Legal aid is the provision of assistance to people otherwise unable to afford legal representation and access to the court system. Legal aid is regarded as central in proving access to justice by ensuring equality before the law, the right to counsel, and the right to a fair trial.
Who can receive legal aid?
Every Yukon resident can apply to Yukon Legal Services Society (YLSS) for legal assistance. However, to receive legal aid:
- You must have a legal problem that we cover.
- Your income and the value of your property must be below a certain limit. (See Eligibility Guidelines.)
- You might have to pay a contribution to YLSS.
- In some civil matters, there must also be a strong reason (merit) for providing legal aid to assist you.
- The legal problem is something that a reasonable person of modest means would, if financially able, pay a lawyer to do.
How do I apply for legal aid?
To apply for legal aid assistance, you must contact YLSS’s Intake Office to schedule an appointment for an interview with our Intake Coordinator.
Once you have attended your first court appearance and have been scheduled for a second appearance, contact YLSS for an appointment.
What do I need to bring with me?
You must provide the following information in order to apply for legal aid:
- Any documents relating to your case, including court orders, agreements, served papers or your copy of the Duty Counsel Appearance Form.
- Proof of your household income for the past 6 months, including pay stubs, social assistance budget sheet, EI statements, Record of Employment (ROE), or current financial statements if you are self-employed.
- Proof of any Child Support paid or received for the past 6 months.
- Proof of Child Tax Benefit income.
- Proof of unusual expenses such as medical/dental costs.
What will happen at my interview?
The Intake Manager will review all the documents you have provided. You will also be asked about any assets you may have, including vehicles, property, savings and/or investments. The Intake Manager may ask for additional documents to determine whether you qualify.
You must sign your application as being true. It is an offence to provide YLSS with false information. If any of the information provided with your application changes, including your contact information or financial situation, you must advise YLSS immediately.
Once your application has been taken, the Intake Manager may be able to tell you right away whether you are eligible for legal aid. If you are not approved at the interview, you can contact the Intake Office to check on the status of your application.
Occasionally, a lawyer may have to review your matter to decide if there is merit before proceeding on your behalf.
What do I do once I am approved?
You are responsible for contacting the Intake Office to check the status of your application. Once you have been assigned a lawyer, contact the office where your lawyer is working to schedule an appointment. Please also read Working with Your Lawyer and Your Responsibility to Legal Aid, available by printed brochure or online.
What can I do if I am turned down for legal aid?
If your application for legal aid assistance is refused, you have the right to appeal the decision to Yukon Legal Services Society’s Board of Directors. You will receive by mail a letter indicating why you have been refused along with an appeal form, which you must complete and return to our office two days prior to the next scheduled appeal meeting (usually the fourth Thursday of each month). The date for the Board meeting will be included in the letter.
In your appeal to the Board of Directors, state why the decision should be reconsidered. If you would like the Board to consider financial information not provided to the Intake Manager, you should provide additional proof of your circumstances. Be prepared to demonstrate why your situation either falls within the eligibility guidelines or is exceptional.
You have the right to present your appeal to the Board in person or by telephone during the scheduled appeal meeting. The Board will consider the reasons you have given for appealing the refusal and will review your file and application for legal aid. The Board will either grant you legal aid assistance or uphold the refusal.
If you have been turned down for legal aid but still need the services of a lawyer, you can also contact Lawyer Referral Service: (867) 668-4231 or consult the Yellow Pages of the phone book under “Lawyers”.
For legal information, you can contact the Law Line at (867) 668-5297.
What is duty counsel?
Duty counsel is a lawyer present at court to help people at their first appearance. YLSS has a “duty counsel” lawyer in adult, youth and wardship (child protection) courts. Duty counsel will provide you with a Duty Counsel Appearance Form, which you will need to bring with you when applying for legal aid assistance. There are no financial eligibility requirements or fees for receiving assistance from duty counsel.
Duty counsel is also provided on an on-call basis for the following:
- Detained persons from Friday evening at 5:00 p.m. to Monday morning at 8:30 a.m.
- Detained persons on weeknights from 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 a.m.
- All initial bail hearings.