Mr. Speaker, with respect to the amount spent on legal matters brought before the Canadian International Trade Tribunal, CITT, since January 1, 2016, to the extent that the information that has been requested is or may be protected by any legal privileges, including solicitor-client privilege, the federal Crown asserts those privileges. In this case, it has waived only solicitor-client privilege, and only to the extent of revealing the total legal costs, as defined below.
The total legal costs, actual and notional costs, associated with matters brought before the CITT since January 1, 2016, amount to approximatively $8,105,000. These cases raise a variety of issues falling within the mandate of the CITT, including customs or excise tax matters, complaints by potential suppliers concerning procurement by the federal government, as well as issues arising under the Special Import Measures Act. In most of these files, the Crown did not initiate the proceedings but rather acted as a defendant or respondent. The services concerned are litigation services and litigation support services provided throughout the life of the file, not solely hearings, at the CITT level. They do not include services provided at other stages, for example at the Federal Court of Appeal, if the CITT decision is challenged. Most of these files are handled by Department of Justice, JUS, lawyers. JUS lawyers, notaries and paralegals are salaried public servants, and therefore no legal fees are incurred for their services. A “notional amount” can, however, be provided to account for the legal services they provide. The notional amount is calculated by multiplying the total hours recorded in the responsive files for the relevant period by the applicable approved legal services hourly rates. Actual costs represent the file-related disbursements paid by JUS and then cost-recovered from the client departments or agencies. The total legal costs, actual and notional costs, associated with files handled by JUS lawyers amount to approximatively $7,004,000. The balance, of approximatively $1,101,000, represents the costs associated with files handled by external legal agents. The Government of Canada has hired external legal agents for CITT matters 17 times since January 1, 2016.
The total legal costs, actual and notional costs, associated with files handled by JUS lawyers are based on information currently contained in JUS systems as of February 11, 2021. The costs associated with files handled by external legal agents are based on invoices received from them and taxed by JUS as of February 25, 2021. It was not possible, given the scale of the request and the applicable deadlines, to consult all the departments and agencies responsible for these cases. The amounts provided in this response should therefore be read as approximate.