Awuau v. Intact Insurance Company

Awuau v. Intact Insurance Company FSCO A12-001840

Facts of the Case

Isaak Awuau was in an automobile accident on July 19, 2009. Mr. Awuau applied for arbitration at the Financial Services Commission of Ontario to resolve the dispute surrounding his entitlement to accident benefits under the Insurance Act. A pre-hearing was scheduled on March 4, 2014 in which Mr. Awuau did not attend. The arbitration hearing was scheduled for May 9, 2014. Prior to the arbitration hearing, a letter was sent to Mr. Awuau informing him of the hearing date and advising him of Rule 68 of the Dispute Resolution Practice Code stating “an adjudicator may dismiss a proceeding without a hearing where the proceeding is frivolous, vexatious or is commenced in bad faith”.

Based on the facts that Mr. Awuau did not appear at the pre-hearing or arbitration hearing and he did not provide written explanation as to the reasons behind his absences, the court deemed Mr. Awuau’s claim as vexatious resulting in Mr. Awuau’s initial claim for arbitration to be dismissed. In addition, the court ordered Mr. Awuau to pay Intact’s expenses of $850.

Adequate Access to Justice

Though it is unclear as to why Mr. Awuau neglected to appear to the trial, close to five years lapsed between the time in which Mr. Awuau was involved in the automobile accident and when the pre-hearing was scheduled at the Financial Services Commission of Ontario. Following an automobile accident, many individuals seek immediate financial relief to aid with any medical or automobile costs that may ensue as a result of the accident. The purpose of seeking arbitration in insurance dispute is to help these individuals overcome the effects of an automobile accident in a timely manner.

According to Rule 11.1 of the Dispute Resolution Practice Code, “an application for mediation, neutral evaluation or arbitration must be filed no later than 2 years from the date the insurer provided written notice of a refusal to pay the amount claimed”. Though the limitation period is designed to ensure that individuals are given enough time to submit his or her claims before the issue becomes statue-barred, claims, such as Mr. Awuau’s, are taking years before they are even able to reach a pre-hearing. Following an automobile accidents, many individuals just want to go back to his or her life prior to the accident. However, if claims are being unnecessarily dragged out, individuals are unable to settle the matter and move on with his or her life. As a result, individuals may unintentionally submit applications that the court deems as vexatious due to the lack of pursuance by the applicant, and thus wasting the court’s and each of the party’s time. By implementing better safe guards to eliminate long wait times between the initial incident and the hearing dates, courts will be able to assist individuals more effectively and efficiently and provide access to justice to Canadians.

Vicky Medeiros is a Paralegal student at Centennial College in Toronto studying professional communications with Omar Ha-Redeye.

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