For the following terms and conditions, unless otherwise specified, Pro Bono Ontario (PBO) means any PBO employees, directors, officers, designates or volunteers.
Individuals who apply for or receive short term pro bono legal services from Pro Bono Ontario’s Free Legal Advice Hotline (Hotline) or court-based Law Help Centres (Law Help Centres) understand and agree to the following terms and conditions of service:
Nature and Limits of PBO’s Role and Relationship with Clients
- PBO as an organization facilitates the provision of legal services and does not enter into a lawyer/client relationship with anyone it serves.
- PBO cannot provide services to anyone in respect of matters for which they have already hired someone to provide legal services.
- PBO is not responsible for meeting any time restrictions involved in the legal proceedings of those who apply for or receive services.
- Communication with anyone at PBO who is not licensed to provide legal advice does not constitute legal advice.
- PBO cannot provide legal services when there is a conflict of interest as defined in the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Nature and Limits of Legal Services Provided
- Services provided from the Hotline and Law Help Centres are brief and summary in nature. This means:
- PBO has the right to end the consultation at any time and consultations can never be expected to last more than 30 minutes;
- Consultations may nor may not include assistance with document preparation;
- Consultations may or may not include discussions with an opposing lawyer or party;
- PBO cannot provide comprehensive legal opinions or predict outcomes;
- PBO cannot provide second opinions;
- PBO can never guarantee representation in court;
- PBO cannot accept requests to notarize documents or commission affidavits. PBO will advise clients if this service is available;
- PBO cannot serve or accept service of documents;
- PBO cannot take responsibility for any documents prepared by those it assists; and
- PBO cannot replicate the quantity or quality of services received from a privately retained lawyer.
- Nobody who receives services through PBO is forming an ongoing lawyer-client relationship unless that is specifically agreed upon in a written retainer agreement. This means that when people receive services from the Hotline or a Law Help Centre, neither PBO nor its volunteers have any further duty to look after their legal interests in any matter.
Client Information and Privacy
- Information provided to PBO must be accurate to the best knowledge and belief of the person providing it.
- PBO is authorized to obtain information from any legal services provider who has assisted someone applying for or receiving services.
- PBO is authorized to view court files of those applying for or receiving services.
- PBO is authorized to provide any information provided to it to any lawyer who may be in a position to assist.
- While PBO will not intentionally disclose confidential information of those who apply for or receive services, the expectation of confidentiality respecting information provided to PBO is reduced in PBO’s open concept environments where conversations can be overheard and in any event is not as high as it would be in the course of a private retainer for legal services.
- Information provided to PBO or prepared by PBO in connection with services it provides can be:
- Stored by PBO;
- Typed, scanned, transcribed, photocopied and/or be stored electronically;
- Stored on a third party’s cloud server;
- Uploaded and backed up via the internet to a third party server and data service, and will be stored on such a service if information is provided through the internet; and
- Kept in any manner and reviewed by anyone at or providing services through PBO for reasons that include but are not limited to:
- Administrative record keeping;
- Maintaining a database of people served;
- Conducting conflict of interest searches;
- Assuring the quality of services provided;
- Gathering general statistics about those served;
- Evaluating services; and
- Managing services provided;
- PBO is authorized to contact those who apply for or receive services for the purpose of answering questions about the value of PBO’s services, but participation can be refused.
Withdrawal of Services and Limitation of Liability
- PBO has the right to withdraw its services. Reasons include but are not limited to the following:
- The matter is not appropriate for services from PBO;
- PBO’s services are no longer considered by it to be effective;
- PBO has already provided a high volume of services and is not prepared to provide further services in light of demands on its resources; and
- There has been a breakdown in the relationship.
- PBO is released from all claims whatsoever that could have arisen through the use of its premises or the provision of its services.