Criminal law: CERC evaluation shows early success

Preliminary results of a third-party evaluation of our Criminal Early Resolution Contract (CERC) service indicate early success in its implementation and outcomes.
Woman filling out a survey

We launched CERCs in May 2019 to expand criminal legal aid services to help low-income clients who don’t qualify for full representation contracts. Financial eligibility for clients under a CERC is $1,000 higher per month than a standard representation contract and there is no requirement that clients be facing jail.

Prairie Research Associates conducted the evaluation using LABC data and an online survey of tariff lawyers. A year-two report is expected in 2021.

Year-one report highlights

  • Most CERCs are being issued to clients who were not eligible for standard contracts, and CERCs are believed to have reduced the number of self-represented accused.
  • Just over two-thirds of the lawyers surveyed said they believe that CERCs had an impact on facilitating an early resolution for clients, and have similar outcomes to standard contracts.
  • 92% of completed CERCs have a recorded resolution (65% guilty plea, 13% stay, 8% peace bond, 3% discharged, 3% alternative measures).
  • Surveyed counsel indicated that they most commonly provide summary advice to clients on options, review disclosures, and negotiate with the Crown to determine if the case can be resolved without a trial.
  • More than half of survey respondents believe that CERCs have resulted in fewer court appearances.

For more information, read the evaluation’s full year one report.