The Agent Affairs Program was established in 1996 with the main purpose of managing the Agents (private-sector lawyers) who conduct prosecutions on behalf of the Federal Crown, as the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC) relies on both staff counsel and Agents.
The PPSC uses Agents in areas where it does not have a regional office, or where it is impracticable or otherwise not cost-effective for cases to be handled by staff counsel. Agents are also used when the demand for prosecution services in an area served by a regional office exceeds available staff resources. The PPSC currently retains approximately 600 agents.
The Program was created with the following objectives: 1) enhancing the quality of agent-provided legal services; and 2) ensuring cost-effective service delivery. The Program includes a centralized support unit at PPSC headquarters, namely the Agent Affairs Unit, and Agent Supervision Units located in each Regional Office, which are responsible for the day-to-day management of Agents.
Agents are remunerated according to a fee tariff which is based on years of call to the Bar. The current fixed three-tier tariff ranges from $92 to $129 per hour. An enhanced fee rate may be granted in situations where the complexity and duration of the case or other exceptional circumstances warrant a higher rate.
The relationship which exists between the agent community and the PPSC is governed by two comprehensive documents: the FPS Deskbook and the Terms and Conditions of Fixed-Term Agreements with Agents (T&Cs) (pdf, 523 kb).
Selection of agents is based on the premise that the PPSC is entitled to the highest quality of legal services and advice consistent with the reasonable demands of economy, efficiency and effectiveness. Competence, integrity, professionalism and trust remain the primary considerations in the appointment of agents.
Agents are expected to uphold the highest standards of personal and professional conduct. They must obey the law and must act with integrity, fairness and impartiality at all times.
Agents must be fiscally responsible, to follow PPSC fixed file handling practices; and to comply fully with administrative provisions, billing guidelines, and fee and disbursement policies.
The PPSC requires private sector lawyers and firms appointed as agents to:
In 2009, the PPSC introduced fixed-term Agreements for agents, replacing indeterminate appointments, which were subject to termination without notice. Under the new regime, any private-sector law firm or lawyer interested in becoming a federal prosecution agent can apply for a maximum 5-year fixed-term Agreement when an opening occurs in a jurisdiction.
Notices of Opportunity, inviting interested private sector lawyers and law firms to apply to become agents for specific judicial districts, are posted on a province-wide basis through legal publications, local newspapers and at court locations, ensuring access to agreements by all qualified private-sector lawyers and law firms. A standardized screening process, similar to that used to hire in-house counsel, includes established assessment criteria and interviews.
If you or your law firm meet the minimum criteria as described in the PPSC’s Information on Agent Agreements, you are invited to apply.
With their submission, applicants must provide a profile of their practice which details how the applicant meets the PPSC criteria, as well as the completed Application for Fixed-Term Agreement (pdf 206kB) (html). Private-sector lawyers or law firms meeting the eligibility criteria will be contacted for an interview by the regional agent supervisor.
Contact the PPSC: