EDRF Frequently Asked Questions
How do we access money from our grant?
Funds will only be released to you for expenses outlined in your application, and approved by the EDRF Management Committee. These generally include legal fees and disbursements, and if approved, expert fees and disbursements. When you receive an invoice from your lawyer or expert, send us a copy of the invoice along with your written authorization to release funds from your grant (you may use the EDRF Payment Authorization Form, or write us a letter in your own format). Once we verify that you have sufficient funds remaining in your grant to cover your expenses, and that the invoice is for work that was approved in the grant, we will send you a cheque. (We are generally able to do this within a week of receiving your authorization.) It is then your responsibility to ensure that your lawyer and/or expert are paid. Please note that in cases where EDRF grants are made to an individual--rather than a group – the EDRF will issue cheques directly to the lawyer/expert involved once the grantee has given his or her approval to pay the invoice.
What are the EDRF’s reporting requirements?
The EDRF committee needs to hear about your progress at least once every three to six months. We don’t need much, but we do need to hear from you, even if your project is in a slow phase (e.g., you’re waiting for a court date) and you don’t have anything new to report. Funding for EDRF grants comes from the Law Foundation of BC. West Coast Environmental Law is required to report regularly to the Law Foundation about EDRF granting activities. Our reports help to ensure that community and environmental groups like yours have continued access to this invaluable support. As well, we are accountable for the money spent in EDRF grants, thus, we need to be appraised about what is happening on your project.
We try to make reporting easy for you. You can fill out the EDRF Grant Update form, or send us a letter, email, or fax in your own format.
Is our grant confidential?
We only keep your grant confidential if you indicated that this was necessary on your application form. (Note: even confidential grants are reported in our reports to the Law Foundation of BC.) In practical terms, this means that we might use information that you provide us in our newsletter, on our website, in citing case examples in law reform work, or in highlighting the important work we are doing in BC.
The information and experience gained through your case often benefits other groups facing similar challenges. It is helpful for us to be able to speak freely about your case in assisting other EDRF clients. Often, we serve as a liaison between groups – enabling grassroots activists from around the province to give one another the benefits of their experiences. If you have any questions or concerns, give us a call.
Your relationship with your lawyer is subject to client-solicitor confidentiality. If you have any questions about this confidentiality, ask your lawyer.
What do we do if the people working on our project change?
You must inform us immediately if the lawyer or expert working on your case changes – prior to any work being undertaken by the new individuals. These changes require approval of the EDRF Liaison Lawyer. The Fund may not be able to reimburse you for expenses incurred from lawyers or experts not previously approved by the EDRF committee or the EDRF Liaison Lawyer.
You also need to notify us if the contact person for your group changes. You need to provide your new contact person with sufficient information to maintain relationships with the EDRF and your lawyer.
What do we do if we need more money?
1. Cost Over-runs: If, after starting work on your case, your lawyer indicates to you that he or she will be unable to complete the work within the given budget, you can apply for a cost-over run. If possible apply to us before you go over budget, as additional funding is not guaranteed.
- Obtain a revised estimate from your lawyer, reflecting the additional work needed to complete the project.
- Write us a letter explaining why the work will take longer than expected.
- Submit your letter and revised budget for consideration by the EDRF Management Committee. Your application for a cost over-run will be considered and evaluated like any other application to the Fund.
2. Supplementary Grants: If initial work reveals further legal avenues for you, (e.g., court proceedings) that were not covered under your initial grant, you may wish to apply for a Supplementary Grant. (Note: additional funding is not guaranteed.)
- Fill out the EDRF application form (or write a detailed letter) and prepare a budget for the next phase of your project.
- Obtain a letter from your lawyer reporting on the work conducted so far and outlining the new work that they are going to perform.
- Submit your application, budget and lawyer letter for consideration by the EDRF committee. Your application for a supplementary grant will be considered and evaluated like any other application to the Fund.
It is advisable to receive confirmation of additional funds before you give your lawyer the okay to conduct further work. West Coast Environmental Law has no direct relationship with your lawyer: it is your responsibility to pay your lawyer, regardless of whether or not you receive funding through the EDRF.
How should we acknowledge the EDRF and West Coast Environmental Law?
If you send out news releases, or are interviewed by the media, please mention that West Coast Environmental Law provided assistance. Please send us copies of any news clippings. We are a non-profit society, and our funders like to see the good work that their financial contribution is making in resolving environmental disputes. We also appreciate receiving letters of support from EDRF clients.
Who do we call if we have a question about our grant?
If you have a question about your legal work, call your lawyer. If you have questions about the administration of your grant, how to make a report, how to access your funds, how to apply for supplementary funds, or general questions about the progress of your case, call the EDRF Project Coordinator, Todd Monge, or the EDRF Liaison Lawyer, Andrew Gage, at West Coast Environmental Law.