SERVICE STATEMENT TO THE PUBLIC
I. ORGANIZATION MISSION STATEMENT
The Commission des services juridiques ensures that legal aid is provided to financially eligible persons. It is made up of twelve members appointed by the Government and selected on the basis of their contribution to studying and finding solutions for disadvantaged persons facing legal problems. The Commission has established eleven community legal centres, including the Eastern Townships Community Legal Centre, to provide legal aid services across Quebec. Each of these centres is headed by a board of directors of 12 members appointed by the Commission.
II. OUR SERVICES
Legal Aid Services
Legal aid services covered by the system are provided to financially eligible persons either free of charge or with a contribution from the beneficiary. Contributions are determined as prescribed in the Regulation and are always collected by the regional centre that issued the certification of eligibility.
Principal areas of practice
Family law, youth law (youth protection and young offenders), criminal and penal law, administrative law, mental health law, social law, civil law and immigration law.
Legal aid services provided
– Representation by a lawyer before a court of first instance or a court of appeal, as plaintiff or defendant
– Assistance from a lawyer in certain cases expressly provided for in an Act respecting legal aid and the provision of certain other legal services
– Legal consultation with a lawyer
– 24/7 telephone consultation with a lawyer, if you have been arrested or are being held in custody
– Appearance by telephone on weekends and legal holidays (for criminal law matters)
– Legal information regarding the rights and obligations of legal aid recipients;
– Lawyer involvement in community organizations;
– Services by a notary
Other legal services
Some legal services are provided to individuals accused in long or complex proceeding or if, pursuant to an order from the court or a review board, they are entitled to the services of a State-remunerated lawyer.
Accessing our services
– By phone, to set up an appointment (scheduled within a reasonable delay)
– In person, with or without an appointment, usually at the legal aid office closest to your place of residence
– In urgent cases, a lawyer can assist you in taking measures to preserve your rights.
III. OUR COMMITMENT
In nine towns across the Eastern Townships, seven legal aid offices are offering their services full time, and two offices, part time. Your request for legal aid is generally handled at the office closest to your place of residence. The physical layout of each legal aid office has been designed to ensure confidentiality. Lawyers have access to private offices.
Each legal aid office posts its particular business hours.
On the phone
We answer you promptly and courteously, stating the name of our organization, and with a word of welcome. If you leave your name and number and specify to whom you wish to speak, we return your call promptly.
Waiting time and appointments
We assess each request based on the urgency of the services required and we schedule appointments in a timely manner. We also let you know which documents are needed in order for us to establish your eligibility for legal aid.
Advertising our services
We advertise our legal services to the general public and more specifically to the target population:
– by publishing and disseminating the complete list of legal aid offices across Quebec, and their full contact information, on the Eastern Townships Community Legal Centre and Commission des services juridiques websites;
– by disseminating information about our services, eligibility rules and the rights and obligations of each legal aid applicant;
– by consistently posting signs in police stations to advertise our round-the-clock emergency legal aid service telephone number;
– by promoting our services to agencies and government departments who serve our target population;
– by regularly updating the legal information featured on the Eastern Townships Community Legal Centre and Commission des services juridiques websites.
Access by detainees
Individuals held in custody may request and obtain the services of a legal aid lawyer from their place of detention.
Providing our services
As a general rule, your appointment takes place in our offices at the date and time agreed upon; if necessary, one of our lawyers meets with you.
From the very first moment you deal with our legal aid staff, all contacts and communications are kept confidential and remain under professional secrecy.
Availability and diligence
In their practice, lawyers must exercise due diligence and be available within reasonable limits. Legal aid lawyers must be present in court when needed and, if applicable, meet with you there. Moreover, the members of our staff pledge to perform the work entrusted to them in a timely manner and, as defined by their terms of employment, they must be available to respond to your requests at all times and provide you with relevant information.
How you can help
We need your cooperation in order to fulfill our commitment to provide you with quality services in a timely manner. It is important that you give us all the information and documents we need to process your application and handle your case. These documents are listed under How do I apply? in the “Legal Aid” section of the Eastern Townships Community Legal Centre website, as well as on the Commission des services juridiques website.
IV. AN EFFICIENT SYSTEM FOR HANDLING COMPLAINTS
If you are not satisfied with the services provided by the staff of a legal aid office, you may file a complaint, which will be processed within thirty days. Complaints provide us with information that help us improve our services. They may relate to any matter, but more specifically to the quality and accessibility of legal aid services, and the manner in which they were provided. These complaints are received and treated as confidential. We suggest that you first submit your complaint to the director or the person in charge of the legal aid office that is the subject of your complaint. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, submit your complaint in writing to the executive director of the Eastern Townships Community Legal Centre. Contact information for all legal aid network executive directors is available on the Commission des services juridiques website, under Contact Us. Complaint forms are also available in every legal aid office, as well as on the website of the Eastern Townships Community Legal Centre, and the Commission des services juridiques website, by clicking the “Commission” tab and selecting “Declaration of Service to the Public”.
V. IMPROVING OUR SERVICES
Together, the Commission des services juridiques and every community legal centre are continuously trying to improve the quality of their services. To do so, they may consult you in order to better understand your needs and expectations. The results of these consultations are published in the management report submitted annually to the Minister of Justice and filed on the website of the Commission under “Publications” in the section entitled “Commission”.