will be paid. This is generally a disservice to everyone involved, since there is a tendency for some lawyers with legal aid files to let them fall down a crack until the increase is decided upon, lest they throw more time into an involuntary pro bono cause.
Reply With Quote
  #5 (permalink)  
Old 07-19-2013, 12:38 PM
Tayken's Avatar
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 6,476
Tayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant futureTayken has a brilliant future
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by OrleansLawyer View Post
The "review" process on active certificates is to deny further hours.
My apologies. I should have stated the "audit" process in relation to those who receive a certificate and are found to have not qualified financially previously and when they received their certificate. LAO "investigations" material is weak and there is no public visibility into sanctions and other results from the LAO investigations team.

It leaves one to wonder how some certificate holders whom are employed at significant incomes (e.g. 50,000+) with significant RRSP holdings (15,000+) are able to obtain a certificate... When an unemployed person with 7,000 in RRSPs is denied a certificate.

Good Luck!
Tayken
Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Legal “Truisims” Exposed?: The Emergency ex-parte Motion in Family Law Tayken Divorce & Family Law 6 10-16-2014 11:47 AM
Legal Aid Ontario Eligibility Looking2DaFuture Divorce & Family Law 6 04-13-2013 07:46 PM
Divorce between UK and Ontario residents: legal and pension issues Vabadus Divorce & Family Law 36 02-26-2013 05:50 PM
Legal Aid Ontario and Family Law – Their Role Tayken Political Issues 15 11-30-2012 10:51 PM
Legal Aid serrona Divorce & Family Law 1 10-27-2006 07:00 PM


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 05:43 PM.