|Catherine Zingg (Chair)
Kevin Doan (for OTLA)
1. Review and Approval of Minutes of September 28, 2007 Meeting
Minutes were approved noting a typographical error in Katherine Kohlnhofer’s name.
2. Business Arising out of Minutes
- Monitoring & Enforcement Bulletin – FSCO staff demonstrated the new electronic version, with special focus on DR content, particularly special awards and expense orders made against representatives personally. Still in development, it is intended to replicate the current content found in the existing paper bulletin, with projected launch in mid-January 2008.
- Fillable Forms – FSCO staff also provided a demonstration of how clients can access, download and save DRS’s new fillable and savable forms. This allows users to save time by entering “tombstone” information onto the form and saving it for future use.
- Demonstrations generated discussion and suggestions for further improvements.
4. FSCO Website (Customizing for Counsel)
Suggestions for a customized website page for counsel include: a directory listing of Case Managers, Arbitrators and Mediators, with contact information and status (e.g. vacation or extended leave); ability to search a database of files by counsel of record and to ascertain case status; a calendarizing system for counsel to view available dates; the ability to flag cases that may be or are under appeal, with status; and a key word search engine.
There was also discussion of whether counsel could receive email notification of new decisions (“push technology”); however, since this technology is not currently available to FSCO, an interim solution might be to create an email group and communicate on cases of general interest.
It was noted that the judicial review chart will be posted on the FSCO website, probably behind the decisions password. Links will be provided to the decisions if possible. Members suggested www.cavanaghwilliams.com as a useful and interesting model.
5. Outreach 2007-2008
Newly revitalized committee is co-chaired by Liz Nastassi (Arbitration) and Jackie Laidlaw (Mediation). This fiscal year, the committee is targeting three areas: working with community colleges on curriculum development to support paralegal education; out of town initiatives (with London being a likely target location, amongst others); and improved coordination of speaking engagements/conferences with Counsel Forum through subcommittee comprised of Philippa Samworth, Nestor Kostyniuk and Joseph Griffiths.
6. Law Reform/Policy Initiatives
- Disputes Between Insurers – nothing new to report.
- Five-Year Review – Scoping in progress for commencement by October 2008. Suggestions for consideration should be sent to the Chair for circulation to the group.
- SABS Reps/Paralegals – on track, with Law Society of Upper Canada exam set for late January, and licences to be issued by May 1, 2008.
- Osborne Report – no apparent immediate, direct impact on Dispute Resolution, although the report recommends review of the verbal threshold as part of the Five-year review.
- HCAI – as of February 1, 2008, all health claim forms from health care providers must be sent to HCAI, a central processing registry. There will be a one-week grace period, after which insurance companies will no longer accept them directly. A bulletin will be issued in December with new guidelines and updated forms 18, 21, 22 and 23.
7. What’s new – recent decisions/issues affecting DRS at FSCO
Roland Spiegel has been reinstated as a SABS rep as part of a consent order in which he agreed to cooperate with FSCO investigators.
8. Arbitration Issues – Consent Dismissal Orders
Update provided: backlog of requests is being cleared. Templates of required documents are being created and will be posted in fillable/savable format with a target date of spring 2008. Draft templates will be shared at next meeting for feedback/comments.
Discussion: whether the “drafter” of the consent needs to sign as the order being approved as to form and content; whether in the absence of a backing page, one counsel/SABS rep/(or licensed paralegal as of May1/08) has authority to sign on behalf of the other party’s representative; whether a cover letter is sufficient notice of that authorization; and whether there is a benchmark turnaround time for processing applications. FSCO staff will review and report back on the process to be followed.
9. Unrepresented Applicants
The vast majority of insured persons in dispute resolution at FSCO are represented, but those that are not pose significant issues for the process. The Osborne Report suggests the need for work in this area. General consensus is that we should build on capacity of existing structures.
Action: Kevin Doan agreed to examine/ investigate options and report back at next meeting. He will also liaise with Arbitration subcommittee (Liz Nastassi, Denise Ashby, Suesan Alves).
10. DRS Status Report – Statistics and Staffing Updates
- Mediation – Applications received increased in August to 1,420, but the volume has leveled off to the 1,200 range since then. That increase in August, coupled with seasonal staffing constraints has created a backlog in files awaiting assignment to mediators. This has had an impact on processing time. Note that as of October 07 full settlement = 44%, Partial Settlement = 14% and Failed Mediations = 42%. The competition is being finalized for 5 contract backfill mediators, with a projected started date in early January. This would bring the unit to full complement of 36 mediators.
- Arbitration – Applications received over the past year have increased between 25% and 30% (from 600 to 773). For the first time this year, it appears the unit closed fewer files than it received (769 received; 747 cleared), and this is being monitored closely for indications of a trend. A competition is in progress for the recruitment of four arbitrators (two permanent and one temporary). Completion of the competition will bring the unit to full complement of 21.
- Appeals – Most of the aging pending decisions have been issued. Backfill for Nancy Makepeace, who is on secondment to the Ontario Securities Commission, will likely be chosen from the Arbitration Unit shortly.
- Judicial Review - Da Rosa has been adjourned to be heard late February/March 2008.
11. Other Business
Next Meeting: January 25, 2008