What is independent legal advice (ILA)?

What is a Certificate of Independent Legal Advice?

A Certificate of Independent Legal Advice is a document that is signed by each lawyer and is included in cohabitation agreements, marriage contracts and separation agreements.

The Certificate typically states that the lawyer has:

  • Acted solely for one party
  • Explained the nature and effect of the Agreement, which means the impact of the agreement on that person’s legal rights
  • Acknowledges that their client completely understands the agreement
  • The client confirmed that they are signing the agreement voluntarily without any fear, threats, compulsion or influence by the other party or anyone else

How do I get ILA?

There are typically two ways that people seek out independent legal advice:

  1. Full representation: The agreement is prepared after the couple exchanges financial information, receives legal advice, and reaches a consensus on the terms of the agreement. Each lawyer will likely sign the Certificate of Independent Legal Advice.

  2. Partial representation: The agreement is prepared by one lawyer with little or no input from the other party or their lawyer. The non-drafting lawyer may or may not be able to sign the Certificate of ILA. This may depend on whether the lawyer and client are able to have sufficient input into the agreement.