Getting Legal Assistance
You are not required to obtain the services of the lawyer to conduct your litigation. Many litigants prepare the required written materials and argue their appeals and motions in person. It is not impossible to do so although it does require that the party review the Rules of Civil Procedure and the Practice Directions to ensure that they comply with the requirements set out in both. If you make the effort, you can represent yourself and indeed represent yourself successfully.
In proceedings in the Court of Appeal, you must act in person or be represented by a lawyer. Although anyone may assist you in preparing your written material for filing, paralegals, family members or friends are not entitled to speak on your behalf in court.
If you are unsure as to whether or how you might be able to proceed, you should seek legal advice. The court and its staff cannot provide legal advice or act as a replacement for a lawyer. Court staff cannot make any recommendation as to whether you should retain a lawyer in any particular case. That is something that you have to decide for yourself. However the court is prepared to provide the following information should you wish to consider obtaining legal representation or assistance but do not have a lawyer or do not know how to find a lawyer.
The Lawyer Referral Service of the Law Society of Upper Canada can arrange for a meeting with a lawyer, usually for free or at a very modest fee, so that you can obtain some preliminary advice that can assist you in bringing or responding to an appeal or a motion related to an appeal. More information can be obtained from the following link: http://www.lsuc.on.ca/with.aspx?id=654
Justice Net is a program in which lawyers reduce their hourly fees on a portion of their practice to address the unmet legal needs and low and middle income members in their communities. Fees are adjusted dependent on family income and the number of dependents. More information can be obtained from the following link: www.Justicenet.ca
If you are unable to afford a lawyer, you may wish to attend at a free legal clinic in your area or apply for legal aid. If legal aid is granted, you may be able to retain the lawyer of your choice to represent you on the appeal or motion. You must meet certain financial and other criteria in order to qualify for legal aid. More information can be obtained from the following link: http://www.legalaid.on.ca/en/getting/
If you are representing yourself, either because you do not qualify for Legal Aid or because you choose to do so, you may nevertheless wish some assistance with your appeal or motion before your appeal is heard. Pro Bono Law Ontario operates three projects that offer assistance to self-represented persons in the Court of Appeal.
Due to the timelines involved in bringing appeals and motions pending appeal, especially motions to a single judge, you may well wish to consult Pro Bono Law Ontario about the projects described below before commencing an appeal or motion so that you can determine whether you can get “pro bono” assistance before you take your first step. While an appeal or motion may be adjourned to permit either side to obtain or try to obtain legal assistance, you should not assume that this will necessarily happen in your case or that the other party will not ask for costs arising out of a request for an adjournment. Therefore if you are going to attempt to seek the assistance of a lawyer, privately, through Legal Aid or with the assistance of Pro Bono Law Ontario, it is important to do so without delay.
PBLO operates two help centres that provide limited assistance for self-represented litigants with matters in the Court of Appeal. The centres, called “Law Help Ontario” (LHO), are on the ground floor of the 393 University Avenue Courthouse in Toronto and the 5th floor of the 161 Elgin Street Courthouse in Ottawa. These centres serve low-income, self-represented litigants with civil, non-family matters. Clients of the centres can receive general legal information, form completion assistance and summary advice from a pro bono lawyer. These centres have only recently started to provide assistance with appeals. While this assistance is more limited than the Superior Court assistance provided at these centres, PBLO is exploring the possibility of expanding the appeal-related services it offers in this venue. The centres are open Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. but are closed from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. Clients are served on a first-come, first-served basis. More information can be found at http://www.lawhelpontario.org/visit/item.1491-Law_Help_Ontario_at_Superior_Court.
Administered in partnership with The Advocates Society, the AAP is an effort to match self-represented appellants or respondents in civil appeals with lawyers who have indicated an interest in providing pro bono assistance. Self-represented litigants apply to PBLO for assistance and, in appropriate cases, PBLO tries to match them with pro bono lawyers. The services provided under the AAP range from discrete tasks (such as an assessment of the merits of the appeal or assistance with drafting a factum for a motion or an appeal) to full representation on an appeal or motion. However, the AAP does not guarantee any particular type of assistance. The details of any assistance to be provided are to be reached in consultation with PBLO and the volunteer lawyer. More information can be obtained at www.lawhelpontario.org/appeals/, by emailing lawhelpontario, by calling (416) 597-770 ext. 231, or by attending one of the help centres described above.
Since February 3, 2010, Pro Bono Law Ontario has provided “amicus duty counsel” to assist the court by helping self-represented individuals who are bringing or responding to motions in the Court of Appeal. “Amicus” means that duty counsel is a friend of the court. Duty counsel is there to help you but is not your lawyer. This means that duty counsel will try to come up with any arguments that can help your case, but is not obliged to make arguments or take positions for you that are not supported by the facts or law. Duty counsel will be available at the court one day per week, on Wednesday morning. You may wish to schedule your motion for hearing on Wednesday when counsel will provide you with guidance and, if appropriate, may be able to make submissions to the Court. If you do schedule the hearing for a Wednesday, you should also give court staff your full contact information so that duty counsel has the opportunity to contact you in advance (but please note that duty counsel is not obliged to do so). You should also file material as soon as possible (so that duty counsel has a chance to review it) and arrive early on the day of the hearing (so that you can consult with duty counsel). If you wish to seek assistance on a motion that is not provided by duty counsel under this project, please refer to the services provided by the projects described above.
The foregoing is provided for your information only. The Law Society of Upper Canada, Legal Aid Ontario and Pro Bono Law Ontario are not affiliated with the courts in any way. Court staff may not recommend that a litigant retain a particular counsel or seek the assistance of a program such as those provided by these organizations.
Last Updated: December 22, 2011
 For two of the projects, there are financial and other criteria that must be met before you can qualify for assistance. The eligibility criteria for these projects are not the same as those used for Legal Aid. To obtain the assistance of an “amicus” friend of the court lawyer in bringing or responding to a motion, you have to confirm that you are unable to afford a lawyer but you do not have to disclose any financial information.
 Previously, the AAP accepted applications only after the appeal had been perfected. This has changed, such that appellants or respondents can apply for assistance at anytime during the appeal process.
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