||FSCO – DRS
Mike De La Haye (chairperson)
The meeting was called to order at 10:00am on March 8, 2007.
The minutes of the last meeting were approved, with one minor amendment (spelling error).
Mediation Statistics and Issues - John Lobo
Nothing significant to report for the last two months- just over 1,000 applications received per month in January and February 2007. FSCO continues to monitor the average processing time and have made progress in reducing the perfected to assigned time. Again, under administrative closures, the biggest closure rate remains under the “no issues in dispute” category. Settlement rate for February 2007 was up to 42% for full settlements and 16% for partial settlements.
Referring to annual statistics, FSCO received 12,996 files for the period of March/06- Feb/07 compared to 12,710 files in the previous year. The number of applications considered ‘complete as filed’ rose to 58% as compared to 49% in the previous year. Slight increase in representation (including paralegals) up to 73% from 72% and the full settlement rate at mediation went up to 38% as compared to 37% in the previous year, with partial settlements remaining at 17%.
Arbitration Statistics – Asfaw Seife
The quarterly reports show some decrease in arbitration applications, although they remain at a high level. The number of pending cases has been decreasing. There has been a significant change in Arbitration activities- there is a steady increase in the number of pre-hearings held. The increase in activity is due in part to increased staffing up to as high as 23 arbitrators There is an increase in the number of arbitrations hearings, although most cases continue to settle without a hearing.
Appeal Statistics - David Draper
There are no decisions outstanding over 150 days, and the number of appeals remains relatively small and manageable. There have been a few significant cases argued at Divisional Court recently.
FSCO Matters - David Draper
Staffing- One Team Leader position will be posted shortly due to a leave of absence. One mediator has returned from a short term secondment; two contract mediators will be leaving in mid-March and one resignation has been received. The intention is to fill the vacant mediator position shortly.
DRS Excellence Project - The consultants are finishing their report, and all feedback received was reviewed. There are renovations taking place at FSCO on the 14th floor to provide more break-out rooms and to set –up two formal hearing rooms.
Forms changes- The plan to develop fillable forms has changed to fillable Adobe Acrobat forms because Adobe Acrobat now has enhanced feature, including the ability to save documents. FSCO agreed to keep members posted on the plans so that any concerns can be raised early.
Paralegal changes- Effective May 1/07 in order for anyone to provide legal services they must be licensed by the law society. FSCO will likely continue its SABS Representatives system for some interim period.
Outreach Committee- As part of the Outreach program FSCO has gone to London and Ottawa, and there are more visits planned for next year. FSCO is interested in any feedback or ideas on how to get involved in seminars- let them know of any association events that they may be able to participate in.
- Adding preliminary issues at mediation- an issue was raised that FSCO mediators are inconsistent as to when a preliminary issue is allowed to be added at mediation and what is noted on the report of mediator. There was a lot of discussion regarding what constitutes a preliminary issue versus a position. John Lobo recommended that the Insurers clearly state their preliminary issues in the mediation response, and ensure that the mediation response is filed before the mediation meeting. Reference to Rule 15.2 for the DR Practice Code in respect to adding additional non-preliminary issues to the mediation, was also discussed.
- Multiple representation on claim files- this issue was raised again regarding treatment facilities filing mediation applications to get invoices paid but the claimant is represented by someone else. John Lobo indicated that Mediation Services will use the combining process if there is more than one open mediation application in the system but, if there is no other application, and if the representative is on the SABS list, Mediation Services would typically not prevent the mediation meeting from proceeding. It was recommended that the Insurer note their concerns, including any conflict of interest issues on the response form and raise it as well with the mediator, who would take the necessary procedural steps before commencing the mediation meeting. Reminder that the rules governing conflict of interest are contained in the Code of Conduct for SABS Representatives, and that the complaints process regarding violations of the Code of Conduct, are both available on the FSCO website.
- Last Offer on Mediation report- there was a lot of discussion around what constitutes a last offer. Concerns were raised by the Insurer that the mediator was refusing to put it as a ‘last offer’ when requested, despite the Liberty and Fernandez decision. John referred back to the minutes of the September 14, 2006 meeting when this issue was raised and discussed. He again outlined the steps that the mediators follow when an insurer has made a last offer of settlement, even if it is $0.00.
- SABS representatives/ facilities putting assessments on an OCF-18 versus an OCF-22- The Insurer consensus was that this would be considered an incomplete/ incorrect form and would be denied without right of IE until the request was submitted on the proper form. The exception is when the assessment relates to an initial assessment for the purpose of preparing a treatment plan, which is allowed to be on an OCF-18.
The next meeting will be June 7, 2007 at 10:00am @ FSCO. Further meeting dates, as well as a decision regarding the next chair, will be decided at the June 7/07 meeting.
Minutes - Becky Cameron