Image
Reflection in window pane

Assistance for self-represented parties

The Litigation Assistance Program (LAP) and Duty Counsel Program (DCP) are designed to provide assistance to self-represented parties who are involved in an enforcement proceeding or an application for hearing and review before the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) Tribunal.

The LAP and DCP are provided by a roster of external volunteer lawyers and not by the OSC. The volunteer lawyers are selected and trained by The Advocates’ Society, a Canadian organization of lawyers that is independent from the OSC, which is involved with professional development and advocacy initiatives to promote a fair and accessible system of justice. Although the OSC facilitates the administration of LAP and DCP, it cannot guarantee that legal services will be available.

Volunteer lawyers provide assistance under the LAP and DCP free of charge. However, you are responsible for paying for any disbursements, such as photocopy charges or charges relating to document management.

Litigation Assistance Program (LAP)

Eligibility and applying to LAP

Any interested self-represented party to an enforcement proceeding or application for hearing and review before the OSC is eligible to apply for assistance. Although you may be eligible to apply, there is no guarantee that you will receive assistance.

Please note: the LAP does not provide assistance in civil proceedings or quasi-criminal proceedings commenced by the OSC before the Ontario Court of Justice or appeals before the Divisional Court. To apply for LAP assistance, please complete an application to participate in the OSC Litigation Assistance Program agreeing to the Terms and Conditions set out and send it to [email protected]. You may also refer to a list of common questions and answers about the LAP.

Scope of assistance

LAP volunteer lawyers may provide litigation assistance for one or more of the following stages of an OSC enforcement proceeding or application for hearing and review:

  • preliminary attendance

  • confidential conference

  • confidential settlement conference, public settlement hearing or both

  • sanctions and costs hearing

  • motion, on an exceptional basis only

You will typically meet with your volunteer lawyer in advance of the scheduled attendance in order to consult and prepare.

Please note: volunteer lawyers will not provide you with assistance, legal advice or representation with respect to any other part of your proceeding before the OSC, including the hearing on the merits. They will also not provide you with assistance, legal advice or representation with respect to any other legal matter.

Availability of LAP

The number of volunteer lawyers is limited. Neither the OSC nor the LAP are obligated to provide you with a volunteer lawyer.

A volunteer lawyer may not be available to assist you, may have a conflict of interest that prevents them from being able to assist you, or both. If there is no volunteer lawyer able to assist you, you will be required to represent yourself or retain your own representative.

Providing instructions to LAP counsel

If you are assigned a volunteer lawyer, they will only accept instructions from you unless you provide them with written permission to accept instructions from someone other than you.

A volunteer lawyer may not tell anyone else outside of their firm, or a mentor assigned to them to help them assist you, anything that you tell them about your proceeding unless you give them permission to do so. The volunteer lawyer’s firm and the mentor are also bound in the same way.

Duty Counsel Program (DCP)

Eligibility

Duty counsel may be available to assist self-represented parties who are appearing in an enforcement proceeding or an application for hearing and review before the OSC Tribunal. 

Please note: the DCP does not provide assistance in civil proceedings or quasi-criminal proceedings commenced by the OSC before the Ontario Court of Justice or appeals before the Divisional Court.

Scope of assistance 

DCP differs from the LAP in that it provides day-of legal advice and assistance, including representation at the hearing, if requested. A party is not required to apply in advance for the DCP. However, the scope of assistance that a duty counsel can provide on the hearing date is more limited than that provided by a LAP counsel, specifically due to the inability of a duty counsel to consult with the party and prepare in advance of the hearing. Duty counsel is only available for the following stages of a proceeding:

  • preliminary attendance
  • confidential conference
  • sanctions and costs hearing

DCP is only available for in-person hearings. It is not available for hearings held by teleconference, video conference or in writing.

Although a duty counsel is not able to consult with you or prepare in advance of the hearing, they can provide immediate day-of legal advice and assistance, including:

On the day of your attendance before the OSC Tribunal, you will be required by duty counsel to complete a DCP legal services retainer form and agree to the terms and conditions it sets out. Give a copy of your signed and completed legal services retainer to the duty counsel.

If you have additional questions, please email [email protected]. You may also refer to a list of common questions and answers about the DCP.

Please note: duty counsel will not provide you with assistance, legal advice or representation with respect to any other part of your proceeding, including the hearing on the merits, conduct legal research, or read all relevant documents. Furthermore, they will be unable to provide you with assistance, legal advice or representation with respect to any other legal matter.

Availability of duty counsel

The number of lawyers on the duty counsel roster is limited. Neither the OSC nor the DCP are obligated to provide you with a lawyer.

A lawyer on the duty counsel roster may not be available to assist you, may have a conflict of interest that prevents them from being able to assist you, or both. If there is no lawyer on the duty counsel roster able to assist you, you will be required to represent yourself or retain your own representative.

Providing instructions to duty counsel

If duty counsel is present on the date of your hearing, they will only accept instructions from you unless you provide them with written permission to accept instructions from someone other than you.

A volunteer lawyer may not tell anyone else outside of their firm, or a mentor assigned to them to help them assist you, anything that you tell them about your proceeding unless you give them permission to do so. The volunteer lawyer’s firm and the mentor are also bound in the same way.

Law firms with volunteer lawyers participating in the LAP and DCP

  • Thornton Grout Finnigan LLP
  • Stockwoods LLP
  • Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
  • Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP
  • Affleck Greene McMurtry LLP
  • Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP
  • DLA Piper
  • Aird & Berlis LLP
  • Lerners LLP