New Tribunal? New Rules? Same Paralegals, Fighting the Good Fight

There could be new grounds upon which paralegals will battle upon in the Canadian legal system. With the Liberal party coming out of the last election with a majority government, it seems more likely than ever that recommendations in Justice Cunningham’s report will be followed and a new government administrative tribunal – addressing insurance disputes – will be formed.

Although accident benefits from personal injury cases are well within the scope of paralegals, the formation of this new tribunal will change the rules of the game with regards to accident benefits and the insurance dispute solution system (DRS).

Based on the “Automobile Insurance Transparency and Accountability Report” released on April 2014, the major parties in the recent Ontario provincial election all agreed that auto insurance was too high and that steps needed to be taken to this problem.

One of the main reviews and reports on the Ontario auto insurance DRS came from Justice Douglas Cunningham, in which he provided twenty-eight recommendations. The main recommendations are as follows:

  • Eliminate mandatory mediation in favour of settlement meetings with an arbitrator
  • Three arbitration streams: paper review, expedited in-person hearings & full in-person hearings
  • Penalties for not meeting specific timelines

There has been feedback from Cunningham’s report, particularly from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) arbitrators themselves. They believe that the dispute resolution process must be flexible, fair, have expertise and independence and outline the following issues with Cunningham’s report:

  • Decision-markers should be experts with full independence
  • Procedural rules should not be too rigid
  • Time lines must not be unrealistically short
  • Dispute resolution must be seen as a viable alternative to proceeding to court

Overall, these proposed changes provide a foundation upon which to build a new tribunal that will over see these accident benefits and would largely be participated by paralegals. With the clash of an old system and this potential new one, paralegals may have new, uncharted territory upon which to venture upon.

 

Jason E. Lau is a Paralegal student at Centennial College in Toronto studying professional communications with Omar Ha-Redeye.

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  1. Malin and State Farm, Case Summary: Is More Arbitration the Best Solution? | Canadian Health Law - […] previous article, I discussed the potential for new tribunals and amendments to help lower insurance rates for […]

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