INAC Legal Fees

The amount attributed by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) to legal fees varies from year-to-year, depending on the volume of transactional business requiring legal advice, the pace of negotiations and adjudications, and the nature and magnitude of litigation brought before the courts. Not all of INAC's legal costs are related to defending litigation. In fact, many of the legal costs relate to services and negotiations.

The complexity of Indigenous legal issues is grounded in the centuries-old relationship between the Federal Crown and Indigenous peoples. This relationship has historical, constitutional and legislative underpinnings. For example, Section 35 of the Constitution Act 1982 recognizes and affirms the existing Aboriginal and treaty rights in Canada and is an important part of our shared history. Legal questions arising from these areas contribute to the number of cases before the courts.

The total amount of legal fees paid by INAC in 2016-2017 was $68.8 million.

INAC continues to ensure that its legal costs are managed in a transparent and accountable manner for the mutual benefit of all Canadians. These costs are submitted annually to the Receiver General and the most recent costs are detailed in the 2016-17 Public Accounts.

INAC firmly believes that the best way to address issues with respect to Indigenous peoples (i.e. First Nations, Inuit and Métis) is through collaboration and not through litigation. Negotiated settlements and outcomes are preferred whenever possible.

2016-2017 Legal Fees ($68.8M)
Description of 2016-2017 Legal Fees pie chart

The graphic above is a pie chart representation of the total $68.8 million in legal fees paid by INAC in 2016-17. The legal services expenditures include two components:

  • $65.5 million for legal services received from the Department of Justice. This includes costs for both advisory ($32.4 million) and litigation services ($33.1 million).
  • $3.3 million for legal services from contracted lawyers or legal agents outside of the Department of Justice.
Historical information on legal services costs (in millions of dollars)
  2016-2017 2015-2016 2014-2015 2013-2014 2012-2013 2011-2012 2010-2011
Department of Justice:
Advisory Services 32.4 32.9 38.5 40.9 43 45.2 44.8
Litigation Services 33.1 29.5 29.7 31.8 30.9 36.7 36.8
Total cost paid by INAC to the Department of Justice 65.5 62.4 68.2 72.7 73.9 81.9 81.6
Contracted lawyers/agents:
External Legal Contracted Services for INAC * 3.3 3.6 5.2 5.6 6.5 5.3 7.4
Adjudicator Services and Fees for Claimants under the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat ** N/A N/A N/A 27.5 25.7 22.9 23.9
Total cost paid by INAC for Contracted lawyers/agents 3.3 3.6 5.2 33.1 32.2 28.2 31.3
Total Legal Costs for INAC 68.8 66 73.4 105.8 106.1 110.1 112.9
* External Legal Contracted Services for INAC includes external services to the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat (IRSAS) and other programs within the department.

** Adjudicator Services: Effective 2014-2015, adjudicators' actuals are no longer reported under Legal Services since adjudicators do not provide legal services or advice to the Government of Canada.

Note: Figures for 2010-11 to 2016-2017 are extracted from and reconcile with INAC's financial system.
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