de VRIES LITIGATION LLP often acts as agent lawyers for the office of the children’s lawyer (the “OCL”) in various proceedings. Generally, the OCL represents the interests of a child under the age of 18 in cases in Ontario.
Minors’ interests are often at play in estate and trusts matters. For example, a minor may be entitled to money or property if they are: named as a beneficiary in a will or trust; named as a beneficiary of a life insurance policy or a registered plan; or a beneficiary by operation of the laws of intestacy.
Children may also have claims for support as dependants under Part V of the Succession Law Reform Act, and the OCL may become in involved in those proceedings as well.
Moreover, Rule 7.08 of the Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure provides that no settlement of a claim made by or against a person under disability (which includes a minor), whether or not a proceeding has been commenced in respect of the claim, is binding on the person without the approval of a judge. As such, when the interests of a minor are impacted by a settlement, court approval is to be sought, either by the OCL or on notice to the OCL.
It is important for parties and counsel to recognize when the interests of a minor, even if unascertained or remote, may be impacted. In these circumstances, it is prudent to serve the OCL with any court material; the OCL can then decide whether it is appropriate or necessary for their office to become involved.