Attorney General Announces Criminal Defence Funding Protocol

    Agreement With Legal Aid Ontario To Ensure Effective Use Of Public Funds

    TORONTO, Dec. 12 /CNW/ - The Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal
Aid Ontario have finalized a new protocol for managing court-ordered
publicly-funded criminal defences, Attorney General Chris Bentley said today.
    "Our responsibility to prudently manage public funds extends to those
cases where a court orders the government to pay for Defence Counsel," said
Bentley. "This new protocol will ensure public funds are spent effectively
through greater financial oversight and assessment powers."
    The protocol applies in the rare circumstance that a judge orders the
ministry to fund the defence of an accused person who is not receiving legal
aid. It recognizes that, while the ministry needs to oversee the spending of
public money, that function must be kept separate from the ministry's role as
Crown prosecution service. Legal Aid Ontario would therefore manage these
cases according to its normal billing and payment rules and processes.
    When a funding order is made, the protocol allows the ministry to meet
its obligation to oversee spending by requiring the ministry and Legal Aid
Ontario to appear before the court together to recommend a funding and billing
arrangement that could be made official in a court order. Where necessary, the
ministry will ask an independent third party with expertise in criminal
proceedings to review, monitor and assess invoices during a proceeding, at its
conclusion, or both.
    This protocol is posted on the ministry's website at
    "The protocol clearly sets out the duties and responsibilities of the
ministry and Legal Aid Ontario and will promote openness, accountability and
responsibility," said John McCamus, Chair of Legal Aid Ontario.
    The Ministry of the Attorney General is awaiting the results of a review
being led by Professor Michael Trebilcock on ways to strengthen Ontario's
legal aid system.

    Disponible en français


For further information:

For further information: Sheamus Murphy, Ministry of the Attorney
General, Minister's Office, (416) 326-1785; Brendan Crawley, Ministry of the
Attorney General, Communications Branch, (416) 326-2210

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