Independent Legal Assistance Program
The Independent Legal Assistance (ILA) program is an initiative to facilitate access to legal services for individuals who have experienced military sexual misconduct.
Keep your receipts
Expenses for eligible legal services incurred on or after April 1, 2019, may be reimbursed. All applications submitted must include an invoice showing the date, fee and contact information of the legal professional as well as proof of payment.
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About the program
The overall objective of the program is to help individuals make informed decisions that address their particular needs, goals and circumstances.
In the current first phase of the program, the Sexual Misconduct Support and Resource Centre (SMSRC) is providing reimbursements for eligible legal costs incurred by those who have experienced military sexual misconduct. Examples of legal costs are for legal information, advice and representation in the military and criminal justice systems. All eligible legal expenses must have been incurred on or after April 1, 2019.
The SMSRC continues to develop the ILA program so that it can eventually direct individuals who have experienced military sexual misconduct to, or provide them with, appropriate resources for legal information, advice and representation.
The SMSRC will communicate widely about any changes to the program, including advances in providing individuals with relevant assistance and resources in later phases of its work.
Who can submit an application?
Anyone, 18 years old or older, who has experienced military sexual misconduct, specifically:
- All members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF);
- All Cadets and Junior Canadian Rangers;
- Any other individual if the person who caused them harm was a member of the CAF at the time the incident(s) of sexual misconduct took place;
- The parent or guardian of any of the above individuals if they are under 18 years old.
Incident(s) of sexual misconduct are defined by Defence Administrative Orders and Directives 9005-1, section 2: Conduct of a sexual nature that causes or could cause harm to others, and that the person knew or ought reasonably to have known could cause harm.
Current and former CAF members that have been accused of sexual misconduct may be eligible to obtain assistance, at no cost, from Defence Counsel Services. The duty counsel line is available anytime at 1-888-715-9636. In addition, persons may qualify for provincial/territorial legal aid programs or may retain a civilian lawyer of their own choice and at their own cost.
What legal fees are eligible?
Reimbursements will be provided for the following incurred legal expenses:
- Up to four hours of legal information or legal advice pertaining to issues of military sexual misconduct in the military or criminal justice systems. If additional hours are required, it will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
- Legal representation must take place in a criminal sexual offence or service offence trial where the lawyer is representing the victim in:
- proceedings pertaining to the admissibility of evidence concerning prior sexual activity of a victim;
- proceedings pertaining to the production of a victim’s private records.
There is no maximum reimbursement amount for a legal representation claim.
Legal assistance must be obtained from a lawyer licensed to practice law in a Canadian province or territory.
How to submit an application
To make an application for reimbursement, you can call the SMSRC via the 24/7 Support Line at 1-844-750-1648 or by email Monday to Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time at DND.SMSRC-CSRIS.MDN@forces.gc.ca.
An SMSRC counsellor will refer you to a Response and Support Coordinator (RSC) who can explain what the program offers and how to apply. The RSC can also provide other forms of ongoing support and assistance, as needed.
Once the RSC refers you to the ILA Program, staff will assist you in determining if you are eligible and in submitting a reimbursement claim, which will include the following documents:
- Reimbursement application form, including an attestation that the legal services pertained to military sexual misconduct and related to the military or criminal justice systems;
- Invoice from a lawyer;
- Proof of payment of legal invoice:
- please ensure hours and rate per hour are included; and
- include billing for all hours of legal information/advice, even if your total hours are more than four.
- Banking information.
After submitting an application
Once the ILA program staff member has reviewed your request and received all required documents, they will send your financial information to a trustee to provide reimbursement. An external trustee takes care of processing reimbursements to prevent users of the larger Department of National Defence/Canadian Armed Forces (DND/CAF) financial payment system from accessing recipients’ personal information.
You can expect to receive reimbursement within four to eight weeks.
Reimbursements can only be provided through a Canadian financial institution.
Privacy and protection of personal information
Those who have experienced military sexual misconduct can access the SMSRC’s ILA program services regardless of whether they have reported the incident(s). They do not need to report the incident(s) to their chain of command or the police to be eligible. They do not have to participate in any investigative, administrative, or disciplinary process to participate in the program.
Privacy and confidentiality
The SMSRC’s program staff are DND public service employees. They do not report to the CAF chain of command, and they do not have a duty to report. The program is outside and independent of the CAF Chain of Command.
The SMSRC protects all information in accordance with the Privacy Act.
If you have any questions, you can contact the SMSRC 24/7 line at 1-844-750-1648, to speak with a counsellor or email us Monday to Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time at DND.SMSRC-CSRIS.MDN@forces.gc.ca.
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