The Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC) has developed the following guideline for its consideration in making determinations on the provision of legal support services to persons who are applicants or potential applicants to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (Tribunal). This guideline will inform, on a case-by-case basis, the HRLSC’s determinations with respect to requests for its legal support services.
The HRLSC welcomes public feedback on this guideline. Comments can be left here
This guideline recognizes that each applicant for legal support services will receive initial legal support services from the HRLSC, including advice on whether or not their claim would fall within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal.
However, due to the significant volume of inquiries and the demand for legal support services, the HRLSC acknowledges that it will not be able to provide all applicants with complete legal services up to and including full representation at a hearing before the Tribunal.
In order to best allocate its limited resources, the HRLSC reserves the right to decide, with respect to each applicant, the level of legal support services that will be provided, to be determined on a case by case basis, after consideration of the factors set out below.
In general, the HRLSC will give priority to applicants with meritorious claims who would face barriers to self-representing, especially where the application raises public interest issues or complex factual or legal issues or could have a broad impact on other claims under the Ontario Human Rights Code (Code).
Applicant means a person who has contacted the HRLSC for assistance with respect to a matter covered by the Code.
Eligibility for services means that the applicant is generally eligible for legal support services but does not mean that any particular level or amount of legal support services will be provided to the applicant.
Legal support services includes the initial intake procedure and interview, summary information and advice, assistance with application completion, assistance with preparing for mediation, representation at mediation before the Tribunal and representation at hearings before the Tribunal.
In determining the extent of the legal services that the HRLSC will offer to an applicant, the HRLSC will consider:
- The nature of the application
- The capacity of the applicant
- The nature of the respondent
- The existence of any intervenor
- Any other additional factors the HRLSC may consider relevant
These considerations are evaluated by the HRLSC in respect of the following factors:
- The proposed application falls within/outside the jurisdiction of the Tribunal.
- The proposed application raises/does not raise a ground of discrimination recognized by the Code and/or by applicable human rights jurisprudence.
- The proposed application has/does not have a reasonable chance of success as there:
- is/is not a reasonable prospect that the application will be able to establish an evidentiary link between the ground of discrimination and the negative or unequal treatment; and/or
- is/is not a reasonable prospect that the application can be proven by the available evidence.
- The proposed application raises/does not raise complex legal or factual issues that require legal representation.
- The proposed application:
- will/will not require particularly significant staff resources;
- is expected/is not expected to impact on the HRLSC’s ability to represent other applicants; and
- raises/does not raise issues that could have a broad positive or negative impact on other disadvantaged groups designated under the Code including other applicants or potential applicants for the HRLSC’s services.
- The proposed application is outside the one (1) year period for filing and there does not appear to be a significant public interest aspect to the application.
- In light of the nature of the proposed application and the remedies sought, the applicant would face challenges in representing him/herself before the Tribunal. These challenges may include:
- lack of fluency in English/French;
- functional literacy level;
- issues related to a disability (including the need for accommodation of Code-related needs by the HRLSC);
- issues related to poverty (such as access to telephone, affordable transportation);
- unfamiliarity with legal processes;
- absence of other supports in daily living;
- challenges created by recent arrival in Canada, refugee status and related issues; and
- marginalization associated with membership in a designated group recognized by the Code (e.g. youth; senior; member of a racialized community).
- The applicant is/is not able to self-represent in the Tribunal’s process. Consideration shall be given to:
- nature of the proposed application;
- circumstances affecting the applicant, and
- nature of the remedies sought.
- The applicant lacks/has access to other legal support in preparing their application or does not have reasonable access to legal support through a prepaid legal services plan, private resources, advocacy organization, Ontario Human Rights Commission (Commission), etc.
- The applicant is/is not a member of a historically disadvantaged group or a marginalized group.
- The respondent is/is not well-resourced.
- The respondent is/is not expected to be have legal representation.
- The Commission has indicated that it will/will not apply to intervene in support of the application.
- There are/are not other organizations or individuals that have indicated an interest in intervening for or against the proposed application.