After Hours Telephone Duty Counsel
The Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission provides Telephone Duty Counsel advice twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to people who have been arrested or detained and are at the police station or in custody. This service is provided by Staff Lawyers and Private Bar Lawyers.
During regular business hours, these calls are received by a support staff member who directs them to Staff Lawyers. This service is known as Business Hours Telephone Duty Counsel (BHTDC).
Outside of regular business hours and on holidays, calls are directed to a different toll-free number and are answered directly by the Duty Counsel Lawyer. This service is known as the After Hours Telephone Duty Counsel (AHTDC).
How AHTDC Service Works:
The AHTDC has a Roster of lawyers. Shifts are scheduled for all lawyers on the Roster by a staff person in the Executive Office. Roster lawyers invoice the Commission at the end of their shift. Pay rates vary depending upon if the shift is a weekday shift, weekend shift, holiday shift, or special holiday shift.
NSLA provides a Telephone Duty Counsel Manual to assist lawyers advising detained individuals on a wide range of criminal and quasi-criminal issues. Roster Lawyers must read the Manual and have it available for ready reference while on duty. AHTDC lawyers are also given Invoices and Duty Counsel Log Sheets, and login information to access the Certificate & AHTDC Lawyers’ section on this website.
There are Duty Counsel cell phones located in Legal Aid Offices throughout the Province. These cell phones are used by Duty Counsel to provide AHTDC. There is also one landline for AHTDC calls, which is call forwarded to the shift duty cell phone. Duty Counsel receives all calls for the Province while on duty.
Peace Officers will place calls to the AHTDC number and provide the necessary information regarding the detained individual. After this, the individual being arrested or detained can then speak to Duty Counsel. If Duty Counsel is occupied on another call, a voicemail message can be left. Calls are returned in order of receipt and/or priority.
If you’re a practising, insured lawyer in Nova Scotia and want to join the Roster for After Hours Telephone Duty Counsel, or would like more information, please fill out the form: