BILL NO. 227
2nd Session, 63rd General Assembly
69 Elizabeth II, 2020
Legal Aid Act
The Honourable Mark Furey
Attorney General and Minister of Justice
First Reading: February 25, 2020
Second Reading: February 27, 2020
Third Reading: March 5, 2020 (WITH COMMITTEE AMENDMENTS) (LINK TO BILL AS PASSED)
Clause 1 removes the definition of "Executive Director" and adds definitions of "Chief Executive Officer" and "lawyer".
(a) reduces the number of directors of the Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission from 17 to 11;
(b) reduces the number of directors nominated by the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society from 7 to 4;
(c) makes changes to use gender-neutral language;
(d) allows for varying terms and re-appointment for a maximum of three consecutive terms;
(e) provides that a director remains in office on the expiration of his or her term until a successor is appointed or the appointment is revoked; and
(f) establishes criteria that must be considered when appointing directors.
Clause 3 updates the Act to use gender-neutral language.
Clause 4 reduces the quorum of the Commission from 7 to 5.
(a) allows the Commission to control and direct its own business and practices; and
(b) sets out the objects of the Commission.
(a) specifies a non-exhaustive list of powers and duties of the Commission;
(b) allows the Commission to advise the Attorney General respecting legal aid and access to justice; and
(c) allows the Commission to delegate its powers in writing.
Clause 7 updates the Act to use gender-neutral language.
Clause 8 requires the Commission to comply with Public Sector Accounting Board principles and changes the list of items that must be included in a statement of accounts.
Clause 9 allows for the accounts of the Commission to be audited by a qualified independent auditor instead of only the Auditor General.
Clause 10 changes the title of the Executive Director of the Commission to the Chief Executive Officer and removes a requirement for that person to be a lawyer.
Clause 11 allows the Commission to grant legal aid in areas of law rather than in respect of proceedings in certain courts. It also establishes criteria for the granting of legal aid and permits the Commission to offer a larger range of services.
Clause 12 allows the Commission to grant legal aid at any stage of a proceeding or proposed proceeding rather than only after proceedings have commenced.
(a) allows the Commission to determine the form and manner for legal aid applications;
(b) changes the title of the Chief Executive Officer; and
(c) updates the Act to use gender-neutral language.
Clause 14 updates a title and replaces the term "barrister" with "lawyer".
Clause 15 updates the Act to use gender-neutral language.
Clause 16 replaces the term "partial charge" with "contribution agreement".
Clause 17 allows the Commission to appoint panels of lawyers and establish minimum standards for membership on such a panel.
Clause 18 allows the Commission to recover amounts owing under a contribution agreement by issuing a notice and filing it with the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia or the Small Claims Court.
Clause 19 allows the Commission to make agreements respecting the payment of an award of costs that may be made against an applicant.
(a) allows the Commission to recover costs when they are awarded in favour of a recipient; and
(b) replaces the term "solicitor" with "lawyer".
(a) allows the Commission to collect the costs of legal aid from an applicant who recovers money or property; and
(b) allows the Commission to register costs owing to it as liens against real and personal property recovered or awarded in the action to which the costs relate.
Clause 22 updates the Act to use gender-neutral language.
Clause 23 replaces references to "barrister" with "lawyer".
(a) provides that information disclosed by a client or applicant is privileged; and
(b) protects directors, officers and employees of the Commission from personal liability for actions done in good faith.
(a) replaces references to "Executive Director" with "Chief Executive Officer";
(b) expands the regulation-making authority of the Governor in Council to include regulations respecting the delegation of power by the Commission, waiver of money owed to it by recipients and panels of lawyers for areas of law; and
(c) replaces references to "barristers" with "lawyers".
Clause 26 provides that the existing directors of the Commission continue in office until the expiry of their terms or their appointments are revoked.
1 Section 2 of Chapter 252 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Legal Aid Act, is amended by
- (a) "Chief Executive Officer" means the person appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of the Commission pursuant to this Act;
- (b) "lawyer" has the same meaning as in the Legal Profession Act;
- (8A) Where the term of office of a director expires, that director may continue to act as a director until the director is re-appointed, a successor is appointed or the appointment of the director is revoked.
- (11) When making recommendations or nominations, as the case may be, the Attorney General and the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society shall consider a potential director's knowledge of and skills and experience in
4 Subsection 5(1) of Chapter 252 is amended by striking out "seven" in the second line and substituting "five".
5 Chapter 252 is further amended by adding immediately after Section 5 the following Sections:
- 5A Subject to this Act and the regulations, the Commission controls and directs the business of the Commission and may, by resolution or by-law, determine its own practices and procedures.
- (1) The Commission is responsible for all matters relating to legal aid in the Province and for persons employed by the Commission and has all the powers and shall perform all the duties conferred and imposed upon it by this Act, any other Act, the Governor in Council or the Attorney General, including
- (i) assessing current and future needs for legal aid,
- (2A) The Commission shall advise the Attorney General respecting legal aid and access to justice for individuals.
- (3) Subject to this Act and the regulations, the Commission may delegate, in writing, any of its powers or duties to a committee of the Commission, a member of a committee or an officer or employee of the Commission.
8 (1) Subsection 9(3) of Chapter 252 is amended by adding "and shall comply with Public Sector Accounting Board principles" immediately after "records" in the second line.
- (a) statements of operations, changes in net financial assets and cash flows;
10 (1) Subsection 14(1) of Chapter 252 is repealed and the following subsection substituted:
- (1) The Commission shall appoint a Chief Executive Officer.
11 Section 15 of Chapter 252 is repealed and the following Section substituted:
- 15 (1) The Commission may grant legal aid in any area of law involving the liberty or civil rights of an individual and for matters involving the integrity and protection of an individual's family, including
(5) Except as otherwise provided in this Act or the regulations, a lawyer providing legal aid may prepare documents, negotiate settlements or give legal advice necessary to carry out the lawyer's duties under this Act.
- (1) Legal aid may be granted at any stage of proceeding, proposed proceeding or at any other time determined by the Commission.
14 Subsection 18(1) of Chapter 252 is amended by
15 Section 19 of Chapter 252 is amended by
16 Section 20 of Chapter 252 is amended by striking out "partial charge" in the first line of clause (b) and substituting "contribution agreement".
17 Chapter 252 is further amended by adding immediately after Section 20 the following Section:
- 20A (1) The Commission may, in accordance with the regulations, appoint panels of lawyers who may provide legal aid.
- (2) The amount that an applicant or person responsible for an applicant agrees to contribute towards the costs of the legal aid given to the applicant
(3) Where a person does not pay an amount that the person agreed to contribute when it becomes due, the Commission may issue the person with a notice stating that the person is in default under this Act and setting out the amount owed to the Commission.
(4) The Commission may file a notice issued under subsection (3) with the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia or with the Small Claims Court and that Court shall treat it in the same way as an order of the Court and it is enforceable as such.
20 (1) Section 23 of Chapter 252 is amended by adding "(1)" immediately after the Section number.
- (2) Costs awarded in any order made in favour of an individual who has received legal aid are recoverable in the same manner and to the same extent as though awarded to an individual who has not received legal aid.
(3) Subsection (2) applies even if no part of the costs of the legal aid received by the individual in whose favour the order is made was or will be contributed to the Commission by the individual or by a person responsible for the individual.
(4) Subsection (2) applies even if the costs are in excess of the total amount contributed or to be contributed to the Commission by the individual, or by a person responsible for the individual, for the costs of the legal aid received by the individual.
- 23A (1) Where an applicant recovers any sum in respect of a matter for which the applicant received legal aid under a judgment, order, settlement or otherwise, the amount of the costs of the legal aid provided to the applicant is a charge against the sum so recovered and must be deducted from the sum recovered and paid to the Commission.
(2) Where an applicant who has been given legal aid in any matter recovers property other than money, the Commission has a charge against the property so recovered for the amount of the costs of the legal aid provided to the applicant and may enforce such a charge.
(4) The charge is not invalidated nor its effect impaired by reason only of an error or omission in the charge or in its execution or registration, unless a reasonable person would be likely to be materially misled by the error or omission.
(5) Where the recovered property is real property, the Commission may register the charge against it in the land registry office for the county in which the property is located and the Commission may enforce the charge by sale of the real property against which it is registered in the same manner as a sale to realize on a mortgage.
(6) Where a person who owns or has any interest in real property in the Province has agreed to contribute towards the costs of legal aid given to the person or to a person for whom the person is responsible, the Commission may register a notice of lien for an amount equal to the amount that the person agreed to contribute against the person's land in the land registry office for the area in which the interest is located.
(7) Where the person fails to pay the Commission an amount the person agreed to contribute, the Commission may enforce a lien made under subsection (6) by sale of the real property against which it is registered in the same manner as a sale to realize on a mortgage.
(8) The Commission is not required to enforce the charge or lien immediately upon default occurring, but may delay enforcing the charge or lien to a later date or, in accordance with the terms of the agreement entered into by the person and the Commission, to the occurrence of an event.
(10) The Commission may, in accordance with the regulations, waive any of its rights under this Section to collect amounts due to it and may accept payment from an applicant or person responsible for an applicant in a lesser amount than that owed by the applicant or person to the Commission.
23 Section 26A of Chapter 252, as enacted by Chapter 8 of the Acts of 1999 (Second Session), is amended by striking out "barrister" in the first and in the sixth lines and substituting in each case "lawyer".
24 Chapter 252 is further amended by adding immediately after Section 26A the following Sections:
- 26B (1) Information disclosed by a client or an applicant for legal aid to a director, employee or officer of the Commission is privileged and must be kept confidential in the same manner and to the same extent as if it had been disclosed to a lawyer under a lawyer and client relationship.
(3) Subsection (1) does not protect the Commission from vicarious liability arising out of anything done or omitted by a person referred to in that subsection for which the Commission would be vicariously liable if this Section were not in effect.
- (b) respecting the delegation by the Commission of any of its powers or duties;
- (ka) respecting the waiver or reduction by the Commission of amounts owed to it by an applicant or recipient of legal aid;
- (la) respecting panels of lawyers who may provide legal aid, including establishing minimum standards those lawyers must meet;
26 Notwithstanding Section 3, a person who was a director of the Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission at the time that this Section comes into force continues as a director until that person's term expires, the person is re-appointed, a successor is appointed or the person's appointment is revoked.
This page and its contents published by the Office of the Legislative Counsel, Nova Scotia House of Assembly, and © 2020 Crown in right of Nova Scotia. Created Marcdh 10, 2020. Send comments to email@example.com.