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Private lawyers no longer able to use legal aid for clients in bail court

Last Updated Jun 12, 2019 at 2:49 pm EDT

Private lawyers will no longer be able to use legal aid to represent a client at bail hearings.

In a significant cost-cutting move, the Ford government says “legal aid is no longer going to pay another criminal lawyer to show up for two hours to bump aside the already available lawyer”

Instead, those appearing for a bail hearing will have access to what’s called duty counsel, who is paid for by Legal Aid Ontario.

The Attorney General’s office says this is bad news for lawyers who bill by the hour but good news for taxpayers.

Lawyer Ari Goldkind says this is actually going to cost taxpayers more money.

“It’s an accused person’s best interest to have a private lawyer who knows them, knows their family, knows their case,” says Goldkind. “While I understand the desire to save money, and as a taxpayer I’m all for that, this will end up costing the taxpayer so much more money in overcrowded jails.”

Goldkind adds there is one duty counsel in each bail court at every courthouse, which is not enough to deal with the flow of people who are charged every day with a crime or the dozens of bail hearings conducted each day which are handled by legal lawyers.