Paying Back Legal Aid

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Some people have enough money or assets to pay part or all of their legal fees. Check WHO QUALIFIES FINANCIALLY on this website for our guidelines.

You will be asked to sign an Agreement to Pay. You will make an initial payment and continue making monthly payments until you have paid for the total cost of your case plus the 25% program fee, if applicable. In some cases, we may ask you to contribute an additional amount to cover the cost of disbursements (e.g. DNA tests, social work or psychological assessments, etc.) before your lawyer can incur the expense.

So why get a lawyer through Legal Aid Manitoba? Why not hire someone privately on your own? Because, if you qualify for our help, legal aid may be a more affordable choice for you:

  • You will only have to pay a small payment or retainer (down payment) at the beginning of your case;
  • The hourly rate paid by Legal Aid to your lawyer is usually much less than if you paid that lawyer privately;
  • You may not have to pay certain charges, such as court filing fees, or you may get them at a reduced rate;
  • You get to pay for your legal help in interest-free monthly installments at Legal Aid Manitoba.

Monthly Payments

As long as you continue to make your monthly payments, Legal Aid will continue to pay your lawyer. If you don’t pay and don’t contact us, we will cancel your coverage and may take legal action to collect what is owing. If you have to apply for Legal Aid at some time in the future, you may be refused because you have not paid what you owe.

If for some reason you are unable to make a payment, you should contact client billing at 204.985.8518 or 204.985.8519 or 1.800.261.2960 and explain the problem. If your financial circumstances change for the worse you should contact us right away. We may be able to postpone your payments, reduce the amount or in some cases cancel your payments completely - for example, if you've lost your job.

If you end up paying more than the cost of your case, Legal Aid will refund the difference to you.

Assets

Assets are material possessions such as a home, real estate, vehicle, cash, savings account, RRSPs and household furnishings. If you have assets that are enough to pay for a lawyer, you may be refused legal aid. If your assets are locked in and you are not able to use them, or if using them would cause you a great deal of hardship, Legal Aid Manitoba may be able to offer help. For example, you may still be eligible for legal aid even if you own your home or a car, depending on the value. Your assets and expenses will be looked at when you apply for legal aid. Note: Under no circumstances will Legal Aid Manitoba make you sell or re-mortgage your home to pay a bill for legal services.

Charge on Land

If you apply for legal aid and you are eligible but you own a home, we may ask you to sign a "Charge on Land". This allows Legal Aid Manitoba to file a lien against your property. A lien means that if you sell your home you will have to repay us from the proceeds of the sale. Note: Legal Aid Manitoba can not make you sell your home.

You can pay your bill to Legal Aid at any time after the case is over, in a lump sum or on a monthly basis, without interest. Once your legal bill is paid, we will cancel the lien against your home.

Fee-generating matters

If it is likely that you will end up recovering some money from your case, your case is called "fee-generating". This means you may be able to pay your lawyer out of any money you get when the case is finished.

Legal Aid will often refuse to cover a case if you are likely to get money at the end. Instead, we send you a list of lawyers who are willing to take cases like this. Step one is to contact at least two lawyers on that list. If they won't take your case on that basis, we may be able to help you, provided you meet our other criteria.

You should contact us again after you have been turned down by at least two lawyers. If you can provide us with letters from those lawyers stating why they won't take your case, we will reconsider your application.

Statutory Holdback

Under the Legal Aid Manitoba Act, we may keep or hold back the cost of giving you a lawyer from the money you get in your case. For example, the spouse you are divorcing may be required to pay you $10,000 for your share of the home you own together. If you recover money like this, and if you have received legal aid, you may have to repay Legal Aid Manitoba its costs. Your lawyer is then required by law to hold back the amount of the bill he or she will be sending to Legal Aid (say for instance, $1,000). The lawyer will send $1,000 to Legal Aid and $9,000 to you.

In some cases, you may ask Legal Aid to consider letting you keep more of the money you were awarded. If you have a good reason to keep more or all of the money that was awarded, you should talk to your lawyer. You or your lawyer can ask Legal Aid Manitoba to give up its right to repayment in full or in part.

Note: Not every type of award or settlement will be considered. For example, you will not be requested to repay money if the award or settlement is for maintenance or child support to be paid on a monthly or periodic basis. However, you may be requested to repay money if the award or settlement is for maintenance that is to be paid in a lump sum.

If you have questions about any aspect of paying back Legal Aid Manitoba, please phone client billing at 204.985.8518 or 204.985.8519 or 1.800.261.2960.

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