Stanley Pasternak (Chair)
Peter T. Trueman
Sean A. Brown
Rita L. Urbonavicius
Approval of Minutes
- The minutes of the meeting held September 27, 2002, were approved.
Auto Reform Update
- Willie Handler spoke briefly about the status of the Automobile Insurance Reform Bill presently before the legislature.
- He advised that the automobile insurance reforms form part of an omnibus bill which contains proposed amendments to various statutes.
- He advised that the government would like to have the bill passed before the present legislative sitting ends on December 12, 2002.
- He further advised that it was unlikely that there would be any major amendments made to the bill.
- There was brief discussion about the issue of non-lawyers representing automobile accident victims. Mr. Handler said that proposed new regulations would likely be passed that would deal with that issue.
- Shonna Neil presented the Mediation statistics and explained the new format for presenting them.
- She briefly discussed the issues of the "completeness" of Mediation Applications when filed with FSCO. She advised that 61% of Mediation applications are complete, according to FSCO policy, when filed.
- There was brief discussion about face to face versus telephone conference call Mediations. Only about 6% of Mediations are presently being held face to face.
- David Braund advised that FSCO hopes to bring on-line (available on the internet) in the next three to four months, a series of "smart" mediation and arbitration application forms. That will allow the forms to be fully completed and the "fields" filled in on the users computer, then printed.
- Currently, blank forms are available on-line and they must first be printed and then filled in manually.
- DR arranged for a live demonstration of these forms to be shown to the members and attendees. Following the presentation there was general agreement among the forum members that these printable forms would be of great benefit to the users of the Dispute Resolution system.
- After watching the presentation, several members made suggestions with respect to certain aspects of the forms and FSCO agreed to consider those suggestions before the final version of the forms were made available for public use.
- Finally, it was pointed out that Mediation and Arbitration Applications would still have to be delivered to FSCO in the conventional way. In other words, there is no provision yet for the E-filing of these forms. However, she advised that FSCO continues to work an E-filing system and that
hopefully such a system will be ready for public use in approximately one year.
- It was pointed out that the age of outstanding arbitration decisions continues to go down and that there are very few outstanding decisions more than 100 days old. Most decisions are delivered within 30 to 60 days following the completion of the hearing. This is a significant improvement over past years.
- During the 12 months ended September 30, 2002, 66% of appeals are being launched by Insured persons, 34% by Insurers.
- There are still quite a few older decisions pending by the Appeals Unit is making progress to try to rectify this.
Operational Changes at the Dispute Resolution Group
- FSCO is implementing new administrative procedures for combining multiple mediation applications filed by the same Insured person relating to the same automobile accident. There is a perception that some insured persons are deliberately filing multiple mediation applications in an attempt to leverage a better settlement from an Insurer. There is a perception that this might constitute an abuse of process.
- By combining multiple mediation applications it was felt this might help address that perceived abuse.
- FSCO plans to combine mediation applications into the same application, if they arise out of the same accident with the same insured person and are received at FSCO within approximately 60 days of each other.
- In Arbitration, related applications are now "consolidated", meaning that they are sent to a pre-hearing together unless there is an objection. The pre-hearing Arbitrator will then decide whether to hear the applications together or separately. Applicants will have to pay filing fees for each application, and they will be kept separate unless otherwise ordered. Insurers will pay separate assessments only if it is decided that there will be separate hearings.
- The next meeting of counsel forum will take place on January 31, 2003.